Should the Nets trade their outstanding young big man on an expiring contract?

Mar 27, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA;  Brooklyn Nets center Day'Ron Sharpe (20) looks to pass as Washington Wizards forward Marvin Bagley III (35) defends during the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After the Brooklyn Nets sent shockwaves around the Association trading prized wing Mikal Bridges to their crosstown rivals the rumor mill has started to heat up on which veterans might be the next to be shipped out of town. Brooklyn is very obviously in a rebuilding phase, so it makes sense that any veteran with value to a contender would be on the trading block.

One name that has gotten some traction in trade rumblings is that of fourth-year big man Day’Ron Sharpe who has reportedly been drawing interest from at least one team in particular, the Memphis Grizzlies. While Sharpe, a former first-round pick, doesn’t turn 23 until November, his rookie contract expires at the end of this season which seems to be the catalyst for this speculation.

How does Day’Ron Sharpe fit on the Nets’ roster?

Apr 1, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Day'Ron Sharpe (20) shoots the ball while Indiana Pacers forward Isaiah Jackson (22) defends in the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The logic behind a trade is two-fold. First, Sharpe served last season as the primary backup to newly extended center Nic Claxton. The Nets also have another promising young big man on the roster in the form of second-year player Noah Clowney. This may lead to Sharpe being the odd man out and potentially looking for an opportunity to have a bigger role once he hits free agency.

However, just because there are other bigs on the depth chart doesn’t mean that they fill Sharpe’s role. Claxton is a unicorn defensively, able to both protect the rim and lock down the perimeter with his freakish versatility. At times, he’s been the team’s best perimeter defender and has no issue taking on guards and wings outside and stymying them.

We haven’t seen much of Clowney in the NBA, but he has a similar defensive projection. Both Claxton and Clowney are of the slender-framed athletic mold of big men. Claxton is listed at 6-11 215 pounds while Clowney is 6-10 210 pounds. Sharpe is a different type of center, standing at 6-11 but weighing in at 265 pounds.

That size allows Sharpe to match up with bigger centers in the paint which is an area the other two struggle. As a rebounder, Sharpe has been one of the league’s best, particularly on the offensive glass. His offensive rebounding percentage of 18.6% would have been second in the league had Sharpe hit the playing time qualifier.

Modern basketball is not as much about positions as it is about how players fit next to one another. While some may be concerned with the number of young bigs on the team, the fact is they can play along side each other to an extent. Offensively, Clowney has shown the ability to stretch the floor shooting 36.4% from three in limited playing time next season. Sharpe hasn’t been a consistent floor spacer, but he has good mechanics on his jumper, and if he continues to develop as a shooter can serve as another floor spacer.

If Clowney and Sharpe continue to develop their shooting ability from beyond the arc, there’s no reason the Nets can’t run frequent lineups with two bigs on the floor at the same time. The switchability of Claxton and Clowney to cover the perimeter defensively makes a two-big alignment that much more viable as well.

What would a return package look like for Day’Ron Sharpe?

Mar 16, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) shoots the ball while Brooklyn Nets center Day'Ron Sharpe (20) defends in the first half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

While it’s clear that Sharpe can fit alongside the other Nets’ bigs the question of whether or not to make a trade always comes down to value. Sharpe saw limited run his first two seasons, playing just 32 games as a rookie and 48 games as a sophomore. Last season in his third year, he played 61 serving as the primary backup center for the first time in his career.

With that extended run, he was productive. Despite only averaging 15.1 minutes per game scoring 6.8 points and grabbing 6.4 rebounds per contest. Given his youth, potential to continue growing his skills, and draft pedigree it seems likely that he’s nowhere near realizing the peak of his abilities.

On the flip side, a team trading for him would be banking on that potential rather than a proven track record. Until Sharpe proves that he’s more than just a rebound specialist, it’s hard to forecast him into a starting role which is more than likely what a team acquiring him would be doing.

If traded now, Sharpe would likely only return an expiring contract and a couple of second-round picks. With the Nets projected to have between $70 million to $80 million in cap space next season freeing up additional salary space just for the sake of it doesn’t seem very appealing.

Why the Nets should not trade Day’Ron Sharpe now

Mar 10, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) drives to the basket between Brooklyn Nets center Day'Ron Sharpe (20) and guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) in the third quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Sharpe is an ascending young player who still has room to grow. If he can continue his growth and development, he’ll be a perfect complement to the other two young big men currently on the roster. Even without further development, he brings something to the table that the other two don’t.

While his impending free agency is an issue, he hasn’t performed enough to warrant a big contract. If that changes, it means the Nets have an intriguing young player who could be part of the rebuild, which is something they should be collecting, not trading.

Lastly, even if the front office is determined to trade Sharpe, it doesn’t need to be now. He’ll always be enough of a presence on the boards to generate the same return he would if traded now, which frankly isn’t very much. With the roster overhaul in full effect, however, he should get more run which could just up his trade price at the deadline.

The Nets would be foolish to trade Sharpe now. Instead, they should give him the opportunity to prove he can be part of the future all while raising his price tag on the trade market in the meantime.

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