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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Andre Drummond’s Recent Admission Is a Harsh Reminder That the Brooklyn Nets Are Facing an Ominous Offseason

The Nets are facing a difficult offseason this summer, with all eyes on them as they struggle to keep the pieces together that helped propel them into contention. The recent admission of Andre Drummond is just another blow in what has been an incredibly disappointing season for Brooklyn and fans everywhere who were hoping for NBA Finals excitement before the inevitable end comes later this month.

Andre Drummond just served as another another reminder that the Brooklyn Nets might be in for a bleak summer.

The center made a revealing admission on Wednesday, March 23. Drummond, who is out of contract this summer, stated, “If we’re all being honest, I’m just here for the remainder of the season” (h/t to CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn). “Who knows what will happen in the offseason?” says the player. He’s subsequently sought to distance himself from those remarks, claiming that they were taken out of context and that he’d be pleased to stay in Brooklyn, but the implications remain.

Drummond has been a valuable contributor for the Nets since joining them in the James Harden trade, averaging 12.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in 18 games. His performance isn’t the issue; rather, Nets supporters should blame the team’s financial situation. 

The Brooklyn Nets just cannot afford to pay Andre Drummond a contract commensurate with that of a starter player.

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Drummond, who is 28 years old, is now on a veteran-minimum contract. The chances of him signing a comparable deal with the Nets, on the other hand, are nearly non-existent. Why? Brooklyn is beset by financial problems, and the large guy can get a higher price on the open market.

Drummond, for starters, is a walking double-double. He’s a money player in the paint, a great rebounder, and he’s still in the peak of his NBA career. He reportedly agreed to a reduced contract with the 76ers in order to contend for an NBA title and serve as a backup to Joel Embiid. Drummond, as a free agent, is likely to seek a more lucrative — or longer-term — deal while he still has the option. 

Let us now turn our attention to the Nets.

Based on the assumption that Kyrie Irving would opt out of his current contract and re-sign in Brooklyn on a max contract, the payroll for him, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, and Joe Harris will total $135 million. The salary ceiling for next season is likely to be $121 million, with the luxury tax threshold hovering around $147 million. That means Sean Marks will have his job cut out for him in terms of filling up the bench, much alone assembling a championship-caliber squad. 

Center Nic Claxton, a steady and always developing inside player, is a restricted free agent following this season. The Nets are unlikely to be able to match the big offer sheet that Claxton may sign with another club after refusing to sell him for value before the NBA trade deadline. That, paired with Drummond’s (assumed) departure, puts the onus on Day’Ron Sharpe, the team’s rookie big man, to make improvements or at the very least impressively take on a high-minute position next season. 

Then there’s the matter of Simmons’ availability to play. There’s a good possibility he won’t play for the Nets again this season, particularly if they don’t advance beyond the NBA Play-In Tournament or the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Given the club’s financial predicament, investing millions on someone who won’t have an influence on the field further restricts the club’s options.

The Brooklyn Nets’ salary cap situation is comparable to the Los Angeles Lakers’ in 2021.

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Based on the salary cap calculations, it seems that the Nets will be restricted this summer. Look no farther than the Los Angeles Lakers from last summer to see how it may possibly play out.

LA had linked the bulk of their salary to three players after dealing a bunch of young and effective scorers for Russell Westbrook (Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis). As a result, the club was compelled to fill half of its squad with part-time players on league minimum contracts. The Lakers are 31-44 as of March 31 and are in danger of missing the playoffs.

To be fair to the Nets, they aren’t likely to implode like the Lakers did this season. Brooklyn has two stars in their prime (Durant and Irving), a very talented player in Simmons, two intriguing rookies (Sharpe and Cameron Thomas), and a first-round pick in the NBA draft this year. At the same time, the Eastern Conference team will have to shop the bargain bin, either acquiring inferior players or persuading greater stars to take lower wages in exchange for a chance to win a championship. For a team to progress while operating in this manner is a huge task. And, in order to prevent falling behind in the NBA, you must always develop.

As rapidly as they arise, championship windows may shut. Even the most skilled teams may have a lot of things go wrong in the blink of an eye. Take a look at how the Lakers have sunk or how the Nets’ season hasn’t gone as planned.

All the Nets can do now is hope to make the playoffs. Brooklyn is 40-36, excellent for the eighth seed in the East, and they’re as dangerous as any team in the league when they’re at full strength. Despite the fact that the odds are stacked against them, this team’s ultimate aim is to win a championship.

Drummond’s remarks serve as a nice reminder of the team’s next difficult summer. Nothing is assured in the future.

Basketball-Reference provided the statistics. Spotrac provided the contract numbers.

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