We could start off this week’s report with a screed on Stefan Bondy’s story Sunday on the ill-fated Nets deal of Draft Night 2013. But Stef hits all the bases and in last week’s Off-Season Report, we did our own analysis of where it and other trades engineered by Billy King and ownership have left us.
So we move on or try to. The draft lottery left us shaking our head about what might have been. Saturday’s trade news, centered on the Nets pick in the 2017 pick, was almost as bad. We thought it couldn’t get worse than that, but it did.
While the lottery made us think about how Fultz or Ball or Jackson would have looked in black-and-white, the Boston-Philly trade made us realize in stark terms what the lost picks mean as assets. The Celtics were able to move the overall No. 1 for the No. 3 and get a pick in 2018 or 2019. Derek Bodner, who ably covers the 76ers, has the details...
In order to move up the Sixers will send a future first round pick to the Celtics, either the 2018 Lakers pick or the 2019 Kings pick, along with the #3 overall pick this year. If the Lakers pick falls between #2 and #5 after next year’s lottery, the Celtics will get the 2018 Lakers pick, according to multiple sources. If not, the Celtics will instead receive the 2019 Kings pick.
Imagine if the Nets could have done that. It would have shortened the rebuild by a year. As we’ve pointed out before, the Nets did recover a bit from the Boston deal with the Caris LeVert trade a year ago. You know the progression. One of the lost picks went to Boston for Kevin Garnett who the Nets traded straight up for Thaddeus Young who the Nets traded straight up for Caris Levert and a “reverse protected” second rounder from Indiana. (That means if the Pacers fall out of the playoffs, the Nets get that pick.)
Is LeVert going to be better than Jaylen Brown, the player Boston took with the No. 3 pick last June? Truth be told, it’s doubtful, but you could debate it based on their first year numbers. However, it’s hard to imagine the Nets coming close to matching the talent of Markelle Fultz with whoever they take at Nos. 27 and 57, the Nets return on the swap. (If that should happen, a statue to the scouting staff, perhaps a bronze clipboard, should be erected in the lobby of HSS Training Center.)
So, enough of this sulking! We move on!
Draft Night Probabilities
The following is neither science nor sports science. Nor is it inside information. It’s just our opinion, but here is what we think will happen, along with a percentage.
—The Nets will draft at 22, 27 and 57.
Probability: 10 percent. In the Prokhorov Era, seven years, the Nets haven’t had a signal Draft Night without a draft-related transaction: a trade of picks, a trade, a purchase of picks, etc. In 2013, the Nets went into the Draft with the 22nd pick and took Mason Plumlee. Of course, Billy King et al were exhausted from doing the Celtiic trade that was finally agreed to shortly before the Nets took Plumlee.
—The Nets will not use their $3.425 million in cash reserves.
Probability: 0 to 10 percent. Seven times in the Prokhorov era, the Nets have used to cash to secure second round picks, costing Mikhail Prokhorov $9.8 million. Best uses: Isaiah Whitehead and Bojan Bogdanovic. “We will always buy second round picks,” a senior Nets official said a few years ago.
—The Nets will retain the No. 57 pick.
Probability: 20 percent. And we’re being generous. Yes, they could use it to take a Euro as a stash, like the Spurs did with Manu Ginobili and the Wizards did with Marcin Gortat, both 57th picks. Good luck matching that luck. Last year, the Nets traded the 55th pick, their only pick going in to the draft, to Utah, along with $3 million, to secure Whitehead’s rights. That’s more likely. See below.
—The Nets will come away with a mid second round pick.
Probability: 70 percent. The Nets don’t have pick between Nos. 27 and 57. Of the 30 players Draft Express’ latest mocks project for those slots. The Nets have worked out at least half of them. Derrick White, Kyle Kuzma, Tony Bradley, Caleb Swingman, etc., etc.
—The Nets will take on a salary dump to acquire another first round pick.
Probability: 25 to 40 percent. Woj reported they’re looking. Good enough for me. Portland is always the team that is linked to the Nets in this scenario. They have a number of big contracts they’d like to dump or at least test their value. Meyers Leonard, Mo Harkless and Allen Crabbe (who can’t officially be traded until July 10).
—The most important person in the war room will have an M.D.
Probability: 25 percent. Actually, we don’t know if the Nets medical director, Dr. Riley Williams III, or their foot/ankle specialist, Dr. Martin O’Malley, will be on hand at HSS Training Center. The big medical questions in the draft relate to two big men’s ACL issues: Harry Giles and Og Anunoby. There may not be a better ACL specialist in the world than Williams. You can bet he will have reviewed both player’s medical reports prior to the Draft.
—The Nets will trade Brook Lopez, Trevor Booker or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to move up.
Probability: 40 to 60 percent. Sean Marks moved Thaddeus Young, a very good player, so he could acquire the 20th pick in last year’s draft. Sean Marks moved Bojan Bogdanovic, a very good player, so he could acquire what turned into the 22nd pick in this year’s draft. What are you missing here? Prepare.
—The Nets will trade the Indiana second rounder in a deal.
Probability: 25 percent. It’s their best non-playing asset. It’s reverse protected meaning that whenever it will be taken in the 2018 through 2022 drafts, it will be no lower than 45.
—Nets fans will flood the comment sections with variations of “what just happened?”
Probability: 100 percent.
Draft Sleeper of the Week
First, let’s review who we’ve profiled in weeks previous, so on Thursday night you can see how smart we really are. (Very, if you ask us!) Not all will be selected. THREE dropped out and one is certain to go undrafted. But here ya go...
Week 9 - Amile Jefferson, Duke PF
Week 8 - Frank Mason III, Kansas, PG
Week 7 - Isaiah Hartenstein, Zalgiris Kaunas, C
Week 6 - Harry Giles, Duke, C
Week 5 - Omer Yurtseven, North Carolina State, C
Week 4 - Donovan Mitchell, Louisville, PG/SG
Week 3 - Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky, SG
Week 2 - Mathias Lessort, Nanterre, PF
Week 1 - Rodions Kurucs, FC Barcelona, SF
So, this week, we are playing it safe and are going with a player who Draft Express (not to mention us!) says the Nets will take in their current mock draft.
Terrance Ferguson is a just barely 19-year-old small forward who scouts like could an ideal 3-and-D guy in the NBA. If he makes it, he will have taken quite the route to get there.
He started out as a FIBA phenomenon. Playing with Team USA, he won gold in the Under 16 (2013 in Uruguay); Under 17 (2014 in Dubai) and Under 19 (2015 in Greece) FIBA competitions. He never lost in any of the three tournaments, going 19-0. Then in the Hoop Summit a year ago, playing for Team USA vs. the World, he won again and stole the show, scoring 21 points, all on three-pointers, to win MVP.
Heavily recruited as a top 10 prospect, Ferguson first committed to Alabama, then uncommitted and agreed to play at Arizona. But he cooled to the idea of college and instead decided to go pro, with the Adelaide 36ers of Australia’s National Basketball League. He famously wrote why in a Players’ Tribune essay...
“I mean, think about it, I’m going to be a professional basketball player! I get to take care of my family! My mom doesn’t have to work anymore! That’s every kid’s dream. I’m smiling right now as I write this!
“Maybe you think I’m crazy — crazy for passing up on the college experience, the parties, playing at one of the best schools in the country, being the big man on campus.
“Honestly, I don’t need all that. I think some guys get it into their heads that college is everything, that going to Duke or North Carolina or whatever is an automatic ticket to the NBA. But anything can happen. Nobody really thinks about that. An injury or a bad year can ruin your career, and I’m trying to take care of my family.”
He didn’t blow anyone away in Adelaide, but as Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmidt wrote earlier this year, he didn’t hurt himself...
Offensively, Ferguson is mostly a spot-up shooter, which has always been his strong point, and will almost certainly continue to be his role at the NBA level as well. What's impressive is how mature of a team player he's been so far, as he rarely tries to do things outside of his comfort zone, and has been a very willing ball-mover looking to make the extra pass...
He uses his length and quickness effectively to contest shots on the perimeter, will throw his body around in the paint at times, and is light on his feet with strong lateral quickness. He's gaining invaluable experience going up against professionals with a 24 second shot-clock, and has had some nice sparks showing the type of defender he can become as his frame continues to mature.
Here’s some highlight video...
Apparently, he didn’t do that well in the NBA Draft Combine and for a lot of scouts and executives, that was their first look at him since high school all-star games. In any event, he has been one of the players who’s suffered the biggest drop in the DX mocks. At one point in March, he was projected as a lottery pick, at No. 13. He’s bumped along since them, dropping to No. 27, his lowest spot and of course where the Nets pick.
One problem is that his weaknesses may have been exposed when playing against men more physically mature than him in Australia. Of course, no one knows how well his counterparts in the Draft would have done if they were playing in Australia, 10,000 miles away from home.
The Nets will know a lot about him later on Sunday. He was scheduled to work out for them at HSS. Nets might have a couple of advantages in assessing him.
Will Weaver, special assistant to Kenny Atkinson, has been an assistant coach at Team Australia the last two years. Although Ferguson is an American, Weaver can no doubt get insights from Aussie hoopers who played against him, etc. More importantly, the Nets coordinator of player evaluation, B.J. Johnson, was in his previous job with Team USA responsible for USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team program. That’s the one Ferguson flourished.
Ronald Nored, the highly respected 27-year-old head coach of the Long Island Nets, won’t be headed back to his alma mater at Butler, which needed a new coach after the old one made his way to Ohio State and took most of his assistants with him. There was some speculation that could happen.
Nored was the point guard on the two national championship runners-up at the Indiana school, working with Brad Stevens. Nored worked in the Celtics organization after graduation.
In talking to him Saturday at the Long Island Nets fan fest, Nored revealed that not only is staying, he moving closer to the Coliseum. He’s leaving Brooklyn this week for a place in Nassau. Good luck with this move, Ronald.
“I’m a Long Island Net” he told us.
Smells like Team Spirit?
Looks like Jeremy Lin is taking a big step, at least in Asia. He’s marketing line of fragrances. Jeremy Lin Fragrances. Here’s the announcement on Facebook...
According to translation, provided by the trusty @infinity88, the Facebook page notes “The fragrance features orange, mint & cedar.”
You can make jokes about locker room smells being bottled and sold, but what Lin is doing is smart marketing. His lure isn’t limited to sports gear or caps or socks. He’s one of the most famous basketball players in the world and he is more than a basketball player. Capitalizing on the notoriety of his personal brand and extending it beyond traditional sports markets is what a number of NBA players are doing. Specifically, Russell Westbrook. Here’s what Bloomberg News wrote two years ago about Westbrook’s fashion and commercial sense...
...Russell Westbrook XO, under which he’s created, with premier designers, everything the modern man of means requires. There’s clothing (with Public School), slippers (Del Toro), fragrance (Byredo), luggage (Globe-Trotter), and jewelry (Jennifer Fisher). He’s also introducing Nike’s multibillion-dollar Jordan Brand, previously known for midpriced athletic wear, to Barneys’s upscale clientele, with pieces he designed, such as a $500 white flight suit.
Expect to see more of this. Lin may be more famous in Asia than Westbrook. In fact, there are social media indices that say he is. And Lin didn’t get a degree in economics from Harvard for nothing.
You want an example of how popular he is. Take a look at this Taiwanese couple who got married recently. After the wedding, they dressed down and celebrated at their reception...
And posed for their wedding photos!
Would this couple buy Jeremy Lin Fragrances? And are there no Brooklyn Nets jerseys in Taiwan??
Also, we’ve been wanting to mention this, but the Nets are the only team in the NBA with a Harvard alum on the roster as well as a player who turned down Harvard? That would be Spencer Dinwiddie, who chose Colorado. We’re told Ronald Nored also had a chance to go to Harvard.
Thinking about making this a weekly feature for Free Agency, now that Draft Sleeper of the Week has run its course. We have said we will keep speculation to a minimum and you will see this is about the minimum you can get.
Last week, the Nets hired Travon Bryant, officially as an “assistant player development coach,” but there’s enough information out there to suggest that he is the Nets new big man coach replacing Mike Batiste who left Brooklyn for Charlotte.
Bryant is only two years removed from playing. He had an 11-year pro career overseas, most recently with Japan’s Akita Northern Happinets in 2015. (Did he go from Happinets to sadnets? Stop!). Bryant also played in Greece, Italy, Germany, Ukraine and France during his time abroad.
Most recently, Bryant had been the big man coach for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s respected D-League operation (which last year produced Sebastien Poirier, the Nets assistant trainer.)
His big job there was working with Dakari Johnson, the Kentucky product who the Thunder took in the second round in 2015 and signed to a D-League contract. According to our SB Nation counterpart covering the D-League, Ridiculous Upside, Bryant had some success, judging by Johnson’s development.
This 2016-17 NBADL season had him hinting at his ceiling. He got thrust into the role of the fulcrum of a team’s offense for the first time in years and flourished with the extra responsibility. Johnson’s usage rate ballooned from 19.4% in 2015-16 to 26.7% in 2016-17 as he also became a 18.5 points per game scorer.
Even more impressively, Johnson’s scoring efficiency also rose as he began to flash a mid-range set shot more earnestly and even testing out 13 three-point attempts across the 49 games he played. Johnson’s obviously diligent shooting practice has also paid benefits for his free throw percentage, leaping 10 percentage points to marry well with his new aggressive scoring mentality.
Okay. So we tweeted out the news.
Nets name OKC assistant as new big man coach https://t.co/D1FUsMPAXi— NetsDaily.com (@NetsDaily) June 15, 2017
Then, Johnson retweeted our tweet. So we followed up by tweeting that Johnson had taken note of his coach’s new job. Sounded like he thinks it’s a good move for his coach. Or is there more here???
Brooklyn-born big @DakariJohnson retweeted us on @trabryant5 being named Nets big man coach. Bryant worked with Johnson at OKC Blue.— NetsDaily.com (@NetsDaily) June 16, 2017
It didn’t end there. Bryant retweeted our tweet pointing out that Johnson had retweeted our tweet. Circle closed!
So Let’s Speculate!
Does BROOKLYN-BORN Dakari Johnson want to join the Brooklyn Nets??? Well, first of all, let’s stipulate, not speculate: Johnson was the best center in the D-League last year and his game improved dramatically in the playoffs. Problem is that he signed directly with the Blue meaning OKC retains Johnson’s D-League rights. To be quite frank, we don’t know when OKC has to make a move on his deal. What would OKC want?
But there does seem to be love between the coach and player and oh yeah, there’s that Brooklyn thing.
Hmmm? (If we do “Lets Speculate” as a continuing feature, we will end each segment with “Hmmm?” Maybe we should set up a system that grades the likelihood of our speculation becoming real ... maybe using the number of letter “m’s” in “Hmmm?”)
Happy Father’s Day! Take a look at Cory Wright’s excellent story on how the family-friendly Nets are letting family members watch players work out this summer ... another way they can spend time together. This is not common across the NBA. Wright focuses on Austin Acy, Quincy’s five-year-old son.
Kid’s got game...
Young Austin lives in California. So father and son don’t see each other much. As we reported, the Nets permitted him to fly on the team plane for a leg on their long West Coast swing. Acy says he appreciates the ways the team makes things easy for father and son.
“It’s tough being a dad in the NBA, but every chance you get to spend time, you got to do it because it’s important and I can tell how much it affects him,” Acy said. “Whenever he misses me for a long time he’ll come up and hug me and be like ‘I love you dad.’ And I’m like ‘I love you too son’ he needs that time and any extra time I have, he gets it all.”
Again, Happy Father’s Day! See you Thursday.