We decided to go through Ed Stefanski's answers to questions posed by the Nets' website on Monday to find the deeper meaning...the man's hopes and fears.
Here is what Ed said and what we think he was trying to tell us. (The conspiracy theory alert is on.)
--"There are certain players that are going to have to improve off of last year for us to be successful."
Okay...some skepticism by the GM. Later, he names who he's talking about: the entire bench.
--"Very excited about Jamaal Magloire coming in; I think he is a piece that is really going to help us from a physical standpoint that we haven’t had here in years. We know he can rebound the ball and he can also score inside. I think he will help complement our guys and give us an added front-court player that we’ve needed. We’ve needed more depth in the front-court and I think he adds to that."
Wow, that's very enthusiastic. The placement of this at the top of the chat also suggests he and the organization are putting a lot on Magloire's shoulders.
--"The obvious is the 'Big Three' coming back. Richard (Jefferson) wasn’t healthy last year until the very end and he came on like gang-busters. Hopefully Richard can continue there."
Uh, we thought RJ's ankle was completely healed.
--"And then you add a (Nenad) Krstic who is hopefully going to be healthy by the beginning of the season – he is progressing very nicely."
He won't commit to Krstic being ready to go on October 31. Uh oh. Now we understand the enthusiasm for Magloire.
--"Is Boki (Nachbar) going to play as well as he played last year? He’s proven he can play, now can he do better? Can Antoine (Wright) take another step forward? The two rookies last year, Marcus (Williams) and Josh (Boone), can they take a step forward? They are all questions you ask."
Boki had a career year then took the summer off to prepare for his contract year...and yet there are doubts. Doubts about Antoine too. Seem to be less doubts about the two kids. Then again, the Nets have to make significant decisions this year on Boki and Antoine, but not so with Williams and Boone.
--"Bernard Robinson will get a chance this year. The year we traded for Boki, he didn’t get into a game until the following year when he had a preseason under his belt and the coach felt comfortable. There’s a chance for Robinson to step up also."
Lot of copy for the 14th man. So we will respond in kind...If you look at Robinson's record, what stands out is that he is someone Charlotte, and before that Michigan, used at a number of positions, including PG and PF. Bickerstaff at one point said Robinson was the only Bobcat who could play all five positions. Good defender too. The Nets confidence in him seems to suggest they had a choice between keeping him, with his $1.08 million guaranteed contract, or Hassan Adams, with his $687,500 contract.
--"You have a rookie who is very athletic, but raw. How long is it going to take Sean Williams to figure it all out? We can’t rely on him to figure it out right away but we think he’s got upside."
What??? He's not the next KMart??? Maybe Sean's nickname should be "Tartare" as in Steak Tartare. Raw is now the word EVERYONE in the Nets' organization uses to describe him, from Stefanski and Thorn to Boone and Williams.
--"I thought Marcus had an awesome summer. Everything we asked of him from basketball, from coming here to going to Tim Grgurich’s camp out in Vegas with other pros and playing in the summer league. He fulfilled what we asked of and more from a basketball standpoint."
Prepare to be surprised, doubters! Oh wait..."only from a basketball perspective"? What else did you ask him to do, Ed?
--"If we’re healthy, we’re a good basketball team. I think we have numerous pieces. Health is a huge thing. I’d like to see us stay healthy and see where it falls. I think the addition of Magloire and a healthy Krstic are two big additions from last year."
Four references to "health" in a 47-word answer. Is there a message here, for fans? for Tim Walsh? for the gods of basketball?
--"The division got a lot harder over night. Boston, with their trades, is a very formidable opponent now. Toronto won the division last year. Zach Randolph goes into NY, very talented player, so they got better. Philadelphia played very well at the end and got good draft picks. The division as a whole got better."
Wait a minute, he doesn't list the Nets in the division! Is that the order he is predicting, behind the division champs from New Jersey? Sure sounds like it.
What's missing: any reference in the Q and A to Mile Ilic or Jason Collins. Nor did he reference either of the two vets on vets minimum deals: Malik Allen and Robert Hite.