For three hours, 20 players moved back and forth across the two practice courts at the Nets' practice facility, talking among themselves and to reporters, the biggest stars --Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young, Jarrett Jack -- along with Lionel Hollins talking to the assembled media while the others sat at tables available to whoever wanted to talk to them.
Here's what we picked up...
--There was some nostalgia about this being the lastin New Jersey --and basically the last big media event of any kind in East Rutherford. Next season, it will be held in the HSS Training Center in Brooklyn, with players likely to talk with reporters atop the rooftop lounge.
--Hollins said that Jack has not yet won the starting point guard job, that nothing is yet set in stone and expressed regret that last year, he spoke too soon about the team's potential. Interestingly, when photographers gathered five players for what appeared to be a starting unit shot, the five adorned around Hollins were Lopes, Young, Jack, Johnson and .... Andrea Bargnani. Lopez has a good inch and a half two inches on Bargnani. And no, we know no more.
--Lopez not only appeared comfortable, he seemed more mature than we've ever seen him. It's the first time since 2011 that Lopez spent the summer doing "fun" things --including a lot of basketball-- rather than rehabbing. He said he had told Hollins and expressed not just a desire to lead but a desire to help his teammates more, saying he's been working on distributing the ball. Meanwhile, in Tarrytown, NY, home of the Knicks, Robin Lopez spoke of his brother in endearing terms. "The only downside of coming here is that I'm gonna have to see my brother more."
--If you're betting against Dahntay Jones making the team, stop. In two different answers to questions about defense and wing depth, Hollins mentioned Jones without prompting. Jones, asked if he thought he had a chance to make the 15-man roster, said he could and promised he could deliver more than he did last season with the Clippers. he said he had other offers but wanted Brooklyn mainly because of Hollins.
--If you're betting either way on Chris McCullough's chances of playing this season, stop. Once again, the Nets gave no hard timetable for the Syracuse product's first time in uniform and on the court. Hollins did say he's likely to practice sometime in January, but didn't commit to playing him this season. "Basically, this is a ‘redshirt year’ and secondly, somebody said it, he’s like our Lottery pick for next year and I agree with that," Hollins said. "He’s a guy that is definitely part of the future, so hopefully, we can get him back early so he can get a lot of work in and then go through the summer and Summer League." For his part, McCullough said he doesn't want to "rush" coming back.
--No one seems happier to be in Nets black-and-white than Willie Reed. Reed, the 6'11" back-up big, has had two contracts with Memphis and Sacramento, but never played a minute. He said he's looking forward to his "debut." He said he appreciated that Hollins brought him in after working with him in Memphis at the end of Hollins final season and in last year's camp. Reed recounted how at his last stop on his incredible hoops journey, the Dominican Republic, the team announcer introduced him as "Willis Reed Jr." They are distant cousins.
--Bojan Bogdanovic is still not over Croatia's early exit from Eurobasket, treating much like a "death in the family," as one writer put it. Bargnani, on the other hand, was thrilled by Italy's performance. Listening to Bargnani handle questions, one began to think he has a career in diplomacy.
--Sergey Karasev was the picture of confidence, saying "I think you will see new Sergey" because he feels he has "improved all type of my game," adding that he has been shooting, shooting, shooting, with "500 to 600 makes" every day, getting in early, staying late. Karasev finally got on the court three weeks ago, six months after fracturing his knee cap. "Coach came talked to me, sees the confidence in my game." He never stopped smiling.
--Wayne Ellington and Jones both talked about how being close to the families, Ellington's in Philadelphia and Jones in Ewing Township, was a big factor in choosing Brooklyn. Team now has three players from Philly metro area, those two and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson from Chester, PA.
--Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was, as advertised, charming his way with words and actions. Physically, his arms seem to be go forever. When asked who he was interested in going up against, he said in order, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and James Harden. Who has impressed him most in scrimmages. "Brook has impressed me, with his hook shots, with his foot work. It's been nice. I wish I had foot work like that. To be be seven-foot and have foot work like that, it's pretty incredible." RHJ called his teammates "good people."
--Thomas Robinson says all he needs is "minutes, man" and doesn't pay attention to the media, saying he's blocked Bleacher Report. "Twitter is next, then Instagram."