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Nets Off-Season Report #4


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...

How high a pick?

On Saturday, Marc Berman of the Post reported that like the Knicks, "The Nets are also trying to obtain a late first-round or second-round pick, according to general manager Billy King." We hadn't heard specifics before but found it interesting that the Nets are hoping to get into first round.  Subsequent to reading the Berman article, someone else not associated with the team but knowledgeable about its thinking told us the Nets are "desperate" to get into first round. That would seem a bit over-the-top if the Nets didn't have a target or two.

There have been reports they like Shabazz Napier, the diminutive point guard who led UConn to the NCAA title, and Spencer Dinwiddie, a 6'6" point guard out of Colorado who recovered from a torn ACL. Both said the Nets interviewed them. Dinwiddie could fall into the second round, but Napier seems set for the #25 to #30 range. (Do we think that Dinwiddie wants to play for the Nets? Well, when he was asked what's his NBA comparable, he chose his words carefully. "Maybe Shaun Livingston, maybe Penny Hardaway, those type of combo 6'6" long, athletic, rangy, versatile guys.")

How could the Nets accomplish this? Setting aside grandiose, ESPN trade machine scenarios the involve eight players, four teams, three picks and a jeroboam of Chateau Lafitte Rothschild 1982, here's a couple of possibilities:

--Trading Bojan Bogdanovic's rights which has become this year's all-purpose version of HBAP. He still hasn't signed with Fenerbahce and maybe he'd be more amenable to joining a team other than the Nets.

--Sign and trade one of their free agents or player option guys, that is Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Andray Blatche or Andrei Kirilenko. Under CBA, Nets can't accept a player in a S&T but can launch one out, as King did with DeShawn Stevenson in the Joe Johnson trade and with Keith Bogans in the Paul Pierce - Kevin Garnett deal.  Jorge Gutierrez with his partially guaranteed deal could help here, too. The guarantee is reportedly small but his value in a trade would be based on what he signed for: $816,000. A team could trade for him, then waive him with very little cost.

--Send out an expiring in a straight deal for a player with a longer deal ... And ask for a pick in return to ease the pain. One possibility: Marcus Thornton's contract, which is an expiring at $8.7 million, a robust number. Problem is the Nets want to conserve cap space from 2016 forward and a multi-year contract would cut into that.

The Nets, of course, can add their $2 million in cash considerations to any of these deals.  Do we expect this to happen? We don't know but then again, we didnt expect the Celtic trade last June either!  Bottom line: be prepared and think outside the box.

Oh look, Mantas Kalnietis is available!

We're trying to keep up with what's going on in Lithuania by following all the right publications and twitter feeds, and bookmarking Google Translate.

The Nets scored a last-minute coup by getting the 27-year-old Mantas Kalnietis to accept an offer to their free agent camp. He is a first rank European player with NBA height, at 6'5", and NBA head-at-the-rim athleticism to go with a very high BBIQ and passing ability. Kalnietis proved them right when he dominated the free agent scrimmages Wednesday morning and reportedly offered him a summer league invitation.

Since then, it's been all agent talk. Tadas Bulotas, his Lithuanian agent, went on air  and laid out all the reasons why he isn't likely to accept the invitation: his Russian team won't pay for his insurance in Orlando; summer league conflicts with the opening of Lithuanian national team practice; the Nets could watch him in FIBA World Cup action come September and of course, there are now other teams interested in him, including the Trailblazers, Spurs (natch) and of course, the KNICKS!  Indeed, there are reports Kalnietis will travel to Portland soon.

Now, we don't know what's going on behind the scenes but lets take a long look at this.

First of all, the Nets didn't find Kalnitis' text number in some list and secretly invite him over without his agent's knowledge, either Bulotas or his new US agent, Arm Tellem. Bulotas has said he's working with Tellem. Everyone HAD to know what the possibilities were from the get-go.

Insurance? That's an issue that's dealt with all the time. Kalnietis or the Nets simply take out a short-term policy and everyone's happy. Can't cost that much. He doesn't make that much and from what we can tell, he doesn't have an injury history that would drive rates up.

World Cup practice? PRACTICE?! WE TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE?! (Sorry, Billy ... the memories). That issue was diffused before it was mentioned. Jonas Kauzlauskas, Lithuania's national team coach, said it doesn't matter to him if Kalnietis is a few days late ... And everyone should be happy for him.

Workouts? Holy leverage, Batman! Yeah, Bulotas said, his great camp and summer league invite shows he has NBA potential.  Okay.  So now, he says, we're going to use that leverage to get other teams interested in him. Blazers seem legit, but pardon us while we guffaw at the excuse that Spurs are interested but are too busy to take a look! The Spurs like every other team has a scouting department that works out players no matter what the current roster is doing. And San Antonio is more experienced than anyone in managing this June thing.  But including the Spurs seems to be a way to get hearts a-fluttering.  If the SPURS want this kid....he must be good!!! The Knicks? Fine but they're as limited as the Nets. No bidding war there.

What we did find interesting was Bulotas didn't turn down the invite, at least publicly, as far as we knowMore interesting, we thought was the reaction to the news by the president of Lokomotiv Kuban. He basically said, if an NBA is interested in signing him, we'll listen to buyout offers. We know he's interested in the NBA, and oh, by the way, we were disappointed in his performance this season. So nothing, at least publicly and at least now, is foreclosed.

Money of course is the big issue. Word is that two years ago, while playing with Zalgiris in Lithuania, he made €250,000 or about $325,000 in dollars but equivalent to about $500,000 in NBA terms, once taxes and fees, etc are calculated. He moved to Lokomotiv Kuban in the off season and now doubt more money. Zalgiris has had severe financial issues.

So, even Bulotas admits, the bottom line is the bottom line...

Would Kalnietas command more than the $500,000 the Nets can offer (assuming Shaun Livingston accepts the miniMLE?) Even Bulotas isn't sure, he told Lithuanian TV. We'll see.  But whether he signs or not, the Nets aggressiveness is to be commended. It's the kind of thinking they'll have to do more of.

Who else?

Adonis Thomas, as we've noted on the news pages, is returning to the Nets at least for the summer league. Two other players, Nick Minnerath of Detroit Mercy, a small forward who played in France and Spain last season, and Michael Jenkins, a shooting guard who played at Winthrop, then began six year journey through European leagues, have both tweeted their happiness at being asked.  Both hit better than 40 percent from three in European action last season.

Thomas however is the prize.  As we've noted, he played well last season in the D-League, one of the few players with a 40" vertical and a 40 percent shooting percentage from three.  He will meet up again in Orlando with former teammate Marquis Teague. The two played together in the FIBA U17 tournament in 2010, along with Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tony Wroten and two second round prospects in this year's draft, Johnny O'Bryant of LSU and James McAdoo of North Carolina.

What about Edwin Jackson? The Nets in-house beat writer Lenn Robbins sure made it seem like the Nets were interested in both video and text reports posted on the team's official site.  We haven't heard anything official, but a couple of tweets Jackson posted on Saturday didn't seem encouraging.

He may have a workout in San Antonio, where his friend and mentor, Tony Parker, plays.

Final Note

Every once in a while we check the LinkedIn accounts of Nets staffer and although assistant trainer and rehab specialist Robby Hoenshel remains on the front office directory, his LinkedIn account shows that he has moved on, to take on a similar job with the Jacksonville Jaguars.  For Hoenshel and family, it's a return to North Florida where he worked before the Nets hired him in 2010. Hoenshel was well regarded member of the Nets staff and now there will be no vacation for him. He'll move from one season to another.  We wish him well.