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...
Teams USA, Croatia, Russia, Bosnia and Mexico
No team in the NBA has as much riding on the vagaries of international basketball as the Nets do this summer. Five players are participating in friendly games or practices this weekend alone: Mason Plumlee for the United States; Bojan Bogdanovic for Croatia, Sergey Karasev for Russia, Mirza Teletovic for Bosnia and Jorge Gutierrez for Mexico. Also, the Nets still hold Early Bird Rights for Andray Blatche, who's practicing in Miami with the Philippines national team. A lot of value there.
Nets players not participating this summer already have a lot of precious metal in their trophy case. Deron Williams has two Olympic gold medals, another gold from a FIBA Americas championship and a U17 bronze. Kevin Garnett has an Olympic gold and a FIBA Americas championship. Andrei Kirilenko has an Olympic bronze (as does Karasev) and a gold from a FIBA Europe championship. Marquis Teague has a gold from a FIBA U17 world championship; Joe Johnson, a bronze medal from the FIBA World Championship in 2006.
All of them wanted to play for their home countries, wanted to bring back a gold, silver or bronze to honor their nation and its basketball tradition. None were forced to play. Nor were they prohibited from doing more. Nor could they be. Under agreements with FIBA, professional teams cannot prohibit their players from trying out or playing for national teams. They can ask them not to play, in the strongest possible terms if need be, but there can be no intimidation.
Paul George's horrific injury --on a scale with Shaun Livingston's, Kevin Ware's or Joe Thiesmann's-- may cause all manner of hand-wringing among pundits but it is unlikely to have an real effect on players. As Kevin Durant said this week, he plays because he loves the game ... and no doubt on the biggest stage. If he wasn't playing for Team USA, he'd been playing in the Drew League or the Rucker Park Tournament or the various pro-am tournaments around the country. So would his teammates.
George's injury is a tragedy, but it could have just as easily happened on the Pacers practice court or in a pick-up game. Players love to play. Can't stop them.
Riley J. Williams III, MD
Last time we saw Dr. Williams, the Nets team physician, it was during the unveiling of plans for the Hospital for Special Surgery Center, the Nets new practice facility in Brooklyn. As both a HSS physician and Nets official physician, he spoke of the value of having a "world class" facility.
Now, he's in the news again in a less celebratory way. He's also the team physician for Team USA. He rushed to Paul George's side Friday night, then accompanied him to Sunrise Hospital and was one of the attending surgeons on George's operation early Saturday morning.
Word is he did well Friday night.
Don't know him but I've heard great things about @usabasketball/Brooklyn Nets' team doctor Riley Williams role last night in PG situation.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) August 2, 2014
Dr. Williams has one impressive resume', starting with Yale undergraduate and Stanford Medical School. He's worked for the Nets, Red Bulls, Giants and Mets. He was also part of the surgical team that reconstructed Brook Lopez's foot back in the spring, a surgery that by all accounts was a great success. Although no one is saying so officially, Lopez is ahead of schedule, according to those close to him.
So he knows his orthopedics. He also know how to manage medical staff ... and emergencies. Both make his comments three days ago on Team USA's health department interesting. He spoke about how USA Basketball relies a lot on the 30 team physicians and trainers; what happens when there is an injury --he noted that "inevitably, over six weeks of time, something will happen;" and the special needs when dealing with a "team of all-stars." It's an interesting listen.
It looks like he was well prepared Friday. Good for him.
Picking at #59 and #60
As the end of 2014 NBA Draft approached, there was no indication the Nets were going to buy the last two picks, Nos. 59 and 60 ... and not just outside the Nets war room.
The Nets had gone into the Draft with $2 million to spend and they had already used $1.1 million to buy Minnesota's pick at No. 44 ... and taken Markel Brown, who they had penciled in at No. 22 in their internal mock draft. Now, they had around $900,000 left. That didn't seem like a lot. The Lakers had paid the Wizards $1.8 million for No. 46 and Knicks were paying the Pacers $1.5 million for No. 57, a pick they would use to take Louis Labeyrie, a French center who most believe won't come to the NBA for years, if ever.
But there were two players on the board who the Nets had in the 30's on their internal mock: Xavier Thames out of San Diego State and Cory Jefferson of Baylor. There was a war room discussion as to whether they should buy the picks or just look at the players later as un-drafted. According to two people in the room, Dmitry Razumov, the Nets chairman, pushed the idea of buying the picks. He wanted their rights. Would the Raptors accept $500,000 for No. 59? Yes, came back the answer. Would the 76ers accept $300,000 for No. 60? Yes again. And that's how Thames and Jefferson became Nets picks.
The Nets were able to come up three picks --two of them signed to multi-year deals-- for a grand total of $1.9 million, only $400,000 more than the Knicks paid for one. At this point, the bigger prize of the two late picks is Jefferson, who said on Draft night that he told his agent to reject offers from teams who wanted to ship him overseas. But he fell for another reason: Jefferson at 23 going on 24, he was one of the oldest players in the draft. The Nets, said one team insider, rank experienced players higher on their board.
Assistant coach math
Some fans have asked what's happening with Roy Rogers, the Nets big man coach last season ... and under Lawrence Frank back in New Jersey. Joe Wolf has replaced him. Both Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee liked Rogers, we're told but It's a head coach's prerogative to select his assistants and Lionel Hollins chose Wolf.
So Rogers will look for work but in the meantime is still on the Nets' payroll --and remains on the front office directory. If another team hires Rogers for less than what he will make in Brooklyn, the Nets will reportedly eat the difference. It's yet another consequence of Jason Kidd's departure.
Deron Williams, Joe Johnson Andrei Kirilenko part of 21st century's best?
We are only 15 years into the 21st century but Hoopshype is putting together a list of the century's 100 best players. (Why not go for the millennium's 100 best?) They've gotten up to No. 26 and so far, three Nets have made the grade: Andrei Kirilenko at 72; Joe Johnson at 31 and his backcourt mate, Deron Williams, at 26.
Some might think that D-Will is a bit too high, after his last two, injury-marred seasons, but the thumbnail sketch of his achievements is a reminder of what he's done since joining the league in 2005.
Three-time All-Star. Two-time All-NBA 2nd Team. Two-time Olympic champion. Stats: 17.4 ppg, 8.7 apg, 3.2 rpg, 35.7 3P% (2005-2014).
Sometimes, we tend to forget that D-Will has a resume' Hopefully, he'll be able to add to it. As for Johnson, here's his short-form list of accomplishments.
Seven-time All-Star. Named to the All-NBA 3rd Team in 2010. Bronze medal at the World Championship in 2006. Stats: 17.5 ppg, 4.2 apg, 4.0 rpg, 37.2 3P% (2001-2014).
Not too shabby either. Kirilenko's 21st century achievements include his international successes as well as those in the NBA.
All-Star in 2004. Named to the NBA All-Defensive 1st Team in 2006. Two-time All-Defensive 2nd Team. Led the NBA in blocks in 2005. Gold medal and MVP at the Eurobasket in 2007. Bronze medal at the Olympic Games in 2012. Stats: 11.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.8 spg (2001-2014).
We assume Kevin Garnett is in the top 25. And there a lot of former Nets on the list already.
How happy is the guy second from left?