NetsDaily Off-Season Report #9

Since the future (aka the lockout) is so depressing, we're limiting ourselves to the present (the draft) and the past (team history), with some political science as well, in this edition of the Off-Season Report.  We also look at D-Will's visit to the (soon to be formerly) best locker room in the NBA; examine the effect of amenities on players' thinking;  dismiss the recent kontroversies (cute, huh?) over Kris and Kim; wonder why the best high school prospect in the country last year isn't more sought after in the draft; and wish the best to the other Net to get engaged last month.

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, blogs, tweets... plus our own reporting and analysis.

Keeping up with the Humprhies...OMG!!

We are shocked, staggered, flabbergasted that there's controversy in the extended Kardashian clan in the days and hours before the season premier of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians". We haven't done much in the news pages, but we would be remiss if we didn't use the Off-Season Report to keep up...oh never mind.

Where do we start?  How about the pre-nup?  It appears the couple has agreed on a pre-nuptial wherein the party of the first part, Mrs. Humphries, will keep all that is hers, and the party of the second part, Mr. Humphries will keep all that's his.  If it fails (we hope not), he gets nothing.  Us Weekly has the details.

"Kim's Beverly Hills home and all of her assets are protected," says the insider.

"She keeps anything she earns during the marriage and he does not receive anything if the marriage fails."

Humphries, 26, is cool with the terms.

"He agreed to that. He's not worried," says the source.

Kim, 30, is thought to be worth considerably more than Kris who, according to the New York Post, has earned $16 million in his seven-year basketball career and makes $3.2 million a year as a New Jersey Nets forward.

Forbes estimates that Kim made $12 million last year itself, becoming the highest paid reality TV star in 2010 according to estimates by Forbes Magazine based on the profits from her E! reality shows, endorsements and the clothing boutiques she co-owns with her sisters.

Know this: Kris Humphries is not participating in the Kardashians' non-stop programming for free.  He will be rewarded handsomely because, well, he is.

Okay, moving on to the next controversy...She is NOT/NOT with child...in spite of what some tabloid or weekly magazine or whacked out website is reporting...but she wants to be.

"I hope so, I really hope so. Maybe by the end of the year. Well, I won't have a baby by the end of the year, but maybe we'll start trying by the end of the year. After the wedding," femalefirst.co.uk quoted Kardashian as saying.

With the lockout, they'll have plenty of opportunities to work on it.

Now the big one...did Kim cheat on Kris?? With Bret Lockett, a back-up defensive back on the Patriots (five tackles in 10 games in 2009, pullleeeeze)!!  In Touch Weekly, how could you? We suspect this guy barely knows Tom Brady!  If she was cheating on Kris, it wouldn't be with BRET LOCKETT!  Come on. This is KIM KARDASHIAN, who dated Reggie Bush for God's sake.  Well, Kim is krazy about the kontroversy, threatening to go all libel and slander and legal hoo-hah on the guy and In Touch. He says he has the usual evidence...sext-wise.

"I'll be damned if anyone, especially some loser I've never even met, is going to try to come between Kris and me...The tabloids and weekly magazines will do ANYTHING to sell copies, and in this case they decided to run a false story, knowing they had absolutely no proof that it was real. It's disgusting, and I will be taking legal action against InTouch magazine and Bret Lockett."

Body slam the guy, Kim!  We know, we know, the Kardashians are unfamiliar with how gossip and publicity work in America, babes in the woods, so to speak. But we expect they can learn. (We can hardly wait for the settlement.)

Well, it should all be over Sunday at 9 (10 Central, of course) when the show premiers. There will be some Kris in there.  So watch.  On to basketball.

Kidd vs. Williams, Marbury vs. Harris et al.

On the occasion of the Captain's run for the ring...an argument

It's hard to imagine a more lop-sided trade than Jason Kidd for Stephon Marbury back in June 2001. Certainly in retrospect and certainly in comparison with the Nets' acquisition of Deron Williams in February.  Right?

Maybe. Bear with us as we make the case that if certain things go the Nets way, getting D-Will will be as lop-sided a  deal as the trade that changed the franchise.

At the time, Kidd for Marbury wasn't seen as that much of a no-brainer. The July 2001 deal officially was Kidd and Chris Dudley in exchange for Marbury, Johnny Newman, and Soumaila Samake. Dudley was waived by the Nets, and signed with the Blazers. Newman was waived by the Suns, and signed by the Mavericks. Samake was traded to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Jake Voshkuhl, and then waived by the Bulls before later signing with the Lakers. No draft picks were exchanged. No cash changed hands.

Kidd was seen as damaged goods...at least off the court. Marbury was at the top of his career...at least statistically....and Marbury was four years younger.

Earlier in the year, Kidd had been arrested for domestic abuse against his wife, Joumanna.  He was 28 years old.  Kidd had averaged 16.9 points, 9.8 assists and 6.4 rebounds, but had seemed to plateau...a high level plateau to be sure, but a plateau.  He had been named first team all-NBA and made the all-Star team. None of his teams had made it out of the first round of the playoffs. Marbury had other issues, like chemistry with his teammates...or the lack of it, but he had had a great season, his best as an NBA player.  He averaged 23.9 points. 7.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds...and was 24.  He had been an all-Star and was named third team All-NBA that season.  He had a 50 point game against the Lakers coming off an impressive all-Star Game where sank two three's to win the game for the East.

Jerry Colangelo loved the deal, as did a lot of fans in Phoenix, some of whom came trolling on Nets' forums to warn that Kidd couldn't get a team out of the first round and should be named "Ason" because of his lack of a jumper.  A few fans in New Jersey weren't crazy about the deal either (and Kidd had only two years running on his contract...while Marbury had four.)

Truth be told, Devin Harris had nowhere near as good a season as Marbury had...or in 2009-10 either. He seemed to have peaked in 2008-09. Also, unlike Marbury, Harris was older by two years than the player he had been traded for. Of course, the Nets agreed to give up what was essentially two #3 draft choices, Derrick Favors and whoever the Jazz pick in this Draft plus the Warrior pick, protected 1-7, in 2012 (and $3 million in cash).

But the real question is: Will Williams become the franchise changer Kidd was?  If he does, then whatever the Nets gave up won't matter.  Sure it's a risk, just the Kidd trade was, as noted above.  But the alternative was waiting for a better deal.  Not likely one will come along.

A footnote: Avery Johnson described to Boomer and Carton on Friday what he did immediately after learning that D-Will would become a Net..."danced around the gymnasium".  We remember what Byron Scott said when he learned J-Kidd would be joining his team.  He was on the golf course and remembered that he smiled and told others in his foursome, "I just became a much better coach."

D-Will in Mavs Locker Room...Is It THAT Special?

A lot was made, at least in Dallas and in the minds of some paranoid Nets' fans, about Williams' visit to the Mavs' locker room where the Nets' current point guard congratulated the Nets' former point guard and embraced Jason Terry.  Williams of course grew up in the Dallas suburbs.

Some may have even worried that even a few minutes inside Mark Cuban's special digs could make D-Will swoon with envy.  The locker room is the NBA standard...for now.

Milton Lee, who has had a big role in designing the Barclays Center locker room, will tell you, as he told us, that the Mavericks'  facilities aren't that cool. Nets' locker in Brooklyn will be better.

Even more to the point of how deeply Lee gets into detail is his assessment of the Mavericks setup which he describes as "allegedly one of the best [but] I found it had a lot of flaws." He enumerates,"The cabinetry doesn't make sense to me...A) it's too low; B) it's too big.  A big drawer on the bottom doesn't make sense to me either. There's no ventilation for your sneakers. Little things you pick up from trainers and equipment managers. They say the sneakers stink. The hanging bar, little things. There's no sense in an NBA locker to have a bar that's six feet high. You're dealing with the average 6'7" human being that can reach up to 6'10" comfortably. 

"They don't have a massage room," Lee continues, matter-of-factly with a bit of disdain. "They drape some sheets in the corner of the weight room...We are taking it to a finer detail."

So there.

Little Things Mean a Lot

Speaking of amenities... We watched the latest edition of Nets Magazine the other day. It's only on-air, not online, which always mystified us.  But other than an old clip of Travis Outlaw talking about the value of getting in shape for training camp, there was one thing that caught our eye.  The team's current free agents want to come back, in part, because of the first class way the organization treated them...and because of the coaching staff.

Sasha Vujacic: "I would like to stay here because I got used to everyone in the organization, whenever I needed something, whatever was there for me to do, they were were very helpful,and I thank them for that again...I think we were well coached." 

Kris Humphries: "They take great care of us.  Typically, you're not going to find players in their seventh, eighth years, saying, I learned a lot or I felt I got a lot better. So I have to thank the coaching staff for that.  Everything plays into that."

Deron Williams: "I like this organization a lot. I like the direction they’re going. They made me and my family feel real comfortable since I’ve gotten here. I like Coach (Avery) Johnson — the way he coaches and the way he carries himself. I definitely can see myself staying here."

The theme, of course, is that the organization's priorities are not just about what goes on between the lines but elsewhere. It's a particular tribute that Vujacic, who only knew the Lakers franchise before coming East, is so positive and so grateful to those who've been helpful to him. The idea that the Nets organization has reached that level is not to be dismissed. It was not the case in the past.

Draft Sleeper of the Week: Josh Selby

Josh Selby is over the lot on mock drafts (who isn't?) with some like Chad Ford projecting him as high as #17 and the Knicks and others, like Jonathan Givony, putting him down at #27 and the Nets.

Selby is typical of a lot of players in this draft: He's all about potential. He came out of high school in Baltimore as the top recruit in the country, ahead of everyone in this year's freshman class, from those who've come out like Enes Kanter to those who stayed in, like Harris Barnes.  Then, things went south.  The NCAA believed he had received payments from a supporter and delayed the start of his season by nine games.  After a great first night, where he scored 21 points and hit the game-winner, a three-pointer, against USC. Then, in January, he hurt his foot which slowed him down and hindered his explosiveness. End of the day, he averaged just 7.9 points per game.

When he decided he had had enough of college life and declared for the draft, the response among Jayhawk supporters was intense.  It was one thing to lose the Marcus twins. It was another to lose a kid who had disappointed.

As the Kansas City Star reported, it was ugly. Former KU forward Scot Pollard tweeted, "I think you made a mistake young man, but I wish you luck, and I hope you prove me wrong!" CBS basketball analyst Seth Davis was less kind, tweeting, "I never wish ill on a youngster but the GM who drafts Josh Selby should have his head examined. Kid wasn’t even a decent college player."

There's nothing to indicate Selby is a bad guy. He spent most nights in Lawrence at home with his mother!  The issue is how big of a risk you want to take.  Billy King, as Nets fans know, is a risk-taker and he sure had nice things to say about Selby after this week's workout.

"He’s a basketball player," King said of Selby on Thursday. "He just knows how to play. You find these guys from New York or Baltimore that just have a feel for playing basketball. They just know how to get things done, get to the bucket."

King hasn't been that effusive about a lot of players who've been through PNY Center this spring, but then again, Selby has been compared to Monta Ellis, more of a combo guard or a shooting guard.  Getting Monta Ellis at #27 wouldn't be a bad thing.  It might be a risk, like Jeremy Tyler is a risk, like Charles Jenkins is a risk, like Justin Harper is a risk. But if you're going for upside, may as well bet the ranch.

The Special Talents of Kyle Singler

Be warned though, King spent a lot of time talking to Kyle Singler after a workout this week, doing nothing to disabuse  the notion that the Dukie is a favorite of the Nets' GM, himself a Dukie. Singler dismissed it and said it was about Duke and Coach K, etc. and in interviews passed on opportunities to say he'd like to play for the Nets

Maybe it was about the 6'9" forward's "Buckets" series, the popular YouTube series where Singler performs trick shot after trick shot. After his Nets workout, he admitted to Daniel Marks that it wasn't as easy as it seems.  Sure is entertaining though.

Prokhorov, Politics and the Nets

Should we be surprised that Mikhail Prokhorov is getting into politics?  Probably not. He is an ambitious man and a Russian patriot. Did we know he used his political connections to help him acquire the Nets?  We did, but you may not. But he did and more than once.

A year ago, he met with President Obama in Washington.  He had been part of a delegation of Russian businessmen who accompanied Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to the Russian leader's meeting with the US Chamber of Commerce. 

At the event, the US President, a backup forward on the 1979 Hawaiian state high champions, invited Prokhorov to a game of basketball, but added "I want you on my team...I wouldn't want to play against you!"  Prokhorov presented Obama and Medvedev with Nets jerseys...Obama's bore #44, Medvedev's #3. Obama is America's 44th president, and Medvedev is Russia's 3rd. It was the second time Prokhorov had met Obama, the third time he had met a sitting US president, having met President George W. Bush in Moscow in 2007.

In September 2009, as he was finalizing his deal with Bruce Ratner, Prokhorov said he asked Medvedev to talk with  Obama at the annual meeting of heads of state held that week at the United Nations. It was more than a courtesy. It was to make certain there would be no roadblocks to his ownership bid.  After the meeting between the two presiddents at the UN, Prokhorov told a Bloomberg reporter, he was satisfied "all formalities were done."

Medvedev's press secretary Natalya Timakova confirmed it all at the time. Speaking about the talks between Medvedev and Obama in New York, Timakova told TASS, the Russian news agency, that the two presidents covered the entire extent of bilateral relations in . "In particular", TASS reported, "Medvedev told Obama among other things about Russian businessman [Mikhail] Prokhorov's intention to acquire the New Jersey Nets basketball club". The discussion also may have served as an ice breaker for Medvedev, who knew of Obama's interest in basketball.

When the Nets arrived in Moscow in October 2010, there were a number of Russian sports, cultural and political figures on hand.  Among the heavy hitters, Sergei Ivanov, Russia's deputy prime minister and the third most powerful man in the country.  A former KGB general, Ivanov was thought to be a strong candidate to replace Vladimir Putin as President of Russia two years ago. but lost out to Medvedev. Also meeting Nets officials was Arkady Dvorkovich, Medvedev's economic advisor (and a Duke grad).

Moreover, US officials and those close to Prokhorov note the Nets owner is not just someone who can work with the Kremlin, but also someone who those inside the Russian power elite rely on for advice.  This foray into politics is not for show.

Visit to Moscow

Brett Yormark is on a plane to Moscow this weekend to talk Barclays, business and basketball with Team Prokhorov, meet with cultural impresarios to book big Russian acts for Barclays and try to add to the list of team and arena sponsorships.

"Our goal is to be be truly a global team," he told ESPN's Bill Daughtry. "We've positioned ourselves as Russia's home team.  I've got lots of different meetings with different corporations, obviously ownership, and while I'm there, I'll be meeting with  the Moscow Circus and other high profile attractions trying to bring them to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center."

Again, this is not for show. The Nets are committed to Russia.  Barring a long lockout, we expect to see the Nets back in Moscow this summer for part of training camp, maybe even an exhibition game.

Final Note: The Other Engagement

It didn't get the attention that another Nets' engagement did, but Team Services Assistant Matt Riccardi and Alyse Bell.  The couple met while attending college in Texas. According to her hometown paper, the Kenai Peninsula Clarion, "Matt proposed to Alyse on a full-moon night on a rooftop overlooking the Hudson River in upstate New York."

No word on the size of the ring, or whether he will be part of a reality TV show or wind up with residuals of any kind. We do know two will be married in July.  So congratulations.  A lot of the success the franchise has had in building relations with new players can be attributed to Riccardi. 

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