Realistic vs. Unrealistic Targets for the Brooklyn Nets This Offseason

The Nets can go grab a star this summer, but who is in the realm of possibility?
Feb 8, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) warms up prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 8, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) warms up prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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The Brooklyn Nets are going into the offseason solid space in the first and second apron. With $39.6 million in space for the first apron and $50.4 million in space for the second apron, a solid free agency could be in the cards for the organization.

Some factors play into this, however. Nic Claxton is a free agent this summer, and with players like Ben Simmons, Cam Johnson, and Mikal Bridges on salaries ranging from $23 million to $40 million, the front office will likely have to acquire a star via trade if they want to hold on to their veterans.

If the Nets decide to go shopping in free agency or the trade market, who is a realistic get for Brooklyn?

Realistic: Donovan Mitchell

Jan 11, 2024; Paris, FRANCE; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) chases the ball with Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton (33) in the NBA Paris Game at AccorHotels Arena. Mandatory Credit:  Alexis Reau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports
Jan 11, 2024; Paris, FRANCE; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) chases the ball with Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton (33) in the NBA Paris Game at AccorHotels Arena. Mandatory Credit: Alexis Reau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports / Presse Sports-USA TODAY Sports

Mitchell is not a free agent this summer, but has a player option for the 2025-26 season, sparking rumors of a blockbuster trade this summer.

With the Nets being a team expected to be knocking at Cleveland's front door with an offer, Spida is certainly in the range of possibility for Brooklyn. The only thing to note is that getting dealt to the Nets wouldn't be an immediate contender with just D-Mitch, but it does make the team an attractive destination for anther star to team up with the All-NBA talent.

Unrealistic: Paul George

Jan 21, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13) controls the ball against Brooklyn Nets forward Trendon Watford (9) during the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 21, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13) controls the ball against Brooklyn Nets forward Trendon Watford (9) during the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Paul George has a player option this summer, but with the Clippers having yet to offer an extension, it's more likely that will test free agency this summer, potentially looking for a change in scenery. If the Nets decide to let Claxton walk, they would be able to give George an offer comparable to other teams in the running. However, it's definitely a huge risk.

George has no real connections to the Nets, and, similar to if Brooklyn grabs Mitchell, they would still not be an immediate contender by just acquiring PG-13. Plus, is George really a player the Nets want, given that he's 34 years old? This next contract is likely his last or second-to-last, which would create a small window for Brooklyn to win immediately.

Realistic: Trae Young

Dec 6, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) controls the ball against Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) during the first half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) controls the ball against Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) during the first half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With the Hawks lucking out with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, and the Trae Young-Dejounte Murray duo failing in the past two seasons, Young's name has been going around the market for teams to trade for. With young assets like Cam Thomas, Noah Clowney, and four first-round picks from 2025-2028, an intriguing offer could be put together if the Hawks decide to go into a rebuild.

Young would be a huge get for Brooklyn, and perhaps the smartest out of anyone on this list. He's only 25, averaging 25.7 points and 10.8 assists this past season. There isn't as much pressure to immediately make a deep postseason run if he's acquired, compared to Mitchell or George who are older, and a top-tier forward or center could be more attracted to Brooklyn if they see that the team has an incredible playmaker in place.

Unrealistic: DeMar DeRozan

Nov 26, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) dribbles as Brooklyn Nets guard Armoni Brooks (13) defends during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) dribbles as Brooklyn Nets guard Armoni Brooks (13) defends during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

I don't think this works for either side, but there have been talks of the Nets looking into DeRozan as a target in free agency. The unrestricted free agent is 34 years old and coming off of a three-year, $81.9 million contract with the Bulls, and after a stretch in which the Bulls made the postseason just once in that time, it's more than likely the Compton native looks for a new home.

Given his Southern California roots, growing up there and attending USC, the Clippers should be the next-best suitor after Chicago, given that if George walks, he's the generalized replacement.

While getting DeRozan makes the Nets better, it doesn't push them out of mediocrity. Brooklyn missed the Play-In Tournament at 32-50, and with DeRozan, they'd probably only add another five or six wins with the current roster. It'd be better if the Nets went and distributed money across solid veterans than the six-time All-Star.

Just looking at who the most realistic targets are for the Nets, you'd be smart to bet on them acquiring elite talent on the trade market, rather than free agency. The smart move for them is to re-sign 25-year-old Claxton, and go from there, with rumors of Mikal Bridges being dealt for draft capital. However, the Nets can also get competitive if they really want to make a push.

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Jed Katz

JED KATZ