It's been a slow week. Well, it was after the Kenny Atkinson hire last Sunday, the first for four head coaching hires this week. As Mike Vaccaro noted Saturday, "It is amazing how universal the praise for this hire has been. So unusual in 2016."
So it's all about the future.
We have no idea how the Nets front office feels about bringing LinSanity back to New York ... or how Jeremy Lin feels about a return. The hiring of Kenny Atkinson, Lin's mentor; Lin's play for the Hornets:and the Nets need for a starting point guard all would make it seem like a logical step. Lin IS a better player and is in a better system than he has been since he left New York, but does he meet the standard for a starting point guard? And if so, where does he fit in the Nets free agency mix. We know that Billy King liked Mike Conley Jr. Don't know about Sean Marks preferences. And we have yet to hear from Atkinson.
Still, a lot of people treat it as a given that the Nets will go after the native Californian.
Jeremy Lin keeps upping that offer from Mikhail Prokhorov.— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) April 23, 2016
Then, again, Lin didn't seem crazy about playing in Brooklyn last summer when he a free agent. He could have had the $3.5 million mini-MLE from the Nets but his team thought he could get more. He didn't. But suppose Lin didn't want to come back to the pressure of New York. Or maybe he didn't like what he saw from the Nets front office strategies -- how the place was run. After all, he does have a degree in economics from Harvard! We don't know. And of course, all that has changed with Marks, Langdon, Atkinson and the focus on culture.
Still, we don't know and we haven't heard or read anything from anyone else about his feelings towards the Nets. We know how he feels about Atkinson. That's a given. The rest will no doubt be a big story line for free agency. Wish we knew more.
There is no way to get beyond the lack of draft picks, other than signing young free agents; finding undrafted European players; drafting second rounders with long-term potential; developing D-League players, etc. That's not to say you can easily make up for lost picks, particularly high lottery picks. You have to have an element of luck but luck is the residue of design, as Branch Rickey said.
So there is a method to all this, an extensive scouting database and a scouting staff. But there is also a schedule. It started last week in Portsmouth, Va., where college seniors show off their skills at the Portsmouth Invitational. Among the alumni are players like Jeremy Lin, Avery Johnson and Ben Wallace, all undrafted.
Here's some of the other dates where those diamonds can be mined ... not just for this year and not just for the parent club, but for the Long Island Nets as well.
May 8 - 10 -- D-League mini camp features 40 of the league's top players and takes place in Chicago. Many D-League guys will secure NBA summer league invites from the mini camp.
May 11- 15 -- NBA Draft Combine 2016 in Chicago The best prospects get measured, interviewed and worked out. Nets will be there. Hey, ya never know.
June 10 - 12 -- adidas EUROCAMP in Treviso, Italy. The European version of the NBA Pre-Draft Combine. Nets always send a contingent to Treviso, outside Venice, for the event. Expect Nets interest to be more serious after Sean Marks recent and repeated comments about he hopes the Nets can make up for lost picks with a mix of overseas players and D-Leaguers.
Mid-June -- D-League Open Tryouts. A one-day tryout where D-League executives and coach watch 5-on-5 full-court games. It's usually held at Basketball City on Pier 36 in Lower Manhattan. Players pay a small registration fee and pay their way to the event.
June 27 -- NBA Draft. No first rounder. Nets will have to swap second rounders with the Clippers. The difference? A lot, 21 places, from No. 34 to 55. The Nets will also likely buy a pick or two, as they have every year but 2013 since Prokhorov bought the team. Those second rounders could be signed to a Long Island Nets contract with the Nets retaining the players' NBA rights. Hey, Isaiah Thomas and Drazen Petrovic were taken at No. 60.
July 4 - 9 -- Croatia (Bojan Bogdanovic) and Italy will face off in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Torino, Italy. It will be difficult for either to advance to the Olympics. Competition is tough.
July 8 - 18 -- Tentative dates for Las Vegas Summer League. Nets won't participate in Orlando Summer League this year, ending a decade-long run in the Magic-run league. So we have to assume they will participate in Vegas SL. Last summer, the Nets participated in both Orlando and Las Vegas.
August 5 - 21 -- Rio Olympics. As of now, no Nets player is likely to play. Juan Pablo Vaulet's Argentina team has qualified but it's uncertain that he will make the squad.
August 31 - September 17 -- FIBA Europe Qualifying Round will play out at various venues. European national teams who didn't make the Olympics or the Olympic qualifying round must compete for places in the FIBA Eurobasket in 2017.
Early September - D-League expansion draft usually take place around now. The three new clubs - The Long Island Nets, Windy City Bulls and Greensboro Swarm -- will get a shot at grabbing players from a pool of unprotected players among the league's established teams.
Of course, The Nets and their D-League club could (and probably will) set up up their own mini-camps. The last time that happened was two years ago when they invited a number of players,led by European point guards Mantas Kalnietis of Lithuania and Edwin Jackson as well as DeAndre Liggins, the D-League's top defensive player. Player development wasn't a priority back then and there weren't a lot of roster spots either. That's changed. So has development strategy overall.
Front Office Directory update
Still no "basketball operations" nor "public relations" sections on the Nets Front Office Directory. With so many changes --highlighted by the departures of Tim Walsh and Gary Sussman as well as the coaching staff, the Nets will apparently take their time reconstructing the front office.
The next time those two sections will be posted in full, expect a lot of new names.
Meanwhile, Tony Brown's next stop could be Washington. David Aldridge tweeted this week that new head coach Scott Brooks might be interested in him.
Would expect Brooks will try to get former assistants Rex Kalamian (currently w/Raps) & Mo Cheeks to D.C., maybe ex Nets interim Tony Brown.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) April 21, 2016
Brown is a veteran assistant coach, having won the trust of a number of NBA head coaches. He's been an assistant with the Nets (2014-16), Clippers (2009-10), Bucks (2007-08), Celtics (2004-07), Raptors (2003-04), Pistons (2001-03) and Trail Blazers (1997-2001). In addition to Rick Carlisle (in Dallas and Detroit), Brown assisted Mike Dunleavy in Los Angeles and Portland, Larry Krystkowiak in Milwaukee, Doc Rivers in Boston and Kevin O’Neill in Toronto.
We can tell you one thing: If you wanted to be Sean Marks executive assistant, that job is taken.
Draft Sleeper of the Week
We're not going to review potential picks above No. 40 in the second round for this feature. Not yet anyway. If the Nets keep No. 55, the Clippers swapped pick, and use all their $3.5 million on second rounders, they could come away with three or four picks and that makes for a smart strategy since teams can sign second rounders to the Long Island Nets roster without losing their NBA rights. If they do that, don't expect the Nets to spend more than a million dollars on their highest pick, leaving the rest of lower picks, one of whom might be a Euro-Stash.
Based on past sales, a million dollars would get you a pick around No. 40.
That said, we think Gary Payton II, Son of the Glove, could be around at No. 40. Payton is one of he oldest players in the Draft. He turns 24 in December, but maturity shouldn't be a negative. The Oregon State PG has a number of advantages over the kids he's competing with. When he was growing up, his father was at the top of his game. He knows what the league is all about.
Not surprisingly, he's a solid defender, winning the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year as a Junior. And he's both hyper athletic and a good rebounder. A very good rebounder in fact for his position. He's better in the open court than in sets. There are negatives, like his ability to run a team.
As Draft Express, which currently has him at No. 41, writes...
He'll make some impressive plays in drive and kick situations, but kills his dribble too soon just too frequently, and doesn't have a great grasp of when to take his foot off the gas attacking off the bounce. He isn't very turnover prone, but seems capable of more as a shot creator given his athletic prowess. An improved, but still less than dynamic ball handler, Payton was able to make plays on speed alone at the college level, and though his ability to get downhill quickly figures to be a key part of his game at the next level, he would benefit from becoming more shifty with the ball in his hands
Still, there's a lot to like that low in a mediocre draft. Here are his positives, courtesy of Mike Schmitz...
Meanwhile in Moscow
There were few news stories in recent weeks as troubling as the sudden raids at Mikhail Prokhorov's ONEXIM headquarters 10 days ago. The FSB, successor to the KGB, was reportedly looking at tax issues, but no one believes that.
Two weeks before the raids, as the Moscow Times reported this week, this scene played out on Russian TV, controlled by Vladimir Putin.
Dmitry Kiselyov, the notorious Kremlin propagandist, gives the camera time to zoom in on the RBC newspaper he has just plucked from a nearby table in a casual, but evidently rehearsed, gesture.
The leading article features a large photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin. RBC is the only Russian newspaper to have dedicated an entire front page to the Panama Papers revelations that have incriminated Putin's inner circle in an alleged money laundering scheme.
"The Americans have helpers around the world, and Russia is no exception — people who are prepared to link Putin personally to offshore companies in whatever way they can," says Kiselyov. "What a delusion!"
RBC is owned by Prokhorov. and Prokhorov, because of his high profile ownership of the Nets, has faced a lot of anti-American sentiment. So, a lot of people in Russia think the raid was political and the solution was political as well.
Reuters reported on Thursday that RBC editor-in-chief Elizaveta Osetinskaya, who's pushed the Panama Papers coverage, was leaving on a sabbatical at Stanford four months earlier than planned, in a surprise move that, according to an unidentified source, could be related to pressure from the Kremlin.
Will that cure the issue Prokhorov has with Putin? Maybe. Probably, but that doesn't mena Putin is done with Prokhorov. There is ALWAYS the possibility that the Russian president could push Prokhorov into a sale. For now, that seems unlikely.
Also, in Russia...
The NBA and Sports.ru, Russia's leading sports website, announced this week the launch of NBA.com Russia, the NBA's new, official online destination in Russia. There is rising interest in the NBA of late. Andrei Kirilenko is president of the Russian basketball association and three Russians --The Nets Sergey Karasev and the Cavaliers Timofey Mozgov and Sasha Kaun -- are on NBA teams and of course the Nets are owned by Prokhorov.
Expect some or the original content about the Nets on the new site.