Brooklyn Nets: Top remaining fits in the 2024 free agency pool

Markelle Fultz, Magic, Nets
Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The buzz around the Brooklyn Nets is what remaining veteran assets will they ship out, and with good reason. The rebuild is in full force after the Mikal Bridges trade, but just as the team is transitioning into sellers doesn’t mean there aren’t players on the open market who could be positive additions in 2024 and beyond.

Any potential addition falls into one of three categories: a player that can be part of the team’s future, a player that can be spun off for future assets at the trade deadline, or a player that can help the team be respectable in the 2024-2025 season as recent draft lottery changes have made all out tanks less effective.

At just under $17 million below the first apron of the luxury tax the Nets are not going big game hunting here. Instead, they’ll be bargain shopping hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with a value signing that perhaps has the potential to grow with the team or become a positive asset at the trade deadline.

Potential reunions with their own free agents

Mar 23, 2024; New York, New York, USA;  Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) gestures after making a three point shot in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets could look to retain some of their own free agents in order to fill out the roster. The three names that make the most sense are power forward Trendon Watford, shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV, and combo guard Dennis Smith Jr.

Watford should be a priority for the Nets. Still just 23 years old, Watford showed his value as a stretch-4 with a soft touch from deep shooting 39.7% from three last season. In just 13.6 minutes per game, he averaged 6.9 points per game highlighting his ability to get hot and score quickly. At six-foot-nine and 240 pounds he’s got the requisite size to hang with bruising power forwards, but enough defensive versatility to guard quicker small forwards out on the perimeter. He’s not a star, but he could continue to develop and become a crucial role player both now and in the future.

Lonnie Walker IV is still just 25 years old. A microwave scorer, he battled through some injuries last season but still showed an ability to score in bunches when called upon. He drained 38.4% of his threes on 4.7 attempts per game despite averaging just 17.4 minutes per game. Either as a chip for the future or an asset that can be traded to a contender in need of shooting at the deadline, retaining Walker IV makes a lot of sense.

Lastly, Dennis Smith Jr. could provide some much-needed depth at the point guard position. Currently, veterans Dennis Schroder and the injury-prone Ben Simmons are the only established lead guards on the roster. Smith Jr. isn’t a great facilitator, but he’s an excellent point-of-attack defender who can provide some depth.

These two outsiders would be sensible additions

Markelle Fultz’s career has been a strange basketball odyssey. From epic bust to redeeming himself as a solid starting point guard, to falling off again in a reserve role last season it’s hard to know what to expect from a player who somehow is still just 26 years old.

As mentioned above, the Nets lack point guard depth, and with Schroder on an expiring contract, it’s unlikely that he will finish out the season with the team. Enter Fultz who has proven to be a solid facilitator and potent dribble-drive scorer. Yes, he still hasn’t developed an outside shot but he’s a solid perimeter defender that overall can add value to the team. Given his pedigree, it makes sense to kick the tires on the seven-year vet and see if his true potential can finally be unlocked.

Kessler Edwards, Nets, Kings
Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Lastly, a reunion with former Net Kessler Edwards makes sense. The Nets are shopping wings Cam Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith, and if traded their departures would open up a sizable hole on the wing. Enter Edwards, a second-round pick of the Nets in the 2021 draft.

While he was traded at the deadline during the 2022-2023 season to the Sacramento Kings where he struggled to find his footing, as a rookie in 2021-2022 he flashed some legitimate 3-and-D potential with the Nets. That year, the 6-8 forward shot 35.3% from three while averaging 5.9 points per game and playing solid defense over 20.6 minutes per contest. Edwards turns 24 next month, so why not fill the hole on the wing with a young player with the potential to fulfill one of the most valuable role-player roles in the league?

The Nets won’t bring in all five of these players, but all should be in consideration

As stated above, the Nets won’t be big players in free agency. However several of the aforementioned players should be in consideration for the team. Some may project into roles beyond 2024-2025, while others may serve as veteran leadership for what will be a young club while also potentially becoming assets that can be flipped for draft capital at the trade deadline.

While there aren’t any blockbuster moves left for the team this offseason, keep an eye on what they do in the coming weeks because the wheeling and dealing is far from over.

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