On January 23 the Brooklyn Nets precluded Mirza Teletovic for the remaining 42 games of the season. Doctors in Los Angeles diagnosed him with bilateral pulmonary embolus (multiple blood clots in the lungs). The blood thinning medication, which he was required to take for the condition mandated his absence.
Although Teletovic was excluded from the regular season, he entered Game 2 of the Nets’ only playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. Returning from injury, he played only 13 minutes in five games and failed to register a point. Coach Lionel Hollins said that Teletovic’s limited playoff time didn’t allow him to impact the games, much less the series.
Despite his comeback and seemingly little closure on his season it’s possible that Teletovic played his last game in a Nets uniform. This summer he will be a restricted free agent as the Nets tendered him a qualifying offer, costing $4.2 million. Last season he earned $3.3 million.
Restricted free agency means that other NBA teams can vie for the Bosnian’s services, but the Nets will be afforded the opportunity to match all offers.
Teletovic is one of few Nets free agents, namely Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. “Right now, no disrespect to Mirza, my main focus right now is (re-signing) Brook (Lopez) and Thaddeus (Young) because I think they’re two key pieces for us,” Nets General Manager Billy King said.
Both Lopez and Young hold player options for next season at $16.7 million and $9.7 million, respectively. Should they accept – as Young is expected to – the Nets would approach the luxury tax and repeater tax simultaneously. Testing free agency as league executives anticipate Lopez will would complicate matters for the Nets further.
Executives assume Lopez wants to be compensated for his fantastic finish to the season and this would raise the price for the Nets to retain him, should he stay. With the contracts of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each over $20 million next season an increase from Lopez’s player option would almost certainly place them in the luxury and repeater tax.
If the Nets keep Teletovic they will hope for a more consistent shooter and player than last season. Shooting from three point range is his biggest asset, Young believes. “Having Mirza back is perfect because he can step out and he can shoot the basketball. I think that’s the best thing about his game,” he said.
Teletovic enjoys most of his success shooting through stationary catch and shoot looks or pick and pop scenarios. From outside he utilizes the pump fake to drive. When driving he considers finishing at the rim the only option, not looking for open teammates and rarely finishing in an unorthodox fashion. Overall, he produced 8.9 points per game last season.
Defensively, he lacks quickness against agile forwards such as Kenneth Faried, but has enough strength to compete in the post. Far from a defensive juggernaut, mostly he defends respectably, but offers limited rim protection, averaging 0.4 blocks per game and rebounds little, averaging 4.9 per game.
An inconsistent year and major health concern damages Teletovic’s market, especially outside of Brooklyn. Some teams may incline to offer him a cheap contract, hoping to space the floor and utilize his shooting.
Whether due to insufficient outside interest, comfort or other factors Bosnia’s team captain would prefer to remain with the Nets. “I like Brooklyn, people are great, I know the team and everyone, especially doctors, treated me great,” he said.
Over the summer Teletovic hopes to play for his national team, but dismisses playing for a European club next year.
Ultimately, Teletovic will decide with his agent, whom he’s had since the age of 14. He believes that his agent will make the correct decision about his future, even if it involves leaving Brooklyn. “I trust him. I really trust him,” Teletovic said.
Should Teletovic appear in black and white next season he hopes to improve upon last year. “I think we had a good season, given the fact that they changed the coach and teammates,” he said. “Deron, Brook, Joe and I are the only players who have not changed. I think it is important for the Nets to stay with the same system.”