In today's episode, Michael and Rohan discuss where Utah and Brooklyn go from here, Ben Simmons' trade value (including a few hypothetical partners to get a deal done), and Kemba Walker's exit from Boston. Then, they preview the conference finals with a special live draft, where they each select their own starting lineups from the players who are still competing. Let us know whose team is better!
Rohan Nadkarni: Yes, I kind of I somehow still haven't ruled the Nets out for this season. You know, like, are we sure? I don't know if any of the Open Floor Globe listeners watches Top Chef, but Top Chef has something called Last Chance Kitchen. It's a loser's bracket. And then all of a sudden someone just pops back in at the end of the season. And it's like, what? George has been in a secret shadow competition this whole time and now he's back in the real thing. That's the Nets. The Nets need last chance kitchen. Because, listen, I think you and I feel the same way about these two teams, which is I don't think anyone really wanted the Nets to win the NBA Finals. If I'm being honest. Like outside of Brooklyn, where debatable frankly. I think people were a little nervous about this team. They were constructed in such an aggressive way. The way Harden got himself out of Houston, I think, certainly rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. They barely played together during the regular season. And now we're like, Does this just not matter at all anymore? And I think it was a little bit of wishful thinking when people would pick against them. It took every single ounce of energy for the Bucks to beat this Nets team that was so clearly hampered. And I found myself even after these seven games, like oftentimes more frustrated with the Bucks than impressed, I think the Nets would have ran through the playoffs this year if they were fully healthy.
Michael Pina: No question.
RN: How good they looked—with just Durant and Harden on one leg.
MP: I mean, I say this with no bias, the Celtics beating the Nets in that series is like one of the great accomplishments any team has had. It's insane, that team when fully healthy is very close to unbeatable offensively. And you saw when pushed to the test, just what Kevin Durant is capable of. And I mean imagining Kyrie Irving still on the court, imagining James Harden like 80 or 90% of his abilities.
RN: Imagine if it was Kyrie Irving taking those wide-open threes instead of Joe Harris.
MP: Who is by the way, a great leader in three-point percentage this season. So you know, I think that the Nets next season, there are some interesting hurdles for them. I guess if you want to call it. Bruce Brown is a restricted free agent; he's pretty important.
RN: Jeff Green and Blake Griffin ended up being key factors.
MP: Jeff Green and Blake Griffin both are definitely going to want and deserve raises.
RN: I'd be shocked if they go back on minimum deals. And how can Brooklyn afford them, really? Because they don't have Bird rights on those guys. That's going to get it's a sneaky, interesting summer for them, because, you know what? If some, you know, small market or smaller market team comes in with a huge offer for Bruce Brown as their big free-agent signing, you know, he gets like the Evan Turner contract. You know what, if some contenders like we're going to throw our full midlevel exception at Blake Griffin, etc., it's going to be interesting what happens with some of the role players.
MP: Right, those are great points. Conversely, you're the Nets. You, as we just said, we both think that because of KD, Kyrie, Harden, they are the heavy favorites. In 2022, there will be ring chasers. There are always ring chasers. We'll see what happens with the buyout market. We'll see what happens with who is willing to take a pay cut to either take the veteran's minimum or take the midlevel from the Nets. So that's going to be really interesting to see. I can't wait to see what they look like next year. I kind of feel ... I don't know, I don't want to get like moral about this or whatever. The Nets just felt a little artificial to me. And, you know, it is what it is with the NBA right now. And that's fine. Once you kind of take your lumps, I soften up a little bit personally.
RN: You want to see a journey.