As Lawrence Frank might say--in fact, says all the time--you have to give credit. ProBasketball News' editor Sam Amico has named Frank coach of his "all-Amico" team, the classiest people in the NBA. Of the Nets' coach, Amico says: "Lawrence Frank is by far the most normal guy in the NBA. That includes coaches, players, trainers, media relations people, ANYONE. Every time I talk to the man I feel like I'm interviewing somebody's kid brother...As another NBA coach said, 'He's just one of the guys, man. He's just too cool.'" Like we said, or like he said, you have to give credit.
Mock drafts are updating at a rapid rate now, with the lottery Tuesday night. Of the 12 most popular, there is a building consensus, at least for now, that the Nets will go for a big man or shooting guard. Of the 12 writers, three think the Nets will take Nick Young, the 6'6" shooting guard from USC, while Tiago Splitter, the 7-footer from Brazil, and Josh McRoberts, the 6'11" power forward from Duke, get two each. Others on the list: Acie Law, Antoine Wright's point guard at Texas A&M; Jason Smith, Colorado State's 7-foot power forward; Marco Belinelli, the 6'6" sharpshooter from Italy; Rudy Fernandez, the 6'6" swingman from Spain, and Al Thornton, the 6'7" combo forward from Florida State. NetsDaily will be updating the mocks as the draft gets closer.
The Nets of course wont be in this year's lottery, but the team's great luck in securing the #1 overall pick in 2000 was voted the fourth best "Draft Lottery Outcome" by NBA.com. The glee of then Net principal owner Lew Katz is on display at NBA.com's broadband page.
Speaking of draft picks, the Nets' 2004 second round pick, Christian Drejer, went through quite a week. Earlier in the week, Italian papers were filled with stories about how his playing days with Virtus Bologna were over, that costly mistakes and a loss of confidence in two key games would relegate him to the bench for good. Then injuries intervened and Drejer got a second chance. The Danish player made the most of it. In a key Italian League game Sunday, he blew out of the box, with 10 points in the first 15 minutes, not missing a shot from the floor or free throw line. Virtus won by 25 and Drejer finished with 11. Drejer is not in the Nets plans and here's why: while a skilled 6'10" point forward, he is prone to bouts of self-doubt that have won him several uncomplimentary nicknames: "Hamlet of the Hardwoods" when he played in Florida, "El Enigma" when he was in Spain and now "Il Depresso" in Italy. No translation required.
And speaking of international players, this could be the first summer in a while that the Nets won't have one of their players dressed in their national team colors. Mile Ilic, who played for Serbia last summer, is expected to see action in the Orlando Summer League instead. Nenad Krstic is injured and has told Serbian coaches that while he may be fully recovered in July, he is not going to chance playing in the European championships in September. Boki Nachbar, like Krstic last year, has decided to take a rest this summer and like Krstic is taking the heat for it. He and his Slovenian teammates were heavily criticized last summer for their disappointing finish in the Worlds. Now, he and other NBA Slovenians are taking hits for sitting out the European championships.
"It's not nice when you're home and you open a newspaper and they're saying you're selfish and don't care about your own country," said Nachbar recently. "There have been a couple headlines that I chose not to play and I chose to go to Africa (where he will participate in Basketball Without Borders) rather than represent my country."
Finally, the Nets dodged a bullet two years ago when they told Robert "Tractor" Traylor that he had a potentially fatal heart condition. The failed physical prevented the Nets from signing him to a $1.5 million deal. Good thing. Traylor will be sentenced in a few weeks on money laundering charges he pleaded guilty to back in March. He is expected to get 8 to 14 months. Yahoo! Sports Dan Wetzel's article on Traylor's downfall notes that "Tractor" was making illicit deals with his drug dealer cousin back in 2004, just after the Nets found his heart defect.