The biggest issue facing the Brooklyn Nets is they don’t control their draft future.
With draft picks owed out from previous deals, namely the trade for James Harden in 2021, even the picks they have gotten back from subsequent transactions can’t offset the need to remain competitive.
But what if the Nets could get back some of that control, even if it would mean another deal with the Houston Rockets?
– Kenyon Martin Jr.
– Jae’Sean Tate
– 2023 1st Rd Pick (No. 4 overall)
– Future 1st Rd Picks (incl. Nets’ 2024 1st Rd)
“The point is to get a conversation going and enticing Brooklyn back with their lost draft capital is a great way to do so,” wrote Rockets beat writer Kelly Iko of The Athletic on May 25. “In essence, the Rockets get their hands on Johnson, a versatile two-way wing they’ve coveted for a while.”
Johnson, 27, averaged 16.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 25 games with the Nets after the trade deadline while knocking down 37.2% of his triples.
In the postseason he was even better with an 18.5/5.8/2.8 line on .509/.429/.857 shooting.
But the former No. 11 overall pick will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and there are enough red flags to be at least partially wary of inking Johnson to the kind of deal he is expected to command, says former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks.
Marks also name-dropped the Rockets as a team to keep an eye on to make things interesting for Brooklyn. They will have enough money to come right out of the gates with a deal approaching and even surpassing $20 million annually.
“Teams almost never return picks to their original owners, which makes this trade a bit unrealistic,” wrote Nets beat writer Alex Schiffer in response to Iko. “But it would give the Nets a younger core around Mikal Bridges and the ability to tank for a possible co-star, even if it’s just for a season while getting another young and talented player with the No. 4 pick.”
Keeping Cameron Johnson More Than a Business Decision
While the bottom line will almost certainly win out in the end, the Nets’ decision to do what it takes to keep Johnson this summer or let him walk out the door just months after acquiring him as part of the Kevin Durant trade is more than just business.
Johnson is best friends with the Nets’ current cornerstone in Bridges who does not shy away from being different from the previous building blocks in many ways.
He does, however, wish to continue playing alongside his “twin”.
“I do definitely want him back,” Bridges told Spencer Davies of Hoops Herald in an interview that debuted on May 17. “It’s just hopefully the money’s right, and I know he wants to stay here. And we need him and he’s been hooping man…But I definitely want him here, man. Hopefully, they get the deal done.”
Johnson has likewise said his desire to continue playing alongside Bridges will impact what he does in free agency.
Nets Could Have Chance to Land Amen Thompson
If the Nets were to agree to this trade, they would be getting a shot at drafting Overtime Elite (City Reapers) star Amen Thompson, a 6-foot-7 combo guard with a 7-foot wingspan who averaged 16.4 points, 5.9 assists, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game.
Those stats won’t translate to the NBA but they do showcase the multi-faceted impact that he can have on a game.
Other potential options at No. 4 include Thompson’s twin brother Ausar Thompson – who averaged 16.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 2.4 steals for the Reapers – Houston’s Jerace Walker, and Cam Whitmore of Villanova.
Brooklyn currently has picks Nos. 21, 22, and 51 in the 2023 NBA Draft set for June 22 at the Barclays Center.