NetsDaily Off-Season Report #1

NetsDaily

Every Sunday, we update the Nets' off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, analysis, etc. to help take the edge off not winning the NBA championship. We rely on our own reports as well as what the Nets’ beat reporters and others have slipped into larger stories, blogs and tweets....

We swore we weren't going to do this again.  Too many lost Sundays.  But for a while, we will give it a try.

Expect a Draft Day Trade

Billy King has been Nets GM since July 2010. He had nothing to do with the misery-filled draft of 2010 (worst record, third pick) nor the miserable free agency of that summer.  But since then, he has gone into Draft Day ready to deal and has completed at least one deal in 2011, 2012 and 2013, last year's of course being the biggest.

In 2011, he did two deals: he traded the Nets pick, JaJuan Johnson, and their second rounder in 2014 to the Celtics for MarShon Brooks, then a few minutes later, got into a three-team deal with Minnesota and Miami that resulted in the Nets getting the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic. He sent cash and the Nets' 2013 pick (which turned into Lorenzo Brown) to Minnesota.

In 2012, he bought two picks: #41 so he could take Tyshawn Taylor and #54 so he could take Toko Shengelia. In the days leading up to the draft, he also finalized a trade that sent Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro and a signed-and-traded DeShawn Stevenson along with a 2013 first round pick (which turned into Shane Larkin), a 2017 second round pick and an agreement to swap picks in 2014 and 2015 to Atlanta for Joe Johnson. We just didn't know about the trade until days later.

In 2013, he agreed on a trade that sent Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, a signed-and-traded Keith Bogans, unprotected first round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 plus an agreement to swap picks in 2017 to Boston for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White.

King said last week that he could get a pick in the 2014 draft, without saying which round or intimating whether he had a deal on the table or was just confident he could do it. The most likely scenario is the purchase of a second rounder since the Nets presereved $2 million from their $3.2 million cash consideration pile, enough for a pick in the middle of the second. Buying the #41 pick in 2011 cost the Nets $2 million. Buying the #54 pick cost them $750,000.  The prices might be higher this year.

But considering that the last two years, King's biggest deals took place in June/July, don't be surprised if there is something bigger out there.  King is the master of the multi-team deal and news of his deals rarely break until they are nearly done.

Another reason to suspect that the Nets won't go home from Barclays Center without something or someone is this: The Nets haven't cut down on their scouting staff or their scouting trips despite their lack of picks. The Nets have four scouts who scour the country: Gregg Polinsky, the long-time director of player personnel, aka scouting director, scouts the South from his home in Alabama. Khalid Green, Brooklyn native, handles the East. T.J. Zanin brother of assistant GM Frank Zanin, works out west. Eddie Oran, a former assistant coach for the Texas Longhorns, handles the southwest. Overseas, they have Danko Cvjeticanin, a former teammate of Drazen Petrovic. Cvjeticanin was spotted this weekend at the Euroleague Finals and the Euroleague Junior Finals, where Euroleague teams' youth squads compete.

It's all fed into the FastModel software called FastSports (written team/player reports) and FastDraw ((offensive play video highlights), then integrated with RealGM's data on a password-protected page.

Asked why so much attention to detail when the Nets don't have a pick, a team insider replied, "you never know."

Not only are they scouting potential draft choices, but also players who they think will go undrafted and could get invites to the summer league, which starts right after the Draft in Orlando, or training camp. The Nets can --and have in the past-- provided small guarantees to undrafted players to get them to join the Nets instead other clubs. The five- and six-figure guarantees ultimately come off the cap or if they make the team serve as a down payment on their vets' minimum deals.

Who do they like if they acquire a pick?

It's hard to say when you don't know where you're going to pick, but you don't interview prospects without having some interest and the Nets have interviewed Shabazz Napier and Thanasis Antetokounmpo ... at least.

Of the two, Napier is probably rated higher.  He is generally seen as a late first round/early second round pick, which the Nets might have a hard time acquiring.  But the measuring stick may have hurt him this week.  As Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported, the two time NCAA champ at UConn "measured at 5-foot-11 without shoes, second shortest among the prospects present, and had a 6-foot-3.25 wingspan, third-shortest in the group. His 7--foot-9 standing reach was the shortest at the combine."

No one is measuring Napier's heart, however, and that's what intrigues the Nets.

Antetokounmpo is the brother of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the still=growing athletic freak that raised Milwaukee's hopes last season.  Thanasis played in the D-League last year with Delaware, the league's worst team.  His best skills lie on the defensive end, his offensive skills a work in progress. But he has some physical tools.  Built along the lines of Shaun Livingston, he's 6'7" with a seven-foot wingspan and a 39.5" max vertical. His 12' max vertical reach was third overall in the pre-draft combine last week.  He's been slotted mid-second round.

Beyond that, we hear little of the Nets interest, but it's early.

The Billion Dollar Team

Looking at the Sports Business Journal story on the Nets' billion dollar valuation, there are a number of details Daniel Kaplan wrote about that deserve a bit more attention.

--SBJ noted that "The Nets/YES Network deal does not expire until 2016, but the two sides have begun negotiating a new agreement." That's a bit of a surprise. Original stories on the YES deal suggested it was much longer term than that. It now appears that one side or another had an option to open the contract.  There have been reports that while the rights are a bargain for YES ... around $20 million a year... there are triggers that would jump that figure substantially.

--Of the 20 percent Bruce Ratner owns, 12 percent is controlled by Ratner and his parent company, Forest City Enterprises, "The other 8 percent that Forest City is selling is owned by limited partners who are forced to sell if the developer requires them to do so." Among the limited partners are about 100 investors, including Jason Kidd, who bought half of Jay-Z's stake.

--Under the partnership agreement, the two partnership groups that control the Nets --Mikhail Prokhorov's ONEXIM Sports & Entertainment and Ratner's Nets Sports & Entertainment have the right to buy out the other.  "One unspoken allure of the stake is it could position the buyer favorably if Prokhorov is ever forced to sell because of the geopolitical issues surrounding Russia’s relationship with the United States." Doesn't sound like it's that "unspoken."

--Ratner's investment banker, Evercore, isn't running an auction but is "approaching about 20 potential purchasers ... The team carries about $200 million of debt. As a result, a buyer needs $160 million of equity to fund the purchase of the 20 percent stake if Evercore gets its targeted price." The Ratner group expects to have an offer by year's end. At that point, Prokhorov will have to decide whether to match whatever offer the investment banker has brought in. The right of first refusal goes both ways.

--Evercore’s Lyle Ayes told Kaplan that "if he were selling full control of the Nets, their valuation would have ascended to $1.2 billion." Wow.

Bogdanovic Redux

King did say on Thursday that Bojan Bogdanovic is "an option" for this year, although that seems a bit of a stretch for a lot of reasons: He would demand all or most of the mini-MLE and that's reserved for Shaun Livingston; he has said repeatedly and with greater and greater clarity that he intends to stay with Fenerbahce and the Nets do have questions about him, including his up-and-down season ... and a reputation for partying. Two years ago, he was thrown off the Croatian National Team for curfew violations and had to issue a public apology to his coaches and teammates for his actions.

Still, the Nets think the 6'8" swingman has the talent to be more than a solid NBA player and if Livingston gets a better offer --and Bogdanovic is still unsigned in July-- the Nets might revisit him. Unless of course they traded his rights on Draft Day. He has a new agent, Arn Tellem, the NBA's biggest agent.

In the pursuit of Kevin Love

With rumors flying that Kevin Love wants out of Minnesota, preferably by the June 26 draft, the Nets are not seen as players, mainly because of a lack of draft choices. As of now, the first first rounder the Nets have available to trade is their 2020 pick, not very enticing.  While they have their own picks in 2015, 2017 and 2019, they can't be traded because the Nets sent their 2014, 2016 and 2018 picks to Boston and you can't trade picks in back-to-back years. It's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the basics.

Still, draft picks (and rights) are not the only things that can appeal to a team about to lose a superstar. We've done some analysis of superstar trades over the years and found among the lessons learned is that.very, very  few of the draft picks included in these deals turned out well. Part of it is the acquiring team gets better with the superstar and so their picks get worse. Another is that teams can pick bad. Here's the classic example: The Raptors wanted picks from the Nets for Vince Carter. The two picks, after subsequent trades, turned into Joey Graham and Renaldo Balkman, neither of whom is still in the league while VC still is. Those picks COULD have been used to take Danny Granger and Rajon Rondo, but they weren't.

What does work, we found, is cap space and good young players...particularly for small market teams. Do the Nets have a shot at Love? We doubt it, but then again, his agent is Jeff Schwartz, whose Nets clients include Jason Kidd, Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston and Mirza Teletovic.  As Adrian Wojnarowski wrote of Schwartz this weekend, Schwartz helped "Pierce get to a preferred trade destination in Brooklyn a year ago."

Again, you never know and it is realllly early. Lots of machinations ahead.

Training Facility Update

We, like Sports Business Journal, hear that the Nets will unveil their plans for the new training facility in Brooklyn's Industry City within the next few weeks. The construction on the $50 million project --the rehab of the two top floors of an industrial warehouse at 148 39th Street in Brooklyn-- is expected to take 12 to 15 months, giving the Nets a good shot of moving their training facility from East Rutherford to Brooklyn in time for training camp in October 2015.

This being a Mikhail Prokhorov - Irina Pavlova project, expect state-of-the-art technology everywhere.  This being a Brett Yormark project, expect a big naming rights package. The building will be visible from the BQE, Lower Manhattan, the Staten Island Ferry etc.  Also, as reported, there will be a Nets Store on the bottom floor.

Final Note

Congrats to Tim Walsh, named Trainer of the Year in the NBA.

As tweeted by Robby Hoenschel, Tim's assistant, here's the announcement.

The NBATA is the NBA Trainers' Association and the award is voted on by the trainers.

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