Brooklyn Nets reportedly put two talented wings on the trading block

Apr 6, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets power forward Dorian Finney-Smith (28) dribbles the ball against the Detroit Pistons during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets look to continue their rebuild by trading veteran wings Dorian Finney-Smith and Cam Johnson. Johnson, 28, and Finney-Smith, 31, figure to be the best two trade chips the Nets have left.

Both players are high-end role players, filling the much sought-after 3-and-D wing archetype which, aside from a superstar, is among the most valuable on the trade market. Both players have been linked to numerous contenders including the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Denver Nuggets among others.

Johnson could also be of interest to younger, rebuilding teams who may think they are on the upswing and are in need of a younger vet who can contribute now and in the future alongside their core. The Orlando Magic could be one such team.

What Could Dorian Finney-Smith bring back?

Apr 3, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) makes a move against Brooklyn Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith (28) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Finney-Smith has the more tradeable contract of the pair, essentially with one year remaining at just under $15 million. He does have a player option for 2025-2026 that would be worth about $15.4 million. Now in his 30s, it’s likely Finney-Smith would decline that player option with the hopes of signing one last long-term deal, potentially at a lower cap number. Whatever team trades for him though would have to be prepared for the possibility that he picks up that option should his play fall off a cliff.

As a player, Finney-Smith is the proto-typical 3-and-D wing, capable of playing either a forward spot or even logging some minutes as a small ball center. At 6-7 220 pounds he’s got the strength to defend inside while also possessing the lateral agility to lock up opposing wings on the perimeter. His 113.2 defensive rating last season was among the worst marks of his career, though still serviceable and should improve in a slightly smaller role.

Offensively, Finney-Smith isn’t going to create much, but he can be deadly in the catch-and-shoot game. A 35.5% career three-point shooter, Smith has shown the ability to get hot in bunches. Last season, from October through December he shot 43% from beyond the arc showcasing how he can get hot. The cold stretches come too, however, and he only shot 26.9% from deep from January through the end of the season.

The Nets may have missed their opportunity to fully cash in on Finney-Smith’s value, reportedly rejecting an offer of two first-round picks for him at the trade deadline. Now, after the cold stretch to end the season and one less year under contract, they’re probably looking at one first-round pick plus some other odds and ends for the versatile wing.

A Cam Johnson deal is more complicated

Cam Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

A year in two a four-year, $94 million dollar deal, whatever team acquiring Johnson would need to see him as part of their present as well as their future. While that might limit the interest some contenders have in the six-foot-eight forward, it may open the door for some younger teams with longer contention timelines to get into the mix.

Offensively, Johnson offers more than Finney-Smith. As a three-point shooter, he’s near elite levels with a 39.2% connection rate from downtown in his career. In 2023-2024 he shot nearly identical to his career rate at 39.1%. Johnson is also above average at attacking closeouts and scoring in other ways.

Post-Durant trade, he averaged 16.6 points per game with the Nets, though that total fell to 13.4 points per game last season. The lack of a true creator on the Nets likely contributed to some of his offensive decline last season and he should prove to be a high-end secondary scorer when paired with an elite offensive creator.

Defensively, Johnson is also an interesting fit. Often playing the four, his slender frame is often exploited by burlier and stronger power forwards. This shows up on the boards as well as he averages just 3.9 rebounds for his career. On the flip side, his 6-foot-10-inch wingspan and above-average agility make him a menace in the passing lanes.

He’s not a true position-less defender, but guarding wings on the perimeter is his forte. If he lands in a situation where he plays the small forward position more often, his defensive value will rise.

As a near-elite sharpshooter with the ability to serve as a third option offensively and play quality defense in the right scheme, Johnson should have real value on the trade market. The Nets may be able to land multiple first-round picks plus some other pieces if they were to move him.

That said, his contract cuts both ways in that it limits his marketability to an extent, but also gives the Nets the opportunity to be patient and hold onto him until the right offer comes around.

The 2024-2025 Nets will be a young team

Apr 12, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Noah Clowney (21) shoots the ball against the New York Knicks during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of Finney-Smith and Johnson, only Dennis Shroder and Ben Simmons remain on the roster as experienced veterans. Both are in the last year of their contracts and will probably remain with the team due to the necessity of having at least some veteran presence and having lower trade value than the aforementioned wing players.

That means the young players are going to get a lot of run this year, and the goal will be evaluating the talent of that youth. The two players to watch specifically are second-year power forward Noah Clowney and second-year swingman Dariq Whitehead the latter of whom should finally be healthy.

The Nets will want to see if these two, in addition to fourth-year guard Cam Thomas can form a young core to build around. If not, the hope is at least one of these youngsters shows enough value to be packaged for a star in an accelerated rebuild timeline.

Either way, with their own pick in next year’s draft back in their possession the tank is on and the 2024-2025 season will be one of growing pains. For how long that lasts is anyone’s guess.

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