Caught in the Net: Revisionist History on Brooklyn’s Bad Trade Habits


2018 marks the third (and hopefully final) year that the Nets do not have their own lottery pick. Some really horrible decision making by the Nets front office has set them back as they have been unable to draft some of the top prospects. Not only the lack of picks, but the guys who have been picked with picks the Nets traded have mostly turned to stars.

Where would that team, made up of players drafted by a Nets pick traded by Billy King since 2010, rank in the eastern conference?

Starting 5:
Damian Lillard
Jaylen Brown
Kyle Kuzma
Jayson Tatum
Draymond Green

Enes Kanter, Gorgi Dieng, Shane Larkin, Kelly Oubre

The problem started in 2011, the Nets first acquired Deron Williams followed by Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, then Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (Wallace was traded for Pierce and Garnett, never played with them). The Nets mortgaged their future, and sacrificed the chance at above names to win a total of 10 playoff games over a three year stretch. The lineup that appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated (Williams, Johnson, Garnett, Pierce and Brook Lopez, coached by Jason Kidd) lasted just one year.

Nets/Celtics trade costs Brooklyn 4 years worth of first round picks
Full trade: In June 2014, Nets acquiredKevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White from the Boston Celtics for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans, three first-round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018), plus the right to swap first-rounders in 2017.

Let’s start with the most recent and famous trade involving the Celtics back in 2014. The 2014 pick was a bust (James Young). But in 2016, the Celtics drafted Jaylen Brown third overall and in 2017, drafted Jason Tatum third overall. While Tatum was one of the top rookies in the 2018 class, the Celtics actually had the first pick and traded down with Philly, which means the Nets could have had their pick of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Tatum or any other rookie. Both of those players are considered key core players to the Celtics future at the top of the east, although there is talk that at least one could also be used to acquire another all star (Kahwi Leonard). Either way, the Celtics have two incredibly gifted assets to move forward with.

The 2018 pick will be used by the Cavs. The Celtics traded it as part of a deal for Kyrie Irving last summer (note – Kyrie is not included in the trade above because it was a second hand trade made with a Nets pick, not a direct trade). Therefore, the book has officially closed on the Nets/Celtics components of this trade.

As for the trade details for Brooklyn – future hall of famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce never lived up to the championship hype. Garnett averaged career lows all across the board. In 2013-14 he played just 54 games, 20.5 minutes per game, 6.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg (all career lows) and his Nets career lasted just 89 games.

Paul Pierce lasted just one year in Brooklyn, playing 75 games, averaging 28 minutes per game, and 13.5 ppg – like Garnett, all career lows.

The rarely spoken Gerald Wallace Mistake
Full trade: In March 2012, Nets acquire Gerald Wallace from Blazers for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and a 2012 first round pick (top 3 protected)

One of the players the Nets traded in the above Celtics deal, Gerald Wallace, was part of the deal mostly for salary matching purposes. Due to the enormity of the Celtics deal, this one often gets overlooked.
In 2012, after failing to acquire Dwight Howard, the Nets were looking to make a big move and pulled the trigger on Gerald Wallace. The draft pick they traded was protected only for top 3, and the Blazers would take Damian Lillard 6th overall. Wallace would be rewarded with a 4 year $40 million contract, which seemed a bit much at the team. Wallace’s numbers would not improve. He never fit in chemistry wise with the Nets, his numbers were down across the board and he was often injured, with injuries derailing the remainder of his career. He played just 85 games with the Nets.
Meanwhile, Lillard is a three time all-star in Portland

Before the Celtics blockbuster there was the Jazz blockbuster that cost three first round picks
Full trade: In February 2011, Nets acquired Deron Williams for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, 2011 first round pick and 2013 first round pick.

Before the Celtics trade, there was the Jazz blockbuster that cost the Nets “only” three first rounds (they had to one up themselves with Boston). The acquisition of Williams set the tone for the franchise as he was the first building block.

While technically only two picks were dealt, Derrick Favors was halfway through his rookie season when he was traded to the Jazz. Favors lasted just 56 games as a Net and has spent his whole career with Utah. He has been a quality role player for the Jazz, averaging roughly 12 ppg and 7 rpg throughout his career.
The 2011 first round pick, #3 overall, turned into Enes Kanter. Kanter has bounced around a couple of teams (was with Knicks in 2018) and has averaged near a double double for his career but is a minus defender, which negatively impacts people’s perception of him. He can only score if he is a few feet away from the basket too.

The 2013 pick turned into Gorgui Dieng, now a member of the Timberwolves, another guy who is an excellent rebounder and good low post scorer.

As for Deron Williams? Mixed bag. Williams did play 277 games for the Nets. In 2012, he signed a 5 year, $99 million max contract. At the time, it was a huge deal for the Nets, literally and figuratively, because it showed their seriousness with winning and spending money to do so. Williams would last just three more seasons in Brooklyn, getting waived in 2015 with two years left on his deal. The Nets did make the playoff three times with Williams, but never got past the second round.
Iso Joe costs the Nets another two first round picks 
Full trade: In July 2012, Nets acquire Joe Johnson from Atlanta Hawks for Jordan Farmer, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, and a 2013 first round pick

The Nets kicked off the summer of 2012 with this trade, and at the time raised some eye brows, but did make sense. After months of pursuing Dwight Howard, they wanted more star power in Brooklyn and traded a handful of players for “Iso Joe”. In 2010, with the Hawks, Johnson signed one of the craziest contracts in NBA history (at that time) signing a 6 year, $128 million deal. For the Hawks, this trade was a way to get out from under that contract. The Nets, really didn’t trade much as far as players and the draft picks didn’t pan out as stars.

In 2013, the Mavs (after this pick exchanged hands a couple times) drafted Shane Larkin 17th overall and in 2015 the Hawks drafted Kelly Ombre 15th overall (before trading him to the Wizards).
Johnson played 288 games for the Nets (starting all of them) from the time he was acquired in 2012 until 2016, when he was bought out mid season. Johnson averaged 15 ppg and despite the negativity around his contract was always a reliable and often clutch player for the Nets.
Draymond Green could have been a Net? 
This trade didn’t have major implications at the time and this trade is overlooked as it was made the same time as the Nets acquisition of Gerald Wallace. But in 2012, the Nets traded (what was hoped to be an innocent) second round pick and Troy Murphy to the Warriors for Dan Gadzuric and Brandon Wright. Not a horrible trade at the time, but that second round pick became, Draymond Green, a three time NBA champion and all star.

Saying good bye to the franchise
Brook Lopez was the true franchise of the Nets. He spent 8 years in New Jersey/Brooklyn and holds many franchise records. In the summer of 2017, two nights before the NBA draft, the Nets traded Brook Lopez and the 27th pick to the Lakers for D’angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. Russell was the 2nd overall pick in 2015 so it seemed like a good idea, but the Lakers used the 27th pick to draft Kyle Kuzma.

Kuzma played 30 mpg and averaged 16 ppg, 6 rpg for the Lakers and Russell played just 48 games due to injury, averaging 15.5 ppg and 5 apg. Mozgov was only included because the Lakers wanted to shed his salary and he was the price the Nets paid to acquire Russell. He started the first 13 games and played sparingly after that (31 games total, 2 years left on contract)

Since 2010, the year the Nets hired Billy King, their first round picks include:

  • 2010 – #3 Derrick Favors (last 56 games before being traded for Derron Williams)
  • 2010 – #27 – Jordan Crawford (traded to the Nets before ever playing a game)
  • 2011 – #27 – JaJuan Johnson (traded to Celtics for Marshon Brooks – never had much of an NBA game)
  • 2013- #22 Mason Plumlee (traded on draft night for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson)
  • 2015 – #29 Chris McCullough (played 38 games for Nets, traded to Wizards in 2016)
  • 2017 – #22 Jarrett Allen (played 72 games a rookie, averaged 8 ppg and showed potential!)
  • Allen was the first first round draft pick made by new GM Sean Marks.

In summary, the Nets have 3 playoff appearances (1 series win) and an average record of 31-49, 148 games below .500.

Farewell Billy King and cheers to a brighter future in Brooklyn!

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