By Todd Singer @breakingbadfish on June 5, 2014
Despite having a league-high payroll, the Brooklyn Nets fell short of their ultimate goal this season. The Nets bowed out in the second round of the NBA playoffs, losing in five games to the four-time defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat and will have some major questions to answer this offseason. With many key players' futures up in the air, these have to be the Nets' top priorities once the offseason begins.
The signing of Alan Anderson to a veteran's minimum contract last offseason didn't generate many headlines, but Anderson was quietly one of the most indispensable Nets with his stout perimeter defense and ability to stretch defenses. While losing Anderson wouldn't be crippling, he played a valuable role off the bench and offers the Nets a lot of versatility in whom he can guard. If he doesn't get too much elsewhere, he should be back.
It's no surprise that the Nets' record was significantly better with Andrei Kirilenko on the floor than when he wasn't. Kirilenko was sidelined by various maladies this season and, as such, might actually opt into the second-year player option in his contract, even if it's considered below market value. If Kirilenko opts out and is looking for more money the Nets will likely lose him, but they have to do everything to get him to stay.
Shaun Livingston was perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2013-14 season, as he parlayed a veteran's minimum contract and spot as the backup to Deron Williams into a career-best season in which he ended up starting next to Williams instead of playing behind him. Livingston's contributions on both ends of the court were invaluable to the Nets' small-ball lineup. They'd love to have him back, but he could be in for a big raise elsewhere.
Among the many storylines for Brooklyn, none is bigger than whether or not Kevin Garnett will return for another season. While Garnett missed a number of games due to scheduled rest and an ailing back, when he was in the lineup, he made a staggering difference on the defensive end. KG also looked quite rejuvenated towards the end of the playoffs, and this could persuade him to return for a 20th season which the Nets badly need.
Paul Pierce's decision may hinge on KG's decision, but that's not a certainty. Pierce agreed to join Brooklyn last season for a shot at one more title, so it's hard to see him leaving the Nets for an inferior team like the Lakers or Celtics. However, if a team like the Spurs come calling with their mid-level exception, that might be more enticing than the Nets' ability to offer him the most money. Pierce's return is crucial for the Nets in 2014.
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