We have more questions than answers this week. Who did the Nets' brass scout in Eurobasket? We don't know. Who are the leading candidates for the Nets coaching openings? Other than P.J. Carlesimo, we're stumped. New Armor coach? Nope. How about the identities of the two new members of the Nets board of directors? Well, one's a Russian, the other an American, but that's it. What happened to Bojan Bogdanovic at Eurobasket ...was it partying or a lack of good coaching? We ain't saying because we don't know...much.
We do know that the Bieber Effect has helped Anthony Morrow become more famous on Twitter and we know where things stand with the Barclays Center, but we await the latest progress report, out Monday or so. We also look back at how MarShon Brooks was underrated in high school, just as he was in college until his senior year. So join us as we plumb the unknown and the unknowable.
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, and of course, the lockout. We will rely on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who slip interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs, tweets...plus our own reporting and analysis.
Who's Scouting Who?
We assume that Avery Johnson (and Popeye Jones) had a good time in Russia and Lithuania. Russia certainly looked like fun. They got a chance to coach kids, mentor coaches and do some scouting. What we don't know is who they looked at in another stop in Eastern Europe, Lithuania, whether he got a chance to see Bojan Bogdanovic before the Nets pick and Croatia crashed out in Eurobasket. Gregg Polinsky, the head scout and director of player personnel, and Danko Cvjeticanin, the Nets director of international scouting, were there longer, as would be expected. Cvjeticanin must be disappointed that his Croatian team fell so flat in the first round...and that Bogdanovic, who he recommended so strongly, played so inconsistently.
So what happened to Croatia and Bogdanovic? One thing is for sure: the coach, Joke Vrankovic, failed. He wasn't renewed (aka fired) immediately after the team was eliminated. There were complaints in the Croatian media about his lack of preparation and lack of discipline, with some reporting that players partied hard and some even left Lithuania to party in other countries! As for Bogdanovic's problems, one Croatian blogger says "it's hard to tell", but that most of the players "had a bad approach to the game." We'll leave it there.
New Assistant Coaches?
Although Sam Mitchell's chances to get the head coaching job in Minnesota seem to be diminishing, unless owner Glen Taylor overrules GM David Kahn, it still appears that the Nets will have vacancies (plural) on the bench whenever and wherever they play next. John Loyer to Detroit looks like a done deal, according to Nets insiders and Larry Krystkowiak is in Utah (where he has allowed NBA players, including Deron Williams, to work out at his gym.)
P.J. Carlesimo, we are told is a strong candidate to fill one of those bench seats, but not the only one. Who else might be in line? We're not hearing any other names...yet. The Nets are in no rush to hire an assistant and then have him do nothing for an extended period of time. They delayed hiring the Springfield Armor coach for the same reason. That choice has apparently been made and will be announced soon. Again, we don't have a name. The Nets will also be hiring at least an assistant coach and trainer for the Armor.
We're told that the Nets have added two new directors, one an American, one a Russian, to its governing board. This is beyond Sergey Kushchenko, who was added in May. Todd D. Schafer, Mikhail Prokhorov's London-based American lawyer, has left the board. So who are these new directors? No one is saying...which could mean they're waiting for an opportunity to roll them out (if they're big names).
Game Faces: Ammo and His Friend Bieber
We couldn't let the week go by without remembering the highlight: Anthony Morrow's time with Justin Bieber. As we all recall, Morrow helped Team Bieber beat Team Ludacris by draining three straight three's to win the game. We searched high and low to find a good image and here it is: from Atlanta Metromix, Team Bieber (minus Kevin Durant who got cropped out) showing their game faces taking the court at Morehouse College.
For the record @BlackBoiPachino had 17,000 followers last weekend before Bieber put out word that his fans should immediately follow Morrow. As of Saturday, the number was 41,000. Morrow should invite Bieber to a Nets game where he can sit next to Mrs. Kris Humphries.
Whatever MarShon Brooks does in a Nets uniform, know this: he's been underestimated his entire career...and that goes back to high school. At Tucker High School in Georgia, where he played point guard (as he did his first two years at Providence), he had limited interest from colleges with big school reps. University of Alabama at Birmingham, Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga, Toledo, Campbell, Grambling, Georgia State and Wofford were along with Providence the schools that expressed some interest. He was interested in Tulane, but Tulane wasn't interested in him.
Neither Rivals.com nor ESPN College Basketball Recruiting ranked him among the top players in Georgia let alone the U.S. ESPN gave him a scouting grade of 40 out of 100...even though he averaged 20.1 points, 6.0 assists and 8.0 rebounds for a team that went 31-2 and won the Class AAAA title with him making the All-State team. He was 175 pounds and seen as too light. In fact, he was seen as the "other player" on the Tigers. Jeremy Simmons, a 6'8" power forward, was seen as the Tucker player with the most potential. He played four years at Charleston with a friend of Brooks, Andrew Goudelock, who was taken by the Lakers in June.
As the local paper in Providence reported earlier this year, the Friars were recruiting Simmons hard with an assistant coach spending a lot of time in Stone Mountain. But when Providence's then head coach, Tim Welsh, came down to watch Tucker High play late in the season, he liked Brooks better than Simmons. The Friars made a pitch to Brooks and he committed late in his senior year. Not long after, Georgia called but it was too late.
What helped Brooks get the offer from a Big East school most was the state championship where Tucker bested teams that featured monster sophomore big men, DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors.
Barclays Center Progress
The first piece of roofing was supposed to go up this past week at Barclays Center. Can't see it yet in the latest construction progress shots, but no matter, you'll start to see some significant milestones in the next few weeks. According to the timetable, the first seats are expected to arrive and be installed at the end of November. Then in January and February, scoreboards and other AV equipment will be installed. At the same time, the arena will be fully connected to the Con Ed grid, offering more opportunities to get work done.
Also, there's no date set yet, but this week, Forest City Enterprises Ratner reiterated it expects groundbreaking on the first of three apartment towers surrounding the arena in the last quarter of 2011. That means major construction will be underway next October when the Nets open the arena. How long will construction go on? Well, the first tower is 33 stories and it should be followed fairly quickly by two others, of 52 and 22 stories, at other corners of the Barclays Center. So, construction will probably go on for years. Shades of the IZOD and Xanadu.
Final Note - Another Look at Atlantic Yards
It seems not everyone writing in intellectual publications is opposed to Atlantic Yards. In a lengthy feature for Urban Photo, author Christopher Szabla writes about some fundamental deception on the part of the critics.
The critics’ take on the redevelopment goes something like this: Atlantic Yards is a land-grab, a city- and state-subsidized corporate behemoth that has been allowed, through a radically expansive application of eminent domain, to displace working-class Brooklynites from their homes. Beyond its gluttonous consumption of funds from the ever-dwindling government pot and the forced evictions it entails, the development has been critiqued for being grotesquely out of scale with the surrounding neighborhoods’ streets, many of which are made up of lowrise blocks of brownstones.
Parts of this argument seem deceptive: much of Atlantic Yards will be built over train tracks, making displacement of residents minimal. The immediate neighborhood is neither as tight-knit or lowrise as Atlantic Yards’ opponents suggest: its apex, where the arena will be located, will face the vast, open intersection of two wide commercial streets, Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, which is already home to the busy Atlantic Terminal shopping complex (built by Bruce Ratner, the same developer who is spearheading Atlantic Yards) and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower (now known as One Hanson Place), which has stood at the corner since 1927 and was, until recently, Brooklyn’s tallest building.
Couldn't have said it better.