After all the speculation since the NBA trade deadline, the Brooklyn Nets have finally acquired point guard Jarrett Jack. In a three-team trade, Brooklyn received Jack along with 20-year-old Russian forward Sergey Karasev from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Brooklyn sent guard Marcus Thornton to the Boston Celtics, who also received center Tyler Zeller and a protected 2016 first-round draft pick from Cleveland. The Cavaliers in return will get a future second-round pick from the Celtics.
Looking at the pieces involved in this trade, it appears extremely lopsided in favor of Brooklyn and Boston. Cleveland lost two young players in Zeller, who was the 17th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and Karasev, the 19th overall pick in the 2013 draft. They also gave up an excellent backup point guard and a future first-round draft pick, all for just a second-round pick. Why? The answer is simple: LeBron James.
By completing this deal, Cleveland is virtually saying that they are all-in for LeBron. By trading away Jack, the Cavs freed up cap space and now have the ability to offer LeBron a max contract, and the possibility of LeBron returning to Cleveland has become more likely over the past few days. If Cleveland is unable to land LeBron, this trade will be heavily criticized, but getting Jack off their books provides the organization with more flexibility to sign backup options. While Karasev has potential, and Zeller has been decent in his two seasons, Cleveland has other talented young players such as Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and Matthew Dellavedova.
The Celtics took advantage of an opportunity to be the coveted third party of this trade, and came out a big winner. Swapping a second-round pick for a first-round pick is a victory alone, but Boston also added Zeller who can become a quality backup center and solid role player for a playoff team. In a rebuilding mode, Thornton will be a streaky scorer off the bench and is a good fit on a young team. With the Sacramento Kings, the last time he was one of the primary scoring options for a team, Thornton averaged 18.7 points per game in the 2011-12 season and 21.3 points the previous season for half the year with the team.
Then there is Brooklyn, who also benefitted from this trade. After acquiring Thornton at the trade deadline in exchange for struggling players Jason Terry and Reggie Evans, Thornton was on and off for Brooklyn. Some games he would go on incredible scoring streaks and did not seem like he could miss, but other games it was the exact opposite. He also did not perform well in the playoffs, culminating with several air balls against the Miami Heat in the second round.
Brooklyn right now has other assets on the roster who would have deserved more minutes than Thornton, thus burying him on the depth chart. Behind Joe Johnson, Brooklyn has Bojan Bogdanvic, Markel Brown and now Karasev, all younger and most likely more consistent bench players. In addition, Alan Anderson is currently a free agent, and Brooklyn should definitely make an effort to re-sign him at the right price. Anderson was a far better defensive player and more consistent shooter than Thornton while they played together for Brooklyn.
Jack fills a void for Brooklyn that opened when Shaun Livingston left for the Golden State Warriors. Jack was considered one of the league’s best backup point guards when he played for Golden State two years ago, averaging 12.9 points and 5.6 assists per game. The year before that with the New Orleans Pelicans (Hornets at the time), Jack averaged 15.6 points in a larger role. Although he had a down year last season, Brooklyn is hoping Jack can recover and produce at the level he was producing at before he joined Cleveland. Jack can steadily control the offense and he is not afraid to drive to the hoop. He also has an amazing mid-range jumper that he feels very comfortable taking, and can hit three-pointers when he chooses to take them.
Barring injuries, Karasev will have a small role for Brooklyn this season. The Nets are very high on newly-signed swingman Bogdanovic, and Mirza Teletovic and Andrei Kirilenko are staples in the Nets’ rotation. However, Karasev is young and has a chance to impress in the near future once an opportunity becomes available.
This three-team trade has a chance to be win-win-win for all teams involved. Brooklyn has to be very satisfied with how it affects the team in the upcoming season and in the future.
Jordan Berkowitz is a Brooklyn Nets writer for RantSports.com.