Nets Off-Season Report No. 7

Manica Architects

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...

Trying to remain optimistic

The Nets are about to lose a very good coach. Even his harshest critics will concede he is a good coach, but they simply can't trust him. That's the bottom line. Not to mention they do not like him. The animosity is palpable.

The Nets are also likely to lose more than one good basketball player. Shaun Livingston is almost certainly gone. Paul Pierce and even Kevin Garnett's status remain uncertain.

After the smoke clears on Kidd, possibly as early as Monday, expect a series of moves, some surprising, from the front office. There will be trades and signings that will try to get the Nets younger and more flexible, getting down close to the luxury tax threshold, if not now, then the deadline. They will try to add picks, most likely second rounders initially.  Many will be controversial and be seeming admissions previous moves failed to get them what they wanted.

This summer, we expect the Nets will want to add players who would be young, relatively cheap. Going into the 2016 free agency barenaked with gazillions in cap space has a certain appeal, but the Nets would like to have added a few young pieces to the roster. The core remains Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. Mason Plumlee and Mirza Teletovic form the next tier.

We are hopeful, with some luck, good health --and a good coach-- that the Nets will be a solid team in 2014-15, but after this week, we are lowering expectations.

Livingston's increasing options, Nets decreasing hopes

Livingston is likely to make up his mind on his next mailing address this week and from what we hear, it will not be Brooklyn, NY.  AlthoughTuesday, is officially the start of free agency, what very often happens is that teams and players, with assistance from their agents, make deals in the first couple of days, even hours, of free agency, particularly in the case of highly sought after players. That would include Livingston.

So far, we've read reports that the Timberwolves and Kings have deep interest in the Nets 6'7" point guard. Now the Trailblazers could be part of the mix.  Joe Freeman of The Portland Oregonian doesn't say there is specific interest in Livingston but lists him as a possibility.

The good news for the Blazers is that there are several second- and third-tier point guards available, including Kirk Hinrich, Darren Collison, Ramon Sessions, Shaun Livingston and Patty Mills. The bad news is that competition could be fierce and Portland never has been a marquee free agent destination.

Fred Kerber in the Post adds another name to the mix, under certain circumstances...

Nets want him, but could have hard time retaining him after he showed his worth all season. Minnesota mentioned. Toronto makes sense if Lowry bolts.

There's even been a suggestion or two that he could headed for Miami, who was deeply disappointed in Mario Chalmers late in the season and the post-season.

What about Milwaukee?  Do not go there, but if he does, it's not difficult to imagine the response.  Ugly.

As noted, the Nets can give him no more than a three-year $10 million contract, the mini-MLE.  What's his market? we are about to find out, probably by no later than Tuesday afternoon.

Summer League roster

The two latest reported additions to the summer league roster didn't get the attention others did before them. That's because of Kiddgate.  That's another piece of shorthand we're using.

Both are NBA veterans, both are 26, both played in the Big East and both are small forwards: DaJuan Summers and Donte Greene. Summers is a 6'8" product of Georgetown, having played with Greg Monroe and Roy Hibbert while Greene, 6'11", is a product of Syracuse.

Greene has the most NBA experience of any player on the Nets' summer league roster with 253 games. Greene spent all four years of his career with the Sacramento Kings after a successful career at Syracuse. He was a fan favorite with the fans in Sacramento, lending his support to the movement to keep the Kings in the California capital

The Nets are clearly intrigued by the big wing. He's been mentioned as a potential target for the past three off-seasons now.  After a nice showing overseas last year, he may be ready to rejoin the league.  Greene played for Dongguan Leopards in China and averaged 19.6 points and nearly eight rebounds per game.

Summers has played in 83 games over four years, starting seven, for Detroit, New Orleans and the Clippers. He's spent some time in the D-League and last year, ventured over to Kiev, capital of Ukraine, just as demonstrations erupted.  He spoke to Howard Megdal at the Nets free agent camp last month about the experience. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.6 rebounds but only played 10 games before returning home.

The roster, as far as we know it, includes the three youngest Nets: Mason Plumlee, Jorge Gutierrez and Marquis Teague; the three draft picks: Markel Brown, Xavier Thames and Cory Jefferson; one undrafted player, Kyle Casey out of Harvard; a former member of the Springfield Armor: Adonis Thomas: an international player, Alen Omic of the Slovenian national team; two Americans who played overseas last season: Nick Minnerath and Michael Jenkins,; and the two NBA vets in Greene and Summers.

If history is any judge, we expect the Nets to sign Brown to an NBA contract after the league shuts down on July 11, as they did with both Tyshawn Taylor and Toko Shengelia two years ago.

Adopting Adonis

On Sunday night, Adonis Thomas, who we followed religiously last season in Springfield, tweeted out the following from Orlando, where he is about to play for the Nets summer league entry...

Sadly, we will not be in Orlando to talk with the 6'6" small forward with the 40.5" vertical and 40 percent shooting average from deep (the 40/40 Club?). But we have decided to make Adonis our Official Small Forward on the summer league roster.  We are Adopting Adonis!  So we advise everyone on NetsDaily to cheer him on during NBATV broadcasts starting Saturday and use the hashtag #AdoptingAdonis whenever he performs well.

GO ADONIS!

Little things mean a lot

We spent a lot of time on the D train Thursday, going from Manhattan to 36th Street for the press conference to introduce the new HSS Center, then back to Manhattan before returning to Barclays Center and the NBA Draft.

The two events were both in Brooklyn, both about the Nets but there was something else, something seemingly incongruous that struck us. File it under little things mean a lot.

In the morning, the HSS Center, that's our new shorthand for the Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center, the little thing that meant a lot was the outdoor lounge, built atop the facility to take advantage of the crazy views. There is an indoor players lounge which in itself is fancy enough.

So the outdoor lounge is an amenity and what an amenity is. It has dramatic views of New York Bay from the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge to the Statue of Liberty to Lower Manhattan and the new skyline of Brooklyn. Of course, it can only be used during the summer and fall (and if the team goes far enough in the playoffs) the spring. There are plenty reasons not to include it: the indoor lounge, the limited time it can be used, maintenance, the cost etc., but ownership built it anyway.  We can imagine it not just as a lounge for current players, but as a recruiting site for free agents. Good for us.

Later that night, the Nets spent a total of $800,000 and the 59th and 60th picks in the draft. Why not just wait to see if Xavier Thames and Cory Jefferson were taken? If they weren't, you could call their agents and try to woo them to your summer league camp.  But that wasn't a sure thing and the front office thought both were high second round talent. So ownership agreed to plunk down the money and make it a sure thing. What are the chances of either sticking. Historically, they're low, although in two of the last three years, the No. 60 pick got a guaranteed deal. That would be Isaiah Thomas and Robert Sacre.

That doesn't happen everywhere and didn't happen with the Nets under the previous regime. In 2005, they could have bought a pick and taken Monta Ellis at No. 40, but the front office couldn't convince ownership that it was a smart move and so they waited another three picks and took Mile Ilic.

Neither of those moves were big deals or big money deals in the broader spectrum of the Nets financial picture, but it shows a commitment to excellence we find worthy of attention.

Speaking of the HSS Center

The Nets were careful to note Thursday that there will be community component to the facility.

In addition to serving as the training ground for the Nets, the facility will host youth basketball clinics, community events, and local business development functions, the team said. The team will also expand its role in the neighborhood by offering a job shadow program, internships, and Barclays Center job fairs for residents of Sunset Park, their nearby neighborhood..

The Hospital for Special Surgery added that it will also have "the opportunity to host experiential events for patients and physicians at the facility, which will include participation from Brooklyn Nets players, coaches, and strength and conditioning staff." Sounds like HSS will be sending patients to the players as well as sending players to the patients.

Farewell, Sergey.

Sergey Kushchenko, Mikhail Prokhorov's chief sports adviser, has served on the Nets board of directors for the past two years.  He also ran the Russian Biathlon Union for Prokhorov, helping Russia win the gold medal that put Team Russia in the lead for gold at Sochi. Before that, he was GM of Prokhorov's Russian basketball team, CSKA Moscow, winning seven Russian league titles and two Euroleague championships, winning the Euroleague Executive of the Year along the way.

Prokhorov turned to Kushchenko early in this season, asking for his counsel on the Nets troubles and Kushchenko went to New York. He was not a silent partner either. He advocated strongly for Sergey Karasev, the 6'8" Russian swingman, in the 2013 NBA Draft. He even wanted the Nets to look into acquiring him after the Cavs took him not far ahead of Plumlee.

Now, however, he's going to have to leave his director's job with the Nets. He is the new commissioner of the Russian league, the Adam Silver of Russia.  Because of that, he will have to step down from any NBA positions. His last role with the Nets was sitting in on the Draft War Room Thursday.

Kuschenko is authentic and personable and the Nets owner will miss his wise counsel and experience.

Final Note

Tough weekend.  We loved Jason Kidd as a player and although we did not know him well, he has been great with fans when needed. We thought he would be a great coach, but at the end of the day, Kidd always thinks he can get what he wants and isn't afraid to make enemies along the way.  His greatness has made it easier to forget the ugliness of the past: the assault charge in Phoenix, the divorce, the migraine, the DUI.  Now, once again, we are reminded there is a thread to all of it, a pathology, and it's not good.

We wish him well.

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