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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #3

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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, or the first round. We rely on our own reporting as well as what the Nets’ beat reporters and others have slipped into stories, blogs and tweets.

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It's Memorial Day weekend, with great and not-so-great basketball on television and very little Nets news anywhere.

Things are a bit unsettled as the team prepares for the Draft with workouts starting in a week and for free agency which is now only about a month away.

Beyond that, composition of the Nets front office remains uncertain with Bobby Marks and others awaiting word on their next contract.  The coaching staff, too, could in line for change. John Welch is already gone, headed for Sacramento and George Karl's Kings. Others, we hear, may also be moving on.  A minority share of the team is still available for the right price, but that price is high.  Expect the summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, to be time of transition for the team as the organization prepares for a "bridge year," as several insiders have called it.

We're just hoping the bridge doesn't resemble the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from the 1940's.

Draft Sleeper of the Week

The sleeper of the week is Jerian Grant, the 6'5" point guard out of Notre Dame. What's that you say, three sleepers and they're all point guards?  Yup. There's a reason for that.  Everything we hear is that the Nets priority in the draft, whether they pick at No. 29 or move up is point guard ... and a big point guard.

Delon Wright, our first sleeper, is 6'6", as is George Lucas de Paula.  Grant is an inch shorter.  Unlike Wright, he is solidly built and unlike Lucas de Paula, he's isn't a teenager.  Grant checks off all the Billy King boxes: He's 22 and will turn 23 shortly after the season begins.  He's mature.  He comes from a big, successful program, He's a good (enough) defender and he's athletic (enough).  Moreover, he has an NBA legacy. His father is Harvey Grant, who played in the NBA for three teams, most notably Washington.  His uncle, Horace, played with Michael Jordan and the Bulls, and his brother, Jerami, plays with the 76ers. Not a lot of families have four NBA players around the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Most importantly, he's a pass-first point guard who excels in the pick-and-roll.  As Draft Express notes,

Grant's best attribute from an NBA standpoint clearly revolves around his playmaking ability. He is a decisive passer and an extremely unselfish player overall, making reads automatically and whipping the ball impressively all over the court. He has a tremendous natural feel for finding the open man regardless of where they are on the floor, being capable of making every pass in the book, be it high or low, and to cutters, rollers or shooters. Unlike many big guards, he's not a combo looking to make the transition to the point, he's already a tremendous distributor.

He's likely to have issues scoring. He won't have the great height -- and strength -- advantages he had in college, and his shot needs some work.  He does have a quick first step. And the Nets are interested. They met with and interviewed him at the Combine, as did Wright and Lucas de Paula.

What makes Grant most interesting, when you look at the Nets overall off-season strategy, is that he's projected as a mid-first rounder, No. 21 on Draft Express; No. 18 on both ESPN and NBADraft.net.  To get him -- and maybe Wright as well --. the Nets would have to move up, in Grant's case, significantly, like 10 places.  That's not easy in any year, requiring the dispatch of a real asset.  This year, it may be even more difficult.

As valuable as first rounders are now, they will become more valuable in the next two drafts. First rounders get four-year guarantees and if you pick right, they're a cheap way to stock your roster. This year and next, they will be even more valuable since most of those four years will come after the TV rights deal raises the salary cap by 30 percent or so. The rookie salary cap isn't tied to BRI, basketball-related income. It's going to remain stable, and thus discounted. A rookie contract will be a much smaller percentage of the cap.  The more picks you have in the first round, the better.

So what might the Nets do?  There were rumors at the trade deadline that the Nets, as part of their plan to trade Brook Lopez to Oklahoma City for Reggie Jackson, Kendrick Perkins and pieces, also wanted to trade Jarrett Jack to the Wizards for Martell Webster and the right to swap picks, presumably this year.  Webster appears done or close to it and although his contract next season is smaller than Jack's -- $5.6 million compared to $6.3 million -- Jack is owed less, $500,000 in 2016 while Webster is owed $2.5 million. (Webster's deal is an odd one. He's partially guaranteed unless he is still or an NBA roster on July 1, 2016 ... or if he's played at total of 180 games over the three previous years. In the last two, he's played 110. So the Nets would want to avoid him playing more than 69 if they acquired him.)

There are of course other ways to move up. That's just one. But if a player like Grant or Wright or Cameron Payne is drafted to be the point guard of the future and there's no market for Deron Williams, Jack would be expendable.

Buying a pick or two

The Nets have bought six second round picks in the Billy King Era: Bojan Bogdanovic ($1.3 million); Tyshawn Taylor ($2 million), Toko Shengelia ($700,000), Markel Brown ($1.1 million), Xavier Thames ($500,000) and Cory Jefferson ($300,000). Three are still with the team and one, Thames, will be on the summer league team and reportedly in training camp.

Will they be in the market for another purchase with the $2.3 million they have available?  Maybe. It all depends on who's on the board and who they like. King has said if they buy a pick, the most likely scenario is they buy one so they can stash a European.

So far, only one GM has said he's willing to sell, Flip Saunders of the T-Wolves.  Back in April, as the end-of-season press conference, he said...

The two Minnesota picks are Nos. 31 and 36.  Other teams with multiple picks include the 76ers, who have FIVE, at Nos. 35, 37, 47, 58 and 60; the Jazz, 42 and 54; the Hawks, 50 and 59; the Celtics, 33 and 45.

Odd contracts to the rescue

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders compiled an interesting list a couple of weeks ago of partial and non-guaranteed contracts, calling it "The Best Trade Chip Contracts," contracts that teams would find alluring. Their full salary counts for trade purposes, but once acquired, they can be dumped with little or no cap harm.  The Nets don't have any of these themselves, but could be interested in acquiring others.  Here's Pincus' list for next season...

1) Brendan Haywood ($10.5 million) — Cavaliers — Depending on their luxury-tax position, Cleveland can bring in a player making $13-15.5 million in salary in return for Haywood.  The team acquiring the veteran center would presumably cut him, clearing significant money off their books this summer.

2) Caron Butler ($4.5 million), Anthony Tolliver ($3 million) and Shawne Williams ($1.4 million) — Detroit Pistons — The trio combine to make $8.9 million in waivable salary, less Tolliver’s $400k guarantee.

3) Wilson Chandler ($7.2 million) and Randy Foye ($3.1 million) — Denver Nuggets.  Together, Chandler and Foye will earn $10.3 million, but only Chandler has any guaranteed salary ($2 million).

4) Ben Gordon ($4.5 million) and Luke Ridnour ($2.8 million) — Orlando Magic — Orlando can send out Gordon and Ridnour ($7.3 million non-guaranteed) to bring back over $11 million in salary.

5) Jamal Crawford ($5.7 million) and Matt Barnes ($3.5 million) — Los Angeles Clippers — The Clippers don’t have many trade assets.  Their veteran duo will make $9.2 million together with a combined $2.5 million guaranteed.

6) Chris Kaman ($5.0 million) — Portland Trail Blazers — Only $1 million of Kaman’s contract is guaranteed.

7) Trevor Booker ($4.8 million) — Utah Jazz — Booker has just $250k locked in.

Print this out and post it on your refrigerator. It may come in handy.  Pincus also has a list of similar contracts in 2016.  Jack is on that list.

Just Speculating

This the Report's new feature. Again, we're just speculating, have no inside information.  But on Saturday, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was tweeting about Nemanja Bjelica, a 6'10" forward for Fenerbahce in Turkey.  He has just been named MVP of the Euroleague.  The Timberwolves own his rights, but there's plenty of speculation that they're willing to trade those rights and Bjelica, now 27, has indicated he may want to try the NBA.

Zgoda remarked the Nets could be a team that might be interested ... if they had a first round pick to trade.  He was of course mistaken as Nets fan Andres B noted.

A couple of things: we have no idea if the Nets would be interested in the athletic Serb who would likely play the small forward or point forward in the NBA. Nor do we know if he would interested in playing in Brooklyn. And even if both were true, it would take the loss of a first round pick and a substantial contract, at least the mini-MLE of $10 million, and probably more, over three. In fact, we don't even know if the Nets are willing to use the mini-MLE!  All that said, the Nets have used the mini-MLE three times, each time on a European star: Mirza Teletovic, Andrei Kirilenko and Bojan Bogdanovic.

Take a look at his highlight reel.  See what you think.

Again, we're just speculating.

Markel's hidden achievement

It's a small thing, but when the All-Rookie team was announced this week, we noticed something.  Markel Brown started the second most games, 29, of any second round pick. Only Jordan Clarkson, who made the first team (and was drafted two places after Brown) started more, 38.

Of ALL second round picks, from all drafts, the three leading rookies in terms of games started this past season were Clarkson (38), Brown (29) and Bogdanovic (28), who made second team.

It should be noted that the Knicks' Langston Galloway, who went undrafted, started 41 games and averaged 11.8 ppg, one-tenth of a point less than Clarkson and 2.8 more than Bogdanovic.

And no, we're not going to castigate anyone for missing on Clarkson, who did show he can play in the NBA and is a big point guard. The second round is more of a crap shoot and GM's and front offices should get a pass. It would have been fan-friendly though.  Clarkson is the only Filipino American in the NBA and we all know how crazy Filipinos and Filipino-Americans are for the Nets.

Final Note

Shoutout to all our young writers -- Reed Wallach, Anthony Puccio, Brian Fleurantin, Daniel LoGuidice and Thomas Duffy -- for their great work in grading the seasons of the 15 Nets players and Lionel Hollins.  They were, as always, professional and on time!!!  We pride ourselves on being comprehensive and they're a big reason why. So thanks.