The off-season is more than half over. It's been 105 days since the Nets last played on May 1 and 74 days till their first regular season game, on October 28. So we can make some assessments, serious things like who was the face of the team this summer and which reporters had the big scoops.
The Face of the Off-Season
The face of the Brooklyn Nets this off-season has been? No, not Jarrett Jack or Brook Lopez, although they led a group of Nets vets to Las Vegas to cheer on the summer league team.
No, it's been Rondae Hollis-Jefferson! He's been everywhere.
There was the typical Summer League fare, you know, like showing off your ping-pong skills...
Or ranking Starburst flavors...
Or being asked about the owner's AK-47... Things most rookies get asked (no they don't)...
How about a short feature about Rondae and Markel Brown's visit to Universal Studios...
And the interview at the Nets kids summer camp that he helped run with Chris McCullough and Sergey Karasev
Then there was Rondae spinning and dancing on Instagram...
And as we noted earlier Saturday, the Nets took him to Rockefeller Center for a Sports Illustrated interview, in which he talked about how he tries to model his game after...
Who he'd pick as his starting five of Philadelphia area NBA players, putting himself at the 3!
He offered a tutorial on how to shimmy at the free throw line...
And how, as long as he can produce, he thinks he can lead, whether a rookie or not...
In fact, RHJ said in that last clip that he expects the transition to the NBA will be "smooth!" We will have to wait on that one, Rondae!
To most NBA fans, Hollis-Jefferson would qualify as "intriguing," but Israel Gutierrez of ESPN said this week that the Nets don't have any "especially intriguing rookies." Might be news to his colleague, Chad Ford, who described RHJ as both a "steal" and "the most underrated pick" in the draft back in June.
The Nets surprise signing of another journeyman --six teams in six years-- may very well be underrated. His guarantee is tiny, only $50,000 if he's cut before Opening Night, then $200,000 if he isn't but Sloan has a reputation as a tough player on the court, a character guy off it. Think of him as Jarrett Jack lite, maybe a bit more athletic, a bit better handling the ball.
Like a number of the new Nets, he played well last year in a limited role. With George Hill out at the beginning of the season, he filled in nicely. Just like Thomas Robinson did in Philly at year's end and Wayne Ellington did all year in L.A. He had games of 31, a career high, and 29, in November. Don't be surprised if he plays a bit off the ball as well. Like much of the off-season signings, he is a low-risk, high-reward guy. How many of them work out will likely tell the story of the season.
What it also means, of course, is that Ryan Boatright's road to the NBA is more crowded.
Charting the scoops
We try to do this every year, determine which reporter had the big scoops of the off-season. This is often tough to do since reporters can be right on top of each other with the news.
Typical was the big scoop of the season, the Nets buyout of Deron Williams was finally broken by David Aldridge, although Marc Stein, with some help from Mike Mazzeo, wrote a day earlier that the team and Williams were in serious negotiations.
The Nets and Deron Williams have reached a buyout agreement, per source.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 10, 2015
Story going online now: ESPN sources say Deron Williams seeking release from Brooklyn Nets so he can sign with his hometown Dallas Mavericks— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 10, 2015
Also interesting was that the Nets themselves broke the news on three stories, the signings of Andrea Bargnani, Wayne Ellington and Donald Sloan. Bottom line was that while there were plenty of Woj Bombs, he didn't dominate as much as he has in past years.
Here's what we believe are the other scoops.
On Draft Night, Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted out the Chris McCullough pick and the two trades --for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Juan Pablo Vaulet within seven minutes on Draft Night.
The Brooklyn Nets will select Syracuse forward Chris McCullough with the No. 29 pick in the NBA Draft, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2015
Portland has traded Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Steve Blake to the Nets, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2015
Brooklyn has acquired Charlotte's 39th pick, Juan Vaulet, for two future second-round picks, league source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2015
Woj and Stein also broke the re-signings of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, although neither was much of a surprise.
Brooklyn is moving rapidly toward extensions with free agents Brook Lopez and Thad Young, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2015
As covered in the story, there is strong mutual interest between Mavs and Deron Williams to strike deal if Williams and Nets can part ways— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 10, 2015
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders broke the story of Thomas Robinson's signing the next day.
Thomas Robinson is nearing a deal with the Brooklyn Nets, according to league sources. Trying to find out the terms.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 2, 2015
Thomas Robinson's deal with the Brooklyn Nets will be a two-year deal, with a player option for the second year, according to sources.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 2, 2015
Then Woj won the race on Shane Larkin...
Free agent guard Shane Larkin has agreed to a two-year, $3M deal with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2015
And Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders broke the news about Ryan Boatright...
The Brooklyn Nets have signed rookie, UConn pg Ryan Boatwright to a two-year, $1.4 mil minimum deal, $75k guaranteed @BBallInsiders— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) July 3, 2015
David Aldridge had the Nets losing both Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson...
Anderson will get part of Washington's mid-level exception, which the Wizards held in hopes of signing David West.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 7, 2015
Just after the Nets removed the qualifying offer for Mirza Teletovic, he agrees to terms with Phoenix for one year, $5.5M, per sources.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 9, 2015
The Nets themselves beat out everyone on Wayne Ellington and Andrea Bargnani ... hours after others had said Bargs was headed to Sacramento...
ROSTER UPDATE: #Nets have signed guard Wayne Ellington: http://t.co/73WSgka1Mv— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 10, 2015
#Nets have reached an agreement in principle with free agent F/C Andrea Bargnani, GM Billy King announced today.— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 12, 2015
RealGM's Shams Charania had the Willie Reed signing, the trade of Steve Blake for Quincy Miller and Earl Clark's release...
Free agent Willie Reed has reached agreement with the Brooklyn Nets on a one-year deal, mostly guaranteed, league sources tell RealGM.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 9, 2015
Brooklyn has traded guard Steve Blake to Detroit for Quincy Miller, with the Nets likely releasing Miller, league sources tell RealGM.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 13, 2015
The Brooklyn Nets are waiving forward Earl Clark this week, obliging his plan to pursue a deal elsewhere, league sources tell RealGM.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 4, 2015
The last big move, the signing of Donald Sloan, was another Billy King exclusive...
The #Nets have signed guard Donald Sloan, General Manager Billy King announced today: http://t.co/QnEWl2Y3I5— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 10, 2015
How about us? Well, Mazzeo and we both had details on D-WIll's buyout at around the same time. So there's that.
This week was supposed to the deadline for Bruce Ratner and his parent company, Forest City Enterprises to resolve their debt to Mikhail Prokhorov, a $31.3 million bill. Then, came word that the deadline has been pushed back a month. That's the second time.
The general belief is that the two parties would like to go further, that Prokhorov would like to buy out Ratner's stake in both the team ... and the arena. Wall Street analysts in fact think some sort of deal will go down soon, the authoritative TheStreet.com reported.
"The team is obviously on the auction block, and my guess is they are extending this agreement because there might be a deal close at hand," said Paul E. Adornato, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets Inc. who follows Forest City's stock. "What this tells me is that there could be a larger deal for the sale of the team and the sale of the arena."
The question is whether once the team is in Prokhorov's hands will he tempted to sell?
Truth in Height!
We've occasionally thought of setting up a "Truth in Height" blog, something like the #MuscleWatch hashtag, where Twitter followers point out clearly erroneous claims off-season wight and muscle gains.
But a "Truth in Height" blog would go after fluctuations. Guys grow then shrink and grow again. It happens all the time. Here's a couple of examples with the Nets...
Chris McCullough, listed at 6'11" at Syracuse and now on the Nets roster, measured at 6'8.25" in bare feet, 6'9" in sneakers at NBA PreDraft Combine. Did he grow? He could, we guess. People do still grow a bit at that age. But that doesn't account for the obviously inflated number at Syracuse.
Willie Reed, who volunteered in a tweet that he is "a legitimate 6'11"," is listed at 6'10" by the Nets. We met him once and when we noted "well, here's someone who's a legitimate 6'9," the height he was listed at in Springfield, he replied, "6'11". There was not a hint of a smile. Serious stuff for Reed. He was never measured at NBA PreDraft Measurements so we don't know.
Brook Lopez is easily 7'1" or 7'2" but listed at 7'0". He measured (just after his 20th birthday) at 7'0.5" during the Combine. We once tried to engage him in a conversation about his true height. Got nowhere. Richard Jefferson has always been listed at 6'7" but that's his measured height in bare feet. He's 6'8 1/2" in sneakers ... and we believe they play in sneakers.
It's not just the Nets, of course. When he was in Minnesota the first time, Kevin Garnett said he never wanted to be listed as a 7-footer, even though he obviously is. If he was listed at seven foot, he said, he might wind up having to guard Shaq. So he was happy at 6'11".
Juan Pablo Vaulet options
Word that Juan Pablo Vaulet will be out four months following ankle surgery has both good and bad aspects. Argentine hoops officials believed initially the recovery and rehab would be longer. So that's the good news. But it's his second ankle surgery. Different ankle and it may be that the second injury was the result of him overcompensating after the first surgery. So the Nets will wait and see.
The Nets originally thought they might want to bring Vaulet over next summer, but now, who knows. They have a few options: they could sign him outright; they could sign him to a D-League contract --and retrain his NBA rights-- while monitoring his development; set him up with a European club, or simply leave him with his Argentine team, Bahia Blanca. Plenty of time, obviously, before a decision.
Still waiting on the D-League announcement. Back on May 29, Brett Yormark and Billy King wrote Nets season ticket holders about what to look for this summer, noting, "You can also expect to hear about our D-League commitment in the coming weeks, which would provide our young players with continuity in our system."
So far, those "coming weeks" have now stretched out into 10 weeks.