Adrian Wojnarowski, writing Monday night about DeAndre Jordan’s decision to opt out of the Orlando “bubble,” reported, “Sources say the Nets plan to sign a substitute for Jordan.”
The Nets, of course, signed Justin Anderson as a replacement for Wilson Chandler on Sunday and two days before that, waived Theo Pinson and signed Tyler Johnson.
Now, with only 12 players healthy and one player taller than 6’10”, it would seem Brooklyn would go for a big man ... and soon, most likely Wednesday.
So who are the likely candidates? Let’s start with Long Island Nets roster. After all, the Nets don’t have much time to get ready and Long Island plays the same system as Brooklyn.
John Egbunu, Long Island’s 6’11”, 265-pound center, would seem to be ready-made if healthy. Egbunu played 25 games, starting three, and averaged 10.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in only 18 minutes. The 25-year-old Nigerian-born player spent time with the Nets in training camp. Egbunu, like Jordan, is an athlete and well-built. He has, however, had injury issues going back to his time at Florida where he teamed with Chris Chiozza.
There other G League possibilities as well.
Christ Koumadje, from the Delaware Blue Coats, is 7’4” and despite all the buzz about Tacko Fall, it was Koumadje who won the G League Defensive Player of the Year. The 23-year-old Chadian averaged a double-double, 11.3 points and 10.9 rebounds along with a league-leading 4.0 blocks. Koumadje played in all the Blue Coats 37 games.
Simi Shittu, from the Windy City Bulls. Shittu, a British-born Canadian national of Nigeria heritage, was a top rated high school prospect but had an underwhelming year at Vanderbilt, wound up going undrafted, then was cut by the Grizzilies and Bulls. Only 20 years old, the 6’10” Shittu averaged 12.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, but only a half a block a game in 20 minutes per.
Deyonta Davis, played for the Santa Cruz Warriors this season, averaging 11.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in 42 games. Davis, 22, was drafted as the first pick in the second round in the 2016 Draft by the Celtics who traded him to Grizzlies. Memphis signed him to a three-year, fully guaranteed $4 million deal. But after two years, 96 games and a serious foot injury, Davis was waived by the Grizzlies. Then, after a nine-game stint in Atlanta in 2018-19, he wound up in Santa Cruz.
Then, there are two young free agents who were on 10-day deals when the NBA shut down...
Dragan Bender is the ultimate low-risk, high-reward. Seen as a classic draft bust after being taken with the fourth overall pick in 2016 by the Suns. Still only 22, the Croatian 7-footer has shown flashes. He played in all 82 games for the Suns in 2017-18 at age 20 and after a short stint in Milwaukee at the beginning of the year, Bender was on a productive 10-day contract when the league shut down, averaging 9.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 21 minutes a game. In his last game, he played 25 minutes, finishing with 23, 7 and three. The Warriors were expected to sign him, but it hasn’t happened yet
Donta Hall is more of a power forward than a center. At 6’10”, he is a defensive specialist, having made the G League all-Defensive team after being named to the All-SEC Defensive team while playing at Alabama. Before being called up by the Pistons on a 10-day contract, Hall averaged 15.4 points and 10.6 boards in 28.7 minutes a game. He’s 22 years old and has a bit of a 3-point shot. Hall played only 48 minutes as a 10-day, averaging 1.5 points. Undrafted out of Alabama, he was also named to the All G-League second team and the All G League Rookie team.
Isaiah Hartenstein, the 7-footer who was released by the Rockets this month, is also available, but he would not be eligible for the playoffs.
There are other names and it’s possible that at this point, the Nets could go with Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs at center in a small ball scheme, and sign a wing or a guard to evaluate them for next season.
As a substitute player, anyone chosen by the Nets would be an unrestricted free agent come October. The Nets would have no rights. It’s a strict tryout for both sides.