With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving expected to be healthy in time for the 2020-21 NBA campaign, the Brooklyn Nets are expected to be among the league’s most improved teams next season, and a possible contender for the Eastern Conference championship and a trip to the Finals. However, a new report suggests that the Nets could theoretically do away with their supposed weak link in the starting lineup and get an instant upgrade at power forward by acquiring Kevin Love from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As explained on Wednesday by Bleacher Report, Brooklyn power forward Taurean Prince hasn’t lived up to expectations since signing a contract extension in October — one that will pay him $25.3 million over the next two years. Although Irving’s return and Durant’s debut for the Nets could reduce their reliance on role players like Prince, the outlet stressed that the team still needs to improve its supporting cast in order to increase its chances of contending in the 2020-21 season.
According to the publication, Prince and guard/forward Caris LeVert could be used by the Nets as trade fodder to acquire Love, given that their combined $28.5 million salary in 2020-21 is just $3 million less than what the 31-year-old Cavs star will be making in Cleveland that season.
“If Brooklyn is truly all-in, it could easily tweak this sort of deal on the margins to make the money work. Cleveland should be happy to move on from a massive veteran salary that doesn’t belong on a rebuilding team while also getting the younger big wing it badly needs. Brooklyn would upgrade its shooting, rebounding and secondary facilitation.”
— NBA (@NBA) December 13, 2019
Per the Nets’ Basketball-Reference team page, Prince is averaging a decent 12.1 points, six rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game as Brooklyn’s starting power forward, but is shooting just 37.6 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from three-point range. Among players with at least 30 starts in 2020-21, Prince’s true shooting percentage places him at fifth-to-last in the entire NBA.
LeVert, meanwhile, had more impressive statistics, with averages of 17.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists and shooting percentages of 41.4 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from beyond the arc. However, he has been limited to just 39 games this season due to injuries, and as Bleacher Report speculated, his numbers are likely to decline if he is still with the Nets once Durant is cleared to play.
Talking about Love’s potential impact if he gets traded to the Nets, the outlet cautioned that his defense might also prove to be an issue. However, he was playing well for the Cavaliers at the time the NBA suspended operations in March, with averages of 17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Bleacher Report added that the Nets have two big men in Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan who could step in and make up for Love’s defensive deficiencies, especially against “mobile” power forwards.