Two trades give Nets hope for successful free agency period in 2019

A relatively quiet Thursday became extremely interesting as the clock approached midnight.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Brooklyn Nets sent guard Jeremy Lin to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick (via the Portland Trail Blazers) and the rights to 2016 draft-and-stasher Isaia Cordinier. In the deal, the Nets sent the Hawks a 2025 second-round pick and the right to swap second-round picks in 2023.

But, the Nets weren’t done.

They then took on the expiring contracts of Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur in a deal with the Denver Nuggets. Sending away young guard Isaiah Whitehead, the Nets gained a protected 1-12 first-round pick in 2019 in order to take on the hefty salaries of the veteran forwards. Brooklyn also was handed a 2020 second-round selection in the trade.

So, in all, the Nets traded Lin, Whitehead, the right to swap second-rounders in 2023 and a 2025 second-round pick for Faried, Arthur, an unproven international player, a 2019 protected first-rounder and two 2020 second-rounders.

In other words, the team is finally replenishing cap space and draft assets that were famously destroyed during their trade for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics years ago.

Although Brooklyn will continue developing their young core in the upcoming season, the summer of 2019 could get extremely interesting for the franchise. From their core, they will have only have Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris on the books and Allen and LeVert have team options. Rookies Dzanan Musa and Rodians Kurucs will also presumably be on the team, but won’t carry a hefty financial burden.

Although D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could all re-sign with the Nets and therefore cause the team’s cap space to dwindle, Brooklyn will have the cap room to attract two max contract players if they don’t make any major moves from now until next summer.

Luckily for them, two high-profile free agents have reportedly expressed interest in playing alongside each other.

“… Kyrie Irving and former Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler are still trying to figure out a way to play together. The Celtics could try to acquire Butler this summer, or the two former Team USA teammates could simply opt out of their player options after next season and join forces then. Their intent is to build an elite backcourt, whether that’s in Boston or somewhere else in the East,” Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this summer.

If Butler and Irving want to play together, Brooklyn could be the perfect spot. They’ll both be unrestricted free agents, after both declined to sign extensions with their current teams this offseason.

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