NetsDaily Off-Season Report #3

Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the playoffs, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting stuff into larger stories and blogs.

Taking Care of Business

We’re doing a little remodeling work this weekend at NetsDaily, nothing like tearing out a wall. More like spackling around the cracks. We’ve added three new links under "Resources": a Nets Photo Gallery link to the most recent images compiled by Yahoo from the NBA and AP, a Nets Player Foundations link to information on individual players' charities as well as an NBA Salaries link to the Storytellers’ Salary Page, which we think is the most comprehensive and accurate listing.

We’ve also added a new category for our news items: Community. We’ll be tagging all those stories highlighting the Nets’ efforts, as a franchise and as individuals, at improving life in the community, whether it’s Vince Carter financing a drug rehabilitation and recovery center, Devin Harris’ work with Big Brothers and Make-a-Wish or Yi Jianlian’s work on behalf of Chinese earthquake relief. The Nets have always had some of the most community-minded players on their rosters. So we figured it was time to recognize it.

We’ll continue the updating the site during the summer.

Summer League in Orlando

In his comments to the media following the Lawrence Frank announcement, Rod Thorn laid out what the Nets brass will be doing over the next few weeks.

"Get ready for the Draft," Thorn said. "We have anywhere from 11 to 3, 2 or 1 in the Draft. Get ready for that and get ready for summer league. We're going to play in Orlando. And get ready for all the various things that could transpire from trades to free agents, just get ready so when the time comes you know what you'll try to do and see if you can do it."

The Orlando announcement of course is the only (quasi) news in that statement. It also means the Nets, unlike last year, will play in only one summer league. The Rocky Mountain Revue, where the Nets played last summer, was shuttered last week by the Jazz because of lack of interest from other NBA teams. The league has its own summer league in Las Vegas and with NBA teams being cash-strapped, GM’s and owners didn’t see a need to play in a second league.

Speaking about cash woes, word is that the Nets and Sixers will share a team in Orlando (The Nexers? The Fighting Stefanskis?). Summer league rosters typically have 15 spots. The Nets are likely to contribute Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, their first round pick, and possibly Sean Williams. The Sixers are likely to send Marreese Speights, a rehabbing Jason Smith, and their first round pick. At this point, neither team has a second round pick. Looks like CDR will get another chance to hone his point guard skills.

And if you want to know what the Nets’ chances are for getting any one of those top three picks, it’s about 25-1. As for getting Blake Griffin at #1, those odds are worse than 100-1. Don’t get your hopes up.

Picks Available?

With a weak draft and a weak economy, is this the year to have three first round picks and two second round picks (Timberwolves), one first round pick and four second round picks (Blazers) or two first round picks and a second round pick (Kings, Bulls and Grizzlies)?

Some of those picks may become available. The Nets have never purchased a pick in either round during the Thorn era, but on several occasions have said they've tried. Last year, for example, they claim they tried to acquire a pick late in the first round to take Chris Douglas-Roberts. Then, after CDR fell to them at #40, they say they tried to buy a pick late in the second to take Jaycee Carroll.

The Nets have sold picks in the past, giving up their second round pick in 2003 to Philly who used it to take Kyle Korver and then doing the same thing with their first round pick in 2004, selling it to Portland who used it to take Viktor Khryapa.

Dueling Commissioners

David Stern has always been a strong supporter of the Nets’ move to Brooklyn, having long ago assailed the IZOD Center’s failings as an NBA arena. But his counterpart at the NHL thinks the Nets would be better off at the Prudential Center in Newark.

"I don't understand why the Nets aren't playing at Prudential Center now," Gary Bettman said last week. "The Devils are drawing, and the atmosphere is great. It has to be costing the State of New Jersey a boatload of money to keep [Izod Center] open. I hope, at some point, the Nets decide to go there."

It’s all about helping owners. Stern knows the Nets’ owners would benefit from owning their own arena in Brooklyn and Bettman knows the Devils’ owners could use a tenant to shore up their financese.

Hanging Out with Kiki

Last week, we noted that Yi had joined Kiki Vandeweghe at an NBA event in New York. Adam Silver, the NBC deputy commissioner, was principal for a day at a multilingual school.

It seems Kiki is keeping in touch with other players as well. He, Yi and CDR were all in attendance at the Garden, watching the Jordan Brand Classic. The Nets GM was doing some advance scouting.

No word on whether Yi has gone back to China or how long he’s sticking around New Jersey.

Draft Sleeper(s) of the Week

Is this the kind of draft where, seeing a limited amount of talent and lot of economic issues, a GM might take some risks? A player who may not be worth a lottery pick this season could wind up being more than worth it if you wait a year…or two.

Enter the Euro-stash concept. Taking a young European with a high pick, believing he will be more valuable with a year or two more seasoning, may make sense this season. A player like that may not be worth the commitment of salary and other resources right now but down the road he could be a bargain.

So here are the names of four young Europeans who fit that definition.

--Jonas Jerebko, a 6’9" Swedish SF who plays in the tough Italian League. Chad Ford suggests that a good performance at the Reekbok Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, could vault him into the lottery. He’s now at 220 pounds, having added 30 pounds in two years. A Boki Nachbar-like player with good athleticism and good range, he’s 22 years old and in his last year of draft eligibity.

--Victor Claver, a 6’10" Spanish combo forward who plays in the even tougher Spanish league. Claver considered coming out last year, then returned home after realizing his chances at a first round pick were slim. Along with Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio, Claver is seen as the future of Spanish basketball. Same basic attributes as Jerebko but two years younger. The Nets have scouted him.

--Omri Casspi, a 6’9" Israeli small forward who plays near home in the Israeli league and on the bigger Euroleague stage. A tough competitor who has an unorthodox jumper that makes some nervous (so did Ryan Anderson’s), he is a couple of months older than Claver. The Nets had him in for a workout when he tested the waters last summer, but an injury prevented him from doing anything other than an interview and some shooting.

--Milan Macvan, a 6’9" Serbian power forward who plays in the Adriatic League but starred with 23 points and 14 rebounds in the Nike Hoops Summit, making his American counterparts look small and weak by comparison. Known as the "Charles Barkley of Europe" because of his toughness, Macvan is only 19 (but looks twice that). He can go inside and battle or take a long three, as he did in the closing minutes of the Hoops Summit. Kiki Vandeweghe scouted him at the EuroCup in March.

Right now, none of the four are projected for the first round, but things change. Bottom line: none might be worth that $1.7 million salary now but after being stashed in Europe for another two years, they could be worth a lot more. In the meantime, all the Nets have to do is offer them a contract every year. Nenad Krstic, taken at #24 in 2002 at age 18, sure was worth a lot more on arrival in 2004.

Josh Boone – Fashion Model

Maybe it’s because Anderson Varejao realizes he cannot compete with Brook Lopez’s brother in the wild Afro contests, or he just wanted to look different but on Friday, he showed up at the Cavs practice facility with his hair in braided corn rows.

When his teammates were asked about it, they were ready.

"Oh, (you mean) Josh Boone," deadpanned Mo Williams.

"I thought it was Josh Boone," Cavs forward Joe Smith joked, before adding, ""We’re definitely ready to get back to games."

Final Note

A lot has been written about Lawrence Frank’s contract situation, but we think there’s another take on it. Teams often get hammered for not developing players or worse, developing them and then letting them go. Same holds true for coaches…or should. Thorn picked Frank out of obscurity in 2004 when he fired Byron Scott. Frank started his run with 13 straight wins. Frank has developed along the way, learned more about coaching, developing players, etc. Letting him go now, when he’s done what was asked of him this season, would seem like a waste of a significant investment. There is no doubt in our minds that if the Nets had fired him, he’d have been scooped up by someone else.

Frank is now 38 years old and has won 225 games. When Gregg Popovich was 38, he had just finished coaching at Pomona-Pitzer, a small California liberal arts college. His record, after seven years: 69-110.

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