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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #16

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Tom Kaminski, WCBS Chopper 880

Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets' off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, analysis, etc. to help take the edge off missing the second round of the playoffs. We will rely on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs and our own stuff.

No one is around. Everyone (except us!) is on vacation or in hibernation. Brook Lopez is between jaunts. Currently in South Korea, he still has SIngapore and Japan to go.  So we do a little bit of basketball, including more on how Paul Pierce's comments are perfectly reasonable, considering his record vs. the Knicks; some links to the players-only bonding and workout sessions in Los Angeles; a review of who will share the bench with Jason Kidd. There's also  some business stuff, particularly about how the Nets are very attractive to the Manhattan audience despite the claims by Raymond Felton that they're all about Brooklyn.

Pierce backs it up

Spike Lee says Paul Pierce is "talking crazy." Au contraire, auteur! A check of Pierce's career stats vs. the Knicks suggests that the new Net can back up all that "crazy" talk with game.

We will admit he played poorly vs. the Knicks in the playoffs (19.2 points but only 26.8 from three and 36.8 overall ... plus 5.3 turnovers) but we believe that is an aberration. He was asked to play point forward in the absence of Rajon Rondo and his regular season stats show he hasn't lost it vs. New York. In four games vs. the Knicks, Pierce averaged 21.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists, while shooting 45.8 percent overall, .36.0 from deep.

As Seth Highkin of USA Today noted Thursday, "Paul Pierce has owned the Knicks for 15 years." Here's the numbers, from both Highkin's article and Basketball Reference: In 54 games over 15 years, Pierce has averaged 23.4 points vs. the Knicks to 21.8 overall, 6.2 rebounds vs. 6.2, and 4.0 assists vs. 3.9. In those 54 games, he's shot 45.7 percent overall  and 38.6 from deep. His career shooting numbers are 44.7 and 37.0.

So there. Yet another chapter in our continuing series of items to help you deal with those annoying Knick fans. And if you're wondering who else among the newcomers does well against New York, the answer is Alan Anderson who in four games for the Raptors, averaged 19.8 points, shooting 52.0 percent from deep, 48.2 overall. Kevin Garnett averaged 13.5 and 11.0 in regular season (12.7 and 13.7 in the playoffs). Jason Terry, Shaun Livingston and Andrei Kirilenko did not do well. Terry averaged 5.5, Livingston 4.7 and Kirilenko scored four points in his contest vs. Knicks.

LA Adventure

From what we could tell from the tweets, Instagram images and videos that leaked out of Los Angeles this week, the Nets players-only gathering was as much about bonding as it was about working out on the court. There was a Segway tour of the Santa Monica beachfront; a morning lift at Muscle Beach in Venice where Deron Williams looked a bit like Superman; a dinner at Nobu, the very high end Japanese restaurant; a golf outing at Belair Country Club, featuring D-Will and Jason Terry, as well as the practice sessions.

On the way back from LA, Williams stopped at an old haunt, the Xcel Fitness center in Utah. He posted some video from there as well. It all seemed like a success, but no one was talking, just tweeting.  We did get a sense that Tyshawn Taylor helped himself.

Coaching chorus

Whenever Jason Kidd first takes to the court this season, he will have a group of assistant coaches with varying backgrounds, but a LOT of coaching experience, both as assistants and in some cases as head coaches.

Here are thumbnail sketches of the group, including Doug Overton who will be moving to Springfield as head coach of the Armor, but still has a role with the Nets. Like the Nets players, the coaches have a lot of past connections to each other and players on the roster.

Not so fun fact: four of them were with the team in 2009-10, when the Nets went 12-70.

Lawrence Frank (lead assistant)

Frank, of course, needs no introduction, having coached the Nets for four years as a head coach, and two plus as an assistant. He still holds the record for most wins by a Nets coach (225). Of course, he was fired after the Nets lost 16 straight at the opening of the 2009-10 season. Since leaving the Nets, he's been an assistant, focusing on defense, under Doc Rivers and then head coach in Detroit, having lost that job this season.  Prior to joining New Jersey, Frank spent three seasons as an assistant coach for the Vancouver Grizzlies under current Pistons assistant coach Brian Hill.  Rivers has said no one knows Kevin Garnett as well as Frank. Reportedly, the highest paid assistant coach in NBA history at more than $1 million.

Roy Rogers (big man coach)

Rogers began his NBA coaching career with the Nets, serving as an assistant coach under Frank from 2008-2010. He worked primarily with the Nets bigs, most significantly Brook Lopez. Rogers was an assistant coach for the Pistons for two seasons (2011-2013) under Frank and as an assistant coach with the Celtics again with Frank in 2010-11. He worked the Celtic bigs including Garnett. Prior to his first stint with the Nets, he coached in the NBA Development League with the Austin Toros (2007-08), Tulsa 66ers (2005-07) and Huntsville Flight (2004-05).

Eric Hughes (player development)

Hughes joins the Nets after spending the past six seasons with the Raptors, where he worked with Alan Anderson. Originally hired by Toronto in 2007-08 as a basketball development consultant, Hughes was promoted to assistant coach/basketball development on July 1, 2009. Prior to his stint with the Raptors, Hughes worked as the director of summer player development for Goodwin Sports Management in Seattle for five years (2002-2007), creating workout programs and training NBA players Jamal Crawford, Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Dwight Howard, Gary Payton, Nate Robinson and Rodney Stuckey. Was an assistant coach at the University of California when Kidd played there.

John Welch (player development)

Welch joins the Nets following eight seasons as an assistant coach for the Nuggets under George Karl. Welch  worked with point guards in Denver. Before joining the Nuggets, Welch spent two seasons as an assistant coach/workout coach for the  Grizzlies. Prior to his arrival in Memphis, he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach under head coach Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV and Fresno State.

Joe Prunty (assistant)

Prunty is the most experienced assistant and the only one with (multiple) rings. He enters his 18th NBA season and 22nd overall in coaching, the last three as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers, where he worked with Shaun Livingston. Prior to his stint in Cleveland, Prunty was an assistant coach during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons with the Trail Blazers, and before that three seasons (2005-08) with the Mavericks as an assistant. He spent the bulk of his career --nine seasons-- with the Spurs where he won NBA Championships in 1999, 2003 and 2005. He is currently head coach of the Great Britain's national team in FIBA Eurobasket. Playing without NBA players Eric Gordon, Luol Deng and Joel Freeland, Team GB has been having a tough time in the "friendlies."

Charles Klask (game preparation, statistical analysis)

Klask joins the Nets following two seasons as an assistant coach under Frank in Detroit, where his responsibilities included game-plan preparation, statistical analysis and scouting. Prior to his stint in Detroit, Klask was on the staff of the Magic from 2002-2011, where he worked as a video coordinator, advance scout and the last three years as the scouting information manager. Klask began his NBA career with the Pistons in 2001, when he served as a video intern. He will provide Kidd and Frank with in-game statistical analysis.

Dr. Jeremy Bettle (strength and conditioning)

Technically, not an assistant coach, but the Nets' strength and conditioning coach, he still sits (on the crowded) courtside with the others. Bettle, entering his second season with the Nets, joined the team after serving at UC Santa Barbara as Director of Sports Performance and most recently, Assistant Athletics Director. At UCSB, he was directly responsible for the strength and conditioning of all 20 intercollegiate programs. Prior to joining UCSB, Bettle was the Director of Wellness and Athletic Programs for Hayashida Physical Therapy in Santa Barbara, while also serving as the regional strength and conditioning coach for USA Rugby. He holds a Ph.D in human performance from Middle Tennessee State.

Jim Sann (advance scout)

Again not officially an assistant, Sann too gets a seat courtside when in town.  He begins his second stint with the Nets organization, previously serving as assistant coach/coaching associate from 2005-06 to 2009-10. He worked closely with Kidd and Devin Harris while with the Nets. He later joined the Bulls as an assistant coach/video coordinator, Sann was the advanced scout for the Rockets during the 2004-05 season and served as an assistant coach with the Raptors in 2003-04. He began his professional basketball career with the New York Knicks organization, holding various positions over 11 seasons. He replaces Brendan O'Connor.

Doug Overton (Armor head coach)

Although Overton will work with Milton Lee in Springfield for 50 games, before and after the D-League season, he will work with the Nets and have what amounts to assistant coach rank. Along with Rogers, he's the only one of the group who played in the NBA.  Overton also served two seasons as an assistant coach on Phil Martelli’s staff at Saint Joseph’s (2006-08) and one season as the 76ers’ director of player development (2005-06), where he assisted the coaching and scouting staffs and worked with the team’s community outreach programs. He joined the Nets in 2008. Along with Frank, Rogers and Sann, he was with the team during the 12-70 debacle in 2009-10. An 11-year NBA veteran, Overton appeared in 499 career games with eight teams, including two stints with the Nets, backing up Sam Cassel and Stephon Marbury. He was hired by Frank in 2009.

The Nets Manhattan Connection

A few months ago, we took a look at the traffic data for the Nets first season in Brooklyn, compiled by Sam Schwartz, the traffic consultant for Barclays Center.  Back then we looked at it in the context of parking -- how the big fear of critics, that parking would create havoc, never materialized. This week, we want to take a look at the data from a different perspective, to show that the Nets reach in New York City extends beyond the borough, into Manhattan, the belly of the Knick beast.

Here's the key data, from Schwartz' presentation in June, as isolated by Atlantic Yards Report...

There are some datapoints that jump off the page: only 9.8 percent of those attending a normal weekday game return home to New Jersey after the game. That's less than those who return to Long Island: Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Schwartz, in fact, noted that fact when pointing to the lack of a substantial increase in traffic at the arena. "One of our concerns was if they really had very loyal fans, we would have had a lot of people who could have come from car-oriented communities," he said. "That didn’t occur." (Interesting factoid,  The Brooklyn Game reported that 30.7 percent of the YES audience watches from New Jersey, nearly twice as many as watch from Brooklyn!. That suggests Jersey fans are still loyal enough to watch the games in droves, just not enough to make the trek to Brooklyn.)

But the other interesting point, one that has not gotten attention, is how many fans are from Manhattan. On a weekday game, better than one in three fans --36.4 percent-- come from Manhattan, more than from Brooklyn. It makes sense. A lot of people take the subway from work to the game. But what's interesting is that 21.7 percent of people who attend a typical Nets game return to their home (or dorms) in Manhattan.

So basically, one in every five fans attending Nets games on a weekday live in Manhattan.  Slightly fewer, but still roughly one in five, head home to Manhattan after a typical weeknight game.  Of course, more start off and finish their journey in Brooklyn, better than one in three, but other than brand and borough loyalty, the arena's location is so convenient that eight percent of all those attending Nets games get there by the simplest form for transportation: they walk.

This presentation by Schwartz lays out how fans get to the game.

What should also give the Dolans some concern is that in the first year of their planned 37-year stay in Brooklyn, so many people who work in Manhattan were willing to hop on the subway. Lower Manhattan, home of the Masters of the Universe, is just as close to Barclays as it is to MSG and it's going to get a lot closer as new transportation centers open up and the main subway tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn gets upgraded, offering an even quicker ride. The Lower Manhattan crowd has always been a big part of the Garden clientele and now, as the data suggests, they've been wiling to gives Nets a look.  And sports writers think Mikhail Prokhorov's "wild" spending is about funding a hobby! No, it's a smart business decision, trying to break the Knicks monopoly. You know, "turning Knicks fans into Nets fans."

Billion dollar franchise?

Sticking with the business side for a bit, one of the more interesting articles this week on ESPN had nothing to do with their panel of 215 "experts" predicting the future.  Darren Rovell wrote that recent transactions suggest the valuation of the Golden State Warriors has reached $800 million. We hear that inside the Nets ownership there is growing belief that the Nets are approaching a billion dollar valuation, something only achieved by the Knicks and Lakers. They play in a brand new arena in the largest market and have become a marketing machine.   All the off-season buzz doesn't hurt either. We hear as well that the Jay Z shares sold for seven figures. Considering how small a percentage of the team he owned, that helps the argument.

So we asked someone on the inside how much they thought the Nets are worth if the Warriors are worth $800 million. The response? "More!" Sounds right.

A year and a half ago, as the Nets stay in Newark was winding down, Prokhorov invited a group of Nets season ticket holders and NetsDaily to his suite to talk about how the move to Brooklyn would help the franchise, noting first that the "New York market is different from the New Jersey market."

"I dream about a dynasty not a single championship," said Prokhorov, arguing that Brooklyn with its global brand and marketing opportunities will change players' perceptions of the Nets. "Brooklyn helps us think globally ... gives us a competitive advantage.

"Great players will be willing to play with us," he added, noting that some players he'd tried to recruit in the past were turned off by having to wait a year or two for Barclays Center to be completed. "It was impossible," he said. A lot of people laughed at his comments, particularly since they came on the night the Nets were officially eliminated from the playoffs, losing to the Sixers by 29 in a half-filled house.  They're not laughing so much now.

Final Note

In honor of the arrival of those two independent personalities, KG and MWP (Metta World Peace, nee Ron Artest) in  New York, Trey Kerby has initiated a comic book serial entitled "Kevin and Metta's New York Adventures," the first entitled "A Day at the Barclays Center" and  the second "Andray Blatche's 27th Birthday Party." They're a bit of an acquired taste, but take a look. We will also be grateful for Trey's great 2010 video classic, "Battle of the Boroughs," which never gets old and now is new again! Enjoy!