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Offseason Grades: Brooklyn Nets

Newcomers (from left) Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry will give the Nets a boost this season. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry will give the Nets a boost this season. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Point Forward will grade every team’s offseason over the next few weeks. Click here for the complete archive.

Additions: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, Alan Anderson, Shaun Livingston, Mason Plumlee (No. 22 pick in 2013 draft)

Losses: Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, C.J. Watson, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Jerry Stackhouse, Kris Joseph, D.J. White (acquired from Boston this summer and subsequently waived)

Other Moves: Re-signed Andray Blatche, hired Jason Kidd as coach

What Went Right: Brooklyn's max-out moves to bolster its title chances. The Nets, seeking to make their current roster as competitive as possible, did a terrific job of upgrading with better, more versatile players.

Garnett is a transformational defensive player and far more useful offensively than last season's starting power forwards, Humphries and Reggie Evans. Pierce, 35, isn't as consistent or prolific as he once was, but he is coming off yet another successful jack-of-all-trades season. Kirilenko, an absolutely insane get at this price (two years, $6.4 million), is a perfect candidate to help relieve and complement the Nets' older stars. Terry, too, could be a fantastic addition. The 35-year-old guard never quite panned out as a shot creator during his one season in Boston, but he could fit in nicely as a supplement to this loaded team.

In picking up those four players alone, the Nets have a chance to improve dramatically on both ends of the floor. That's an ideal outcome for a team operating under a win-now doctrine, an impressive score considering that Brooklyn had looked a bit tapped out in terms of tradable assets. General manager Billy King flipped Wallace -- who is coming off maybe the worst stretch of his career and due $30.3 million over the next three seasons -- the underwhelming Humphries, a low-level prospect in Joseph and a stash of draft picks for two star-level additions (Garnett and Pierce) and a quality role player (Terry). The Nets then used those additions to persuade Kirilenko to sign for the paltry taxpayer mid-level exception.

The re-signing of Blatche shouldn't be overlooked, either. Blatche was one of the better reserves in the league last season, and the Nets were able to bring him back on a modest two-year, $2.8 million deal with a player option in the second season.

Most ownership groups wouldn't allow their teams to enhance rosters through limitless spending and the trading of future draft picks. But Mikhail Prokhorov's team is blatantly and successfully leveraging those competitive advantages.

What Went Wrong: The long-term sacrifices and financial costs that come with the Nets' short-term gains. Brooklyn is so far beyond the luxury-tax line that even the most marginal moves come at an incredible price. For example, Marc Stein of noted that Anderson's minimum-salary signing, worth just $947,907, will actually cost the Nets $5.2 million once the corresponding tax hit is accounted for.

Brooklyn's payroll is an astounding $102.2 million*, according to Add in the tax payment of $87.2 million, and the Nets are shelling out $189.4 million for their roster. That's a brutal sum to pay for a team that may not even be in the Eastern Conference's top three, as Miami, Chicago and Indiana will all be penciled in ahead of Brooklyn to start the season. That hierarchy could change if the Nets click in to defend at a top-10 level, but such a development would be asking a lot of both Garnett (who logged just 29.7 minutes per game last season and will have his playing time watched carefully) and Kidd (a first-time coach).

GIVE AND GO: What could keep the Nets from making a deep playoff run?

Beyond that, the Nets have skirted league rules designed to protect them as a means of trading away as many draft picks as possible. The Ted Stepien Rule prevents teams from trading their future first-round picks in consecutive seasons, in part so that a franchise's entire future can't be sold off in the present. It's an effective limitation, for the most part, but Brooklyn has managed to deal the picks in those in-between years with a little creativity. Instead of trading first-rounders in consecutive seasons (which would be illegal), the Nets have traded one future first-round pick and then functionally traded the subsequent year's first-rounder by allowing a trade partner the right to swap picks. As a result, Brooklyn owns just a single pick -- a 2018 second-rounder -- outright between now and 2018. Every other selection has been dealt in total or via the right for a trade partner to take the Nets' pick if it's higher than its own. Here's the breakdown:


First round: No pick. The Hawks can swap picks with the Nets as part of last year's Joe Johnson deal, and the lesser of the two picks is now owed to Boston from the Garnett-Pierce-Wallace trade.

Second round: No pick. It was traded to Boston (along with the rights to JaJuan Johnson) in 2011 for the rights to MarShon Brooks. Philadelphia now owns this pick.


First round: The Hawks can swap picks with the Nets as part of the Johnson deal.

Second round: No pick. It was traded to Utah for Mehmet Okur in 2011.


First round: No pick. It was traded to Boston in the Garnett-Pierce-Wallace deal.

Second round: The Clippers can swap picks with the Nets as part of the the Evans sign-and-trade deal last year. (The Clippers lose the ability to swap second-round picks if their own choice falls in the 56-60 range.)


First round: The Celtics can swap picks with the Nets as part of the Garnett-Pierce-Wallace deal.

Second round: No pick. It was traded to Atlanta in the Johnson deal.


First round: No pick. It was traded to Boston in the Garnett-Pierce-Wallace deal.

Second round: Brooklyn has this selection.

Not all of those transactions were completed this summer. But during the 2013 offseason, Brooklyn traded most every pick (and right to swap picks) possible as a means of acquiring aging contributors. The moves could push the Nets closer to title contention this season and next but require a daunting financial commitment and what amounts to the selling out of their entire draft stock. Whether that exchange is ultimately worth it is up to the Nets alone, but at the moment it's easy to see the potential for disaster if Brooklyn slips over the next few seasons.

*Brooklyn's raw salary total is actually slightly higher, due to the fact that Livingston's contract will be partially covered by the league -- as is the case with all minimum-salary players with more than two years of NBA experience playing on one-year deals. But since the Nets won't be forced to pay that portion of his contract nor will it be included for tax tabulating purposes, this $102.2 million figure makes more sense for practical calculation.

Grade: B+. Losing so many future draft picks hurts, but Brooklyn has moved to the fringes of the title discussion after coming nowhere near that level last season. The Nets still have much to prove, but at worst they have the personnel and lineup flexibility to better match up with the top teams in the East.

This post has been updated to include the Nets' drafting of Mason Plumlee.