Slow news week. Only one signing: former Cavalier Deng Adel officially inked his Exhibit 10 deal. Still waiting on the second two-way and the two remaining Exhibit 10’s, aka training camp invites. Also waiting on who will fill the three coaching vacancies. Will one of them be a woman?
Pinson promises bench celebrations to continue
Even before he signed his first standard NBA contract, Theo Pinson was the leader of the Nets bench squad celebrations, notably inventing “The Swim.”
Just Theo Pinson swimming earlier tonight pic.twitter.com/UFSsaZQ58S— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) March 31, 2019
But now, a lot of the players who were his most enthusiastic co-celebrants are gone, from Alan Williams to D’Angelo Russell, from Jared Dudley to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Will the Nets signature “moves” continue? Tom Dowd of the Nets official site asked Pinson that question recently.
“I’m going to continue to be me, regardless of who’s here and who’s not here,” said Pinson. “I’m going to miss those guys of course, but like they said, this is the NBA, Joe Harris said it best, I think he had different teammates every year. Hearing that and understanding the business of the NBA, you’ve got to just do your job.”
As any fan of the North Carolina Tar Heels will tell you, Pinson’s talent for celebration —and keeping things real— didn’t start at Barclays Center. He’ll do what he has to do to win, on or off the court, in a lead or supporting role.
“In Carolina when we won the national championship I wasn’t the main focused guy scoring the ball. I did all the other stuff for us to get to that point and win games. Going through this won’t be anything new for me. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been playing this game my whole life. I know what I need to work on and get better at.”
And of course some of the new players will bring their own dance moves. We know this guy can dance...
We just don’t know when!
Did the Nets get another steal?
When the Nets traded their own pick in the 2019 Draft —the 17th overall — as part of the Allen Crabbe salary dump, it was viewed as necessary evil. To get the cap space needed to sign two max players, the Nets had to sacrifice something. A bit of the pain was alleviated when the Nets expanded the trade to include Taurean Prince who they “really” liked, as more than one insider has noted.
However, the story doesn’t end there. At the end of the day, Sean Marks wound up with a player the Nets had right around No. 17 on their internal mock draft. someone who they hoped would drop. And drop Nicolas Claxton did.
Claxton was the last of 22 invitees to the Green Room, where top prospects wait for the commissioner’s (and deputy commissioner’s) call with their families. And virtually every mock draft had him going in the early 20’s or higher. Jonathan Givony of ESPN had him at No. 21 and speculated he might have a promise from the Thunder. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic had him at No. 21 as well. So did Kevin O’Connor (who had Claxton as high as No. 18 earlier in June.) Aron Smith of NBADraft.net had him at 24. Bill Simmons raved about him.
Still, the near 7-footer from Georgia was on the board when the Nets turn at No. 27 arrived. Brooklyn had acquired the pick from the Nuggets in the Kenneth Faried salary dump.
Knowing he also had the first pick in the second round at No. 31, Marks took a calculated risk. He would trade the No. 27 pick to the Clippers for the 56th pick in 2019 and a lottery protected pick in the 2020 Draft.
If everything went well, he could get Claxton, a player his scouts —and some draftniks— had mocked much higher, and get rid of the $1.7 million cap hold the 27th pick carried with it. When saving cap space, every little bit helps.
It worked. The three teams between Nos. 27 and 31 —the Warriors, Spurs and Bucks— all went in different directions, leaving Marks with a chance at Claxton, a player who he said “intrigued” him. At 6’11 and 3/4”, Claxton has a long wingspan — 7’2.5” — and a more than respectable max vertical of 36.5.”
More significantly, the Nets GM knew the 20-year-old Georgia product wasn’t your typical college center. He had been a point guard in high school then experienced a growth spurt, going from 6’0” as an eighth grader to 6’7” as a high school sophomore ... and 6’11” his freshman year at Georgia.
“It’s well-documented the growth spurt he had, and the fact he was a point guard and handled the ball at a young age, so he has those skills,” said Marks. “And he hasn’t lost that ball-handling ability. So when you get a guy that I have to look up to that can handle the ball like a point guard, that’s intriguing,”
Kenny Atkinson went further, saying he sees a bit of Chris Bosh in Claxton!
Now, after all the headlines of free agency have been clipped and stored, the Nets are quietly excited by Claxton. Last Monday, they chose Claxton for their “Monday Mixtape,” showing off highlights from both his career in Athens and at Summer League in Las Vegas.
Claxton’s slight frame is the first thing a casual fan would notice watching him. The day after the Draft, Claxton said he weighed 215 pounds. That’s 30 pounds lighter than Jarrett Allen and a full 50 less than DeAndre Jordan. But it’s only 10 pounds less than the model the Nets seem to have set for him, that of Kevin Durant, a mobile if skinny big who can shoot and handle the ball.
NO, NO, NO! No one is saying he’s the next KD but he is a KD “type,” that is, the modern NBA big: long, athletic, ready to defend the rim on defense, operate on the perimeter and roll to the basket on offense.
In fact, that’s how the Nets used him in Summer League, on the perimeter and in pick-and-rolls on offense and defending the rim on D. He showed off some of that potential here and there.
There was a little footwork here...
A little athleticism there...
And some mentoring along the way from another modern NBA big man...
In his best game of the summer, vs. the Wizards, Claxton had 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, to go along with seven boards and a block, all in 20 minutes, most of it against lottery pick Rui Hachimura. There were times, of course, that he appeared lost of defense and his lack of bulk hurt him. (Anyone who has laid eyes on his father, Charles, will not worry whether Nic has the frame to support added pounds. Charles, who played three games for the Celtics in the mid-90’s, is a mountain of a man. That’s him behind Nic in this signing video.)
Claxton likes how the Nets used him.
“Just allowing me to play out in space a lot more instead of just having my back to the basket a lot,” said Claxton. “Like how the NBA is today where you see bigger guys handling the ball and distributing and doing a lot of different things and not just playing on the blocks. (Georgia) Coach (Tom) Crean, I give a lot of credit to him and I’m happy how everything turned out.”
Moreover, the Nets signed him to guaranteed three-year, $4.2 million deal as part of their artful manipulation of the salary cap at the beginning of July. That will give him plenty of time to develop and add strength and bulk, time to be tutored by Nets coaches as well as Allen and KD.
Without working that double sign-and-trade with the Warriors, the Nets would have had to sign Claxton to a two-year minimum deal. It will almost certainly take two years to develop the 20-year-old. Now, the addition of that third year gives the Nets some leeway, some patience and will give Claxton a guaranteed third year at $1.8 million. Everybody wins.
A lot of people think Claxton will likely spend much of this season with Long Island. Of course that is exactly what a lot of people thought about Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs. You never know.
Nets rookies join Tune Squad celebration
On Thursday, Nic Claxton and Jaylen Hands took a short trip from the HSS Training Center to Rodney Park North in Williamsburg, just off the BQE. They were guests at the re-opening of the small city park’s basketball court, something Nets players do all the time...
But this basketball court is very, very different. Take a look...
Here’s a more detailed view...
And a nice ground level shot, too...
Yes, those are all real photos, not some photoshop, courtesy of Warner Bros. It’s a court devoted to your favorite Looney Tunes characters. You know, the guys from Space Jam!
What is going on here???
It turns out that Warner Bros. and Get Animated, the studio’s art-centered initiative, brought the Tune Squad theme to Brooklyn as part of the promotion for “Space Jam 2” the LeBron James follow-up to the classic Michael Jordan number.
Even though “Space Jam 2” isn’t scheduled for release until 2021, Warner is already out there marketing. Here’s the promotional website with details on how the court came together.
Claxton and Hands were among what was described as “local NYC creatives and influencers within sports, music, fashion and art” who were on hand to celebrate the opening.
As the release date gets closer, might we see other players on that court. Stay “tuned,” as the promoters might say. (Sorry!)
Caris LeVert D-Day
Shams Charania tweeted Saturday that the NBA’s opening night is likely October 22.
No details yet on who the Nets will face that night, but the news is important for another reason. Any player on a 2016 rookie contract and his team have until the day before Opening Night —October 21— to work out an extension starting in 2020-21 or the player becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
That means the Nets and Caris LeVert (as well as Taurean Prince) have until then to wrap up a deal that would take the soon-to-be 25-year-old through his prime. There’s some indication the Nets would like to get things done with LeVert. They’ve always seen this summer as critical to their future and not just because of the free agent class. They want to plan out the next few years. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and De Andre Jordan are already taken care of, with four-year deals. A four-year deal for LeVert starting in 2020-21 should give them more star power and more stability going forward. (One can also imagine that Joe Tsai, who’s likely to pay almost all of that contract, would like to get things done now as well.)
The question, of course, is how much do you pay him? LeVert was the team’s best player before getting hurt and again in the playoffs. The guy who filled that role in between those times, D’Angelo Russell, wound up with a max deal —$117 million over four years— in the sign-and-trade for Durant. Would LeVert demand a max deal? Would the Nets, knowing his medical history —78 missed games in three years— be willing to give him such a deal? Would they want options, injury protections? We don’t know, but we have to think all of that will be considered.
No doubt, giving LeVert that kind of money would tie up the Nets salary cap. In 2021-22, the Nets would have $115 million tied up in Durant, Irving, LeVert and Jordan, if LeVert gets max money. And of course, the Nets will have to make a decision on Joe Harris by next summer as well. It’s highly unlikely that Harris, assuming he improves, as he has every year with the Nets, is going to give them a second discount. Not to mention others’ contracts will come due. Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Rodions Kurucs for the moment.
Will that result in big luxury tax bill for Tsai? It could. The projected luxury tax threshold is $151 million. It’ll be close. If the Nets win, it’s less of an issue. But if they don’t ...
As for Prince, It would seem unlikely that the Nets will extend him. Although he’s played well early in his career and the Nets do indeed like him, they’re more likely to let him become an RFA and enter the market.
Also, on Saturday, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Draymond Green has agreed to a near $100 million extension with Golden State.
With free agency looming next summer, three-time All-Star Draymond Green has agreed to a four-year, $100M maximum contract extension with Golden State, agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 3, 2019
That will remove one of the biggest free agents from an already weak class next summer. if LeVert is a free agent, even a restricted one, he will command attention. So will Harris, who will be unrestricted. The Nets do control his Bird Rights. There will be a lot of money floating around and not a lot of players worth it. Harris, who has the 11th highest three point shooting percentage in NBA history, is going to get paid.
In the meantime, all we can say in written across this Flatbush and Atlantic t-shirt...
Deng Adel, Traveling man
Deng Adel, the Nets newest player, is in Melbourne, Australia this weekend, battling Mitch Creek for a starting spot on the Boomers, the Aussies’ national team. He is, as of now, the only Nets player who will participate in the FIBA World Cup later this summer.
The 6’7” forward is going to be racking up a lot of miles over the next few months, flying with the Boomers from Australia to China for the World Cup and back, then across the Pacific to Brooklyn for Nets training camp ... and a second trip to China for the NBA China Games. Here’s his itinerary.
On August 16 and 17, Australia will play Team Canada in Perth on Australia’s west (Indian Ocean) coast.
Then, it’s back across the continent to Adel’s hometown of Melbourne for two exhibition games vs. Team USA on August 22 and 24. The games will be played at Marvel Stadium. It’s a big deal down under. Marvel Stadium seats 57,000 fans and is expected to be full both nights. There will be pre-game entertainment and heavy security.
Next up is the FIBA World Cup in China, which runs from August 31 through September 15, if Australia makes it to the medal round. Their first game on September 1, also against Canada, will take place in Dongguan, China, up the Pearl River from Hong Kong. As they move along, there will be games in southern China. And if they make the Final Four, not unlikely, they will play in Beijing.
From there, it’s back to Australia and on to Brooklyn, where Nets training camp opens on September 27. Then, assuming Deng is still on the squad after the first preseason game at Barclays Center on October 4, he’ll board the Nets charter to Shanghai and Shenzhen where the Nets will play the Lakers on October 10 and October 12. Then, it’s back to Brooklyn ... and Long Island for the Nets final preseason game on October 18 (and where he’s likely to play in the G League.)
Obviously, that’s a lot but Adel grew up in war-torn Sudan, escaped to Uganda where he lived in a refugee camp then was resettled in Australia before being recruited by Louisville to play college ball. He can handle it, all of it. And yes, we will cover it, all of it.
It’s a screen grab from the TV show, “A Different World.” which was about life at a fictional black college. Neat Nets jacket! But wait. That’s not a Nets jacket! It may be black-and-white, may have “BROOKLYN” in block letters across its front, but the TV episode is from 26 years ago!!! NINETEEN YEARS BEFORE THE NETS MOVE TO THE BOROUGH!!!
Did someone sub-consciously recall that when designing the Nets logos, colors and gear back in 2011? How about it, Jay-Z? Go for it, Dolan J. Trump!