The networks were close together in a trading period characterized by business – from Clint Capela to Andre Drummond to D’Angelo Russell. Sometimes the best deal is the one you don't make, and this was one of those times.
Despite being interested in important pieces like Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn refused to break its core. General Manager Sean Marks was determined to give this core at least the last third of the season to get well (if it can) and see what they can do.
"All of my team-mates have a great experience and know what it's like when two boys wait – especially I don't play. They know that if I step up on the pitch people will take their right positions," said Kevin Durant Showtime "All The Smoke" and related to himself and injured Kyrie Irving.
"We'll start figuring out what the team looks like. I think everyone is just patient."
Marks was nothing, if not patient, with this conversion.
The Nets will go into 5: 2 in a gentle seven game in Toronto on Saturday. And that despite Irving and Caris LeVert missing 55 games together – Irving still has a right knee sprain – and Durant doesn't expect him to record a single second all season.
"Ultimately, that's 50 percent of our offenses that are still on the bench," Dinwiddie said of Durant and Irving.
"For many of us, it's great to be healthy and play. But even if you play numbers 3 through 15, the whole makeup of everything changes when these two come back … it changes everything."
Dinwiddie at least met with fleeting interest from the Lakers. And Marks reportedly declined an offer from Capela for Allen and Taurean Prince. The GM rejected all overtures and was resigned to keeping this core intact.
That was always the expectation. Even when Irving caused a stir last month when he said the nets needed more parts – even after Durant's return – to start, it was planned not to add them until the close of trading but only in the summer.
"We will do our best with the guys we have in our locker room now," Irving said, "and we will take care of everything else – moving all the parts and everything else – as an organization all over Line in summer. "
In the past, summer was when Marks took his biggest steps, often right before the design. But every contract can be concluded until Thursday, 3 p.m. A deadline was always unlikely because the networks had not taken any hasty or short-term measures.
Their optimal line-up of Irving, LeVert, Prince, Allen and Joe Harris has only started 4-2 with six times. Replace Irving with Dinwiddie and the quintet is 2-0. In any case, they want to see this team as a whole – or at least as a whole, before making important decisions.
"If we take care of the ball, we have enough talent to make a top 10 offensive, there is no doubt about it," said coach Kenny Atkinson. "But we just have to keep working on taking better care of the ball. Being healthy and having a stable position will make it a lot easier."
The next potential steps to keep an eye on the Nets' open roster spot are the March 1 buyout date and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, whose expiring 10-day deal has closed that gap.
The Nets cannot grant him a third ten-day period, but can sign him again for a standard NBA contract. Or they could dive into the free agent market for abandoned point guards like Tim Frazier, Isaiah Thomas or Trey Burke, who receive special attention as a Roc Nation customer.