clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NetsDaily Off-Season Report #8

Ronald Martinez

Every weekend, 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...

Jason Kidd

We didn't cover, other than with links, the press conference the Bucks held to celebrate the arrival of their new head coach. We could have, but the rush of other news -- and the sense of betrayal -- was such that there was little time or room or inclination or appetite for more coverage. And no fan asked us for more. One thing that did interest was an admission that the Milwaukee co-owners first learned about Kidd's interest from his agent.

Do we think there was tampering? We haven't seen everything out there, nor are we certain of how the rule applies to those team employees who aren't players ... but we've been told, by people we trust, the following:

1. Kidd approached the Bucks co-owner (and his former financial adviser) Marc Lasry, through his agent, Jeff Schwartz, before seeking the Nets permission. "We had gotten contacted by [Kidd’s] agent, and then we told him we’d be interested in speaking," said Lasry. "His agent ended up getting permission from the Nets. Once we got permission from the Nets, then we met with Jason."

2. Kidd openly advocated a lopsided trade of Brook Lopez and Mirza Teletovic for Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova. While Lopez may be injured and not ideal for Kidd's offensive plans, he will be permitted to play in the NBA. Sanders may not. He is in drug rehab and is owed $44 million over the next four years. Ilysaova is still owed $16 million over three and missed 27 games last season. His play, since he was given a $40 million contract in 2012, has been lackluster. We are told the Nets considered the deal, based on Kidd's advocacy.

3. Despite reports that Lasry is a former Nets minority investor, we are told that he remains an investor in the team, through a family trust, with NBA approval. According to a fellow investor, he pledged to the NBA not to have any decision-making role in the Nets. Lasry is not such a small investor, either, we are told. In the Bruce Ratner-led Nets Sports & Entertainment partnership, which owns 20 percent of the team, the hedge fund manager's trust ranks third after Ratner and Artie Rabin, who sits on the Nets board with Ratner.

We subscribe to what Ian Eagle told CBS Sports Thursday: "It's becoming a problem. The lines are a little bit loose right now. It's a grey area for the NBA and it may be something they have to address. There could be tampering issues. I think there's a reason why there was some form of value was given back to the Nets," meaning the two second round picks.

We also note that while Billy King has said he has moved on, others in the front office are not so forgiving. They have used phrases like "a bad man" and words like "hate" to describe him and their feelings. It's understandable, in our opinion.

With that, we are done with this subject.

Lionel Hollins

Hollins Editor Tom Lorenzo is writing up his thoughts on the Nets signing of Lionel Hollins.  We defer to Tom since he ran the SB Nation's Grizzlies blog before joining NetsDaily.  Here's our shorthand of the hiring: He developed young players that others didn't think that highly of, including Marc Gasol, turning him into a Defensive Player of the Year; Tony Allen; Mike Conley Jr., etc. He resurrected the career of a total knucklehead, winning Zach Randolph millions of dollars; He won a lot of games, including 56 in his last year with Memphis, before being unceremoniously dumped by the nutty ownership there.

So, we will wait and hope that the Nets will go better than 10-21 at the beginning of next season.

Cap Hell

In bits and pieces of news, there is evidence that the Nets could entering a period of frugality, at least in Prokhorovian terms. Billy King used the term "financially responsible" to describe the team's strategy in dealing with Paul Pierce's free agency. It's been reported (that is leaked) that the Nets are prepared to give Pierce no more than $6 million to $8 million.

Pierce will be pursued by others and if the Nets want him back, he is likely to be back. The Nets can pay him more. That's not a bad thing.  As P.J. Carlesimo said on ESPN two days ago, "Brooklyn wants to win now! If I'm Brooklyn, I think Billy King and Lionel Hollins are going to go 'wait a minute. Lets' see Paul Pierce for a year or half a year with Brook Lopez.' Bring a healthy Brook Lopez back and Brooklyn's a pretty good team."

But do the Nets really want him back? We don't know, to be quite frank, but there are enough signals to suggest that there is something to the Clippers rumors. The Nets may have hated the package the Clippers offered but there's such a thing as negotiations and King was careful not to dismiss the possibility of future talks.

"They made a call and inquired, but there's nothing there at this point that makes sense for us," King said Thursday on ESPN NewYork.

Or as Jackie MacMullan, who knows Pierce and Kevin Garnett as well as journalist, said on ESPN's "Between the Lines" Wednesday, "I buy it. this is the worst kept secret in basketball, that Paul Pierce would want to go back with Doc Rivers who once called Pierce ‘a professional scorer.’ Although his minutes were less and he was a year older, he could still fill it up for the Nets." Ian Eagle agreed in talking with CBS Sports the same day. "I think he wants to play for the Clippers. I think Doc Rivers wants him."

IF, IF the Nets don't sign Pierce, does this mean the Nets are going to dump salary left and right? Nope. First, they will try to get something in return for Pierce. Then, what's likely to happen is what Ian Eagle described to CBS Sports, that the Nets are going with the "core" of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, bolstered by players on reasonable contracts like Mirza Teletovic, Andrei Kirilenko and maybe Bojan Bogdanovic as well as rookie deals like Mason Plumlee and maybe Markel Brown. Add a Jarrett Jack and some other pieces and the Nets think they can remain competitive in the Eastern Conference. After all, the "core" won 49 games in 2012-13.

What they realize now is that they can't sustain the spending that cost them $102 million in salary and nearly $92 million in luxury taxes this season ... and if they do nothing, would add another $35 million in repeater taxes next season.

Moreover, they desperately want to have some flexibility in 2016, when the next great free agent class is available, led by Kevin Durant.  Being under the luxury tax would allow them to do sign-and-trades, use both the full MLE, approaching $6 million annually, and the BAE or bi-annual exception, now nearing $3 million. And unlike the Knicks, they (hopefully) will have a competitive team ... without an albatross contract.

If they have to, expect the Nets to paint this not as some change in strategy, but a youth movement, a transition and note that the "core" won 49 games. Lets' hope they are honest.

Others will no doubt suggest it is a precursor to a sale. Companies do cut costs before a sale but we see no indication of ownership's desire to sell ... and why should they? In 2016-17, the Nets should reap the harvest of increased TV rights revenues, and not just the national TV rights, which is expected to add $30 million annually but also local TV right. Those should add even more money to the pot. (Also, they won't have to share their national TV money with the Silna Brothers who in the past received one-seventh of all the Nets national TV rights money. They were bought out two months ago.)

Now this is, admittedly, a very optimistic scenario. It could all go to schmutz. D-Will could back at the same level as he played last year, despite ankle surgery. Lopez could have recurring foot issues. Johnson could get hit by a truck and the youth movement could fail miserably. We will have to wait and see.


Mark Deeks of ShamSports, the great hoops site with its exceptional salary page, tweeted something that passed right over our heads in the turmoil of the past week.

That would be the Timberwolves pick, at No. 44 in the 2014 draft, used to take Markel Brown; the Raptors pick at No. 59 in the 2014 draft, used to take Xavier Thames; the Spurs pick, at No. 60 in the 2014 draft, used to take Cory Jefferson; the return of the Nets pick in the second round of 2015; and the better of the two picks the Bucks have in the 2019 Draft, their own or the Kings.  The first three were conveyed for a total of $1.9 million, a bargain price compared to what others buying around them paid. The latter two were, of course, conveyed as compensation for Kidd.

Not a bad haul, as Deeks notes. Don't be surprised if the Nets pick up more before the end of free agency. The Nets have a lot of confidence of their scouts and scouting system. Future second rounders may not be first rounders, but they do not carry any contract guarantees and are the coin of the realm on draft night. It could also free free the Nets cash resources for things other than buying second rounders, like buying first rounders or sweetening deals.

Who is Markel Brown?

It's that time of the off-season when everyone thinks they got the steal of the draft. Certainly, someone did.

Brown was taken at No. 44, where in the past 25 years only four players have had even moderately successfully careers: Chase Budinger, Trevor Ariza, Brian Cardinal and Malik Rose. The other 20 have been busts or in the case of international players, never came to the NBA. Not a sterling record.

Still, he aspires to become Russell Westbrook-like, a hyper-athletic combo guard. That's quite ambitious considering Westbrook was taken 40 places higher. A bit less ambitious is an assessment written about him by The Oklahoman in the days before the draft. Jenni Carlson compared Brown to another mid-40's pick, Danny Green, and another Oklahoma State guard, Tony Allen, a Lionel Hollins favorite, who was taken at No. 25.

Carlson thinks she's seen a bit of both the lockdown defender (Allen) and deep shooter (Green)...

Being a solid on-ball defender seems like the niche where Brown could earn his keep in the NBA, but don’t rule out the possibility of him becoming a good shooter, too. He’s improved his outside shooting every year that he was at OSU — and it was fairly dramatic. He shot a little over 26 percent from behind the 3-point line as a freshman. As a senior, he shot 37.9 percent.

Hope so. FYI, this was written before the Summer League began but even he plays well or poorly on Saturday morning, don't be too upset. Trey Burke looked like a bust for the Jazz in Summer League last year and it was only a few years ago when Damion James looked great.

Without the D-League

The Nets will try a new development strategy with this year's draft picks, assuming that they don't get guaranteed deals. Billy King explained it last week.

After noting that he thinks Markel Brown, Xavier Thames and Cory Jefferson can make the roster, but "if we see that they may not, we'll have them go overseas and play so we keep their rights." (In that case, the Nets couldn't sign the players, then cut them before sending them overseas.  They'd have to hold off signing them while arranging landing spots in Europe.)

It's an alternative to the D-League. It has advantages and disadvantages. The normal procedure with players who couldn't make the team was for the Nets to cut them, losing their NBA rights. The team's D-League affiliate then had the exclusive D-League rights to the players. The players developed nearby but if they developed too well, any NBA team could call them up.  That's what happened last season with Adonis Thomas.  The disadvantage of course is that the player is 3,000 or 4,000 miles away and not learning the Nets or NBA system.

Hospitals line up to sponsor Nets

The Nets have become quite attractive to area hospitals. It's not about their health insurance but about their reputation.  Last week, at the press conference for the Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center HSS was named again the "official hospital" of the Nets, as it had been in New Jersey.  But what about Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn?  Wasn't it the Nets official hospital? Not quite.

But as Terry Lefton of Sports Business Journal reports, under the a agreement, Maimonides’ new designation is "hometown hospital of the Brooklyn Nets." Additionally, Lefton writes, "Brooklyn Hospital has a deal through which it is the 'official hospital of the Barclays Center.'"

Moreover, a Nets executive said HSS is likely to become the official hospital of the Islanders as well as some point between now and the Islanders' arrival in Brooklyn.

The big individual winner, Dr. Riley J. Williams III, a surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery will see his role expanded as the Nets’ head orthopedic surgeon. "If you’re not actually taking care of the players, it’s just like being the official car," said Williams, whose wielded many a scalpel in Nets players surgery.

Nets insiders say Brett Yormark got the naming rights deals done in a matter of weeks with seven figures total being deposited in Nets accounts.

Blatche gone

Andray Blatche is not coming back. Billy King said it last week. The Nets reached out to all three of their free agents shortly after midnight on July 1. Did they reach out to Blatche, he was asked. "No," said King.  When asked by Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno why that was so, King responded, "We had our reasons." The Nets didn't even prepare a Jason Kidd-narrated recruiting video.

The Nets according to Zach Lowe's definitive piece on the Nets, Blatche's Christmas "personal leave" was basically a suspension for his lack of "conditioning and preparedness." There s more than that. When Kidd met with him to tell him about the open-ended leave, Blatche objected, angering his coach.

He was also unreliable, and the Nets couldn't be sure what turned him on or off. Then, there was his immaturity which didn't just piss people off. Its constancy angered them.  Here's a picture Blatche posted on Instagram, the same account where someone posted a message this week that read "F*ck Brooklyn."

How many things are wrong with this picture? Blatche is holding  a hookah in the shape of an AK-47, given him by a fan who goes by the handle, cokeboybk. Of course, the most egregious part of it is that it was posted at all!  And with him seeking a new contract, it's still up there.At least "F*uck Brooklyn" has been taken down.

Andray Blatche is a talented basketball player, sometimes showing spectacular moves, other times rousing a crowd with his antics. He is also kind-hearted, running food and toy drives and performing unpublicized acts of kindness. But he's now in danger of not getting anything better than another short-term contract. He's his own worst enemy.

As he said in his latest Instagram message, posted Saturday: "Brooklyn out."

Final Note

Billy King (smartly) spent a lot of time talking to the media. King can handle interviews and press conferences with the aplomb and skills of a politician. He realizes that the Nets need to get out in front of the Kidd issue. They have invested too much blood and treasure in creating a new image in Brooklyn to let Kidd drive them back down to "Same old Nets."

King has described it as a "bump, a big bump" and it certainly is.  There will be a lot of focus on the Nets this summer, with a lot of punditry, but bottom line will be the bottom line: how many games will they win next year. Until this time next year, we won't know what the effect of recent events will be. Anyone who tells you differently is talking bull.