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The Nomadic Ex-Nets - Have Ball, Will Travel

They all wore Nets' practice uniforms this summer or fall but only one made it to the winter whites. So what happened to the 14 "almost-Nets" who played in the Reebok Summer League or tried out for the team in training camp?

In the wide world of basketball there's apparently a place for everyone. All of the 15 have found some place to play for pay, even if it's on the barren wastes of Tartarstan in Russia or along the Yangtze River in China.

Two summer league players have signed with NBA teams. Sherrod Ford is with the Suns and Awvee Storey with the Wizards. Neither is seeing much action.

Derrick Zimmerman, who played for the summer league team and was in training camp, is doing well with the Austin Toros of the NBDL, averaging 14 points per game. Ricky Shields is playing (less well) for the Florida Flame. The Fayetteville Patriots recently acquired guard Melvin Sanders, a Reebok League guard, from the NBA Development League available player pool

In the CBA, Neil Felix, power forward on the winless summer league team, plays with the Sioux City Skyforce, where his teammates include former Net Rodney Buford. Maurice Baker, a backup point in Las Vegas, is also playing well in the Dakotas, for Bismarck in the CBA. He recently had a tryout with the Rockets, but they chose another CBA player instead.

Most of the nomadic almost-Nets, however, are overseas. Christian Drejer, whose draft rights remain the Nets' property even after a dreadful summer league, is averaging double figures for Virtus Bologna in Italy and was recently named to the Italian League All-Star team. Brian Boddicker, who scored 11 points in one summer league game, is plying his trade with Ludwigsburg of the German Bundesliga. Adam Chubb, the Ivy League leaper who was advised by fellow Penn alum Ed Stefanski to join a European team did just that. Like Boddicker, he is in Germany, playing for Giessen in the Bundesliga.

Five almost-Nets have gone very far afield to play. Each is now living and working in different parts of Eurasia.

Sam Clancy, who played well in the summer but decided to try out for the Blazers, is playing for Unics Kazan, 800 miles east of Moscow, in the Russian league. Travis Best is one of his teammates on Unics.

Jelani McCoy who was the Nets' summertime center, is now a Chinese basketball player, patrolling the paint for Jiangsu ND on the Yangtse River. Ben Handlogten, the last player cut by the Nets, plays in South Korea for Mobus Phoebus. [Ironically, he replaced Chubb who was Mobus's center last season.]

Arthur Johnson is the last of the "almost Nets" to find work. He reportedly signed this week with the Cherkassy Monkeys of the Superleague, which features teams from Russia and Ukraine. Cherkassy is about 120 miles south of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.