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NetsDaily Off-Season Report - No. 19

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.

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Media Day is now two weeks away ... September 26. Training camp opens the next day. In the meantime, players are gathering at HSS Training Center and if the Nets social media is any guide, the only player who’s not yet checked in is Kevin Durant.

On Friday, Kyrie Irving was pictured on the Nets social media in front of the great window at 168 39th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn...

That leaves only the arrival of Kevin Durant. KD has not been been at the facility, from what we’ve seen on Nets social media, since before he made his trade request on June 30. Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson, however, said Saturday afternoon that indeed the Slim Reaper has indeed been in.

On Saturday, KD took in the Texas-Alabama football game in Austin. The eyes of Texas were upon him...

Texas lost, 20-19. KD also offered encouragement to the Longhorn basketball team…

No one seems concerned that he’ll be the last player on hand ... if that is indeed the case. There’s no set deadline that players need to be in the building other than for Media Day and the start of camp. Players usually gather at training facilities after Labor Day.

Meanwhile, everyone seems to be working hard, again per Nets social media...

The full roster still hasn’t been set. David Duke Jr.’s status remains uncertain although he’s been grinding away at HSS. There are still two Exhibit 10s unfilled and a two-way if Duke. gets a standard deal. And we may not hear about those final slots till just before camp opens. That’s happened in past years. And there can always be a trade.

All that said, however, we can now start to make comparisons between this year’s roster and last year’s.

  1. The Nets are younger. Patty Mills, already 34, and Durant, who turns 34 the third day of camp, are the team’s oldest players. Last year, there were two 37-year-olds on the roster in LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap and a 34-year-old in James Johnson. Markieff Morris, at 33, replaces Blake Griffin, also 33. The rest of the roster additions are 20-somethings: T.J. Warren is 29 as is Royce O’Neale. Ben Simmons, Edmund Sumner and Yuta Watanabe are all 26 and Alondes Williams 23.
  2. The Nets are taller, bigger. No longer will the Nets be at a disadvantage height-wise as they were vs. the Celtics last year. Ben Simmons is 6’11”, the tallest point guard ever in the NBA (if that’s where he plays.) Markieff Morris and Yuta Watanabe are 6’9”, T.J. Warren is 6’8” and both Royce O’Neale and Edmond Sumner is 6’6” and Sumner can play the point. Having a point guard rotation with 6’11” Simmons and 6’6” Sumner along with 6’2” Kyrie Irving and even 6’5” Alondes Williams is a big advantage.
  3. The Nets have slimmed down (Day’Ron Sharpe) and/or bulked up (Cam Thomas, Nic Claxton and Ben Simmons) in the off-season.
  4. The Nets are as good as it gets from deep. They currently have six players in the top 50 of active 3-point shooters by percentage in the league including the first (Seth Curry), second (Joe Harris) as well as the 24th (Kyrie Irving), 32nd (Patty Mills), 43rd (Kevin Durant) and 50th (Royce O’Neale) in the NBA, regular season. In the playoffs, Curry also ranks first with Irving at No. 9. Edmond Sumner doesn’t make the career list but in 2020-21, he hit 39.8 percent from deep. And they have a guy who has assisted on nearly 1,000 3-pointers in his career, Ben Simmons.
  5. The Nets are better defensively. Nic Claxton is stronger and newcomers Ben Simmons, Royce O’Neale, Edmond Sumner are all plus defenders, with Simmons having been among the NBA’s best defenders prior to last season’s holdout and back surgery. He was selected first team All-Defense in 2020 and 2021, finishing second in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2021. Even Yuta Watanabe can defend with an ability to switch 1 through 5.

There are concerns about health, of course. Ben Simmons is coming off back surgery on May 4, Seth Curry arthroscopic ankle surgery on May 9. Joe Harris had ankle surgeries on November 29, then again on March 21. T.J. Warren underwent foot surgery on January 5, 2021 and Edmond Sumner achilles surgery on September 14, 2021. Markieff Morris didn’t need surgery for his Nikola Jokic-induced whiplash but missed four months anyway. All are at HSS and supposed to be ready for camp. The Nets have not said who’s going five-on-five and who’s not (although Sumner has hinted he’s there.)

Then, there’s leadership. Who’s the Nets leader in the locker room and on the court? There’s been a lot of concern about whether KD is up to the challenge. And if not him, who? As Kendrick Perkins said on ESPN this week, “Who is going to be the leader? Ben Simmons need guidance, Kyrie Irving need guidance, hell Kevin Durant need guidance at this point in time.”

He’s not wrong.

What’s this mid-season tournament all about?

Shams Charania tweeted Friday, then wrote Saturday about the NBA’s plans for an in-season tournament that could be begin as early as the 2023-24 season. Here’s the basics from his tweet...

It’s no exaggeration to say this is the biggest change for the NBA in like, ever. Both the G League and WNBA have had similar tournaments the last few years and the players union seems to be on board. So expect it to happen.

Here’s some more details from The Athletic Saturday:

The tournament games would run through November, and eight teams would advance to a single-elimination round in December. The other 22 teams in the league would continue with regular-season play.

All of the games would be part of the normal 82-game schedule with one extra game for the two final teams.

The players union likes the idea because of another aspect of the plan — prize money, potentially $1 million per player!

Of course, this would be the second big change for the NBA in three years, the play-in tournament being the first. Traditionalists will likely object to the in-season tournament, as they did to the play-in tournament but the play-in has been very successful. That plus the the success of the G League and WNBA variants no doubt is giving the NBA confidence to make such a change. Moreover, the league is sailing along. Last year, its worldwide revenue topped $10 billion for the first time, coming within $1 billion of the NFL. (So much for “go woke, go broke!”) At this point, it appears the NBA can do no wrong.

As part of that financial success, Shams also reported Friday that the salary cap — and a lot of other things, like the luxury tax threshold and the size of the mid-level exceptions — is going up again.

That should save Joe Tsai a little money in luxury taxes. He paid $97.7 million in July and as of now, he’ll pay $99.3 million next July, per Yossi Gozlan. That number will change as the roster does. Luxury taxes are determined by each team’s payroll on the last day of the regular season, which this year is April 9.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Barclays Center

There will be a new element on the Barclays Center court, the arena’s 10th anniversary logo, as Mike King tweeted this week...

We’re still waiting on what else the team will do to commemorate the anniversary. There’s only one NBA player left from that 2012-13 team, Brook Lopez who’s still playing in Milwaukee, having won a ring two years ago with the Bucks. Last season, another member of that team, Joe Johnson, made a cameo appearance with the Celtics. Two other players are playing professionally overseas: Toko Shengelia, who plays in Italy, and MarShon Brooks, who’s in China. Both are now in their 30’s.

Johnson does seems like he could give it a go, based on this tweet from last week...

No. 15 for KD ... with a twist

Kevin Durant introduced his 15th signature sneaker with Nike this week. but it was with a creative twist, a “producer pack,” a multimedia arrangement...

The shoes retail for $150.

On a related note, expect the Nets, already near the top of jersey sales worldwide, to add sell more in Japan. In 2021, the Nets were the second most popular team in sales across the empire but surprisingly, none of its stars made the top 10. This year, that’s likely to change. Yuta Watanabe’s Raptor jersey was the best seller in Japan last season. As long as he makes Brooklyn’s roster, that success should continue but with a Nets No. 18. (It should be noted that neither Watanabe nor the Nets will see a windfall. NBA teams share the revenue from international jersey sales 30 ways.)

The real issue with the NBA 2K ratings

For the second year in a row, Kevin Durant has complained about his NBA 2K rating. He thinks he should be at 99 rather than the 96 number he’s been assigned the last two versions of the game. We don’t know just how upset KD is. He could just be goofing. You never know.

Putting the KD debate aside, the big head-scratcher among the Nets is Patty Mills. Mills who had career-high numbers last season, including a near Nets record 227 three’s. He also played in 81 games, but still dropped from a 77 to a 72. It wasn’t just fans who were upset. Josh Giddey, a fellow Aussie and Thunder point guard, took issue with the number.

“I had to triple-check and make sure I was reading that correctly,” Giddey said after he talked about the yearly release of the new 2K game. “That’s 72 was a bit weird to me.”

Peter Hooley, an Australian basketball writer agreed...

Indeed as Clutch Points noted in its story, a 72 is “bench warmer” territory and Mills had a very good season.

Meanwhile, with his former teammate Manu Ginobili being enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend, Mills got some Hall consideration himself earlier in the week. A San Antonio TV station asked fans about whether Mills deserves a place in Springfield. As KENS5 Jeff Garcia noted, it’s the Basketball Hall of Fame not the NBA Hall of Fame and Mills exploits on the international stage might get him some votes.

Mills owns a bronze Olympic medal in 2020, four gold medals at the FIBA Oceania Championship (2007, 2011, 2013, 2015), became the third Indigenous basketball player to play for Australia, and at the 2012 Olympics, he had the highest scoring average with 21.2 points per game. That was better than Team USA’s Kevin Durant with 19.5 points per game.

He was even named to the Tokyo 2020 All Star Five for the men’s Olympics basketball tournament.

Add in what he has done for Indigenous basketball players in Australia by creating the first Indigenous basketball league and he might have a case that could be debated.

And debate we will.

Meanwhile, Mills continues his “Unearthed” tour Down Under, combining basketball camps with speaking engagements on the need for indigenous peoples to have a constitutionally guaranteed “voice” in Australian political life...

Mills will be back in Brooklyn for camp. He had been training at HSS before departing for Australia.

Final Note

Congrats again to Pooch and if he hasn’t framed this, we will be sorely disappointed.

It’s always good when the boss welcomes and recognizes the new employee.