Another week of despair dawns as the prospect of a lost season looms larger. As the NFL lockout looks close to being settled, the NBA can't even get it together enough to even schedule the first bargaining session since the old CBA ran out on June 30. One bright spot was the pro-am performance of MarShon (not Marshon, as it turns out) Brooks. Another was the steady progress of Barclays Center. We focus on both of them, speculate on what will be discussed this weekend when officials fly to Moscow for meetings with the Big Russian. We also take a look at a chat he did, where he discussed everything from religious convictions to favorite breakfast drink. We also examine the possibility that the Nets could use a loophole to get young players on to the Springfield Armor roster and in our Final Note, applaud Avery Johnson's commitment.
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 rely on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who slip interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs, tweets...plus our own reporting and analysis.
We were among the Nets fans who took in the Nike Pro-City debut of MarShon Brooks on Tuesday when the Nets top pick scored 48 points on 32 shots, shooting better than 50% from the field and a lot better from deep. He also have one assist, four rebounds, five steals and five turnovers. We're don't have NBA scouting credentials, but thought we'd add our two cents anyway.
Overall, Brooks looked like a steal, if not the steal of the draft. Okay, let's get that out of the way, first. All that hype coming from people like Chad Ford and Skip Bayless? Believe it. The kid can score and had some of his finest moments against the two NBA players on the other team: Jamario Moon and John Lucas III.
He started slowly, then decided to let everyone know he has some range, dropping three straight three's one off a steal. Later, he showed more of his repertoire, including a killer crossover and stepback j, an athletic dive to the hoop finishing with a two hand slam and some mid-range. Stefan Bondy of the Daily News noted how he had some trouble finishing on a number of drives to the hole and that can't be disputed, but as Bondy noted, he joined the team that afternoon after not participating in organized ball since March!
On defense, he did have five steals, using his quickness--and willingness to fight for the ball, but as leg cramps increasingly bothered him in the second half, you could see his effort diminish. Still, the Nets and particularly Avery Johnson, believe he has all the tools to be a very good defender and he himself admitted recently that Providence didn't want him expending energy on D last season. They needed his scoring.
The cramps, one in each leg, and a rolled ankle put him on the bench for long periods. The second cramp was so bad that the trainer had him lie on the floor behind the bench while being treated. Then, with 1:40 left and the game on the line, he went back in.
It should also be noted that on occasion, Brooks played the point and fairly well. His handle is way more than adequate and his huge hands give him an advantage passing. He had only one assist but he could have had a few more if his passes weren't muffed. But the overwhelming impression is that MarShon Brooks possesses star quality. As we noted in our summary following the Nike Pro-City game, some things go beyond numbers.
Brooks will make another appearance at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the summer league at Baruch College's Athletic and Recreation Center at Lexington Avenue and 24th Street. His Dyckman/NYAC will play PDG Queensbridge, which is the summer home of Ron (Metta World Peace) Artest. Should be interesting if Artest plays. If Brooks indeed has a "a little big of Kobe in him", Artest will know.
Nets Brass in Moscow
Billy King tweeted Friday, "In Moscow for meetings this weekend." By Sunday afternoon, he was back. We don't pretend to know the agenda nor the roster of execs who'll fly over, but a few things seem obvious. The status of the lockout, Deron Williams' star turn in Turkey, and how much to plan for this season...free agency? We're told that brass and coaching staff will be back in East Rutherford starting next week, getting ready for the season, thinking, discussing, planning. (But since no one knows if there will be a season or how long it will be if it's pulled from the rubble of the lockout, we have to wonder how useful all this will be.)
We suspect there will be discussions of assistant coaches. When will the Armor head coach and assistant be hired. We assume that whoever the Nets designate as Armor GM will have a big role. No one is saying who gets that job, but Milton Lee, the director of basketball operations, and Jordan Cohn, the Nets' D-League scout, are expected to have major roles. The two were at the D-League National Tryouts in Louisville a month ago. We're also told marketing and Brooklyn are (always) on the agenda, now that they are inextricably linked.
Could the Nets find a way to get their two draft choices (and maybe undrafted players) on to the Springfield Armor roster come November if there's no resolution to the lockout? Maybe. Scott Schroeder notes that there is a way, but it's complicated.
Since the rookie draft picks won't be under NBA contract, they wouldn't automatically be property of their NBA team's D-League affiliate. To put it in real world terms, if Jeremy Tyler were to sign a D-League contract tomorrow, he would be inserted into the annual draft and could end up on 15 teams not owned by the Golden State Warriors -- suffice to say, that's not going to help anyone.
There are ways at getting around this, however, as the Oklahoma City Thunder showed last season with second round pick Ryan Reid. Reid obviously was not ready to contribute to the NBA and therefore didn't sign his rookie contract, allowing the Thunder to keep his rights.
Knowing Reid would benefit greatly from working under Tulsa 66ers coaches Nate Tibbetts and Dale Osborne, the Thunder brass were able to find a loophole to send Reid to the D-League affiliate even though they knew they he'd be gone before the 66ers came on the clock with the 13th pick in the D-League Draft. Instead, Oklahoma City simply had Reid sit out until the 66ers moved high enough on the waiver wire before he signed his contract, allowing him to join Tulsa in time to play in 48 of the team's 50 regular season games.
Schroeder adds it obviously isn't ideal and it might even be blocked by restrictions on communications between the teams and players...or by the players union "encouraging" rookies not to play. But says someone more knowledgeable than Schroeder:Any players drafted in the 2011 Draft are not D-league eligible to be drafted and that list also includes NBA free agents. Then again, is there anything stopping the D-League from changing its rules?
Big Week at Barclays: Arena as Millennium Falcon
On Thursday, workmen installed the first of the 921 rusted steel megapanels that will make up the arena's "skin". The installation of the megapanels, weighing several tons each, will continue for more than a year, almost right up to the time that the arena is completed. As they go up, the arena will begin to look quite different. The pattern was designed to help minimize the difference between the 675,000 square foot, eight level arena and surrounding "brownstone Brooklyn".
But the sweeping design will now be flushed out and, at least to our mind, conjures up the sightlines you might find in a large, dare we say it, spacecraft...StarShip Nets, so to speak. It's been sort of evident in the architects' renderings of the finished arena, particularly some of the night shots.
Whatever you think of it, you have to be impressed by the engineering process that led to what we think will be seen as the dominating feature of the arena, the weathered steel look.
Here's how it worked, Don Muret of Sports Business Journal reported this week:
Since May, the prototype for the Barclays Center facade has been gathering rust down the street from the arena construction site in Brooklyn.
Outside of arena developer Forest City Ratner’s project office, a mock-up with 12 rusted steel panels represents the arena’s exterior look.
When the arena opens in September 2012, about 130,000 square feet of the facade will have the same rusted appearance, said Bob Sanna, Barclays Center’s director of design and construction.
Thousands of panels are undergoing extensive weathering at a plant owned by ASI Limited, an exterior wall manufacturer based near Indianapolis. Over four to five months, those panels are being wet and dried 1,100 times to achieve the rusty look. Using rainwater collected from the factory’s roof, ASI officials are accelerating a process that would ordinarily take nine years under natural weather conditions, Sanna said.
"It looks like a dry cleaning line," he said. "Each panel goes through a station that spritzes it, then it moves ahead with heat lamps that dries it. The intent is to get this warm, weathered look."
SHoP Architects, the New York City design firm teaming with Aecom to design Barclays Center, came up with the rusty exterior idea.
M-Will on D-Will
Marcus Williams once held as much promise, maybe more, as MarShon Brooks. Both were Big East stars, both projected late lottery. They both fell into the 20's. After showing some promise, however, M-Will fell into "bad habits", never played defense much and ultimately was traded. Many thought the Nets had made a mistake, but Williams never produced with the Warriors either and last year, wound up deep in Siberia. He averaged 15.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, shooting 39.4% overall and 37.3% from deep in Russian League play. This year, he moves closer to Moscow, where he will play for Unics, a top Russian team.
He was asked by DIME, based on his experience, about what Deron Williams could expect, how he would be treated.
"I think he’ll get treated like everyone else over there, if not worse," said Williams, still only 25. "He’s a big-name going over there, and they might kinda try to prove their league is just as competitive as the NBA. You don’t know what someone’s motives are. I dunno, I think he’ll be treated the same as everyone else does."
He spoke as well as about other differences between the two experiences, including two-a-days deep into the season and the hardships, among them looking at a menu and not having a clue.
The Inner Prokhorov
A few years ago, like two, Mikhail Prokhorov declined to name any of his favorites, not books, not movies, not even his favorite color. He didn't want people analyzing him through his choices. Politicians, of course, can't do that. The public always wants (and deserves) as much information as possible on pols' likes and dislikes, their inspirations, their influences.
So, last month, when he was named head of Pravoe Delo ("Right Cause"), he engaged in a live chat with the public through the auspices of Kommersant, Russia's leading business journal. In those answers, he revealed a lot more about himself than he had previously.
Some random insights:
--On what book had recently impressed him: "'The Gulag Archipelago'
--On what business book has most influenced him, "Jim Collins' 'Good to Great'."
--On who his model has been as an investor: "At one time I liked to some extent, the investment philosophy of Warren Buffett..."
--On his religious convictions: "I am an atheist who respects the rights of believers."
--On love and marriage: "I believe in love, and hope that it will pass me by."
--On his favorite breakfast drink: "In the morning I drink a glass of plain water always."
Avery Johnson was in Laredo, TX, Friday to talk to 800 young people about basketball, academics and character. That's not extraordinary. He does it all the time, particularly in Texas, most recently traveling to Lubbock. But what makes this trip special is that it's the 12th straight time the coach with the preacher's mentality had made a trip to the small border city down I-35 from San Antonio. That's commitment.