Ian Eagle knows stuff. He proved that recently when he told WFAN that if the Nets couldn't find a taker for Deron Williams, they'd look to "cut bait" with their former franchise player, code as we later learned for the buyout and stretch. He wasn't just speculating. He knew.
He spoke Thursday with Chris Shearn of YES, reiterating that the Nets brass thought Williams' attitude, not just his play, was hurting the team and that Joe Johnson could have a different role than he's had since his first years in the NBA, as first man off the bench.
"I wouldn’t be shocked if he came off the bench this year," Eagle told his YES colleague.
In opening the discussion, Shearn said that he had "sensed some animosity in that locker room," and asked if the team is better with D-Will's departure. Eagle didn't shy from the question, saying ownership and management clearly feel that way...
"They believe they are which is the biggest part of this equation. They paid him a lot of money $98.7 million. When you pay someone that kind of money, it comes with a lot of responsibilities. Not just what you do on the floor. There was growing feeling that the dynamic of this team was not working. They went for broke. They traded for Kevin Garnett, they traded for Paul Pierce. They committed financially like no other team in the NBA.
"Utlimately, they felt they have to reshuffle the deck so they would have some financial flexibility moving forward
AND analyze the whole attitude of the team and at the forefront of that attitude was Deron Williams.
They clearly believed they needed to go in a different direction, what their identity is, what they'all about, and if you're trying to build a cohensive unit as we saw with the Golden State Warriors, you need talent, but you also need chemistry and chemistry par was certainly falling short of the mark
On who could replace Williams as team leader, Eagle was quick to identify the team's new starting point guard.
"I think Jarrett Jack is a leader even when he wasn't a primetime player is a leader. Guys respect him, guys respect his effort, not just on the court but off the court, the way you bond with your teammates, the way you handle adversity, the way you handle the media. It's all part of the process. Yes Brook Lopez is being paid big money. Thaddeus Young got signed at a big number. I think they like those two guys not only as players but as people, people that are coachable, people that want to be a part of this, people that want to be on the court.
Eagle also said that the Nets could use Joe Johnson in a different role this season.
"Joe is the credibility. I don't know when it's all said and done what his role is going to be. I wouldn’t be shocked if he came off the bench this year, That would not shock me in the least bit. I know that I know on the surface, you say, will they have enough offensively, in the starting lineup The way Jarrett Jack plays the game and he's not a natural point guard. If indeed he's the starter, you might be better served having Joe Johnson in a bench role, second unit, being the anchor of that and then finishing games. Just because you don't start doesn't mean you don't finish.
"But matching him up against second unit guys, NOT forcing him to play the power forward. There were times where he had to match up against the opposing stretch fours, that takes a toll on your body. Joe is going to be in his 15th year in the league ... I think behind the scenes, it was frustrating for him ... I think Joe is going to find himself in a more advantageous role to do the things he wants to do out there.>
Eagle, asked if the the Nets could have "some success" this year, Eagle said yes, and added one more element...
"They could and remember Bojan Bogdanovic is part of this conversation. They expect improvement. They don't expect the Bojan Bogdanovic who was tentative at times last year, that was trying to figure out what his role was, trying to develop a niche in the NBA. It's a hard transition. We know that. By teh playoffs you saw the capabilities and the way he can take over games offensively. "
And throughout, Eagle spoke of the many Nets players who have "chips on their shoulders," citing Thomas Robinson, Shane Larkin and Andrea Bargnani.