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Nets Off-Season Report #7

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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 stuff into larger stories and blogs.

June Bug

Just to keep up with changes in the Nets workout schedule, here’s a revised calendar for the month of June:

June 10 – Nets Individual Workouts, Nets Training Center, East Rutherford

June 12-14 – NBA "Mass Workout", Nets Training Center.

June 15 - NBA early entry withdrawal deadline.

June 16-18 – Nets Individual Workouts, Nets Training Center.

June 25 – NBA Draft, Madison Square Garden, New York

June 30 – Option Deadline – Jarvis Hayes (Team at $2 million), Trenton Hassell (Player at $4.4 million)

Our Man Dumpy Looks Ahead

During a recent discussion on the message board, NetsDaily’s resident draft guru, Dumpy, wrote about how the Nets should be looking long term when examining draft prospects…particularly big men.

Here’s what he said, discussing whether the Nets should take B.J. Mullens, Ohio State’s 7’1" center…

"Mullens is definitely a lottery pick, for the sole reason that there are very few legit bigs in this draft. Big men always rise. Some teams will always select for need regardless of talent. Some teams will select the big man when they are at a loss of what to do.

"With that said, I don't think the Nets should select him, for a variety of reasons. I'll focus on long-term strategy: The 2010 mock drafts project an absolute ton of PFs in the first round, and very few guards. NBADraft.net projects 13 PFs to be selected in the first round in 2010, plus two centers (there are two players they've classified as "PF/C" which I've counted under the PFs). That is half of the first round--and the Nets will have two picks!

"On the other end of the spectrum, they list just seven guards (including the #1 pick, who we aren't going to get). That includes both PGs and SGs.

"This is pretty much the reverse of this year's draft.

"I think you have to go where the strength of the draft is. I think the Nets should take a guard, and give their young bigs another chance to develop without more competition from another young player. The guards are the strength of this draft, and I think some good ones will slip as other teams overpick a PF or a center to fill a ‘need.’"

We fully expect Dumpy to give us his wisdom again this June (and will forgive him if he once again predicts the Nets will take Chase Budinger.)

Draft Sleeper of the Week

Austin Daye surprised in two ways in the measurement portion of the Draft Combine. He is taller than reported, going 6’11" in shoes (aka sneakers) and also thinner, if that was even possible, that reported. He weighed in at 192 pounds. That lightweight number (and some inconsistency) caused him to drop in mock drafts this season. At one point, the Gonzaga forward was projected as high as #6. By season’s end, he had skid to the 20’s. Now he’s rising again.

Daye played PF at Gonzaga and did well, averaging 12.7 ppg and 6.8 rpg, breaking Rony Turiaf’s single season block record (2.1 bpg) along the way. He also showed a deft shooting touch, hitting 42.7%.

With that body, of course, he isn’t going to play power forward in the NBA. He could make for a very tall small forward and he thinks his ball handling is good enough to let him play some point forward, which works well in the Nets system.

One reason we think he’s a sleeper. Take a look at this highlight video of him going up against Jordan Hill of Arizona, the projected top 5 power forward. Although both scored 22 points in the Wildcats’ win over the Zags, Daye was quite impressive, blocking Hill’s jump shot twice and getting around him for a couple of beautiful reverse layups.

Working Out the 61st pick in the Draft

In 2005, the Nets called the agent for Sherrod Ford of Clemson shortly after the conclusion of the draft and offered him a non-guaranteed contract and a place on the summer league roster. In 2006, it was the agent for Eric Williams of Wake Forest who got the call. In 2007, Jamal Tatum of Southern Illinois and in 2008, Jaycee Carroll of Utah State were targeted.

Each had hoped to be taken in the second round, but didn't make it. Part of the Nets’ workout plan is to find diamonds in the rough. None of those three made the team, but the team thought they were worth a look. In each case, the Nets offered their standard non-guaranteed contract: a two year vets’ minimum deal with the second year at the team option. In that way, the Nets assume no risk and if the player turns out to be the next Ben Wallace or Brad Miller, they’ve got a bargain in the second year. It’s no risk with a potentially large reward. (The Nets rarely offer a partial guarantee. The last ones we’re aware of were Robert Hite in 2006 and Kyle Davis in 2004. Neither of them made the team either.)

So don’t be mystified if you see the Nets working out players who have no chance of being taken at #11. We already know one player who fits the description will work out on June 10—Kenny Hasbrouck of Siena. We assume there will be others.

One Final Draft Note

Agents matter in the draft process. Ask Yi Jianlian whose rep, Dan Fegan, first tried to get him drafted by a big market team (with a big Chinese population), then got him traded to the Nets...and lately has hinted he and his client have not been happy with the way the Nets have developed him.

Fegan in fact represents four Nets: Yi, Eduardo Najera, Jarvis Hayes and Mo Ager. Who is he representing in the draft? Ricky Rubio and Earl Clark, the only prospect we know who's said he wants to play for the Nets.

Anderson Addendum

A little added news on Nets players’ summer plans. Ryan Anderson will not just be working out in his hometown of Sacramento. He’ll be playing some ball against other local NBA players in the Sacramento Professional Developmental League. If you’re in the California capital, the league begins its 24th season Monday. Games run Mondays through Thursdays at Capital Christian (7 p.m. starts).

In addition to Anderson, the local talent includes Matt Barnes of the Suns and DeMarcus Nelson of the Bulls, and Nelson's kid brother, Darius, a high school junior.

Vota Najera por Mexico!

Just how popular is Eduardo Najera in Mexico? Popular enough that local reporters in Aguascalientes state wanted to know last week if he had political ambitions.

Najera, the country’s sole representative in the NBA, denied he was interested in electoral office or even the presidency of the country’s national basketball association.

Still recuperating from his surgery for a sports hernia, Najera said he hopes to play at least another five years in the league, maybe 10 as a shooting specialist, and would not try his hand as a player for a Mexican club as a few others have done.

He visited the city to promote the new "Nájera-Telmex" youth league and give a clinic on basketball at the IDEA Basketball Academy, where he also talked to young people about drugs and violence.

Final Note

Is Philly East Rutherford South? Sure looks that way. First Ed Stefanski returned to his Philly roots last year taking the GM job. Now Stefanski has chosen former Nets assistant Eddie Jordan as his head coach, something Rod Thorn chose not to do. No doubt Mike O’Koren, joined at Jordan’s hip in New Jersey and Washington, will be next.

Stefanski admitted the Jersey connection was the biggest factor in his choice, saying "I saw first-hand the immense impact Eddie Jordan had in helping the Nets reach two NBA Finals."

Curiously, the Sixer roster doesn’t have any former Nets players.