As beat writers stragged out of the Sean Marks - Kenny Atksinson press conference at HSS Training Center and headed for the elevators Tuesday, they spotted a trio of NBA free agents, all dressed as if they had just worked out . In fact, they had.
P.J. Hairston, Jorge Gutierrez and Kendall Marshall were leaving HSS after a workout with the Nets staff. With 18 players under contract, 15 fully guaranteed and three with partial deals, Brooklyn has two spots it could fill by Monday when training camp opens with Media Day. NBA teams are permitted to carry 20 players on the camp rosters.
A league source said the three were in purely for workouts, that no decisions have been made on any of them. It’s also possible, even likely, that there were others in what amounts to a last minute free agent mini-camp.
Of the three, Hairston would have to be considered the most intriguing, a 23-year-old small forward who’s bounced around, his skills obvious, but his history questionable. However, the presence of the two point guards suggest, as Marks indicated at the press conference, that back-up point guard Greivis Vasquez (bone spur surgery) may not be fully ready by Opening Night and that rookie Isaiah Whitehead may be "thrown into the mix" earlier than expected.
Hairston, a 6’6" swingman looked like he was headed for the Draft Lottery in 2014 when an NCAA investigation into potential rules violations for his use of rental vehicles tied to former felon and party promoter Haydn "Fats" Thomas.
And there were other issues, serious ones:
Hairston has a long history of off-court issues including an arrest for marijuana possession that later revealed a weapon possession while he was a student athlete at UNC.
His issues didn't end there. Two weeks after he was drafted, he faced assault charges after an altercation with a high school player.
In a season and a half with the Hornets, Hairston averaged a little more than six points in 93 games, starting 48 of them. At the trade deadline, the Hornets traded Hairston to the Grizzlies in a three-way deal. He had his career high, 21 points, vs. the Lakers a week later. But in neither city did Hairston match his potential, shooting 34.3 percent overall and 29.5 percent from deep.
Gutierrez, 27, has played with the Nets on two occasions in 2013-14, playing behind Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston. A fan favorite, the Mexican native signed a multi-year deal at the end of the 2014 season, but early the next season was traded to Philadelphia who released him. Since then, Gutierrez had bounced around, getting shots with the Bucks and Hornets this past season.
Marshall, 25, has bounced around even more, with stints in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, playing 160 games, starting 57. He’s averaged five points and 4.9 assists. Marshall was most recently traded two weeks ago, then released by the 76ers.
Under D-League rules, the last four players cut by the Nets will automatically have their D-League rights assigned to the Long Island Nets. Of course, the players would have to agree to play for the L.I. Nets instead of heading overseas.