The first off-season move is now in the books. Wilson Chandler has officially signed with a team in China. Zhejiang Guangsha Lions made the announcement Saturday following weeks of rumors. In fact, the team said the 6’7” veteran was on his way to Zhejiang, a city not far from Shanghai on China’s east coast.
It will be Chandler’s second turn in China. He played there during the 2011-12 lockout. For the Nets, the loss is more of an accounting issue at this point. He missed the first 25 games due to a failed test for PED drugs then declined to play the last eight seeding games, citing his fear that is he caught the coronavirus, he could eventually infect his 87-year-old grandmother.
His $1.7 million cap hold will now go away. And with that, the roster for the Nets will drop to 20, including the four substitute players signed during the early days of the “bubble,” Lance Thomas, Jamal Crawford, Justin Anderson and Donta Hall. All of them are unrestricted free agents. The Nets also have their other free agents: Joe Harris of course will be unrestricted although the Nets his Bird Rights meaning they can pay him whatever they want outside the salary cap. Chris Chiozza is a restricted free agent, giving them the right to match any other offer. Garrett Temple has a $5 million team option. And the Nets have Tyler Johnson’s Non-Bird rights, meaning they can sign him to a four-year deal at 120 percent of the vets’ exception.
Unless things change, the Nets can bring 20 players to training camp which is likely to begin after the holidays. In the past, that number has included players who the Nets had recruited to play in Long Island.
Again, as of now, free agency is likely to begin on around December 1 with games starting on January 18. The trade moratorium is likely to be lifted prior to that, perhaps as early as November first .... two weeks away. You know that some deals must have been agreed to. So expect to start seeing Woj bombs in 10 days or so. Happy Halloween.
Draft Sleeper of the Week - Immanuel Quickley
Adam Zagoria reported this week that 6’4” Kentucky shooting guard had been interviewed by the Nets. The SEC Player of the Year is a shooter with some athleticism ... and a name Ian Eagle could grow to love.
The 20-year-old sophomore from Havre de Grace, Maryland, averaged 16.2 points per game on a 42/43/92 shooting line. He’s projected late first/early second by most draftniks — No. 33 by NBADraft.net; No. 38 by Sports Illustrated and The Athletic; No. 46 by The Ringer and No. 52 by ESPN’s two-month old mock. The Nets of course hold the Nos. 19 and 55 picks. So one would assume any interest would be for the second round pick unless things change. Of course, a month before the 2019 Draft, the Nets had Nos. 17, 27 and 31 picks and wound up with the Nos. 31 and 55.
A look at The Ringer’s detailed breakdown shows why Quickley, a former five-star recruit, is all over the mocks.
Among the positives...
Knockdown shooter who hit 40 percent of his 3s and 90 percent of his free throws in two seasons at Kentucky. He has a lightning-quick release off the catch.
Excellent shooting off screens by creating separation through deceptive, change-of-pace moves.
Potent off the dribble. With a speedy first step, he’s easily able to create space for one- or two-dribble pull-up jumpers.
And among the negatives...
Poor finisher at the rim; he lacks verticality, an off hand, and a sense for using touch.
Lacks playmaking chops; he’s a reactive passer, not a creator. And though he can handle, he’s not breaking down NBA defenders.
Despite his length, he still lacks pure size and strength, which will limit his versatility against bigger wings and as an impact off-ball defender.
Why would the Nets be talking to Quickley assuming he’s not good enough for a guaranteed $2.69 million deal that will come with the 19th pick ... and assuming he’s too good for No. 55? Well, first of all, they cast their net wide. As we’ve noted in past years, the Nets would bring in 60 to 70 players for workouts. And it’s possible that they think Quickley might not get drafted at all and could fill a camp spot and Long Island roster spot. Moreover, the Nets scouting database is quite extensive. If an opportunity arises somewhere down the road, they have detailed intelligence on players.
Here’s some highlights...
And yes, if you listen closely, you can hear Ian Eagle’s voice calling one of the games.
The Sports Doctors
There were a couple of lively discussions on ESPN the last few days about what to expect of Kevin Durant when he returns to play. The assumption by Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith is that he won’t likely return as the old KD, the only distinction being much it will matter to the Nets.
Kellerman painted the situation as potentially dire, Smith thinks even if he’s not at the same level, he’ll still be good enough to play at a very high level. Neither apparently had spoken to the Nets nor medical professionals about where Durant is on his return to play.
Friday’s edition of “First Take” started with a reprise of Kellerman’s comments from Thursday’s show where he laid out his nightmare scenario for Durant. In quick succession, the show aired his most egregious commentary...
“Everyone’s assuming that KD comes back as most of himself. That would be one of the only times in the history of medicine that a guy came off an Achilles and came off as most of himself.”
“KD is going to have to demonstrate that he’s at least at 80 percent of his former self because that almost never happens after an Achilles.”
“If he comes back at 80 percent —which by the way is optimistic—he comes back as an All-Star but not an MVP.”
“It’s basically very simple: Nobody has ever come back from that injury as the same player ... ever! So the odds are against it.”
When the show went live again, Kellerman had to eat some crow. As we have noted —and as WNBA fans told Kellerman, there is a very good and current example of a player who suffered an Achilles, took a year off and returned as the leader of a championship team: Breanna Stewart, the 6’4” Seattle Storm superstar who was named MVP of the recently concluded WNBA Finals.
“I kept saying it almost never happens and I got little hyperbolic at the end, saying it basically never happened. However, there’s one very recent example where it did happen, of course. Breanna Stewart just won Finals MVP for the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals. Congratulations,” said Kellerman, citing the two WNBA fans who corrected him.
“So I want to correct on the record. There’s a very recent example of a top player —a great player— coming back from an Achilles, coming back and winning MVP. Congratulations, Brianna Stewart and of course, the Seattle Storm,” said Kellerman before noting, “Nevertheless that she is the exception that proves the rule. It almost never happens!”
Stephen A. then jumped in an offered his take. He wouldn’t claim that KD is coming back at 100 percent, but he did suggest that Durant’s skills won’t likely be effected by a loss of athleticism.
“I’m not as pessimistic as Max is,” said Smith. “He’s a career 27 point a game scorer. 49 percent shooter overall, 38 percent from three. This is not a guy who, even though he is athletic, this is not a guy whose success is predicated on his athleticism. He is a marksman who is 6’11” with a 7’6” wingspan who can pull up from 30 any time he wants! He can get his shot off without jumping! And that’s not to say he can’t jump. He doesn’t have to because that’s how lanky and tall this dude is. And he is a sniper personified. Make no mistake about it. I expect Kevin Durant to come back next year —in his sleep— averaging 25 points a game.
Smith then suggested that for him, the big issue is chemistry, not biology.
“The question is the chemistry he will have with Kyrie Irving and a new coach, Steve Nash. What I’m saying is that as an individual, I have no reservations. And when I say, ‘none,’ I mean zero. I have zero reservations about that individual greatness about Kevin Durant because his athleticism is not going to dictate his success. His marksmanship will.”
We could go on, but you get the point. That said, here’s our point...
There’s no indication that either of the two ESPN commentators consulted a physician. And even with Kellerman grudgingly accepting the case of Breanna Stewart, there are extenuating factors when you look deeper at the most high profile cases.
Certainly, Kobe Bryant, Patrick Ewing, Isiah Thomas were all laid low by their Achilles tears, BUT they were all older than Durant when injured. Bryant was four years older. Ewing was six year older and Thomas, who never played again, was three years older and for the most part, the injuries took place a long time ago.
Indeed, the most optimistic comparison might be with Dominque Wilkins who obviously did depend on his athleticism, returned at near his old dominance. He was two years older than Durant when he was hurt and did come back. In fact, the Human Highlight Machine played seven more years and averaged a more than respectable 21.4 points a game over that span.
Here’s another point. Other than Kobe and KD, all those injuries took place a long time ago, in Thomas and Wilkins case between 25 and 30 years ago. Sports medicine and sports science have made giant strides both in the ability of surgeons to make the right cut and rehab therapists to create the right regimen. KD had sports best foot-and-ankle surgeon, Dr. Martin O’Malley of the Hospital for Special Surgery, do his procedure. (As the Nets own orthopedist, you can be sure he told the front office what to expect before ownership made the decision to give KD a $161 million contract.)
Durant will also have a much longer time to rehab than any of the others. By the time he steps on the court in mid-January, he will have had 18 months to get his body back in shape, his game back in form. Plus, we’ve been told that Durant’s tear took place on the upper part of the Achilles, where the blood flow is good making healing more efficient.
Of course, we don’t have access to Durant’s medical or rehabilitation records, and we know not everyone’s surgery and rehab are the same. Nor are their injuries. And yes, there is some medical research —about nine years old — that matches Kellerman’s concerns. The 2013 study from Drexel University’s Medical School found that from 1988 to 2011, 18 NBA players suffered an Achilles tendon rupture. Of those, seven athletes never returned to play another game. The overall performance of the 11 players who did return to basketball declined after their injury, the researchers noted.
So, we will have to wait to see how the Nets use Durant and how he responds. Anecdotally, there have been plenty of reports from those who’ve watched him work out —from Sean Marks to Devin Cannady — that Durant looks very good in his workouts which continue in southern California.
Durant himself has said he’s doing well. In a September interview, KD said, “Yeah, I’m feeling fine. I can’t wait to get out there and play with my teammates, Playing in Brooklyn, I’m excited. I can’t wait for the new NBA season.”
He’s also said the length of the layoff has helped him develop a patience. “I had to learn to relax.” That’s not a bad thing either.
Vin Forte, a Nets fan, preserved a couple of pages from the Daily News of May 1974 when the Nets won their first ABA championship. He posted them Sunday on Twitter. They are a bit of a revelation and a fun read...
The Nets were on the way up. The stories note how the Nets are “building a dynasty” and how a year after the Knicks had won their second NBA title, they had “failed.” It should be noted as well that Nets and Knicks played three exhibition games in last three years before the 1976 ABA-NBA merger, starting in October 1973, right after Knicks title. The Nets won all three, led by Doctor J. (You can find more details on Remember the ABA’s New York Nets page.)
Then, as the leagues merged, the Knicks forced Nets to trade Erving by demanding a “entry fee” for New York on top of the fee the NBA had the other three ABA teams pay. Following the 1976 championship, the Nets joined the NBA as part of the merger. The Knicks required them to pay a $4.8 million “indemnity” —compensation for “invading” the New York area. Roy Boe, the team owner, had to sell Dr. J to Philly pay off the Knicks. Without Erving, the Nets played one more (miserable) year at the Coliseum and then departed to New Jersey in 1977. (But the Knicks being the Knicks, they turned down an offer from the Nets to end the dispute by sending Dr. J to the Garden.)
Dzanan Musa Honored
A little more than a week ago, Bosnia’s two NBA players, Dzanan Musa and Jusuf Nurkic, were honored by the nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Each was presented with a diplomatic passport, per the Sarajevo Times. The so-called red passport permits holders more flexibility in crossing borders and gives the holder the title of honorary consul.
Bisera Turkovic, the minister of foreign affairs, said of the honor...
”We are proud of their results,” she said. “They have shown that hard work can make a world result. Today, they play in the strongest league in the world – the NBA and always proudly point out that they come from BiH. They are a role model for many children in BiH who are starting their first sports steps. Therefore, I used only my right to award them diplomatic passports.”
Expect rumors to pick up this week. Under new NBA rules, Starting Friday and for a month, the NBA is allowing teams to begin conducting in-person meetings (medical evaluation, workout) with 2020 Draft prospects, Shams Charania reported earlier in the week.
Teams can receive up to two visits per player; but no more than 10 total among prospects.
Then, as noted above, the trade moratorium could end in a couple of weeks. Look out for Woj Bombs!