Every Sunday, we update the Nets' off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, analysis, etc. to help take the edge off not winning the NBA championship. We rely on our own reports as well as what the Nets’ beat reporters and others have slipped into larger stories, blogs and tweets...We're going to devote this week's Off-Season Report to how we see the Off-Season playing out.
It's probably going to be boring
With all the speculation of who may go where and what the Nets might be offered and for whom, one possibility isn't getting a lot of attention: Suppose everyone or just about everyone came back? Suppose the mantra of the Nets' off-season was preserving chemistry?
Increasingly, that, rather than some massive changes, appears to be the more likely scenario, in other words, a boring off-season.
Taking things one by one:
--It appears highly unlikely that Kevin Garnett will leave a full $12 million on the table. He's made $315 million in his career by making shrewd moves. This time, he doesn't have to do anything. He's owed the money. Welcome back, KG.
--No team can pay Paul Pierce what the Nets can and when he had agent Jeff Schwartz push to get him to Brooklyn, he believed there was a two-year, not a one-year, window for doing something special. The Nets are likely to overpay him with a two-year deal, maybe with a partial guarantee in the second year. As he said after the Miami series, he thinks he has "one, maybe two years" left.
--Deron Williams and Brook Lopez's trade value are at career lows while their salaries are at a career highs. Is that a formula for getting something good in return? Hardly. And both players have 15 percent trade kickers, meaning a team acquiring either would have to give them a trade bonus equal to 15 percent of what's remaining on their deals. So the Nets will wait, monitor their progress in rehab and hope for the best.
--Word is that unless Shaun Livingston gets a fourth year --or some huge salary-- from another team, he will be back. He knows how the Nets and Jason Kidd resurrected his career. Don't forget that the Wizards released him just before Christmas in 2012.
--Andrei Kirilenko? After missing 37 games, his market value is now close to what his salary is. Moreover, the Nets Russian ownership is close to Kirilenko and his fashion designer wife, Masha. It's possible he leaves, but doubtful.
--That leaves Andray Blatche and Alan Anderson. Of all the possible departures, these two look the most likely. Blatche's lack of reliability --and conditioning-- hasn't helped him with his coach. Anderson could make more elsewhere, not a lot more but enough to lure him away. Originally, he agreed to a two year, $4 million deal with the Nets then agreed to take the vets minimum so the Nets could sign Kirilenko.
It's likely the Nets will call about Kevin Love but no one expects they will have the assets the T-Wolves are looking for. Marcus Thornton might be offered around and teams may inquire about Mirza Teletovic, both expiring deals, but the Nets aren't likely to get rid of their two bench bombers. What about Marquis Teague, who's owed $1.1 million, and Jorge Gutierrez, who reportedly has a small guarantee on an even smaller deal? Does it matter in the larger picture if Livingston stays?
So what can we expect? The players the Nets interviewed in the draft, as far as we know, were all backcourt or swingmen: Shabazz Napier, the UConn point guard who they like a lot; Thanasis Antetokounmpo, a 6'7" swingman and Giannis brother, and two other point guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Deonte Burton. The belief is that there is value in the second round, perhaps a rotation player if you look hard enough. If that's the case, it will be a real bargain since second rounders are normally paid the rookie minimum, or around $500,000.
Free agency is likely to be mostly a search for value among vets minimum players. The Nets think the lure of New York City, Jason Kidd, Mikhail Prokhorov, a squad of veteran players and post-season success will help them recruit players who normally wouldn't think about joining them at the minimum. Finding those players will start with the free agent tryouts on June 2. Don't dismiss that as a fool's errand. In the past two years, the Nets have picked up Blatche, Livingston, Anderson and Gutierrez at the minimum. There is value out there.
Yes, they still would like Bojan Bogdanovic but once the mini-MLE is promised to Livingston, it's not economically viable for him. And he wants playing time immediately in the NBA.
Bottom line: what do we have the most confidence about? The return of KG. Who do we think is most likely gone: Blatche.
Draft debts "extinguished"
Now that the final order of the 2014 Draft is settled, two of the Nets draft "debts" have also been "extinguished" as they say in legalese. The Nets pick will go to Boston at #17 and the swap of 2014 picks didn't happen since the Hawks finished higher in the draft than the Nets. That's what the Nets hoped for: Boston gets a non-lottery pick and the Hawks get nothing. In making the Boston and Atlanta trades, the Nets believed they would play well enough as to make the picks irrelevant. That didn't quite happen with the Boston pick. They would have liked it if it were lower. The Nets second rounder, at #47, is owned by Philadelphia. It had gone to Boston as well, as part of the MarShon Brooks deal, but.got moved.
The trick now is for Billy King to buy a pick that will turn out to be better than the 17th pick he sent to Boston. He did it last year. Mason Plumlee turned into a top five rookie no matter how you play it. He was taken at #22. (In fact, he was a consolation prize. The Nets really hoped Gorgui Dieng would fall to them, but he went one pick earlier).
Next up, in 2015, the Nets will own their own pick, but it is again subject to a swap with the Hawks, the last piece of the Joe Johnson deal. The second rounder was sent to Utah two years ago for Mehmet Okur. The Jazz traded it to the Hawks last year.
If the Nets magically had the overall No. 1 pick, who would they take? The consensus is Joel Embiid, and it's not close.
The Worlds and the Nets
The FIBA World Championships take place this summer in Spain, starting August 30. As of now, Jorge Gutierrez is on Mexico's national team roster and two of the Euro-Nets, Bojan Bogdanovic (Croatia) and Ilkan Karaman (Turkey) are expected to play for their teams. Andray Blatche is likely to be cleared to join the Philippines as early as Monday morning, although it's uncertain if he will be on the Nets. He has said he will opt out but also said he'd like to return to Brooklyn. We shall see.
Mirza Teletovic is also expected to play for Team Bosnia at the FIBA Europe Qualifying Tournament in Ukraine earlier in August. Teams like Bosnia that didn't make the World Championships will compete this summer around the world to get into the 2015 regional tournaments. If they qualify there, then they could play in the Rio Olympics the following year. Joe Prunty, the Nets assistant who filled in for Jason Kidd at the beginning of the season, will be coaching Great Britain as well.
Gutierrez has said he wants to play in the Worlds. Talking to FIBA Americas about the Worlds in an interview the day before the Nets lost to Miami, the 25-year-old point guard said, "It is one of my goals for this year. Playing in such an important competition is incredible. For now I am focused on the NBA season, but I am really looking forward to join my teammates and start the training camp for the World Cup."
But there is a complication. Mexico's national team begins training in Nayarit , Mexico, on June 16. Gutierrez is also playing in the Nets summer league in Orlando starting July 5. The summer leaguers will be gathering in East Rutherford on July 4 weekend. Also, Gutierrez was expected to play for Mexico in CentroBasket, a FIBA Americas tournament for Central American and Caribbean teams. That's in early August.
The various schedules could provide Nets fans with some interesting match-ups: the opening game of the World Championships in Spain on August 30 is Croatia vs. the Philippines: Blatche vs. Bogdanovic. Of course, depending on free agency and trades, it could also be irrelevant!
And the second day of the FIBA Europe Qualifying Tournament on August 13 will feature Bosnia vs. Great Britain: Teletovic vs. a team coached by Prunty.
Good luck to all of them and we hope to cover as many of the games as possible.
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