At Turkish All-Star Game, a Nets "feel" and news of Bogdanovic and Karaman

NetsDaily/Savas Birdal

With both "Euro-Nets" -- Bojan Bogdanovic and Ilkan Karaman -- playing along with two former Nets -- Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic-- in Sunday's Turkish All-Star Game, there was enough of a Nets "feel" to warrant coverage. When Euro-Step, an Istanbul-based blog, revealed that the Brooklynettes and BrooklyKnight himself would be on hand, we decided to get in touch with the blog's editor, Savas Birdal, and ask him to cover the weekend for NetsDaily. He agreed to accept the assignment.

Savas spoke with all four players on our behalf and got more than just the "feel" of the weekend. He got some news as well, the biggest that Bogdanovic's arrival in Brooklyn is more likely in 2014 than next summer. It's about the money. Savas reports...

--Bogdanovic has a much bigger buyout than anticipated, 1.5 million euros, or $2 million. at today's exchange rates. That could impact his decision on whether to stay in Europe or join the NBA. The Nets can only pay a little more than a quarter of that total, meaning he would have to pay the rest out of his own pocket ... and unlike Mirza Teletovic, he hasn't had a history of big European contracts to draw on. Nor is he likely to get as big a deal as Teletovic did from the Nets. As Birdal writes, the Nets may have to wait till 2014 when Bogdanovic's contract with Fenerbache of Istanbul runs out.. but don't be surprised if the 6'8" swingman with the sweet stroke and post moves gets other offerf from wealthy European clubs.

--Karaman, Bogdanovic's teammate at Fenerbahce, lost in the first round of the TBL dunk contest. He implied that the NBA is a longer term goal for him. The 6'9.5" big man has a three-year contract with Fener. The status of his buyout provisions are uncertain.

--Whenever Bogdanovic arrives in the NBA, both Vujacic and Farmar think he will be ready with Vujacic being the more enthusiastic of the two, saying of him, "Bojan will be a great fit for the Nets." Both players said positive things about their former team and hinted they may be headed back to the NBA at some point. Their contracts permit it. Farmar expressed sympathy for Avery Johnson. Vujacic did not.

Here is Savas full report.

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The Turkish All-Star Weekend turned out to be a "get together" for the past, present and future of the Brooklyn Nets

The "All-Star weekend" concept is exclusively associated with American sports and rightfully so, considering that the roots of the current festivities sprouted in the United States during the 20th century and the idea has become what it is now over the time, gradually improving ... and turning it into a global model.

The globalization of the process has led basketball federations all over the world to emulate the All-Star experience and Turkey is no exception the trend.

This past weekend, Istanbul hosted Turkey’s tenth All-Star game—carrying on a tradition that began 2004. The Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) has been working hard on it, hoping to get the event as close as possible to the level of the NBA experience. And in 2013, one certain NBA organization was of huge help to their cause: The Brooklyn Nets. There were Nets dancers, the Nets mascot and some past and future Nets on hand.

The Nets second round pick in 2011, Bojan Bogdanovic, was a part of the foreign team Sunday as were two former Nets, Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic. They all played against another possible future Net İlkan Karaman and the domestic players in the Turkish Basketball League. Unlike the geographical allocation of the teams in the NBA version, European All-Star games usually line up domestic players against the foreigners in the game.

Sensing a marketing opportunity, the Brooklyn Nets franchise wanted to be an active part of it, rather than leaving the connection at a indirect stage. By adding their current employees, BrooklyKnight and Brooklynettes, to the list of former and future employees on the court, the organization looked smart in expanding the Nets brand in Southern Europe and Middle-East.

When the final buzzer sounded, Bogdanovic’s foreign team came out triumphant, defeating Karaman’s domestic squad 116-115. The domestic team missed a possible game winner at the buzzer. Neither Bogdanovic nor Karaman was given an extended run on the court. Fenerbahçe had a tough loss in the Euroleague play on Friday night. So the duo registered a only 25 minutes combined on court in the All-Star game. Farmar and Vujacic, however, pulled the strings for the foreigners throughout the contest, ending up with 14 and 20 points respectively.

"All-star organization is becoming bigger and bigger in Turkey and drawing more attention every year," said Karaman, who also participated in the dunk contest before the All-Star game but lost in the first round. "Tasting the All-Star atmosphere before going to the NBA is of course a nice experience."

When reminded the fact that he signed a three-year contract with Fenerbahçe Ülker over the summer, the athletic power forward told NetsDaily, "the NBA is always a long term dream and goal." The player known to Turkish fans as K-Mart had 12 points and a couple of electrifying dunks during the 14 minutes he stayed on the court. "I don’t know what is going to happen even tomorrow. I want to get better and better every season and eventually make it in the NBA permanently," he told NetsDaily.

For Bojan Bogdanovic, however, a departure for overseas competition seems closer and might actually be on the horizon. When asked about the prospect of leaving Istanbul for Brooklyn, Bogdanovic didn’t rule out the possibility. "Here I now have one more year (until the end of 2013-14) on my contract with Fenerbahçe," said the Croatian forward, who hit two 3-pointers and finished the All-Star game with 6 points in 10 minutes of action. "I have a buyout of 1.5 million euros ($2 million) for the summer. We will see what happens."

Bogdanovic was also aware that he was going to team up with two former Nets --Farmar and Vujacic-- in the All-Star Game, and said he had questions lined up for the two of them. "I haven’t asked them until now, but I’ll talk to them for sure during the weekend."

Focusing on the present rather than the future for a bit, Bogdanovic said that although he's been having a terrific individual year, his personal consistency doesn’t mean much when his team is on a four-game losing streak and struggling immensely on Fener's parquet court.

Bogdanovic scored a career high of 31 points against Montepaschi Siena in the Euroleague play only two weeks ago and is averaging 13.5 points a game in Euroleague action. Still, he's not content with where Fener's team defense stands right now. "We don’t play defense," the Croatian forward said. "We allow an average of 90 points (a game) right now. But I believe we will be better and better and we can fight for the playoffs."

On the other hand, the former Nets players Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic have been enjoying a recent three-game winning streak with Anadolu Efes—another Istanbul based club competing in the Euroleague Top 16 round.

Farmar, who had a great start to his Euroleague career with MVP-type numbers, might have slowed down lately, but as long as the team keeps getting better, he says the stat sheet doesn’t matter to him.

"We are getting better every week," said Farmar. "And I see it going that way for the rest of the season. We have come a long way since we all came together. We have had some ups and downs but we are moving in the right direction. If we can stay healthy, we can do some big things."

Farmar is also still keeping a close eye on the Nets now that the franchise has moved to Brooklyn. "They are doing good," the former UCLA Bruin said. "They have had some early struggles and it was unfortunate to see Avery go, but PJ [Carlesimo] is a great guy and he has got the team moving in the right direction. I am happy to see everybody is playing well and moving forward."

Just like Farmar, Sasha Vujacic has also been enjoying the ride in Istanbul. He's been a teammate of Farmar's now for the third time in his career. The two played together for the Nets and before that, the Lakers.

When asked about his former team’s fortunes, Slovenian forward also responded in a positive manner. "I still have friends in the Nets organization and I’m really happy for them," he told NetsDaily. "They are on a winning streak right now and they are playing great basketball. PJ Carlesimo is a great coach and they have a very interesting roster. I wish them all the best to compete for the playoffs."

As players who have tasted the NBA atmosphere and been a part of the Nets franchise before, when the inevitable question came about Bojan Bogdanovic’s chances in the NBA, both Farmar and Vujacic weren’t shy in their praise of the Croatian. They had ready compliments in their pockets.

"Bojan will be a great fit for the Nets," Vujacic told NetsDaily. "He’s a good player, a great three-point shooter. Last two years he played for Fener and kept improving and he became better and better. They will like a player like that. There is a reason why he was drafted."

Farmar also had some nice things to say about Bogdanovic’s game, having watched the Croatian against Caja Laboral in Euroleague play just a day before the Saturday interview. "He is a good player," Farmar said, adding: "He is very talented. We’ll see if and when he makes the jump to the NBA; but it’s a so much different game. It’s a different game. It’s going to be an adjustment period but he is a talented player and he will be okay. Couple of guys on the Nets right now are foreign players and they are getting some time. I know Teletovic’s been playing a little bit more lately. Bojan will fit in there too.""

Although even Bogdanovic’s opponents think he's ready to make the jump, he might have to wait a little bit longer than expected to be part of the Nets franchise, not just a draftee. Cap space is tight in Brooklyn right now and all the Nets could offer him, at best, is the mini-MLE. So his decision to leave Istanbul could be a tough one; given that Fenerbahçe would probably like to see their investment pay off and want him to pay the €1.5M buyout fee written into his contract.

Add that to the fact that Nets can’t pay more than a quarter of Bogdanovic’s buyout —they can only chip in $550K and leave the rest for the player to cover. So he may draw more interest from other Euroleague giants considering the good season he has been having. That could make the situation even trickier. In the end though, Bogdanovic seems more likely to be a Nets player as 2014 than in 2013. That looks to be the worst case for his eventual arrival in Brooklyn.

After all, just like Karaman or almost any other European basketball player who grew up in the 90’s, playing in the NBA is a childhood dream of his as well.

Even if the Nets don’t win the Bogdanovic sweepstakes this summer, they should still take the Turkish All-Star Game as a blowout in the win column. Their presence was felt in İstanbul this weekend. Fans probably liked the Brooklynettes better than the game itself! The Bulls dancers came to town for the 2008 game and it's safe to say that Brooklyn dancers got a better reaction than those from Chicago. Reaction to the mascot was nothing out of the ordinary though.

Make no mistake, when the inevitable day comes that Bojan Bogdanovic and İlkan Karaman are both a part of the Brooklyn Nets franchise, this "win" over the weekend in Istanbul will prove to be a much bigger deal than it looks to be right now. Everyone knows who the Brooklyn Nets are.

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