The Nets are bringing 17 bodies to training camp in East Rutherford starting Saturday, but the league rules allow only15 starting October 25. That means we will see a bit of a competition in camp and the preseason schedule that will likely feature four young players competing for two spots, maybe even one..
Those four are the Nets last pick in the 2014 draft Cory Jefferson; last year's late season acquisition Jorge Gutierrez; and two recently signed big men Jerome Jordan and Willie Reed. All indications are that Marquis Teague won't be cut despite an underwhelming tryout last season because it will be an expensive proposition and Lionel Hollins apparently sees the former Kentucky point guard as a developmental piece at least for now.
So, who makes the roster? It seemed obvious that Jefferson was going to make the roster during the summer. Jefferson is a power forward who has developed a mid-range jumper and is not a typical rookie -- he's already 24. However, the signings of Jordan and Reed over the past two weeks, Reed officially Thursday morning, have put his spot in jeopardy.
Jordan gives the Nets another rim protector. At 7'1", the former Knicks big man can play spot minutes here and there and can keep the offense active with his versatile skill set and freakish size that includes a 7'6" wingspan, longest on the team.. On the other hand, Reed was heavily scouted by Brooklyn the last two seasons, playing for the team's D-League affiliate, and impressing in a significant role. Reed has great size at 6'10." He was called up from the D-League twice in the past two years, first by the Grizzlies and then the Kings.
It should be noted that Lionel Hollins knows both players. Jordan was among the last cuts in the Grizzlies training camp in October 2012 and Reed was called up by Memphis roster at the end of that season, Hollins last with the Grizz. Reed didn't get any minutes in the regular season or the 2013 playoffs.
Based on roster needs Jordan probably is in the lead position. The Nets can use another seven footer to come off the bench and give some energy minutes every once and a while. At 27, Jordan may not get another shot at making an NBA roster, so a sense of urgency can go a long way for him. He last played for the Knicks two years ago. If Jordan does make the roster, he will make $100,000 in guaranteed money, a league source told NetsDaily.
The other roster spot? It could come down to Jefferson and Reed. Unfortunately for Gutierrez, there is isn't much room in the backcourt. With Teague almost a lock to stay because of his contract and the addition of Jarrett Jack, the Nets don't see third string point guard as a priority. Last season, even with injuries, Teague, Gutierrez and the departed Tyshawn Taylor played a total of only 715 minutes. In other words, the third point guard was not critical.
Alan Anderson can play some minutes at the point -- he started Games 6 and 7 of the Toronto series -- and both Markel Brown and Sergey Karasev think they have point guard skills. Besides, Deron Williams appears to be healthy and capable of big minutes. The Nets can use some depth and young role players at the power forward position, so a spot that goes to Reed or Jefferson will be more worthwhile than keeping Gutierrez. That being said, the former California standout will receive $25,000 if he just makes it to the first day of training camp. He will.
Calling it between Reed and Jefferson is tough. Both are talented and only 24. Jefferson is an "older" rookie, but Reed is also 24, so the age and upside argument isn't really in play. Both are athletic bigs who are capable rebounders, but Jefferson may have more of a face-up game. Also, the Nets have already paid Jefferson his $75,000 in guaranteed money while Reed has NO guaranteed money coming his way, he is literally playing for a contract. Moreover, Reed would cost the Nets $915,000 in cap space, Jefferson $507,000.
Of course, if the Nets keep only 14 players, as they did at the cutdown deadline last season, the race gets tighter still.
Nets sign Willie Reed - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York