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The sneaky-smart logic behind Nets’ offseason roster moves

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by July 11, 2017 Sport News

 

LAS VEGAS — Nets general manager Sean Marks would likely do well in this city’s casinos. Sunday morning’s quick pivot from Otto Porter Jr. to DeMarre Carroll showed his poker face, and he may still have a few cards up his sleeve.

Marks shipped Justin Hamilton to Toronto and got back first- and second-round picks and Carroll, absorbing the two years and $30 million on his deal. With $17 million in cap room left and the $4.328 million room exception, conventional wisdom was that the Nets were out of the running for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or other pricy free agents that would chew up the lion’s share of their cap space. [restrict]

That may not be the case.

“We’re trying to keep our hand on the pulse and see what happens,’’ said Marks, who never mentioned Caldwell-Pope by name. “We all like having the space we have right now, and we’ll see what comes across our way. I don’t think we have to do anything. If the right deals come across, we’ll certainly look at them.

“What we’re going to do is we’re evaluating all possible scenarios. So, for us, if the right deal comes along — and I hate to be vague — but if the right deal comes along that uses all of our cap space, we could jump at it. If it doesn’t and we take this cap space into the season, I’m excited about that. Who knows what’s going to come along? Again, just having that flexibility to be able to do that is nice.”

With Caldwell-Pope believed to want the maximum, and having Rich Paul as his agent, the 24-year-old won’t come cheap. But if the market dries up and Brooklyn can swoop in, it doesn’t seem the Nets would be averse to adding a pricy shooting guard despite a seeming logjam in the backcourt.

“Yeah, we’re not in a position where we’re filling ‘Hey, we need a this, or we need a [that]. We’re not there,’’ coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Obviously we can’t have 28 point guards on the team, there’s got to be some sense of balance. … But on the other hand, we do have the ability to take some risks to get in some talent in terms of position.”

Caldwell-Pope qualifies as that.

Despite having Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell as presumptive starters in the backcourt, and Caris LeVert, Brooklyn could be bracing for life post-Lin. He turns 29 next month, can opt out after this season, and could likely exceed his $12 million salary on the market. Or maybe the Nets are just in talent-acquisition mode.

Either way, the door may not be completely shut on Caldwell-Pope. Position won’t be an issue if price isn’t.

“We’re still at that stage where you’d hate to say ‘we’re only going to look at this’ or ‘we’re only going to look at that position’,’’ Marks said. “For us, who knows what’s going to come our way? We’ve got to stay pretty fluid in who we’re looking at and explore all our different options.”

Marks is now 0-4 on landing restricted free agents, with Lin admitting, “You’re putting other things on hold, with a lot of the uncertainty. That’s the thing that’s been difficult in terms of you go for a player — as we all know we went for Otto — and there were other opportunities that were missed out on. But that’s just part of the free-agency business.”

But Marks still hasn’t been scared away from going that route, saying, “Never say never.”

And next season, when most of the NBA will be paying luxury tax and there will be almost no competition with significant money to spend, the Nets are slated to have $30 million in cap room. If Lin or Andrew Nicholson ($6 million) opt out, it’ll be even more. [/restrict]

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