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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #6

It's getting drafty in here. With workouts picking up in frequency and importance, we take a look at the cost of buying a pick in the Draft and how it's gotten a lot more expensive since Billy King bought the Nets' 51st pick for as little as $125,000 in 2003 and took Kyle Korver as well as our first international Draft Sleeper of the Week. We also offer a little inside information on free agency, look at where Nets celebrities rank on the Forbes' Celebrity 100 (and where they don't); examine Mikhail Prokhorov's jump into Russian politics, provide a picture of the view from his Super Suite at Barclays and surprise with an item on Brooklyn's popularity in odd places.

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, blogs, our own reporting and analysis.

Free Agency

We're not hearing that much on free agency. We're hearing all the same names: Andrei Kirilenko of the Jazz, Jeff Green and Glen Davis of the Celtics, J.R. Smith of the Nuggets, etc. We're also hearing Deron Williams talking about the need for veterans with winning experience. One other thing we're hearing that is not so well-known: the Nets see this summer, not next, as the time to make the big moves, the time to be aggressive. Anticipating that the CBA will get increasingly restrictive, the time for big deals may be now, we're told, whether that's going for Dwight Howard or making a big splash in free agency...or both. Do that and you might be able to wrap up D-Will early. He's said he'd like it done so that it's not a distraction. So would we.

We'd like to say, we'll know soon enough, but with the possibility of a lock-out, we can't. Once the dust clears, though, expect a lot of activity and hopefully results.

Nets Celebrity Swagger

It cannot be denied. The Nets do have a bit of a celebrity swagger. Their majority owner may be the most interesting man in the world. Their most prominent minority owner likes to be called a "global icon" and two of their players date top-line celebrities.

So, where do they stand on Forbes list of the 100 biggest celebrities, as measured by earning power and a whole lot of indices of fame. Mikhail Prokhorov didn't make the list apparently because he just mines the gold that goes into everyone else's bling. But Jay-Z did, winding up at No. 38, 11 places behind his wife, Beyonce' Knowles. So did the future Mrs. Sasha Vujacic, aka Maria Sharapova, who checked in at No. 80. After all, she is the most marketable woman athlete in the world. Sorry, Kris and Kim. All your posing doesn't translate to the needed big bucks. The cutoff point for the Top 100 was $10 million and a lot of publicity.

Draft Sleeper of the Week

Davis Bertans is the second youngest player in the NBA draft, all of 18 years old until November 12. By comparison, Derrick Favors turned 19 in July last year. So the 6'10" Latvian is extraordinarily young for the NBA...only Brandon Knight is younger than him this year.

But oh my, can this Latvian shoot. And he has a good grasp of English as well. As anyone who remembers the early days of Zoran Planinic and Nenad Krstic wlll tell you, that's important. Bertans may still be growing, too. He has sprouted nearly eight inches in the last two years and was listed at 6'7" on the Nike Hoops Summit program last month, only to show up at 6'10" in shoes.

How good of a shooter is he? A Hoops Summit coach says he is the best pure European shooter to show up at the Oregon event since Dirk Nowitzki (and yes, he know how many times that's been said, as if you can clone one of the game's all-time greats).

His release is quick and high and gets results, as this scouting video shows. Otherwise, Draft Express notes, he is not totally one-dimensional: "While Bertans clearly isn't a spectacular athlete, he did throw down some pretty impressive dunks during the practice sessions. He moves fluidly enough that he projects to be a more of a true small forward, rather than a player limited to only a stretch-four type role.

Although projected in the Nets' range earlier in the month, he's now moved up to the early 20's.

Watching some of our previous Sleepers in this week's Draft Combine, we see both Kenneth Faried and Jeremy Tyler moving up and Kyle Singler moving down a bit.

Pricing out picks

Back in 2003, Billy King made one of the smartest moves of his tenure as a 76er executive: buying the Nets' 51st pick in the draft from Rod Thorn and taking Kyle Korver who 10 years later is still knocking them down for the Bulls. Nets fans of a certain age remember that move, none too happily. What's less well-remembered is what a great deal it was. According to various reports, the pick cost Philly either $125,000 or $140,000.

Even in a bad draft like this year's, picks in the second round are likely to cost considerably more. In 2008, the Cavaliers paid out $300,000 to buy the 56th pick and take Sasha Kaun of Kansas, who's still playing for CSKA Moscow. Then in 2009, the Rockets paid out $2.25 million for the 44th pick. This one was well worth it. Houston got Chase Budinger of Arizona who was terrific for a second rounder this season. And in 2010, the Trailblazers traded their 44th pick and $2 million in cash to move up ten places, where they picked Armon Johnson out of Nevada. He spent a good part of his rookie season in the D-League.

A first round pick is going to cost a team a minimum of $3 million in cash and perhaps a player, a pick in a future draft or draft rights to a promising Euro-Stash...$3 million is the maximum allowed in any transaction. As we've noted before, the league's second richest player, Paul Allen of the Blazers, has laid out nearly $20 million to buy picks in the last seven years. Some were hits, others misses. Here's the list to remind you.

--On Draft Night 2004, the Blazers sent $3 million and the expiring contract of Eddie Gill to the Nets and got a Nets’ first round pick (#23 – Viktor Khryapa of Russia). The Nets then cut Gill.

–On Draft Night 2006, the Blazers sent $3 million to the Suns and got a Suns’ first round pick (#27 – Sergio Rodriguez of Spain)

–On Draft Night, 2007, the Blazers sent $3 million to the Suns and got a Suns’ first round pick. (#24 – Rudy Fernandez of Spain).

--On Draft Night 2007, the Blazers sent an undetermined amount of cash, almost certainly $3 million, and the rights to second round pick, Derrick Byars to the 76ers and got a 76ers first round pick (#30 pick Petteri Koponen of Finland). Byars was later cut by the 76ers.

–On Draft Night, 2008, the Blazers sent $3 million in cash to the Hornets and got a Hornets’ first round pick (#27 – Darrell Arthur of Kansas). Arthur was immediately sent to the Rockets, with a smaller amount of cash, in return for draft rights to Nicolas Batum of France, taken at #25.

--On Draft Night, 2010, the Blazers sent $2 million in cash and the 44th pick to the Warriors for the 34th pick which as noted above was used to take Johnson.

How many times did the Nets buy a pick in the Ratner Era. Zero. They claim they tried in 2005 to take Monta Ellis, who was taken at #40 and almost spent money in 2008 (as it turned out wisely) to buy a late first rounder to take Chris Douglas-Roberts. There was even talk of the Nets considering a late second round pick in 2008 to take Jaycee Carroll out of Utah State. Didn't happen in any case.

Prokhorov Poll: "Should I change the name of"

Remember a year ago, Prokhorov asked reporters (and most everyone else he met) whether he should change the name of the team? Well, he's doing it again, this time with the name of the political party he is about to head...Just Cause. "Do I need to change the name of 'Just Cause'?" Didn't change the name of the team but probably will change the name of the party. He has rejected "Coca-Cola". (No really, he has.)

This is a momentous event in Moscow and for him, but we're told don't expect it to affect Prokhorov's ownership of the Nets. He's still spending money on the team, still excited about Deron Williams. We are told even his publisher sister, Irina, is excited!

For the record, here is how he announced his entry into politics on his blog:

"As you probably know I took for himself a difficult decision to enter politics. And in late June, the parliamentary party 'Just Cause' will make a decision regarding my candidacy for the post of manager. If appropriate, the party is waiting for reconstruction. We plan to make the party as open to new ideas. In the future we will open a special portal through which we constantly communicate with our voters, to accumulate new ideas and attract bright people who share our views, discuss all of the most acute problems, form and hone the party's position on various issues, etc. In general, to interact and openly discuss current problems with all our colleagues and opponents.

"All this in the future, but for now, as a young politician wanted to ask: And which party is necessary for you personally? How do you see a new party that could represent and defend your interests? Do I need to change the name of 'Just Cause'? Who do you trust and who you think I should invite to the party? What are the most urgent problems to be solved right now?

"Send me your thoughts on this topic. For me it is very interesting and important. I want you to also ask for a brief submitted to: Who are you from, how old you are. This will help me better understand who I am and in the dialogue who are our supporters, and who are our opponents.

"Waiting for your answers.

"PS Another wanted to tell you that in order to confirm the status of Kremlin project, yesterday I still decided to make a call to the Kremlin, and to inform of his decision to enter politics."

And also for the record, here is what David Stern responded when Ben Couch of the Nets asked him about Prokhorov:

"During the preseason, they played in China, and they stopped in Russia on the way for a clinic in Moscow. There's been a lot of publicity in the global sphere, and they've played two regular-season games in London, and you can't do much more than that, in terms of a franchise. But it's also an attitude, in terms of his understanding of the global importance of his team.

"And who knows? He may be getting ready to challenge Mr. Putin for President of Russia; he announced today that he was going to (lead) a political party, so we'll see where that goes. I was trying to think whether that might disqualify him (as an owner), but I don't think so – we have a US Senator (Bucks owner Herb Kohl) and maybe we'll have a Russian Minister.

Finally, for those concerned, Prokhorov's entrance into politics will hurt him with the Kremlin, here's how President Dmitry Medvedev welcomed him.

"I think that our political sector would benefit if it increases in size, if in addition to those who help to express the left-wing views, who represents the leftist views of the State Duma, political parties and the center will still representatives of right-wing conservative circles. then our parliament will be more representative".

In fact many in the Russian political punditry believe Prokhorov's party is there just for make people think the Russian system is more pluralistic than it seems.

Now, concluding the Russian political portion of our programming, here's something we picked up this week: the view from Prokhorov's Super Suite...Click to enlarge...where he can entertain top Russian politicians, starting in 16 months.


Final Note: Hello, Brooklyn

Remember last week when we wrote about how the Nets are planning to use Brooklyn as a globalization platform, capitalizing on the borough's international reputation for cool and its history as a melting pot.

Well, closer to home, the Nets could use Brooklyn to gain fans among girls. It turns out that "Brooklyn" was the 34th most popular name for girls in 2010. Maybe it was just Brooklyn Decker's popularity. No matter. It turns out the name was the most popular in the upper Midwest and Utah. In North and South Dakota and Utah, Brooklyn was the sixth most popular name among girls. Who knew? Probably Yormark.