NBA Free Agency: Brooklyn Nets Interested In Former No.1 Pick Anthony Bennett

As the Brooklyn Nets look to complete their roster for the 2016-17 season, there’s mutual interest between the team and former No.1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, according to Sheridan Hoops’ Michael Scotto.

Bennett, still just 23-years-old, played in 19 games for his hometown Toronto Raptors last season. But he averaged just 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in 4.4 minutes per game. Ever since Bennett was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013 NBA Draft, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), has failed to parlay his college success in the professional ranks.

The 6-foot-8, 245-pound UNLV product averaged 16.1 points 8.1 points in his lone college season.

After averaging just 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in his rookie season for Cleveland, Bennett was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves — along with the No.1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Andrew Wiggins — in the deal that brought Kevin Love to the Cavaliers. While Bennett showed a slight improved in Minnesota, averaging 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 57 games (three starts), the Timberwolves bought out his contract the following offseason.

Most recently, Bennett was part of the Canadian team in the Olympic qualifying tournament.

In late May, Bennett was part of a Nets mini-camp at the HSS Training Center in Brooklyn, per Nets Daily. Speaking to SNY’s Adam Zagoria, Bennett’s trainer and director of player development at Impact Las Vegas Andrew Moore said the New York Knicks — or any other team — could use a player like him. Bennett worked out for the Knicks last month.

“He can play multiple spots on the floor. He can take it off the floor, he can shoot mid-range, he can make threes. So I think he’s well rounded enough to fit into the triangle or any system. He can play pick-and-roll, he can roll hard, he can finish above the rim. He can catch and finish and score. He can pop and shoot threes. Any system would be great for him.”

Moore worked with Bennett for six weeks from March to April, as he told Zagoria. He noted that Bennett got into tremendous shape after not playing much with the Raptors last season by working out twice a day. He also noted that his biggest challenge was mental as several people from peers to media labeling him a “bust.”

Tony McIntyre, the director of the Canadian-based CIA Bounce AAU team, who coached Bennett said he can still contribute to an NBA team. Speaking to the 4 Quarters Podcast, McIntyre said that Bennett is “valuable” for his ability to guard multiple positions, shoot, and play the pick-and-roll game as well.

“I think he can help someone, he just needs to get on the court and get reps and get somewhere where they have a role for him, they have a position for him. I think he’ll flourish.”

The Nets have experienced a busy offseason. In free agency, the team has signed Jeremy Lin, Greivis Vasquez, Trevor Booker, and Justin Hamilton. The team also traded Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers on NBA Draft night for the 20th overall pick (later revealed as Caris LeVert). Also on the draft night, the Nets traded for 42nd overall pick Isaiah Whitehead, a Brooklyn native.

After signing Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe to offer sheets, both players’ teams matched the offers, leaving the Nets without two big potential pieces on the team.

While the Nets are mulling an offer to Dion Waiters and other players, Bennett represents an interesting reclamation project for Brooklyn.

[Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images]