NetsDaily Off-Season Report #6

Mike Stobe

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...

Oh yeah, the Draft

We sorta spent ourselves on the 15-year history of the Nets Draft Night wonders and blunders.  Best wonder: getting Brook Lopez because Larry Brown convinced fellow Hall of Famer Michael Jordan that D.J. Augustin was a better bet than Lopez.  Worst blunder: Well, Damian Lillard is right up there, but with an asterisk. If they could have bought a pick to take Monta Ellis in the second round in 2005. That would have been a huge deal.

We expect the Draft, to be held at Barclays Center, will dominate Thursday's news, but one never knows with Billy King. It could be a trade.  In three previous draft nights, he either completed or nearly completed the deals that got Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.  And don't go thinking we have some inside information. We don't  But we do believe that there is interest in Jarrett Jack ... and don't believe it's completely tied to Shaun Livingston's free agency.

The conventional wisdom is that the Nets need Livingston as a back-up point guard?  Why is that?  He started 54 games last year next to Deron Williams. He had started only 61 games total since his 2004 injury.  Once he was inserted in the starting lineup, the Nets started winning.  Isn't that enough to prove the experiment worked?

So expect Jason Kidd to continue starting the two of them together if Sdot comes back.  They desperately need a back-up for them, with only Thornton, Alan Anderson, Marquis Teague and partially guaranteed Jorge Gutierrez capable of filling in.

What's our prediction? Nets will move into first round between Nos. 25 and 30 and take a swingman.  We're hoping whoever they take will be better than the pick they gave up in the Pierce-Garnett deal so a certain blue-eyed, well-coifed ESPN writer will shut up.

The "third round" of the Draft

As the second round of the draft winds down, Gregg Polinsky, the Nets chief scout (and the guy who recommended the Nets take Mason Plumlee), will gather his group around him and get recommendations for who among the undrafted they think would be worth a summer league invitation, sort of the third round of the draft. Time will be a-wasting. The other 29 teams will be doing the same.  Calls will go out from the Nets Draft War Room to agents for those they want to target.  As we noted, IF the Nets see themselves in a competitive position with a player they like, they can offer hm a partial guarantee.  They haven't done it on Draft Night since 2010 when they provided $85,000 in partial guarantees to Brian Zoubek and Ben Uzoh.

Summer league rosters have 12 players each.  So far, the Nets have filled six spots: Mason Plumlee, Jorge Gutierrez and Marquis Teague from last year's roster, plus Nick Minnerath and Michael Jenkins from the free agent camp, and Adonis Thomas from the Springfield Armor.  That leaves half the roster to be filled.  The Nets are reportedly waiting on DeAndre Liggins, the 6'6" Kentucky product who played for the Heat this season. He's working out for Golden State this week.

The roster is likely to be announced July 1.

Good and bad ending for Bogdanovic season

Bojan Bogdanovic's rights are still held by the Nets. Whether that will still be true after Thursday night remains uncertain. He could wind up as a sweetener in a deal for a first round pick or a larger deal, the kind that Billy King loves to spring on people on Draft Night.

If his rights do get moved, it may not the weirdest thing that happened to the 6'8" swingman this week.  On Thursday, he celebrated with his Fenerbahce teammates at the team's 12,000-seat arena in Istanbul. They had just been awarded the Turkish League championship trophy after archrival Galatasaray refused to take the court for Game 7 of the TBL Finals. After 15 minutes, the refs decided Galatasaray wasn't showing and declared Fener had won in a forfeit, the official score being 20-0. Fener officials accused the Galatasaray board of "cowardice."

How did this happen?  It's not easy to explain, but in the arcane --and often corrupt world-- of European sports, it was another ugly chapter.  Here's how Today's Zaman, Istanbul's English language paper described it...

Galatasaray has two points of dissent. First, the disciplinary body of the TBF sentenced the club to play its most recent home match against Fenerbahçe behind closed doors due to fan misbehavior. This is not abnormal in Turkey, and the club accepted the punishment.  

The problem is that Fenerbahçe fans did not behave any better during game five of the playoffs. There are videos of fans trying to influence the line judge's decisions. However, the club was fined a mere TL 40,000, and would have retained its supporters for match seven, which would have taken place at Fenerbahçe's Ülker Sports Arena on Thursday.

There were also reports that Galatasaray fans pelted the Fener team bus with rocks, leading to broken windows, but no injuries. The second rationale for Galatasaray's decision was its claim that the seven-game series was corrupt, that refs had crossed the line, citing one particularly ref's actions.

[T]he second point is that the TBF assigned Recep Ankaralı to officiate the match. This is critical to the final and tie-breaker between the two rival clubs who won three matches each during the playoffs.

Ankaralı was the referee in match two, in which Galatasaray accused him of heavy favoritism. Fenerbahçe edged Galatasaray 74-73 at Ülker Sports Arena, and Galatasaray has, what it claims is, suspicious footage of Ankaralı talking to Fenerbahçe officials. He was also implicated in the Turkish match-fixing investigation in 2011.

Here's Galatasaray's official statement outlining the reasons for their no-show. It is a shocking document.

Bogdanovic has said he wants to return to Fener under its highly successful head coach, Zeljko Obradovic, often described as the Phil Jackson of Europe.  But like his players, Obradovic too was a disappointment this season, being fined and suspended for physically threatening a ref early in the season and shocking observers by sending a player to the locker room in mid-game.

Bogdanovc almost became a Net last July but the deal fell though ... and he reportedly was unhappy with the team and his agent that it didn't get done. He even switched agents. But that aside, it mystifies us that a player subjected to such a steady diet of unprofessionalism in Europe wouldn't even consider the NBA.  He is still seen as a solid NBA prospect by the Nets front office, but the Nets entry into the first round on Thursday may very well have to go through Bogdanovic's rights. A number of NBA teams scouted him his year and in the past, his name has been linked to the Raptors and Thunder.  Who knows, this could be the last thing we write about him.

The tragedy of Eddie Griffin

Jonathan Abrams wrote the definitive story about Eddie Griffin this weekend. Griffin had two cameos with the Nets in his short and tragic careers. He was drafted with the No. 7 pick in the 2001 draft, then traded within minutes to Houston for three later first round picks, who turned into Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins and Brandon Armstrong who the Nets took after debating whether to take future gun-slinger Gilbert Arenas.

Three years later, after several run-ins with the law and an unexcused absence, the Rockets waived him and the Nets agreed to sign him, but decided to give him a couple of weeks to get ready. They activated him for one game. He even put on a Nets uniform and shot around.  Ed Stefanski was then GM, working under Rod Thorn. Like Griffin, he was a Philly guy.  He loved the kid with the superhuman athleticism, great timing and smooth jumper out to the three point line.  He was also only 21.

Abrams writes of Stefanski's motivation...

"We were missing a big," Stefanski said. "If we could get a healthy Eddie Griffin together, boy, that would help us a lot." Stefanski had a soft spot for Griffin, and wanted to help another Philadelphia native if he could. "I always felt for him and I was always worried about his fate," Stefanski said. "The pressures of everything, people pulling Eddie in different directions all the time, he would’ve been happier just to live life and not have to worry, but he was blessed being 6-10 with a fluid jump shot and being a great athlete, and he had to play that game."

Griffin was thrilled as well.

"I’m just so happy to be getting another chance," Griffin told the New York Times. "I feel I accomplished so much in therapy. I was really depressed before, but I feel 100 percent better now."

Then, as he got into game shape, Griffin took up residence at the at the Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel, near Continental Airlines Arena and the Nets practice facility.  Then, one night, it all fell apart.

One night at the hotel, Griffin showed up at a wedding he wasn’t invited to — he quickly befriended John Dodds’s wedding party at the bar, signing autographs and offering tickets to a Nets game. When the party broke up, Dodds retreated with his bride to their third-floor room. But Griffin wasn’t done. He showed up at Dodds’s room and repeatedly banged on the door. Dodds opened his door around 5 a.m., according to the Star-Ledger.

"He was sticking out his chest, trying to scare us," Dodds told the newspaper. "It was like he thought he was all-powerful, like he was King Ding-a-ling or something." Dodds spat in Griffin’s face and called him a racial epithet. Griffin charged him. Other members of the bridal party, hearing the commotion, quickly arrived. Griffin punched Dodds’s brother before they managed to close the door on him.

Not only was this one more encounter with the law, but a review of the hotel bar bill provided evidence that anger wasn't his only problem, as his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, related to Abrams...

"He had gone through the entire minibar and then gone down and gotten more [alcohol]. They didn’t realize it until they got the hotel bill. He would consume, secretly, massive amounts of alcohol. Eddie was not a partier. He wasn’t going out and getting wild at parties. It wasn’t clubbing or anything. Eddie had a true, clinical alcohol problem that was not associated with having a good time."

He never played a minute for the Nets. He checked into Betty Ford Clinic. His Nets career was over before it has started.  Stefanski admitted he didn't have the skillset to help Griffin. "I tried to help Eddie, but I didn’t have the degrees or the expertise to help Eddie with what he really needed."

Ultimately, Griffin died in a horrible accident when his SUV slammed into the side of a freight train igniting a holocaust that so badly burned his body that coroners had to rely on dental records.  Abrams story was not about Griffin as Net or a Rocket or a Timberwolf.  It was about Griffin as a person, as a kid who couldn't get beyond his talents.  Still the Nets have given greater consideration to the issues that befell Griffin (and that same year, to Zoran Planinic, who was having a hard time adjusting to the US). They have a system in place with managers assigned to players and a team psychiatrist, Dr. Sarah Hickman, to consult.

Griffin, incidentally, would only be 32 years old, if he had lived, and could under the right circumstances still be a productive NBA player.

Mirza and War

The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict was hosted by Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the ExCel Centre in London this month. The Summit as the largest international event ever held on the issue of sexual violence in conflict.

The summit called on various celebrities to pose with placards with the hashtag #TimetoAct.  Among them Mirza Teletovicwho knows the horrors of war.

It's one of many anti-war positions Teletovic has taken in the years since the end of the Balkans War.

Final Note

By this time next week, we will know who, if anyone, the Nets took in the Draft ... or who they traded for on Draft Night. We will also know whether Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko have opted in or out of their player options for next season, Anderson on his vets minimum deal, Kirilenko on his mini-MLE. We will also know other things.

A week after that, we should know whether Shaun Livingston and Paul Pierce will remain as Nets, who's on the summer league roster and how Brook Lopez is doing in his workouts with said summer league roster, his first since undergoing two surgeries during the season. We might even know who the Nets are interested in for their vets minimum deals. We are likely as well to see what offers Andray Blatche will receive in free agency ... and whether the Nets are interested in him.  Likely, they are not.

So hang on. In the next 14 days, the basic outline of the 2014-15 roster could be known as well as how Lopez is progressing. Big news.

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