We read through the beat writers' excellent blog and newspaper coverage of Kiki Vandeweghe's talk with them and did our own analysis. Al Iannazzone and Dave D'Alessandro, we thought, had the most complete summaries.
Among the things we noticed...
1. Nothing is more important than player development, a point re-emphasized this morning with the announcement that chief scout Gregg Polinsky has been promoted to director of player personnel, a new position but one that Kiki occupied back in his Dallas days when he worked with Dirk Notwitzki and Steve Nash. And within that building-from-within mentality is a desire to add even more draft picks to their stockpile, beyond their own and the ones they've acquired in trades: the 2010 unprotected Dallas pick and 2011 protected Golden State pick.
"Focusing on a system that develops your young players, developing your assets. You've got 15 assets. That's what you have to work with, and you can either look at them as depreciating assets or you can look at them as guys you are investing in. We've sort of taken the second view, which is investing in our assets, spending time, teaching them how to play basketball and building from within. And I think that's the right way to do it...
"Now we really have to see what other things we can do, what other draft choices we can add and how quickly our guys progress. All of those things go into it, but again, we have the opportunity to make that happen."
2. Kiki talked about the need for veteran leadership, with him noting the roles that Vince Carter, Bobby Simmons, Eduardo Najera, Keyon Dooling and Devin Harris must play with the kids. He never mentioned Stromile Swift who after Carter is the most experienced vet on the team. In fact, he never mentioned Swift at all. They might be pushing to trade him. AND he specifically mentioned the Nets want more draft choices.
"Then you go to some of the bench guys, the Keyon Doolings, the Najeras, guys are character guys who come to play every single night. What we hope, and the reason those guys are here beside that they’re good players, is we hope they will pass that along to the young players, show them what it takes to be successful, what it takes to play."
3. Simmons got some interesting billing with Kiki putting him in the same category as Carter and Harris as "definitely very good players" and saying Simmons is "sort of" back to his pre-injury, Most Improved Player form. That would be nice, considering Simmons averaged 16 and 6 and shot 43.5% from beyond the arc that season in 2004-05. Even his 2005-06 stats would be nice. He averaged 13 and 5 and hit 105 three pointers that season.
"Bobby Simmons from what I’ve seen this summer has sort of returned to the form of when he was with the Clippers before his injury. You have three guys right there who are definitely very good players. Vince is clearly a star, Devin is an emerging star, Bobby Simmons is coming back."
4. He didn't say much about what he has seen so far from Yi Jianlian, but he raised the bar on him and suggested that he had to improve his stamina.
"Yi is obviously a young player. He had a great start to his rookie year. He had a great two months of basketball. He was on target to be one of the best rookies and then he got hurt, got tired, and whatever happened. My view is if he can do it for two months, he can do it. He’s a very talented young player. Obviously he’s young. You’re going to have to have patience with him."
5. Josh Boone is the starting center...but not for long. They are concerned about Brook Lopez's defense.
"I do think (Lopez) is very talented offensively. He can really shoot the basketball. I would imagine by halfway through the season he’ll start to figure out ways to be successful in this league. The offense will come. I’m confident of that. That really goes to the defense. How can I be successful defensively, play the better players? Learning this league, the two places that are most difficult are point guard and center. Young bigs mature slower."
6. Don't dismiss Ryan Anderson (who as a big Californian with toughness and outside shot is a player in the mold of...Kiki Vandeweghe) and they loved Chris Douglas-Roberts in his workouts, they loved him on draft night and they still love him.
"I think Brook (Lopez) has made progress. I like what Ryan Anderson has done this summer. He's really worked hard. He's changed his body. He's a 6-10 guy who can shoot the basketball and plays really hard. I like where he's headed. Chris Douglas-Roberts is going to surprise some people. I think we were very lucky to get him at 40. It was a great pickup. He feels like he has a lot to prove. He's a competitive player."
7. They're still not sure what Sean Williams' role is. The first time Kiki mentioned his name was in response to a reporter's question.
"What Sean needs to do is focus on his strengths – what he does extremely well – which is he’s very athletic, he readily can run, he really can block shots and jump. He can rebound, he can jump as high as anybody. And he has a really nice turnaround jump shot. He finishes pretty well. You need to sort of simplify your game, do only things you do well, and eventually it clicks and you figure it out."
8. Lawrence Frank's job is on the line. He must develop the young players and not rely on guys who Kiki has already described as "bench players" i.e. Najera and Dooling.
"It’s a tough job. Coaching is very difficult. Now he’s going to be blending some players, veterans older guys with some young players we’re going to count on to play minutes. And so you’re going to have to as a coach put up with mistakes and lots of different things that young players do but I think he’s committed to having practices that are focused on player development. That’s what we spent a lot of time talking about. very similar to -- rod comes from this background also and using my own background, Dallas and Denver, really focusing on a system that develops your young players. developing your assets."
9. Keeping VC on the reservation is not something they are really worried about...at least now. They are encouraging him to relish his role as mentor.
"I’m not going to tell you that if things aren’t going well in December, January, February, is everyone going to be happy? I hope not. I hope everyone’s going to be upset. Obviously you don’t do deals just to do deals, or make moves just to make them. You try your best if you believe in your business plan, you stay in your business plan. And Vince understands that. And I think he’s excited. It’s a challenge, no question. No question in my mind he’s up for it. Along with Devin and all the veterans."