The Brooklyn Nets Approach in Restricted Free Agency


May 16, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA;  Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks  introduces new head coach Kenny Atkinson at HSS Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

May 16, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks introduces new head coach Kenny Atkinson at HSS Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Is there a brilliant method of madness in Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks’ approach in pursuing Restricted Free Agents (RFA)?

The Nets has struck out 0-3 in chasing RFAs (Alan Crabbe, Tyler Johnson, Donatas Motiejunas) and is waiting on Washington Wizards to match their $106M max offer sheet to Otto Porter Jr. The Wizards is expected to match the offer after withdrawing qualifying RFA offer to Bojan Bogdanovic who proceeded to sign with Indiana Pacers for $21M for 2 years (he was reportedly looking for $15M/yr deal with the Wizards). Ironically, the Nets previously traded Bojan to the Wizards but now the Wizards has to let him go in order to keep the Nets from signing Porter. The next target could be KCP, JaMychal Green or Nikola Mirotic.

Despite going 0-of-3 on RFAs heading into this summer, Marks dove right back into that well this offseason with the max offer sheet for Porter, which Washington reportedly plans on matching, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Assuming the Wizards follow through with that pledge—they have until 11:59 p.m. Saturday to make their decision if Porter inks his offer sheet right when the July Moratorium lifts Thursday—Marks could turn around and fire offer sheets at Dallas Mavericks big man Nerlens Noel, Detroit Pistons 2-guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Atlanta Hawks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr., Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green or Chicago Bulls stretch 4 Nikola Mirotic. With cap space quickly drying up across the league, the Nets remain the one wild card for teams attempting to wait out their own restricted free agents.

According to Bryan Toporek from BBall Insiders, Sean Marks strategy has no downside to this strategy. Even when he’s 0-3 in his RFA pursuit, he has essentially removed 3 potential free-agent competitors by signing their player to bloated offer sheets. (Blazers, Heat, and possibly Wizards). In 2018-19, the Nets would the flexibility in their cap space to sign free agents by only having $55 million in salary on the books.

Regardless of whether Marks can successfully pry away a restricted free agent this offseason, there’s no downside to his strategy. The Nets owe their unprotected 2018 first-round pick to the Boston Celtics as the final payment for their ill-fated acquisition of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry back in 2013. Having no first-round draft pick gives them zero incentive to tank this upcoming season, and it also kneecaps their ability to add top-tier young talent to their core.


In other words: Within the past 12 months, Marks has removed three potential free-agent competitors from the market by signing their players to bloated offer sheets. Seeing as the Nets are financially flexible in future seasons—including all options, they only have $55 million in salary on the books in 2018-19—they could find themselves firmly in a buyer’s market next summer. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted Sunday on Twitter, around half of the NBA could be in luxury-tax territory after this season, limiting the amount of potential free-agent suitors.

Who will be the next Nets RFA/FA target after Otto Porter?

If the Wizards matches Otto max offer sheet, who will GM Sean Marks set his sight as a potential target? Many sources indicate he will try to pursue Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (KCP) who just became a Free Agent after the Pistons declined to sign him.

Would KCP be the best player to pursue after Porter? Based on ESPN 2016-17 RPM stats, Porter is the best player with 3.56 RPM followed by Eryan Ilyasova, JaMychal Green, and finally KCP. RPM measures player’s on-court impact on team performance so it greatly helps to see a potential player impact to the team if the Nets sign them. And more importantly, it helps to determine if a player is worth the maximum offer sheet.

From this ranking, Porter deserves the max offer after being ranked 24th best among 468 NBA players

KCP defense is supposed to be his srength but surprisingly, his -1.31 DPRM defensive impact is only ranked #377 out of 468 players. Both Ilyasova and Green have the 2nd and 4th best defensive impact at 0.74 and 0.39 as Nets targets.

Will the Wizards match Porter offer by the end of Saturday, July 8 midnight deadline? Will the Nets pursue KCP, Ilyasova, JaMychal, Mirotic, or other FA/RFAs? We just need to stay tuned to see if the Nets will be successful in signing their first RFA or continue to handicapping more NBA teams with debilitating luxury tax situation to sign good free agents in 2018-19.