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NetsDaily Off-Season Report - No. 5

And we’re back, for our 12th 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 that first round loss.

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Nets sign two, count ‘em, two assistant GM’s

Jeff Peterson and Andy Birdsong, two (young) 30-somethings hired as assistant GM’s last weekend, have a lot of similarities beyond their age. Both got MBA in sports business from Florida State, a year apart, and both started their careers with the Hawks as scouts, overlapping two years with other ... and Kenny Atkinson, who was a Hawks assistant.

At that point, Peterson decided to stay with Atlanta and Birdsong went on to join the Spurs. Peterson was promoted to coordinator of basketball operations and was then named as the team’s director of scouting in 2015. He’s spent the last three as Hawks assistant general manager. He also worked as an assistant coach of the German national team when Dennis Schroder was a Hawk.

After joining the Spurs in 2015, Birdsong served as director of pro player personnel, as well as general manager of the team’s NBA G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, the latter that Sean Marks held before joining the Nets in 2016. Birdsong was on the management track in San Antonio, but Marks changed his mind.

The two, despite their age and experience, have good reputations around the NBA. One scout called the two “well-respected” and “up-and-coming” executives. “Gotta hand it to Sean. He has Nets moving in rich direction,” he added.

No word on how the two will divide responsibilities but Peterson’s most prominent skill set seems to be scouting and Birdsong’s development. That’s a bit too facile a division and of course we don’t know what Marks has in mind for them.

The two will now join a group of 30-somethings in middle and upper management at the HSS Training Center. There’s Ryan Gisreil, director of basketball operations; Matt Tellem, director of strategic planning; Andrew Baker, director of contract management (capologist); Logan MacPhail, director of coaching analytics; Glenn DuPaul, director of basketball analytics and Matt Riccardi, assistant GM of the Long Island Nets. A lot of the titles are non-descript and responsibilities overlap.

The Nets have now replaced two of the four staffers they lost in the last couple of weeks. They still need to find a new assistant coach to replace Chris Fleming and the head coach of Long Island. Jeff Hornacek, the former Knicks head coach who’s been around HSS (and on the road with the Nets) is one possibility for the Chris Fleming job. But would a two-time NBA head coach want a junior position with the Nets?

Pablo Prigioni returns to his roots and brings two Nets

Joe Harris and D’Angelo Russell went to Madrid this weekend as part of an NBA promotion tied with the UEFA Championships in the Spanish capital. Traveling with them was Pablo Prigioni who know something about Spain.

Prigioni brought them to the ACB (Spanish basketball league) playoffs where he, not they, were the big draw.

Sergio Rabinal of NBA Spain talked to Russell and Harris about their coach, who spent six seasons in Madrid. Here’s their comments (with DLo revealing Prigioni’s nickname is “President.”) Russell first...

“He’s my man ... I call him genius, because he dominates the game being smarter than the rest. When I came to Brooklyn and talked with him, it was very easy to communicate and see different things or situations.“

And Harris...

“Pablo is amazing, we have a lot of great coaches from the development point of view, Pablo played a lot of time and was successful, and at the same time he understands the new advances of the game, he is very clever. We came to Madrid and he came with us, he helped us with training here, he is constantly introducing new questions.

“What I appreciate most about him is that he is a great person, he has quickly connected to the team, has a good relationship with everyone and, as I always say, is a great basketball mind,”

Wait a minute! He’s helping with training while they’re on a promotional tour? Indeed. Here’s the proof...

Russell has no qualms about continuing his training regimen while he’s overseas ... or getting a head start in Brooklyn.

“Honestly, it’s always been about my body, just taking the time to focus on my body as much as I can,” Russell told the New York Post. “Coming off that year you think you can let off the gas and it comes back to haunt you. I just want to keep pushing that and keep focusing on my body.”

Same with Harris who told Brian Lewis that the work is just an extension of what he and his teammates have been doing already at the HSS Training Center.

“Most of us have been in Brooklyn a lot in the offseason already, working with the coaches there, just taking care of our bodies, making sure we don’t taper off too much from what we build over the season,” Harris said. “Most guys right now are just working, taking care of their bodies, put in little more work on the strength-and-conditioning aspect.”

Prigioni, in fact, has accompanied Nets players overseas before. He and a member of the Nets performance staff traveled to Sarajevo last summer for Dzanan Musa’s games in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers. Luckily, he and Dan Liburd, the Nets head strength and conditioning coach, were on hand when Musa rolled his ankle.

By the way, DLo picked Liverpool over Tottenham, 3-2 in the UEFA Champions League game. Liverpool won 2-0.

More Workouts

We’ll be updating workout data as we head toward the Draft, now less than three weeks away. Here’s a few more names of prospects we’ve learned have worked out for the Nets or have scheduled, most of them with the help of The Athletic’s Mike Scotto.

Jared Harper, 5’11” point guard, Auburn, junior

DaQuan Jeffries, 6-5 guard, Tulsa, junior

Jessie Govan, 6’10” center, Georgetown, senior,

Milik Yarbrough, 6’6” guard Illinois State, junior

Lamar Stevens, 6’8,” forward Penn State, junior (returning to school)

Naz Reid, 6’10” forward, LSU,

The Nets worked around 70 prospects last year, based on what @Mr_Jose_82 (formerly @GNYR) put together for us. Among those on last year’s list who worked out, then reclassified to this year’s draft ...

P.J. Washington, 6’7” swingman, Kentucky, sophomore

Shamorie Ponds, 6’1” point guard, St. John’s, junior;

Cody Martin, 6’7” swingman, Nevada, senior;

Admiral Schofield, 6’5” shooting guard, Tennessee, senior;

Bruno Fernando, 6’10” center, Maryland, junior;

Carsen Edwards, 6’1” point guard, Purdue, junior;

Tyus Battle, 6’6” shooting guard, Syracuse, junior;

Jalen McDaniels, 6’10” power forward, San Diego State, sophomore

Kris Wilkes, 6’8” shooting guard, UCLA, sophomore

Fletcher Magee, 6’4” shooting guard, Wofford, junior

Brian Bowen, 6’7” shooting guard, Sydney Kings (Australia);

Will some be back for another round of workouts? Have they already been back? Why so many workouts?

The Nets use the workouts not just to look at NBA Draft prospects but also G League prospects and even Las Vegas Summer League and training camp invitations. The Nets brought 17 players to Las Vegas last season, although several of them didn’t play, including draft picks Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs (buyout issues) as well as Juan Pablo Vaulet and Ding Yanyuhang (injuries).

Kumho Tires, brought to you by DLo

It’s been a while since a Nets player had a national TV ad. Say hello D’Angelo Russell, spokesman for Kumho Tiires, a South Korean company with a history of sports sponorships.

The highly produced commercial is about pressure, which can apply to tires as well as what DLo faced all season long...

Nets Draft Sleeper(s) of the Week

We have no inside information on who the Nets have scout. It’s all detective work. One thing we think we know is that Sean Marks and Trajan Langdon (before he left for New Orleans) looked at three prospects back in March. All Europeans ... and as we have noted, the Nets last three picks have been 6’9” Europeans: Aleksandr Vezenkov, the second rounder in 2017 and last year’s picks, Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs.

Top of the list has to be Luka Šamanić, the 6’11” 19-year-old Croatian big who Marks scouted in January. Samanic decided to show his stuff at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last month instead of waiting for the NBA Global Camp, which was supposed to take place in Monaco this weekend. But there were conflicts with the venue and Monaco was cancelled. So Samanic has an advantage over all the other international prospects. NBA executives have already seen what he can do.

In fact, Samanic looked like a rising star in Chicago, hitting everything in sight and showing off a 38” max vertical. Here’s some archival video of Samanic as a 16-year-old in a Spanish League dunk contest...

And here’s some highlights from this year, showing his athleticism ... and a lot more.

Samanic also said some things about Brooklyn and his pal, Kurucs, while in Chicago. Here’s how he answered a question about

“Have you received advice from anyone in the NBA now about their transition to the league?

“My friend Rodions Kurucs for Brookly.n He’s playing there. He said it’s much different and for him, it’s much better. He got opportunities and he showed he can play. He said it is fun and he’s working and playing and enjoying it. He’s a good guy, too. We played together in Barcelona for two years. He brings energy and people underrate him because he was not such a high pick. He is so hungry wants to prove himself.”

Most mocks now have him around the Denver pick, with some higher.

On the same scouting trip in January, Marks took a look at Serbian seven-footer Borisa Siminic, who played for Crvena Zvezda in his home country. He is currently ranked just outside the Draft in ESPN’s Top 100. Here’s a short highlight reel.

Finally, there’s Deividas Sirvydis, a 6’8” shooting guard from Lithuania, who is projected in the middle second round. Langdon scouted him, also in March. He played for Kaunas this year and NBA scouts have followed him for a few years. A bit thin, but he has NBA height and enough athleticism. Would Nets take him at No. 31? Doubtful, but as last year’s Draft showed, never say never.

Here’s some of his highlights...

One more Draft Note. The Nets will play Franca Basquete, a leading Brazilian team, in a preseason game on October 4 at Barclays. There will be an NBA Draft prospect on the floor for Franca. Marcos Louzada Silva, a 6’5” shooting guard. Known as “Didi” in Brazil, he was scouted recently by Tiago Splitter. Here’s some video of him. He’s ranked in the 60’s by a couple of draftniks.

Final Note

High-end (like really high-end) apartments are becoming more difficult to sell and so it’s become highly competitive. Take his apartment on the West Side. Leasing agents have added all sorts of amenities to close the sale, including one of interest to Nets fans.

We know the flights to space —nothing imminent we presume— sound cool, but by the end of next season, we think those Nets tickets could the most valuable of all the amenities.