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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #13

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.

Not a great week to be a Nets fan

In Orlando, summer league team went 0-5. Nets-Sixer combo did not work, period. Terrence Williams and Chris Douglas-Roberts played well in spurts, not so well in others. Meanwhile, Ryan Anderson looked like Larry Bird and Dwight Howard reports Courtney Lee is still "hurting" from the VC trade.

Back in New Jersey, Nets brass promised to sit back and wait and hope (then hope some more) that someone would fall through the cracks. So not much hope of any real change in the roster between now and training camp...not that we think all the 2009 free agency moves were genius. Yi Jianlian will need to spend more time in China unless he can come up with the Chinese equivalent of a teacher's permission slip. Jason Kidd dismissed as incredulous the idea that Lebron James would come to "Jersey".

There were some positives: Shaq said very nice things about Lee, as did Superman. Yi continued to show off his newfound confidence by hitting the streetball circuit in Manhattan before heading to Beijing. Brooklyn inched closer with word that the other critics’ suit—the one alleging that the Atlantic Yards environmental review was flawed--is stalled and close to dead. No one got hurt. The Knicks looked dumb…twice.

Nets vs. Knicks

Speaking of the Knicks, we are mystified by the various comments equating the Knicks situation with the Nets in 2010. We know the Knicks have an advantage playing in the self-described "Mecca" of basketball. But in terms of salary flexibility and rosters, we don’t see it.

Things could change this week in New York. There are breathless rumors (as there always are in Knicksland) of impending moves and the David Lee and Nate Robinson situations remain fluid.

But any objective look at the current reality would indicate the Nets are in much better shape.

Right now, the Knicks and Nets should have about the same amount of cap space next season, but the similarities end there. The Knicks’ cap space surplus is dependent on them not signing David Lee and Robinson to anything more than a qualifying offer.

The Knicks are committed to pay out $26.71 million to six players in 2010-11 (assuming Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries exercise their player options.) That doesn’t count any money for David Lee or Robinson.

The Nets on the other hand are committed to pay out $22.49 million to six players in 2010-11 (assuming the Nets don’t exercise options on Josh Boone and Sean Williams and pay out $3 million in guarantees, rather than full salaries, to Eduardo Najera and Keyon Dooling.) That number could be reduced by another $845,000 if the Nets decline to exercise an option on CDR.

With a projected salary cap of between $50.4 million to $53.6 million in 2010-11, Knicks could have between $23.7 million and $26.9 million in cap space. The Nets, on the other hand, could have between $27.9 million and $31.1 million. (Of course, the Nets may have to pay out salaries to two rookies, which could even things up with the Knicks since they have no first round picks in 2010...more on that below.)

The difference beyond the numbers is in the players who’ll be on the two teams’ rosters. The six players the Knicks are currently committed to in 2010-11 are Curry, Jeffries, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas. The six players the Nets are currently committed to in 2010-11 are Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, Lee, Yi, CDR and Terrence Williams. You tell me which lineup is more appealing to a free agent?

Moreover, the Nets currently have two first round picks in 2010, a very strong draft—their own and the Mavs’ (unprotected) picks plus two first round picks in 2011—their own and the Warriors’ (lottery protected) picks. They also have both second round picks. The Knicks? They have no first round picks in 2010 and their own in 2011. They have two second round picks in 2010 and none in 2011. Again, which is a more appealing mix?

FYI, by our reading of the various draft boards, it appears no team has more first round picks over the next two drafts than the Nets. Timberwolves appear to also have four—three in 2010 and one in 2011, but their 2010 picks are protected while the Nets are not.

A lot of things WILL change between now and July 1, 2010. Lee and Robinson could still be wearing orange and blue…or not. The top free agents could resign with their current teams. The Nets could be in the hands of new owners. Brooklyn will be dead or alive. But at this point in time, you’d have to think the Nets are in better shape, at least in terms of flexibility and roster.

Or, to put it in the words of a prominent player agent who spoke to the Daily News this week: "Right now, the Knicks are not relevant. Only the media in New York keeps them relevant. The Knicks are trying to do the right thing but they've got a long way to go."

Great Mentioner Update

We’re keeping track possible free agents targets mentioned by those great mentioners, Dave, Fred, Al and Julian (plus a few we think might show up).

Since last week, the list has shrunk…two of these guys have been picked up by other teams…Brandon Bass by the Magic and Channing Frye by the Suns. Moreover, the beat writers seem to have taken to heart Rod Thorn’s comments that nothing is going on, really. So mentions have been fewer.

Still, here’s the list, with the aforementioned subtractions and these additions from last week: Jamario Moon, mentioned by Fred Kerber and Ime Udoka and Rodney Carney by Dave D’Alessandro:

Chris Wilcox, Linas Kleiza, Hakim Warrick, Matt Barnes, Drew Gooden, Ike Diogu, Melvin Ely, Mikki Moore, Joe Smith, Jamario Moon, Ime Udoka, and Rodney Carney

And we might note, there’s always Sean May and Boki Nachbar. And while we don’t expect the Nets to be in the final mix for Carlos Boozer, the Salt Lake Tribune did mention New Jersey as a possible destination for the two-time All-Star, two-time Olympic medalist and NCAA champion.

Al Iannazzone, while not mentioning anyone this week, makes a very good point. Last year, the Nets were meeting with potential free agents in Orlando, sitting down with Dooling as well as Jarvis Hayes and Najera (and their agent, the ubiquitous Dan Fegan). We’ve heard of no such meetings this year.

August Hoops

There was word this week that Yi will be playing for Team China in a second FIBA tournament—the Stankovic Continental Cup in Kunshan—and Najera may play for Team Mexico in the FIBA Americas Cup, which is played in San Juan, PR.

That means for much of August one or more Nets will be on the court in an international tournament, complete with boxscores, recaps and video.

Yi will play in the FIBA Asia Championships from August 6 through 16 (and is likely to participate in a few exhibition games before that). Yi would then have a short break before the Stankovic Cup, which runs August 28 through 31. Najera’s stint at the FIBA Americas Championship, if it comes off, would put him on the court from August 26 through September 3.

We haven’t seen any TV or webcast schedule, but we expect all three to have some live video. China’s sports channel, CCTV-9, regularly carries Team China games live online. As we have the information, we’ll update.

NetsDaily Improvements

We continue to use the off-season to update our links database around the site. You’ll see in the Social Networks category new links to the Twitter pages of Devin Harris, CDR and Terrence Williams as well as the Nets’ official Twitter page. Tweet on! We’ve also added Sports Radio Interviews’ Nets page. SRI transcribes interviews on local sports stations like WFAN as well as ESPN Radio and some syndicated shows like Dan Patrick, Jim Rome and Chris Russo. It’s where we found Shaq’s comment that Courtney Lee will be a "star, star, star".

Final Note

Here’s to Rafer Alston, who in spite of a checkered NBA history, has provided the most smiles so far this off-season. The starting point guard on the Eastern Conference Champs is not whining or moaning about his fortune. More than that, he’s been offering positive vibes.

"I’m excited not only to be with the Nets but to be able to play in front of family and friends, and also the opportunity to help a franchise turn things around. I know we have a lot of young athletic guys. That’s one thing I stressed to Kiki (general manager Vandeweghe) and Rod (team president Thorn) is that I’m very excited to be on the court with a lot of young athletic guys, although I’m getting old.

"Most people get down about a trade. I had the opportunity to get traded from a contending team (Houston) to another contender (Orlando). Now I have a chance to help a team turn things around."

While Skip to My Lou may have grown up in Bayside, Queens, we think he must have spent some time in Sunnyside, too.