A little fallout from the Olympics and some lists, a lot of lists. Four more weeks of the off-season. Then at the end of September, pre-season begins. Yippee!
Bojan not happy
In an interview with Sportske Novosti, the big Croatian sports site this week, Bojan Bogdanovic said that maybe in a few weeks he'll be able to appreciate his contributions in the Olympics. But the sting of the loss to Croatia's archrival Serbia in the semi-finals still hurts.
"Honestly, I'm not happy. I might be over the next week or fortnight (two weeks). I'm still not looking at the complete picture, thinking exclusively about the defeat in the last game, " said the Nets shooting guard.
"This was our most important game this summer. The third quarter has destroyed us, we did not have enough focus," he said the three-point loss to the Serbs. "We did not play as well as we did in the other games that were important. I'm still disappointed.."
Bogdanovic was the high scorer in the Olympics (25.3 ppg) as he was in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (24.3 ppg) and he spoke about how those performances could translate in Brooklyn.
"I've shown I can play well and score a lot at a very high level," he told Sportske Novosti. "It will give me a boost in the NBA season, further raise confidence in what awaits me in Brooklyn."
He also said he had adopted a leadership role in Croatian basketball, at the insistence of the country's top hoops brass: Stojko Vrankovic, Dino Radja and Toni Kukoc.
"Stojko, Dino and Toni spent a lot of time with us," he said. "I was in constant contact with Stojko and Dina. They encouraged me, pushed me to take the team into my own hands."
Bogdanovic said he believed if Croatia had beaten Serbia, they could have taken Australia and wound up in the gold medal game vs. Team USA.
Bogdanovic and Luis Scola who finished third in rebounding at the Olympics, are expected at the HSS Training Center soon. We don't know if the Nets are planning a press conference but considering how many press conferences the Nets have had this year --six-- it wouldn't be surprising. (The Nets are best in the league at two things: press conferences and bricks-and-mortar, that is, facilities.)
For the record, the Nets will have five international players in camp: Bogdanovic (Croatia), Scola (Argentina), Greivis Vasquez (Venezuela), Anthony Bennett (Canada) and Egidijus Mockevicius (Lithuania). In addition, Justin Hamilton holds dual citizenship -- U.S. and Croatia, where his mother was born and where he spent some time as a child.
And, of course, there's another guy, a U.S. citizen, with an international following bigger than of them: Jeremy Lin, who makes an jet lag-inducing trek to Taiwan, where his parents were born, and China every summer.
About those six press conferences this year, here's the list..
January 11 -- Mikhail Prokhorov explains his reasoning for firing Lionel Hollins and reassigning Billy King, Barclays Center
February 17 -- Nets open HSS Training Center at the center.
February 19 -- Nets introduce Sean Marks as GM, Barclays Center
May 16 -- Nets introduce Kenny Atkinson as head coach, HSS Training Center
June 28 -- Nets introduce their first Brooklyn-born player, Isaiah Whitehead, NetsStore, Coney Island.
July 20 -- Nets introduce Lin and five other new players, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Trevor Booker, Anthony Bennett and Justin Hamilton. HSS Training Center.
...And they're not finished overseas
On Wednesday, Chris Fleming, the Nets assistant coach, will lead his German national team into the FIBA Europe Qualifying Tournament. They play Denmark in Kiel, Germany. European teams will fight among themselves to come up with a field for Eurobasket 2017, to be held next summer.
Fleming, who came to the Nets from Denver, has been coach of the German national team for the past two years. His team is not what it once was. Dirk Nowitzki has retired from the international game and Dennis Schroder opted out to prepare for his starting role with the Hawks now that Jeff Teague is gone.
He still has Maodo Lo, aka "the Chairman," who starred at the point for Columbia and who the Nets had in for a predraft tryout; Paul Zipser, the 6'8" swingman the Bulls took in the second round; and Tibor Pleiss, the 7'3" center the Jazz traded to the 76ers this weekend. Reports in Philly have Pleiss being cut, but not until after they can try to find a team willing to take on his guaranteed $3 million expiring deal. Will we speculate that the Nets could be interested in him? We will not. One reason: even if Philly dumps him, he's likely to get a better deal back in Europe.
The Germans played well in the friendlies leading up to the Qualifying Tournament which goes through mid-September.
What to watch for "on Long Island"
The Nets are starting to build a roster for their D-League team. it really began with the signing of three camp invites: Yogi Ferrell, Egidijus Mockevicius and Beau Beech. Under league rules, the D-League rights of the last four players cut by the parent club automatically go to the affiliate. By giving Ferrell and Mockevicius $100,000 guarantees and Beech $45,000, the Nets had made playing in the D-League, with its notoriously low salaries, more appealing. (The Nets are required to find housing for the D-Leaguers, further softening the blow.)
Then, this week, The L. I. Nets drafted 12 players in the D-League expansion draft. Few of them will likely be on the Long Island roster this year. Most of the best players taken in the expansion draft are already under contract overseas, from Europe to China to Australia. Why draft them? Because the Nets will retain their rights for two years and if the players decide to come back to the U.S. at the end of this season or next season, the Nets will hold their D-League rights.
The list of most likely to play this year, if they want to, starts with Gary Forbes, the former UMass star who at 31 is a free agent, having not yet signed a contract overseas; Carrick Felix, who is coming off knee surgery that kept him out of basketball last season; and Akil Mitchell, who played for the Nets summer league team in 2015 and is also apparently a free agent as well. All are swingmen with some defensive skills. Two other strong possibilities are signed overseas: Peyton Siva, a 6'0" point guard, who'll play in Germany, and Alex Kirk, a 7'0" center, who's signed in China. Both attended the Nets mini-camp in May. Expect to see some news of signings in the coming weeks.
Next month will be the local tryouts at the LIU Post campus in Brookville, Long Island. Here's hoping some NetsDaily posters will give it shot. Wouldn't that be fun?
But the roster will start to get serious in November with the D-League draft which is usually around the 1st of the month. Also, the Nets will decide who on the Brooklyn roster could use some time "on Long Island," as we've heard Ronald Nored say (even though the team plays and practices in Brooklyn for this year at least.)
It's highly likely some of the younger Nets will see time in the D-League. When Sean Marks ran the Austin Toros (now the Austin Spurs) in 2012-13, the parent team sent players back and forth regularly.
For example, during that 2012-13 season, Cory Joseph was assigned to Austin five times, playing in 26 total games. Here's what Grantland wrote of the value of the assignments to Joseph ... and the Spurs.
More importantly, the coaches have put the ball in his hands, encouraging him to be more aggressive, and Joseph has been able to develop the confidence to be the team’s best player, leader, and go-to guy. This confidence translated into production with the Spurs, where Joseph earned minutes as the backup point guard during the second half of the 2012-13 season and eventually played 41 minutes in the NBA Finals.
With the parent club and affiliate sharing a practice facility and a home arena, the Nets may be willing to move players back and forth with great regularity. They'd only have to walk a few hundred feet from the Brooklyn locker room to the Long Island locker room. They'll still practice on the same court, still work out on the same equipment, just at different times.
Things are different now. The Nets blew it on more than one level with their previous D-League incarnation, the Springfield Armor. By not having a D-League affiliate for two years and not putting a priority on it when they did --Billy King, we're told, never ventured up to Springfield to watch the Armor play, the Nets missed out on some interesting opportunities.
The most famous example is their inability to recognize the talent of Jonathon Simmons in 2015 when he was with the Nets summer league team. If the Nets had a D-League affiliate the previous year, their summer league coaching staff might have seen him play, might have realized that his summer league exploits were just an extension of what he had done in Austin and signed him. Instead, the Spurs did.
There was another example, less talked-about example. When the Nets gave up their D-League affiliation in 2014, they also lost all their D-League draft picks and player rights. They went with the franchise when it moved to Grand Rapids and became a Pistons franchise. Among the picks lost was the overall No. 1 in the D-League Draft of 2014, which became Robert Covington, the stretch 4 who's had so much success in Philly since.
Little things mean a lot. Sweat the details.
Congrats to @USAB_BJ
We don't recall as many congratulatory tweets from as distinguished and diverse group of basketball types as we saw for B.J. Johnson. He's the USA Basketball official who was hired by the Nets last week as coordinator of player evaluation, a scouting position.
Here's a sample:
Harrison Barnes (@hbarnes) August 22, 2016
Congrats BJ! https://t.co/w5FrNxJLIw— NBADraft.net (@nbadraftnet) August 22, 2016
The cascade of congrats reflects well, of course, on Johnson as well as the Nets and Sean Marks. it also confirms what one league source told us about a number of the Nets hires of late: that in addition to their skillsets, the hires are well-connected in the NBA and beyond in the world of basketball. We're told same is true of the other hire announced last week, that of Gianluca Pascucci, the former Rockets executive, now director of global scouting.
We are told, FYI, that Johnson will be stationed in Greensboro, N.C.and do a lot of scouting in the A.C.C.
Basketball Insiders did a piece this week on the smartest guys to ever play the game. No surprise but Jeremy Lin is on the list. He is after all the only NBA player with an Ivy League degree ... in economics... from Harvard. The Nets are even planning a Harvard alumni night this season!
The story brought to mind one of the funniest basketball exchanges we're read in the past few years. When Lin was in Houston, ESPN the Magazine set up a true-or-false session to measure just how much Lin and James Harden, the Rockets new backcourt mates, knew about each other. Here's the exchange we found the most hilarious...
True or false? As a freshman in high school, Jeremy got a 790 out of 800 on his advanced math SAT II subject test.
HARDEN: TRUE! He's brilliant! I mean, he went to Harvard. He's a smart basketball player, but book smarts, obviously, he gets it done. So it's definitely true.
ESPN: FALSE! Jeremy got a perfect 800.
HARDEN: Oh my goodness! Oh s-- , that's crazy!
LIN: I still remember that because the highest score I had ever gotten was a 670 on all the practice tests. [Harden rolls his eyes.] So I came home and told my mom, "I got an 800," and she just laughed at me. It was a miracle.
ESPN: How does that rank on your list of life achievements?
LIN: That ... is pretty low. [Both laugh.]
ESPN: Did you have a favorite subject in school, James?
HARDEN: Yeah, math. Um ... but I don't want to talk about it anymore because he got an 800.
And yes, there is video of some of it...
Juan Pablo Vaulet update
Juan Pablo Vaulet was the final cut of the Argentine national team. The 6'7" swingman had one good game in the series of friendlies just before the Olympics, scoring nine points against Croatia. Still only 20, JPV is part of Argentina's future.
But what about the Nets future. It's telling that Vaulet will almost certainly return to play another season with Bahia Blanca in the LNB, the Argentine national league,one of the weakest leagues in the world.
The Nets could have done three things with Vaulet that would indicated interest in JPV's immediate future.
--They could have signed him to an NBA contract. That was the original plan by Billy King and Frank Zanin., King's assistant who pushed the Nets to draft him.
--They could have signed him to a D-League contract. NBA teams can sign second round picks to their D-League affiliate while retaining their NBA rights.
--They could have arranged for him to play with a Euroleague team, to provide him with better competition, better coaching, training, etc.
None of those things happened at least so far. So it appears the Nets will watch and wait. For the record, the Nets sent two second rounders and $880,000 to Charlotte for Vaulet's draft rights in 2015.
Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reported this week that the Nets paid $3 million to the Jazz so they could move up 13 places in the second round, from No. 55 to No. 42, to take Isaiah Whitehead They also sent the rights to the No. 55 pick, Marcus Paige of North Carolina, to Utah.
It was by far the most money the Nets had spent on a pick since the Mikhail Prokhorov Era began with the 2010 Draft.
Here's a summary of what they've paid out over the years and for who. (Like we said up top, a lot of lists this week.)
2011: The Nets paid $1.25 million and sent its second round pick in the 2014 Draft to the Timberwolves in return for the 31st pick, Bojan Bogdanovic.
2014: The Nets paid $1.1 million to the Timberwolves in return for the 44th pick, Markel Brown; $500,000 to the Raptors in return for the 59th pick, Xavier Thames; and $300,000 to the 76ers for the 60th pick, Cory Jefferson.
2015: The Nets paid $880,000 and sent its 2018 second-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick to the Hornets for the 39th pick, Juan Pablo Vaulet.
2016: The Nets paid $3 million and sent its 55th pick to the Jazz for the 42nd pick, Whitehead.
That's a total of $9.78 million and four picks for eight players, two of whom are the Nets current roster and one stashed overseas.
Are the Nets interested in 31-year-old gunner Nick Young? As far as we know, NO. Are the Nets interested in trading for Rudy Gay? As far as we know, NO. Are the Nets about to trade Brook Lopez (who just invested in a Brooklyn condo). As far as we know, NO. How about Kenneth Faried? Isn't he about to join the Nets? As far we know, NO.
These and other bizarre rumors fill the internet. They come not from Woj or Marc Stein or other reputable sources, but instead from sites no one has ever heard of. They are clickbait. Nothing generates numbers on sports sites like trade rumors.
Just a few notes of caution to those fans who follow those sites and want to get excited about stuff like this: big trades rarely happen this time of year. GM's go on vacation. So do agents. Here's why: teams have just filled out their rosters and want to see what the players they just signed or picked or traded for can do before entertaining trade offers. Besides, any free agent signed this summer can't be dealt until December 15. That's about one-fifth of the NBA's 450 players. That constricts player movement.
Sure, there will be salary dumps and minor deals, like the Kendall Marshall for Tibor Pleiss trade this weekend. But big deals, nah. And it's hard to imagine Sean Marks being interested in Swaggy P. Iggy Azalea isn't.