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NetsDaily Off-Season Report - No. 6

Every weekend, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help fans get ready for ... whatever.

Super Flower Moon Rises in New York City Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

It’s that time of year again.

The month of June has barely begun and news is slowly trickling out. On Wednesday, the Nets decided to defer using the Sixers first round pick for a year. That of course does not mean that the Nets won’t have a pick. Then came word Saturday that Igor Kokoskov will join the Nets coaching staff. Moreover, Sean Marks most active day historically is Draft Day with multiple trades or agreements that brought the Nets Caris LeVert, DeMarre Carroll, D’Angelo Russell and last year, Day’Ron Sharpe and Jevon Carter. Etc.

There are several pathways to getting a pick in the Draft. The Nets could get a pick in larger trade, use their trade exceptions in a salary dump that could produce a pick or wait till after July 1 to complete a trade with cash considerations. Although the Nets have no cash considerations currently, considerations replenish on July 1, giving the Nets $6 million to play with. And as far as we know, they are still working players out even after deferring their first round pick.

Also at the end of June, we will know more on the status of free agents, with June 29 and 30 the key dates for team and player options to be exercised and extensions either agreed to or not. Specifically, June 29 is player option deadline for Patty Mills, Kyrie Irving, team option deadline for Kessler Edwards, David Duke Jr. and Nicolas Claxton. June 30 is deadline for Nets to extend Claxton for up to four years, $55.6 million. If not, he becomes a restricted free agent the next day. July, of course, is likely to be crazed with Marks promising a lot of activity in the trade and free agency markets.

Time to pay up

Sportico, the sports business website, tallied up the luxury tax payments each NBA team will have to pay come the first week of July when luxury tax bills come due.

The Warriors, who are in the Finals, and the Nets, who were swept in the first round, lead the league with Golden State way out in front...

But in the top 10 all-time, the Nets hold three of the top spots: last year at $101.9; this year at $97.7 million; and the 2013-14 Nets, at $90.6 million. None of the three made it past the second round. ‘Nuff said.

Day’Ron Sharpe slimming down

Its’ been six weeks since the season ended and judging by stills posted by the Nets and Day’Ron Sharpe, the 20-year-old big has done some slimming...

One has to assume that the Nets put Sharpe on a conditioning regimen in hopes of making him more mobile going forward. Looks like it’s working.

Is Andre Drummond trying to tell us something?

It’s only a couple of social media posts, but Andre Drummond chose to wear Nets gear in a video of a workout and a community...

Of course, the video and community event was shot in his new hometown ... Miami.

Drummond is an unrestricted free agent. The Nets have limited means to sign him. They can give the vets minimum again or all (or part) of the taxpayers MLE, which is worth $6.3 million.

Last Drummond spoke about free agency was back in March in a series of Q and A’s with Nets beat writers. In talking about the Nets need to bring back Nic Claxton, Drummond noted, “And if we’re all being honest, I’m only here til the rest of the season,”

That got some attention with many interpreting the quote as an indication he had foreclosed on a return. No so, Drummond said a couple of days later.

“Would I love to be here? Absolutely. Can I control that right now? No,” Drummond said. “I can only control what’s happening right now. So we know that. So don’t misuse my words. That’s not fair to me and that’s not right, because I shouldn’t have to defend myself publicly, again, after I said the right thing. That’s not right.”

Draft Sleeper of the Week

Yeah, yeah, we know, they have no picks, but they do have Summer League and G League roster spots, even training camp, rosters to fill. And as noted above, ya never know.

All that said, what about Ron Harper Jr., the Rutgers wing who’s the son of five-time NBA champion Ron Harper? Harper Sr. played with Michael Jordan in Chicago and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in L.A.

Harper Jr. is projected late in the second round and might not get drafted. As Brian Lewis reports Sunday, there is a very significant connection between the Nets and Kyrie Irving.

The Nets don’t have a single first- or second-round pick, but you can expect them to be targeting projected second-round prospects who fall out of the draft altogether. Rutgers All-Big Ten forward Ron Harper Jr. could fit that mold.

Harper — who averaged 15.8 points, 5.9 boards and shot 40 percent from 3-point range — worked out with Irving while the former was in his offseason and the latter was on sabbatical due to his refusal to take a COVID-19 vaccine. If Harper goes undrafted, the smallball four might be an Exhibit 10 candidate. (Emphasis added.)

Here’s some highlights...

Harper, like Irving, grew up in New Jersey, starring for Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey. Seems doubtful, considering his father’s history, that he was a Nets fan, however.

A further note on Nikola Milutinov

Last week we noted that the Nets only first round stash, Nikola Milutinov, is facing a decision starting Sunday following Game 7 of the VTB Russian League Finals. CSKA Moscow lost to Zenit St. Petersburg, but Milutinov had 16 points and 17 rebounds. The 27-year-old 7-footer still has a year left on his deal with CSKA Moscow but is expected to ask out. As we’ve noted, the Euroleague banished its three Russian teams following the invasion of Ukraine in late February.

As we’ve also noted, most of the rumors about Milutinov’s future have been centered on Euroleague clubs, but now, with Marc Stein’s report that Igor Kokostov is joining the Nets, might that change? Kokostov is Serbian and in fact was for the last two years the head coach of the Serbian national team whose center has been Milutinov when healthy,

Also, we are told that the Nets can sign Milutinov outside the cap. A deal would have to be negotiated but money is less of an issue than we thought. Milutinov is the fourth highest player in Europe at around $2.5 million net, that is after taxes. NBA salary figures are gross, before taxes. European players also get housing and auto stipends that don’t count against the $2.5 million.

If the Nets need to buy out Milutinov, NBA teams can contribute up to $800,000 to help with any financial package provided overseas teams. However, would the U.S. financial sanctions affect any such transaction? Again, we don’t know if there is mutual interest or interest from either side.

Also, it should be noted that Mike James, Milutinov’s former teammate at CSKA and Kevin Durant’s close friend, can also be signed outside the cap. Nets hold his rights since he wasn’t cut by the Nets. His NBA contract simply ran out and he signed with A.C. Monaco.

James, by the way, tweeted post-game that CSKA’s coach should have used Milutinov differently Sunday.

James left CSKA in 2021 after a dispute with the Moscow coach, Dimitrios Itoudis. Some sweet trolling there.

Standing with the Governor, the Mayor and school kids

This week, the Nets and Liberty made statements about how they support Governor Hochul’s and Mayor Adams gun safety efforts and called on federal lawmakers “pass laws that will reduce gun violence.”

Renovations underway at Barclays Center

The 10th anniversary of the opening of Barclays Center will come around September 28. On that night, Jay-Z opened the arena at Flatbush and Atlantic with the first of eight concerts. He also introduced the Nets new jersey.

No doubt the Nets will hold some sort of anniversary celebration but in the interim, the entrance plaza, once named for the Daily News and Resorts World and now officially the Seat Geek Plaza, will undergo a renovation that will replace all those blocks — aka pavers — we’ve tread the last decade, presumably including the ones still bearing the Daily News logo.

Norm Oder, critic and chronicler of the larger Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, laid out the schedule for the renovation, which starts Monday.

Starting Monday, June 6, fencing will be constructed behind the Barclays Center MTA entrance for the staging of equipment and materials. Construction should start a week later.

The work will be done during a Monday-Saturday daytime schedule, but hours were not provided. To prevent debris from leaving the job site, windscreen fencing will be constructed around the staging area and each phase of work.

Though some access to the MTA entrance will be maintained, that access will be truncated, as noted above.

Also, there may be a one- or two-day period with no elevator access to allow for paver installation directly in front of the elevator.

Elevators and escalators will not be out of service at the same time.

As Oder notes, no word on how different the plaza will look. Will Seat Geek get its own pavers??

Meanwhile, just to the north of Barclays Center, a new Brooklyn icon, the 1,066-foot Brooklyn Tower at 9 DeKalb Avenue. It’s Brooklyn’s first “super tall” building, a designation that requires a 1,000-foot height. What makes the black Gotham-esque tower interesting as well is that it, like Barclays Center, was designed by SHoP Architects. SHoP also designed Pier 17, home of ESPN’s New York studios.

Ben Simmons Real Estate Watch

Nope, no transactions report this week, but Simmons did take up prime real estate this week when he traveled to Brooklyn Bridge Park with its spectacular views of Lower Manhattan to be with kids from the Abraham Stockton Community School, P.S. 297, who were having their end-of-the-year field day.

It’s another example of how Simmons is committed to New York. Simmons, now apparently fully recovered from his outpatient back surgery on May 5, wanted to get in touch with the Brooklyn community and his people looked for a community event that fit with his schedule. The P.S. 297 Field Day worked. Simmons posted the pics to his Instagram account, the first since he joined the team in February.

No word on whether he’s begun rehab. It was supposed to start up two to three weeks after the surgery. That would have been the end of May.

Meanwhile, one of our fans found this April 2018 clip of Ben Simmons talking about gun culture in the United States and Australia...

“It’s kind of scary being over here,” said Simmons of the U.S. gun culture. “You go to Walmart and buy a gun which is crazy. You can’t do that in Australia.”

The interview took place not long after the Parkland, Florida, massacre that left 17 dead and another 17 wounded and injured.

Final Note

The last remaining NBA head coaching opening is the Charlotte Hornets and Shams Charania is reporting that Kenny Atkinson, now in the Finals with the Warriors, is the leading candidate. We wish Kenny good luck both with the Warriors and the head coaching gig under Michael Jordan. One wonders if any of the Nets assistants hired under Atkinson will wind up in North Carolina. There are more than a few left, including Jordan Ott who worked with Atkinson in Atlanta and Brooklyn as well as on the Dominican Republic national team.