Nets Need a Center, But Not Sasha Kaun

During the free agency period thus far, the rumors surrounding the Nets have been relatively quiet. While the Nets did make two signings on Thursday, PG Shane Larkin and PF Thomas Robinson, the Larkin signing seemingly came out of nowhere, while the Robinson signing was expected.

However, one of the few names that has stuck with the Nets before the free agency period and continuing to stick two days in is Sasha Kaun, the 30-year-old Russian center. There have been reports that Kaun has been signed pending a physical, but those are unconfirmed and a trade would need to happen to acquire Kaun.

This should be no surprise that the Nets are interested in Kaun largely due to the fact he is Russian. The Nets have been involved with Russian players before, Andrei Kirilenko and Sergey Karasev, simply due to the Nets’ Russian ownership.

A little bit about Kaun…

The Russian international stands at about 7’0 and weighs in at just over 250 pounds. Kaun attended Kansas University where he won a national championship in 2008. In that season Kaun averaged 7.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He was drafted 56th overall by the Seattle Supersonics in the 2008 draft, but his draft rights were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for cash considerations. The Cavaliers still own his rights, meaning a trade would be essential for the Nets to acquire Kaun. The trade would likely involve cash and/or second round pick(s).

After the draft, Kaun never made the jump to the NBA and signed a contract with Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow. At the club, Kaun has won the VTB United League five teams, and earned a bronze medal with Russia at the 2012 Olympic Games. Last season Kaun averaged 13.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and .9 blocks per game on 69 FG% and 67 FT%.

Kaun also speaks fluent English, which would make his transition to Brooklyn much easier.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

While Kaun does possess an impressive resume, he is exactly what the Nets do not need. Yes the Nets need a center to back-up the fragile Brook Lopez, but Kaun isn’t the answer. At 30-years-old, Kaun’s potential is maxed out, and while his numbers are solid, he played for the best team in Russia against weak competition.

After watching game tape of Kaun, he does nearly all of his damage in the paint, and cannot create for himself whatsoever. Kaun thrives in the pick and roll and if Kaun were to be signed, he would likely spend most of his minutes with Jarrett Jack at the point. Jack isn’t a passer to put it lightly. However it is hard to be sure, as it is pretty certain that a combination Deron Williams, Jack or Steve Blake will be off of the roster before the season opener.

The Nets are attempting to become more athletic and younger this season and that is undeniable. With the acquisitions of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough, Shane Larkin and Thomas Robinson, this Nets team is completely revamped. Adding in a center that can only thrive in a half court set will not help that cause.

The fact that Kaun is unproven against NBA competition does not help his cause. The backup center on the Nets’ roster is perhaps the most critical reserve due to Lopez’s injury history. Kaun as a third-string option would be alright, but the Nets need a proven backup for Lopez.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The free agents centers aren’t abundant this year, and many of the upper tier options are already committed to teams, however there are still options for Brooklyn’s backup center in free agency.

Bismack Biyombo was picked seventh overall in the 2011 draft but has failed to live up to the hype of a lottery pick. However, Biyombo could be a solid backup center for Brooklyn. As an unrestricted free agent garnering little interest, Biyombo could be compelled to sign somewhere cheap. At only 22-years-old, Biyombo has the ability to improve and turn his career around. Even without a career-altering turnaround, Biyombo is already one of the best shot blockers in the league.

Last season Biyombo averaged 4.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while only averaging 19 minutes a night. Those are solid numbers, and Biyombo doesn’t have to be catered to on offense. He can run the floor and clean up offensive rebounds, and leave the scoring responsibility to others on the bench.

However there have been no rumors connecting Brooklyn and Biyombo so the move likely won’t happen. The Nets roster is currently full of many news pieces, with the Nets reportedly aggressively shopping Joe Johnson, along with the point guard logjam mentioned previously. The Nets could easily acquire a big man in return for any of these players, and some of these options could prove fruitful for the Nets.

Kaun could quite possibly become a solid role player in the NBA, but he does not fit in with the Nets’ current agenda of young and athletic. Along with his inability to create on offense, Kaun is simply not the best option for Brooklyn.


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