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NetsDaily Off-Season Report - No. 18

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.

The Schedule

The Nets schedule is out and it’s like a lot of recent schedules. It starts on the road, in Detroit City. It has only one national TV game —one more than last season. And it has one long road trip ... at an inopportune time.

The bottom line is that the Nets had better make hay early, particularly in December, or things could get ugly late.

Between November 23 and December 26, the Nets play 17 games. Of those 17, only two will require them to get on an airplane, once to Washington, DC, on December 1, the other to Chicago on December 18. The two other road games are bus rides from HSS Training Center, one to Manhattan, the other to Philadelphia and they’re on either side of a four-day layoff, the longest stretch between games other than the All-Star Break. Overall, they have nine home dates in December.

They’re also home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. (In fact, they are home for most major holidays, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr Day too.)

It’s not the games themselves are easy. Most will be tough. After all, this is a young team (average age 25.1 years old) and the winners of a mere 28 games last year. Among the home games in that stretch of 17 are contests with the 76ers, Jazz, Lakers, Thunder and Raptors. Still, it adds up to a four-week span when the Nets can get an advantage.

On the other hand...

Let’s assume it’s a tough season. Sometime around the trade deadline, ownership and management will have a big decision or two or three to make, all related to whether they should start thinking more about the draft than the playoffs.

The deadline is February 7 (between homes games vs. the Nuggets and Bulls). Call it the season’s inflection point. The end of the season looks very tough. There’s the seven-game road trip that begins March 13. Six of the games are out west. Then, after they return on March 30, they have only six games left, divided equally between home and away. They play the Bucks twice, as well as the Celtics, Raptors, Pacers and Heat.

It’s not out of the question that the high command looks down the road at the deadline and says, let’s make moves now, play the kids the rest of way and hope that the new Draft Lottery rules —the three worst regular-season records will each have a 14 percent chance of winning— works in our favor.

Wait, wouldn’t that be tanking, the dreaded “T” word? Kenny Atkinson told Michael Kay this week that he and Sean Marks don’t talk about tanking, don’t even mention the word. (He did say “upper, upper management” might, an intriguing point Kay left hanging there.)

Not necessarily. The Nets could decide to go for a star player in a deadline trade rather than wait till summer free agency. They will have some assets.

Never forget that Mikhail Prokhorov, Dmitry Razumov and Marks all talk about having multiple fall back plans at the ready.

Of course, we hope for the best in December and the rest of the season.

Welcome, Future Nets!

Get out your welcome signs, practice your best chants. Here are the key free agents the Nets might be interested in ... and when they’ll be in Brooklyn.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors, October 28

Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers, November 17

—Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves, November 23

Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors, December 7

Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics, January 14.

Welcome, Past Nets!

Get nostalgic. Applaud lustily. A few of the most recent Nets will be making either their first appearance at Barclays after being traded or in the case of Brooklyn, his first appearance in a new uniform.

Jeremy Lin, Atlanta Hawks, December 16

Jahlil Okafor, New Orleans Pelicans, January 2

Timofey Mozgov, Orlando Magic, January 23

Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks, February 4

Nik Stauskas, Portland Trail Blazers, February 21

Dante Cunningham, San Antonio Spurs, February 25.

And of course, the big night, welcoming back Dwight Howard and the Dwightmares, December 14.

Revenge Games ... GRRRR

Kenneth Faried was drafted by the Nuggets and played at the Pepsi Center for seven years. He returns on November 9. Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier were undervalued by the Blazers, if beloved by their fans. They make their only appearance at the Moda Center on March 25. Add Allen Crabbe, who helped recruit the two of them, and it’s a reunion!!

Numbers Please

Updating who’s playing in what jersey, we learned this week that Shabazz Napier will wear No. 13. It wasn’t listed as the Nets site, just in a tweet by the team’s official site...

Very cool. That leaves Rodions Kurucs, who held up No. 17 at the rookie press conference on June 22, but that was before the Nets signed Ed Davis, who as the image above shows, used veteran privilege to secure his traditional number.

Street scenes

Finally, kudos to the Nets marketing staff who promoted the schedule in a very unique and very Brooklyn way...

For us, the winner is the Chicago Bulls ... a pizza box. We like the Philadelphia 76ers, too, The subway entrance. To those who thought up the idea ... and those who executed it, Bravo!

Jordan McLaughlin on the court

Jordan McLaughlin is someone the Nets obviously like. After he went undrafted, which was expected, the 6’1” USC point guard got a call from Brooklyn, who invited him to play for the Nets in summer league. Word at the time was that he also had a training camp invite and indeed last week, he signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Nets. It hasn’t been officially announced but McLaughlin has posted an Instagram image of him affixing his signature to an NBA contract.

In the meantime, McLaughlin has been tearing up the Drew League out in L.A., the only Net playing competitive basketball this month. He twice scored 25 points in The Drew, a big favorite among NBA players who hang out in southern California during the summer, including James Harden, Andre Drummond, DeMar DeRozan, Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson, etc.

Here’s some extended highlights from his 25-point, five-assist performance in the Drew playoffs last week. He’s No. 1 in blue. His team, Prodigy, beat BB4L and Stanley Johnson in what was described as the biggest upset in Drew League history.

McLaughlin played four years at USC, where was seen as a high character individual. He can also play.

Over the course of his career with the Trojans, McLaughlin shot 38 percent from three and averaged 5.8 assists, including 7.8 this past season, third nationally. An all-around, if undersized player, McLaughlin finished second in assists, third in steals, fourth in points and fifth in three-pointers made in USC history.

In Las Vegas Summer League, McLaughlin played in all five games, averaging 19.6 minutes, 7.0 points and 4.8 assists. Is there room for him in Brooklyn? The Nets haven’t designated their two two-way players. It appears they’d like the camp invites to fight it out. He along Theo Pinson, the UNC product, look like strong possibilities.

Joe Tsai T’d Up

Joe Tsai, the Nets new minority owner, didn’t tweet that much until recently. On the night of July 12, when Brooklyn traded Jeremy Lin, Tsai tweeted out his thoughts ...

Then, this week, Tsai surprisingly replied to an offer from Flatbush & Athletics, clothier to the Nets sweat set. The guys designed a Tsai t-shirt featuring a silhouette of the Alibaba billionaire going up for a layup...

They offered one to Tsai in a fun tweet... you know, one you don’t think anyone will respond to, particularly a guy worth $12 billion on the other side of the world.


So after some shock...

And some logistical issues, the shirts got delivered.

Dope indeed.

Then, later in the week, another new design caught Kenneth Faried’s eye.

Good luck to the guys. Not that they need it. Their talent seems to be enough.

Final Note

If you have 42 minutes to spare, make sure to watch “Something in the Water,” the NBA Players Only documentary on the former Yugoslavia’s love affair with basketball, as told through the journeys Dzanan Musa and Luka Doncic to the NBA Draft. There is throughout the doc a looming third presence as well: that of Drazen Petrovic, who opened the door all the Croats, Slovenes, Serbs and Bosniaks who followed.

Although Doncic is the more accomplished of the two players and was drafted higher, No. 3 compared to No. 29, Musa is the star of the documentary. Part of it is that Musa’s English is better, but mainly Musa is just more interesting and oh, so much more charismatic.

The 19-year-old talks about his life in Bosnia as well as his confidence, what he admits others may see as cockiness or arrogance. The sequence at Barclays Center on Draft Night is a great piece of film making, from the time he walks across Flatbush Avenue through the door, takes his seat and waits till Adam Silver finally calls his name at No. 29.

As he’s walking off stage, someone outside camera range sees him wearing a Nets cap and shouts, “Who are you?” His reply, “You’ll see!”

Finally, make sure you watch the final scene. It’s a bit dramatic, but as a Nets fan, you will love it.