2. Brooklyn Nets
Switching gears here, we now look at a team that actually had quite a successful 2022-23 season in the Brooklyn Nets. Finishing 45-37, the Nets qualified for the playoffs but would ultimately be swept by the Philadelphia 76ers. Outgunned by a better team, Brooklyn needs to salvage their season in the wake of the Kevin Durant trade that sent the superstar to Phoenix.
As good as they looked at times, the Nets must still come to terms with the fact they went 12-15 with Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson on the squad, there’s definitely still room for improvement here. That’s exactly why I think a player like Coby could come in and make a big difference for a young team with greater aspirations.
If playing for a winner is high on Coby White’s priorities, the Brooklyn Nets are a threat to steal him away from the Bulls.
With nearly $60 million annually locked into non-starter caliber players in Ben Simmons and Joe Harris, the Nets won’t have the money necessary to go out and be big spenders. Instead, they’ll have to get savvy and offer a larger role to free agents than other teams could compensate for only having the MLE to spend on free agents.
The non-taxpayer MLE is $11 million per annum this year, which is still plenty good enough to attract a quality player like the Bulls did with Alex Caruso in 2021. I could see Coby opting into slightly less money to prove his worth with a team that’s willing to feature him in a large role. We’ve seen Malik Monk do just this with the Sacramento Kings this year; although he’s only signed to the MLE, he’s been absolutely essential in their effort to overcome the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs.
Currently playing Bridges at the two, Coby obviously wouldn’t come in and immediately replace Mikal as the starter. Instead, I could see the Nets sliding everyone down a position and bumping Dorian Finney-Smith into the second unit. As it currently stands, DFS and Nic Claxton have very limited offensive games, which puts more pressure on Spencer Dinwiddie, Bridges, and Johnson to create. Adding Coby would make the Nets a much more versatile and well-rounded team, so I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if they try getting involved in White’s restricted free agency.
With the NBA having possibly the most parity we’ve seen in a very long time, expect other contenders to have their eyes on players like White in the MLE range as well. The sharks have come out to play and it’s nearly time for the feeding frenzy.