The Step Back

The NBA would like the Nets to keep their dirty hands off their restricted free agents


According to The Vertical’s Chris Mannix, teams are upset with the Brooklyn Nets for signing their restricted free agents to large offer sheets. This comes after The Vertical reported that the Nets signed Washington’s Otto Porter to a four-year, $106 million dollar offer sheet. In turn, the Wizards are reportedly going to wait as long as possible in effort to punish and tie up the Nets’ cap space.

This isn’t the first time the Nets have forced teams to match large offer sheets on their restricted free agents. It happened last summer with Miami’s Tyler Johnson and Portland’s Allen Crabbe. Each time, the other team was forced to match at a price (much) higher than they would have liked to pay, or let a young talent walk. And each time that team chose to match.

There’s not much sympathy from the Nets for other teams’ cap situations and little being reciprocated for the Nets’ as a franchise.

The Wizards had the chance to lockdown Porter when they met on July 1 but couldn’t come to a deal. Teams like the Blazers and Heat had similar opportunities to come to agreements before their players reached restricted free agency. In each case, all three of the players have come out as winners.

For the Wizards, matching the Nets’ offer for Porter is financially concerning. They already owe Bradley Beal $105 million over the next four years. John Wall has just two years left on his deal and is owed $37 million. Matching Porter makes it tough to re-sign Wall in 2019 and build a competitive roster around him. The Wizards care more about that than empathizing with Brooklyn’s limited rebuilding options.

However, the Wizards’ or anyone else’s cap situation is not the Nets’ problem either. Brooklyn is still dealing with a lack of draft picks with a young roster amidst a rebuild. While these wounds are self-inflicted, they were not done so by the current regime. The Nets’ focus is on finding talent without the luxury of top draft picks. They might as well continue forcing teams to match these lucrative offers in case a team declines in hopes of landing young talent.

Whether this leaves a team with a thin bench or puts them up against the luxury tax doesn’t matter to them.

Sean Marks has been savvy in his short time with the Nets. He inherited Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. He signed Jeremy Lin and Trevor Booker to reasonable deals. He’s also found gems like Sean Kilpatrick and Caris LaVert. On top of that, he’s moved Brook Lopez for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. Being able to assist teams in moving their undesirable contracts, like Mozgov’s, no doubt earns back some goodwill from the rest of the league.

As far as free agency, the Nets aren’t going to be major players. Teams can tie up their cap room for a few more days without having much effect on them. They’re not going to be landing big names anyway. They’re looking for those bargains that don’t require significant cap space. Sitting on Porter’s $26.5 million figure won’t hinder them much, if at all.

The Nets aren’t out here to help other teams build contenders; they’re trying to turn themselves back into a playoff team. Teams should know by now that the Nets will likely pounce at these opportunities and may need to do more to avoid letting these situations escalate. The other side of that is players bet on themselves all the time. They know that they may be leaving money on the table taking the qualifying offer knowing that someone may offer more in restricted free agency. That only decreases a team’s leverage.

Teams like the Wizards are going to try to do what they can to elevate their franchises. However, they shouldn’t be surprised or upset when the Nets try to do the same.





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