Face of the Franchise
It is increasingly evident that the Nets have chosen D’Angelo Russell to be the face of the franchise. They are banking on the 22-year-old not only as the their star on the court, but as their most marketable player as they begin to sell tickets.
He has been everywhere in recent weeks. When Manchester City did a tour of New York, DLo was on hand at the NBA Store to play some video games and trade jerseys with Leroy Sane’, the ManCity 22-year-old.
S/O to @Dloading, @LeroySane19, and all the amazing fans in attendance for the first ever @NBA x @Twitch live stream from #NBAStoreNYC ⚽ pic.twitter.com/7zUSUNSN9G— NBA Store (@NBASTORE) July 24, 2018
He went to MetLife Stadium to watch Sane’ and others play, all recorded on video and tweeted out.
❄ @Dloading of the @BrooklynNets shows his love for #mancity! @Tinder pic.twitter.com/FqyPQwWw7d— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 28, 2018
And along with BonJovi, Russell was the big celebrity at the Overwatch League’s championships Friday at Barclays Center, where 19,000 fans took in the esports extravaganza.
D’Angelo Russell of the @BrooklynNets is feeing the excitement of tonight’s @overwatchleague #TheFirstFinals JD Barnes / @EspatMedia pic.twitter.com/KyYz4MqjFh— Mario Prosperino (@mario_prosp) July 28, 2018
Video of his workouts is embedded on social media everywhere — Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, you name it.
—- DLo x Blow Up (J. Cole) —-— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) July 27, 2018
“This is a song for my haters”
Offseason workout video
(Via @Dloading IG) pic.twitter.com/V6oXQ389up
Nets staffers are only too happy to note that he arrives early and stays late (and will on occasion return at night). He’s shown leadership with the team’s two rookies and was in Las Vegas to support the Summer League entry.
The Nets official website has increasingly featured him as well. And why not? Despite his tough times in L.A., he has been a exemplary player and teammate in Brooklyn. He has said all the right things about the franchise’s future and how he sees himself as a long-term member of the team.
“There is a lot of opportunity here,” DLo told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears back in March. “It’s an organization that is on the rise. No one really knows what this organization is about. I feel like with the staff we have and the players that we have, we can work together to make it become something.
“Winning in New York is different. And Brooklyn being a complete separate borough, the fan support is amazing. Everything is amazing.”
Or as Jared Dudley said this week, he is a “cornerstone” of the team’s future along with Jarrett Allen, who’s getting a lot of attention himself this summer.
Of course, this is critical year for DLo. He is eligible for an extension but it’s unlikely that he and the Nets will talk about one this summer, Instead, it is in both’s interest to wait till next July. After missing 34 games, DLo will get a chance to show just what he can do while healthy and the Nets are nursing all the cap space. The more flexibility the better.
And fans seem to have bought in ...
D'Angelo's latest workout video sealed it. That's it. I'm in. Don't call me crazy or irrational. It's going to work. The puzzle will come together this season. I'm fully invested. I believe. Take the #Nets & inject them directly into my veins. We deserve whats coming & its coming— Dawg (@GilTweetsRarely) July 27, 2018
Know this: DLo has star quality and is, even with the addition of Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, still the four youngest player on the roster. If things work out, he could fulfill that desire he laid out in talking with Spears: being the guy in Brooklyn. It’s in everyone’s interest that he is.
Juan Pablo Vaulet is back in Argentina, having left Las Vegas without playing a minute in any of the Nets five Summer League games. Once again, it was his foot that kept him out. The multiple surgeries he’s had on both feet/ankle have killed a once promising career. Specifically, he has been suffering from bone edema, an inflammation inside the bone.
“I started with this pain already in the final stage of last season. Then came the [national team] selection. Then I had a couple of weeks to recover. I thought that with rest and kinesiology, in two or three weeks I could be ready. But then it kept continued to bother me and everything became like a knot. Now I’m trying to get well for next season, “said Vaulet.
”It begins to hurt when I make demands of the foot. And if I demand a lot, it not only prevents you from playing but also affects you in daily life. There was a moment it bothered me to walk. (With Brooklyn) I participated in two or three practices and I could not do it anymore. I had to watch it [summer league] from the outside,“ added the forward who had to move around Vegas in a walking boot.
Has the experience depressed him? After all, this was supposed to be his big moment.
“I was eager to play, but I’m reassured that at least I tried. I did not want to refuse the invitation,” he told LaNeuva in Argentina. He said the Nets told him the only cure is rest.
He did say that he learned, even just from watching and talking to Kenny Atkinson and each member of the Nets coaching staff.
“Now I know where I am weakest and I can train more on that, My goal is to play in the NBA.“
It seems like the 22-year-old’s chance for an NBA career is dying. Too bad. The Nets gave up two second rounders and $880,000 to move up. Days later, while playing in a FIBA competition, he suffered a stress fracture. It’s been downhill since.
Next up for us: Aleksandar Vezenkov’s debut with Olympiacos in mid-September and Isaiah Cordinier’s return from his double knee surgery later that month.
Summer League Update
After a very disappointing 0-5 record, including a 37-point loss in their last game, the Nets Summer League team is finding new gigs around the world. Here’s an update.
—Theo Pinson, the 6’7” swingman out of North Carolina, and Tyler Davis, the 6’10” center out of Texas A&M, will both be in training camp for the Nets. Pinson has been working out in Las Vegas with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Quincy Pondexter, Can’t hurt.
—Yuta Watanabe, the 6’9” George Washington swingman, has signed a two-year two-way contract with Grizzlies. Why he didn’t sign with the Nets is unknown, but Memphis’ willingness to give him a two-year deal might be one reason.
—Ding Yanyuhang, the 6’7” domestic MVP of the Chinese league, has agreed to sign with the Mavericks. Originally, he was expected to play for Dallas in the Summer League but then Jeremy Lin recruited him to the Nets. He got hurt and he has a big FIBA commitment in August so back to China he went. Did the Nets decision to trade Lin have any effect? Who knows.
—Shawn Dawson, the 6’6” shooting guard from Israel, decided to sign with Juventud in the Spanish league this week. Uncertain if the Nets were interested in the 24-year-old, or vice versa.
—Kamari Murphy, the 6’9” power forward who played for Long Island last season, agreed to a deal with Oostende in the Belgian League. He was Isaiah Whitehead’s teammate at Lincoln High School and with Long Island.
No word yet on the other Nets roster players, Whitehead, who was traded then released by Denver, is looking for an NBA gig. Milton Doyle, who shared the G-League backcourt with Whitehead, is rumored to be on the radar of a Spanish League team. No word yet on James Webb III. The Nets renounced their rights to Doyle and Webb to free up cap space for their late trades with Atlanta, Denver and Phoenix.
With the agreement to sign Mitch Creek, the 6’5” shooting guard out of Horsham, Australia, the Nets are now down to two two-way deals. The Nets can bring 20 players into camp. They have 15 roster players plus the three camp invites in Creek, Theo Pinson and Tyler Davis. That leaves the two two-way deals. The Nets could be waiting to see what players get dumped in the final scramble for roster spots or could be eyeing one or more of camp invites for a promotion to a two-way. You can upgrade a camp invite, an Exhibit 10 contract, to a two-way, but not the reverse. The two way is much more lucrative and provides much more job security.
One final bit of housekeeping on the 15-man roster. Treveon Graham, the 6’5”, 235-pound swingman, has apparently not yet been signed. The “Freight Train” has been in France working with French kids in a unique basketball camp where the curriculum is divided between learning hoops and learning English.
NO plastic straws for you
BSE Global, Mikhail Prokhorov’s holding company, announced this week no more plastic straws will be handed out with drinks at Barclays Center or Nassau Coliseum events. It’s part of an effort to remove the hundreds of millions of straws thrown away every day around the world.
BSE Global said in its press release that The move will divert from landfill a combined 5.5 million straws used annually by the two venues. Levy Restaurants, the venue’s food and beverage provider, will offer guests a strawless lid or “alternative-material straw option,” which will be compostable, upon request.
The two will be the first New York sports and entertainment venues to eliminate plastic, just as they were the first to eliminate Big Gulp soda sizes. That was a health issue for New York. Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE, said the idea was first broached by Adrian Grenier of “Entourage” fame, who is part of the BSE Advisory Board and founder of Lonely Whale, which has been a leader in the effort.
It’s the dog days of summer now. Front office types take vacations, but pack their cell phones. We could wait on the identity of the two-ways till camp. Last year, the Nets signed Jacob Wiley and Yakuba Outtara to two-way deals early in the off-season, then regretted it Wiley proved himself more an athlete than a basketball player and Outtara had injuries that prevented him from playing much Eventually, the Nets dumped both and signed Milton Doyle and James Webb III in mid-season. They could do that as well.
They have some staff hiring to do as well. Gregg Polinsky, the Nets long-time chief scout, moved to Detroit where he’ll work with Ed Stefanski, who was assistant GM and his boss in New Jersey. Jordan Surenkamp, an assistant coach with Long Island, has followed Ronald Nored, the Long Island head coach, to Charlotte.
So we’ll keep in touch and follow the news. It’s been a “volume” off-season, as Danny Leroux of RealGM noted. Lots of surprises and as Sean Marks keeps saying, “you never know.”