The Nets, at least for the moment, have three picks in next year’s draft: two firsts and a second. They can’t buy another second rounder because they sent the Hornets $5 million in cash to acquire Dwight Howard. Under league roles, a team can’t spend $5.24 million to sweeten any deal.
But suppose they had one or two second round picks from previous drafts in camp next year, their overseas stashes? It’s early of course, but it could happen. Two of the Nets three stashes —Isaia Cordinier, a 6’5” shooting guard from France, and Aleksandar Vezenkov, a 6’9” stretch four from Bulgaria— are showing promise.
Of the two, Cordinier may be the more intriguing, even if he plays a position where the Nets are currently loaded. The Nets asked for him the Jeremy Lin deal back in July ... despite the 21-year-old having missed all of last season with double knee surgery to treat chronic tendinitis.
His team, Antibes Sharks, has been bringing him along slowly, and this weekend, he showed that he has not lost his two biggest attributes, the ones that convinced the Hawks to take him with the 44th pick in the 2016 Draft: elite athleticism and shot-making.
Take a look. He’s No. 10 in blue. He shows off his athleticism at :45 and his shot-making at 1:15
He finished the game with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists and shot 6-of-10 overall and 2-of-3 from deep in 30 minutes, the most he’s played in more than a year and a half. For the season, Cordinier is averaging 7.7 points and shooting 51 percent overall and 40 percent from beyond the arc. His minutes have gone up, from 15 at the start of the season to 30 on the weekend.
Back in September, Cordinier said the Nets appear invested in him.
“Brooklyn looks very invested,” said the 21-year-old in an interview with Be Basket. “They called me in the day of the trade or the next day to welcome me. I went there for two days to do a lot of physical tests to find out where my knees are. They also follow my (rehabilitation) protocol in collaboration with Antibes. They will come to France regularly. That’s why I think it’s a good opportunity and it’s very good for me.”
The Nets have another advantage. His coach, Julien Espinosa, has worked with the Nets, serving as an assistant coach on Brooklyn’s summer league team two years ago.
Vezenkov has had an up-and-down career that last two years. Like his teammate at F.C. Barcelona, Rodions Kurucs, he didn’t get minutes last season following the Nets decision to draft him at No. 57 in 2017. He and Kurucs actually became friends because of their similar circumstances, Kurucs told NetsDaily in September.
Now, he’s at Olympiacos, the Greek powerhouse coached by David Blatt. Blatt has used irregularly. In a game this Monday, he played 25 minutes, the most he’s played this season, and scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds, handed out three assists and turned the ball over once. He shot 6-of-10 overall, 3-of-5 from deep. Although a big slow, Vezenko is seen as a potential stretch 4 because of his elite shooting skills.
Vezenkov has said he wants to play in the NBA. He is reportedly not enamored of playing in the G League. One reason might be pay. He’s made $300,000 a year playing in Europe and that number is after taxes.
Then there’s Juan Pablo Vaulet, the 6’7” Argentine swingman who’s undergone three ankle surgeries since being drafted by Billy King in 2015. He has parted ways with both his long-time team, Bahia Blanca, and his agent and is currently not playing. He —and his brother, Santiago— were sent home to “rest” earlier in the season. The reason for the rest has nothing to do with his history of ankle woes, according to reports.