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Bojan Bogdanovic: ESPN is wrong, Brooklyn Nets will contend for playoffs

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Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview with writer Tvrtko Puljic of Croatia's Sportske Novosti (Sports News) Wednesday, Bojan Bogdanovic disputes an ESPN prediction that the Nets have a bleak future ... and notes that the Nets sent new assistant coach Chris Fleming to Croatia recently to discuss priorities for next season.

Bogdanovic began training for the Croatian national team this week. Croatia plays in the FIBA Qualifying Tournament next month, hoping to earn a spot in the Rio Olympics.

Asked about the ESPN suggestion that the Nets future is the worst for any NBA team, Bogdanovic took exception to what Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton wrote.

"I think ESPN is wrong. Brooklyn will have new coach, new coaching staff. Maybe we’ll get some good free agent. I believe we will contend for playoffs next year," said Bogdanovic, noting that last season, "We had a lot of problems. Coaching changes, the Jarrett Jack injury, the Joe Johnson departure…"

Bogdanovic admitted his 44-point explosion vs. the 76ers in March even caught him by surprise. "I don’t remember when I had 30 points before that, let alone 40. When I was kid, maybe. In NBA is very tough to score even 20."

The 6'8" swingman also spoke about how Chris Fleming, the Nets second assistant hired and the German national team coach, visited him recently in Zagreb, increasing his belief that he'll be back in Brooklyn next season, something he has said he wants.

"It’s important for me that Chris came to Zagreb, that Nets sent him there," said Bogdanovic. "That’s proof for me that Nets have big plans for me in next season. We talked a lot what I should improve in my game. He said me how to be more consistent in spot up shooting coming from screens. Also, I should post up more, because I did that a lot in Europe, but not in NBA."

He also was asked about his expiring contract. He makes $3.5 million this season and if he does well, he's likely to make a lot more in the TV rights-infused salary cap summer of 2017.

"I don’t think about that," he told Puljic "I know this is my last season in contract and I’m aware I should play best so far if I want to sign better deal, but for now I don’t think about that. All I care for now is to play good for Croatian team, to work hard so I could be better in Brooklyn."

Here's the full translation of his remarks...

About his physical form

"I’m better athletically than last year, but I have worked more this year. I’m tougher and stronger than last year"

About last season

"I’ll take away a lot of things from last year. Those 44 points comes to mind. I don’t remember when I had 30 points before that, let alone 40. When I was kid, maybe. In NBA is very tough to score even 20. Second, we had a lot of problems. Coaching changes, Jarrett Jack injury, Joe Johnson departure…"

About ESPN’s prediction Nets will be bad next year

"I think ESPN is wrong. Brooklyn will have new coach, new coaching staff. Maybe we’ll get some good free agent. I believe we will contend for playoffs next year."

About contract year

"I don’t think about that. I know this is my last season in contract and I’m aware I should play best so far if I want to sign better deal, but for now I don’t think about that. All I care for now is to play good for Croatian team, to work hard so I could be better in Brooklyn."

About Chris Fleming (he was in Zagreb for few days)

"It’s important for me that Chris came to Zagreb, that Nets sent him there. That’s proof for me that Nets have big plans for me in next season. We talked a lot what I should improve in my game. He said me how to be more consistent in spot up shooting coming from screens. Also, I should post up more, because I did that a lot in Europe, but not in NBA."

About Croatian players in NBA draft, Dragan Bender and Ivica Zubac

"Frankly, I believe it's better to go in NBA at 19 or 20 years of age, rather than at 25 (as he did). Personally, I didn't choose that path, but from my perspective I believe it's better to go in NBA as early as possible. In NBA players work harder and better than in Europe, but of course practice means nothing if you don't play."