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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #9


This week, we take a look at a lot of things, trying to sum up the week's events and also look back to see where we stand, particularly what could possibly go wrong. We're not saying it will. Not saying that. Nope, not us, just doing our due diligence.

We also look at what else might be out there, the eerily prescient comparison of Bojan Bogdanovic and Paul Pierce from two years ago, a review of Dwightmares past and a fun final note that gave us goose bumps. It's a hodge podge. Wanna make something of it?

Then there was one ... or is there more to come????

The news that the Nets will soon sign Bojan Bogdanovic (and yeah, we believe it will happen) means they will have 13 players under contract once 1) the free agency moratorium ends on July 10 and 2) the Celtic trade becomes official two days later. That leaves a back-up point guard to be signed (apologies if by the time you read this, his identity has been revealed). And that should be it. Right? Don't be so sure. We don't believe that Billy King's bloodlust for fresh NBA bodies has ever been sated and we wouldn't be surprised, at all, if he was looking at other deals. Indeed, there have been rumors that Reggie Evans has been shopped around. Jason Terry can, in theory, be dealt in a one-for-one deal and there's nothing in the CBA to prevent the Boston deal from being opened up to include a third team before July 12. Peter Vescey has hinted of something like that.

There's always amnesty, too. Starting July 10, next Wednesday and for a week, the 14 teams that can still amnesty players can choose one player to dump, freeing them of salary cap commitments. So far, only one player, Tyrus Thomas of the Bobcats, has been reported as a sure thing. There may be others. The name most mentioned is Metta World Peace, but the Lakers situation is so fluid, who knows.

Because they are so far over the salary cap, the Nets cannot engage in the auction for amnestied players. Any team with enough cap space can bid in the blind auction for a player. The amount of the winning bid is subtracted from what the player's original team still owes him If there are no bids, as there was in the case of Andray Blatche (and Josh Childress), they become unrestricted free agents. The Nets were able to get Blatche for a non-guaranteed conract, as big a bargain as there was in free agency last year. Might they go that route again? Depends on a lot of things, including the roster math. Also, after the Nets' experience, teams might be willing to take the risk the Nets did with Blatche.

What could possibly go wrong?

It's been a great off-season, by almost any standard. It's been exciting, surprising and for most satisfying. There's also been a nice dose of schadenfreude -- you know where you get satisfaction out of a rival's misfortune. Cue, Mark Cuban.

But what could go wrong? Well, of course a lot. Not to bring you down, but we wanted to look at the dark side, just to say we did, not that we think it's all going to schmutz. We don't.

So here's our list...

Coach Kidd - The biggest risk the Nets ownership and management took over the summer has been handing the reins of their $101 million horse to guy who's never ridden before. Sure, Jason Kidd has been a coach on the court, a point guard for the ages, but has he ever run a practice, integrated scouting reports into an overall game plane, ever had to tell someone he's benching them till they play defense? We know, that's what Lawrence Frank and to a lesser degree the other assistants are there for. We hope it works, but as the season goes by, pressure will mount if the Nets don't come out of the gate on fire. There are a lot of expectations now on the team and on him. We're told the Nets are willing to be patient with Kidd, willing to let him make mistakes early on. Ownership, in particular, sees Kidd as the long-term solution, our Gregg Popovich, our Red Holtzman, a coach who's the face of the franchise. Two reporters we spoke to this week also suggested that Kidd could be suspended the first few games of the season if, as expected, he pleads guilty to DWI charges this week. Not good.

Age and health - We can understand why Knick fans look at the acquisition of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and laugh. They saw two gassed 30-somethings in the playoffs, looking old. Of course, Pierce and Garnett didn't have the support they'll have in Brooklyn. After all, the Nets didn't give up any of their Big Three and added two of Boston's. Still, when you're 37 (KG) or 36 (Pierce on opening night), you tend to sustain more injuries and take longer to recover. Garnett considered ankle surgery this summer, but then decided he didn't need it. Expect the Nets to manage their minutes carefully, probably limiting Garnett to else than 30; Pierce to a little more. But if they get hurt, expect long recovery times. And yeah, we're a little worried about Brook Lopez's foot.

Athleticism - The Nets still intend to play a bit more uptempo this season, but certainly not as uptempo as they had planned. Coach Kidd told reporters the other day that the Spurs are a good model: they may be older, but they still play more or less an uptempo game. Still, the Nets first five are probably the oldest, slowest starting lineup in the NBA. The bench has some athletes in Tyshawn Taylor and Mason Plumlee and Toko Shengelia. Bojan Bogdanovic will prove to be more athletic than people suspect right now. One Nets insider suggested that athleticism is overrated and pointed to last year's Rockets and Nuggets, two of the NBA's most fun-to-watch, athletic teams and who like the Nets got bounced in the first round.

Chemistry - Before the trade, aka THE TRADE, the Nets, particularly Deron Williams, spoke about how being together for a year would help the Nets' chemistry this season. Now, they've added or will have added five new rotation players: Garnett, Pierce, Terry, Bogdanovic, whoever they choose to play back-up point. How well will the two new starters mesh with the three starters from last year? The presumed starting five have a combined 35 all-Star appearances, three rings, four Olympic gold medals and are all professionals. Will it take time? How long? (We should note that in 2007-08, Garnett, Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo started out 20-2 after similar fears were raised in Boston. So there's hope.) What about cliques? And if Reggie Evans doesn't get minutes, how upset is he going to be? How much of a distraction?

Euro-bench - The Nets are investing a LOT in their hopes that Mirza Teletovic is better than he was allowed to be under Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo. Some see him as a "foundation player" for the franchise and are still miffed (well, more than that) that the big Bosnian didn't get the minutes. They are probably right to assume he's better than he showed, but until he can prove it, it's not a given he can take a lot of those minutes upfront. Now, they're putting a lot of stock in Bogdanovic as well. We've watched a lot of video of Bogdanovic. There is a lot to like --he's 6'8" and strong, has a great stroke, likes taking the big shot, likes going to the hole and finishes nicely. He can pass. Chad Ford called him one of the "steals of the draft" in 2011. BUT his defense is atrocious, not NBA bad or even European bad, Dr. James Naismith bad! With Jason Kidd as his coach, Lawrence Frank as his assistant coach and KG as his stare-master, can he improve? Hope so, because if he doesn't he won't be seeing a lot of action and that will hurt the offense. There's also, among fans and the front office, a lot of hope that Shengelia will get more minutes. See below.

Development - As we all know, no one was very happy with the development of the young Nets. It's a big reason Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo were relieved of their duties. With a win-now mission, can players like Taylor and Shengelia get the minutes needed to prove their worth before they become free agents in July? Does a short rotation, a Lawrence Frank specialty, mean more players shuttling back and forth to Springfield? And if Teletovic and Bogdanovic don't do well early, do they get a second chance?

That's enough for now. We love the team's remake and note that this is not last year's geriatric Knicks. KG would have been the fifth oldest Knick a year ago, behind Kurt Thomas, Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby. In fact, he is three years younger than any of those guys. Also, the Nets roster has only five players over 30: KG, Pierce, Jason Terry, Evans and Joe Johnson. Two key core players, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, are under 30 and Lopez is one of five Nets 25 and younger. Besides him, there's Shengelia, Taylor, Bogdanovic and Mason Plumlee. That's a nice cross-section but make no mistake. The franchise is all about the Big Five. We do like the sound of that.

The Prescient Mr. DeFeo

Justin DeFeo of The Brooklyn Game should add "prescient" to his list of skills if he has a LinkedIn account. Back in 2011, not long after the Nets drafted Bojan Bogdanovic, he penned an article comparing the young Euro's game to that of an NBA star, one Paul Pierce.

He wrote...

After watching some video on BoBo, I began to see what those experts were saying. Bogdanovic possess a lot of the qualities you would expect to find in a prototypical NBA wingman (qualities we will get into in just a bit.)

But as I watched more video, I began to see some familiarities in his game to that of a player I have been watching excel in the league for years: Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce.

DeFeo went on to make detailed comparisons on "physical makeup," "shooting," and "offensive game." He even included a video of what he saw (and presumably still sees) as an uncanny resemblance between the two.

DeFeo's bottom line:

While their games are not identical, I do indeed see a lot Paul Pierce's game in Bojan Bogdanovic. Paul Pierce never was the best athlete, but he was able to use what he had as well as his size and strength advantages to score in the NBA. When he got older, his game slowed down and he relies on hesitations, fakes and jabs to get the job done. Bogdanovic is already using some of those same fakes and jobs in order to get his shot off. BoBo has a long way to go to become Paul Pierce, but I think us Nets fans should feel optimistic about the type of career Bojan can have.

A career that will start backing up Pierce! (Cue the dramatic flourish).

Dwightmares' end

How many Dwightmares were there?

Dwightmare I - Just after the lockout ended and the truncated season began, there were reports, fueled by Chris "Mempis" Broussard, of a imminent trades and endless joy. Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, picks for Gerald Wallace!!! Hedo Turkoglu!!! Magic ownership, pissed off by supposedly secret meetings between the Nets and Dwight Howard, stops it.

Dwightmare II - The cruelest Dwightmare. After weeks of wrangling, Nets brass go to sleep thinking the next day will be their crowning achievement of their career. Howard has agreed. The Magic have agreed. Lopez heading to Magic Kingdom where he can put his Disney lifetime pass to good use. Then, on a flight from San Antonio, Howard has a vision, signs his ETO and the Nets brass wake up to the horror of Jared Rudolph as prophet. Oh the humanity. Wallace joins the Nets.

Dwightmare III - Dwight has second thoughts. He wants the Nets to trade for him. He pressures the Nets to trade for him. The Nets believe the Magic is playing with them. Nets tell Magic they are moving on to Joe Johnson. Fine says Rob Hennigan. Then, after the JJ trade, Orlando calls back. Let's give it one more shot. Okay, says Brooklyn (and Moscow). Deadlines approach. Bobcats ready offer sheet for Lopez. Nets finally pull the plug...and Dwight is traded to LA in August in a four-team deal where amazingly everyone loses! Dwight as Demon Seed.

Dwightmare IV - As trade deadline approaches, the machinations start again. Would the Lakers deal Dwight to Brooklyn. Three-team deal? Four team? Secret meetings (that never happened). What's that line about history repeating itself, "the first as tragedy, then as farce?" By the fourth time, it's not even interesting.

Well, who cares? it's over, the beast has been exorcised and the Nets have the best starting five in the NBA. They are in better shape than the Lakers, the 76ers, the Nuggets, the Magic, etc. Well played, karma, well played.

The Press Conference, jersey numbers, etc.

We don't know when the Nets will hold their press conference, but we would think its the week of July 15. We don't know the format either. Will it be limited to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry or be expanded to include Andray Blatche, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mason Plumlee, mystery point guard?

What uniform numbers will they hold up? Plumlee has chosen No. 1, explaining to Tim Bontemps...

Although Garnett wore No. 5 in Boston, he's likely to revert to the number he wore in Minnesota, No. 21, for the obvious reasons. Pierce is free to wear No. 34. Terry, who wore No. 4 in Boston, is likely to revert to No. 31 he wore in Dallas. The Nets have retired No. 4, which was worn by Wendell Ladner, killed in a plane crash over New York in 1975 ... but not hung from the rafters. Bogdanovic has worn No. 7 for the Croatian national team, but No. 44 in the Euroleague. Since Joe Johnson wears No. 7, he may want to go with No. 44, made famous most recently by Keith Van Horn. Tyshawn Taylor, who will not be on the podium at Barclays Center, apparently wants to change his number. Last year, he chose No. 41 (designated where he was drafted). The number he wore at Kansas, No. 10, was taken by Keith Bogans, who is now in Boston, counting his cash.

Final Note - Goose Bumps

We remember being so jealous of that commercial when it came out.