Kyrie Irving was injured. James Harden was not 100% healthy. And Kevin Durant’s foot was too big.
Despite having a formidable Big Three whose firepower is one of the best the NBA has ever seen, the Brooklyn Nets are now on an early vacation after getting eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in an Eastern Conference Semifinals series that went to a Game Seven. It wasn’t the ending Nets fans wanted for a team that also has Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and for a short time, LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Nets should have been competing for a slot in the NBA Finals. Instead, injuries happened. And Kevin Durant stepped a little closer to the three-point line at the end of the fourth quarter of Game Seven. Instead of a potential championship victory party, the Nets will head into the offseason with a ton of concerns.
As General Manager Sean Marks hinted, “Inevitably, there’s going to be change here,”
The Nets have nine players who are about to become free agents. Among those players are Spencer Dinwiddle, Jeff Green, and Griffin. Dinwiddle, for one, said that he would decline a 12.3 million dollar option and become an unrestricted free agent. In five playoff games this year, Dinwiddle averaged 14 points and two rebounds. He finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists in Game Seven against the Bucks.
Blake Griffin is another player whose value is still high despite a drop in his numbers. In his short stint in Brooklyn after being bought out by the Detroit Pistons, Griffin proved that he is still valuable for any playoff-bound team. Griffin averaged nine points and six rebounds in 12 playoff games this year. More importantly, he got to dunk the ball again- something fans missed from him in Detroit.
Any team will still benefit from a healthy Blake Griffin.
Extend or Not
Ultimately, the Nets’ biggest concern is that their stars are eligible to sign extensions this offseason. While locking up Durant, Irving, and Harden will be a winning move for the Nets, it will mean that the Nets will also have one of the most expensive rosters and largest luxury tax payments in the history of the NBA if all three are still in Brooklyn by the end of the 2025-2026 season. For that season alone, Durant, Irving, and Harden would make, at the very least, 50 million dollars each.
That would take away the Nets’ ability to get more players.
All three stars have two more seasons left in their current contract. Harden can only sign an extension during this offseason, while both Durant and Harden can do so during the regular season.
Sean Marks and the rest of the Nets front office will have tons of choices to make this offseason. They can keep their Big Three intact for an extended period or start building for the future. Kevin Durant is turning 33 this year. Kyrie Irving will turn 30 next year, while James Harden turns 31 this August.
The Nets can run it back next season with its Big Three regardless of if the trio signs their extensions or not. It’s now the question of who Durant, Irving, and Harden will run along beyond next season.