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NetsDaily Off-Season Report - No. 19

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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.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets-Media Day Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Media Day, the opening of training camp, is a month from Saturday.

Last Camp Invites

With training camp a month away, the Nets have 18 players under contract — the 15 fully guaranteed deals, now including Spencer Dinwiddie, plus Theo Pinson, Jordan McLaughlin and Mitch Creek, the camp invites.

That leaves two spots open as far as we know. The Nets could very well have reached agreements with one or two players, just not announced them.

Who might they be, whether signed or not? We’re betting on a couple of bigs. The camp invites aren’t just trying, vainly in all likelihood, for a spot on the final roster or a two-way deal. They’re going to be the core of the Long Island Nets roster.

With McLaughlin a point guard and Pinson and Creek wings, Will Weaver, the new Long Island coach, has to be looking for someone a bit taller. (Kamari Murphy who manned the center/power forward slot last season, recently tweeted that he’s injured. We don’t know the status of Prince Ibeh, the 7-footer who preceded Jarrett Allen at Texas and played for Long Island last year.)

The Nets did work out a couple of bigs at their free agent mini-camp over the summer. Two of them are still, from what we can tell, still available. Luke Petrasek played four years at Columbia, graduating a year ago. His final year, the 6’10” big averaged 15.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game as a senior. He earned second-team All-Ivy League honors. For his college career, he averaged 9.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.

Last year, he averaged 6.4 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Greensboro Swarm in the G-League, shooting 35.1 percent from three but only 38.6 percent overall. A bit on the skinny side, the 23-year-old would almost certainly welcome a job with the Long Island Nets. He grew up in Northport ... which is also the hometown of Kenny Atkinson.

The other free agent camp invitee still out there is more of a risk/reward situation. Byron Mullens, formerly B.J., has a lot of NBA experience, 189 games, including 66 starts as well as some time overseas in China, Turkey, Abu Dhabi, even Iran. Mullens, 29, has had a checkered career, as his Ohio State classmate Sam Vecenie chronicled four years ago in an article headlined, “Farewell to Upside.”

But last year, he seemed to get things together. He joined the Lakeland Magic in early March from a team in Abadan, Iran and dominated the G-League, averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, shooting 57 percent overall and 41 percent from three in 12 games. He did a number on the Long Island Nets playoff hopes in late March, scoring 18 points, grabbing 13 rebounds in a two-point win at Nassau Coliseum. He played for the Magic in the Summer League and in the TBT in Brooklyn earlier this month but had to go home for personal reasons.

We don’t know if the Nets are currently interested in either but they did participate in the free agent camp. So someone inside must have liked them.

Another possibility? How about Chris McCullough, who spent two years with the Nets —mostly on Long Island— before being traded in February 2017 deal that sent him and Bojan Bogdanovic to the Wizards for Andrew Nicholson and the 22nd pick in the draft, which became Jarrett Allen.

McCullough didn’t play much in Washington, being consigned to the G-League. After the Wizards dumped him at the end of last season, the Sixers signed him to a summer league gig, where he had one monster dunk in the midst of one big game. Otherwise, he didn’t impress, finishing with 5.8 points and 4.8. No indication he’s going to Sixers camp though and he remains friendly with a number of Nets players, including D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

He’s always had the talent, as he showed with this put-back at Dyckman last month. The issue has always been his motor.

Of course, there are still a number of veteran players still unsigned, but they’re not going to sign a two-way deal. Here’s a sampling: Dwyane Wade (who said he will only sign with the Heat), Jamal Crawford, David West, Nick Young, Patrick McCaw, Rodney Hood, Jarrett Jack, Jason Terry, Ty Lawson and Joe Johnson.

Again, we know nothing, just passing the time of day on a lazy weekend in August.

Bosnia hoops hero back in the game

Dzanan Musa signaled this week that he will be back in Europe next month for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. National teams from around the globe are competing for spots in next year’s world championships in China.

After some discussion with the Nets, Musa announced that he’s going to play for the Bosnian national team at Finland on September 13 and back in Bosnia three days later vs the Czech Republic.

See u soon!!! #ReadyToGo

A post shared by Dzanan Musa (@dzananmusa) on

Musa of course has been a national sports hero since he was 16 when he brought his war-torn nation its first championship, the European U16 title back in 2015. In an interview with FIBA, he spoke about what playing for Bosnia means to him...

“When I play for the national team, I do two of the things that I love the most, which is playing basketball and representing my country.

”I have had a lot of attention on me since a young age. I don’t mind it because I play basketball, and when I do, I’m just focused on the court and on trying to win. I will never forget my first cap with the senior national team and I’m excited for the future because we all want to help Bosnia and Herzegovina’s senior national team grow.

”We have a lot of talented guys and I want to be part of this project for many years. I did win a medal with the youth national team and I dream of winning medals with the senior national team too.”

Bosnia should do well if their other NBA star, Jusuf Nurkic of the Trail Blazers, plays as well. And yes, the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers can be viewed online. We will have the details the closer we get. Here’s some highlights from his last FIBA game back in February vs. Russia...

Musa also showed up in a video this week, part of the “Say No to Extremism” campaign in Bosnia. The campaign uses videos from sports stars to get the youth of their country to turn to sports and away from extremism. The campaign is supported by the U.S. Embassy. Here’s the video...

As we noted in out Stash Update, Aleksandar Vezenkov will also be playing for Team Bulgaria in World Cup Qualifiers. He will play those same two days, September 13 and 16, vs. France and Russia (with Timofey Mozgov). No official word yet on whether Australia’s Mitch Creek will play for the “Boomers” in the FIBA Asia World Cup Qualifiers. Australia plays Qatar in Qatar on the 13th and Kazakhstan in Kazakhstan on the 17th. He had committed before joining the Nets.

Speaking of stashes, Isaia Cordinier did not play in either of the Antibes Sharks preseason game this weekend. He’s recovering from double knee surgery and presumably wasn’t ready yet.

NetsDeli

At some point soon, we will make the trip up to 1463 York Avenue near 79th Street to get a close up look at the East Side Market. It seems that the deli on the Upper East Side, established 1929, got a new sign this summer, first noted by ND follower Sir Prince Alexander. Why trundle all the way up there? You might ask. Take a look.

Now, take a closer look..

IT’S OUR LOGO!!! Oh yeah, the circle might be a little tilted, but the drawing of the Brooklyn Bridge is identical. So is the color scheme. It would appear to be a blatant ripoff, legal or not. So, we are putting together a list of possible compensations. Brian Fleurantin of the staff reacted to the outrage this way...

The menu does look tasty ... if you like meatballs. (Sorry, We already have all we can stomach. They are called NetsDaily posters.)

Farewell to Fred

Fred Kerber announced this week that he is retiring from the Post after decades of over the Nets and Knicks (as well as the Yankees, Mets, etc., etc.)

Fred, we are told reliably —okay, he told us— is moving to Rhode Island to live on a farm. No, really, The curmudgeon of curmudgeons is going to become a gentleman farmer.

We’ve known Fred for most of our time running this joint. When he covered the Nets full time, we’d speak every day. Since he left four years ago, it’s probably been every other day. We’d share stories, tips, outrages and gossip. The stories were the most fun. To wit...

Fred may have looked a bit disheveled, but he was as well organized as any sportswriter ... ever. He archived the audio from all his interviews and stored them on CD’s that he kept in his attic. He hung on to all the Nets media previews —regular season and playoffs— prepared by the P.R. staff going back to the 1980’s, too. How about all the running stat sheets from the Nets playoff appearances? Yep. The commemorative Finals caps from 2002 and 2003? Oh yeah. And any national magazines that featured a Nets player on the cover, including SLAM’s classic “Best Team in the World” from 2002, were filed away and remain in mint condition.

And oh did he have sources! The Rolodex or Rolodexes! Players and ex-players, coaches, scouts, GM’s, league officials, low-level team officials who knew what was really going on. He could do a flawless impression of Rod Thorn’s West Virginia twang they spoke so often.

He broke big stories, like how Jason Kidd wanted Byron Scott gone or who the Nets were planning on taking in the Draft. It wasn’t luck that Fred got the beat. He knew all about the care and feeding of sources. He knew who knew what. We learned a lot about where to go for information.

He could be cantankerous. His first call to NetsDaily was about an error in our copy that reflected badly on his copy. He let us know, but once you showed him respect, he’d show it back. If a young reporter sought help or advice, too, he’d share what he could. He loved the craft.

He did not suffer fools gladly and found one former coach particularly amoral and let him know it. So much so that the coach never wanted to be the same room with Fred.

He was part of a golden era in the 2000’s when the Nets were covered by SEVEN daily newspapers. It was him and Dave D’Alessandro. Ohm Youngmisuk, Al Iannazzone, etc. Great stuff if you were a Nets fan.

It’s fitting that Fred is departing the newspaper scene just as Jason Kidd and Rod Thorn are being enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Both in their own way will mark the end of an era. We will miss him. All Nets fans should. They don’t make them like Freddy any more.

Final Note

The Long Island Nets have chosen their first mascot, “Dale the Eagle.”

Here’s 16 seconds of him/her/it dancing Saturday at a community event...

Here’s the official announcement...

The Tale Behind Dale

Dale, whose name is derived from Uniondale, the hamlet where the team plays, has built his nest at NYCB LIVE, where he will appear at Long Island Nets home games and community events. The fearless high-flyer sports the colors of the Long Island Nets – red, white, and blue – which is also a tribute to the brave military veterans of Long Island. Dale wears number 72 to pay homage to the year the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum opened.

With a tenacious will to win, Dale never misses an opening to strike, and is known to have a particularly lethal 3-point shot. Fans will see him this season soaring above the crowd with the grace of America’s mightiest bird, keeping a watchful eye and protecting his team.

Follow and be a part of Dale’s adventures by using #FlyWithDale

We of course seeing the words, “Nets” and “Eagle” together immediately thought is Dale part of the Ian Eagle clan. Turns out we were not alone. Noah Eagle, Ian’s son, caught the connection too.