We haven't checked with the Elias Sports Bureau but we feel confident enough to say that the Nets set a record on Friday: most players lost to Turkish Basketball League in one day: 2. Obviously, the signatures of Deron Williams and Sasha Vujacic on TBL contracts is the big news this week. As we noted to a Knicks fan, Fans of the Nets are no more screwed than any other NBA team, just in different languages.
So we examine all things Turkish, including where to find the Nets games online; ask why Turkey?; speculate on what a lost season might mean for the Nets draft prospects next June; catch up on the non-Nets news from Kris and Kim and Mikhail; and in general try to make ourselves useful.
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, and now the lockout. We will relyi on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who slip interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs, tweets...plus our own reporting and analysis.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Your New Jersey... uh scratch that. Your Brooklyn... no, too early. Okay, here we go... your ISTANBUL NETS!"
We can't imagine Gary Sussman with that call, but hey, with three Nets (one past, one present and one future) working this fall in Istanbul, who knows what to expect.
As for our thoughts, well, there's not much to say at this point. Officially, we don't know if Deron Williams will ever play for Besiktas. If the league and players union get to yes before late September, his signing may be nothing more than a footnote to the lockout. But that's unlikely. Williams can expect to depart for Istanbul at the end of August, presumably right after his foundation's Dodgeball Tournament in Utah August 27. The Black Eagles play their first games in the EuroCup at the end of September against a Belgian team in a home-and-away series. Then, there's a bit of a respite before the Turkish league begins play. We wish him and his family a happy and healthy trip.
Sasha Vujacic, of course, isn't coming back to the Nets if the lockout ends. He signed a traditional contract with Anadoulu Efes, Turkey's traditional basketball power. Say what you want about The Machine: he came to play. His passion, particularly on arrival last December, was refreshing. Not all of his teammates showed that level of passion as the team played poorly amid the 'Melo-Drama. He also, more than any Net of recent vintage, gave Nets fans their due. In spite of small crowds, Vujacic used every opportunity to praise the Nets fans for their passion, saying how much he appreciated it.
Finally, for Bojan Bogdanovic, there has to be some head-spinning right about now...maybe even a complete Whirling Dervish number. Two guys he thought could be his teammates in the NBA will now be his rivals in the TBL. Does he ask them for advice? Do they take him out for friendly dinners? Beats us, but then most of what's going on between the billionaires and millionaires does.
Why Turkey, you might ask. Unlike the countries whose teams are the traditional leaders in European hoops action, Turkey doesn't have horrific economic problems. Greece, Spain and Italy do and their businesses, including basketball clubs, are tightening their belts. Turkey's basketball reputation is also growing. It won the silver medal in the FIBA World Championships last year, held in Turkey. It had five players in the NBA last season and the #3 pick in the NBA Draft last month was Enes Kanter (taken of course with the Nets pick obtained in the Deron Williams trade...ironies abound.)
We're hoping something good comes out of all this...but after reading David Falk's cautionary tale about Danny Ferry (son of Nets scout Bob Ferry), we remain concerned.
Watching while Waiting
As for watching the three of them in action, the Euroleague has a reasonably priced online league pass thingie, but ironically, Besikstas isn't a Euroleague team. It's limited to the Turkish Basketball League and EuroCup, a lower level European-wide competition. EuroSport2 does stream some EuroCup games and we'll try to keep you posted...but coverage is often limited Both Vujacic's Efes and Bogdanovic's Fenerbahce are Euroleague teams and can be viewed live with the pass or archived. First games are the weekend of October 1 and Fenerbache is the first team up.
Even before the Euroleague, fans will get a chance to watch Bojan Bogdanovic in the FIBA Eurobasket games. The top scorer on Team Croatia during the world championships last year in Turkey (where else?), the man we will not call BoBo needs to step up if the red and white are going to make it to London for the 2012 Olympics.
If you want to watch, you'll have to pay for live feeds but if you want to wait till after the games are over, there's a lot of well-archived material on FIBA TV. FIBA's London Invitational Tournament, what the Europeans call a "friendly" tournament, that is exhibition games, will be broadcast starting August 16. Croatia is one of six teams in the invitational. The others are Serbia, featuring Mile Ilic and Nenad Krstic; England, who will send Luol Deng against Bogdanovic; China, with former Net Yi Jianlian; France with Joakhim Noah; and Australia,
Lost Season and the Draft
There's been a lot of discussion about what happens if the season is lost and a year from now, there is an NBA Draft to sort out...and not just any draft, but one of the best ever. Who gets what pick? It's unlikely that the teams will draft in the order they picked last month (without traded picks). One possibility is modeling the NBA Draft after the NHL Draft following their lost season. The NHL ran a weighted lottery based on two main criteria: won-loss records the last three seasons before the lost one and playoff appearance over the last four seasons.
So we looked at the bottom of the league the last four seasons and here are the win totals for the worst five teams over the past three seasons with the number of playoff appearances over the last four in parenthesis.
Minnesota - 24, 15, 17 (0) = 56
Sacramento - 17, 25, 24 (0) = 66
Washington - 19, 26, 23 (1) = 68
Brooklyn - 34, 12, 24 (0) = 70
Golden State - 29, 22, 36 (0) = 87
Los Angeles - 19, 39, 32 (0) = 90
Toronto - 33, 40, 22 (0) = 95
(Yes, Brooklyn, because if there is a lost season, the New Jersey Nets won't exist.) The Nets obviously would be in good shape when the ping pong balls fly again. The Jazz could be screwed though since the Warrior pick the Nets traded them is protected 1-7.
What's Next in Brooklyn?
The Nets' big P.R. push in Brooklyn continues to yield daily press, from local papers to international sports business journals, mostly the work for Barry Baum, Nets' senior vice president of communications. Expect a new spate starting this week with the arrival of the arena facade. It will make for highly visual content.
Down the Memory Hole: both SHoP and Barclays Center did some clean-up work this week. SHoP removed both of its arena construction animations from YouTube and someone did a scrub of Jaclyn Sabol's identifier on her report re: a local business named Vinnie's Styles. Originally, she was identified as "Jaclyn Sabol, BC.tv". Not anymore. BC.tv was removed. We don't know what it is...we asked, but apparently it's not ready for prime time. Access to the web address BC.tv is forbidden.
Kris and Kim Take St. Cloud
Kris Humphries traveled to St. Cloud, MN, this week to participate in a local basketball camp sponsored in part by his foundation, the fifth straight year he's done so. St. Cloud is where his mother comes from and where his grandparents still live. But the highlight this time was not him, but his fiancee'
With cameras in tow, the happy reality TV couple did the two, first stopping at Kris' Five Guys burger joint downtown, then heading to the gym where hundreds of kids got two autographs, one from him, one from her. Locals were thrilled by their appearance.
But the St. Cloud paper, in spite of three articles, had nothing from Kris on his free agency, the lockout or the Nets. Only other news this week: looks like an August 20 wedding date.
Alas, no more Sash and Maria news.
Prokhorov's Personal Party
Pravoe Delo ("Right Cause") is Mikhail Prokhorov's political party in Russia. He was elected its head, he is reportedly willing to spend $100 million to get it the recognition it needs for him to be a player on the Russian political stage and as its website shows, it IS his party. None of his businesses, including the Nets, feature as many images of him as the party does. In a country with a history of personality cults, we guess this sort of thing is acceptable, but it kind of surprised us. Some nice pictures of the boss in the photo gallery.
In other non-Nets news regarding the owner, Motor Trend did a piece this week on how his hybrid E-mobile (pronounced "Yo-mobile") is now back-ordered through 2021.
Ë –Auto (pronounced "Yo-Auto"), had 51,188 eager Russians scrambling to get online to put their name in for its new hybrid, the Ë-mobile (yeah, you guessed it—pronounced "Yo-mobile.") on the first day. In less than a week, the amount more than doubled, with more than 100,000 people signing up. But the number could drop significantly once customers are forced to hand over the Russian Rubles, since a monetary deposit wasn’t required to be placed on the initial advanced order list.