Unless Carmelo Anthony suddenly appears, the Nets roster is semi-complete, the off-season is pretty much done. There are 12 players with fully guaranteed deals, three others with partials, and Billy King has said the training camp invites (still unnamed) will be given "a shot" at making the team. It's been a slow week and people are on vacation. We take an optimistic and a pessimistic look at what's happened this off-season and ask you put yourself on the line...or somewhere along it, examine the dramatic improvement at PF, applaud Jordan Farmar on his latest good works, continue our Prokhorov Money Watch and investigate whether he was a dancer in the "Worst Music Video Ever".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 to mention our own reporting.
"It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Best of Times"
That's the opening line of "A Tale of Two Cities"...very appropriate, we think. So We decided to do a little poll: asking fans, both optimist and pessimist, to take a look back at the off-season as it nears its close.
For the optimist:
--It's All New!!
--We have a great new owner who's so rich he doesn't know where his $45 million yacht is docked! WOW!
--Brooklyn is underway finally. Jay-Z rules!
--We hired the coach with the winningest record in NBA history...a real coach!!
--We got two great first round picks in the draft, one who may very well fill our biggest need for a decade, the other who could be the steal of the draft!! Yeah Baby!
--Our owner kicked in $3 million just to clear cap space for free agency and nearly $200,000 for partially guaranteed deals, a first!!
--We didn't overspend on free agents. We got seven young, athletic players who are looking for an opportunity...and paid out less money for seven players ($69.2 million) than the Bulls paid for one, Carlos Boozer ($75 million). Really so smart!
--We signed a solid general manager and bolstered our assistant coaching, our scouting, our player development and our training staffs. Finally, the Ratner Era is behind us!!
--We traded for a power forward to help Derrick Favors with his development. Great move, Billy! You're here three weeks and you solve our biggest problem!!
--We're getting Melo. Yay!!!
For the pessimist:
--Same old Nets.
--They have an absentee owner who'll show up for 10 games and is more interested in his image than the team. He's like Ratner, only richer taller and Russian.
--They're leaving New Jersey and they may even change the team name. Why, why, why?
--They hired a coach who so grated on his veterans that four of them told Mark Cuban they'd rather be traded than play for him again. He can't win the big ones. And that voice...on 82 pre-game and 82 post-game shows. You got to be kidding.
--They lost the lottery, took the second best big man in the draft and traded two picks for one just to move up three places? Unlucky and risk-averse, a bad combination.
--They wasted money to get under the cap and now we know they never had a chance for any of the big free agents. Typical. Sad.
--They overpaid Travis Outlaw ($35 million) and Johan Petro ($10 million) and oh yeah, why did the Warriors let Anthony Morrow go so easily? Hmmm. Something's up there.
--They lost Rod Thorn and signed a general manager who was unceremoniously fired by Philly in mid-season after a series of high profile moves failed. He signed old pals to those key jobs you're talking about. Minus move.
--They traded away cap space for a one-year rental. Troy Murphy is 30 years old, slow and can't defend. (At least he's from New Jersey).
--They're getting Melo. Drat.
Where do you come down?
Four or more at the four
One thing is for sure, whether you're an optimist or a pessimist: the Nets situation at power forward is as good as it's been since Kenyon Martin manned it in 2003-04. As Dave D'Alessandro wrote after the trade for Troy Murphy, the New Jersey native may be the Nets biggest stat stuffer at the four since Derrick Coleman. We're going to be interested to see how big of a role Avery Johnson will give Murphy in the Nets' offense, considering how much he featured a big, three point shooting, defensive rebound grabbing, pick and rolling big man in Dallas.
Beyond Murphy, of course, there's Derrick Favors who Nets front office personnel have compared to Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett. Favors will be both the youngest player in the NBA and the youngest player in Nets history when he steps on the court in October. Who know when he will be ready--we suspect earlier than most (and we also suspect the Nets will use him to back up Brook Lopez at times during the season).
There there's what we think are two very interesting possibilities: Kris Humphries and Sean May, both of whom have been career disappointments after being taken in the lottery, Hump at #14, May at #13. Both are still young, 25 and 26, and could get minutes when their skill sets fit situations. Humphries we know can use his athleticism and May his girth. We haven't heard much from Humphries this off-season, but May has filled his twitter page with reports of hard training and optimistic pronouncements about the Nets. May of course still have to make the team.
Finally, both Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro and Damion James can (and have) played the four. Outlaw in fact has done better offensively when playing at power forward while James, who people tend to forget is a very strong 6'8", played PF throughout his four years at Texas. Petro started some games in Seattle at PF and says he's prepared to play next to Lopez if needed. Their coach would prefer to use them at the three (and maybe even the two if James can improve his ball-handling) and in Petro's case, at the five. And if you missed Johnson's comparables for Outlaw and James, they are: Josh Howard for Outlaw and James Posey or Robert Horry (!!) for James. We haven't heard a comparable for Petro.
Over the past three years, the Nets had had to live with power forwards like Jason Collins, Sean Williams, Malik Allen, Josh Boone, Yi Jianlian and Eddie Najera. This is better. Also, an objective look at the current roster should tell you something else: even without a Carmelo Anthony blockbuster, one or more of these guys will not be playing in Newark this season.
Prokhorov Money Watch
A major real estate project is stalled. Its owner, one of the city's biggest developers, is starved of cash because of the economic crisis. The project's centerpiece, an public hall for concerts and other events, looks like it will never be built.
Enter Mikhail Prokhorov who brings his enormous resources to the project and suddenly things turn around.
Sound familiar? Yep, except we're talking about Moscow, not Brooklyn, and it's a concert hall not a basketball arena. Prokhorov is paying between $100 and $140 million to take control of the "Moscow City" concert hall, which will seat 1,500 people. It's a huge real estate venture at a bend in the Moscow River. We wonder if he's talking to Bruce Ratner about this project as well.
We're also trying to think of a way Mikhail Prokhorov can tie the December launch of his still unnamed hybrid car with the October launch of his NBA team. In December, Prokhorov will unveil his hybrid, nicknamed the "Prokhomobile". Don't think of calling it the "Netmobile". In Russian, Net transliterates into "Nyet" and a "Nyet-mobile" wouldn't sell too well in Russia, we figure.
As for the Nets, Prokhorov may wind up sacrificing some revenue with of the team's trip to London in March. Since both games are home games, the Nets will lose some revenue but hope to gain greater name recognition in Europe, part of the plan to make the Nets a global brand. The league will give the Nets an undisclosed financial guarantee to make up for those losses. Whether it will match what the team would typically make is uncertain.
No it's not him
A couple of fans have asked if the tall dancer in this Swedish music video is Mikhail Prokhorov. We were trying to figure out whether it would enhance or detract from his image as the "most interesting man in the world" when we realized the video from 1978. Prokhorov was 13 years old and the dancer is older than than..
Farmar's Good Works
Jordan Farmar's Hoops Farm is now long over, but its good works continue on. Last week, thre was a story on local LA television about Andre Brown, a homeless boy who Farmar sponsored at his camp and how much it meant to him. This week, there was a story about a boy named Lakes who has a place to stay but no family. Wednesday's Child, a feature on children seeking adoption, told the story of Lakes, a quiet kid looking for a family. Lakes too was sponsored by Farmar and like Andre was shown playing hoops with Farmar. The Nets guard understands the value of celebrity in making good things happen. No word on whether Lakes has found a family to take him in.
Evan Weiner, writing for New Jersey Newsroom, called Bruce Ratner "lucky" this week. Why? Well, other than having a Russian angel bearing gifts, the Nets appear to have gotten the last big naming rights deal. The Giants and Jets, who had hoped for a long-term billion dollar naming rights deal, have none. Instead, it's the New Meadowlands Stadium. The Cowboys don't have one either, despite all its marvels.
The total value of the Barclays deal has never been made public. The entity that controls the arena--now owned 55% by Ratner and 45% by Prokhorov-- will ultimately get $200 million from Barclays over 20 years, but Brett Yormark has said the team also gets some money from Barclays as part of the overall package. Originally, the deal was supposed to yield $400 million (although that number was never officially confirmed). It went through several revisions as delays mounted. Under terms of the agreement, Barclays doesn't start paying until the arena opens.
With training camp only 19 days away and the first preseason game at "The Rock" only nine days after that, expect to see more promotion on the Nets' move to Newark. We've already seen the Nets emphasize the mass transit possibilities of their new digs. There will be more. The Nets put single game seats on sale September 23, which is also the day before training camp opens with Media Day. Sounds about right.