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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #12

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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.

Yi Heads West

Reports out of China have Yi Jianlian departing Shanghai Sunday for a 4-to-6 day trip to New Jersey. The trade cannot be officially completed until both teams are satisfied with their new player’s physicals. There’ll also be a photo shoot, a press conference and most importantly meetings with the coaching staff and front office. The press conference Wednesday at 10 a.m. promises to be a madhouse with local and national media as well as the local Chinese-language press and representatives of the Chinese media all on hand. (It will be streamed live on njnets.com/.)

Yi played against a team of Australian all-stars in Ningbo, south of Shanghai, Sunday evening (Sunday morning, New York time), then was expected to depart for the United States, which would put him in New Jersey by Monday or Tuesday, local time. By then, the only teammate likely to be around will be Marcus Williams. The rest of the kids will be in Florida playing in the summer league. Vince Carter might be around, but VC has hosted the summer league players at his place in Daytona Beach the last few years. We guess he could do both. Nike might have some input into his decision, we suspect...and believing no one will get more financial benefit from the newest Net's arrival, we assume he will want to say at least hello.

The off-season’s stepchild, Bobby Simmons, will also be on-hand.

And no matter how crazy the press conference is, it is likely to pale next to the attention he receives day in, day out in China. A fan traveling with the Australian All-Stars in China this week, recounted on his blog what it's like when Yi and Team China enter a city:

"They arrived at the hotel on Thursday night via police escort and they needed it. The hotel lobby was overflowing with fans trying to get a glimpse at these guys, so they needed assistance just to make their way to the hotel elevator. They did take some time to pose for photos and signatures along the way for a few members of the hotel staff.

"Since Team China’s arrival into town, even the attention we draw from the locals in the city of Wuxi has changed dramatically. We had been able to roam around the city at our leisure, generating only the occasional tourist type glance.

"Not anymore. We will now join the motorcade to and from the game, complete with our own police escort.

"Anywhere from 60-100 media outlets will be covering our two games series and they will have their own bus.

"And last but not least, the TV crew has their crew and equipment. All in all five buses will be escorted out of town headed for Ningbo...a three hour drive".

Nets Cutting Salaries?

Word around the NBA is that the Nets are cutting salaries. The Jefferson for Yi trade is cited as an example. It’s not that simple.

Although the Nets have gotten rid of big ticket contracts, they have taken on almost $25 million more in net salary commitments since last February when they traded Jason Collins for Stromile Swift and began the rebuilding process.

In that time, they dumped Jason Kidd ($21.37 million), Richard Jefferson ($42.6 million) and Jason Collins ($6.1 million). Malik Allen and Antoine Wright's contracts were expiring. Grand total: $70.7 million

They took on Devin Harris ($42.35 million), Bobby Simmons ($20.48 million), Yi Jianlian ($10.03 million), Trent Hassell ($8.7 million), Stromile Swift ($6.2 million), Ryan Anderson ($6.1 million), Maurice Ager ($1.04 million) plus whatever Keith Van Horn's buyout is...probably not more than $500,000. DeSagana Diop's contract was expiring. Grand total: $94.36 million assuming a KVH buyout of $500,000. (You could subtract the $3 million in cash considerations the Nets received in the Kidd trade, but then you would also have to add at least that much for the salaries that will be paid to the Mavs' 2010 first round pick.)

Obviously, if you are going to save money for 2010, you want to dump contracts longer than two years...and of the new contracts taken on, only Harris, Yi, and Anderson may be around. But those three alone amount to $14.72 million in 2010-11, or only $500,000 less than what Jefferson is going to make in 2010-11.

The point, of course, is not just reducing the payroll for that year, but also making the salaries more manageable, more easily moved. Flexibility counts almost as much as the raw numbers.

Two Year Deals are the New Four Year Deals

It’s not just the Nets trying to limit free agent signings to two years. Although not a hard and fast rule, say writers, it’s part of the negotiating process and it’s apparently slowing things down around the league, at least for those second tier free agents.

Chris Duhon signed for the full MLE but for only two years. The Heat don’t want to go beyond two years for Keyon Dooling, although word is the Nets might. Nets also appear willing to go to three years for Eduardo Najera, another former Nugget and favorite of Kiki Vandeweghe’s. Hard to tell how the rule applies to Boki Nachbar and Nenad Krstic.

The only player the Nets appear eager to break their 2010 rule for is Andres Nocioni, whose contract is the latest innovation among agents: front-loading the big bucks. Nocioni makes $8 million this year, then $7.5 million, $6.8 million, and $6.6 million with a team option of $7.5 million in 2012-13, when he will be 33. Marcus Camby has a similar contract.

Nocioni would add a South American—he’s a member of the Argentine National Team—to a roster that has over the past year featured players from North America (the US and Canada), Africa (Senegal), Asia (China) and Europe (Serbia and Slovenia). Did we mention last week that there are 949,000 Brooklynites who were born overseas? Yes, we did.

Any deal for Nocioni would depend on the Bulls’ need to cut salary. With Luol Deng and Ben Gordon due for big raises, it sure looks like they need to dump long term contracts. Nocioni would be the easiest to move. Swift for Nocioni works under the collective bargaining agreement, but expect that 1) the Nets will not be alone in their pursuit and 2) the Bulls will want a draft pick.

October Deadline

October promises to be a big deadline for several of the younger Nets. By October 31, the team has to exercise options on fourth year contracts for Marcus Williams, Josh Boone and Maurice Ager and third year options on Sean Williams and Yi Jianlian…assuming all of them are all still on the team.

For those watching their 2010-11 salaries, Boone, Williams and Ager would be eligible for their first big contracts that season, while Williams and Yi would have to wait til 2011-12 and the three kids drafted last month in 2011-12. There is of course little to no chance that all of them will make it that far in their Nets careers.

Coaching Carousel.

Pat Sullivan is gone, replaced by Doug Overton. Bill Cartwright is gone, replaced by?? The Nets brought in Roy Rogers, the shot-blocking former Alabama and NBA player, for a tryout. Rogers would fill the big man coaching slot, which takes on added importance now that the team has five players 6’10 or taller and 23 years old or younger: Boone, Sean Williams, Yi, Brook Lopez, and Anderson. Rogers has coached in the NBDL and ABA.

Other possibilities, reports Dave D’Alessandro, are coaching associate Jim Sann and scout Paul Cormier.

Orlando Preview.

The Nets summer league team looks strong. There might be some concern at the point. With Marcus Williams staying behind in NJ, the team has two point guards: 5’9" Yuta Tabuse, the first Japanese player to get a chance in the NBA, and Will Conroy who played with the Clippers at the tail end of last season. Julius Hodge can also play point. Williams holds the Orlando summer league records for assists in a game, as well as turnovers.

Here in its most basic form is the schedule, remembering that the games do not have set starting times. After each 40-minute game, there’s a 20-minute break before the next game begins.

Monday, July 7, vs. the Magic, 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 8, vs. the Heat, 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, July 9, vs. the Sonics, 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 10, vs. the Bulls, 3:00 p.m.

Friday, July 11, vs. the Pacers, 11:00 a.m.

All league games will be webcast on orlandomagic.com and the Nets’ games will be webcast on both orlandomagic.com and njnets.com.

Associated Press All-Americans from this past season will be all over the court in Orlando. Of the 15 All-Americans, six will be playing in this summer league, including: Chris Douglas Roberts (Nets, First Team); Michael Beasley (Heat, First Team); D.J. White (Sonics, Second Team); Roy Hibbert (Pacers, Second Team); Derrick Rose (Bulls, Third Team) and Brook Lopez (Nets, Third Team).

Our prediction: Anderson will surprise and both Marcus Slaughter and Jaycee Carroll will do well. Also, NetsDaily will be represented in Orlando by our intrepid stats guru, Dumpy, who is learning to operate heavy machinery in order to get us audio and video of Friday’s game.

Final Note.

John Hollinger says that the Mavs' decision to give Diop $31 million—the full MLE over five years—is the worst contract so far this off-season.

"The worst midlevel signing this summer? As of now, that honor goes to Diop, to whom the Mavs offered a five-year deal for the full midlevel a mere four months after happily including him as a throw-in in the Jason Kidd trade with New Jersey. If you're scoring at home, yes, this is a red flag that the Mavs still don't know whether they're coming or going."