The final off-season report is in! Tuesday begins the three-week preseason!
Everything is place. The Nets have 15 guaranteed contracts signed and sealed. Assuming (until we know more) Reggie Perry is a two-way rather than standard contract, both two-way slots appear to be filled. Jeremiah Martin is in the second year of a two-year, two-way. And two undrafted players have been invited to training camp under the league’s Exhibit 10 provisions: Jordan Bowden, a 6’5” guard out of Tennessee and Nate Sestina, a 6’9” forward out of Kentucky and Bucknell.
The Nets will have two preseason games at 6:00 p.m. on December 13 vs. Washington and at 7:30 p.m. on December 18 vs. Boston at the TD Center. All we need now is word on who the Nets will open against on December 22. Expect that in a couple of days.
As Marc Stein tweeted on Friday, training camp will be different.
NBA teams are scheduled to begin training camps Tuesday with individual workouts capped at four players and four team staff members at one time, league sources say, with all those participating required to register three negative PCR tests— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 28, 2020
Dec. 4 (next Friday) is the soonest date for full team practices, sources say, but teams will have to wait until Dec. 6 for their first group practice sessions unless all players have reported by Saturday to begin daily testing— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 28, 2020
NBA exhibition play is scheduled to open Dec. 11
Players are required to quarantine for three days ... and that holds even for those who’ve tested positive in the past. The Nets have had more players with positive tests than any other NBA team. On the current roster, we know that Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince and Landry Shamet tested positive either just after the NBA shut down in March or just before the league started up again in June. In addition, three other Nets tested positive back in March but their identities weren’t disclosed. We don’t know if any of the three are still with the team, but roster math and some sleuthing would suggest at least one is. (Nets stash Aleksandar Vezenkov, who plays for Olympiacos in Greece, has also tested positive for COVID-19, the Euroleague reported Friday. He is quarantining.)
And if you’re interested, there won’t be a “Media Day” this year. The event, which usually takes place the day before the first day of practice, had dozens of reporters gathered around HSS Training Center to talk to the full roster of players and the head coach. No way that could work under league and state restrictions. Players will be made available via Zoom on days when the team is practicing and expect both Sean Marks and Steve Nash to speak as well.
Finally, it appears that the payroll and luxury taxes are set — for now. Hoopshype estimates that Joe Tsai could pay as much as $57.5 million in taxes this season (depending on final NBA revenue numbers) on a $155.9 million payroll. That would make this season’s club the second $200 million team in franchise history, joining the 2013-14 team that featured Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and the two Boston refugees, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Mikhail Prokhorov paid out $90.6 million in taxes that year, still the record.
Soooo are they done? you ask.
There are rumors about a Spencer Dinwiddie trade to the Magic or the Clippers or wherever plus the big unknown, whether the Rockets will allow James Harden to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn to form a legitimate superteam. And if either or those happen — and it’s hard to imagine both going down — there no doubt will be new roster openings created by an imbalanced trade, a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1, etc. etc.
We have no idea what’s going on with any trade rumor. Marks, like his mentors in San Antonio, keeps things quiet. The only leaks he wants to see in the media are ones that he authors. On Friday, the re-signing of Tyler Johnson came as a surprise and it wasn’t broken by Woj or Shams but by a press release emailed to the media.
There may be one Exhibit 10 camp invite out there. The Nets can bring 20 players into camp and they currently have 19: the 15 guaranteed (or in the case of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, partially guaranteed) contracts, the two two-ways (assuming Perry is a two-way) plus two camp invites. Teams do not have to bring in 20 players. That’s just the limit.
We’d have to assume that teams would want to do final deals early this weekend so that players can get to their new cities and quarantine. So, this analysis could self-destruct shortly after publication.
It would appear that the Nets are healthy. There’s no indication that any of those players who contracted COVID-19 have any of the long-term effects we’ve read about. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving who underwent surgery for Achilles and shoulder issues, are back in Brooklyn after some rigorous workouts in Los Angeles. Nicolas Claxton is recovered from his shoulder surgery. All the new guys — Landry Shamet, Bruce Brown, Reggie Perry and Jeff Green — plus returning free agent Tyler Johnson appear healthy as well. That’s a big deal. Let’s hope it stays that way The most dreaded subject line on an email from Nets PR is “(Fill in the blank) Medical Update.” That’s rarely good news.
G League News
The G League remains in limbo. The latest rumor, also from Marc Stein, is that the league will be hosted at a “bubble” near Atlanta.
One of the major challenges for the viability of any G League proposal, of course, is the likelihood that players on two-way contracts might be needed by their NBA teams for much or perhaps even all of the NBA season as teams brace for the impact of COVID-19 cases on rosters— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 27, 2020
It’s that concern about travel that is driving things. G League teams fly commercial unlike their NBA brothers. So limiting travel is a priority for the sake of players’ health. One consequence of that is the change in two-way deals. There’s really little distinction now between a standard NBA contract and a two-way deal as we laid out the other day.
Last year, players on two-way contracts would earn a $77,250 G League salary and a prorated NBA rookie minimum salary depending on how many NBA games they were active. The max earning potential is $385,000. Moreover, two-ways couldn’t spend any more than 45 DAYS with an NBA club. That included practices as well as game days. More than that and the team would have to decide to either sign the two-way player to a standard NBA contract or lose his rights. (Last year, with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot’s 45 days running low, the Nets gave him two 10-day deals, the max, to preserve their rights.)
Instead, for the 2020-21 season, players on two-way deals will receive a fixed $449,155 salary —exactly half the minimum— and can be active for 50 GAMES, not days. That’s a big difference. Two-way players might as well be full roster players.
It’s hard to imagine a two-way player being active for more than 50 games and if he is, that’s a good thing.
Moreover, no matter how the new season is configured, “bubble” or “bubbles,” 28 teams or fewer, it won’t start for a while. During the delay, the revised two-way deal will permit NBA teams to work with two-way players at the NBA practice facility and give them some minutes in NBA games.
Would the Nets pay the $500,000 fee to join the G League “bubble?” It’s hard to believe they wouldn’t. The G League has been the source of undiscovered talent for Brooklyn. Just this past season, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Chris Chiozza and Jeremiah Martin all contributed and TLC now has an NBA contract following the same path Spencer Dinwiddie took. And don’t forget Joe Harris’ last stop before Brooklyn was Canton where he played for the Cavs affiliate.
Just this week, Sharif Abdur-Rahim, the G League president, described the Nets and their G League affiliate leaders in the G League.
“The Long Island Nets and the Brooklyn Nets organization is really one of our leaders as being an example of how an NBA organization totally integrates, drives, and uses the platform of the G League,” Abdur-Rahim told “The LIneup,” the Long Island Nets podcast.
So, stay tuned.
Where are they now?
A total of 26 players wore the Nets uniform last year, including the four substitutes who joined the team in the “bubble.” Here’s an update of where some of them are as NBA camps open.
—Dzanan Musa and Nets stash Jaylen Hands went to the Pistons in the three-team deal that brought Landry Shamet, Bruce Brown and Reggie Perry to the Nets.
—Garrett Temple signed a one-year contract with the Bulls.
—Wilson Chandler signed with the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association.
—David Nwaba signed a two-year deal with the Rockets in June but won’t be ready for camp, still rehabbing from the Achilles rupture that forced the Nets to cut him.
—Justin Anderson signed a two-year deal with the 76ers.
—Theo Pinson signed a two-way deal with Knicks after initially being waived by New York.
—Henry Ellenson has an Exhibit 10 camp invite from the Raptors.
—Chris Chiozza is a restricted free agent.
—Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley are still unsigned but have robust profiles on social media.
No word on Donta Hall whose G League rights are presumably still held by the Pistons, Iman Shumpert or Lance Thomas.
From this moment forward, your Brooklyn Nets will be center of intense anticipation ... and scrutiny. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will dominate the headlines in the city as soon as camp opens. The Giants and Jets are woe some, their stars injured, The Knicks ... never mind. Hockey? As one great New York sportscaster once told his producer, “there are 17,000 hockey fans in New York and they all have Rangers season tickets.”
So, back pages of the tabloids and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and local TV will devour every bit of Nets news LIKE AT NO TIME IN THE TEAM’S HISTORY whether they win or lose. The Nets went to the Finals twice 20 years ago but didn’t generate much national attention (or truth be told locally.) Yes, you can note that there won’t be fans in the stands for at least the early part of the season but in the virtual world of the pandemic, that will, in our opinion, matter less than you think. As one fan tweeted Friday...
The time is FINALLY coming where we get to see Kevin Durant play as a Brooklyn Net!— Thomas DeMartino (@Tom_DeMartino) November 28, 2020
In all of my time alive + a Nets fan, I don’t think I’m emotionally ready to experience the show
We’re going to try our best to get it all. We’re first and foremost fans and we are very, very excited. Thanks for reading.