For some teams, the NBA’s off-season is a wonderland of applied cap flexibility. For the salary-burdened Nets, it’s merely a matter of making the best of unfavorable circumstances. Years of taking on cumbersome contracts and trading away draft picks has come back to haunt Brooklyn, so much so that the Nets had little recourse but to re-sign Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young despite any concerns over their market.
On Wednesday, the Nets retained both big men. Lopez received a three-year deal worth $60 million, while Young's deal is four years and $50 million, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. Both have a player option in the final year of their new deals.
And, all told, both were signed to deals at what amounts to the NBA’s going rate. Lopez carries with him the weight of his injury history—a specter that undoubtedly whittled down his suitors and helped push him into the Nets’ needy arms. Yet when he has been healthy enough to play, Lopez has been one of the few traditional centers able to carry an offense to high efficiency. His compound ability to work in the post and produce out of rolls and cuts to the basket give him real, structural value. The fact that an injury could strike at any moment mitigates it, though not so much as to depress customary value for a scoring seven-footer. It helps, too, that while Lopez is neither the quickest nor the savviest defender, he’s learned to apply his size in ways that could support a viable team defense. The risks associated with Lopez’s health shouldn’t overshadow all that he has to offer.
Young turned out to be a nice in-season addition for Brooklyn, a fact reinforced by his retention. He initially cost the Nets only the expiring contract of Kevin Garnett—a player nowhere near as useful as Young in his current form and of little value in re-signing. Instead, Brooklyn acquired and then committed to a quality power forward option who fits nicely into this current roster. Young does his best work without the ball in his hands; by cutting opposite scorers (like Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams) and working his way into offensive rebounds, Young manufactures value in as low-maintenance a fashion as is possible. He rounds out that skill set with understated help defense to complete the profile of a quality starter. This is what players as good as Young are paid, and should they ultimately need to trade the 27-year-old forward before his contract runs out, the Nets should have no trouble in doing so.