The Brooklyn Nets are a pretty popular team in the NBA. Before moving to Brooklyn in 2012, they were known as the New Jersey Nets and had a lot of prominent players, including Jason Kidd, Julius Erving, Vince Carter. They have one of the strongest teams in the league even now.
How do the Nets manage to afford the best players? While there is a salary cap in the NBA, the Nets pay a luxury tax and organize salaries efficiently in a way that the transfers of elite players are not blocked.
The Brooklyn Nets have a magnificent trio with James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant all playing in the same team. We will further talk about details behind the Nets’ ability to sign the best players for the squad.
When Did Everything Start?
Before we move on to the main reasons of how the Nets afford everyone, we need to point out that everything started in 2013, when the Nets were gaining a foothold in the NBA. In June, 2013 they signed Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics. While these players were already in the twilight years of their careers, they were still playing at a high level. These transactions resulted in the Brooklyn Nets having the largest payroll in the NBA and a lot was anticipated from the team. In addition, they also had Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Andrei Kirilenko. This team can also be called a squad of one of the best players, but unfortunately they did not manage to achieve anything significant.
The Nets Pay a Luxury Tax
A luxury tax is a concept in the NBA, that wealthy teams frequently turn to. Before we explain what it is, we should recall a salary cap, which hampers teams from signing all the best players in their squads. However, the cap is a soft one, not hard, as in several American sports, where teams are not allowed to bypass the set limit. If the teams pass the limit, they are required to pay extra money.
This is when the concept of a luxury tax arises. The Nets as other teams in the NBA pay extra money to purchase star players and organize their salaries. This happened a lot during Mikhail Prokhorov’s era – the Russian businessman, who was the owner of the team from 2010 to 2019. Eventually, the salary cap loses its purpose because the Nets are able to “break” them all the time, alongside the Golden State Warriors who had the same case, when they had Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant in one team. Eventually this “Death Lineup” ended, when Kevin Durant left the team for the Nets.
In addition to 3 elite class players, we need to remember that the Nets also signed Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. In this case, they did not need to pay the luxury tax, as these two players were on veteran minimum. This is an exception because when players are on veteran minimum salaries they are cleared to play for the team. While Griffin and Aldrige are big names in the NBA, as they are on different salaries, it doesn’t matter anymore.
The Nets are a Big Market
Of course, breaking the salary cap is not the only solution to this situation. Since the franchise moved to Brooklyn the Nets became a really big market. They enjoy a lot of popularity and have a lot of fans in the NBA especially after they have managed to sign all these players. For example, when they purchased James Harden during the 2020/2021 season, they traded several young players and freed up a salary cap. They have a lot of resources and funds to execute all these trades. Right now, the owner of the club is Joseph Tsai, the executive vice-chairman of the Alibaba Group.
The Nets acquired Kyrie Irvin in free agency. As for Kevin Durant, he was signed in a sign-and-trade deal after the July Moratorium ended. The Nets, pay a lot of attention to free agency and are always alert when this possibility arises. Signing players in free agency is an effective way to diversify the squad even more and go for the best athletes.
How Signing the Best Players Affected the Nets During the 2020/2021 Season?
When the Nets assembled a formidable trio and had Steve Nash as a head coach, they immediately became the main favourites to win the NBA title. The situation was similar to the 2013/2014 season, but right now they managed to feature even stronger players. The Nets eventually advanced into the Eastern Conference semifinals when they lost in a dramatic series against the Milwaukee Bucks. However, they were unlucky. Kyrie Irving was injured and missed the majority of the series and James Harden was playing with an injury as well. Thus there was only Kevin Durant left, who was unable to carry the team in the Conference Finals.
Will the Nets Sign More Star Players for the Upcoming Season?
It seems unlikely that the Nets will go for other players for the upcoming 2021/2022 season. They have a deep squad and LaMarcus Aldridge, who was thought to have retired from basketball due to health problems, has re-signed with the Nets in September 2021. They also have Joe Harris, one of the best shooters in the league. There are few chances of adding more players, and the current squad will once again try to win the championship title.