In an attempt to clear room to successfully pull off two major re-signings the Toronto Raptors traded DeMarre Carroll and their 2018 1st and 2nd round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for reserve center and LSU product Justin Hamilton. The decision to bring both Kyle Lowry (3 years for $100 million) and Serge Ibaka (3 years for $65 million) was surely going to require some tinkering to make the money work. Luckily they were able to find a partner to help make it happen.
It’s a very interesting time in Brooklyn. Last summer the front office went through an overhaul by bringing in former Spurs assistant coach Sean Marks and installing him as General Manager and former Atlanta Hawks assistant coach Kenny Atkinson to make him head coach. It was apparent that owner Mikhail “Moneybags” Prokhorov was tired of throwing good money after bad (looking at you and only you Billy King) and decided to bring in very smart basketball guys from good organizations. The Nets are rebuilding SLOWLY and they have the right guys to do it. They haven’t gotten everything right but for what their aim appears to be they’re going in the right direction and this deal is a clear indication of it.
Winner: DeMarre Carroll
Needless to say Carroll had a pretty hard time in Toronto. Since signing a 4 year deal for $60 million deal with the Raps during the summer of 2015 there hasn’t been much to celebrate about his tenure here. Especially as he represented the flashiest new acquisition for them and was expected to be the consistent 3 and D guy that he developed into during his time in Atlanta. A season ending injury which occurred about a third into his first year in the Great White North immediately cast a shadow around his stint. This past season he rarely resembled the player that Toronto expected in a very disappointing season that started talk about moving him before Christmas.
However, I think a move serves Carroll well here. He’ll fit in at the 3 as he shares reps with up and comer Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and with his 6’8″ frame he can put in time at the 4 allowing them to play small which suits the Nets well given their current roster construction. He will also be reunited with Kenny Atkinson who was an assistant while he was in Atlanta where he really flourished. DeMarre is another one of those great journeyman stories so we know he’ll put in the work and he’ll be a great veteran presence for a team that is working in a young core.
Loser: Justin Hamilton
I mean every scenario has to have at least one. Hamilton is a solid backup center that was pretty useful with the Nets last season averaging 7 points and 4 boards per night and has a skill set that plenty of teams can find a use for. It’s just unfortunate that he has been dealt to a team that appears to be at least moderately invested in two reserve bigs in Lucas “Bae Bae” Nogueira and Jakob Poeltl.
With that being said we do have to remember who we’re dealing with in Masai Ujiri and what this means for Hamilton. Ujiri is one of the more aggressive executives in the association and it pays not to try to predict what his next move is. Ujiri knows he now have a glut of bigs which means Hamilton can be heading somewhere soon. Let’s just hope that wherever he lands he can be used.
Winner: Toronto Raptors
The Drakes did well here, really well. They got off of a contract that freed up $14 million on their sheet immediately. They will save around $30 million this season once factoring in that this gets them out of the luxury tax. Then this deal comes with an $11.8 million trade exception which is of great relief for a team that even after the deal currently stands at $17.4 million over the cap. Hamilton provides a push for the backup bigs so they can assess who’s worth keeping and who they can dangle as trade bait. This wasn’t a flashy move at all but DAMN it was smart. And that’s what we’ve come to expect from this organization.
Winner: Brooklyn Nets
WHERE BROOKLYN AT? WHERE BROOKLYN AT? Still bad but not as bad as they were. No seriously the Nets are acting as if they’re trying to develop a positive culture and doing so right now means making deals like this. Carroll, while underwhelming in Toronto is still a usable body that may improve having played a full mostly healthy year after suffering a knee contusion that cut his first season in Toronto short. But the oft forgotten advantage of taking on contracts other (and mostly better) teams are dying to get off of are the assets received for them. The Nets picked up Toronto’s first and second round draft picks for their trouble here. Sure, they may not be the best picks provided that Toronto still projects to be strong in a bad Eastern Conference but the pick represents options which can often be better than another body (especially a second round body).
After this trade the Nets are still $18.4 million under the cap so they may not be finished moving but given how aggressively they have been in free agency under Marks they may just try to keep from hitting the floor and continue to use it on collecting assets and taking on bad contracts as they have here. They may not be much to look at on the court yet but their management has been fascinating to watch. And now that the seeds of some tanking situations are starting to sprout I’m excited to see what the Nets will be in the coming years.