Brooklyn Nets, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: The Brooklyn Nets are turning the corner

The Brooklyn Nets’ process is far from complete, but Brooklyn is already seeing some results in the form of a respectable winning streak.

Being in ninth place in the Eastern Conference is not typically anything to get excited about, but the Brooklyn Nets should be thrilled to be one spot away from a playoff berth nearly halfway through the 2018-19 NBA season. After three years of being a doormat, the Nets are suddenly winning games at a torrid clip.

Brooklyn is 17-19 overall this season, but the Nets have won nine of their last 10 games heading into a back-to-back, with the sole loss coming to a surging Indiana Pacers team. Some of those nine wins have come over the typical Eastern Conference cellar dwellers, but not all of them — Brooklyn beat the Lakers, 76ers, and Raptors in their hot streak.

That all of this has come with Caris LeVert, one of the best young Nets, sidelined with a foot injury makes the streak all the more impressive. Spencer Dinwiddie, D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen have managed to play winning basketball, and that’s exciting for Brooklyn.

Whether the Nets actually make the playoffs or not, being competitive is a good thing for Brooklyn. The Nets finally have their own first round pick this year, and a horrible season would’ve netted a better prospect (pun intended), but Brooklyn has drafted well with throwaway picks anyway. Besides, a better year typically means a better shot at free agents.

The Nets, assuming they don’t completely fall apart down the stretch, will have a lot in their favor this summer. Brooklyn will have a feisty team with some talented young players, a favorable location in New York, a smart front office and coaching staff and a whole lot of cap space.

Assuming that Allen Crabbe opts into a big $18.5 million player option and the Nets exercise team options on Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, Brooklyn could renounce rights on all of their other free agents and reach more than $50 million in cap space. That would mean giving up on players like Russell, Ed Davis and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, which likely won’t happen, but it’s on the table.

Even if Russell and Davis were kept, the Nets could easily have $30 million in space, depending on the deals those two got. Now the pitch to free agents is easy: come play with a bunch of talented young players who are hungry to win, in the biggest media market in the NBA, on a huge contract. Sounds pretty appealing to me.

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