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NetsDaily Off-Season - No. 8

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And we’re back, for our 11th big year! Every weekend, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off 28-54.

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Lin talks about Opening Night

Jeremy Lin spoke about faith in the face of tragedy Saturday in Hualein. Many in the audience had survived the Magnitude 6.4 earhquake that ravaged city on Taiwan’s east coast last February.

In talking about how his faith helped him recover from physical and emotional trauma, Lin opened up about his Opening Night injury ... and its aftermath.

The re-telling also showed the depth of Lin’s relationship with Kenny Atkinson.

“We flew back to Brooklyn. I remembered when I landed, I looked down that was what my knee looked like. Right then and there, I knew I’m done for the year,” he told the crowd of 6,000. “I just start to break down. And I remembered I was hugging my coach and I said ‘I’m sorry for letting you down again.’”

At that point, Lin shared images of his injury.

“The injury was like the last straw for me. This was the biggest setback in my life. It took place at the moment of my life’s most anticipated and highest peak. I’m 30 years old. As a basketball player, I’m 30 years old already entering the end of the line.”

Leaving the airport, Lin admitted his faith was tested.

“I asked God, ‘Why is it me again? Why does it happen every year?’” a reference to the 46 games he missed to a hanstring injury his first year in Brooklyn.

Then during the 45-minute ride from Newark to Brooklyn, Lin said he gradually calmed down. He told the crowd he found peace through faith.

”I returned home like nothing happened. I faced my family with a smile. I hope that everyone involved can find peace and overflowing love through faith.”

Lin admitted as well that he had asked God “why would you give me LinSanity, just to have me watch it all go away.”

His trips to Taiwan, he added, are always a tonic for him because the fans have never lost faith in him.

The crowd cheered.

On Sunday, at another stop, this one at Tzu Chi University, Lin promised fans that this season will be his best. “Look forward to it,” he told them.

Workouts galore

Every team works out a lot of prospects, free agents, etc. during the summer, but the Nets seem to be taking it to a new level.

From everything we’ve read, the Nets have worked out more Draft prospects than just about any other team. With the assistance of @GNYR, we’ve compiled a list of 55 prospects who’ve been in for a look-see or are scheduled to drop by HSS Training Center in the days prior to June 21.

The scouting isn’t limited to individual workouts...

—The Nets have sent scouts to agents’ group workouts like the one where Donte DiVincenzo showed his stuff. On hand for that one were, left-to-right front row, GM Sean Marks, assistant GM Trajan Langdon and Director of Global Scouting Gianluca Pascucci (whose responsibilities exceed his title.)

—A Nets scout piggybacked on a Mavericks workout of 6’10” Chinese forward Abudushalamu Abudurexiti.

—Front office reps are also in Treviso, Italy, this weekend to scout 40 Euro prospects including several players linked to the Nets including Dzazan Musa of Bosnia and Issuf Sanon of Ukraine.

On the free agent front, they ran a mini-camp in early May headlined by Byron Mullens and Brice Johnson. And there’s another one this week. The Nets aren’t providing names —they never do— but according to social media, 6’6” swingman Stan Oyoke, who played in Italy last year, and Chris Jones, a 6’3” point guard who played in Belgium. Both played college ball in the U.S.

Now, the question is which prospects will they bring in for a second look? That’s usually the next step.

Why so many workouts? As we’ve noted, the Nets are scouting for their three (current) draft picks at 29, 40 and 45; their two two-way contracts, Summer League and Training Camp rosters as well as the G-League Draft in November. And it all goes into the database for future use.

Draft Sleeper of the Week

Big Mo. Moritz “Mo” Wagner has been on the Nets radar for a year. He worked out for them last year when he considered dropping out of Michigan.

Then this year, the jovial but intense Wagner seemed to be offering himself to Brooklyn. He was asked at the Big 10 Tournament, held this year at MSG, if he rooted for the Knicks. No, he told the reporter, I’m a Nets guy. There were reports as well that his family showed up at the games wearing Nets caps.

So it’s no wonder that in our most recent Draft Watch, four mock drafts have him wearing a Nets cap on June 21. In fact, no player has been more linked to the Nets — at all three positions — than Wagner.

After leading his Michigan Wolverines to the Big 10 championship and then all the way to the NCAA Final, he certainly proved he can play ... and have a good time doing it.

At the Draft Combine, he surprised doubters with his size (a legitimate 7-footer); hand size (widest among the 60 prospects as well as top 10 in length); and body fat (only 6.5 percent).

The bigger surprise came in athletic testing. Among centers, he finished first in the 34 sprint; first in lane agility and third in the reaction shuttle.

He had a respectable (for a 7-footer) max vertical of 34” but fell down in the strength test, able to do only eight max bench presses. (Donte DiVincenzo did 12!). Also, his wingspan measured out at only 7’0”.

After the Combine, when asked to describe his pro position, Wagner wouldn’t say center or power forward, just “a big guy who can shoot.” That should appeal to the Nets.

Kenny on Kenny

Kenny Atkinson sat down with ESPN Radio in Richmond (where he went to college) this week mostly to talk about the NBA Finals —he likes the Cavs!— but he was asked about the Nets as well.

He spoke at length about his own progress, admitting it’s been a process...

“From a personal level, I can’t tell you how much growth there’s been: Just learning the job, learning the league from a head coach perspective, managing a staff, managing 15 players. Throwing the GLeague in there and understanding how that works and drafts and free agency...

“it took me a while to get to a comfort level. I’m much more comfortable now. More comfortable with the system we’re running, more comfortable with our players understanding their strengths and weaknesses.

“So I’m pleased but definitely not satisfied. I know I have a long way to go to get to the elite level in this league.”

About the Nets, he twice said the team remains a “long way“ from elite status but he thinks he sees a “youth movement” in the league that he hopes the Nets will be a part of.

He took sone pride in the Nets eight-game improvement, noting it was second best in the East.

“I think Philly made a bigger improvement. We made the second biggest improvement. We did start from the bottom (laughs) so we have to temper that a little. Wehave a long way to go.“

That said, he noted that ”We have to take another step next year. Our guys are in the gym. They’re working. We have a great off season development program. I think you’ll see a better Nets team next year.”

Political Note

Like we said last week, we’re keeping track of Mikhail Prokhorov and Joe Tsai’s political issues. With the U.S. sanctioning Prokhorov’s fellow oligarchs —some former business partners— and U.S. trade tariffs and other actions igniting tension with China, it’s worth following because, yes, it could affect the franchise.

Tsai, of course, is exective vice chairman and co-founder of Alibaba, the giant e-commerce company headquartered in Huangzhou, China. Ninety percent of its revenues currently come from China, but the company is trying to expand its role in the U.S. as a conduit for small American businesses wanting to sell in China.

So the the prospect of a U.S.-China trade war troubles him, as he told the Recode conference this week. More central to his business, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, criticized Alibaba at the same conference, saying it was deeply penetrated by the Communist party in China.

In response, Tsai said Warner’s comments were part of an unfortunate trend in American political life, that some want to slow China’s growth, particularly in manufacturing.

“From the Chinese perspective, what we’re seeing is, there are a lot of people in America that want to stop China from doing that. So, that’s kind of an unfathomable ... You know, we’re wondering why that’s the case, and I think Senator Warner’s in that camp. They want to hold China back. I still don’t understand it.”

As for Warner saying that Alibaba and other companies are “penetrated” by the party, Tsai responded, “I would disagree with this characterization of Chinese companies.”

The controversy didnt hurt Tsai in terms of net worth. His net worth jumped $357 million on Friday, based mainly on the rise in Alibaba stock price. That’s more than Prokhorov’s net worth has grown this year.

Final Note

We asked Sean Marks at the end-of-season press conference what it’s like at HSS Training Center during off-season.

“We’re hopefully preparing for every different scenario that may never happen or may happen. So we don’t want any surprises. That’s one of our littler mottos here, is we want to be prepared for everything that possibly could happen. And I think that’s fun going through that daily debating and debriefing on what we just did.

“How could we have improved? At the trade deadline did we do a good enough job? Could we have done a better job here at the draft, so forth? What did we learn from last year’s draft and so forth? A lot of our days is preparing, whether it’s evaluating talent, watching these guys conduct draft workouts, and then just preparing for both the draft and free agency coming up.”

Wish we were a fly on the wall. The suspense is killing us.