The off-season is now in full swing. The Pre-Draft Combine made it so. About 10 Nets staffers, led by Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson, were in Chicago this week watching games, interviewing prospects and grading them as the team looks forward to the Draft now five weeks away.
Again, we don’t know who the Nets like for either of their first round picks or what they will do with the second round pick either. We’ve seen the mock drafts (where there is a growing consensus that Isaiah Hartenstein, the German 18-year-old big man, is the Nets favorite). And we’ve followed the various reports of who the Nets have spoken to. Not to mention how they’ve done at the combine. And we still don’t know ... and are unlikely to know until the commissioner steps to the stage and announces, “With the 22nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft...”
And of course, as Sean Marks has said, “everything changes on Draft Night.”
Draft Lottery Blues
Tuesday, 8 p.m., the NBA Draft Lottery and the team with the worst record in the league has no skin in the game. The Celtics owner Wyc Grosbeck will sit at the table reserved for the team with the most losses. Forgive him if he’s distracted. If the Celtics beat the Wizards on Monday night, Boston will be getting ready for the Eastern Conference Finals.
It will lead to all manner of jokes about the Celtics trade. For those who want to counter those jokes, we offer this...
So far, so good. WHAT, you say? Let us explain.
The trade required the Nets to give up the 2014, 2016 and 2018 first round picks, without protections, as well as swap picks in 2017. The Nets also would receive the Celtics second rounder if the swap took place.
Start with the 2014 pick. The Celtics took James Young out of Kentucky with the Nets pick, which was the 17th overall. Young is a bust. The Celtics have given up on him. They don’t play him and have declined his rookie option. The Nets lost the opportunity to pick someone else, but the Nets didn’t give up much (and of course, the Nets did get some value out of Pierce and Garnett in 2013-14.
Now, let’s talk about the 2016 pick. The Nets actually recovered it, sort of. In February 2015, the Nets traded KG straight up for Thaddeus Young, then on Draft Night last season, they send Young straight up to Indiana for the rights to the Pacers first round pick, Caris LeVert (plus a second round pick and net savings of $26 million).
KG becomes Young becomes LeVert + second rounder. Moreover, LeVert and the pick the Nets lost, Jaylen Brown, had very similar seasons. We know that LeVert is a couple of years older than Brown, etc., but it’s better than losing the pick.
That brings us to Tuesday night and the swap, which was supposed to be the least offensive part of the 2013 deal and it could turn out to be the worst. (We’ve been told it was added to the package to compensate the Celtics for their willingness to pay Keith Bogans $5.2 million to make the numbers work on the deal.)
Of course, the Nets will have to give up their 2018 pick, but hopefully the Nets will have a better record next season and the pick will be lower. And the curse could be reduced if the Nets do well at this year’s draft.
Yeah, it’s a bit of a stretch, but as John Lennon said so eloquently, whatever gets you through the night on Tuesday is all right.
Nets don't list scouts on team directory but a little checking here and there and you find that the team employs more than 10. There are those who the Nets announced like Charles Payne, the former assistant coach at Stanford, who was named pro and college coach a year ago. Same with Shelden Williams, the former Nets big man who was named a pro scout at the same time.
In August, the Nets also named Gianluca Pascucci, Daryl Morey’s former No. 2 in Houston, as director of global scouting, and B.J. Johnson, the USA Basketball’s assistant national team director, as coordinator of player evaluation.
The team also retained Gregg Polinsky, the long time director of player personnel —essentially the chief scout, as well as some of their regional scouts, among them, Khalid Green, who handles the East Coast, and Eddie Oran, who handles the southwest. Danko Cvjeticanin, who played with Drazen Petrovic in Croatia, remains European scouting coordinator.
Matt Riccardi, who’s been with the Nets for several years and is now assistant GM of the Long Island Nets, has scouting duties with both the NBA and D-League.
Then, there are advance scouts, personnel who work regionally and part-time. LinkedIn lists four of them: Bill Dooley from Philadelphia, who was an assistant coach at Richmond when Kenny Atkinson played there; William Grove of San Antonio, who has worked for the Spurs; Jeffrey Robinson of Minneapolis-St. Paul, another former Spurs type; and Darren Kohne of Detroit.
A number of other executives, of course, include scouting as part of their duties, starting with Sean Marks and Trajan Langdon, the team’s assistant GM. Ryan Gisriel, the team’s director of basketball administration, also has scouting experience, as does Logan MacPhail, director of coaching analytics. At points during the college season, it seemed that anyone who can man a clipboard and insert data in the team’s scouting database was called on.
As we noted Saturday, a lot of that talent was on hand in Chicago for the Pre-Draft Combine. We have to hope it all works. It won’t be for lack of trying.
Draft Sleeper of the Week
So this week, we’ll look at a possibility for that late second slot, a player who has experience at Barclays Center, professional experience.
Omer Yurtseven is a seven-footer all of 18 years old. Draft Express has him going undrafted. He’s No. 57 on Chad Ford’s latest big board. He already has somewhat of a history with the Nets.
On October 5, 2015, while playing for Fenerbahce of Turkey, he appeared in a preseason game against the Nets at Barclays. He scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and had one block in 15 minutes, 18 seconds of play in a win over the Nets. He was the youngest player in the history of the game to play against an NBA team. He was 15 years old.
Since then, Yurtseven has moved around, from Fenerbahce to North Carolina State. Since he had played in professional games with Fener, the NCAA decided to suspend him for the first nine games of their season (around 30% of the current schedule), as well as require him to donate $1,000 to a charity of his choosing.
Yurtseven did not do well at N.C. State, but he still got invited to the Combine, where he played well. On Friday, he played well, with a game of 14 points, six rebounds, two blocks.
He’s sort of a conundrum in that despite all his skills as a back-to-the-basket player, passer and rebounder, he fell out of the Wolfpack rotation at one point. His adjustment from international to NCAA rules proved more difficult than he expected, particularly trying to figure out what’s foul, what’s not. But since he’s declared, he’s become more intriguing.
Here’s the Draft Express strengths and weakness videos, the kind of effort the site usually reserves for top prospects not the undrafted...
Yurtseven speaks perfect American English and is an academic star as well as an athletic one. He has said he is open to returning overseas.
Of course, the Nets might do what they did last season, combine a late second rounder with $3 million or so in cash to move up to the mid-40’s. The Nets have spend nearly $10 million in the Mikhail Prokhorov Era on draft picks. There’s no indication they will stop now. A few years ago, a Nets executive said, “We will ALWAYS buy second round picks.” The last time they didn’t? 2013.
After using $75,000 on the acquisition of K.J. McDaniels, the Nets have $3.425 million to spend. They will probably have to use all of it to get a pick in the middle of the second round.
Game of Zones
Well, we have to say the renderings of Nets players and the animation in Bleacher Reports’ “Game of Zones” are quite good, but the story line —that Nets players wanted to be traded at the deadline— isn’t borne out by what we know. (Also having Brook Lopez speak with a British accent instead of high Californian is kind of weird.)
But it is kind of fun.
And we did like this grace note, too.
Like we said, some fine renderings.
Juan Pablo Vaulet returns
After missing more than a month to yet another ankle issue, this time a swelling in the surgically repaired talus, J.P. Vaulet will be back on the court next week for the Liga Nacional playoffs. Sources in Argentina say that Vaulet, who just turned 21 two months ago, has been healthy for a while, but his team, Bahia Blanca, kept him out as a precaution. That’s a good thing.
We don’t know what the Nets plan to do with JPV. One thing is for sure, he will not play for Bahia Blanca in the Liga Nacional in Argentina. He could show up for summer league or sign with Long Island. The Nets could also arrange for him to play in Europe. NBA teams do that with second rounders they think could use some experience. Still plenty of time. As Luis Scola said last September, he’s very young. We’d like to think of him as a second round equivalent.
We’ll let you know how he does.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The Nets are teaming up with PwC US and New York Restoration Project (NYRP) for the fifth consecutive year to give away trees to the Brooklyn community. On Monday, from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. the giveaway will be underway on the Barclays Center’s main plaza. K.J. McDaniels and former Nets player Albert King will make a special appearance at the event, we are told.
The event coincides with the Trees for Threes Program, which donates trees for 3-pointers made by the Nets this season at Barclays Center. The trees will be planted in community gardens, schoolyards, private yards, and other areas in Brooklyn.
To pick up a free tree, you must agree to:
—plant in one of the five boroughs;
—keep trees properly watered and maintained;
—and plant your tree in the ground of your yard or community garden and NOT along streets or in city parks.
You can register here....
Jaclyn Sabol Patton died this week following a long battle with cancer, as we sadly reported. She was 34. For those who knew and loved her, and there were many, calling hours will be Monday, May 15, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Higgins Funeral Home at 321 S. Main St. in New City, New York.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday, May 16, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Anthony's Church, Nanuet, New York, followed by interment at St. Anthony's Cemetery in Nanuet.
Flowers may be sent to Michael J Higgins Funeral Home or memorial donations may be made to the National Brain Tumor Society 2017 fundraiser walk at the Team Page for "Jac Pac" at http://www.braintumorcommunity.org .
God bless her.