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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #5

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Barclays Center

As we get closer to the Draft, a Barclays Center event, we'll continue to focus on who the Nets might pick, although there is NO guarantee the Nets will pick at Nos. 29 and 41. In fact, if the Nets finish up at midnight on the 25th with those picks, we'll be surprised.

Draft Sleeper of the Week

The player most mentioned for the Nets at No. 29 is not a point guard, not a three- or four-year player, but a one-and-done big man with a bum knee, Chris McCollough of Syracuse.

If McCollough hadn't torn his ACL after 16 games in orange-and-white, he'd likely have gone higher, maybe even around the spot the Nets gave up in the pick swap with the Hawks.  But he did tear it and that means 1) he can't work out; 2) there's only a small sample of college games to base a decision; 3) the likelihood of another ACL or MCL tear is much higher than for those with healthy knees; and 4) he probably won't be ready to play right away.  In fact, he says, he should be ready to go "right around when training camp starts," which isn't that encouraging. So that's why draftniks have him at the bottom of the first round.

McCollough has potential. At 19 years old and a bit less than 6'10" (Syracuse listed him at 6'11"), he's intriguing despite the knee injury.  He's long, with a wingspan of 7'3", and athletic ... although he couldn't jump or run at the NBA Combine. He's fluid, agile and capable of hitting shots out to the three point line. He was ranked top 20 among high school seniors last year by ESPN: #7, Scout: #16, and Rivals: #13, as DX notes.  And he started out like a house a fire at Syracuse, averaging 16.4 points in his first seven games and shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor.

But he also has issues.  Here are the other reasons besides the knee injury that have draftniks questioning that potential. He is inconsistent, his motor is somewhat suspect and, as Draft Express notes, he has added only four pounds to his 199-pound frame in the past three years. Does that make him an average shooting stretch four, a tweener?  And between that first great stretch at Syracuse and his injury, McCollough didn't score more than seven points in any game.

Here's the DX work-up on him...

And his media availability at the Combine...

Jonathan Givony of DX has compared McCollough to Perry Jones III, who has similar size and style (and knee issues).

Exceptionally gifted modern day power forward who drops impresses glimpses of potential, but also shows a multitude of highly concerning red flags. Does not play with a high motor and shows average toughness and fundamentals. Similar package of strengths and weaknesses as Perry Jones at the same stage.

That's about right. Jones was taken at No. 28.  It's what you get when you're drafting down there. (Also, not to harp on it, but if the Nets did take him at 29 -- or if they like him enough to buy a pick to take him if he slips -- having your own D-League club would help him ease his way from injury to NBA-ready.)

Other Draft Notes

Here's the latest on a couple of other players linked to the Nets by draftniks.

Robert Upshaw has had to suspend training and postpone all workouts until he gets final clearance from the NBA's cardiologists, hopefully this week.  A heart issue was discovered at the Combine.  The NBA is serious about heart issues. Very serious. The incidence of sudden cardiac death among very tall men is high.  Three former Nets died that way: Armen Gilliam, Yinka Dare and Jack Haley.  It's possible that Upshaw could face the same fate as Isiah Austin if he doesn't get the all-clear.  With all his other issues, even if cleared, it's increasingly likely he won't get picked in the first round, or at all.

NBADraft.net has the Nets taking a Brazilian point guard at No. 41 ... but not George Lucas de Paula, the 18-year-old (with braces) who DX has the Nets taking at that spot.  NBADraft has the Nets taking Danilo Fuzaro, at 6'4" a little shorter than Lucas de Paula, and at 21, three years older.  While Lucas de Paula plays in the Brazilian equivalent of the D-League,  Fuzaro is a star in Brazil's top league.  Here's what NBADraft.net offers as a bottom line on the two.

Some around Latin American basketball feel that he is a first round talent ... One of the most promising guards to come out of Brazil in a number of years ... He exploded this season in Brazil finishing the playoffs averaging 20 pts per game ... While fellow countryman George Lucas de Paula has received more hype, insiders in Brazil feel that Fuzaro is the superior prospect .

The Nets resume workouts this week and although the names have yet to be released, a number of players have let it be known that Brooklyn is on their itinerary between now and June 25, among them, Rashad Vaughn of UNLV; Dez Wells of Maryland; Joseph Young of Oregon; T.J. McConnell of Arizona; Will Cummings of Temple, Larry Nance Jr of Wyoming and Tyler Haws of BYU. All but Nance, a power forward, are guards. Vaughn is projected late first round. Opinion is divided on Young, as it is on a lot of players after 25. Chad Ford has him at No. 27, DX at No. 55. McConnell could go late in the second.  The rest are likely to go undrafted.

One other thing about June 25 at Barclays. Arena management expects 12,000 people to attend. That would be the biggest crowd in the three years the draft has been hosted in Brooklyn. With the Nets having two picks, the Knicks having the No. 4 pick and the 76ers the No. 2 pick (and five second rounders), there will be a lot of fans in a lot of colors present.  Last June, when the Nets and Knicks had no picks going in --and the Sixers had two lottery picks-- Philadelphia was well represented.

HSS Training Center and development

No one is publicly saying that when they expect the Nets training center at Industry City to be ready, other than during the season.  That puts it behind schedule already.

It was supposed to be completed in time for training camp this October, but more likely, its ceremonial opening will take place around the All-Star Break.  That's been rumored for months.  What's the problem?  Blame it on New York. Everything takes longer, and when you're dealing with a 100-year-old building, there are often surprises.

There is hope, however. On Sunday, a construction crane, along with netting, was installed at the site.  Its job will be to take out the current roof of Building 19 at Industry City so the ceiling can be raised on the top floor by 12 feet or so, enough to accommodate the practice courts  Once that happens, everything should get sped up.

Team insiders point to the cost of the training center -- between $40 and $45 million -- and the impending purchase of a D-League team -- another $6 to $8 million -- as evidence that they're not wildly cost-cutting as much as they are making the organization more efficient.

Something other than that rationale could link the two big bucks projects -- their roles in player development. Billy King said publicly last week that the Nets want to put their new D-League team, at least initially, in Brooklyn, when it begins play in "couple years."  There are rumors that the Nets' D-League club could wind up training with the parent club at the HSS Training Center. It's not uncommon among organizations that have a D-League team playing near the NBA club.  The Westchester Knicks use the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown, just like the big team (and the Liberty).  Same with the Lakers and the D-Fenders. Such an arrangement would give team execs an up-close look at the D-Leaguers and the Nets another development tool. That cannot be a bad thing.

By the way, if you want to know what setting up a D-League team entails, take a look at the Westchester Knicks website. The team has more than 20 local sponsors, led by Chase, has its own dance team, its own social media team, its own community outreach team and local radio affiliate. And we are told, they lose money, but James Dolan thinks it's  good investment.

"We're talking about practice" ... Was Iverson drunk?

Journalist Kent Babb has just published his book on Allen Iverson, "Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson." In it, he writes about the famous 2002 press conference where Iverson invoked  the phrase "we're talking about practice" 22 times. Iverson, Babb writes, after talking with Larry Brown and Billy King, then 76ers GM, that Iverson was almost certainly drunk at the time.

Here's what ESPN reported this week about how King pushed the idea of the press conference and then was horrified by what he saw unfold...

According to the book, King suggested that Iverson speak to reporters four days after the Celtics had eliminated the Sixers in the first round of the 2002 Eastern Conference playoffs. The news conference came on the heels of Iverson showing up late for a meeting with Brown, then arguing with Brown about the player's future in the parking lot of the team facility. According to the book, Iverson asked Brown -- who days earlier had said any Sixer could be traded -- if he was on the block. Brown said no.

After his talk with Brown, Iverson left with a friend and returned later for the news conference. "I assumed he went and fooled around somewhere," Brown said, tipping his hand up like a bottle, the author wrote in the book.

Before the news conference, King said he could tell that something was off about Iverson, but "if we thought that he was drinking or whatever, we'd have never done it."

Wrote Babb: "Some were entertained, and others watched the train wreck unfold, knowing from experience that Iverson was drunk."

King tried to think of a way to stop the press conference, the book said, while [Pat] Croce [then 76ers president], watching on television, said he suspected Iverson was drunk and asked his wife to shut off the TV.

If anyone wonders why King has little patience with knuckleheads, this should help you understand.

Teletovic more than a hoopster

You couldn't escape Mirza Teletovic on Bosnian television this past week. The Nets forward is more than a basketball player in his native land of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a national hero whose influence extends beyond sport. His intelligence, international reputation -- and his own experiences in the country's civil war -- mark him as a leader.  He is often consulted by his country's embassy in Washington. Two years ago, the captain of the Bosnian national team was chosen to witness the collective burial of 400 newly-identified victims of the massacre of Bosnian Muslims in the city of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995.

In the past week, Teletovic...

--was named Bosnian "ambassdor" to the Youth Sports Games, the largest amateur sports event in Southeast Europe with 800,000 participants. The games open June 26. It includes youth from the countries that warred in the mid-90's, Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, leaving a quarter million dead.

--encouraged the Bosnian national soccer team as it prepared to play an important qualifying round game in advance of the European Cup.

--met with the High Representative in Bosnia, Valentin Inzko. Inzko, an Austrian diplomat, is charged with implementing the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords which ended the bloodshed.  Teletovic presented Inzko with an autographed Brooklyn Nets jersey.  Inzko, on meeting Teletovic, spoke on the importance of sports in maintaining the peace.

"I have repeated many times, and it's not a problem to once again say athletes are the best and greatest ambassadors of this country. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country, but with a large number of talents and great potential, not only in sports, but also in other social spheres."

After his playing career is over, might Teletovic step into a political role? Don't bet against it.

Final Note

R.I.P. Drazen Petrovic. Today is the 22nd anniversary of his death in an auto accident on the German Autobahn.  He was 28.  Nowhere is his loss felt more than it is, to this day, in Croatia.  For Bojan Bogdanovic, the connection is personal.

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