NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Brooklyn Nets are apparently hoping the restricted free agency game will be kinder to them this time around.
According to ESPN, the Nets are expected to make strong pushes for Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr. and Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Last season, Brooklyn signed restricted free agents Tyler Johnson of the Heat and Allen Crabbe of the Trail Blazers to offer sheets, which were later matched by their teams. The Nets tried again in December, signing Rockets holdout Donatas Motiejunas to an offer, only for it to be matched as well.
The Nets, who had the NBA’s worst record (20-62) last season, enter free agency, which opens Saturday, with nearly $22 million in available salary cap space, most in the league.
Porter, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, played in 80 games last season, averaging 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds. In his fourth season, the 24-year-old forward set career highs for scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage, 3-point field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, steals and blocked shots.
The eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Caldwell-Pope, now 24, has steadily improved in each of his four seasons as well and is now a key contributor to the Pistons. This season, he is averaging 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists. The 6-foot-5-inch guard also is a strong defender.
“I’m impressed,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said of Caldwell-Pope after the Nets faced the Pistons in March. “I love how he competes, how he competes on the defensive end. That’s really the essence of what I see when I watch him play. He plays with force, he competes on the defensive end.”
Both the Wizards and Pistons seem intent on making sure they don’t lose their young standouts.
The Undefeated reported Friday that Washington will make an “aggressive” offer to keep Porter and match any offer for him. However, another report from ESPN said the Wizards are interested in a sign-and-trade that would send Porter and a protected draft pick to Indiana for Paul George.
Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy has said re-signing Caldwell-Pope is his top priority this offseason.
Nets general manager Sean Marks is trying to build a young nucleus despite losing three first-round draft picks and swapping spots for another first-rounder following the previous administration’s 2013 trade with the Celtics that brought Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn.
Earlier this month, the Nets acquired guard D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov in a trade with the Laker. Russell, 21, was the second overall pick in the 2015 draft.