The Brooklyn Nets have been eliminated from the 2023 NBA playoffs, falling in four games to the 76ers. The Nets had some chances in Games 3 and 4 to extend the series, but couldn’t overcome the talent gap between them and the Sixers. This sweep caps a whirlwind season for the Nets that saw them go from title contenders to rebuilding playoff team in a matter of months.
Here’s a look back at the Nets season and how they shape up heading into the offseason.
2022-23 season recap
Kevin Durant’s summer trade request sent shockwaves through the NBA but the star forward was back in a Nets uniform to begin the year. Kyrie Irving was back as well, and it looked like the Nets were ready to compete for a title. However, he was embroiled in controversy to start the year and was later denied the contract extension he desired, forcing a trade. That pushed Durant to also force a trade. All of a sudden, the Nets went from championship mode to asset recovery mode. They managed to do enough to secure an automatic playoff berth, but were promptly swept in the first round.
The next step for the Nets is to rebuild the franchise in a sustainable way. Brooklyn had a good foundation which attracted Durant and Irving to the franchise in the first place, but now the Nets are wary about that path towards title contention given how it went the first time around.
2023 offseason priorities
The cupboard isn’t totally bare for the Nets in terms of players. Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe are all solid pieces with upside. Dorian Finney-Smith is on a long-term deal and is a capable two-way role player.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Royce O’Neale, Nic Claxton and Patrick Mills are all set to be expiring contracts next season. The Nets could package some of those players to land more draft assets but they don’t have to get rid of them to free up long-term salary.
The biggest question mark is what the Nets will do with Ben Simmons. He was shut down late in the season due to another back issue stemming from a nerve problem. Simmons has been paid like a superstar but has wilted under the pressure of responsibility. He averaged 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game last season. He’s under contract for two more seasons and while the potential was there for him to be a future asset, the Nets will have doubts. The problem is they can’t move Simmons without attaching draft picks to him, and that’s something they really do not need to do right now.
The Nets will have two picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. Both picks will be in the part of the draft where finding franchise players becomes nearly impossible. Brooklyn’s scouting department will have to come together and identify which players could provide more upside later on in the draft.