GM Marks Swaps Sharp Shooter for First-Round Pick, Nicholson
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With the trade deadline approaching Thursday afternoon, general manager Sean Marks and the Brooklyn Nets were already safely in the clubhouse with a swap that garnered them an additional first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Bereft of any control over their own first-rounder come June, the Nets sent shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic and power forward Chris McCullough to Washington on Wednesday night in exchange for big man Andrew Nicholson, former Net Marcus Thornton and, most importantly, the Wizards’ No. 1 pick.
League-worst Brooklyn (9-47) entered the All-Star break on a season-high 14-game losing streak, in addition to a franchise-record 16 straight defeats at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
With previously injured point guard Jeremy Lin expected to rejoin the team Friday night in Denver for the opener of a season-high eight-game road trip, the Nets didn’t wait until Thursday to reshuffle their roster.
Bogdanovic, arguably the team’s most consistent presence this season behind former All-Star center Brook Lopez, will provide the Southeast Division-leading Wizards with a bonafide scorer off the bench during the stretch run toward the playoffs.
"Bojan is a very good shooter and a talented overall scorer whose versatility gives us an added dimension as we gear up for the stretch run," Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld said.
"He is a proven starter that will provide us an added boost off the bench and allow us to be creative with our lineups."
His departure will also provide first-year head coach Kenny Atkinson the luxury of getting more playing time for developing talents such as Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
The Nets are unlikely to retain Thornton, but will likely give Nicholson, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound five-year veteran, a look going forward as he is owed at least $13 over the next two seasons.
The 27-year-old Bogdanovic was originally acquired by the Nets via a draft night trade with Miami in 2011, but spent several seasons playing abroad before inking a multi-year deal with Brooklyn in advance of the 2014-15 season.
In 212 games with the Nets, the Croatian national team member averaged 11.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists. In 55 games this season, Bogdanovic has recorded averages of 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 26.9 minutes per game.
McCullough appeared in 38 games in two seasons with the Nets, registering averages of 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game. He was originally selected with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2015 draft by Brooklyn after spending one collegiate season at Syracuse.
But the active players have very little to do with making this an important deal for Marks, who landed the team an additional first-round pick to help make up for the lottery selection the Nets are losing to Boston via the infamous 2013 trade that brought Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce here.
The Celtics have the right to swap first-rounders with the Nets, meaning Brooklyn will likely have two late first-round selections since both Boston and Washington are poised to make playoff runs in the Eastern Conference.
The deal is Marks’ biggest since he traded power forward Thaddeus Young to Indiana last June for the draft rights to LeVert, who is quietly emerging as a significant building block for Brooklyn.
The 22-year-old shooting guard, who slipped in the first round of the 2016 draft due to concerns over an oft-injured left leg. is averaging just over 20 minutes per night in his first 32 games for the Nets, putting up 6.9 points and 1.9 assists.
However, those numbers, along with his minutes logged, figure to increase exponentially as the Nets play out the string on this otherwise lost season.
Lopez, whose name is mentioned annually in potential trade deadline deals, will remain here as his value on the market didn’t appear significant enough for Marks to move him.
After initially asking for a pair of first-round picks for the 7-footer out of Stanford and longest-tenured Net, Marks reportedly was willing to part with Lopez for a first and second-rounder.
But a deal never materialized.
Lin, who has missed all but 12 of Brooklyn’s first 56 contests, may have his minutes limited when the Nets resume their campaign against the Nuggets on Friday night.
Seeing him and Lopez on the floor at the same time for the first time since the day after Christmas, along with LeVert receiving more meaningful minutes, will give Marks a peek at what he hopes will be a more potent roster for the 2017-18 campaign.
Marks also traded for Houston swingman K.J. McDaniels just prior to the 3 p.m. EDT deadline, swapping out a protected second-round pick that will likely never go to the Rockets, who are simply dumping McDaniels’ $3 million-plus contract.
The Bogdanovic deal left the Nets approximately $13 million under the salary cap, and $4 million below the cap floor, which McDaniels’ addition will help amend.
Following their matchup with the Nuggets, the Nets will continue their extended trip Saturday night in Golden State against the defending Western Conference champion Warriors.