The Nets could look to use first-round NBA draft picks to maneuver, trade


June 22, 2023 | 3:17

The Nets woke up Wednesday morning with the 21st, 22nd and 51st overall picks in the NBA draft.

Chances are they won’t go to bed on Thursday having done them all.

This is always general manager Sean Marks’ time to make deals.

He traded the franchise’s leading scorer, Brook Lopez, for D’Angelo Russell just two days before the draft. With the exception of last season — handcuffed in part by uncertainty about Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — Marks has made a move within 48 hours of every draft since joining the Nets back in 2016.

At this point, it will be a surprise if he doesn’t make one Thursday night.

And it won’t be for lack of trying.

Putting aside talk of pursuing Portland superstar Damian Lillard if he ever truly became available, it’s no secret the Nets are actively trying to move up in the draft Thursday night at Barclays Center.

The Nets could look to send Dorian Finney-Smith (above) or Royce O’Neale to move up in the NBA draft.
Noah K. Murray/NY Post

The most recent trainings have shown that.

The Post has reported that veteran 3-and-D wings Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale have been dangled everywhere from Los Angeles to Cleveland.

“They’re talking to teams about No. 1 spots for Dorian,” a league source told NetsDaily on Wednesday morning. “Same for Royce. Trying to take 21 and 22 with one of those guys to move up.”

This source would not or could not say exactly which prospect the Nets were after, saying “no idea.” It’s even unclear if they’re targeting a specific player or just feel the draft drops dramatically after a certain point.

But after The Post reported they had done their due diligence by checking in with at least four teams sitting between 10 and 16 in the draft, now reports are coming they may have talked to No. 17 as well.

While the Cavaliers are reportedly interested in adding one of these Nets wings, they don’t have a first-round pick until next year.

However, the Lakers’ No. 17 selection is up for grabs (along with Mo Bamba, Malik Beasley or both), and The Athletic linked them to both O’Neale and Finney-Smith.

Royce O’Neale
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The Nets, who often figure out between 60-70 prospects before the draft, have been known to bring in prospects at the last minute.

That’s one of the perks of hosting the draft in their home arena, the Barclays Center.

But the fact that they drafted Dereck Lively II, according to ESPN, is telling.

Barring a catastrophic slide Thursday, the Duke center is expected to be long gone by the time the Nets are scheduled to pick.

He was selected No. 10 in the latest ESPN mock draft, another indicator the Nets may try to move up.

The Nets could move up to draft Duke star Dereck Lively II.

Every other year, Marks has taken a center prospect to back up — and in some cases eventually replace — his starter.

There was Jarrett Allen in 2017, Nic Claxton in the second round two years after that and Day’Ron Sharpe two years ago.

Allen became a centerpiece of the Harden trade (and an All-Star), while Claxton is the current starter and candidate for Most Improved Player.

Lively could be next — but likely only with a trade. Meanwhile, the Nets have hosted multiple workouts for Olivier-Maxence Prosper, according to The Athletic , which expected the Nets to take the Marquette wing in its mock draft.

Will Weaver is joining head coach Jacque Vaughn’s staff, according to the Nets.

The addition to the staff of Kevin Ollie, Jay Hernandez, Ronnie Burrell and Corey Vinson had already been reported.

Holdover Adam Caporn has stepped into the role of director of player development, a job that has been vacant since Durant’s friend Adam Harrington left at the beginning of last season.

Daniel Jones, the head of strength and conditioning, has returned to Australia. Ollie is expected to become Vaughn’s top assistant, according to NetsDaily.

Nothing but the Nets

Brian Lewis’ projected first-round pick by the Nets in the 2023 NBA draft:

Player, Pick, Pos., School, Age

Noah Clowney21, PF, Alabama, 18

Comment: The Nets have been trying to move up, and Clowney is the kind of prospect they could covet.

If he falls for them without having to act, it would be their luck and an easy choice.

Keyonte George22, SG, Baylor, 19

Comment: The Nets need shot creation, and Smith could provide that — albeit down the road as a development pick — if they stick with No. 22.

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