It's getting exciting. It's September 1. On October 1, training camp opens (for the next to last time in New Jersey). On November 1, the Brooklyn Nets will battle the New York Knicks, the first time two New York teams have faced each other in an regular season NBA game since February 20, 1977. Phil Jackson played in that game for the Knicks. Dave Wohl played for the Nets.Both picked rings since.
We do some looking ahead this week. What are the prospects of players showing up for unofficial workouts in two weeks? What's the difference between the practice court at Barclays Center and a training facility in Brooklyn? What Euro-Net is really doing the best in the Qualifying Tournament? Is Mikhail Prokhorov still fighting the good fight in Moscow? Herpes or No Herpes? And why could Wednesday be a history-making day in this team's history?
Showing Up in September
Deron Williams has said he'd like to see his teammates join him at the PNY Center around September 15, which is two weeks from Saturday, so they can develop some chemistry. It seems some players are already making plans ot be there, but don't expect everyone to be there every day or precisely on September 15.
C.J. Watson told Tim Bontemps Friday that he plans on getting settled in New York after returning from Basketball Without Borders Africa, then head over to the training facility before flying home and getting his daughter off to school. Marshon Brooks will be heading back from Moscow on the 17th or so, but he's already spent a lot of time on the East Rutherford court with D-Will. Mirza Teletovic and Toko Shengelia will be finishing up at the Eurobasket Qualifying Tournament on September 11. They still have to get settled here.
We should know soon just how much practicing Brook Lopez will do. Publicly, he's said he expects to be ready by Oct. 1. Privately, he's been overhead telling people he's not rushing it. So we shall see. Joe Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor should be around. Taylor has just bought a condo in Hoboken. ("I got a bed. I got a couch.") Keith Bogans has been working out at PNY off and on for months. You can be sure that those invited to camp without contracts will be on hand early and often. Some may already be there. The invites have gone out.
D-League play starts a month after the NBA. The Armor's first game is November 24 vs. the Canton Charge, the Cavs affiliate. As we've explained before, building a D-League roster is a very different process than stocking an NBA club. There are even walk-on workouts. The Armor, in fact, will soon announce local tryouts in western Massachusetts. They're expected to be held in late September or October . The Armor will also hold at tryout in New Jersey, presumably at the PNY Center. Get your sneakers and headband ready!
One of the more interesting aspects of the stocking process is how the D-League team uses the parent club's training camp to scout out and acquire talent that's just below NBA level.
As the Nets' training camp comes to a close and the last players are cut, the Armor can designate for reassignment up to three players cut by the NBA club. The players of course are under no obligation to sign but if they want to play in the D-League, the Armor will hold their rights. A player can make a lot more money overseas than in the D-League. But if a player is seeking a fast track to the Nets, the Armor will be their best choice. They'll be running the Nets' system, be following the Nets' training regimen; be using the Nets' call signs and most importantly be coached by Nets employees and be managed by Nets executives.
So once the training camp roster comes out and you start wondering why a certain player was invited, consider the possibility that Armor GM Milton Lee wanted him.
Practice Court vs. Training Facility
If you look closely at the video of Tyshawn Taylor's tour of Barclays Center, you'll see the latest (brief) images of the Nets Practice Court, including a brief shot of the scoreboard inside the court., which like the arena floor is 25 feet below street level. You'll also see Mark Higuera, the Nets exec who gave Taylor the tour, explain how visible the court will be from a number of vantage points.
"You can see it from every angle. This is the VIP (entrance), you can look in. This is the Box Office, you can look in. At street level, you can look in," he notes. .He could have pointed to the location of the Starbucks just inside the arena as well. As Bruce Ratner has said, you can sit at Starbucks and watch what's going on. Here's pretty much what it will look like when completed: the Pacers practice court at Bankers Life (formerly Conseco) Field House in Indianapolis. Bankers Life and Barclays have the same principal architect, Ellerbe Becket, and like Barclays, the Pacers court is highly visible.
So what will you see, what's the difference between the practice court at Barclays and the training facility the Nets appear ready to build in Brooklyn at a cost of tens of millions of dollars? In short, the training facility will have multiple courts, large weight rooms, offices, etc, just as the PNY Center does. If the Pacers experience is any model, the practice court isn't likely to be used that much for real training. It will be used mostly for walk-throughs, shootarounds. Ratner has said as well it may be used for community events, although he didn't specify what.
The PNY Center in East Rutherford includes two regulation-size NBA courts; a custom-built clubhouse locker room with lounge and kitchen. It also boasts a treatment center with training room, a hydrotherapy pool and whirlpool; a strength and conditioning center; and a video theater room. It also has approximately 32,000 square feet of office space and 2,000 square feet of warehouse space. The Nets are likely to want a larger facility in Brooklyn, but the 660,000 square foot site they looked at this week would be too large...we think.
As Daniel Massey of Crain's New York Business wrote, the site officials toured most recently is essentially a pier in Red Hook, about two miles from the arena. It's in a rapidly developing area of what has long been a run-down section of Brooklyn. The pier is between two of Brooklyn's newest and largest commercial properties, an IKEA (with ferry service to Manhattan) and a Fairway market. The site has spectacular views of Lower Manhattan.
How much would the Nets use of that 660,000 square feet? MSG has a 105,000 square foot space in Greenburg, NY, that's used by the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty. What might the Nets training facility look like? Take a look at the Cleveland Clinics Courts, the Cavaliers training facilities in Independence, Ohio. It too was designed by Ellerbe Becket. Of course, the exterior is likely to look a lot different. Independence is a leafy suburb of Cleveland. Red Hook is a proudly gritty part of New York City and on the water.
Big Days ahead for Euro-Nets
Under the complicated system that is the Eurobasket Qualifying Tournament, Sunday is a big day for the four Euro-Nets, the two rookies, Mirza Teletovic of Bosnia and Toko Shengelia of Georgia, as well as the two draft choices stashed in Europe: Bojan Bogdanovic of Croatia and Ilkan Karaman of Turkey.
Qualifying games run through September 11, and top two teams in each of six groups -- as well as the top four third-place finishers -- will join the seven Olympic entries and host Slovenia at EuroBasket 2013. Teletovic and Shengelia are in direct competition: Bosnia and Georgia each play in Group D.
While we've given a lot of attention to Teletovic's scoring feats, of the four, Bogdanovic has probably had the most successful tournament of the four. He's averaging 19 points and shooting 63.6% overall. Croatia, which is HIS team, is undefeated and if they and Mike Fratello-coached Ukraine win Sunday, they will both qualify for the FIBA Eurobasket 2013. Croatia plays winless Cypus so it's likely they'll make it Teletovic's Bosnia and Shengelia's Georgia are caught in a three-way battle with Latvia in their group and both have tough games Sunday. It may come down to Wednesday when the two Nets rookies battle in Georgia. As for Turkey, the team is young and its chances of making the tournament are iffy at best.
Mikhail Prokhorov is still in the Russian political game. While much of the focus on him in the US is on his disdain for the luxury tax, back in Moscow, it's still about righting some political wrongs. This week, he won a (small) victory when for the first time, a local court ruled that indeed there was vote fraud in one of the 50 precincts he's challenged results. The judge declined to invalidate the vote or order a new election, but it was a win for him.
Moscow's Lyublinsky District Court has declared the actions committed by an election committee unlawful as presidency candidate Mikhail Prokhorov requested, the court spokesperson told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/rapsinews.com).
In spite of this, the court has refused to annul the election results.
The spokesperson added that Prokhorov challenged the results based on the fact that non-residents were found in the lists of voters at Polling Station 1359.
She said Prokhorov had also pressed for the annulment of the elections, but the court rejected his claim.
The former candidate filed around 50 lawsuits in Moscow and Moscow Region contesting the results of the presidential elections. Most of them were dismissed, some are still being considered.
In a blog entry after the court decision, Prokhorov wrote, "Even one victory deprives the enemy of the certainty of impunity. And gives strength to those who fight for fair elections."
Prokhorov is the principal owner of the Nets through his Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings, USA, but he is no longer the CEO of Onexim, his $25 billion investment vehicle which is not the the parent company of his US company of the same name. The two are separate. Would he sell the Nets if he is elected to public office in Russia? Contrary to what's been written and speculated, don't be so sure. Dmitry Razumov is the CEO of Onexim, running daily operations of the company. Billy King has said that Razumov is the Russian executive he has the most contact with. Seems like it's working just fine.
Herpes Scare Story
We haven't given much attention to the most recent scandal surrounding reality TV star and power forward Kris Humphries. It goes something like this. A woman says Hump gave her herpes. He says he's sure he didn't and proving something like this in court seems like a long shot, but this is Hollywood. We happened on TMZ the other night and found the story leading the Harvey Levin gossip show, under the headline, "Herpes or No Herpes."
We're thinking Billy King can't be happy about this. In fact, in his New York Times Sunday Magazine interview two weeks ago, he made it clear that he had spoken to Hump and his agent about this, presumably on the occasion of him giving him $24 million in Mikhail Prokhorov's cash.
You just renewed Kris Humphries for a two-year contract worth $24 million. Did you ever have to sit him down and say, Your job is not to be in a sham TV marriage with Kim Kardashian?
That would be like telling a lawyer he couldn’t play in a band at night. But that’s the thing I did say to Kris’s agent and Kris. We don’t need to be on TMZ; you need to be more about rebounding and playing basketball.
Hump is a quiet man. He's not talking (much). All of this is a function of his apparent decision to make Kim Kardashian's decision to dump him as painful as possible (for which we applaud him). In return, she has released the dogs of gossip on him. Nothing has been out of bounds. Nothing. Just last week, word got out that his parents had divorced quietly and quickly. What would have never made news anywhere outside their household became tabloid fodder. Kim's "momager", Kris Jenner, called Hump a "cancer" this week and it seems no one can wait for Kim to marry (or alternately) have children with Kanye West.
This is all as despicable as it is vapid. We can't see it lasting that much longer. It's not good for him or the team.
The Nets have had a good off-season, better than most expected, either here or in the columns of supposed experts. Billy King and Bobby Marks deserve the credit and the respect. Mikhail Prokhorov and Dmitry Razumov deserve a lot as well. They did not flinch as the bill for the roster kept mounting.
How different was back in Off-Season Report #1. The panic was such that we wrote...
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.
The panic seems so quaint now.
This week is a historic one for Nets fans. Not because it's a month from training camp or two months from Opening Night. On Wednesday, the Nets, or their investors to be more precise, will take control of Barclays Center. For the first time in their history, through years in the Teaneck Armory, Nassau Coliseum, the RAC, Byrne/CAA/IZOD Center and Prudential Center, the Nets will have a home of their own. They will be tenants no longer. That alone is a cause for celebration.