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Jared Dudley gives his State of the Nets; reveals he wanted to come back to Brooklyn

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Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Jared Dudley made his return to Brooklyn on Thursday night and per usual, he provided the media with some interesting nuggets as well as some valuable insight into the Nets’ current state.

The Nets of last season were a young team with an exuberant personality and few expectations. Lead by blossoming All-Star D’Angelo Russell on the floor and their trio of veterans in the locker room — Ed Davis, DeMarre Carroll, and Dudley, the Nets had a memorable season. And it was Dudley who set up the players-only video session just before the Nets turned the season around in December.

With all the turnover this past off-season in Brooklyn —and the Nets still struggling to find their groove, Dudley was asked if he thinks the Nets made a mistake by not making their veteran leaders more of a priority in free agency.

“(The Nets) couldn’t pay Ed (Davis). Couldn’t pay Demarre (Carroll). I think they valued me, I just think they thought that they could wait and I’m not a normal veteran player. I talk to players, I talk to teams, I talk to GMs. I’m going to go recruit myself to different teams.

“When I’m looking at how it’s going and all the guys are coming off the board, watching Jeff Green go to Utah and when I saw (Anthony) Tolliver signed with Portland, I was supposed to sign before Tolliver, there’s usually a pecking order. When I saw that, that’s when I started making my phone calls. Once LA offered me, Brooklyn offered, but by that time my mind was already — once LeBron and AD signed off on it — there was no turning back.”

There have been conflicting reports on the level of interest the Nets had in retaining Dudley this past summer, but Dudley revealed he did in fact want to return to Brooklyn — it was his first choice — but the Nets waited too long to offer him a contract.

“Brooklyn showed so much love,” Dudley said. “So for me, I loved New York. I would’ve came back easily.”

Of course, while the Nets didn’t retain Dudley, Davis and Carroll, they did bring in other veterans who, it must be noted, have not only provided leadership but big minutes. DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple and even Wilson Chandler all have great reps as veteran leaders while Dudley, Davis and Carroll have spent a lot of time on their respective teams’ benches.

Dudley admitted being back in Brooklyn for Thursday’s matchup was special for him; he loved the city during his one year stint:

“So many friends, security people saying (hello) to me, fans, Mr. Whammy. Just the love.”

Dudley also touched on the current state of the Nets; he still very much keeps up with his former team and maintains relationships with most of his old teammates. In short, he believes the Nets will be fine and in a similar position as the Lakers come next season when Kevin Durant returns.

“I know Nets fans are worried,” Dudley (who follows a large portion of Nets Twitter and is, therefore, familiar with the fan bases’ collective angst) said, “but once KD comes back, they’ll be a top-2 seed.”

Dudley did admit one issue in Brooklyn; with all the turnover the Nets had this past offseason, their culture and team identity is still a work in progress.

“No KD, you have a Kyrie (Irving) coming to the fold with them, Caris (LeVert) is out 25 games. You have a whole different team... They don’t have the glue guys and the culture setters in the locker room (from last season), so that takes a while. Once KD comes back, they naturally will win, but just because you win, it doesn’t mean you have a culture set.”

Dudley brings up a good point. The Nets culture will evolve under KD and Kyrie’s leadership. As Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have said over and over in the recent and distant past, the team has to fight to protect and cultivate their team culture every day as it’s integral to a winning organization.

As we get further away from Brooklyn’s “Clean Sweep” on June 30th, an increasing number of people around the NBA have revealed just how early they knew Kyrie and KD to Brooklyn was in the works.

Dudley himself admitted that he knew Kyrie was coming and figured, given the relationship of the two players, KD might not be far behind.

“I knew Kyrie (was coming to Brooklyn). We knew these guys were like BFFs, they want to go everywhere (with each other). I could understand that. (Kyrie) had LeBron and (KD) had Steph Curry. You give them credit for those championships, but it won’t be like the same if they win here in Brooklyn. They’ll be legends, they’ll be iconic, so why not take the challenge on. (Nets) got such a good core.”

If we’re keeping count, Dudley joins Spencer Dinwiddie and KnicksBobby Portis, among others, that have admitted they knew about Irving’s interest in Brooklyn from as early as the beginning of last season.

It might have only been for one season, but Jared Dudley will always be remembered as a fan favorite with (most) Nets fans. His on-court IQ, veteran leadership, toughness in standing up against Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and his articulate dealings with the media are sorely missed.