When NBA free agency begins at 6 p.m. Monday, don’t expect the Nets to go big-game hunting or remake their roster. For the Nets, the mission is going to be less roster building than roster maintenance.
Their priorities will be holding onto what they have, and tweaking around the edges. That means extending their stars, re-signing their own free agents and filling in the rest with low-cost replacements.
The Nets have a host of free agents to re-sign or replace, starting with centers Blake Griffin and Jeff Green as well as guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Bruce Brown. Keeping each one presents a different level of difficulty.
The most intrigue surrounds Dinwiddie, who has spoken of getting as much as five-years, $125 million and could be too expensive to keep. League personnel that spoke with The Post suggested he might get between $15 million to $20 million, so the best route for all parties could be a sign-and-trade.
Talk of such a deal with Washington circulated before the draft, but Bleacher Report suggested Sunday that interest was waning from the Nets’ end. The Nets reportedly rejected Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell, but could be interested in Thomas Bryant (who worked out with the Big 3 last offseason).
HoopsHype tweeted that the most efficient way to get the sign-and-trade done could be to loop the Lakers into a three-way deal executed after Friday. Dinwiddie has also been linked with the Knicks, Heat, Raptors, Pelicans and Mavericks.
“If there’s something to be done where he’s returning, terrific. If there’s not and he’s moving on, look, we wish Spencer all the best,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said. “He’s likely in line for generational money and he deserves it.”
Dinwiddie’s market — along with that of every other point guard — could ultimately be decided by Kyle Lowry’s destination.
Brown is believed to want to stay in Brooklyn, but might have played his way into offers as high as $8 million to $10 million. That would likely be too rich for the Nets, who are well into the luxury tax. Brown and Mike James are restricted free agents, while Chris Chiozza and Tyler Johnson are unrestricted after the Nets declined to tender the former a qualifying offer.
A likely free agent replacement is Bryn Forbes. Bleacher Report termed him a “leading candidate” for the Nets. Former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks (now with ESPN) estimated his salary range at $4 million to $6 million.
Forbes averaged 10.2 points this past season, shooting .473 overall and .452 from 3. He did not play in the last three games of the Finals (likely for defensive reasons), but played every game of the Bucks’ second-round win over the Nets and averaged 4.6 points in 14.5 minutes. He could fit neatly into the mid-level exception.
“I think those guys have done an amazing job for us and would love to bring them back. Love them to be around,” said Marks, adding “I can’t speak high enough of either Blake or Jeff and what they [brought].”
The Nets are optimistic about keeping Griffin, since he’ll get $29.8 million for next season from Detroit. Whatever they or anybody else pays him will just offset the buyout amount.
Green is coming off a fifth straight veteran minimum deal, and has said he’s worth more. The Nets could use his non-Bird rights and give him a contract starting at $3.1 million. Coming off a career-high 41.1 percent from 3 and turning 35 this month, Green could be looking for a raise and a two-year deal. ESPN intimated that could come from the Bucks, while the Los Angeles Times linked him with the Lakers.
P.J. Tucker — a friend of Kevin Durant — is a possible target. So are ex-Net David Nwaba, and Andre Iguodala. The Lakers and Clippers reportedly have interest in Iguodala, though he could still return to Golden State.
Despite reports of interest in Nerlens Noel, sources said the Nets aren’t currently looking to pursue the Knicks free agent.