Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the playoffs, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting data into larger stories and blogs.
The Nets’ front office keeps saying they’re not done, and that they’d like to add a third guard to the mix and dump a big man or two. One of the Nets’ candidates for that third guard job, Royal Ivey, signed with the Sixers this week, leaving a couple of possibilities. Kareem Rush has been rumored as a possible Nets addition. The 6’6" shooting guard has had an up and down career as a streak shooter. He tried out for the Nets two years ago about being unceremoniously cut by the Bobcats. The workout was cut short, however, when Rush got sick.
There’s also the possibility that the Nets will just let two of their summer league invitees fight it out. Jaycee Carroll was, along with Chris Douglas-Roberts, the Nets’ most consistent summer league player in Orlando and Salt Lake City. He had one bad game in each league, but in general, he played well...at least on offense...as he adjusted to a new position. Julius Hodge had played poorly in Orlando in reduced minutes, then came on strong in Salt Lake City. He got a lot of time at the point in the Revue, a position he played a bit in college, where he was a point forward in the Wolfpack’s Princeton offense. Hodge, it should be noted is seven months younger than Carroll, who spent two years in Chile as a Mormon missionary right out of high school. Carroll, in fact, is only six weeks younger than Devin Harris.
Carroll certainly gets the summer league "E for Effort" award. After working out for 11 teams in 14 days before the draft, then playing in all three summer leagues—for the Nets in Orlando and Salt Lake and for the Raptors in Las Vegas, he finally admits to fatigue. Ya think? He was the only player to appear in all three leagues, spending 25 straight nights in hotels. His pregnant wife, Bailee, joined him in Vegas and Salt Lake.
Carroll, by the way, has his own read on why the Nets didn’t do as well in the Rocky Mountain Revue as it had in the Orlando Pro Summer League. "We were a lot more organized in Orlando," Carroll told a local paper. "We threw a lot of new guys in here and at times we struggled." There was also less practice time before the Revue…and it probably didn’t help that the team’s point guard, Marcus Williams, was traded after game one. The team’s shooting sure showed a drop off, as did execution.
Harris, who has quietly let it be known that the Nets are "my team now", was hanging out with another possibility in Chicago this week, Shaun Livingston. The oft-injured Livingston, Harris and ''Real World'' cast member Will Gilbert were on hand at Plan B Bar & Kitchen for the launch of the 86'd fashion line created by Emperor's New Clothes and Plan B's Ryan Golden.
The Nets got three lottery-protected first round picks in July 2004 when they sent Kenyon Martin to Denver in a sign-and-trade, then sent two of them to Toronto that December in the Vince Carter trade. Now, in the last five months, they’ve picked up two first round picks, Dallas’ unprotected 2010 pick in the Jason Kidd trade and Golden State’s lottery-protected 2011 pick in the Marcus Williams deal. The picks the Nets have acquired recently have to be considered better than the two the Nets sent to Toronto back in 2004. Those two picks ultimately became Joey Graham and Renaldo Balkman, one taken in 2005, the other in 2006.
It’s almost a given that when a team gives up on a real star, it wants some combination of three things in return: expiring contracts, a young player, and picks. Take a look at the Nets’ trade of Kidd or the Raptors’ trade of Carter.
If the Nets are planning on acquiring free agents from the 2010 pool as they say they are, those two picks could have real value in a sign-and-trade. And we suspect that if the Nets deal one or more of their big men, at least one more pick, first round or second, will be headed to New Jersey.
A note on Marcus.
The night of the 2006 Draft, it looked as if the basketball gods had gifted the Nets with Kidd’s successor, a player projected as high as #7 had fallen to #22. He had a great summer league (although one of his coaches said, in a famous line, he couldn’t guard a bank with a machine gun). Then, he had an even better preseason, entering the season as the top-rated rookie in the NBA rookie rankings. It was all downhill after that. In spite of flashes of brilliance, his lack of defense and conditioning—and apparently a poor attitude—relegated him to Lawrence Frank’s dog house. A broken foot last summer, just before training camp, didn’t help. His confidence really sank when the Nets traded for Harris. There was no doubt that Williams was going to be the Nets’ backup forever...or sent elsewhere.
When Frank called him out publicly not long afterwards for his lack of consistency, it was the single most stinging criticism in Frank’s tenure as coach. After the trade, Frank expressed disappointment he couldn’t get Williams to where he needed to be. If Williams takes off in Don Nelson’s system, it will not help Frank’s reputation. If, on the other hand, he doesn’t, it will be a lesson: players drop in the draft for a reason. Collectively, NBA GM’s are not dumb.
The Forgotten Man.
Speaking of UConn, no player has disappeared from the Nets’ radar like Josh Boone has. While the Nets other young bigs are either playing in the summer league (Brook Lopez and Ryan Anderson) or in the Olympics (Yi Jianlian) or elsewhere internationally (Nenad Krstic), the 23-year-old Boone has not been heard from. From what we hear, he has been bulking up, and working out. This summer and fall should present Boone with an opportunity. People tend to forget he has yet to have an NBA training camp. He was recuperating from shoulder surgery in 2006 and minor knee surgery in 2007. Both limited his conditioning and strength work.
We also hope he’s working on his foul shooting.
The Nets are making inroads in the Chinese-American community as the Olympics near. The team set up a table at the Family Day Fair in Chinatown Saturday. As the sponsor, the Chinese-American Planning Council noted on its website, "If you want tickets to see their new star, Yi Jianlian, this may be your chance". A ticket rep recently spoke to the New Jersey Chinese-American Chamber of Commerce as well.
Expect the Nets to do a number of promotions both in the Chinese-American community and in general during the Olympics. Yi and Team China open their pursuit of Olympic glory on August 10, against Team USA. The game is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. New York time.
Meanwhile, Yi has set up his own blog, in Chinese. His popularity marked it as a potentially big blog and the first day didn’t disappoint, with more than 100,000 hits.
We are traveling this weekend to places far, far, far away, but hope to have internet access wherever and whenever we land. If sleep deprivation and job demands don’t keep us too busy, things shouldn't look much different online. But don’t be surprised if there are few days of downtime.