The Brooklyn Nets fell short of championship expectations as James Harden and Kyrie Irving were hampered by injuries at different points in the playoffs. Both stars and Kevin Durant will look to fulfill those expectations next season when they’re fully healthy, but there’s uncertainty whether Brooklyn’s veteran supporting cast will return.
“If we’re not injured, and me and Kyrie are on the floor, it’s a totally different conversation,” Harden said following Brooklyn’s Game 7 loss to Milwaukee. “We can’t talk about that because that wasn’t the case. It’s a part of basketball. You’ve just got to try to stay healthy, and I’m sure the front office will try to bring in more players around me, KD, and Kyrie.”
With that in mind, HoopsHype polled five NBA executives to get their thoughts on the free agency values of Spencer Dinwiddie, Blake Griffin, Bruce Brown, and Jeff Green heading into the offseason and whether they will return to Brooklyn next season.
Spencer Dinwiddie’s future
Dinwiddie is expected to decline his $12.3 million player option with the hopes of earning a significant pay raise as one of the top free-agent point guards on the market this summer.
“I think Spencer will get high teens (annually),” one NBA executive told HoopsHype.
“Dinwiddie seems like he’s leaving,” another NBA executive predicted when speaking with HoopsHype. “He’ll have a high salary number. I don’t see him staying regardless. I don’t get the sense he wants to be there.”
Dinwiddie, 28, was discussed in trade talks for Warriors forward Kelly Oubre, according to the New York Times, and was also discussed in trade talks with the Miami Heat before the deadline, as reported by HoopsHype.
To the executive’s point, some around the league believe Dinwiddie wants to be a starting point guard with a larger role as he had during the 2019-20 season when he averaged a career-high 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game.
Even if Dinwiddie wanted to return to the Nets as Irving’s backcourt mate, it would be tough for the Nets to keep him with luxury tax implications in mind.
Nets general manager Sean Marks, who’s praised Dinwiddie and Joe Harris over the years for their development as part of the original core during the rebuilding years, could work out a sign-and-trade with the 28-year-old point guard this offseason that’s beneficial for both sides. It’s one of the reasons why the team held onto him past the trade deadline.
While most expect Dinwiddie to command a significant pay raise, other executives were more cautious based on Dinwiddie’s partially torn right ACL injury in December.
“Coming off that injury, I’d be concerned about giving him in the neighborhood of $80 million over four years,” an NBA executive told HoopsHype.
“Dinwiddie is worth $14-17 million depending on his health,” another executive said.
Blake Griffin’s future
When Griffin arrived in Brooklyn, some around the league questioned whether he had any more miles on his tires and a perceived decline in his athleticism. While Griffin won’t jump over a car in the slam dunk contest again anytime soon, he proved to be a useful role player for the Nets.
“I think Griffin could be worth a little more than the taxpayer mid-level exception or around $6 million,” one NBA executive told HoopsHype.
Another executive pegged Griffin’s value closer to the $3-5 million range, which is closer in value to the bi-annual exception and the room mid-level exception.
The 32-year-old veteran led the league in charges drawn this season (22) and showed a willingness to do the dirty work of a role player by diving on the floor for loose balls, setting screens, and boxing out while the Nets attempted to gang rebound to make up for their lack of size.
“Blake has a lot of money coming next year,” an executive said. “I’m guessing he prioritizes the situation over money.”
For what it’s worth, it sounds like Durant would love to have Brooklyn’s center back next season after Griffin averaged 15.3 points on 58.1 percent shooting overall and 43.8 percent from three-point range with 6.7 rebounds in Brooklyn’s final three playoff games.
“I had so much fun playing with Blake and Bruce,” Durant said after Game 7. “They make the game so much easier for everybody. Bruce being a 6-foot-4 guard mixing it up in the paint like that and Blake coming off so many injuries, giving us his all, starting for us at center in the playoffs. I’ve got nothing but respect for those guys. It’s a joy and an honor to take the court with them every day.”
Bruce Brown’s future
Whether it was as an undersized center or guard locking up the opponent’s best perimeter scorer on defense and a high post cutter who’d score on floaters just inside the foul line on offense, Bruce Brown carved a significant role while splitting time as a starter and reserve this season.
“Bruce is a winner,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We love him, and he fights, he’s tireless, great defensively, and a great performance by him all season long.”
Following Game 7, Brown – a restricted free agent this summer – made it clear he wants to remain in Brooklyn.
Bruce Brown on free agency: “I hope I’m here. I know my contract is up, but I hope I’m staying in Brooklyn. I love playing with these guys. They made me better this year.” pic.twitter.com/lY6kHX8HcC
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 20, 2021
According to rival NBA executives, Brown’s value could range anywhere from $4-7 million annually. There’s a belief he’s valued more highly in Brooklyn and may not fit well in a different role elsewhere due to his unique role with the Nets.
“Brown will get less than the taxpayer mid-level exception,” an NBA executive told HoopsHype. “He’s a 6-foot-4 power forward for Brooklyn. Not many teams can use him like that.”
“He’s not a good fit for most teams,” another executive told HoopsHype. “Nash has used him brilliantly.”
This season, Brown posted career-highs in field goal percentage (.556) and rebounds per game (5.4).
“Brown is playing like a $10 million player,” a third executive told HoopsHype. “I don’t think he gets that much. Maybe he gets $5-7 million.”
Jeff Green’s future
Green, a teammate of both Durant and Harden before joining the Nets this season, shot a career-high 41.2 percent from three-point range this season and added a few highlight dunks as well.
“Everybody knows how much I loved it here,” Green said. “I love the people here. The fans are amazing. The personnel on this team, coaches, trainers, everybody knows how much I love them individually and my time here.”
After signing with Brooklyn for the veteran’s minimum, several NBA executives believe Green will earn a pay raise this summer. Executives estimated his value is currently at $3-6 million annually.
“Green and Griffin probably won’t get more than the bi-annual exception,” one executive projected.
“I think Green will be a tax-payer mid-level exception guy,” another executive countered.
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto