Despite having no All-Star players, the Nets made it to Round 1 of the postseason and securing someone like Damian Lillard should now become their priority.
Their only All-Star caliber player is Ben Simmons, who, while recovering from 2022 back surgery, experienced season lows in points, rebounds and assists and only played 42 regular season games.
“We’re a team that’s in a lot of transition, and we’ll see what happens next,” Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie said after their Game 4 loss to Philadelphia.
Lillard himself sparked rumors around the league when he was spotted sitting courtside at Game 3 in Brooklyn.
“Dame would be the leader they need,” an NBA executive told HoopsHype. “I’m just not sure they have the pieces to get him, but they should try. The picks they have coming in aren’t great. It would probably take Ben Simmons’ contract to make the numbers work, but you’d have to attach picks to him on top of the picks you need for Lillard.”
In the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trades, the Nets acquired several first-round picks from Phoenix and Dallas respectively.
The front office could definitely package up those future picks with a wing like Dorian Finney-Smith or Royce O’Neale.
Other players like Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris are also on expiring contracts, so there will be slightly more room in the cap.
As well, young prospect Cam Thomas becomes a restricted free agent this summer and is looking to get a four-year contract worth $90 million dollars, according to insiders.
Thomas could even become an asset to help sweeten the Dame deal because let’s be real, trading Simmons on his $78.2 million contract for the next two seasons will yield absolutely no value, so if they can pull off a Lillard trade without including him, that would be ideal.
Of course, the team could be outbid for Lillard by other rivals but they would crazy to not try something to lure him to Brooklyn.
Lillard would be a great fit for Jacque Vaughn’s Nets and is clearly looking for an out in Portland.
Recently, the guard publicly sent the Blazers more than one warning shot about getting him some help, telling the media “I don’t have much of an appetite for building with guys two and three years away and not really go after it.”
He then doubled down in an interview with Stephen A. Smith, explaining: “It ain’t a threat. I ain’t gonna say I’m putting them on the clock, I’m just saying if those things can’t be done, (if) we can’t do something significant like that then we won’t have a chance to compete on that level. Not only will I have a decision to make, but I think the organization will too because at that point, it’s like, ‘Are you gonna go young or are we gonna get something done?’”
Watch this space.