Not a lot of news again this week, so we’re taking an eclectic look at what’s happened since the beginning of the off-season, 21 long, but productive weeks ago.
Things we thought were true (but weren’t)
As the off-season nears a close, we thought we’d share the details on something we’ve tweeted about, commented on ... how everything we thought we knew at the beginning of the off-season turned out to be wrong.
We hear that doing things like this is cathartic. It may also help a year from now (if we are still doing this!)
Here are a few things we got wrong, in no particular order:
—We thought Milos Teodosic was a top Nets free agent target. That was wrong. There were some inside who wanted the front office to give him a look but his age (30) and lack of defense hurt him. He did wind up in the NBA. The Clippers signed him to a oddly structured contract, with all sorts of out’s. Also, despite all their scouting in Europe in May and June, the Nets didn’t come away with a European draft pick, although they did sign Yakuba “Billy” Ouattara, the French guard, to a two-way deal. Did Sean Marks scout him? No indication that he did.
—We were right to believe that the Nets wanted a big in the draft, but we thought the target was Isaiah Hartenstein of Germany or Anžejs Pasečņiks of Latvia. Or maybe D.J. Wilson of Michigan. Nope. It was Jarrett Allen of Texas all along. Nets had him higher than most and felt lucky when he fell to No. 22. They did like Wilson (but did not guarantee him, despite a Draft Day rumor to the contrary.) Wilson went to the Bucks at No. 17; Pasečņiks to the 76ers at No. 25; Hartenstein to the Rockets at No. 43. Pasečņiks will stay overseas next year and would have even if the Nets selected him. Also, he had a bit of medical red flag, as apparently did Hartenstein.
—When Sean Marks went to Spain in May to personally scout a player on F.C. Barcelona, we thought he was there to take a look at Rodions Kurucs, the 6’9” 19-year-old forward. Kurucs had been called up earlier in the day, purportedly so Marks could take a look. Nope, Marks was watching the player who has kept Kurucs on the bench, Aleksandar Vezenkov, also 6’9”, but from Bulgaria. Kurucs dropped out of the Draft not long after and on June 22, the Nets took Vezenkov at No. 57. (They might get a second chance at the Latvian. Two mock drafts have the Nets taking Kurucs in 2018 with the Raptors pick they acquired in the DeMarre Carroll deal.)
—We were certain the Nets would use their more than $3 million in cash considerations on a second round pick, but instead the Nets hung on to the cash in hopes it could be valuable in the day between the draft and the start of free agency. As it turned out, they didn’t.
—Portland looked to be a good candidate for a Nets salary dump, we believed, but we also thought it was more likely the Nets would go for a player like Meyers Leonard or Maurice Harkless, who had more reasonable deals than Allen Crabbe. A lot of people thought the Nets had dodged a bullet with Crabbe after Paul Allen matched Brooklyn’s $75 million offer last July. Instead, Marks still longed for the 6’6” shooter, saying they gave Crabbe the $75 million offer sheet based on the belief that he could expand his game. Nothing changed with their thinking over the course of last season. So they went for him. We also believed Andrew Nicholson was untradeable and the Nets would have a choice: either force feeding him at back-up center or stretching his deal, paying him $2.8 million a year for seven years. Nope.
—Of course, we also spent a lot of time looking into what free agents the Nets might sign. Here it is September and other than the failed offer sheet to Otto Porter and a few camp hires and two-ways, the Nets haven’t signed a single free agent.
—Most of all, we thought Brook Lopez would survive yet another trade season and be with the Nets on opening night. In fact, we felt comfortable saying that hours before the deal for D’Angelo Russell went down. We also doubted that Marks would go for Russell considering all the baggage he had accumulated in L.A. Nope. He has faith in DLo, having known him since 2015 when Marks was at San Antonio and he interviewed Russell, then at Ohio State. A couple of days before the deal was leaked, we listened to Woj talk about the prospect of L.A. sending Russell to Brooklyn. We wrote it up but thought it was Woj speculating. As someone inside later told us, “Woj wasn’t speculating, Woj was working.”
So what do we think is next ... and therefore wrong? We believe the Nets will sign a free agent big man. Of course, as we know, the Nets are working out players —and not just bigs — and Marks has said the team is still in “talent acquisition mode.” So who knows?
The Nets pick now resides in Cleveland
Change of Address forms need to be filled out for the last of the Nets pick from the disastrous 2013 Celtics trade. The deal is done, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, the 2020 Heat second rounder and the Nets unprotected 2018 now reside in Cleveland. Kyrie Irving has landed in Boston.
The big debate regarding who “won” the trade revolves around the Nets pick, which was the Cavaliers priority. The conventional wisdom is that Danny Ainge gave up a great pick in the 2018 Draft, one that is top heavy with talent.
Chris Mannix, writing for Yahoo! Sports, hints that Ainge may be among those who think the Nets have improved and thus the value of their pick has dropped. Here’s what he wrote Friday...
Surrendering the Nets pick hurts – R.I.P., Nets pick era in Boston, by the way – but the Celtics were not getting Irving without it. Fears over LeBron James leaving next summer are real – some in Cleveland are flat-out expecting it – and the Cavaliers wanted to be sure they were in a position to draft the next franchise player to build around. Easing Boston’s pain here is a sneaking suspicion that Brooklyn may not be league-worst bad next season. The Nets added some pieces, have no reason to tank and play in the JV conference. That first pick the Cavs are hoping for could be fourth or fifth – or lower. (Emphasis added.)
“Here” in this context is about Boston, where Mannix is based. He seems to be saying the Celtics are harboring “a sneaking suspicion.” If so, it would be very Ainge to hang on to an asset until the very last minute, then unceremoniously dump it, as he did with Paul Pierce in 2013. We know all about how that worked out.
As the Nets approach their fifth anniversary in Brooklyn, they still don’t make much, if any, profits for their Russian owners, but this year offers a bit of promise. Two streams of revenue —one new, one greater than in the past— could help the financial picture.
The Nets negotiated a new TV rights deal with YES Network parent, FOX Sports, a couple of years ago. It goes into effect with this season. It’s substantially bigger than the old deal, about $30 million more, according to sources. That’s on top of the big new national TV rights package the league negotiated.
Despite the Nets low ratings —the worst in the league the last two years, Brett Yormark was able to correct a real disparity left over from the past when the Nets toiled in New Jersey. The old rights package, according to a team insider, was about the same level as the Timberwolves. Now, while the YES ratings have been at the bottom of the league, the audience is still larger than many small markets. This is the biggest TV market in North America after all. A small percentage of New York is a lot larger than a big percentage of a market like Oklahoma City or Minneapolis-St. Paul.
One reason YES is comfortable with predicting higher ratings (and more profits) is the presence of two powerful personalities, D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin.
“The NBA is a star-driven league, a celebrity league. It taps into popular culture,” YES Network president Jon Litner told The Post at the end of July. “The combination of tremendous athletic talent with celebrity, it’s a real positive, no different than Russell Westbrook, who has an affinity for clothes but has a tremendous game on the court.
“So if D’Angelo Russell embraces that — or any of these guys embrace that — I think it’s a positive. It’s no different than Jeremy Lin, the way he has a great story. You’ve got storylines and personalities beyond what they can do on the court.”
The new stream of revenue is the jersey patch. Infor, the software company Yormark recruited to lease space on the Nets jersey, will pay the team $8 million, according to various reports. It’s one of the better deals around the league. Again, it’s about market. The Nets play in the biggest one. The more viewers on TV, the more “impressions” for Infor. Same with images online and in newspapers, magazines, etc.
And of course, if the Nets succeed, win while playing an exciting brand of basketball, more people will show up at Barclays. More ticket revenue. We’ve only heard anecdotally that the Nets ticket sales are up. Of course, after last year, any increase would be a positive.
A bouquet for Marivic
Marivic Lardizabal is the Nets executive in charge of —among many, other things— helping new players get situated and settled in Brooklyn, helping with things like apartments, schools, etc.
On Friday, she posted a picture of a floral arrangement she received from D’Angelo Russell.
Good on him. We also like the inscription on the card in which he said he hopes to be “a part of the Brooklyn Nets for many years to come.”
He could have just said "Thank you." Instead, he went the extra mile.
New use for Nets tickets
Want free Nets courtside tickets? Of course you do! Want a penthouse on Manhattan’s far West Side? Of course you do! Now, for $85 million, you can have both!!
In Manhattan’s superheated real estate market, developers have to offer incentives to prospective buyers and what better incentive than courtside seats to Nets games for a year? Well, actually, when you’re talking about THE hottest real estate in the city, there are a lot of other incentives more attractive than the Nets.
Here’s what Brendan Krisel of Patch wrote this week about the property in question...
The most expensive real estate listing in Midtown Manhattan belongs to the 45th floor condo in the ultra-luxury development "The Atelier" — and the $85 million price tag includes some nifty throw-ins. Included in the sale of the West 42nd Street apartment is a $1 million Yacht with five years of docking fees, two Rolls Royce Phantoms, a Lamborghini Aventador Roadster and courtside season tickets to the Brooklyn Nets, according to a real estate listing.
Oh, and the apartment isn't too bad either.
We find it kinda fun that the developers are offering tickets to the Nets, who play in Brooklyn and not the Knicks, who play within walking distance of the apartment.
Congratulations to former Nets season ticket holder and huge Nets fan, Alexis Ohanian, who became a father for the first time this week. Ohanian (pictured above) co-founded Reddit and has been active in the Net Neutrality movement. Moreover, he's been a Brooklyn loyalist who before he moved to San Francisco would mention the Nets every chance he got.
Congrats to new mom, Serena Williams, as well.