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NetsDaily Off-Season Report No. 12

Brooklyn Nets

Not much left to report now. It appears the off-season is over, with the possible exception of some news before training camp. The Nets currently have 17 players who could go into camp. Earl Clark may not make it. He could go back to China.

Jonathon Simmons and Cliff Alexander

The two players on the Nets summer league roster who had the best July were not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or Markel Brown, but Jonathon Simmons and Cliff Alexander. They went into summer league training camp without contracts and came out with them, Simmons a two-year deal, fully guaranteed in the first year, with the Spurs and Alexander a two-year deal with a $100,000 deal upfront with the Blazers.  Should the Nets have kept them?  Could the Nets have kept them and are they better prospects than the two players the Nets signed during summer league: Ryan Boatright and Willie Reed?

First Simmons. He's a very interesting case ... very Spurs-like. After a lacklustre college career, he went undrafted in 2012. Following a season playing for a semi-pro team outside Houston, he figured he'd try out for the Austin Spurs, San Antonio's D-League team ... at an open try out, a cattle call. Simmons paid a $150 registration fee, wowed the scouts and made the team. Last year, he averaged 15.5 points a game and made the D-League all-Defensive team.  But he got no call-up. He's 25.

So this summer, he got a call from the Nets, asking if he'd be interested in playing for Brooklyn in the two summer leagues.  He agreed and joined the team.  So much of an unknown quantity, he was DNP-CD his first game. Then over the next three games, he put a show with one savage dunk after another.  He showed that he could hit the corner three as well and played with a fearless abandon.  The Nets were interested, but his performance apparently reinvigorated the Spurs interest, too.  Here's how he learned he was headed to the NBA, according to the Spurs website...

Simmons was sitting on the Brooklyn Nets team bus two weeks ago, heading to a Summer League game in Orlando. His agent called to tell him that the Spurs had a contract offer. Simmons hopped on a flight to Las Vegas and made an immediate impact with the Spurs’ Summer League team, leading the squad in scoring with 17 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists and a couple dunks a game.

"It’s still a shock to me," Simmons said. "It’s just a humbling experience that I was able to get a contract, and now to win Summer League and be MVP. This is outstanding."

He was MVP of the Vegas Summer League title game, and widely quoted about Becky Hammon's competence.He's very happy.

Cliff Alexander is also an interesting case, too.  Just not as good of a story as Simmons. After going undrafted, he had offers from 12 to 15 teams, he agent said. But he chose the Nets because he and his agent felt Brooklyn had little frontcourt depth ... at the time.  But that changed in the days quickly.  The Nets re-signed Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, then inked Thomas Robinson, who like him was a Kansas big;  invested $500,000 in Willie Reed after he played well with the Heat entry in Orlando; surprisingly gave Andrea Bargnani a vets minimum deal, then traded for Quincy Miller. Not to mention that they had taken Chris McCullough at No. 29. Although injured, he looks like he will play at some point this season.

Alexander played well, "at times," as Lionel Hollins said, but looked raw. He did look better as the team moved from Orlando to Las Vegas, especially when paired with Reed, but bottom line, the Nets had gotten deeper, at least on paper.

So Alexander chose Portland, who lost LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez up front and is now trying to reconstitute things with a corps of young bigs, guys like Myers Leonard, Ed Davis, Mason Plumlee, Noah Vonleh and him.  There's no expectations in Portland.

How big a loss were those two guys? The question is where would they have fit? The 25-year-old Simmons would have been stuck behind Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic and the 20-year-old Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who, as we keep saying, the Nets are very high on. Wayne Ellington, who's a lot more experienced and less than two years older, might very well have played ahead of him as well.  In picking up McCullough, Robinson, Reed, Bargnani, even Miller as the summer league progressed, the Nets were sending a message to Alexander, particularly with the signing of Reed.

We sure would have liked to see them find a spot for a 19-year-old who only a year ago was seen as top two draft pick. If they had a D-League team, it might have made things easier but they don't.

If RHJ and McCullough or Reed or Robinson work out, and Simmons and Alexander get limited minutes in San Antonio and Portland, no one will much care or remember.  If the roles are reversed, they will join the list of wudda's and cudda's and shudda's.

So much friendship, so little time

Wondering what you'll do for basketball between now and the opening of training camp -- nine long weeks away.  Have no fear, Eurobasket is here. Starting this week, two of the Nets foreign contingent --Bojan Bogdanovic of Croatia and Andrea Bargnani of Italy-- will be playing in 20 "friendly" games prior to the FIBA Europe tournament, traveling across Europe to play single games and in tournaments before the tournament opens on September 5 in France.

Next week alone, there will be four games ... and we expect, hope, to cover them all.  Here's the schedule...

July 30, Italy vs. Netherlands
Trento, Italy - Trentino Basketball Cup
July 30, Croatia vs. New Zealand
Slavonski Brod, Croatia

July 31, Italy vs. Austria
Trento, Italy, Trentino Basketball Cup

August 1, Italy vs. Germany
Trento, Italy - Trentino Basketball Cup

August 7, Croatia vs. Bosnia
Zagreb, Croatia

August 14
, Italy vs. Israel
Tbilisi, Georgia - Tournament Tbilisi
August 14, Croatia vs. Germany
Zagreb, Croatia

August 15, Italy vs. Latvia
Tbilisi (Georgia) - Tournament Tbilisi

August 16, Georgia vs. Italy
Tbilisi (Georgia) - Tournament Tbilisi
August 16, Germany vs. Croatia
Bremen, Germany

August 18, Croatia vs. Turkey
Kaunas, Lithuania - Kaunas Cup

August 19, Croatia vs. Lithuania
Kaunas, Lithuania - Kaunas Cup

August 21, Italy vs. Finland
Koper, Slovenia - Adecco Cup

August 22, Italy vs. Ukraine
Koper, Slovenia - Adecco Cup

August 23, Slovenia vs. Italy
Koper, Slovenia - Adecco Cup

August 26, Croatia vs. Estonia
Zagreb, Croatia - Zagreb Tournament

August 27, Croatia vs. Israel
Zagreb, Croatia - Zagreb Tournament

August 28, Italy vs. Georgia
Trieste, Italy - Trieste Tournament
August 28, Croatia vs. Bosnia
Zagreb, Croatia - Zagreb Tournament

August 29, Italy vs. Michigan State University
Trieste, Italy - Trieste Tournament

August 30, Italy vs. Russia
Trieste, Italy - Trieste Tournament

Sergey Karasev won't be playing for Russia.  Russian hoops analysts, including Andrei Kirilenko, said this weekend it's no secret he's not playing. Karasev had held out hope, but for whatever reason, he won't be playing. Neither will Timofey Mozgov. Both are recovering from injuries.

Similarly, there's no indication that Juan Pablo Vaulet will play for Argentina in the FIBA Americas Tournament.  He's recovering from surgery on his tibia.

Numbers update

Here's the latest:

--Shane Larkin and Jarrett Jack will switch numbers, with Larkin to wear #0 and Jack #2, the number he has most frequently wore.  Last year, Kevin Garnett had it.  After Larkin was originally assigned #2, Jack asked if he could have it back. Done deal.

--Andrea Bargnani will wear #9. His long-time number, #7, is held by Joe Johnson and he told the Italian media that he hated #77, the number he wore the last two seasons (because another All-Star, Carmelo Anthony, wore No. 7 in New York.)  Jerome Jordan wore No. 9 last season.  Not necessarily a good choice for a Nets big man from overseas. Mile Ilic (Serbia) and Yi Jianlian (China) wore it along with Jordan (Jamaica).  Maybe he should reconsider.

--Ryan Boatright will wear #15. Sacrilege!  For six years, the Nets didn't issue Vince Carter's old number of anyone (save a moment of weakness at the 2011 NBA Draft press conference where Jordan Williams held it up).  We like Boatright, but what was wrong with #31, the number he wore in summer league?  We have long hoped the Nets would retire VC's number.

--Juan Vaulet won't be in a Nets uniform for another year at least, but it appears he has settled on #12. That's his number in Argentina and that's the number he wore while shooting around in Orlando and Las Vegas. It was last worn by Marquis Teague and before that Lucious Harris..

--So far, the Nets roster page indicates that Quincy Miller and Wayne Ellington have not yet chosen numbers.  Miller has worn #20 in the past.  So that's probably a good bet.  We recommend that Ellington return to #19, a number he wore his rookie year in Minnesota. No Net, other than Scott McKnight (in "Just Wright") has worn it.   It's Common knowledge, ya know.

Trade Exceptions

Since we're into lists this week, here's the list of trade exceptions --and when they expire-- the Nets have, derived from a number of sources, including Tim Bontemps update on the Nets financial situation.

--The Nets have a trade exception for $1,120,920 they received for sending Marquis Teague to the 76ers on October 25 of last season. The trade exception will expire if it isn’t used before October 24, 2015.

--The Nets have a trade exception for $3,326,235 they received for sending Andrei Kirilenko to the 76ers on December 11. The trade exception will expire if it isn’t used before December 11, 2015.

--The Nets have a trade exception for $816,482 they received for sending Jorge Gutierrez to the 76ers on December11. The trade exception will expire if it isn’t used before December 11, 2015.

--The Nets have a trade exception of $1,357,080 that they received from sending Mason Plumlee to the Trail Blazers on June 25. The trade exception will expire if it isn’t used by June 25, 2016.

--The Nets have a trade exception of $2,170,465 that they received from sending Steve Blake to the Pistons on July 13. The trade exception will expire if it isn’t used by July 13, 2016.

Are they likely to use them?  Hard to tell, but only two of them have significant value, the $3.3 million Kirilenko TE and the $2.2 million Blake TE.  With the Nets trying to stay under the tax threshold, it seems unlikely that the Kirilenko TE will get used before it expires in December.  The Blake TE won't expire until next summer so there's a better chance they will use that one.

When was the last time they used one?  On Draft night.  Here's how it worked ... and how they are likely to work.  The Nets had a $2.4 million TE from the Thaddeus Young - Kevin Garnett deal, the difference between KG's salary and Young's.  On Draft Night, they constructed a trade for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.  They had to take on Blake's contract as part of the deal and send Portland Plumlee and the rights to Pat Connaughton, the Notre Dame swingman..

So the Nets traded Blake's contract, a little less than $2.2 million, into the trade exception they had from the KG deal. The Blazers used cap space to take on Plumlee's deal. The two picks --Hollis-Jefferson and Pat Connaughton-- had no value for trade purposes. So at the end of the day, the Nets wound up with RHJ, Blake and a trade exception worth $1.35 million, the value of Plumlee's contract. Pretty neat.

Then three weeks later, they traded Blake into Detroit's cap space and got back Quincy Miller .... and a $2.2 million TE equal to Blake's deal.  Doubly neat.

So after all the linked machinations that began with the Young - KG trade at the deadline, the Nets sent out Kevin Garnett, Mason Plumlee and the rights to Pat Connaughton, receiving in return Thaddeus Young, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Quincy Miller.  We'll take it.

An interesting lawsuit

There was an interesting lawsuit filed a couple of weeks ago in Brooklyn court by a Long Island woman.  Newsday writes...

Elizabeth Silver, who filed the suit Thursday in Kings County State Supreme Court with her husband, Lewis, required arm surgery after a man holding two cups of beer fell as he navigated the row above, the couple's attorney said.

The couple said the arena's upper decks are unsafe because the steps are "too steep," aisles "too narrow" and seat backs too low to serve as protective barriers, the suit said.

The incident took place at the Billy Joel concert on New Year's Eve 2013, but we get her point.  Up in section 223, where we sit, it can be treacherous, particularly if you have seats in the middle of a row.  Our worry isn't that someone topples into us. It's more than we will lose our balance, topple down a few rows, then cascade over the deck railing and land, ignominiously, on patrons far wealthier than us in section 24.  There doesn't appear much that can be done.  We have tripped over the cupholders which makes the rows even narrower. But if they removed them, we'd be tripping over cups of beer.

We'll be interested in how this one works out.

Final Note

Final numbers aren't in yet, but it appears the Nets are now four years younger on average than they were two years ago, with only two Nets 30 or over, Joe Johnson and Jarrett Jack. There are just as many Nets, two, who are 20 or younger, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough.

According to HispanosNBA, the Nets are now tied for 12th, at an average age of 25.1 years old. They were 29.4 two years ago, 27 after the trade deadline last season.  Similarly, they're tied for 12th in experience at 4.2 years per player. They were No. 1 two years ago.  The question is how many wins will they have compared to two years ago.