It's that time of year again...the Off-Season, which for third straight year begins early. Between now and when the Nets open their training camp September 25, just before heading to Beijing, we'll be out there looking. This week, we have a Newark-centric report, with items on The Prudential Center, some news out of Queen Latifah's movie, "Just Wright" that we think is just wrong, a draft prospect from the Brick City in our Draft Sleeper of the Week and a suggestion for who should toss up that first ball come October. We also look at Terrence Williams' predictive powers and the rumored closing of a well-known Brooklyn watering hole.
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.
It’s All New…or Better Be
We’ll start slowly, considering how eventful we expect this off-season to be. As they say in the Nets’ marketing office, "It’s all new." Last year, it became old very fast.
Speaking of which the Nets new "rebuilding" website, NetsAllNew, has some interesting aspects, beyond that black-and-white architect's rendering of the new court in Newark, the one that omit the words "New Jersey".
The site is broken into five sections: on the Prudential Center; "Leadership" changes—new owner and new coach; the draft lottery; the draft; and free agency. In each, there is a news section with the latest information on each topic. Free agency is still "under construction".
If you’re wondering, what’s left of the team’s New Jersey heritage, with the slow migration from New Jersey Nets through Nets Basketball to Brooklyn Nets, it’s pretty much down to the njnets.com website. Forest City Ratner does control brooklynets.com (one "n") but luckily a Bahamaian website controls netsbasketball.com. Otherwise…
Barclays Center’s website has also been updated with Nets news as has the Prudential Center, including a seating chart.
We’re started updating our Deadlines and Commitments feature on the news side, and will continue to do so as the calendar catches up to us and/or new dates are added. One thing we didn’t add to the current listing is the May 14 premiere of "Just Wright", the Queen Latifah project.
To refresh your memory, here’s the plot line:
Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) is a straight-shooting physical therapist who gets the gig of a lifetime working with NBA All-Star Scott McKnight (Common). All is going well until Leslie finds herself falling for Scott, forcing her to choose between the gig and the tug-of-war inside her heart. Oblivious to her romantic overtures, McKnight is instead drawn to the affections of Leslie's childhood friend Morgan (Paula Patton), who has her sights set on being an NBA trophy wife. Is Leslie destined to play the role of "best friend" forever or will Scott finally see that what he always wanted is right in front of him?
I wonder how this works out???? Will there be a wedding scene at the end????
The Internet Movie Database lists the full cast, which includes, in order, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Jalen Rose (as a broadcaster), Elton Brand, Marv Albert, Kenny Smith, Rashard Lewis, Rod Thorn and Mike Fratello. There are unnamed Nets fans, hecklers and others, as well as a limo driver, played by someone named Richard D’Alessandro (Hmmm) listed in the credits.
Not listed: Lawrence Frank, who during last summer’s shooting was called a "natural" by Queen Latifah. Does this mean "L" was fired from the movie too, left on the cutting room floor? Now that’s harsh. We blame Kiki, who we suspect will be blamed for everything soon.
We’re hoping some new Net this summer will take Scott McKnight’s uniform number, #19, as his own. After all, McKnight is an All-Star and we could use one of them.
Remember back in October, when Terrence Williams was tweeting about being the Rookie of the Year, he posted on his Twitter page a screen grab of what one video game projected as his 2009-10 season stats. In case you forgot, the stat line ran like this: 10.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.4 steals with an overall shooting percentage of 44%, 27% from deep and 61% from the stripe. TWill liked the numbers.
So after all the controversy and late season heroics, how'd he do? His final numbers looked like this 8.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and .6 steals with an overall shooting percentage of 40%, 31% from deep and 72% from the stripe. Of course, his numbers the last month and a half of the season far exceed those totals...or what the screen grab suggested they might be.
Draft Sleeper of the Week
We’re going with Kenneth Faried, the 6’8", shot-blocking, rebounding terror out of Morehead State and Technology High School in Newark, where he averaged 23.2 points and 15.8 rebounds and hit 64 percent from the field as a senior. A top flight rebounder at the high school and college level, but we know he’s not likely to be tapped at either #27 or #31. Still he’s a local product and this being a Newark-centric edition of the Off-Season Report, we like the possibility of him finding his way to training camp. Just a feeling.
Who Gets to Toss First Ball at Newark?
We began thinking about this a couple of weeks ago. There are some obvious candidates: Mayor Cory Booker, who pushed hard to get the Nets to Newark; State Senate President (and long time season ticket holder) Richard Codey, who husbanded the deal; the 6’8" Russian dude; and maybe even Newark native Queen Latifah. Shaquille O’Neal will probably be playing somewhere…maybe even at "The Rock" that night. Schedules don’t get posted til August, after free agency.
Here’s our choice: Al Attles, who unlike Shaq played his high school ball in Newark at Weequahic High, and was one of the first African-American coaches in any sport, winning the 1975 NBA championship with the Warriors. Attles, 73, lives in the Bay Area.
Is Freddy’s Bar, self-proclaimed cradle of liberty, closing its doors on May 1? Found in Brooklyn, a blog that posts interesting news about the borough quotes an email from one of the arena critics that invites people to an video presentation, adding, "As part of the Farewell Night Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse will screen it’s latest TV show that covers the eminent domain protests at Freddy’s from the last several months…and prior to the latest news that Freddy’s will now close May 1."
No one else was reporting the closure as of press (blog) time, but in the past few weeks, the Bar’s manager, Donald O’Finn, has hinted it's time to find a new locale for the bar. The bar operates out of a building long owned by Bruce Ratner, now one of the properties condemned by the ESDC. Its lease permitted it to stay open until next year. Of course, patrons at the bar have been pictured chained to the bar and have famously swore they will have to be forcibly be removed from the premises once the eviction order comes through.
The ESDC goes back to court Thursday in hopes of getting everyone out of the arena footprint by May 17, a deadline the arena critics will fight as "premature"--six years after the project was first announced.
Meanwhile, an ESDC memo circulated among arena proponents notes that Ratner isn't waiting for all the properties to be evicted before starting construction on the arena. According to the memo, dated last Monday, Ratner "Will commence excavation for the arena foundation in the area of Atlantic Avenue." The portion of the arena on the Flatbush Avenue side will have to wait til several holdouts, including Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, are removed.