NetsDaily Off-Season Report #1

Now in our FIFTH big year, the NetsDaily Off-Season Report! When we started this, back in 2008, it was a way to help fans through a long off-season. Now, it's more of a ritual.

As we look down the road (and through two tunnels), the Off-Season Report will, we hope, serve as a guide in the transition from New Jersey to Brooklyn, which of course starts Monday when the team changes its name, introduces its logo and colors and starts selling merchhandise. That's where we'll start. Hello Brooklyn.

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.

A Place of Our Own

The Nets' move to Brooklyn is not so much about a transition from one state to another. For the first time, the team will have a real "home" court. Barclays Center will be to the Nets what the Garden is to the Knicks, an iconic building branded with an NBA team, not a hockey club or a schedule of rock concerts. Barclays is basketball-centric. from the tight bowl and black box lighting to the practice court just inside the main entrance (a feature that has gotten little attention...so far).

It is also about the Nets as an organization. The home locker room takes up 12,000 square feet and cost nearly $10 million. Video will flow wirelessly along a 135-foot corridor that links the locker room, players' lounge, video room and practice court. The players and family lounge will have a concierge. If it's not the most exquisite, player-centric "basketball operations campus" in the league, it won't be for lack of trying or lack of funds.

Finally, the move will provide financial benefits to the club. It will go from being a tenant to owner. Technically, the Nets will pay rent to Barclays Center, but the reality is that the two entities are the same people aligned in different corporate structures. Mikhail Prokhorov, Bruce Ratner and the others own differing percentages of the two companies, but no longer will the Nets pay a big chunk of their revenues to a state or city authority as they have for more than 40 years.

There were always passionate fans in New Jersey, as this site attests, but there were never enough of them. Will that change in Brooklyn? If the reaction to the release of the #hellobrooklyn gear and anticipation of the new logo is an indicator, prepare for something big.

Bright Lights, Big City, High Prices

But it won't be cheap. Our seats at Prudential Center in Section 124, Row 9 cost $399 each for the season, obviously a good price. Our seats at Barclays Center in Section 233, Row 12 cost $1,550 each. Of course, the worst seat in Barclays is a LOT better than the worst seat in Prudential. Still...

it's a complaint that's been voiced by other season ticket-holders from New Jersey. Alfonso Cottle of Somerset told the Star-Ledger that over the last two seasons, he and his brother, Christopher, had spent roughly $2,500 on a half-season ticket plan. He said the same arrangement would cost them about $10,000 in Brooklyn.

Similarly, Paul Zarrillo, who spent two years on the Nets Fan Advisory Board, told the Times his season tickets went from $29 a game to $115 in Brooklyn. The Times quoted another fan this way: "he decided not to renew his season tickets after the price spiked from $1,600 for a 21-game package in Newark to $10,000 for a 41-game package in Brooklyn. No discounts for loyalty. Or for gas and tolls."

So far, reports the Post, 1,700 of the 8,300 New Jersey fans with full or partial season deals have renewed, more than the Nets claimed they would get.. With those prices, it's unlikely the Nets will get many mor

Special Effects

One thing to expect at Barclays is some highly sophisticated special effects. One of Prokhrov's companies is Optogan, which which manufactures high brightness LED displays, some of which were on display on Opening Night at Prudential Center in 2010. If you'd like to see some of their work, here's a YouTube video of Prokhorov's final campaign rally at Moscow's Olympic Stadium early last month. The LED special effects are right at the beginning. Near the end, you'll see Prokhorov dancing.

Draft Sleeper of the Week

We'll start slowly, working backwards from the one (and possibly) two late second rounders the Nets have.

Chris Charlier, chairman of the board of the Brooklyn Nets (and Optogan), is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. In fact, he's one of two members of the nine-man Chairman's Council --what the Nets call their board of directors-- who are Penn graduates. Fellow Quaker Gary Lieberman is a long-time member going back to the Ratner era. Milton Lee, the Nets director of minor league operations, also holds a degree from the Ivy League school. All stuidied at Penn's prestigious Wharton School of Business.

So, it turns out, did Zach Rosen, the 6'1" All-Ivy League point guard who's set record after record for the Quakers. He is, as one would expect, a bright and articulate young man. He even pens a diary for Draft Express and he's from New Jersey, played for St. Benedict's Prep in Newark. Can he play basketball at the NBA level? Is he worth the #57 or #60 pick, should the Nets retrieve it? In other words, is he our Jeremy Lin?

Possibly. He has a reputation for toughness and his mantra is "I don't believe in talent." Instead, he is about hard work...and confidence.

"All these guys that they’re talking about in projections, there’s no fear factor for me. I grew up playing with them, against them," he told the Daily Pennsylvanian, recalling his days at St. Benedict's. "A big part about, ‘Can you play in the NBA?’ is you better believe you can. Because if you don’t, obviously other people don’t believe it."

He adds there’s nobody who makes him say, "Damn, that guy is so much better than me." That includes Lin. A number of teams have sent scouts to give him the lookover, including the Clippers, Spurs and Bulls. Two NBA coaches whose teams play nearby have also been to his games. Doug Collins...and Avery Johnson.

And if not the draft, Rosen could very well wind up as a camp invite. He won't be lonely. He'll no doubt run into Matt Tellem, the Nets new basketball information coordinator. Penn, Class of '11.

We've Got the Beat

For the last five years, the Nets have been covered by four newspapers with full-time beat writers: the Star-Ledger, Record, Post and Daily News. In years prior, Gannett who owns a number of New Jersey newspapers covered the team for a while as well, as did the Times. Now, with the team moving to Brooklyn, what will the beat line-up look like?

The Post and Daily News will (probably) be even more interested in the Brooklyn Nets, considering how much of their circulation is in Brooklyn. The Star-Ledger and Record reportedly have not decided. It's more likely that the Record will continue to cover the team because they will continue to train in Bergen County for at least another year..

That doesn't mean the number of beats will drop. Quietly, Newsday, Long Island's newspaper, has begun covering the Nets full-time with Roderick Boone at games and at Nets press conferences. Boone has covered the Jets for the Newsday, which is . The Times may also return to the beat. Jake Appleman, one of the most knowledgeable NBA writers, has been covering the Nets on and off all season, more towards the end of the season. He's be a great addition.

Uni-Ads

It may very well be that the Brooklyn Nets will wear unadorned uniform jerseys one season. The NBA is considering selling ads on its uniforms starting in 2013-14. It could be quite lucrative. Sports Business Journal reports NBA owners are considering three separate jersey designs featuring corporate advertising with estimated values for teams ranging from upward of $20 million a year to about $1 million a year, depending on the size of the ads and size of the markets.

The most aggressive model would have ads dominating the front of the uniform jersey, as in the English Premier League. It could be even more lucrative. Manchester United gets $36.2 million from Aon. It's more likely the league would not take such a radical step. Still, it's looking more and more likely that NBA teams will follow their European counterparts.

How would the Nets vote on such a proposal. Likely, yes. Brett Yormark told SBJ a cuple of months ago that he was in favor of the proposal. "It’s a league decision, but as someone who spent seven years at NASCAR, I know the value of putting a brand on the playing field and the uniform, so it is certainly something I would support," he said.

Indeed, the Nets were the first team to sell ads on practice jerseys, selling the rights to PNY, the designer and manufacturer of memory upgrade products along with the naming rights for the Nets training facility.

Prokhorov? He's also likely in favor., but not for the most aggressive model. CSKA Moscow has sold small ads on its jerseys for years.

Bad Joke, NBA Store

The Nets new #hellobrooklyn jerseys sold out quickly, but the NBA Store is not showing the Brooklyns any respect. if you go to the Nets page at the online store, you'll see a link for "New Arrivals". All that's offered are "Brooklyn Nets Floor Mats" with links to the product. The links are fake and go back to store's main page.

Some discipline is in order.

The Defector

Marivic Lardizabal was for five years a top aide at the Garden, rising to the role of manager, basketball adminstration and team travel, after being executive assistant to Donnie Walsh. Not long ago, she made the switch, leaving the Knicks for the Nets, where her title is Manager of Basketball Operations and Executive Assistant to Billy King. Oh, the stories she could tell.

Final Note - What Could Wrong?

The default position among diehard Nets fans has been that Deron Williams won't stay, that Gerald Wallace is gone, the Nets won't keep their draft pick, that the Nets will walk into Barclays Center with no one and nothing.

It's possible, of course, but are things really that bad? Williams has said a lot of things, but in the last few weeks he has also said that there is a "possibility, a strong possibility" that he will stay with the Nets.

On Friday, he gave fans some hope when he spoke about his visit to Barclays Center. "It would be great to be a part of that first game (at the Barclays Center), that first team there, kind of start our own legacy in Brooklyn," Williams said. "So that’s definitely enticing. That’s definitely something I think about on a regular basis...:

"And I’ve always been confident in this organization. Even though I was opting out I always said that doesn’t mean I’m not re-signing with the Nets; and that still remains the same.’’

Williams also noted that he has sold his house outside San Diego and that his family likes living in New York, where he will stay, at least though free agency.

But beyond that, what pundits like to ignore is that Williams has a big financial incentive to stay., like $25 million. Most of that, of course, is in the fifth year, as it was for Dwight Howard before he signed an extension with the Magic. But Williams is not Howard. Williams is a person who doesn't like uncertainty, has a wife and four children (unlike Howard who has one but not the other). And does anyone think Howard has had second thoughts about changing his mind the morning of March 15?

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