Expect the Nets refurbishment to begin this week. We’ve already seen a couple of trades around the league and this is usually Sean Marks most active period, the next two weeks with Draft Night promising memorable moves.
The deal that brought D’Angelo Russell to the Nets for Brook Lopez, a big deal at the time, was completed the Tuesday before the Thursday Draft. The Nets decision to go for Cam Thomas last year came after a Tuesday interview in New York. Thomas was in the city as a member of the Green Room, the prospects a consensus of NBA GMs believe will go early in the Draft. Two days later, the Nets completed a trade that sent Landry Shamet to the Clippers for Jevon Carter and the 29th pick. The addition of that second first made it possible for Brooklyn to bring on Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe.
Meanwhile, the coaching carousel is on. In the past few days, we’ve heard that Igor Kokoskov will be joining the Nets bench and that Jordan Ott, who’s the Nets longest serving assistant coach, is a likely addition to Davin Ham’s new team out in L.A.
This comes on top of news that many of the Nets eight assistant coaches will not return. Amar’e Stoudemire announced he was leaving on ESPN and Marc Stein has reported that David Vanterpool and Adam Harrington are departing. It was Stein who first reported on Kokoskov’s impending hire.
Word is that the weaning out among the coaching ranks — and front office —- is a lot broader than that. NBA contracts run July 1 through June 30 so we should know soon just how deep things go. As for hires other than Kokoskov, we’ve heard that James Borrego, the ex-Hornets coach, and Adam Caporn, who coached the Long Island Nets, are strong possibilities.
Speaking of coaches, it was a reverseWojBomb Friday when it was announced that Kenny Atkinson had a change-of-heart and told Michael Jordan that, no, he didn’t want to return to head coaching, this time in Charlotte. Instead, he preferred to stay in Golden State as an assistant to Steve Kerr.
We would not pretend to know Atkinson’s thinking nor the personal and professional balances he has to sort out, but this much we know: he’ll be Kerr’s lead assistant with Mike Brown gone. With Golden State in mid-dynasty, that has to be attractive ... and Kerr isn’t going to coach forever. So he’d be in line for the big job there at some point. Meanwhile, in Charlotte, he’d have a fair-to-middling roster in a small market. Worse, he’d be compared to his predecessor, James Borrego, who had a winning record with the Hornets last season but got fired anyway.
Smart move, we’d say.
Finally, we would be remiss in discussing coaching moves if we didn’t mention Phil Handy’s Twitter beef with a couple of Nets fans. Handy was once considered a possible assistant coach candidate before agreeing to stay on with Darwin Ham in L.A.
A week ago, a couple of Nets fans debated whether Handy was head coaching material. He has been an assistant with the Cavs, Raptors and Lakers in few years, winning kudos for his development work.
Handy decided he would set the record straight...
And you know nothing about me or what I do as a coach. Speak on what you know and not what you think you know.— Phil Handy (@94feetofgame) June 11, 2022
Brooklyn Net holds Finals trophy high!
In a memorable Curry family photo from this week’s Warriors win, Seth Curry and his wife, Callie Rivers, celebrated with his now four-time NBA champion brother Steph...
Looks like Seth is holding the Finals MVP award given his brother rather than the bulkier championship trophy.
Before the photo as Game 7 was ending, Seth tweeted out two notes of praise for Steph, the first an utterly concise description his brother and his game...
different!— Seth Curry (@sdotcurry) June 17, 2022
Don’t talk about Steph again unless it’s in a convo with the time great PLAYERS!! And i mean a hand full of people to ever touch a basketball.— Seth Curry (@sdotcurry) June 17, 2022
Gotta respect the older brother, bro.
GOAL #NBA legend and @BrooklynNets coach STEVE NASH robs Paul Pogba before applying a perfect finish to give his team an 8-4 lead!@YorkUtdFC... he is *technically* a free agent #CanMNT | #NetsWorld | https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/1Xm6wAlPKy— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) June 18, 2022
We have a few goals for Steve, too, we might add.
It looks increasingly like Nikola Milutinov will stay with CSKA Moscow instead of trying to get out of his contract and back in the Euroleague. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, the Euroleague suspended CSKA and two other Russian teams.
After rumors of him joining every serious Euroleague team began flying, Milutinov’s agent said none of them were true and noted that he still has a year left on his CSKA contract (at around $2.5 million.) Then, later in the week, there was word out of CSKA that Milutinov may even extend his stay in Russia’s capital.
That would seem to scotch any NBA plans. Even if both sides were interested in him joining the Nets, a buyout of his deal could prove expensive. According to an article in the Russian press, the amount needed for CSKA to give him an early out is $1.8 million. NBA teams can pay up to around $800,000 towards such a buyout. After that, it’s the player’s responsibiity. Things could be negotiated down (as one was with Rodions Kurucs) but there doesn’t seem to a pathway between Moscow and Brooklyn.
Milutinov’s rights were acquired from the Spurs in the five-team Spencer Dinwiddie deal last August. He was drafted in the first round back in 2015 when Sean Marks led draft preps for San Antonio.
Draft Sleeper of the Week
Paul Atkinson Jr. is a rarity among those prospects we’ve tracked coming and going at HSS Training Center: a big man. Of the 43 prospects who’ve been in for workouts, there’ve been only a handful of bigs. Atkinson is a 6’9” power forward who played for three years at Yale, winning the Ivy League Player of the Year honors in 2020. Then, the Ivies shut down intercollegiate athletics because of the pandemic and off Atkinson went to Notre Dame where he played well last season.
So what separates him from the rest other than the Yale connection with owner Joe Tsai? In his podcast with Jeff Peterson this past Tuesday, the Nets assistant GM, and John Rothstein, the college hoops writer, Chris Carrino volunteered his name as the kind of player the Nets might bring in after the Draft, either for Summer League, G League or training camp. The Nets radio announcer noted that he was Ivy League Player of the Year and he personally likes conference players of the year.
It is one of our personal rules here that if a member of the Nets broadcast team on radio or TV volunteers what sounds like inside information: pay close attention. They have access unlike beat writers. It’s a business, you know.
In any case, Atkinson is seen as mobile, athletic big who thrives in the post and on hustle plays. He’s neither a great outside shooter nor great rebounder but is seen as grinder who can help you win. Here’s some highlights...
One other Draft note. Brian Lewis, in reporting on Nets Draft Night prospects, spoke to Ohio State’s Malaki Branham, the highest projected pick we believe the Nets have worked out. Branham is at the tail end of the lottery in most of the big mock drafts.
“Yeah, they kind of just wanted to get to know me, get to know what kind of person I was, you know, my family and just asking questions about how I thought about the game and just stuff like that,” Branham told The Post. “It wasn’t anything too crazy. Steve Nash was supposed to come, but he got caught up. But I did see him after my interview, and I said what’s up to him.”
Why have him in when you have no picks? It’s more about ya-never-know.
“You’ve got to be prepared. Anything could happen,” Jeff Peterson, the Nets assistant GM, told Chris Carrino this week. On Draft Night, we could get a call from a team that wants to trade us the 15th pick. Well, we’ve got to be prepared.”
The 15th pick you say. Hmmm.
Final reminder, the NBA Draft is Thursday night, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET. It’s on ESPN. The Nets will be hosting the Draft for the 12th straight year, two at the Prudential Center, now 10 at Barclays Center. As for undrafted signings, the Nets have been known to call undrafted prospects even before the second round has ended to express interest. Expect to wait a little while before we hear news on those signings.