At least on the surface, Nets brass seems happy for Yogi Ferrell. Even before his 32-point effort punctuated by nine three’s Friday night, Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson and Long Island head man, Ronald Nored pronounced themselves “very happy” and “thrilled” at his success in Dallas this week. But at this point, everyone has to admit, he was the one who got away.
Take a look...
Ferrell had a bizarre journey with the Nets, starting on Draft Night. After going undrafted, he was signed to a partially guaranteed $100,000 contract by Brooklyn. Ferrell played for the Nets summer league team in Las Vegas, then joined the team for training camp in Brooklyn. He was the last player cut in October, his contract automatically assigned to Long Island, the Nets D-League club.
But before he could even play for Long Island, he was called up after the Nets lost, in order, Jeremy Lin, Greivis Vasquez and Isaiah Whitehead to injury. He signed a new NBA contract, with additional guarantees. He had played 10 games with the parent club, averaging 5.8 points per game with a high game of 13 and a few games in Long Island as an affiliate player.
Then on December 8, the Nets cut him from the Brooklyn roster in a surprise move and signed another point guard, Spencer Dinwiddie, from the D-League’s Windy City Bulls.
Back to Long Island where he began to shine. He was a free agent. Any team could call him up.
To enhance his skills and value, Nored paired him with Donnie McGrath, a 32-year-old pass-first point. Ferrell took advantage of it, unleashing his three-point shooting prowess as the off-guard. Between December 10 and January 25, he made at least one three in 17 straight games. During that streak, he hit 40 percent of his three’s, and had some spectacular performances, including a 34-point effort on December 30 and seven other games where scored at least 20 points, often leading the team in points and three’s.
Finally, last week, after two particularly solid performances, the inquiries began to flood in: a lucrative offer from Turkey was rejected. Ferrell wanted to play for the Nets. Then, the Mavs, missing Deron Wiliams, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea, needed a back-up PG and he signed a 10-day with Dallas. No more yo-yoing ... and truth be told, there were limited expectations even in Dallas.
In the days before the Dallas offer, a league source said the Nets were considering another call-up, but it never happened. Judging by all that player movement, it would seem there was a debate within the front office on his prospects going back months.
What he’s proven over the last seven months is that he can score, particularly from deep. He can pass. He can run, but at 6’0” tall, there is a question about whether he can defend bigger guards and the Nets themselves prefer big guards. LeVert is a tad over 6’7”. Whitehead is just under 6’5”. Vasquez is 6’6”, Lin 6’3”. Bojan Bogdanovic, who plays the off-guard, is 6’8”.
Ferrell genuinely liked the Nets organization, one league source said, and he didn’t complain about the yo-yoing. He and LeVert, both of whom played four years in the Big 10, became buddies. He talked with Jeremy Lin as well.
The Mavericks are expected to sign him to a guaranteed two-year deal in the next couple of days. There are also rumblings that Dallas is talking to Cleveland about Deron Williams. He will have an opportunity.
As for the Nets, it’s a loss. They found him, put their faith (and a total of $202,000) in his development. Now the product of that development, including better shooting skills, resides in Dallas.
Fans and pundits had a rollicking good time on Twitter Friday night reminding everyone, including us, that this phenom had been the property of your Brooklyn Nets.
I hope @netsdaily doesn't stay up this late to watch what Yogi Ferrell's doing in Portland tonight ...— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 4, 2017
This Yogi game is incredible. He was on the Nets???— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) February 4, 2017
Yogi Ferrell because the Nets can't have nice things.— Reed Wallach (@ReedWallach) February 4, 2017
Of course, he’s not likely to average 20 points a game or make nine three’s in a game again. That’s rarefied air. His 52 percent shooting from beyond the arc will almost certainly drop. His defense will have to improve. He will be fighting for a job once everyone is healthy.
Is it a setback? That’s uncertain. If Lin comes back soon and LeVert and Whitehead prove themselves at the point which is where the Nets think they will ultimately excel, losing Ferrell will likely be a footnote to this miserable season. On the other hand, if he continues his wild play —the Mavs are 4-0 since he joined them— the Nets experience with Ferrell could be the grist of fan griping for years. We shall see.
One other consoling thought. The Nets went into last June’s draft with the 55th pick. They came out of it with LeVert, Whitehead and Ferrell. If that shows one thing, it’s that the Nets scouting (and risk-taking) is pretty good. So if this one didn’t work, maybe the next one will. We can only hope.