Brooklyn Nets trade Thad Young to Indiana Pacers for 2016 #20 pick, future 2nd round pick
There is no team in the NBA with a bleaker outlook than the Brooklyn Nets.
There’s little incentive for the Nets to win games next year: the team’s collective talent is 100,000 light years away from contention. Yet there’s somehow also no incentive to lose, either: Brooklyn is certain to lose its first round pick next year to a swap with the Boston Celtics.
For the Nets, there is essentially no incentive to do anything. The team merely exists, floating in the abyss of NBA purgatory.
Almost completely devoid of draft picks and young talent, new general manager Sean Marks has plenty of work to do in turning what players the Nets do have into promising assets for the distant future.
Marks took the first important step in that process Thursday afternoon by trading forward Thad Young to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for the #20 pick in Thursday’s draft and a future second-round pick.
For the Nets, the trade is perhaps little solace given how deeply the team’s failed title run with Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett cratered its cap situation. But all the lost draft picks and bad investments are sunk costs at this point: all the Nets can do is make the best moves they can given the situation they’re in.
Trading Young is a nice start. There are a few interesting prospects available in range of the 20th pick; this draft is regarded as deeply stocked with role players, if not stars. And whoever the Nets pick will have plenty of playing time and coaching attention on the team’s dilapidated roster.
As for Young, he was one of the last useful players the Nets had on the roster, a mobile, efficient scorer with the ability to guard a couple positions at a passable level.
He shoots around 32 percent from three-point range for his career, but prefers to fire from the midrange instead. The Pacers may ask him to step behind the arc more often—he’ll likely start at power forward while Indiana continues to implement the new pace-and-space approach it began last season.
Asking Young to shoot threes could be critical for the Pacers’ offensive ability this season, given the spacing logjam building up in Indianapolis. Newly acquired point guard Jeff Teague drives more frequently than nearly any other guard in the league, and as of now he’ll play alongside Monta Ellis, whose skill set is close to identical, plus or minus some quickness, playmaking, and shooting ability.
With those two in the backcourt, plus Paul George acting as the primary ball handler frequently, plus Young and likely starter Myles Turner clogging up the midrange, Indiana may have trouble finding room to stand comfortably, much less run an offense.
There’s still plenty of offseason left, and it seems likely that Ellis could be on the move. Whether to the bench for a sixth man role or to a different team via trade, the fit will be better for Ellis out of this starting lineup. Replacing his presence with a 3-and-D wing, à la CJ Miles, would benefit Indiana in the short and long term.
Regardless of the lineup concerns however, this move seems as good for Indiana as it is for Brooklyn. The Pacers’ timetable of contention rests on the shoulders of George, who’s now 26 and entering his prime.
There is little time to wait around for a late first-round prospect to begin making useful contributions toward playoff success, something Young can do from the day he steps on the court. The Pacers need production from their role players now, and “Thad” is what their new acquisition will provide (oh yes I did).
There are questions about the fit of Indiana’s recent pick-ups, but fit is something that can be worked out with more transactions or strong coaching. You can’t (really) manufacture talent, and the Pacers have upgraded theirs in the past two days.
There is one other winner that should be mentioned in this deal: the Boston Celtics, who seem to have a never-ending list of promising assets.
Danny Ainge’s potentially illegal, likely supernatural powers of persuasion aside, Boston is now even better positioned to possess the first overall pick in next year’s draft, along with whatever they do Thursday night with their #3 selection (also acquired from Brooklyn). No team in the NBA is slated to have a worse roster than the Nets next season. It seems, with regards to Boston, the rich truly just get richer.
Brooklyn’s next steps are as uninspiring as this one. Select the best players available in the 2016 draft, and then likely look to trade center Brook Lopez (on a rather affordable deal given his offensive production) for picks, picks, young players and also more picks. It’s difficult to imagine the Nets getting great value for Lopez—other teams surely know Marks has little leverage—but there are midlevel teams who would be willing to pay a price for a center who could seal their playoff status for years to come.
For now, the Nets must just keep moving through the motions as they march toward at least two years of certain death. It’s not the future owner Mikhail Prokhorov imagined when he crafted a superteam to take down LeBron James’ Miami Heat, but it’s all Brooklyn has.