The blockbuster trade sending Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets from the Boston Celtics is official, meaning the Nets starting lineup will feature a combined 35 All-Star appearances and be worth $82 million.
Last season, one of the Nets’ strengths was the team’s depth. The team received significant contributions from the “Bench Mob” including Andray Blatche, C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans and at times Jerry Stackhouse.
Even though the trade resulted in a complete decimation of the Nets’ bench, Billy King has begun the reconstruction process.
It’s looking like depth will once again be a strength for Brooklyn, and given the average age of the starting five – 31.6 years, and that’s really only because of the 25-year-old Brook Lopez – the team will definitely need that depth.
With MarShon Brooks heading to Boston, Jason Terry – the more underrated piece of the blockbuster – becomes an instant source of offense off the Nets’ bench. He’s not youngster either at 35 years old, but he brings tons of experience and an NBA championship (2011, Dallas Mavericks).
He’s also a close to 38 percent career three-point shooter and has shown he can make clutch shots. Terry looks like he can be the leader of the “New Bench Mob.”
This new mob will also feature Blatche, who returns on a one-year, $1.4 million deal. It was looking like Blatche would take more money to play elsewhere, but he apparently felt comfortable enough in Brooklyn to stay. Between Lopez coming off injury and the team wanting to preserve the aging Garnett, Blatche will see plenty of time on the floor.
Reggie Evans’ name was originally included in the blockbuster deal, but he remained a Net when the dust settled. Evans will return to a bench role, which suits him better given his limited offensive potential.
Evans will be expected to again be a rebounding machine with the second unit and set up guys like Terry and Blatche.
In a surprise move, the Nets were able to lure Andrei Kirilenko – a player the team has coveted the past few seasons – to Brooklyn on a two-year deal, though he left $10 million on the table from his contract with the Timberwolves.
He's another guy who is up there in age, but his versatility off the bench will the give Nets several options off the bench. Not bad for King's version of a "backup plan" after the deal with Bojan Bogdanovic fell through.
In just a few summer league games, Nets’ first-round draft pick Mason Plumlee has impressed with his high-energy style of play. Though he and Evans are both power forwards, the team has the flexibility of potentially playing Plumlee, Evans and Blatche all on the floor at the same time, since Blatche can stretch the ball – and sometimes even handle the ball like a guard.
With guys like Evans and Blatche in front of him – and Garnett for that matter – Plumlee needs to be a sponge in learning from these veterans. His time will come, but for now he needs to be patient and do whatever the Nets tell him to do.
The loss of Watson to the Indiana Pacers is a big one, but Shaun Livingston proved last season that he can be a capable back-up to a star point guard in Kyrie Irving.
Livingston averaged 7.2 points and 3.6 assists in 49 game for the Cavaliers. If he can produce similar numbers for the Nets, that would be a welcome addition. But he true responsibility will be getting the ball to Terry, Blatche and Plumlee. Hopefully, he’ll be able to keep learning under one of the game’s best-ever point guards, Coach Jason Kidd.
The above pieces should former the primary core of the Nets’ bench, at least until the teams discerns what is has in some of the other pieces.
Croatian small forward Bojan Bogdanovic was expected to sign a three-year deal, but King reported Wednesday that the deal was off. The Nets will need to find a back-up small forward to spell Pierce.
Finally, Tyshawn Taylor was looked at as the primary backup to Deron Williams before the Nets signed Livingston. Now, he’s back as the third point guard, but he has the chance this summer to show what he can do.
He put together a few solid performances last season, but the rookie mistakes did not escape him. Still, given Williams’ injury history, Taylor is sure to factor into the upcoming season in some capacity. And hopefully the team can get something out of Mirza Teletovic or Toko Shengelia, both of whom will be fighting for roster spots.
There may be another roster move here or there, but this bench can again be a strength for the Nets.
Now, they’ll just need a new nickname. Blatche or Evans will probably take care of that.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.