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. 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...
Not much left to say...
Bottom line is that in two business conversations, one an email, the other a conference call, involving the expenditure of millions of dollars, the Hawks (white) executives discussed race in a callous and discriminatory fashion. Our Brian Fleuratin wrote a great piece for us on larger issues in the NBA and in tweets, we've expressed our disgust with the latest developments.
There is one other thing interests us, however: the whole of the Luol Deng scouting report. It was the basis of the Danny Ferry comment that Deng has some African in him. A few things about the report, the first we've ever seen, surprised us. It. like the Nets reports, is hosted on a password-protected section of the RealGM website. There was basic data on the player, but no deep stats, no statistical analysis of his game.
There were a series of comments from former teammates, scouts and executives from teams he had played for. All but one --the one Ferry cited-- were positive, as well they should be.There were also some published reports on Deng's character, all positive, as well as they should be. That was it. It was in short, shallow and random, without a conclusion or even a summary.
As Adrian Wojnarowski has reported, just the inclusion of the controversial (and we're being kind) comment was egregious.
It doesn't matter whether he laid eyes on that report before the call or not, because it still goes back to this: Something about the environment in Atlanta made it all right to send that up the line to Ferry, and for good reason – it was all right with him.
It was a cultural issue, but it was also a management issue. The report was just poor. We asked a league source we trust if this was typical of what you find on other NBA scouting reports. No, he said, "the Hawks suck."
What about the Nets?
We don't have access to the Nets emails or recordings of their conference calls (not that we don't want them!) but a few things make us believe that what happened in Atlanta could not have happened in Brooklyn.
Here's one reason: the Hawks, as Brian Fleurantin noted, have few blacks in decision-making positions.
When you take a look at Atlanta's staff makeup, that seems to be the case. If you take a look at the front office of Atlanta (ownership, executive management, and basketball operations), there are 22 positions, and of those 22, only four are occupied by non-white people and only one woman.
In 2010, after buying the team, Mikhail Prokhorov hired a woman, Irina Pavlova, and two black men, Billy King and Avery Johnson, to run his day-to-day business and basketball operations. Pavlova is his representative on the NBA Board of Governors. Only one other team, the Lakers, regularly has a woman sitting on the board. She's Jeanie Buss, the daughter of the late Lakers' owner. He made a marketing deal with Jay-Z that led to the "cultural icon" --the Nets official description of him-- joining the board of directors of Barclays Center.
It is hard to imagine Pavlova, King or Johnson (or Lionel Hollins) not reacting with outrage on seeing the equivalent of the Bruce Levenson email or the Danny Ferry comments. Jay-Z? You don't even want to think of his reaction to suggestions that the owner wanted to rework the racial make-up of the audience. It's even harder to imagine Prokhorov suggesting it!
One other thing about the Nets. They have an interest in how the Hawks fare this year. If the Nets should finish with a higher pick in the 2015 Draft, it must be sent to the Hawks, as part of the Joe Johnson trade in 2012. We feel a lot better about keeping that pick. Talk about your team turmoil.
Twelve days until the Nets Media Day ... and one more Off-Season Report next Sunday. After that, it's pre-season! Here's the quick schedule of how things will play out. On Friday, September 26, the Nets will hold Media Day in East Rutherford. Media, both national and local (including us) will spend the morning interviewing players, coaches, etc. On Saturday, September 27, the Nets will open practice with the first of at least five two-a-days.
Ten days after the first practice, Euroleague champion Maccabi Tel Aviv comes to Barclays Center for the first preseason game. The next day, everyone boards a charter out of Newark Liberty Airport, headed for Shanghai, where the Nets will play their first game of a two-game set vs. the Kings four days later. The second game will be held three days after that in Beijing. Then it's back to New York for three games in four days, starting October 19, against the Celtics and 76ers at home and the Celtics in Boston on October 22, a full week before the season begins.
Will there be an Open Practice? We assume so and think it's more likely in that last week before the season opener in Boston. Would not hazard a guess as to the specific date but the weekend of October 25-26 is our best guess, but again, we have no inside information on this one.
We found a couple of things interesting about the signing of Jerome Jordan this week. It was billed as a
"training camp contract," but ...
1) Unlike previous years, when camp invites were announced all at once, Jordan's signing was announced separately.
2) Jordan was in Grizzlies' training camp two years ago, being the last player cut. Lionel Hollins ran that camp. As Tom Lorenzo of Grizzly Bear Blues wrote at the time, "it seemed as if Jordan was the only player in the mix to possibly make this roster, based on his fairly decent play in the preseason." Jordan might have made the team, but the Grizz decided to keep only 13 players going into that season.
3) We hear that if Jordan makes the final roster, he may get a small guarantee, which would put him on equal footing with the player he's likely competing with, Cory Jefferson, who has a $75,000 guarantee.
As Reed Wallach wrote Saturday, Jordan could bring some positives to the Nets. Bottom line: With only 13 guaranteed contracts and the Nets rightly concerned about front court depth in light of last season's injuries, Jordan has a fighting chance.
Mason Plumlee's big game
We wish Mason Plumlee good luck Sunday vs. Serbia in the World Cup. Plumlee has played well after being the big surprise of the Team USA training camp.
His averages (2.5 points, 1.8 rebounds in six minutes per game) really don't matter. What matters is that if Team USA wins, it's another personal milestone for Plumlee. He will have won an NCAA championship while at Duke and the FIBA World Cup championship, two of basketball's great achievements, both under Coach K. The other two are an Olympic gold and an NBA ring, not outside the realm of possibility for a 24-year-old. (Teammate Anthony Davis will have three of the four if USA wins: the NCAA with Kentucky and the Olympic gold, both in 2012, as well as FIBA gold ... all by age 21. That leaves only an NBA ring. NO player has ever won all four.)
Alessandro Oliveira, formerly with Hawks, has joined the Nets as an assistant trainer, replacing Nixon Dorvilien, who followed Jason Kidd to the Bucks. It's the second change in the training staff this summer. Lloyd Beckett replaced Robby Hoenshel as director of rehabilitation and assistant trainer. Beckett had previously been a physical therapist with the U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations. Hoenshel is now working with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tim Walsh returns as the Nets head trainer for his 15th season with the Nets.