By Todd Singer @breakingbadfish on March 17, 2014
The Brooklyn Nets have been one of the hottest teams in basketball since the calendar flipped to 2014, and their continued resurgence has at least put the rest of the Eastern Conference elite on notice. Looking ahead to this offseason, the Nets have several key members whose contract situations need to be addressed. How Brooklyn goes about doing this will likely be a significant indicator on how well they can expect to do in 2014-15.
Despite some sour grapes from opposing teams, the Nets signed Andrei Kirilenko to a two year contract this past offseason, with a player option for 2014. While the rest of the league was none too happy that Kirilenko turned down a million dollar option from Minnesota to test the market, only to take a third of that total to sign with Brooklyn, Kirilenko has been a key piece to the Nets' marked improvement when he's on the court.
While the signing of Shaun Livingston to a minimum deal this past year didn't garner the same attention that many other moves did, Livingston's play has been perhaps just as important. The Nets' recent transformation started when Livingston was inserted into the starting lineup and his length at the PG spot has allowed Brooklyn to thrive using its' small ball lineup. Signing Livingston for next season and beyond is vital to the team's success.
Brook Lopez is still one of the Nets' best overall players, but a slew of foot injuries have slowed his rapid development. Although still young, Lopez's future in Brooklyn is very much in question as the team continues to experience a lot of success with their smaller lineup on the floor. While the Nets would most certainly welcome Lopez back, if they can get a nice haul for him this offseason, they should consider pulling the trigger.
Kevin Garnett has been one of the key components to the Nets' play after the New Year, and his defensive impact is larger than perhaps anyone else in the NBA. The difference in the defensive metrics for the Nets when KG is on the floor compared to when he's off it is simply astounding. While Garnett has missed several games with nagging injuries, his veteran presence and defense are important enough that he has to be brought back at any cost.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the Nets' improved play has been the resurgence of Paul Pierce. Like many other Nets, Pierce struggled mightily to begin the season. Since January, however, Pierce has been arguably the team's best player and his move to the PF has spearheaded the Nets charge. He has to be re-signed for the Nets to have any chance to compete in 2014-15 and should be the No. 1 offseason concern.
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