As of this writing, around 10 a.m., there’s no news on the Nets free agency front ... and little guidance. The Nets were rumored to be interested in various free agents, like J.J. Redick and Joe Ingles, but there’s been nothing beyond that.
Where we stand
The Nets will reportedly meet with Otto Porter soon, maybe Sunday, but he’s a restricted free agent and even if he signs the offer sheet, it will be a while before we know whether he’ll wear black-and-white. And word is out that Wizards owner Ted Leonsis will match any offer. Of course, he’s never paid the luxury tax and right now, he’d have to if he’s going to match. (In fact, the Wizards organization has never paid a dime in luxury tax.)
So we won’t know whether he will until July 8, assuming the Nets make an offer. The matching period may have been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours, but it doesn’t begin until the six-day moratorium on deals ends at noon on July 6.
What about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, another RFA whose team says they will match? Couple of questions there: How interested are the Pistons in keeping him? They drafted Luke Kennard, then signed Langston Galloway to a three-year, $21 million deal. They and KCP all play the same position. And the Galloway deal has cap implications for the Pistons as Nate Duncan noted...
DET hardcapped with Galloway deal. KCP max would put them $3.4 mm over Apron w/ 13 players. Must move other salary or can't match max offer— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) July 1, 2017
So what are they doing? We don’t know. No one is saying and as one NBA writer told us, their strategy is seen as “opaque” around the league. Still, piecing together some of Sean Marks past statements and adding a dose of logic, here’s what we think is going on:
The Nets were never going to make a bid for the big free agents, guys like Blake Griffin or Gordon Hayward. Marks has said that even if a player like that wanted to come to Brooklyn, what’s the point? Spending all that money on one player isn’t going to get you much in terms of wins ... or a strategic vision.
Here’s what he and Kenny Atkinson said right after the season’s end.
“If you go after one of the top-tier guys, you obviously would hope to get him, but does that really make you better?” Marks asked. “Does it get you to 30 wins, 35 wins?
"The objective for us is to be in the playoffs. When that comes, we’ll see,” Marks added, indicating they’ll go after the big free agent, after they make the playoffs. “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.”
“We know we have a long way to go, so we understand that. We’re very realistic,’’ Atkinson added.
In short, no more bright, shiny objects.
So if they weren’t going after the “top-tier” guys, and guys they supposedly liked —Redick and Joe Ingles (aged 33 and 29)— went elsewhere, what’s the plan now? As of Sunday morning, the Nets and Kings have the most cap space. Philadelphia’s Saturday spending spree dropped them a bit behind. Most of the league in fact is bereft of cap space or hard-capped.
As the spending continues to eat up space, the Nets appear ready to wait things out, whether on Porter or KCP or others. It may be a good strategy. As Bobby Marks noted Sunday afternoon.
The summer of 2016 is having a significant impact on the current FA class. 100 players still left on the FA board with money drying up.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 2, 2017
So, if Porter and/or KCP doesn’t work, we expect the front office to go for younger, cheaper guys in the RFA market, guys like Jonathon Simmons, age 27, or Tim Hardaway Jr., age 25, or Kelly Olynyk, age 26, or JaMychal Green, age 27, players who would command $10 to $15 million. Can their teams match at this point?
Keith Smith of RealGM hinted about the patient strategy Saturday.
Nets will consider an offer sheet for Tim Hardaway Jr, but further down their pecking order behind Ottis Porter & Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 1, 2017
There may be other, lesser lights available as well later in the process, not to mention European players, who we haven’t heard a thing about. Nicola Melli, the power forward Marks scouted in Germany, was supposed to sign with Fenerbahce, but he hasn’t yet. They will also push to sign veterans. This year’s roster is likely to be even younger than last year’s with half the roster — eight players — 25 or under, and seven of them 23 or under.
Also, although Marks has said the Nets need help at the 3, he and Atkinson made it clear at Monday’s press conference that the Nets are still thinking “position-less,” “best player available” rather than at needs. They know they need a lot.
“I don’t think we’re in a position right now to be worried about need and position. We can’t,’’ Atkinson said. “We’re not there yet. It’s still best player available.”
“We’ve never looked at it like we have to have this particular position,” said Marks. “We’re still trying to get best available, talent acquisition. Kenny and the staff have done a great job of fitting guys together.
At that same press conference, Marks signaled patience, that things may take a while to work themselves out. It’s strategic, as you may have heard him say once or twice.
“We have an analytic value, we have a scouting value placed on these players and if we feel comfortable with an offer to these players, whether restricted or unrestricted, we'll make those deals,” added Marks. “But we're not going to go chase things.”
Beyond free agent signings, Adrian Wojnarowski said Saturday that the Nets are still looking at salary dumps — “Brooklyn remains in that space.”
So we may not know much for a while. The off-season has to be considered productive so far, with the acquisition of a 19-year-old big and a 21-year-old with star potential. So we wish Marks et al well. There’ll be plenty of time for criticism ... if it’s warranted.
Pray for Free Agency
Forget Woj. There are higher powers.
In his latest prayer requests, Jeremy Lin asks his fans to pray for the Nets in free agency. Lin writes...
“Pray for our free agency as we’re going to go out there and get some awesome players!! Also please pray that we grow as a team in terms of transitioning all our new players we’ve signed through trades/draft as well as any new ones we might sign in free agency.”
Lin also asks for prayers to help him “live my like more radically in terms of living for other people.” Lin has been clearly affected by his recent visit to Thailand where he lent his name and reputation as well as his presence to the fight against human trafficking and the exploitation of child sex workers.
Expect to hear a lot more from him on this.
Jarrett Allen’s potential ... as a soccer goalie and pitcher
Before the Draft, ESPN’s Sports Science segment featured Jarrett Allen’s shot-blocking skills ... in very different light. They measured his ability not by tossing shots at the rim, but by putting him in a soccer goal net and seeing just how much space and ground he can cover.
Take a look...
There are some pretty impressive numbers right at the top of the video, numbers we were already familiar with, like his 7’5” wingspan; his 35.5” max vertical, which it was pointed out is four inches higher than the average NBA center’s; and his “max touch,” 12’1”, or two feet above the rim, the highest recorded among this year’s draft prospects.
But there all static. Here’s the most impressive number we found in the video, his “net defensive range” of 3,695 cubic feet, a number derived from his his lateral quickness and that combination of height, wingspan and leaping ability.
As Sports Science Labs’ John Brenkus said, “that’s even better than the range of an elite defender like Utah’s Rudy Gobert,” whose range is 3,619 cubic feet.
Yes, we know he’s going to need to bulk up and deal with bigger guys and will probably spend a lot of time in Long Island. He is, after all the sixth youngest player drafted this year at 19 years, two months. So, we may not see a lot of him at Barclays Center.
And oh yeah, if you’re wondering where the Nets had him on their internal draft, think around the spot where he was ranked in the mocks when Sean Marks and the rest of the front office interviewed him at the Draft Combine, which was No. 12.
Besides soccer, Allen also engaged in a little baseball this week, throwing out the first pitch at a Mets game Friday night. A little high, maybe but better high than wide.
And take a look at the size of his hands!
Yes, they were the largest measured at this year’s draft combine.
We’re always interested whether the Nets grab any international players in free agency. It fills out our summer schedule. Looks like three Nets, two players and one stash, will be on the court in three different FIBA regional tournaments.
Here are the details.
August 3 to August 16 - FIBA World Cup European Pre-Qualifiers in Portugal. Nets stash Aleksandar Vezenko plays for Bulgaria. This is a secondary tournament for countries that didn’t make FIBA Eurobasket. Win here and you can qualify for next time.
August 25 to September 3 — FIBA Americas Cup in Argentina. Canada’s Andrew Nicholson is likely to play for Canada. The Nets other stashed prospect, Argentina’s Juan Pablo Vaulet, is out for the three months after ankle surgery. Too bad. The competition is in Cordoba, Argentina, JPV’s hometown. Team USA is not competing because it doesn’t have to. It won the Olympic gold in Rio and thus gets a pass.
August 31 to September 17 — Eurobasket 2017 in Turkey. As of now, only two players on the roster are eligible: Justin Hamilton, who has dual U.S. - Croatian citizenship, and Timofey Mozgov, who is on the Russian roster. Hamilton has been non-committal about playing for Croatia. Mozgov has been enthused about his Russian obligations. Also, Eurobasket will be Nets assistant coach Chris Fleming’s last turn as Germany’s national team coach.
As usual, we plan to cover all of the games and the “friendly” game preceding the tournaments. So with the Summer League and all the FIBA tournament games, you won’t be without some game coverage, even if far away. We have your fix.
Long Island Nets get new training center
There were a lot of advantages for Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson with last year’s D-League arrangement. The Long Island Nets practiced at HSS Training Center and played at Barclays Center. If Atkinson wanted to check on a Long Island prospect, all they had to do was walk from his office to the practice court. Marks and a number of his aides were almost always at Long Island home games.
This year, of course, it’s the G-League and the Long Island Nets have a new home in Nassau County at the Coliseum, which is the best G-League arena anywhere. The $200 million renovation job was worth it.
Now, this week comes news that Long Island will practice at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in the hamlet of New Cassel in the town of North Hempstead.
The Nets haven’t announced it, but the town has.
“The Long Island Nets (Nets) will be holding practices at the ‘Yes We Can’ Community Center’s NBA-regulation size basketball court in New Cassel starting in October 2017.
“The Nets will be using the facility from October 2017 to April 2018. As part of the agreement, the Nets will be paying a $22,000 licensing fee for the use of the ‘Yes We Can’ Community Center for their team practice and athletic training for two hours a day, up to five days a week. The facility will also be opened to visiting teams to host a practice for two hours a day, one day a week.”
The Long Island Nets will provide the facility with exercise equipment, along with commercial washers and dryers. They’ll also provide the Town with 420 tickets, including bus transportation, to games at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Tickets will be available to those who are part of the Town’s summer activities program.
The state-of-the-art, 60,000 square foot facility features two NBA regulation basketball courts as well as the fitness center the team will use.
A Pick for Us!
“The worst trade in NBA history.” That’s how an NBA executive described the Pacers trade of superstar Paul George to OKC for Victor Oladipo and Donatas Sabonis. No picks.
Really, come on. We KNOW all about the worst trade in NBA history. We live it every single day!
But that aside, the trade means the Pacers are in full rebuild and the Nets chances of picking up a second round pick in 2018 should increase. Under terms of the Thaddeus Young - Caris LeVert trade, the Nets will get the Pacers second rounder the first year Indiana doesn’t make the playoffs. Call it “reverse protection.” So if the Pacers pick is anywhere between 31 and 45 next year, the Nets get it.
As of now, Brooklyn has no first or second rounder next year.
Until the next Woj bomb explodes with news of the Nets, we leave you with this short highlight video of D’Angelo Russell, showing his ability to see the court and adjust. Four plays, 35 seconds.
As Charles Maniego wrote in his film study of D-Lo, “Russell’s offensive game looks effortless. He’s more of a luxury sedan than exotic sports car, with smooth finishes rather than explosive bursts.”
Happy Woj Bombs and remember...