The Brooklyn Nets hopes of infusing their rebuilding roster with two talented players who have excelled in limited roles hit a speed bump on Sunday when the Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat announced that they would be matching the offer sheets given to Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, respectively. As a result, the Nets offseason returns look underwhelming, with only Jeremy Lin, Trevor Booker, Justin Hamilton and Greivis Vazquez added thus far. For a team that is coming off a 21-61 offseason and doesn’t have control of its own first round pick until 2019, adding the duo would have been a step in the right direction for a team that currently has so little talent.

After trading Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers for a first round draft pick and releasing Jarrett Jack before free agency, Brook Lopez is currently the only real veteran on the team. While they got flashes of greatness out of both rookie Rondae Hollis- Jefferson and Croatian import Bojan Bogdanovic, both players showed they are still raw and are not quite ready to be counted on as reliable defensive or offensive options just yet. Because the Boston Celtics had their first round pick as a result of the ill-fated Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade, they only managed to add Caris LeVert from Michigan (thanks to the trade of Young) and Seton Hall standout Isaiah Whitehead on Draft Night, but LeVert has an injury history that has been compared to Brandon Roy, while Whitehead is considered another raw talent who might be able to provide some excitement to fans who saw him play in college, but needs more work on his overall game.

Neither Crabbe or Johnson have done much during their time in the league, as both were put in bench roles and only got opportunities to produce on occasion or due to injuries. But both have shown signs of potential during their three and two-year careers in the league. Crabbe’s only real opportunities came this season, where he played most of the season behind CJ McCollum, and only was able to average 26 minutes a night in 82 games. But he still managed a 39% three-point percentage, and actually averaged 15.9 points in the eight games he started. Johnson has spent his two years playing behind Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Goran Dragic in Miami, but has averaged 10 points a game in only seven games as a starter, while showing good ball instincts during his limited role in other instances.

At only 24 years of age, both players had the opportunity to not only develop into starters for the Nets, but into players the team could have built around for the next four years. Johnson would have begun his Nets career as a backup to Lin, but could very well have become an asset off the bench, and possibly challenge Lin for a starting role at some point this season. Crabbe would have started at shooting guard, where his presence would have taken pressure off Bogdanovic and Hollis-Jefferson, and let them focus more on the parts of the game they do well, which is outside shooting and defense. The fact that first year general manager Sean Marks was willing to commit $126 million to the two of them meant he believed in both of their potential.

But the Blazers have gone all in for this season and pulled Crabbe back, while the Heat valued Johnson too much in their first season without Wade in 13 years, so its back to the drawing board for Marks and the Brooklyn Nets. Vazquez was their first signing after the news of their loss broke, and they may also add former first overall draft pick Anthony Bennett, in moves that will excite no one. They do have over $30 million in draft space but at this late stage in free agency the pickings are slim. Maybe they go out and add another veteran like Gerald Green, Kevin Martin, or even Lance Stephenson at shooting guard, and maybe a Mario Chalmers or Ty Lawson and hope they catch lightning in a bottle. But their best option at putting a quality team on the court, and one that could grow together and accelerate their rebuilding process given their limited ability to add young talent in the near-future just went out the window.

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