Media Day is four weeks away ... and that marks the beginning of the preseason. The off-season will be over. The NBA year is divided into four seasons, not fall, winter, spring and summer but pre-, regular, post- and off-. So enjoy these last weeks of off- just as you're enjoying the last days of summer.
What was in charge here?
Before we get started, we wanted to clear up some confusion we've seen around the web and on our forum regarding who was ultimately responsible for some of the (boneheaded) moves that got the Nets into their current mess.
The revisionist history seems to be that Mikhail Prokhorov and Dmitry Razumov, his No. 2, pushed Billy King into bad deals. Certainly, ownership, as it does everywhere, sets the strategy. It's their team, their baby. But in terms of individual moves, King had the last word. We know this.
My longtime seatmate was chosen randomly to be part of a small group (about 20) of season ticket holders to dine with Billy King at Franny's in Brooklyn on a rainy Tuesday night in March 2015. Only my seatmate's name was on the guest list, and I was listed simply as a "+1.". So, King didn't know I was going to be there, but he certainly recognized me and to his credit, didn't seem to hold back. Since we weren't told it was off-the-record, we, my seatmate and I, assumed it was on. We've written about this before but haven't shared the notes. So in the interest of full disclosure on this issue, here they are:
King says Dmitry Razumov is fully engaged, that they talk, text, email all the time and that at the trade deadline, there was constant communication between the two of them and among him, Razumov and Prokhorov. Razumov came to New York for more than a week.
He said Razumov and Prokhorov are much more knowledgeable about NBA players than they were when they took over five years ago. Razumov will text him about specific players. He texted about JaVale McGee and when Billy told him no interest, he responded that he figured as much. Billy added that Razumov will often play with the ESPN Trade Machine and call with suggestions.
He said Razumov recently asked about getting a young player on the Rockets, that he appeared to be just what were looking for. Billy said he agreed with the assessment that the player fit well, but that Houston wouldn't trade him.
From this conversation and others with Nets insiders, the pecking order was obvious: ownership sets the strategy, management makes the decision. What about JaVale McGee? Nope. Here's an idea how we could improve. Thanks but no thanks.
We were also told, by multiple sources, that King refused to go along with a trade proposal in 2015-16 that would have brought Lance Stephenson to the Nets, along with others, and sent Joe Johnson to the Hornets. Razumov liked the idea. King, not a big fan of Stephenson, did not. There was no dispute, no argument, we were told. It was another case of ownership making a suggestion and management citing reasons why it wouldn't work.
Of course, in most instances, ownership and management were in sync, like the Celtics trade. King dealt with Danny Ainge. Razumov monitored the negotiations ... and encouraged, pushed them. But as we've said for a long time, the GM had the final say. Hope that helps clear up some confusion.
The Nets will have three players dressed up in Brooklyn uniforms at Media Day who have a better chance of wearing a Long Island uniform come November: Yogi Ferrell, Egidijus Mockevicius and Beau Beech. Their contracts are what is known in the NBA as "make goods" or "training camp invites" partially guaranteed deals that only become fully guaranteed in January ... if they can survive that long.
As we've noted, two of the three --Ferrell and Mockevicius-- are getting $100,000 guarantees while Beech is getting $45,000. The first two have been in Brooklyn much of the summer. Beech will join them this week. So what are their chances of making the team?
Historically, their chances don't look good. The Nets have kept two camp invites since Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team (and the Nets only started giving out partial guarantees in 2010 after five years of Bruce Ratner's penury.) Ben Uzoh out of Tulsa made the parent club in 2010 after going undrafted (and getting a $35,000 guarantee). The next summer, Dennis Horner out of North Carolina State, did the same. He was a big surprise: no guarantee and he beat out veteran Ime Udoka, now a Spurs assistant. Since the team moved to Brooklyn, only Jorge Gutierrez went from training camp to NBA roster ... and he had D-League stint in between.
The Nets of course have 15 players with fully guaranteed deals, but of that group, seven have deals that will or could expire this season. Luis Scola, Greivis Vasquez and Randy Foye are all on one-year deals. Bojan Bogdanovic is on the final year of his initial three-year deal. Anthony Bennett, Sean Kilpatrick and Joe Harris have two-year vets minimum deals, but the second year is a team option. So there's plenty of flexibility and limited financial exposure if the Nets choose to make a move.
Ferrell probably has the best shot at making the team because he is a natural point guard and the PG situation is a bit unsettled with Vasquez still rehabbing after last season's surgery for bone spurs. He has told his Venezuelan fans that he has been troubled by his ankles for 18 months. He had surgery nine months ago Recently in a couple of interviews, he's said he getting healthier and should be ready in a few weeks. But, of course, he dropped out of the Olympics at the same minute. Of course, Ferrell is undersized and that will hurt him. But he's crafty and gutsy.
Mockevicius and Beech face more difficult paths. Although rebounding can translate from college to the NBA level --and Mockevicius led the NCAA in rebounding last season-- his game is limited to within a few feet of the basket. But seeing him close up, you get a sense of what he brings. He's very very big, takes up a lot of space. Beech didn't even make anyone's Top 100 draft prospects last year while at North Florida, winning accolades and a contract in summer league. He can shoot (although his consistency is questionable) and having played the 2 in college he can handle the ball. In some ways, he's a mirror image of Mockevicius.
All that said, it's more likely that the three will wind up on the L.I. Nets roster after final cut downs at the end of next month. Their guarantees give them some cushion against poverty. Imagine making $20,000 working in New York, even if the NBA picks up your rent. All three players knew going in that Long Island is a possibility.
Their rights situation if cut changes. They'll still get their guarantee and their D-League rights automatically go to the parent club's affiliate. But in a rule that drives GM's with affiliates nuts, they are NBA free agents. And if any of them play well and an NBA team wants to call them up, the Nets would have no recourse. (If they get dumped by the team that called them up and want to return to the D-League, they would have to return to Long Island.)
Also, this footnote: Under D-League rules, the last FOUR players cut by an NBA team have their rights automatically sent to the team's D-League club. So, don't be surprised if the Nets sign another player to a partial or non-guaranteed deal this month. They may just be holding a spot open. NBA teams can bring 20 players into camp and the Nets currently have 18.
Filling out the Long Island roster
Who else will be on the Long Island roster? Of the 12 players taken by the Long Island Nets in the expansion draft 10 days ago, few are free agents. Most are signed elsewhere for next year. Among those who have signed are Jamaal Franklin, the 6'5" swingman from San Diego State with Shanxi Zhongyu in China; Peyton Siva, the 6-foot point guard from Louisville with Alba Berlin; and Alex Kirk, the 7-foot center out of New Mexico with Foshan in China.
Just this week, Akil Mitchell, the 6'8" swingman who played with the Nets summer league team in 2015, signed in New Zealand and Lewis Jackson, the 5'11" point guard out of Purdue said he might return to Canada's professional league the NBL.
We don't know the status of two shooting guards who played overseas last season: Austin Freeman, who played on a one-year deal with Reggio Calabria in Italy last season; and Matt Boldin, who played with the Changwan LG Sakers. Same goes for the top two picks: Gary Forbes, the former UMass swingman who the Nets had in camp three years ago and Carrick Felix, a defensive specialist who's coming back from a torn ACL that kept him out of basketball last season. Lazar Hayward, the former Marquette star who played with L.I. assistant Ryan Gomes for the Los Angeles D-Fenders last season, is another name to watch.
The next two dates to watch are September 24, when staff from both Nets teams will work out local players at LIU in Brookville, Long Island, and the D-League Draft the first week of November.
L.I. Nets social note
We offer our congratulations to Ronald Nored, the Long Island head coach who married his long-time girlfriend, Danielle Eng. Adam Harrington, the Nets director of player development, tweeted out a picture.
Last Saturday our dear friends @ronaldnored & @dananalise24 got married! We are so excited for them! #GorgeousCouple pic.twitter.com/JJ7LhiDIs3— Adam Harrington (@adampharrington) September 2, 2016
The Nets have been promoting Nored, who at 25 is the D-League's youngest coach. A teammate of Gordon Hayward on those magical Butler teams coached by Brad Stevens, he is so far the face of the D-League franchise.
Last week, they posted a clip of him having a "meet-and-greet" with a Nets fan at Starbucks outside Barclays Center. Like a lot of people, the fan was unaware the Long Island Nets will be playing 24 games at the arena.
Before that, Nored talked about working with the young Nets at the Las Vegas Summer League.
Nored and his two assistants, Ryan Gomes and Pat Rafferty who joined the team from Central Wyoming College, will be working with the Nets staff and players until the Long Island roster gets filled out.
J-Lin hair style --and leadership-- updates
Jeremy Lin celebrated the birth of his nephew, Jaden Paul Lin, with a new (and most sophisticated) hairstyle.
@jlin7: JPL!! Jaden (God has heard) Peter Lin - this haircut goes out to my newborn nephew! https://t.co/rjsWMGjhvz pic.twitter.com/SjeXGOHMdC— infinity88 (@linfinity88) September 2, 2016
Expect a lot of J-Lin news in the next week. He should be in Brooklyn.
Last week, the Nets excerpted that part of Lin's interview where he talked about how he wanted to be a leader on his new team.
"It's different, you know," he said, comparing his time with the Knicks and now. "I feel like I have that ability to lead and that's what I want to do here. I want to work hard. i want to do things the right way. I want to treat people the right way and be myself. I think this is a great opportunity to do that."
No doubt the Nets want that too, but we have heard, sort of a subtext to the Nets priority on character, is that the Nets brass would like a number of players to lead. Lin, Brook Lopez and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson among others. Like Chris Fleming's offense, that too is a change from the past. And a good one.
We're gonna miss this guy. This will be the first Brooklyn Nets training camp where he won't be on hand.
Very nice edit by nbamixmaster13 on YouTube.