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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #16

Claus Andersen

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 last year. Sad for us. We rely on our own reporting as well as what the Nets’ beat reporters and others have slipped into larger stories, blogs and tweets...

New Product Rollout

When Apple or another big company rolls out a new product, it starts with a tease, leaked to an obscure (at least by marketing standards) source. The tease comes out of nowhere, after a lot of conflicting rumors. It's usually not direct, more oblique, in its claims. It doesn't offer a full list of features. It doesn't come with anything but the most basic information about the product. And it starts well in advance of the product being available to consumers who are desperate for news

That's the way we think of this...

Those who see this as 12 seconds of Deron Williams dribbling, practicing his crossover, miss the point.  This is the first tease of the D-Will product rollout. He didn't release it. It was his long-time pal, Matt Mitnick. There was little accompanying it, other than (more than a) few hashtags, to wit...

#Handles  #GettingRight #ComeBackSeason #Gr8ness #KeepSleeping #GoingToBeAProblem  #PuttingInThatWork #OneMonthTillCamp #Brooklyn #Nets #Hungry  #JustTheBeginning

The "consumers" -- i.e us-- have had their interest piqued, but don't yet know how good the "product" -- the iD-Wll2 perhaps -- will be, whether it will meet the need of the ravenous "users."  But they have our attention now and we await the next step in the roll-out. Maybe some lowered expectations, a tactic Apple has been known to apply.  Or perhaps a snippet here or there from "early adapters" -- teammates and coaches -- before Deron, perhaps in a black turtleneck, mounts a darkened stage -- Barclays Center -- and gives us a demonstration of why we needed it.

Expect to see D-Will in the next week or so. On September 15, he's running his annual DodgeBall Tournament in New York.  It the biggest event sponsored by his Point of Hope Foundation.

Should be fun. And it's better than seeing him on a golf course ... or trampoline. Old products.

Buying Bojan (pronounced 'Buying Boy-on')

Its' been a long time coming, but we certainly liked referring to Bojan Bogdanovic this week as "Nets rookie" Bojan Bogdanovic, one of the longest waits for a Euro-Stash. When the Nets took him at the top of the second round in June 2011, they still had a year to go in Newark.

So in case you were wondering, here's how Bojan became a Nets property that night.  He had been projected as a first round pick in most mocks until he agreed to a three-year deal in Turkey … with no buyout till the second year. Despite that, the Nets wanted him after working him out twice, once the morning of the Draft.. He came HIGHLY recommended by Danko Cvjeticanin, the Nets international scout and Croatian teammate of Drazen Petrovic.

Danko Cvjeticanin, a former Croatian national team player and Nets international scouting coordinator wrote in his reports to Billy King that he saw "a combination of Stojakovic and Delfino."  As the newspaper who interviewed Cvjjeticanin reported, "King had no doubts about (taking Bogdanovic) after that."

Sergey Kushchenko, then Mikhail Prokhorov's chief sports adviser and former Euroleague executive of the year, liked the pick as well, telling NetsDaily...

"I think it was a great stealth move by Billy King. Bogdanovic has shown himself to be a player with real talent during his time in Europe. He was league MVP during the regular season and also the second highest scorer in the Euroleague."

Getting him wasn't so easy.  It took a three-team deal, keyed by the Timberwolves need for cash to buy out former coach Kurt Rambis. (It was one of four deals that night that resulted in Minny getting seven figure considerations ... and giving up real talent.)

It started earlier on Draft Night, when the Timberwolves traded for the 28th pick. They knew there would be a market for low first round picks. Miami was interested, for one.

So here's how it went down among Billy King, Pat Riley and David Kahn: Minnesota sent the 28th pick to the Heat for the draft rights to Miami's 31st pick, their own second-round pick in 2014 (which Miami had received in the July 2010 Michael Beasley salary dump) as well as cash . Miami took Norris Cole.  Minnesota then traded the Heat's 31st pick to the Nets for New Jersey's 2013 second rounder  and $1.3 million in cash.The Nets took Bogdanovic. Minny got two second round picks and a lot of cash.

So whatever happened to the Timberwolves' second round picks they got in the deal, the Nets' in 2013 and their own in 2014? In 2013, the Timberwolves used the Nets' pick to take Lorenzo Brown, who they later cut. He wound up with the Springfield Armor after a stretch with the 76ers. He's playing in Venice this year. And that 2014 pick, the Timberwolves pick they got back from the Heat? Wellll, his name is Markel Brown!  The Nets bought the pick for $1.1 million on Draft Night last June and took Brown.  Minny needed cash again.

Thank you, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, for two of the Nets' three rookies.

Shooting star?

The Nets apparently has a three-point competition: whoever can get to 70 three's with the fewest shots goes to the top of the leader board. Joe Johnson currently holds top spot with 84 shots to make 70 three's.  He did it last year. No one else is below 92 and that's a tie between Marquis Teague and Alan Anderson.

Sergey Karasev arrived in New Jersey and tried his hand at the contest.  First try, he says, he got to 70 in 85 tries. He proudly posted an image of the board to Instagram and his Russian language page.

What he said on Instragram was most interesting ... "I still have time before pre-season to beat Joe Johnson record!" On his Russian site, he said he's "convinced" he can do it.

Karasev does have a reputation as a shooter. His stroke is picture-perfect and he is a lefty, which can confuse defenders.  Scouts who watched him at the 2013 Hoops Summit loved his stroke (and BBIQ) as shown here.

What's his upside? The Russians say it could be as high as Kyle Korver IF he and overcome deficiencies in defense ... and simply get older and stronger. He is the youngest Net, eight months younger than Teague and three years younger than Cory Jefferson. He is also in need of some strength work with Dr. Jeremy Bettle.  One Nets insider said it may take another year for him to fully develop.  One question is that if he doesn't get minutes, will he want to return to Europe?  Still, it's not as if the Nets gave up a lot for him. Like how about nothing? He was an add-on in the Jarrett Jack for Marcus Thornton deal. They could have had a second rounder.

Russian ownership likes him a lot. That's a no-brainer for a LOT of reasons. One member of the Russian brain trust liked him so much last year that he thought he might be worth trading the rights to Mason Plumlee and Bojan Bogdanovic for him. Another member of said brain trust said simply, "Thank God" that didn't happen. "Now we have all three!"

Aeroflot abandons Nets

Aerflot, the Russian airline, ended its four year sponsorship deal with the Nets this week, ITAR-TASS reports. The deal, worth six figures, made Aeroflot the official international airline of the Nets. JetBlue is the official domestic airline.The airline renewed its sponsorship deal most recently last July after Andrei Kirilenko joined the club.

Was it a response to US-Russian tensions, which includes sanctions on a number of Russian businessmen, but not Mikhail Prokhorov?  Ownership points out that Aeroflot has increased its sponsorship deal with Manchester United of the English Premier League.  The United Kingdom has been the European leader on sanctions in response to Russia's incursion into Ukraine. And ManU is owned by an American family, the Glazers.

The discussions on continuing the sponsorship --not one of the team's biggest-- had been going on for months.

The eyesore at Dean and Flatbush

The first phase of what once was Atlantic Yards and is now Pacific Park is a success by any measure. Barclays Center has met its goal of being a world class sports and entertainment venue. It is the home to an NBA franchise and soon one from the NHL as well.

The next phase, the construction of a 33-story modular tower at the corner of Dean and Flatbush is at the moment a disaster.  Construction of "B2," what was to be the world's tallest prefab building, has stopped, one-third of the way up. Forest City, Bruce Ratner's firm, and Skanska USA, its partner, are in a war of words.  Forest City's spokesman blamed Skanska for "failures and missteps as the construction manager" and claimed the firm is trying "to to weasel out" of its obligations. Skanska claims it's owed a lot of money and so stopped construction.

Who to blame for what will be an eyesore unless things move quickly?  Lots of people, but it seems that the real problem is that Ratner's claim that his firm had "cracked the code" on very tall modular buildings was an exaggeration. not an uncommon occurrence for the Nets minority owner.  More than 900 modular units were to be constructed at a Skanska factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  It's proven a lot harder, a lot more expensive, as Atlantic Yards (Pacific Park) Report has noted.

It may just be too hard. In a little noticed comment in September 2011, Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP Architects, who designed both Barclays Center and B2, talked about the degree of difficulty in engineering such tall buildings ... and making the apartments affordable.

Pasquarelli noted that his firm had  "three separate teams"  of 25 architects and engineers working "day and night"  to see "if there is a way to build a 40 or 50 story modular building because keeping it in the factory, where we can control the costs, in a lot better way than we can out in the field." His assessment then was "And it's really hard."

Already, the Chinese firm that bought 70 percent of AY/PP has said it will abandon the idea of using modular technology in the next group of apartment towers. B2 was excluded from their deal with Ratner. It's Ratner's problem. Lets hope that Ratner and Skanska figure out a way to finish B2. If not, it could turn into an eyesore next to a great arena.

Final Note

We offer this tweet and response involving Dr. Riley J. Williams III, the Nets and Team USA physician.

We laughed out loud at that one.