Nets life is about to come at you really fast!
The way it works around here is that we do Off-Season Reports every weekend from the first one after the Nets play their last game through the one just before they open training camp. That’s no longer off-season. It’s preseason.
So. this year, that means the final Off-Season Report will post in two weeks with camp opening on December 1. It’s the shortest off-season ever, 14 weeks. Depending on what the Nets do in the post-season (which comes between regular season and off-season) we usually post 20 or so. During the lockout back in 2011, we went past 30.
All that said, prepare for a VERY intense period these last two weeks of off-season. The trade moratorium ends on Monday, meaning we will probably see a flurry of Woj Bombs and Shams Bams (copywright pending) starting this weekend. NBA GMs haven’t been able to deal with each other in 11 months since the February trade deadline. There’s a lot of pent-up demand. Moreover, uncertainty about the Rockets’ future has put two of the league’s best players in everyone’s trade machine. Expect multi-team deals around the league.
Do we expect the Nets to make any trades starting Monday? We have no idea. None. We do expect there will be some activity. The issue will be how much. As for the Draft, that’s Wednesday night at 7 p.m. live from ESPN HQ in Bristol, Connecticut. That’s also a mystery. We have our final Draft Sleeper this week. As of now —and we emphasize now — the Nets have two picks at Nos. 19 and 55. That could change. Under Sean Marks, it usually does. Last year the Nets had Nos. 17, 27 and 31 three weeks before the Draft. They wound up with Nos. 31 and 56 on Draft Night. (On Wednesday morning, we’ll be posting our annual update of the Nets draft history, Draft Night Wonders and Blunders covering the last 20 years.)
Then, the opening of free agency is Friday. A week from Sunday, teams will be able to sign free agents. Of course, that means Joe Harris. He can re-sign with the Nets as early as next Sunday at one minute after noon. We should know well before then what’s happening. The Nets can sign players to the taxpayer MLE or vets minimum as well, starting then.
As is usually the case, the big deals will be announced first, then the rest will dribble out. In a normal off-season, that process takes weeks. Rosters usually aren’t finalized for eight to 12 weeks. The Nets signed Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to a two-way deal on the morning of Opening Night last year. This year? That process could be done in two weeks!
And somewhere in this mix is the option date for Garrett Temple? We’re told that the NBA will reveal the date for exercising team and player options by the end of the day Saturday but no later than Monday. Will the Nets exercise their team option on Temple and keep him around for another year at $5 million?
That’s just the big stuff. Will the roster still be 15+2 including two two-ways or 17 as has been rumored? Which undrafted players will the Nets sign to camp deals (assuming that’s still a thing) starting Wednesday night after the Draft concludes? What’s the fate of some of the substitute players the Nets signed before the “bubble,” from Jamal Crawford to Donta Hall to Michael Beasley to Justin Anderson? Will Tyler Johnson, who played well in Orlando, return to the Nets fold and at what price? Nets have his “non-Bird rights” giving them some flexibility, salary-wise, if they want to give him more than the vets minimum. The Nets have no rights to the substitutes.
We’ll do our best to keep it going as will others. YES in fact has announced it will begin broadcasting a “Nets Hot Stove” program, starting Thursday at 7 p.m. It’ll be modeled after their long-running “Yankees’ Hot Stove.”
We expect the next two weeks will be bang, bang, bang. Load up on your beverage of choice. And always remember, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving play for the Nets. That’s a comfort.
Draft Sleeper of the Week: Theo Maledon
We’ve profiled 11 prospects so far. Here’s the list to follow at home. We threw in a few second round prospects. Where the Nets profiled a prospect, we linked to it.
- Aleksej Pokusevski, 7’0” F, Olympiacos, Greece
- R.J. Hampton, 6’6” G, New Zealand Breakers
- Jaden McDaniels, 6’10” SF, Washington
- Desmond Bane, 6’6” SF/SG, TCU
- Omer Yurtseven, 7’0” PF, Georgetown
- Isaiah Joe, 6’5” SG, Arkansas
- Cole Anthony, 6’3” PG, North Carolina
- Immanuel Quickley, 6’4” SG, Kentucky
- Josh Green, 6’6” SG, Arizona
- Josh Hall, 6’8” SG, Moravian Prep, N.C.
- Jalen Smith, 6’10” PF, Maryland
- Theo Maledon, 6’5” PG, Asvel, France
Why Maledon? For a number of reasons. He’s been linked to the Nets in a couple of mocks. He’s an international player and the Nets Draft history in the Sean Marks era shows they like guys from overseas ... and he’s worked out with the Nets! NBA teams are limited to the number of players they can workout. No more than 10. And as far as we can determine, only two of the above players have been observed up close by the Marksmen: Maledon and Hampton. That matters. (And there’s a tiny bit of a Spurs connection. Asvel is owned by Tony Parker who has been promoting Maledon.
What do we know about the 19-year-old? He’s a heady, mature player, but in terms of skills, he’s not the boss. Here’s some quotes on the positive and negative side from ESPN’s latest mock which has him going in the early 20’s.
First the positive...
- Efficient player who keeps mistakes to a minimum and plays with impressive poise. Arguably the most experienced player in the draft in terms of the minutes he’s received against quality competition. Draws rave reviews for his work ethic and approach to the game.
Then the negative...
- Lacks a level of aggressiveness. Just an average athlete in terms of pure speed and shiftiness. Looks too focused at times on minimizing mistakes. Will likely be best suited operating alongside a scoring guard who can shoulder the bulk of the shot-creation responsibilities, at least early in his career.
Bottom line for ESPN’s Jonathan Givony: “Secondary creator and 3-and-D guard.”
Similarly, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor thinks there’s a lot to like about his demeanor but wonders about his skillset, calling him, “Strong floor general who’s become a potent shooter, though his lack of burst may limit his upside.”
His positives, like Givony’s revolve around his maturity and defense...
Sturdy frame with long arms; he projects as a reliable man-to-man defender if his fundamentals improve.
He has made steady progress each season and possesses a high work ethic. He’s also mentored by Spurs legend Tony Parker.
Struggles to create space despite his change of pace and use of in-out dribbles and crossovers. He gets enveloped by quality defenders who beat him to his spot, and currently lacks the ability to counterattack.
Doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the rim as a ball handler, which may limit his value as a playmaker if he’s not creating angles for kickout 3s. The flashes are there, but he must master his handle.
Judge for yourself. Here’s some highlights...
The Nets, of course, already have a Frenchman on the team in Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. We assume he’s been consulted.
A few other last minute Draft notes...
- We were a bit surprised that the Nets haven’t worked out or interviewed Cole Anthony, the Tarheel and son of Greg Anthony considering how often he’s been linked to the Nets, including in ESPN’s latest mock. The Knicks, who have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks, haven’t either.
- Chad Ford, the former ESPN Draft guru, imparted some intelligence on his NBA Big Board mock Friday. He suggested that the Nets like Jaden McDaniels, the 6’10” Washington SF, and Aleksj Pokusevski, the Serbian seven-footer who plays for Olympiacos, writing, “The Nets are in ‘win now’ mode with with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving providing all the offensive firepower in Brooklyn next year. So why take a swing on a player like McDaniels who isn’t ready for prime time. I hear the Nets are looking to the future with this pick, not the present and will focus on the player with the most long-term upside — and that’s McDaniels. Alexsej Pokusevski is the other potential target.”
So you want us to make a pick? We like two players, both of whom were highly sought high school recruits a year ago: McDaniels and Hampton. SInce we think Hampton will probably be gone, we’ll go with McDaniels. Second round? Do we have a choice? Kenyon Martin Jr. has been mocked to the Nets more than once. Unlike Dad, he’s a small forward, but he too can sky. Here’s a video from ESPN’s Marc J. Spears on Kenyon, KJ and other father-son combinations in this year’s draft.
Tune into ESPN on Wednesday, starting at 8 p.m. The other mystery is how Woj will couch his projections. Will he tweet that teams are “focusing” on a certain prospect minutes before the pick? Or will he suggest teams “prefer,” are “zeroing in,” “locked in” or “grown comfortable with.” For a neat history of Woj’s rhetorical Draft Night flourishes, see Kristian Winfield’s piece two years ago.
And congratulations to Malika Andrews, who covered the Nets for ESPN this season. She’ll be ESPN’s lead reporter at the virtual Draft, just as she was in the “bubble.”
Farewell to Majorca
Steve Nash, as we know, worked as a consultant to the Warriors for five years. Until this week, we didn’t know that he also advised a Spanish League team on the island of Mallorca, or Majorca, an idyllic spot nestled in the Mediterranean Sea.
Sport Finding, a website that tracks European sports, wrote this on Saturday...
Steve Nash, the NBA’s MVP of 2005 and 2006, leaves the board of directors of RCD Mallorca to focus on his new sports project managing the Brooklyn Nets. The Canadian, according to IB3, keep shares of the Balearic club, so in some way it is still linked to the island.
His arrival in Mallorca was due to the great relationship he maintains with the main shareholder of the Balearic SAD and owner of the Phoenix Suns, Robert Sarver. Since his friend became the owner of Real Mallorca in early 2016 Steve Nash had become a shareholder of the entity...
During his journey has traveled sporadically to the island to be at board meetings, where he has served as advisor on various issues. On various occasions has accompanied the team in the box and has also had the opportunity to witness some training.
So add Spain to Nash’s international connections. He was the GM of Team Canada for seven years, ending that relationship last year.
And in case you missed it, here’s Nash talking about his transition from being a top NBA player to ... not. He referred to it as a “grieving process.”
Garrett Temple not backing down from title hopes
As noted above, among the things we don’t know yet is the date by which teams and players have to inform each other on options. You can be sure it will also be soon, like this weekend. So we don’t know whether the Nets will exercise their $5 million option on Garrett Temple, but in talking with Jay Williams the other day about the Nets expectations (and the recent union negotiations with the NBA), Temple sure sounded like he’ll be back.
“The emphasis is going to be on training camp,” he told Williams, talking about the upcomign season. “We get that camaraderie, we get that chemistry down. I think the fact that guys are just basketball players, they’re all guys that have to do certain things, guys that can really just hoop. We got a lot of guys who really know how to play basketball. I think that’s going to help us.
“In terms of championship or bust, with the talent we have, that’s something i think that’s the mindset guys are going in with, the mindset we want. We want to win that championship. There’s only one winner. It like Ricky Bobby said, you’re either first or you’re last. At the end of the day, there are no more moral victories when you have the talent that we have, the ability we have. We’re definitely trying to win.”
Here’s the full interview...
Temple has been working out in Brooklyn as he and his fiance’ take care of their new baby.
Farewells are always tough but in the era of COVID, one of the more minor tragedies is our inability to raise a glass, give a hug to someone who’s moving on. Closure is lessened, ties that bind are looser.
We reported on Jim Spanarkel’s departure Friday but we’d also like to add a personal note, a virtual toast to the Senator. Spanarkel’s knowledge and broadcast skills were a big part of the Nets fan experience for virtually all of us. In good times and bad, his voice carried us from one game to the next, one season to the next. He kept us from getting too low, let us push the envelope of optimism when things are flying high. It wasn’t easy a lot of those nights, but he was there for US, the fans.
The great broadcasters know that their highest calling is the transmission or experience. Spanarkel may not have been trained in the craft, but he excelled in it precisely because he understood that calling. The play-by-play guy will give you the excitement of the experience, the moment. The analyst the depth and breadth of it, the inside scoop every fan wants.
Nets fans have been blessed by great YES broadcasters over the years, as skilled as they are smart. There’s the great ones who’ve been in the arena, literally and figuratively: Ian Eagle, Bill Raftery, Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and now, the group of rising stars: Sarah Kustok, Richard Jefferson and now Michael Grady. Spanarkel, along with Eagle, has been the constant. We will miss him.