Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets' off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, analysis, etc. to help take the edge off missing the second round of the playoffs. We will rely on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs and tweets...plus our own stuff.
Not much going on ... and that is an understatement, but the Nets players, coaches and front office personnel are all coming back from vacation. So things may begin to stir. And there's always tracking Mirza and Bojan in the FIBA Eurobasket (as well as new assistant coach Joe Prunty, head coach of the British national team).
Until them, we examine what little news there was this week, including the decision to train down south at Duke and hold a workout for training camp invites, tell what we hear about the new head coach, etc., etc.
Taking chemistry at Duke
No, this isn't about the GM wanting to go back to school or giving the rookie center some confidence. Billy King's decision to put his team through early paces at Duke Univeristy's Coach K Center is about helping the team build some chemistry in a closed environment, far away from the bright lights, big city.
King said as much in his statement explaining the move.
"With many new players and a new staff, going on the road for training camp will offer a unique opportunity for our players to bond and focus solely on basketball as they prepare for this season." said King. "Duke University offers first class basketball facilities and will provide an optimum training environment for our team."
Rather than facing dozens of writers and bloggers every day the first week they're together, the Nets are likely to be dealing with a few beat writers and maybe some national writers dropping by the Duke campus. If the Nets were at PNY Center or Barclays for that first week, the press room would have been filled. The King statement also seems to indicate limited access for those media who will show up.
The Nets are actually taking a page from Pat Riley's playbook, as Marc Berman pointed out. For years, the Knicks would fly down to the College of Charleston in South Carolina, even further off the basketball beat, to train. Berman hinted the Knicks decision to hold training camp at the MSG training facility in Greenburgh, NY, was a financial one. Chalk up another one for Mikhail Prokhorov's wallet.
A hard-working Kidd
We hear Jason Kidd is working hard at being a head coach, burying himself in the minutiae of the Nets, screening a lot of video and generally immersing himself in his new challenge. As noted, he will have a lot of help from an entourage of eight basketball types, from assistant coaches, the strength and conditioning staff, and scouts.That aside, it's all on him to take a group of all-Stars and mold them into a championship team.
None of this should surprise. It's always been Kidd's personality to be prepared for a challenge. He may not show a lot of emotion, but he gets the job done.
This the time of year where players bulk up or slim down. Most of it is baloney. Adding the proverbial 15 pounds of muscle in an off-season is near-impossible. That said, the evidence that Deron Williams has made a commitment to slimming down and adding strength is undeniable. The latest evidence is a video he posted on Instagram of a dive into a family pool. It's not Kobe Bryant testing his ruptured achilles, but it shows a svelte D-Will, better than we've seen him. Lots of evidence around that the players are committed, both individually and a team, to getting better.
Finding camp invites
The Nets are finding it difficult to get players to accept training camp invitations. Apparently, Florida State's Michael Snaer isn't the only one to turn down an offer. The Nets had hoped to bring in the 6'6" shooting guard with the knack for big moments, but with 15 players under contract, he decided to go with a sure thing: a six figure deal in the Italian League rather than toil for a few weeks in Brooklyn, then get cut. He more than likely was being sought to fill out the D-League roster in Springfield. D-League rookies get $25,000 for 50 games. Smart guy.
Thus, the team has scheduled workouts for training camp invites. The only name announced: Kyle Jones, a 6'10" Queens native who attended three colleges and most recently played in South America, where he dominated the Uruguayan league. There is no chance he breaks through the Nets frontcourt rotation but if he does get an invite, his NBA size should help the Nets bigs in training camp.
Who else? One possible name: Jamine "Greedy" Peterson, formerly of Providence, has been pestering the front office for a workout. At 6'6", 230, Peterson is an athletic beast, but after being expelled from Providence three years ago, has played in the D-League (where he did hit for 40 one night) and overseas, with several stints in the Philippines, Turkey, the Dominican Republic and Austraila. Again, we don't know who's been invited, but we have been told his agent has been aggressive in seeking a tryout.
Not a lot of other names out there. Two players the Nets might have liked, Carleton Scott and Stephen Dennis, have decided to seek overseas opportunities after trying out with the Nets and playing with their summer league teams. The 6'8" Scott, who played for the Nets' entry in the last two summer leagues, was in training camp last season, then spent the season in Springfield signed with a German team on Saturday. Dennis, a 6'6" point guard who played well enough in last year's training camp, then did well with the Bakersfield Jam, will play in Australia.
The big loser if the Nets don't attract decent players to training camp: the Armor. Under terms of the CBA, the Armor have exclusive rights to the last three players cut by the Nets. Last season, that meant James Mays who was a D-League all-star.
Bottom line: not a big problem.
Prokhorov and Ratner, expanding their partnership
Despite their differences, Mikhail Prokhorov and Bruce Ratner have worked well together. If you get some of the Nets business types aside, they will admit that back in 2010 there were concerns that the Russian and American owners wouldn't mesh that well. But to everyone's credit --especially that of Irina Pavlova-- it's mostly worked out, as evidenced by the expansion of the partnership into the Nassau Coliseum rehab. Prokhorov and Ratner are now partners in the Nets, Barclays Center and now Nassau Events Center, LLC. Prokhorov owns the majority of the team, Ratner's group the majority in the two arena properties.
Best wishes to Mirza Teletovic and Bojan Bogdanovic (also, Joe Prunty and Mike Fratello) in Eurobasket 2013. We hope for wins, a positive experience if there aren't any wins and an injury-free experience. We're betting Teletovic will get done by September 10, giving him enough time to get back to Bosnia, pack and bring the family back to the U.S. It will be interesting to see what Bogdanovic will do. He's always among the top scorers in European competition. Prunty and Fratello, the longtime YES analyst, will face off on September 9 in Group A competition.