When is Media Day not the most anticipated moment a day before training camp? When Jimmy Butler is on the market and the Timberwolves want to do a deal with SOMEONE before Monday morning.
So anything and everything in this last Off-Season Report could be out-of-date very soon. In the meantime, we write and wait about other interesting things going on.
A new and interesting hire
The Nets don’t announce all their hires, as we’ve noted recently. And so in trying to update our front office list, we stumbled upon one of the most interesting hires we’ve seen of late. Not a coach or a scout, but a “director for player engagement.” Meet Annabel Padilla who joined the Nets last, leaving a similar job with the Hawks.
What’s player engagement? Padilla described it in an interview that ran in the alumni magazine of Northeastern University back in February when she was still with the Hawks. She is at the intersection of basketball and marketing, as she says making best use of the players to engage the community ... and pushing the team brand.
Again, talking about the Hawks, he explained, “We want to use our players authentically and engage them in the business and in the community,” said Padilla. “Good exposure can have benefits for the team, the individual brands of the players, and the city itself.”
Moreover, she sees the job as a way to help the players develop their own brand and help them with their post-basketball careers.
“I match up the players to the areas that can set them up for success, but also to the areas that best drive our business,” she said. She recalled how she used Dennis Schröder’s love of soccer to do some cross-sport marketing including a Schröder appearance at an Atlanta United game.
One of her jobs in Atlanta was to help the team’s rookies get acclimated.
“So much comes at them so quickly,” she said. “They have to learn how to manage all that comes with being a professional athlete—both on and off the court. It’s been gratifying to see how well they’ve handled those transitions.”
Before joining the Hawks, Padilla was manager of the NBA’s Social Responsibility program for nine years, promoting, among other things, the league’s social responsibility platform, NBA Cares.
How’d she wind up in Brooklyn? We don’t know, but in that Northeastern magazine article, she describes growing up a “devoted” New Jersey Nets fan.
Our favorite pundit
Not every pundit is down on the Nets chances although a lot are. Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm, known as a cold-hearted skeptic among NBA writers, likes the Nets chances. Quietly over the last couple of weeks, he’s tweeted some interesting factoids about the Nets ... as he argued for Brooklyn’s chances.
Talking about over/under numbers for win totals —the Nets currently stand at 32 on Vegas sports books, he tweeted earlier this month...
Currently highest on over win totals for: Pistons, Spurs, Mavericks, Celtics (Nets are awfully close to joining that tier)— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) September 11, 2018
13 teams are tied for least confidence in the over.
Most confident in Hawks, Knicks under.
Grizz, Cavs Rockets tied for least confidence in under.
Starting to lean towards the Nets over for a few reasons, among them is that the stuff they have to fix is all so simple. They were 30th in transition offense last year, shooting 46.7% (!!!!) in transition!— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) September 8, 2018
He also likes the Nets off season moves ... a lot.
1. I like this sequence.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) September 9, 2018
2. Joe Harris was 93rd percentile in the halfcourt in points per possession, 96th percentile overall, 89th percentile spot-up, 76th%ile off-screen, 84th hand-off.
3. The Nets re-signed him for 2-years, $16 million this summer. pic.twitter.com/2yVfYNej78
One of the key weakspot areas for the Nets? Rebounding. They gave up the 12th most offensive rebounds and grabbed the 24th most.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) September 13, 2018
They added Kenneth Faried and Ed Davis in the offseason.
He even praised Allen Crabbe, bain of many in the pundit class.
Allen Crabbe shot 64% on spot-up attempts last season. I’m still really stunned the Blazers traded him.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) September 8, 2018
Our respect for Moore isn’t just that Moore thinks the Nets will surprise this year. It’s that he pointed up some little known facts about last season ... “30th in transition offense last year, shooting 46.7% (!!!!) in transition!” Are you kidding me?
Almost of Moore’s stuff is on social media. Give HP a follow.
Tiago Splitter on pain
Tiago Splitter was one of the Nets more interesting off-season “acquisitions.” On the same day the Nets announced that Pablo Prigioni would become a Nets assistant coach, they also announced that Splitter had agreed to join the club as a scout and big-man coach. Sean Marks knew Splitter from the Spurs.
The April announcement came two months after the Brazilian seven-footer officially retired following a series of hip injuries and surgeries
We’ve seen him a couple of times at HSS Training Center in workout gear indicating he was coaching, not scouting. He spoke this week to a Brazilian website about how even after he stopped playing, the pain didn’t. It’s a good insight into how players deal with pain until they can’t and the long-term ramifications...
“I do not feel pain everyday, but I can not run or play basketball anymore. By wearing all those years of basketball, I have little cartilage in the hip, both on the operated side, as on the other side. But I can go to the gym to do bikes and other activities without impact...
Giving it all up was not easy, he admits, but he couldn’t stand the pain any longer.
“It’s difficult because the head wants to go, but the body doesn’t follow. In the final years that I played, even when we were champions in 2014, I had to measure a lot of what I did so I wouldn’t hurt myself and to be healthy for the next game. I felt that the moment was coming and after the operation, I started to play a little bit, but I already knew it was the end.”
Splitter wasn’t asked about the Nets during the interview.
Viewing habits of the rich and famous
Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report went to HSS Training Center recently to talk TV with Nets players, find out what they like, how they watch and do they observe spoiler alert rules.
As Sepkowitz points out, one show dominates...
The Nets are hooked on Power, a crime drama on Starz that just wrapped up its fifth season on Sept. 9. Throughout the summer, the show became appointment viewing, according to Dinwiddie and his teammate Allen Crabbe.
For them, it’s as much a communal experience as it is an offseason stand-in for hoops drama. Many of the young Nets connect over social media with other fans—#TeamPower—and even trade barbs at times.
And Dinwiddie is really into it as hip-hop soap opera, rattling off his impressions to Sepkowitz.
“Angela’s the saint. It gets complicated ‘cause there’s love there. Tasha, woo, she got issues, man.”
”Tasha fell in love with the driver, then went and fell in love with the lawyer. Like, bruh, c’mon man. Tasha’s been in love three times. How’d that happen?”
There is at least one show that’s challenging Power’s dominance, adds Dinwiddie.
“Power dominates NBA locker rooms,” Dinwiddie says. “We do have a couple Snowfall outliers in our locker room—Allen Crabbe—don’t wanna name names.”
Snowfall, a drama set against the infancy of the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles, would naturally appeal to Angeleno Crabbe. I’ve been hooked!” He admits to binge watching.
“I’m all caught up. It took me like a week. After practices and workouts, I came straight home to catch up.”
The Poet returns
Last April, in one or four favorite stories of the year, we profiled poet Mikko Harvey’s obsession with D’Angelo Russell. Here’s the key passage, when a Canadian poetry magazine asked Harvey to name his current obsession. Did he speak of things poets normally obsess about? Nah.
“I’m obsessed with D’Angelo Russell, basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets. I watch his games, read think pieces about him on the NetsDaily fan website, keep up with his Instagram, etc. He occasionally appears in my dreams.”
He spoke about the beauty of Russell’s game when he gets going and his physical beauty, the star quality.
And new he’s back. Basketball writer Martin Kessler knew Harvey at Harvard where the two were undergraduates and spoke to him about Russell. Harvey’s obsession with DLo began when he went to graduate school at Ohio State, the same year Russell exploded on the college scene and became the overall No. 2 pick in the 2015 Draft.
Harvey is still obsessed and has even deeper thoughts on DLo as he heads into a crucial season. It’s about art and aesthetics. He explains it to Kessler in the context of trying to create great art but questioning whether it will ever be good enough.
“There are moments when D’Angelo tries to throw this cross-court pass, it gets intercepted, suddenly he looks almost, like, flamboyant — somebody who tried to make an aesthetic statement that failed and hurt his team,” Mikko says. “And it’s not actually sustainable.”
It’s on these nights that watching D’Angelo Russell makes Mikko question his own career choice.
”Should I give up on this thing I consider artful, but is it really just selfish? And should I instead get a marketing job where I can write little ads and it will pay me more?” he says. “And then I could have a child and support the child. And the human team would win, you know what I mean?”
But then there are also still nights — and weeks — when Russell plays brilliantly.
”Sometimes he gives me the treat of a glimpse of what he’s capable of — and that’s superstardom and a kind of genius,” Mikko says.
He’s hopeful of course but wonders —and maybe worries, too— about him.
“There’s a question about whether there’s room for somebody like D’Angelo Russell,” Mikko tells Kessler. “And I feel similarly about, is there room for poets and painters and sculptors? Rooting for D’Angelo seems like a vote for art and a vote for imagination and a vote for whimsy.”
And yes, magic.
“He has this silky smooth handle. He would beat you with misdirection and deception and trickery instead of power or speed. He’s a poet out there, you know?”
As far as we know, Harvey has not written about DLo, but as we noted back in April, if he does pen something, we would be happy to publish it.
FYI, Harvey comments on ND as mikharvey just like all you crazies.
Isaia Cordinier (pronounced Iz-Zi-Ah Cor-Din-Yay) is the French guard who the Nets got in the Jeremy Lin trade back in July. As we noted at the time, Cordinier didn’t play last season because of knee tendinitis. He opted for double knee surgery to cure the chronic pain. Now, he’s back on the court with Antibes Sharks and this week gave an interview with a French website BasketActu.
The 6’5” combo guard didn’t put a date on his return, but said he and the team are “finalizing the last details so that I can return to play as quickly as possible.”
He’s began practicing with the team for the first time this week, adding, “For the moment, everything is positive. We do not rush to avoid risks.”
Of all the moves Sean Marks made this summer, Cordinier is the one with the least risk. The Nets liked him in 2016 and he went two places after Isiah Whitehead. We expect to cover his play when he returns.
Cordinier is coached by Julien Espinosa, a rising star in French coaching ranks and someone who the Nets already have a relationship. He served as one of Kenny Atkinson’s summer league assistants two years ago.
Final Final Note
This is the last off-season report for the year, our 11th. We’ve probably published 250 or so, always on the weekend from April (or May) right up until the Sunday before the Monday of Media Day.
Thanks for reading. We hope you enjoyed it all, but mostly, we hope we all enjoy the season! GO NETS!