Want to know how and when the Nets current point guard problem started? Try July 10, when the Heat announced they would match the Nets’ four-year, $50 million offer sheet to Tyler Johsnon. Sean Marks et al saw the 24-year-old as Jeremy Lin’s back-up and sixth man. With Lin and Johnson, the Nets thought they would have a nice rotation at the point.
With Johnson staying In Miami —and shooting guard Allen Crabbe staying in Portland, Marks quickly moved to Plan “B.” That plan became signing Greivis Vasquez, recovering from ankle surgery, who was signed the same day as Heat matched, and 33-year-old Randy Foye, who can play both guard positions, five days later.
In June, the Nets had taken Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead in the Draft. Both are combo guards, with Whitehead primarily a point guard and LeVert capable of playing the 1, 2, or 3. He was recovering from his own foot surgery but expected to return in November The Nets also signed undrafted PG Yogi Ferrell to a camp contract.
Sounded like a plan, but a series of injuries ruined it all. And it must be said, the biggest mistake, the critical one, was signing Vasquez. A great locker room presence, a high character guy, an experienced international player and when healthy, a solid back-up who could fire things up and hit a few shots. Problem is he hadn’t fully recovered from his ankle surgery in December of last year.
By late July, less than three weeks after Vasquez signed, the Nets knew they had a problem. Vasquez dropped out of the Olympics to rest his ankle, continue his rehab. In a series of Spanish language tweets to his disappointed Venezuelan fans in mid-August, Vasquez said he’d had health issues for the previous 18 months. Still, surprisingly, he was ready for Opening Night.
And then the season began. Here’s a chronology of the Nets point guard woes from that game forward. Read it and weep.
October 26 - Randy Foye ruled out of Celtics game with right hamstring strain. He’ll miss six games.
October 29 - Greivis Vasquez leaves game vs. Bucks with sore ankle. Does not return. Nets doctors re-evaluate his ankle. It’s his last game with the Nets. He played 39 minutes in three games.
November 2 - Jeremy Lin leaves game vs. Pistons with sore hamstring. Does not return.
November 3 - Nets announce Lin out at least two weeks with hamstring strain. To be re-evaluated at the end of two weeks.
November 4 - Whitehead starts his first game for Nets at point guard.
November 8 - Whitehead suffers concussion in game vs. Timberwolves, will miss three games. Randy Foye returns to action after missing six games.
November 9 - Whitehead is placed in concussion protocol. Nets announce Vasquez will undergo ankle surgery and will be waived, Yogi Ferrell called up from Long Island, given two-year contract. Sean Kilpatrick starts vs. Knicks.
November 15 - Whitehead returns to action vs. Lakers after missing three games.
November 16 - Vasquez undergoes surgery.
November 17 - Lin re-evaluated.
November 20 - Kenny Atkinson says that Lin has been "progressing well" and he's "on schedule" in his rehab, but offers no date for return.
November 21 - LeVert goes through full practice for first time but there’s no timetable for him either
November 23 - Whitehead hurts wrist vs. Celtics, does not return. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson hurts ankle, does not return.
So what’s next? In the short term, the Nets will rely on a point guard rotation of two rookies, one a second round pick, one undrafted, and a 33-year-old. Whitehead and Ferrell have played well, considering their lack of experience. Atkinson has praised Whitehead’s defense in particular.
Lin’s status remains uncertain and the Nets upcoming schedule, basically a game every other day, is not conducive to him getting needed practice time once he’s healthy. LeVert may return earlier, but who knows?
As for Vasquez, he received a buyout, we’re told, adding $4 million or so to the Nets dead money, now at $10 million plus with previous buyouts of Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack and Andrea Bargnani.
Time for a trade? We would not be surprised.