Sean Marks is starting to leave his stamp on the Nets, but one has to wonder if the general manager has another big move in him.
The Nets were very active on draft day. It all started by dealing Thad Young for the 20th overall pick, which they used to select Caris LeVert. Then, the Nets moved up from 55 to get Isaiah Whitehead, brought in undrafted free agent Yogi Ferrell, and in the process, got themselves $55 million in cap space.
But after Brooklyn's flurry of transactions, lingering questions remain. Will the Nets use their cap space -- enough for two max free agents -- to try and turn this thing around in a hurry? Do they hoard the space, making them fully committed to the youth movement? And if they are going to be a young team, does Brook Lopez still have a place on this club?
Lopez, who signed a three-year, $63 million deal with the Nets last summer, has seen it all since being drafted 10th overall in the 2008 draft by the Nets. He's been through 12-70, watched the franchise re-brand itself after the move from New Jersey, and qualified for the playoffs in the first three years after coming to Brooklyn, only to become a lottery team again. He is set to make $21 million next season, then $22 million in 2017-18, after which he'll be a free agent.
All indications point to the Nets not being competitive until next season at the earliest. The free agent class is stronger in the summer of '17, and the Nets may wait to pounce into the market until then.
With Young in Indiana, Jarrett Jack in the final year of his deal (that the Nets may stretch out and cut ties a year early), and their young collection of prospects likely to see significant time on the court, it may make sense to move on from Lopez while he's healthy and coming off a 22 point, 8.4 rebound per game average.
That said, Boston can swap picks with the Nets next year, so there's no reason for Brooklyn to go full-blown Sixers and tank for a chance at No. 1 overall. And as we've seen in Philadelphia, sometimes a lack of veteran leadership, even on a rebuilding team, can be a huge void. Young players need to have an example set out for them on how to be a pro, and there's no one better you can learn from than the always driven and affable Lopez.
Marks expressed interest in keeping Lopez when he addressed reporters earlier this summer. Then again, he said the same thing about Thad. With almost everyone on the lookout for a big man, Lopez could probably bring Marks a nice haul. Maybe get another first rounder for next season? Or potentially bring in a player Marks thinks will work better in Kenny Atkinson's system?
Of course, Lopez would be even more attractive after this season when he's on an expiring deal, so there's little reason for Marks to rush to a decision.
Whatever path Marks takes, it's likely that Lopez has not heard the last of his name in trade rumors. And that's nothing new.