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NetsDaily Off-Season Report No. 3

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And we’re back, for our 10th big year! Every weekend, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off 20-62, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others plus our own work.

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

We warn of irrational exuberance, celebrate a little history, point out a paint job, honor a survivor, wonder about how Nets would feel about going for a real kid in the draft and offer our best wishes to NBA pro’s.

Remain calm and carry on

Lots of excitement out there in NetsLand. There is a plan. The Nets looked (reasonably) good in March and April with an 11-13 record and they have two first round picks in the Draft. Not to mention the buzz of European scouting trips, positive comparisons with that other New York team and the promise of free agency. Some have even suggested that the Nets are one player, a good player no doubt, away from playoff contention, and, and, and ...

NO.

Remain calm. Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have been consistent in talking about the plan, the progress. They are not going for broke, they are going to be “strategic” and build from “culture.” Marks has said he’s “very very happy” with the “trajectory” of the rebuild but has also noted that the Nets are far more than one player away. He has even indicated that the Nets won’t go for broke in securing a big free agent for a couple of years, telling Evan Roberts of WFAN last month...

“I would hope every single year, we see improvement, not only in the individual basis but from myself, my staff, from Kenny and his staff, we continually grow and in two years, we're sitting here going, alright, here we go, we'll make a run.”

Of course, players will have to want to come to Brooklyn and that, too, is going to take time. The vibe is good, but 20 wins, 11 in the last month and a half, is still an issue, a big issue for free agents. The Nets couldn’t even get an interview last summer with Kevin Durant despite a number of connections and a personal plea from Jay-Z, his agent. This summer, maybe they get an interview, if they want one. But will they? As Marks said in the end-of-season press conference...

“If you go after one of the top-tier guys, you obviously would hope to get him, but does that really make you better? Does it get you to 30 wins, 35 wins?”

From the sounds of it, Marks seems to have a several-step process in mind: get in the playoffs, THEN go for the big free agent...

"The objective for us is to be in the playoffs. When that comes, we’ll see. You don’t want to go and sign free agents and then the next thing you know your payroll is capped out and you’re a 25-win team. We’re going to have to build this strategically, have patience with it.”

So, patience. So, strategy. So, culture. Stay excited, but don’t think 11-13 in March and April is going to translate into something a lot bigger next year. It could but don’t get your hopes up.

Happy Birthday, Brooklyn Ballers

This weekend marks the 125th anniversary of basketball in Brooklyn. Barry Popik, a longtime NetsDaily poster, provided us with a page from the Brooklyn Standard-Union from April 29, 1892. On it, buried in the eight columns of Page 3, under the headline, “YMCA Athletes — Two new games of ball introduced,” was this...

The indoor work in the gymnasium at the Central Branch has taken a new turn, andthe diversion Is rather novel. Prof. Ebler and his assistant, Mr. Brown, have prepared a course of exercises that will develop muscle, skill and nimbleness. The new game— called "Basket-Ball"—has been introduced, and teams are In practice dally. The game is on the same plan as football, only the sport is modified. There are two .goals', elevated about ten feet above the floor with a basket wherein to catch the ball, which is a regulation football. The men line up, and the ball is put in motion, and It is the object of each side to get the ball in the opposite basket; the count is the same as In football. No tackling, wrestling or fouling Is permitted, and precaution has been taken to make the game an interesting one, and a safe one to play on a smooth floor. A series of games will be played with the other branches. The first game will be played Tuesday, May 3, at 4:30 P. M., between the Central and Twenty-third Street Branch, of New York City.

The score of that game is lost to history, as is Professor Ebler, the man who introduced “basket-ball” to Brooklyn ... unless Barry can help us further. Ebler brought the game to Brooklyn only four months after it was invented in Springfield, Mass, by Dr. James Naismith. It’s good to see that, like the Nets, the key tenets of the game include that “the ball is put in motion” and the team is “in practice daily.”

The Brooklyn Central YMCA still exists, but apparently not at the same location. Doesn’t matter. It’s just good to know that there is a historic basis to Kenny Atkinson’s line, “Brooklyn is basketball.”

New paint job at HSS Training Center

Industry City

Industry City, whose Building 19 houses the Nets’ practice facility, has just given the building a new paint job. Unlike the rest of the buildings in the Sunset Park neighborhood, it’s now painted a steel black. It’s wasn’t something the black-and-white Nets sought. It was the landlord’s idea ... and it looks good.

Gregg Polinsky survives

Gregg Polinsky, in case you don’t know of him, is the Nets director of player personnel, aka the chief scout for the team, the guy in charge of coordinating this madhouse of activity, both in the U.S. and Europe. He’s in Spain Sunday, scouting Anzejus Pasecniks, the 7’2” Latvian center prospect, along with representatives of 10 other NBA teams. It’s at least the second time the Nets scouted Pasecniks. Polinsky mostly scouts domestically for the Nets, but this year, he seems to be moving around more. Sending him to Spain would seem to be yet another indicator of the Nets interest in Pasecniks.

But all that said, Polinsky may be the more interesting story. He is the ultimate survivor. He’s been with the Nets for nearly 20 years, through Rod Thorn, Billy King and now Sean Marks. Polinsky joined the Nets as a scout in 1999 and was named the team’s director of scouting in 2004. For the last seven years, he’s been in his current position. Marks is a big fan.

Polinsky got his start through Thorn in an odd way. In 1975, when Thorn coached the Spirits of St. Louis in the ABA, Polinsky was a 17-year-old kid who was a high school star in St. Louis. He played pick-up with some of the players and the young Spirits announcer, Bob Costas. After an assistant coaching gig at Alabama and some head coaching jobs elsewhere in the south, he and Thorn hooked up again with the Nets.

Although Polinsky has an office in Brooklyn, he operates out of Mobile, Alabama, where he lives and has a basketball camp annually. Probably one factor in his long history of survival is that he spends more time away from home base.

Draft Sleeper of the Week

We’ve taken a close look at Harry Giles and Bam Adebayo this week and noted all the European prospects Sean Marks, Kenny Atkinson, Trajan Langdon, Gregg Polinsky, Gianlucca Pascucci and Danko Cvjeticanin (whew!) have looked at.

Let’s stay closer to home, real close. Hamidou Diallo grew up in Lefrak City, Queens, not that much farther away from Barclays Center than Coney Island where Isaiah Whitehead lived.

“Hami,” as he’s called, is still no certainty for the draft. He’s declared but not hired an agent yet. He’s 18 and hasn’t played a minute of college ball. He joined John Calipari’s Kentucky program mid-season, after graduating his Connecticut prep school in Connecticut last year. Cal decided to red-shirt him for the second semester knowing he could choose to enter the 2017 draft because of the NBA’s one-and-done rule. He declared earlier in the month and was invited this weekend to the Pre-Draft Combine.

He is very raw, as they say, but was the top rated shooting guard in high school and the eighth-rated prospect, period. To say he is high-flying is an understatement. It’s not an exaggeration to say he has Vince Carter elevation. Take a look...

Taking him with a first round pick might be too much of a risk, but Sean Marks has indicated two first rounders at No. 22 and 27 gives him “flexibility.” Right now, before the Combine, he’s being tagged a high second rounder. That could change. A good showing and he could move into the first. A mediocre showing and he could be faced with going in the second round —no guarantees on a contract— or headed back to Lexington. Unless he hires and an agent, he has 10 days from the end of the Combine to the deadline for withdrawal on May 25.

Is he the kind of kid the Nets might take a chance on, letting him grow with the organization, having him play in Nassau for a year or two? He is a good kid but he is a kid, as close to a high school-to-the-pro’s prospect as there has been since the NBA banned high schoolers.

He needs work on every aspect of his shooting from free throws to three pointers as well as his ball-handling and BBIQ. His Draft Express profile provides this outlook...

Highly rated shooting guard prospect who continues to make strides with his frame and skill-level. Tremendous athlete who plays with a very high intensity level. Will need to refine his jump-shot, ball-handling and passing ability, but has significant potential with the strong foundation he already brings to the table.

Some people in the organization no doubt like the prospect of another popular New York athlete from the outer boroughs on the roster and considering how the Nets rebuild is progressing (see above), he could be worth it. It’s why the Nets have a complete development regime ... and scouting staff. We shall see. It is one of the most intriguing stories of the Draft.

Final Note

Farewell to all those ESPN workhorses who were dumped ignobly this week. Marc Stein, Chad Ford, David Thorpe, Henry Abbott, among others, provided hours of great reading, offered great scoops and made being a fan a lot more fun. Let’s hope they all find new jobs with organizations who appreciate them more. Best wishes.