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 second round of the playoffs, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs and tweets...plus our own reporting.
In this week's Off-Season Report, we examine a Russian law that requires a political candidate to divest his foreign holdings. What does that mean for Mikhail Prokhorov's ownership of the Nets? Not much, if anything. Our draft sleeper of the week is a Dukie and we look at risers and fallers in the June 27 event. We reveal details of Popeye Jones first foray on the ice as a hockey dad and speculate on WHEN the Nets will have a new coach. Finally, we offer our thoughts and prayers for Mookie Blaylock.
Who's in charge here?
Mikhail Prokhorov's political ambitions could lead to a change in ownership structure for the Nets, but no change in control. Under Russian law, if Prokhorov wants to run for office in Moscow --he's said he wants to be mayor-- he will have to divest his foreign assets, or at least direct control.
Prokhorov get rid of financial assets abroad to take part in the elections to the Moscow City Duma (city council), under the law. Prokhorov owns many of his assets through companies headquartered overseas. That includes the Nets who are controlled through ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment Holdings, a U.S. firm headed by Irina Pavlova. He remains principal owner. His Nets holdings are kept separate from ONEXIM, his $25 billion investment vehicle. Prokhorov is now listed as "founder" on the ONEXIM website with Dmitry Razumov listed as CEO and Christophe Charlier as deputy CEO. Razumov works with Billy King on basketball operations and Charlier with Irina Pavlova and Brett Yormark on business operations.
"The process, in order to comply with this law, will take 2-3 months," said Prokhorov. "Therefore, I do not see any problems, "- Prokhorov told ITAR-TASS, the Russian news agency.
What does that mean for the Nets? Most likely nothing. The law requires that candidates have no "direct" control over foreign assets. So Prokhorov could set up a trust or some other Russian legal entity to meet legal requirements. Would the NBA board of governors require a vote on change of ownership? No. Control is always the issue and that would remain the same, we're told. Besides, the NBA is encouraging international ownership ... and with the sale of the Kings, there are now three NBA franchises whose principal owner is a citizen of another country -- The Nets (Russia); Raptors (Canada) and Kings (India).
Putting aside the "who" of the coaching search, what about the "when?" There are indications that the Nets are still a couple of weeks away from a decision, partly because some of the candidates could be tied up with other commitments. Jeff Van Gundy will be calling the Finals for ESPN and Brian Shaw, depending on what happens the next few days could be flying to San Antonio with the Pacers. Any team of course would like to have a coach on-board by the Draft on June 27, particularly since the Draft, at Barclays Center, will be a high profile event for the franchise. Still, the Nets are quite confident that they have the scouting apparatus in place to make the right decisions a month from now. Even if the Nets had retained P.J. Carlesimo, Billy King would be making the final decisions about who to pick, whether to move up or down, whether to buy a pick ... or whether to include a pick in a trade. The coach's input is always helpful, but the GM is always in charge of personnel decisions.
Draft Sleeper of the Week
Mason Plumlee, like Billy King, is a Dukie. Is that enough to warrant the Nets attention ... and will Plumlee last till #22 in the Draft anyway?
Plumlee is one of several bigs --he's 6'11"-- who are bunched in the middle of the draft, along with Steven Adams of Pitt, Keith Olynk of Gonzaga, Gorgui Dieng of Louisville and Rudy Gobert of France. None are perfect or they'd be nearer the top of the draft, but the bigs are one of the strengths --along with athletic point guards-- in the 2013 Draft.
Plumlee on one hand is a bit of a project, but on the other is 23 years old. King has used picks to take seniors before, specifically MarShon Brooks and Tyshawn Taylor, but those two were backcourt players with established games, Brooks as a scorer, Taylor as a floor general.
Plumlee is certainly athletic enough, with a 36" max vertical. He can run the floor and finish. He can rebound and won't need much strength and conditioning work, having come from a top program and already equipped with an NBA body. With some improved ball-handling and perimeter skills, he could work himself into a nice pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop compliment to the Nets point guards. But again, he's 23 and he hasn't improved those skills over the course of four years of top flight coaching.
Defensively, he has the leaping ability but the desire but his lateral quickness is suspect. The Nets always preach "best player available" and if Plumlee falls to #22 --he's currently listed in the mid- to late teens-- he's have to be considered. Again, he is a Dukie.
As for some of the other players mentioned around #22, here's what to expect between now and the Draft: Ricky Ledo is rising fast. He could be taken before #22. Teams love his size and shot. Tony Mitchell of North Texas State is falling just as fast. Someone will take him in the first round but it will be later than expected. Rudy Gobert's measurements wow the scouts, but his skills do not. He is a project and the spectre of Mohamed Saer Sene will haunt his chances. (Look it up.) Another fast riser is Tim Hardaway Jr. Most mocks have him high in the second round. By next week, as our Reed Wallach pointed out, don't be surprised to see him and Mitchell switch places. An interesting case could be Shabazz Mohammed. He keeps dropping. He's a year older than originally believed. He's 20, not 19!! There are questions about his motor and now his father has been indicted for bank fraud. Sins of the father visited on the son. Could a player who was the consensus overall No. 1 pick before the season drop out of the lottery? Stay tuned.
For the serious draftnik, we offer this compilation of the Nets Group Workout 10 days ago, provided, as always, by DraftExpress.
And for obsessed drafting, we offer this tidbit: only eight of the NBA's 30 teams have all their first round picks from 2013 through 2018, the last draft picks can be traded. Here is the list. The numbers in parentheses are the number of first rounders these teams have from other clubs: Bulls (+1), Bucks, Cavs (+3), Celtics, Jazz (+1) Nets, Magic (+3) and Pelicans.
Speaking of the draft (can we stop?!), word is that the Nets expect 4,500 fans at Barclays Center on June 27. That's more than a normal year, but the Nets and Knicks both have first round picks this year ... and it will be the first NBA draft in Brooklyn.
Popeye on the ice
Three days after the NBA Draft takes place in Brooklyn, local sports fans attention will shift across the river to Prudential Center for the 2013 NHL Draft. As noted here before, Seth Jones, son of Popeye, is the likely overall No. 1. In fact, it's hard to find a mock draft that doesn't have the Colorado Avalanche taking Jones at No. 1.
There's been a lot of discussion about how Popeye wanted his sons to become basketball players, and how he is now resolved to being a hockey dad. But in an NHL.com feature, Seth talks about his dad's only foray on the ice. Not a pretty picture.
"I did, once," Seth said, talking about getting his father into pads and skates. "He did not let go of the boards -- grabbing the boards, pulling himself around the rink. He had some custom [size] 15 CCMs, which are huge, and an extra-long stick with a 6-inch knob."
Usually, beginner skaters are given a chair to push around the ice to work on their balance, but Seth said that wasn't an option for 6-foot-8 Popeye.
"He can't reach that far," Seth said. "It would be below his knees."
Of course, June 30 is also when the assistant coaches' contracts run out and whoever is running the team then will have the option of retaining or dumping Jones, Mario Elie, Patrick Spurgin and Doug Overton.
The Wisdom of Sir Charles
Lost in the dis delivered by Charles Barkley on Friday ("Brooklyn was as soft as tissue paper") was the main point of Sir Charles appearance with Ryan Ruocco and Stephen A. Smith: that the Heat are vulnerable to teams with quality big men who can bang the boards. He notes that it's been proven in the Indiana series. The Pacers problem is that they don't have much of an offensive threat other than Paul George and he is still only 23.
In fact, Barkley said the Heat dynasty will be short-lived unless they get some big men. "If you got big guys, you can maul them inside" noting what Dallas did to them two years ago and predicting San Antonio would do the same if they got past Indiana. He also said Dwyane Wade is on the decline and although he will have good games on occasion, his days of game-in, game-out dominance are over.
The Nets of course were "mauled" by the Heat three times this season, even with big guys and some scoring options. But Barkley's point is that the Heat need to find a way to get a big man to fill that gap. Seems like a tall order (pun intended) but looking down the road, we wouldn't be surprised to see the Heat pursue Greg Oden, gambling he can finally get over his injuries. Mavs Moneyball, our sister site, noted this week how both Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Sam Bowie had similar starts to their careers and became productive players, Bowie mainly with the Nets.
That scenario would not be good for the Nets. And if you're asking do the Nets have an interest in Oden and vice-verso, we don't know the answer to that question. We have been told, like 29 other teams, the Nets "monitor" his progress.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mookie Blaylock who is in critical condition after a fatal auto accident in Jonesboro GA. Blaylock, who has a history of seizures, was driving Friday when his SUV crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a van in the suburban Atlanta town, fatally injuring a passenger in the van, police said.
After initially being placed on life-support, Blaylock was taken off it Friday night.
Blaylock, whose real name is Daron Oshay, was drafted out of Oklahoma by the New Jersey Nets in 1989. He played 194 games over three years with the Nets, averaging 13 points a game. In one of the worst trades in Nets history (there were so many), Blaylock was sent to Atlanta in 1992 along with Roy Hinson for Rumeal Robinson who the Nets dumped the next season. Mookie became an All-Star with the Hawks in 1994.
Among his teammates on the Nets back then were Derrick Coleman, Kenny Anderson, Sam Bowie, Chris Morris, Anthony Mason, and sadly and ironically Drazen Petrovic.
Get healthy, Mookie.