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How interested are Nets in Chinese League star?


Jamaal Franklin is, so far, the biggest name reported to have been invited to the Nets free agent mini-camp in Brooklyn this week.

The 6’5” shooting guard is the opposite of the recruits the Nets have checked out in Europe. Instead of the Nets having to travel thousands of miles to scout an international player, Franklin has come to them from China. And although no one is talking on the Nets side, this isn’t the first time Brooklyn has shown interest in the 25-year-old. They took him last September in the D-League expansion draft.

Franklin has become a legend in his three stints in the Chinese Basketball Association and in the last two, he’s averaged close to a triple double. In 2015-16, in fact, he averaged 33.9 points, 10.8 rebounds and 10.3 assists, in addition to 3.3 steals and 1.5 blocks. Then, his past year, the numbers at Shanxi were similar: 33.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists, plus 3.3 steals and 1.2 blocks.

So dominant a performer, he finished sixth in scoring, 11th in rebounds and first in both assists and steals this season. Four times he was play of the week. In back-to-back games in November, he scored 61 and 60 points, both part of triple-doubles. In the second game, his final line was 60 points, 12 rebounds and 21 assists! So exhausted was Franklin that he collapsed after the game.

Of course, it’s China where gaudy numbers are commonplace, particularly for those willing to put up shots. Jimmer Fredette led the CBA in scoring at 37.6 ... and ex-Net MarShon Brooks finished with 36.2.

Still, Franklin is, according to David Pick, at the HSS Training Center and this is the second time in a year that the Nets have expressed interest in the San Diego State product. For all we know, and we don’t know a lot, Franklin could be the guy Sean Marks was talking abut when he said the Nets would pursue talent in China as well as Australia and Europe.

What’s his game like? In a word, explosive. Franklin got his start at San Diego State as Kawhi Leonard’s understudy, then replaced him with the Aztecs. He has a lot of physical tools, including a 7’0” wingspan as well as a great motor. He’s a tough competitor and can play solid defense. His biggest issue is his jump shot, particularly from three point range. He hit 35 percent from deep this season in China. In the game he went for 61 points, he was only 6-of-23 from beyond the arc.

He has had opportunities in the NBA. He was taken at No. 41 by the Grizzlies in the 2013 NBA Draft, then waived at season’s end. And after an impressive half-season with the L.A. D-Fenders of the D-League in 2014-15 —19.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists— he was called up by the Nuggets. That didn’t work out and off he went to China.

The Nets have a lot of young players at the 2 and all of them are younger than Franklin, but he could garner a summer league stint. He can always return to China, where he seems comfortable and earned $1.4 million last year with a player option this season, but according to a number of reports out of California, he wants back in the NBA.