The 2 best players the Nets must re-sign this offseason – Fitnessnacks & Sports

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    The one constant over the last four chaotic years in Brooklyn is that yesterday’s roster is not today’s roster. Having speed-run through the process of building and unbuilding a superteam in record time, the Nets enter this offseason with a raft of possible paths. Do they reload around Mikal Bridges by making free agent splashes or trading for a star? Do they offload productive veterans like Spencer Diwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith to replenish their war chest of draft picks? Both? Neither? But even as the Nets enter NBA free agency at a crossroads, their general path is clear—they have an essential core of good players, but need to find ways to supplement it. Headlined by Cam Johnson, these are the two free agents that the Nets must re-sign this summer.

    Cam Johnson

    Although Johnson hasn’t even played 30 games with the Nets, he quickly established himself as an important part of the franchise’s future. After coming to Brooklyn from Phoenix as one of the center pieces of the historic Kevin Durant deal, Johnson acquitted himself well with the Nets, averaging 16.6 points and 4.3 rebounds and draining 2.6 three-pointers per game. In the playoffs, Johnson was one of the lone bright spots for the Nets , upping his scoring average to 18.5 points per game and popping off for 28 points in Game 2.

    While Johnson lacks the All-Star upside that his “twin” Bridges showed off in Brooklyn, he’s the perfect complementary wing that all good teams want and need; there’s a reason he was a foundational piece of the Suns’ roster when they made the Finals in 2021 and then had the league’s best record in 2022. Standing 6’8, 210 pounds, he combines his natural size and positional versatility with a well-honed court sense. He’s not necessarily a one-on-one on-ball stopper, but he’s a shrewd positional defender who rarely gets caught wrong-footed or out of position.

    To wit, he’s a deadeye shooter who even unveiled some off-the-dribble feistiness once he got to Brooklyn. This is a skillset that instantly upgrades every team in the league—contenders will value the way that he can frictionlessly slot in alongside any star in the world; ascendant strivers will appreciate the way that he spaces the floor and lessens the defensive burden for their young players.

    As such, the Nets might face fierce competition for Johnson in NBA free agency. Already, the Rockets have been mentioned as a potential destination, especially since they own the Nets draft picks for the foreseeable future, giving them added incentive to poach him (not only would signing him make them, it would make the Nets worse and potentially increase the value of the Nets’ picks that they owe Houston). Even so, Cam Johnson is a restricted free agent, so the Nets can keep him if they want to—and they’ve given every indication that they want to keep him.

    Seth Curry

    Outside of his older brother, Curry might be the best small shooter in the NBA. Despite his general shortness, slowness and sloppy handle, Curry has a long track record as a legitimately good NBA player because he’s such a nuclear perimeter threat. Still, Curry struggled to find his footing this year in Brooklyn, displaced from the rotation by the team’s general upheaval. At his best, Curry operates in the negative space created by star players. In Dallas, he broke out playing alongside Luka Doncic; with the Sixers, he made hay out of receiving dribble handoffs from Joel Embiid; in his first half season with the Nets, he developed fast chemistry with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

    This year, though, he fell from the rotation and his production cratered once Durant and Irving left  trade deadline. From November until February 4th, Curry averaged 10.6 points in 23.2 minutes per game. From February 5th until the end of the season, he scored just 6.7 points in 13.9 minutes per game. Similarly, he was sidelined for most of the playoffs, never playing more than 21 minutes in any of the Nets’ four games and was benched entirely in Game 3.

    Accordingly, as he enters NBA free agency, Curry is no longer the core, must-keep player for the Nets that he looked like he could be through the first half of the year, but is probably not the expendable nobody that he became over the home stretch of the season either. If he’s available at the right price as a free agent, Curry can still help the Nets without a doubt—his skillset is so valuable and so unique that he fits just about any vision that Sean Marks and the Nets brass have for the future and can mentor young, volatile shooters like Cam Thomas and Yuta Watanabe.

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