Tag Archives: Nets

You are here: Home / Archive
FIBA Team Canada Anthony Bennett

Canadian Anthony Bennett To Join Fenerbahce In Turkey

Former number one overall NBA draft pick from Canada Anthony Bennett will join FIBA club team Fenerbahce In Turkey after bring cut by the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week as reported by Sportando.

Bennett was originally drafted by the Cavaliers in 2013 and traded the next summer along with Andrew Wiggins to Timberwolves for Kevin Love as part of a three-team deal. He was waived by Timberwolves the next summer and signed as a free agent by the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors waived him in March and he was signed as a free agent by Brooklyn in July.

Bennett played in 23 games with the Nets before being waived on January 9, 2017. He had played in 151 games and 1,905 total minutes averaging 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in the NBA over parts of four seasons.

As a freshman at UNLV in 2012-13, Bennett averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds.

The biggest winner out of this move may be Canada Basketball as Bennett will learn the FIBA game ahead of this summer’s international play.

 

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

NBA Brooklyn Nets Brook Lopez

Is The Stretch-5 Brook Lopez An Answer For The Raptors?

There doesn’t appear to be much of a market for the 28-year-old Brook Lopez, but this new stretch-5 version of the Nets center deserves a second look and the Toronto Raptors should be asking if he is the answer to their need for another big man capable of impacting today’s game?

Once upon a time not so long ago Lopez was an NBA All-Star, one of the top scoring centers in the entire league and top-10 at blocking shots, but that year was sandwiched in-between a couple of injury shortened seasons and Lopez really still hasn’t fully recovered his reputation, even though he’s played over 70 games in each of the past two seasons and has only missed three games this year.

This season Lopez is averaging 20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.5 steals and 1.7 blocks. His assists are up nicely and his rebounds are down, but part of that is from hanging out more on the perimeter where he is firing 5.2 three-point attempts and connecting on 36.4 percent of them. On corner threes his average jumps to 45.8 percent. He is one the best shooting stretch-5 true centers in the NBA this year and he gets blocks too.

It been suggested by ESPN’s Marc Stein that all Brooklyn wants is a couple of first round draft picks in return for Lopez. The Nets (foolishly) traded their future to the Celtics for a chance at becoming a contender that never happened and now they don’t even have the assets to rebuild. Not that any NBA team feels the need to bail them out of this mess of their own making, but to poach an asset for cheap? A GM has to listen.

Part of the problem is Lopez makes $21.1 million this year and $22.6 million next year, but unlike so many of the other potential impact players being talked about (Paul Millsap, Serge Ibaka), at least he is not just a rental.

Unfortunately his contract means most teams will have to send back at least $16.1 million in salaries and it isn’t likely the players going back would all be on expiring contracts and of limited value. This will become something resembling a real trade if the Nets can get two first round draft picks out of it as well. At least a GM knows the Nets interest is sincere. The Nets, unlike the Hawks, really are playing for nothing. The need to tear down and rebuild right now is very real.

But how would Lopez fit on the Raptors with Jonas Valanciunas entrenched at starting center and Lucas Nogueira doing a respectable job backing him up. Well the Raptors have been unexpectedly experimenting with Nogueira playing along side of Valanciunas in order to provide some needed shot blocking, speed and athleticism and it seems to be working. The two big men provide an effective paint deterrent and a difficult match-up for opposing teams. This gives head coach Dwane Casey options.

Casey could look to splitting the minutes at center between Valanciunas and Lopez depending on the match-up. A traditional rebounding center in Valanciunas and a stretch-5 in Lopez who would finally give the Raptors an effective countermove when the Cavaliers go small with the 6’11 Channing Frye stretching the floor. Nogueira and Patrick Patterson splitting the minutes at power forward would give the Raptors a rotation of four big men, two of whom can stretch the floor, that few teams could match.

If Raptors president Masai Ujiri believes Lopez has made the leap to becoming a stretch-5 and that’s the missing piece in his team’s rotation, this is a deal that needs pursuing. The Raptors need more offense to contend.

It would take a combination of Terrence Ross ($10 million), Jared Sullinger ($5.6 million) and one of Bruno Caboclo, Delon Wright, Pascal Siakam or Fred VanVleet to make the trade math work. Undoubtedly, which young player gets thrown in would determine how many draft picks Ujiri might part with. Like with any trade Ujiri has gotten involved with, if the price got too steep, he would walk away.

There are few players that are truly plausible trade targets where the team with the star has to take virtually anything that’s remotely reasonable, but the Nets are that team. It’s a team in a situation Ujiri has been able to bend to his advantage in the past.

Rumors are beginning to surface that the Nets are considering parting ways with their franchise cornerstone in Lopez, and Lopez (fantasy) owners should be rooting for that outcome. He’s skilled enough to have solid value regardless of his uniform – Rotoworld Jan 8 – 3:34 PM.

Lopez scoring 20 points per game is nothing new and aren’t skilled big men that can shoot the prized possessions in today’s high scoring NBA?

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA D-League Long Island Nets Egidijus Mockevicius of Lithuania

Lithuania Produces Another Center To Watch Egidijus Mockevicius

For a very small Country Lithuania produces more than it’s share of professional basketball talent and yet another center to watch is the undrafted senior from Evansville Egidijus Mockevicius now affiliated with the Brooklyn Nets.

The 6’10 Mockevicious led the NCAA in rebounding at 14 boards per game last season and according to Josh Riddell of Draft Express,

Egidijus Mockevicius had his most productive statistical year as a senior by averaging 19.5 points and 17.6 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted. The Evansville center has been one of the best Missouri Valley Conference players over the past few seasons, being named to the All-Conference 1st Team for the past two seasons and the All-Conference Defensive Team for the past three.

Mockevicius ranks among the most dominant defensive rebounders in college basketball history, easily finishing #1 in the nation in that category. He’s committed to tracking down every loose ball, running straight to the front of the rim after every shot and tracking down balls outside his area.

Mockevicius played in Mississauga recently with the Long Island Nets and he made an impression despite his team getting blown out 117-83 by the Raptors 905.

As advertised the big Lithuanian isn’t exceptionally athletic or fast, but he ran the floor well and somehow seemed to get to where he needed to be when he needed to get there. Not surprisingly he led his team with 8 boards in just 23 minutes of action to go with 12 points on 6-10 shooting. He stood out as a contributor with his hustle.

Mockevicius is what’s called an Affiliate player in the ever evolving NBA Development League. The Brooklyn Nets approached his agent after the draft and brought him in for a workout in May. Then a stint in Summer League and an invite to training camp with some burn in a preseason game before getting him to agree to play with the Long Island Nets. A series of moves which may turn into the two-way contracts envisioned in the revised NBA CBA expected to kick in next season.

“I am Affiliated right now with (the Brooklyn Nets), but hopefully one day I’ll get called up,” Mockevicius told Pro Bball Report. “That’s what I an trying to work on.

“I’ve been at Summer League with them, so I’ve been with them for quite some time now.”

Through four games with the Long Island Nets, Mockevicius has averaged 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.5 blocks in 23.9 minutes, showing he can produce in a fast paced league that isn’t often kind to more traditional centers. However, the big man is trying to avoid the traditional center label. He wants to show he’s a lot more versatile than that.

“It’s a Development League, so you are just trying to develop overall,” Mockevicius said. “You don’t want to (focus) on just one thing. You want to do a bunch of things because if you only do one thing right it might not give you a shot at the highest level, so it’s way more important to be doing a lot of stuff.

“It would not only be rebounding. It’s scoring, being comfortable with the ball making good decisions. That’s how basketball is played, you can’t do only one thing. Especially with how the (NBA) is developing, every big I know has to do a lot of things. Everyone is a good rebounder, everyone is a good passer. The NBA is based on shooting right now, there is a lot of things to improve on to get a shot (a chance).

“In the NBA you can play the four/five, it’s not any different. That’s the thing I am trying to develop right now. Be more like a diverse player. Be able to roll, be able to expand the floor, be able to shoot. You can’t really be just one thing.”

A very good college player, Mockevicius is getting a chance to to develop his game and expand his skill set with the Long Island Nets. It’ll be tougher place to play than in college and not just because the players around him are better, stronger and faster. The D-League plays more small ball and at a faster pace than in the NBA, so the match-ups will push him to figure out how to be effective enough stay on the court in a challenging environment.

If this traditional center can cut it in the D-League, NBA teams will have yet another Lithuanian to keep an eye on.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James and JR Smith

Few Options Left For Cavs Free Agent J.R. Smith – But Not None

The Luxury Tax challenged Cleveland Cavaliers left sharp-shooter J.R. Smith hanging out in the breeze until practically every other option was gone last summer and despite General Manager David Griffin assertion that, “I think the good news is J.R. wants to be here and we want J.R. back,” they are doing it again.

The Cavs cheaped out on Smith last summer when they got him back for just $5 million, but the soon-to-be 31-year-old has his ring now and this is his last chance a big NBA contract. It’s no wonder the multi-year deal at $10 million per season as reported by Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler hasn’t gotten it done.

League sources said that Smith and his camp were not overly concerned about reaching a deal, with a belief that the Cavs have put a multi-year offer in the $10 million per year neighborhood on the table weeks ago. They added that Smith and his advisors have been looking for a slightly bigger offer and that waiting things out was simply about leverage and trying to get a slightly better deal.

Like last year, the issue in Cleveland is with LeBron James new deal, they are already into Luxury Tax territory and signing Smith to a $10-15 million per season deal is going to cost near double that.

If Smith is going to get something close to market value for a veteran three-point shooter with a career average over 42 percent from beyond the arc, he needs to find someone willing to offer more. The bigger issue is his agent has to convince the handful of teams with sufficient salary cap space to make an offer that they aren’t just being used as leverage. Smith has to at least look like he’s willing to jump off the Championship bandwagon to get the payday that will make his career.

It shouldn’t be that hard. Smith’s career earning are “just” $45.5 million. He should at least double that with his next contract.

Possible Destinations

Brooklyn Nets estimated cap space $18.5 million

The Nets need to win games, if for nothing less than to stop Boston from getting another top five lottery pick from them. Boston can swap first round draft picks with Brooklyn next June and Boston outright owns the Nets 2018 pick.

Adding a veteran to this thin team would help them win a few more games. Offer J.R. something close to $18 million for one year and watch the Cavs choke on it.

Denver Nuggets estimated cap space $18.4 million

Denver is a team that should be looking to the future and handing the starting shooting guard spot to the 21-year-old Gary Harris, but if they have playoff aspirations/fantasies for this season, then J.R. would take their veteran talent level up a notch.

Minnesota Timberwolves estimated salary cap space $13.3 million

The Timberwolves should believe they are close to being a playoff team. Maybe they are not quite there yet, but their young talent is poised to take another step and a veteran from an NBA Championship team who could play significant minutes off the bench might just be the stabilizing factor that puts them over the top.

Wait – was that J.R. Smith and stabilizing factor used in the same sentence? The Cavs J.R. has not been the Knicks J.R. and he’s over 30-years-old now. If J.R. wants to help a young up-and-coming team get over the hump and play with some very talented future stars … the Cavs might just buy this move and match what the T-wolves could pay before discussions get too serious.

Philadelphia 76ers estimated cap space $30 million

Sure the 76ers could pay J.R. more money than he could turn down, but he wouldn’t be happy here very long and this doesn’t look remotely like a fit.

Phoenix Suns estimated cap space $15 million

The Suns underperformed – again, and their talent level suggests that despite the vast array of very confusing moves by the head office, this team should win a lot more than 23 games.

There would be an issue about where exactly J.R. would fit in this team’s rotation, not that such issues seem to have been much of a deterrent to acquiring players in the recent past.

Utah Jazz estimated cap space $12.5 million

With the additions of George Hill and Joe Johnson, this 40 win team is going to be fighting for a playoff spot. J.R. Smith would almost certainly put them in the postseason picture and make an already dangerous looking group that much more ready to challenge the “big boys” in the West.

The Cavs wouldn’t want to lose J.R. to a 4-year $50 million offer, but if they let things play out to save a few bucks off the Luxury Tax bill, it’s a realistic possibility the Jazz could sell the veteran three-point shooter that he’s wanted in Utah.

As LeBron James said when he announced his new deal, “Let’s get J.R. done. It’s that time.”

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Ball On My Mind is holding a Hold Your Own Showcase & Create Your Own Mixtape Event August 26 – 28, 2016 for high school age basketball players in the greater Toronto area with Chris Hemphill, scout with NC Preps in association with Rivals.com (One of the largest American Scouting Services in the US).
Spaces are limited. Registrations after August 12th will be accepted based on availability.

 

 

 

 


 

Team Argentina Luis Scola

Luis Scola To Carry The Flag For Argentina At The Rio Olympics

Luis Scola has represented the South American powerhouse Argentina in international basketball for over two decades and in his fourth Olympic Games, he will carry his Country’s Flag during the opening ceremonies in Rio. An honor won by hard work and dedication to his National Team.

“It’s amazing,” Scola told Pro Bball Report after he heard the news. “I can’t believe it you know. I will have the chance to do that.

“This is my fourth Olympics. I can remember going into my first one and now after some time I had no idea what I was going to be in. I thought about the Olympics as just another experience and I didn’t know it was this life changing experience that people will pay a lot of money to see and they will do a lot of things to win this.

“I had a chance to not only be there but also to play there and to win there.”

In 2004, Scola and Manu Ginobili led Argentina to a semi-final upset win over Team USA represented by group of young NBA Stars including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan, Amar’e Stoudemire and Allen Iverson. Team Argentina won Olympic Gold in Athens that year.

In 2008, Scola led Argentina in scoring and took home a Bronze from the Beijing Olympics. They didn’t medal in 2012, but Argentina managed to qualify for 2016 in Rio by winning a Silver medal at the FIBA Americas tournament last summer with Scola taking tournament MVP honors.

“Each (Olympics) is different,” Scola said. “I know a lot more about what I am going to need, what kind of experience I am going to have. My eyes are going to be more open. My eyes and ears and mind is going to be more open to live the experience more because I know how important it is, much more than I did 12 years ago.

“On the other hand, basketball-wise we are not as competitive as we were before and that will change the experience a little bit. It’s just a different reality.

“I think I am going to be nervous.”

At 36-years-old Scola is not ready to go out in a hard-earned blaze of glory from basketball just yet. After the Olympics he will be joining the Brooklyn Nets on a one-year contract in his tenth NBA season.

Last year he played for the Toronto Raptors and started 76 games. Not as quick or strong in the post as he once was, Scola put up almost three times as many three-point shots as he had in his entire NBA career up to that point and he hit over 40 percent of them.

Now a stretch-four, Scola is going to be called on for scoring by Argentina at the Olympics once again, but this NBA, FIBA and Olympic veteran has nothing to be nervous about in Rio. He just shot 2-5 from three-point range in a Friendly against Team USA on July 22nd.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

NBA Los Angeles Lakers Timofey Mozgov

Buyer’s Remorse Coming Soon After NBA Free Agent Signings

Sure the NBA Salary Cap has gone up by over $20 million and it’s expected to go up by another $20 million over the next five years, but that doesn’t justify some of the contracts being handed out early in free agency this summer. $20 million per year contracts are still going to be about a fifth of your team’s salary cap space, buyer’s remorse is going to be a common theme in the not too distant future.

Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are hardly going to be alone after this summer as a team that is trying to take a massive risk on completely unproven players. In just the latest of “What were they thinking?” moves by NBA teams with too much money burning a hole in their GM’s pocket, the Nets have given an offer sheet to the Trail Blazers restricted free agent Allan Crabbe at $75 million over four years.

You can be forgiven if your next question is Allen who? The 24-year-old Crabbe has played three NBA seasons, started a career total of 17 games and last year he “broke out” to average 10.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. He can shoot the three-ball and has nice numbers for developing player to come off your bench, but paying $19 million a year for a reserve player you hope is going to turn into a starter doesn’t constitute taking a calculated risk, it’s more like rolling the dice and needing double sixes to win.

This offer sheet appeared just as offers to free agents were starting to look sane again.

The Nets are also reported giving an offer sheet to Miami Heat restricted free agent guard Tyler Johnson at $50 million over four years that is back end loaded at $18.9 million for year three and $19.6 million for year four.

Johnson has only two years in the NBA under his belt and averaged 8.7 points and 3 rebounds in just 36 games played with the Heat last year. Maybe the Nets will get lucky and Miami will match? If not, the Nets could have around $40 million tied up in two unproven young players a couple of years from now. These two guys had better look like All-Stars in the not too distant future.

Washington Wizards

The Wizards are going to pay the soon-to-be 30-year-old center Ian Mahinmi $16 million a season for four years. They do know his career averages are 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds?

Mahinmi did “break out” to average 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds as a full-time starter for the first time in his career with the Pacers last season, but have the Wizards heard that Marreese Speights just signed for the veteran’s minimum?

Houston Rockets

Ryan Anderson was a hot commodity in free agency. The career backup stretch-four has played starter’s minutes when he wasn’t hurt and this suspect defender can fill the net from the outside. However, missing games is the norm for Anderson and the Rockets are betting $80 million over four years he’ll play enough to earn his paycheck.

Anderson has missed 96 games over the last three seasons and he was coming off the bench for the lowly Pelicans – Do the Rockets know something no one else does?

Orlando Magic

The Magic are tried of losing and they wanted to change the culture of their team. Well, Bismack Biyombo will help with that and he’s getting paid up to $18 million a year to make it happen.

Biyombo was really good in home games with the Raptors and filled in nicely when starter Jonas Valanciunas was injured. However, the offensively challenged Biyombo averaged 5.5 points and 8 rebounds. He gives a team rim protection and boards, but that’s a lot of money for a player best suited to split the minutes at center with someone that can score.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers needed veteran help, but their options were limited as few players were willing to take their money, so the made the fading 31-year-old Luol Deng an offer he couldn’t turn down, four years and $72 million.

Deng is a good locker room guy and mentor for a young team that isn’t expected to win, but as this team develops its talent, that deal is going to look very expensive. Deng’s scoring average has dropped for three years in a row as he gets slower and more perimeter oriented.

Piling on the future hit to the Lakers salary cap space is another four year deal that will pay the 30-year-old journeyman center Timofey Mozgov $16 million a season. Do the Lakers know Mozgov career averages are 6.9 points and 5 rebounds and that’s about what they should expect next year?

Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers are a team on the rise and adding a 28-year-old veteran like Evan Turner does make sense, but did they have to pay him $75 million over four years?

A career 10 point 5 rebound 4 assist wing, Turner is versatile and experienced, but the only time he has put up the big numbers that might justify a $19 million a year salary was on a really bad 76ers team. On good teams, he has reverted to the mean or a little less.

Free Agency Is Always A Little Crazy

There are plenty of free agent deals out there besides these that could generate some buyer’s remorse in the not too distant future. However, high profile guys are always going to be paid by some team based on what the CBA permits regardless and it’s getting hard to criticize any $10 million salary in a $94 million salary cap world, but $20 million for a journeyman or a prospect? Can buyer’s remorse be all that far away?

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 



 

NBA Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks

GM Sean Marks Rebuilding Of The Nets Begins Full Throttle

By Frank McLean

For new Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks, the job of rebuilding the basketball team begins full throttle now that the regular season has come to end.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov traveled from Moscow to Brooklyn with his group of so called Russian basketball experts to witness the Nets 103-96 loss to the Raptors that ended a terrible 2015-16 season.

A season which saw the Nets in January fire General Manager Billy King and coach Lionel Hollins. A 21-61 record which was the fourth worst season in franchise history since they joined the NBA in the merger with the old American Basketball Association.

The rebuild for Marks will have to be through the free agent route. King’s mismanagement has left the Nets with limited draft options having traded away their own 2016 and 2018 first round picks to Boston and given Boston the option to swap first round picks in 2017. They even owe their 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 second round picks to various teams. At least Marks is expected to have over $40 million in salary cap room to spend on the free agent market this summer.

Brook Lopez has said that Marks told him that he plans on building the team around him.

That brings up the question of Thaddeus Young will they keep him or trade him for some talent.

When the Nets visited Toronto in March those who cover the team told me the Raptors were interested in acquiring Young with one of two Raptors first round picks being dangled and the names of Patrick Patterson and Delon Wright being mentioned, but the deal fell through when King was fired and replaced with Marks.

But before he can target free agents, Marks has to hire a coach first so he can go after players who will fit that specific coaches system.

The longshot for that job is interim head coach Tony Brown who was a Hollins assistant and took over when Hollins was fired.

Brown’s record was 11-34, but he told the New York media that was a positive taking over the head coaching reigns.

“All positive,’’ said Brown. “Any time you get a chance to run a club day-to-day, also manage game-to-game, it’s just another notch in your belt as far as NBA experience as a coach.

“All of it is positive for me, and I appreciate the opportunity. I have to thank Mikhail Prokhorov for giving me the opportunity to do it and I’ll just try to build from it going forward. I enjoyed it. I’m thankful for the process, having a chance to do it.’’

One thing Brown did when he took over at the request of Prokhorov was to change the Nets style of play from a half court style of play which Hollins had them playing to more up tempo style.

“Ownership wanted a more entertaining style of basketball,” Brown added. “I hope I fulfilled that. I like playing faster than what we did before and it gave some of our roster guys a chance to play a different style and a lot of guys flourished. Those things are good.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I obviously would’ve liked to have had the whole roster to play with, but that’s not my call. I played the guys I had. They’ve gained a lot of experience during that process. I know I’ve gained a lot of experience. It was a challenge and I hope I fulfilled that.’’

So the question is. “Who will Marks hire to coach the Nets?

There is search committee that has been established, but the word is that Marks will dip into the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff and tap Assistant Coach Ettore Messina for the job.

This would make sense since Marks was the Assistant GM in San Antonio before he took the Nets job and Messina coached for CSKA Moscow which happens to be owned by Prokhorov.

Other candidates being considered are Atlanta assistant Kenny Atkinson, Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney, current 76ers coach Brett Brown, Warriors assistant Luke Walton, ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy and Vinny Del Negro.

Brown and Del Negro, it should be noted, are former Spurs. Brown an assistant coach and Del Negro a player.

With the off season starting April 14th for the Nets, you can expect a totally different looking club come the first week of October at training camp.

Sean Marks has his work cut out for him.

 

 

DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 


NBA Brooklyn Nets Brook Lopez

Brooklyn Nets Have Quit Trying To Win

The Brooklyn Nets never had a chance. This season was lost before it began and everyone knew it. They didn’t even have a first round draft pick to tank for as the Boston Celtics got it as part of the Kevin Garnett trade. So with less than two weeks to go in the regular season, they have just quit trying to win. Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young have been benched in favor of playing the reserves and taking a look at some call-ups reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

“Brook and Thad are probably not going to play obviously for the rest of the season. We’re going to shut those guys down obviously, get them to recover from the long, grueling season, get that process started early,’’ said Nets interim coach Tony Brown.

Thomas Robinson, 25, will start at power forward and D-League signee Henry Sims at center.

“[I’m] not sure about Bojan (Bogdanovic). My plan is to not play him [Sunday] and give these other guys a chance to play,’’ said Brown.

The Nets are 21-56 on the season and without their usual starting lineup, they were blown out by the injury-riddled 29-47 Pelicans 106-87 on Sunday at the Barclays Center. They finish off the season playing against the Wizards twice, Hornets, Pacers and close out the season at home to Toronto. Winning another game would be purely by accident.

 

 

 


NBA Brooklyn Nets Brook Lopez

Raptors Have No Reason To Take Nets Lightly

The Toronto Raptors welcome the Joe Johnson-less Brooklyn Nets to the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night having dominated them so far this season, but head coach Dwane Casey insists that’s no reason to take them lightly.

“They are still a team that has a lot of pride,” Casey said after shootaround. “You have an All-Star in Brook Lopez. I think is one of the top centers in our league. Thaddeus Young is one of the top power forwards in our league, so they have some firepower. We can’t look at their record. In the last six games they are 3-3 and playing at a high level. Out of their last six games they have scored over 116 points three times, so all those things are pluses for them and things we have to guard against. We have no reason whatsoever to go in any game and look at a team’s record, who they are, how they are playing and not come out and play our game cause when we do, I promise you it’s ugly.”

 

 

In their two earlier matchups, the Raptors have outscored the Nets 101.5 to 87, shot 47.3 percent from the field and outrebounded them 42.5 to 39.5.

The Nets have been bad this season, with or without Johnson. They have posted the fourth worst record in the NBA at 18-45 and have nothing to play for except pride, but in the NBA pride can win you games if your opponent doesn’t show up ready to play.

Lopez has averaged 26.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, a steal and 2.5 blocks against the Raptors this season and Young is averaging 11 points and 8 boards. They can carry this team on any given night.

A potential trap game because it should be a blowout, but as Phoenix, Denver and Minnesota found out recently, these Nets can still put up a ton of points in a hurry if you aren’t ready to defend.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks

How Did Sean Marks From New Zealand End Up An NBA GM?

By Frank McLean

It seems like the trend in the NBA now is that if your club needs a new coach go to San Antonio.

Two of Greg Popovich’s disciples are running benches in the NBA, Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and Steve Kerr in Golden State. After all, if you are looking to turn around the luck of your franchise, stealing someone from one the NBA’s most successful franchises is not a bad way to go.

Now teams are raiding the Spurs front office too and that’s where the Brooklyn Nets grabbed their new GM, a one-time Toronto Raptors player Sean Marks.

When the search started for a new GM after the Nets bounced coach Lionel Hollins and GM Billy King earlier in the season, Nets owner and alleged Russian billionaire basketball expert Mikhail Prokhorov set up a search committee. They interviewed eight candidates which included former Raptors president Bryan Colangelo, but Marks stood out and was offered the job.

The route to the Brooklyn Nets throne was not the usual one for Marks.

First of all he comes from New Zealand and as far as I know he is the first GM to come to the NBA from that South Pacific paradise.

His playing career which spanned 11 years was the definition of a “journeyman.”

The 6-foot-10 Marks was drafted by the New York Knicks in 1998 and traded to Raptors the next day. After two years in Toronto, it was off to Poland, but he got picked up by Miami the next season for two more years. A year off because of a knee injury and he was back to play in San Antonio, Phoenix, New Orleans and finally Portland before returning to the Spurs as an assistant coach and then management.

At each spot where he landed Marks learnt from the best like Coach Popovich, Spurs GM R.C. Buford and Heat president Pat Riley.

“Being a journeyman at the time is tough, because you’re packing up your family and moving all around the county, or the world. But it exposed me to a lot of different organizations and a lot of great leaders,” Marks told The New York Post in an interview. “I’ve mentioned Pat Riley, I’ve mentioned Pop and R.C., and some great organizations along the way. Every place I’ve been, I’ve taken something from there.”

But it wasn’t just basketball people Marks took notes on the art of managing in professional sports. He spent time with managers from other sports.

Marks spent time with New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, spent time over the past three years with the All Blacks rugby team of his native New Zealand, even gone to Europe to get performance tips from Manchester United, Manchester City, AC Milan and Barcelona.

“If there’s one thing I learned from R.C. in San Antonio he’s curious by nature, and I’ve learned that from him,’’ Marks said. “There’s a lot of people doing really good things in different places, in sports, different business organizations you can learn from and potentially translate to having this be a successful time in Brooklyn.

“I’ve seen Pop in San Antonio with two bigs and defense-oriented win 85-82. I’ve seen them win 110-100 with ball movement and 300-plus passes a game. Pop has taught me the ability to be flexible and adapt with your personnel.

“The vision of it’s not about me, Pat Riley’s ‘The disease of me,’ I’ve obviously taken that from him. I’ve taken what I learned in San Antonio under R.C. If the intern has the best opinion at the table, let’s roll with it, but he has to first be at the table. If it’s not inclusive and not a collaborative partnership, it’s probably not going to work. That’s the way I’d like to build a team.”

That’s no joke when Marks says that even if the intern has a great idea let’s try it. At his introductory press conference when named to the job he made it known that the door is open to everyone in the Nets organization and that filters down to the coaching staff and players.

Marks will be spending the rest of this regular season evaluating the entire Nets organization from the top right down to the ball boys. His search for a new coach will be not just from the NBA or NCAA ranks but will reach around the world.

He will be expanding the entire front office and that also includes starting up an NBDL operation similar to what the Raptors did this year with the Raptors 905 in Mississauga.

He also does not have a first round draft pick till 2019 thanks to the miss management of Billy King.

It was long road for the 40-year-old from New Zealand to one of the 30 GM jobs in the NBA. What the Nets are hoping is that just a little of the San Antonio magic can rub off on them and if it does things will be brighter in Brooklyn.

 

Update: More Spurs joining the Nets organization!

 
 

DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets GM Sean MarksNets Hire New GM On NBA Trade Deadline Day

The Brooklyn Nets announced today, NBA trade deadline day, that the team has named San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager Sean Marks as their General Manager. Let the trading begin!

 

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets Joe Johnson

Should Everyone Want The Nets 34-year-old Joe Johnson?

So Joe Johnson is about to get his freedom from the awful Brooklyn Nets, assuming he wants to leave. ESPN’s Mark Stein reports Nets new general manager Sean Marks believes the 34-year-old Johnson deserves another chance at the playoffs and Stein sees a long list of suitors waiting in the wings for his release.

As long as Johnson is released by new Nets general manager Sean Marks by Tuesday, he’ll be playoff eligible for his next team.

“I think he’s deserved the right to [play on a playoff team if that’s what he wants],” Marks said of Johnson during an appearance on New York’s WFAN on Thursday.

A number of likely playoff teams, sources said, are already pursuing Johnson: Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Miami, Oklahoma City and Toronto.

If Johnson wants a real shot a the Conference Finals, the list of teams worthy of consideration isn’t anywhere near as long as Stein has reported.

Houston is in ninth place in the West and the Hawks are in seventh place in the East, just two games out of ninth, so neither team really seems like they are just one aging veteran away from making noise in the postseason. Unless, maybe, Johnson is homesick for Atlanta?

It looks like Miami may have just lost Chris Bosh for the season and sitting just two loses out of eighth place, their concerns are closer to missing the playoffs than making a deep run.

Boston is an intriguing mix of young players, but president of basketball operations Danny Ainge just waived the stabilizing influence of proven veteran David Lee. Did he really do that to make room for Joe Johnson? That just doesn’t feel right.

Eastern Conference leading Cleveland is heavily favored to be in the Conference Finals without a move and remains the most likely team in the East to advance to the NBA Finals. However, the Cavs already have a proven veteran in Richard Jefferson backing up LeBron James at small forward and veteran stretch-four Channing Frye backing up Kevin Love at power forward. It’s pretty hard to see where Johnson fits on the Cavaliers except as injury insurance. So does Johnson just want to be on a winning team or would he like to actually play once in a while?

Maybe the West’s third best team Oklahoma City Thunder could use a slight boost to get over the hump during the playoffs? Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka are going to play the bulk of the forward minutes and Nick Collision and Kyle Singler are good backups, but Johnson still has a presence and can shoot the three-ball. This is a potential landing spot that makes sense and OKC has an open roster spot if they don’t mind paying a little more in luxury tax.

The fans in Toronto would like to see Johnson on the roster. This is the same guy that burned them two years ago in the playoffs. Johnson would have a real shot at being in the rotation as well. Even after DeMarre Carroll gets back to assume the starting small forward role, Joe Johnson would likely be able to bump the the Raptors James Johnson out of the backup small forward spot based on his playoff experience and three-point shooting. Although, one shouldn’t assume that’s a sure thing, Joe would still have to prove he can play defense to keep his minutes.

With the Raptors in second place, just three games back of Cleveland, Johnson might just be able to convince himself that he could be the difference-maker for Toronto getting to the Conference Finals and beyond, and he might be right? Of course, Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri would have to waive one of his valued prospects to make room for Johnson and there have been no indications Masai is willing to do that.

Other teams that should be showing interest in Johnson include the Pacers, Clippers and Mavs.

Johnson is in the final year of a $124 million contract and he’s playing for the third worst team in the NBA with a record of 15-42. Sure the Nets might lose an extra game or two if they waive him, but really, how much worse could the Nets record actually be without him?

This seven-time All-Star is still playing almost 34 minutes per game this season, so any team looking to acquire him for a reserve role shouldn’t have any concerns about his ability to stay on the court.

His scoring is down, his two-point shooting is the worst of his 15-year career at 42.7 percent, but Johnson can still nail the long ball. He is taking 4 threes a game and sinking them at his career average of 37.1 percent. His rebounds and assists sit right around his career averages as well. He’s definitely on the downside of his career, but  Johnson isn’t done yet.

Johnson can play a power three or stretch four forward role that can prove to be difficult to handle in the often slower paced postseason. He is still a player that could help the right team get over the hump.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Update: Nets Press Release

The Brooklyn Nets have waived Joe Johnson, allowing the seven-time All-Star to leave one of the NBA’s worst teams and join a contender.
The Nets announced the move Thursday after agreeing to a buyout of the remainder of Johnson’s contract – one of the largest in the NBA. Players have to be waived by March 1 in order to sign with another team and be eligible for the playoffs.

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets Andrea Bargnani

Nets Andrea Bargnani Could Be Bought Out Soon

The Brooklyn Nets have discovered what the Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks already knew, the highly skilled 7-footer Andrea Bargnani is a huge tease. It’s being widely reported that the player and team have opened buy out talks.

NBA Nets Knicks Raptors Andrea Bargnani

Update – it’s confirmed:
 

 

Last summer, Knicks President Phil Jackson said what no one was willing to be quoted as saying in an interview with ESPN’s Charlie Rosen,

“AB was and still is a big tease. When he was injured he refused to do simple non-contact activities like dummy our offense in practice. He seemed to be a malingerer and this had a bad effect on the team, and also on the way the Knicks fans reacted to him. When he was on the court, he had a hard time staying intense, didn’t hustle back in offense-to-defense transition, wasn’t active enough in defending screen-rolls. Still, his offense is perfectly suited to the triangle because he really doesn’t have to work very hard to get shots. He’s another guy we renounced, but whether we can agree on financial terms for his return, or he winds up someplace else, AB will always be somewhat of an enigma.”

 

Jackson nailed it. Bargnani at his best has been an unstoppable offensive force and a solid one-on-one defender. At his worse, it’s hard to imagine how a guy that big can become invisible. Unfortunately, except for brief stretches, he was usually completely visible with all of his warts showing.

 

Often accused of being “soft,” Bargnani explained in his own words this past summer why it always seemed like he didn’t quite “get it.” Nets Daily translating the revealing quot from RAI.

“When I arrived in the NBA, I thought a lot more about me, as an individual, scoring 20 points.”

“This thought has gone away slowly. I always try to continue improving. However, playing well and losing the game leaves me with a sense of sadness that in the early years wasn’t there.”

It has made sense for Bargnani to return to play in Italy ever since the rash of injuries derailed his NBA career while playing with the Raptors. A much shorter schedule and playing against less athletic big men in the Euroleague should help to mitigate the injuries that have plagued his time in North America. But you never know, another desperate NBA GM might just give him a (fourth) shot?

Bargnani is currently playing for the NBA veterans minimum salary with a player option for next season. There really isn’t much for the Nets to negotiate here. Just give the man his money and call it a day.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Nets Andrea BargnaniAndrea Bargnani Confirms What Raptors Fans Believed

At this point it can only be taken as cold comfort, everything Toronto Raptors fans thought was wrong about their team’s former number one overall draft pick Andrea Bargnani was true. Bargnani really was putting himself first.

 

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks

Nets Hire New GM On NBA Trade Deadline Day

The Brooklyn Nets announced today, NBA trade deadline day, that the team has named San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager Sean Marks as their General Manager.

Let the trading begin!

“After an exhaustive vetting process, we are delighted to have Sean as our General Manager,” Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said. “His experience on the court, in coaching and management gives him a 360 degree view of the job at hand. His background helping to build one of the greatest teams in the NBA gives him an unparalleled frame of reference. And he impressed us all with his vision, his values, his personality and his enthusiasm for the club. The vote to select him from an incredible list of talent was unanimous. We welcome Sean into our Nets family and look forward to his strong leadership and independent thinking as we build our own success story.”

“I am very excited to be named the General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets, and to become a member of the vibrant and dynamic organization that represents Brooklyn,” Marks said. “I would like to thank Nets’ ownership for giving me this opportunity, and I look forward to the challenge of creating a unified culture and building a winning team.”

Marks joins the Nets after spending the past five years with the San Antonio Spurs, including the last two seasons as the team’s assistant general manager. Prior to serving as assistant general manager, Marks spent one season as an assistant coach on the Spurs’ 2014 NBA Championship team, one season as the team’s director of basketball operations and general manager of the Spurs’ NBA Development League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, and one season as a basketball operations assistant.

A veteran of 12 NBA seasons, Marks was originally selected with the 44th pick in the second round of the 1998 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. Over the course of his playing career, he suited up for six different franchises, including the Toronto Raptors (1998-00), Miami Heat (2001-03), Phoenix Suns (2006-08), New Orleans Hornets (2008-10) and Portland Trail Blazers (2010-11). He also spent two seasons with the Spurs (2004-06) and was a member of the 2005 NBA Championship team.

Prior to embarking on his NBA career, Marks spent played four seasons at the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as a captain during his senior season (1997-98). He earned his degree in political science from the school in 1998.

Marks is a native of Auckland, New Zealand, representing the country in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. He was also a part of the team that finished fourth at the 2002 FIBA World Championship.

NBA Atlanta Hawks Al Horford Paul Millsap & Jeff Teague

It’s Just The Calm Before The NBA Trade Deadline Storm

Unlike the NHL trade deadline which is typically a day long snooze-fest of calm, in the NBA, a storm is the norm and this year won’t be any different. Huge names like Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Al Horford, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony are swirling in the trade winds and it won’t surprise anyone if a truly big name player changes teams by Thursday at 3 pm.

Plus, there are a boatload of very good NBA players who will be waiting on a trade deadline phone call as well. A sample of the names being tossed around includes:

  1. Hawks Jeff Teague, Thabo Sefolsha, and everyone else in Atlanta,
  2. Nets Thad Young and unlikely but possible Brook Lopez,
  3. Hornets Nicolas Batum and Al Jefferson,
  4. Bulls Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol,
  5. Cavaliers Timofey Mosgov,
  6. Nuggets Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried,
  7. Rockets Ty Lawson,
  8. Pacers George Hill,
  9. Clippers Lance Stephenson,
  10. Lakers Brandon Bass and just about everyone else,
  11. Grizzlies have already traded Courtney Lee,
  12. Heat Chris Anderson traded, Hassan Whiteside available,  plus someone else to get below the luxury tax line
  13. Bucks Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams,
  14. Timberwolves Kevin Martin, plus someone please take Nikola Pekovic
  15. Pelicans Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson,
  16. Knicks Jose Calderon,
  17. Magic already dumped Tobias Harris’ contract, Channing Frye is still in play,
  18. Suns Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker,
  19. Kings Rudy Gay, Kosta Koufas, Ben McLemore  and more,
  20. Spurs Danny Green (those rumors have to be some kind of joke?),
  21. Raptors Patrick Patterson,
  22. Jazz Trey Burke

It’s getting hard to keep up and it’s about to get worse. Most of the names being bandied about will never come close to being traded, but as past deadlines prove, more than enough big deals will happen to keep trade deadline day very interesting indeed.

Interesting deals that happened last year,

  1. Nets trade Kevin Garnett for Thaddeus Young
  2. Nuggets traded Arron Afflalo and JaVale McGee and got Will Barton
  3. Pistons in a multi-team multi-player deal turned Kyle Singler into Reggie Jackson
  4. Heat in a multi-player deal traded two first-round picks for Goran Dragic
  5. Bucks traded Brandon Knight for Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee.
  6. Thunder turned Reggie Jackson into Enes Kanter and Kyle Singler

It was a wild and woolly NBA trade deadline last year. It’s is going to be just as exciting this time around.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Houston Rockets Dwight HowardNBA Trade Deadline Teams Motivated By Money

For teams that are underachieving, deals motivated by money become a very real possibility. The luxury tax provisions of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement are enough to give any general manager reason to pause. It has to be worth it to pay the tax.

 

 

NBA Barclays Center Brooklyn

Did The Nets Start Cleaning House Too Late?

By Frank McLean

The Brooklyn Nets started a house cleaning early Sunday afternoon when they fired head coach Lionel Hollins and re-assigned General Manager Billy King.

The Nets said assistant coach Tony Brown will serve as the interim head coach, and the GM position will remain open until a replacement is hired.

The franchise has begun going south and fast. Losers of four in a row overall and nine straight at home, attendance has disappeared at the $1 billion Barclays Center. The Nets had made the playoffs every year since relocating for the 2012-13 season from across the Hudson River in New Jersey, but they are 10-27, better only than the league-worst Philadelphia 76ers.

King had been the Nets GM since 2010. He made a number of high-profile moves that led to just one playoff series victory against the Toronto Raptors in 2014.

Hollins was in his second season as head coach. He was 48-71 and like the three men before him, Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo and Jason Kidd, he didn’t last long in Brooklyn.

Up until this year he had been able to sneak the Nets into the playoffs, but the team lost their first seven games this season and just kept losing ground which was the reason for Sunday’s firings.

The main reason for the Nets woes was the player acquisitions made by King.

King started out in 2010 making blockbuster trades that eventually brought in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn.

Only Johnson remains with the team, as the Nets decided to cut costs. At one point they owned the largest payroll in league history. But they aren’t competitive now and have little hope of a quick fix as their first round draft pick next season goes to Boston as part of the deal that brought Pierce and Garnett in 2013. All the moves King made seemed to have little or no regard for what it would do to team down the road.

For example in the trade with Utah for Williams, whose contract has been bought out and stretched over five years at $5.5 million per year, King gave up Devin Harris and budding star Derrick Favors along with two first round picks that became Enes Kanter and Gorgui Dieng. In the deal with Portland for Gerald Wallace, the Nets gave up a first round draft pick that turned into Damian Lillard. The Nets owned the solutions to their current problems, but they are all playing for other teams.

The decimation of the Nets future prospects hasn’t ended. They don’t control their own first round choice until 2019 thanks to the trade with Boston. They don’t control their own second round draft pick until 2021.

It’s going to be hard to find someone willing to take GM’s job when you don’t have a shot at a first round draft pick for the next four years. It’s going to be next to impossible to trade high priced players who are not producing and when you have to buy out the contracts like they did with Williams that counts on your salary cap and gives you less money to go out and get a free agent who might actually help you.

Nets owner Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov said this in a statement.

“It’s clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership, with the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching.”

No kidding Mikhail.

“At every step of the way, he has been aggressive in his quest to build a winning team and has been a key factor toward the Nets making the playoffs for each of the last three seasons,” Prokhorov said of King, who was in the last year of his contract.

Prokhorov will meet with New York media on Monday.

Prokhorov had to do something as the Nets are becoming irrelevant in the New York City sporting scene.

The Knicks heading into Monday are sitting at 19-20 and are just 1.5 games back of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. No one even dared to mention the words “playoff spot” and Knicks in the same sentence before the season started.

It’s going to take a while to fix the Nets. So, who will want to be the GM with no first round picks for four years and if you find some poor sap to take the GM’s job he better be the best salesman since Willie Lowman (of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman) to get someone to coach this team because they aren’t going to win much anytime soon.

Maybe Prokhorov should have did this during the off season.

 

 

 

Frank McLean - small sizeVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 

NBA Coach Lionel Hollins

Brooklyn Nets Fire Coach Lionel Hollins Demote GM King

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorovhas finally had enough of disaster that is his NBA team and brought out the knives. Head coach Lionel Hollins has been fired and GM Billy King demoted, or more politely “re-assigned,” to open up his position for someone new.

In the official press release, Prokhorovhas said,

“After careful consideration, I’ve concluded that it’s time for a fresh start and a new vision for the direction of the team,” said Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov. “By making this decision now, it enables our organization to use the rest of the season to diligently evaluate candidates with proven track records. It’s clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership. With the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching. We have learned a great deal during the past six years and our experiences will guide us for the future. Following the consolidation of team ownership last month, I can assure you that I’m more determined and committed than ever to build a winner.”

“I want to thank Billy for his hard work in the development of the Nets. At every step of the way, he has been aggressive in his quest to build a winning team and has been a key factor toward the Nets making the playoffs for each of the last three seasons. Beyond this, he has been a tremendous friend, wonderful colleague, and loyal partner and we wish him success in the future. I also want to thank Lionel for his efforts and dedication on behalf of the Nets franchise. To our fans, I thank you for your continued enthusiasm and support and please know that brighter days are ahead. I’m excited to begin the process of choosing the best GM and head coach available.”

Assistant Coach Tony Brown will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of this season and the GM position will remain open until a replacement is named.

Brooklyn was 10-27 on the season and had lost four games in a row at the time of the change, but this season’s problems had roots going back to the trades for the Hawks Joe Johnson and the Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnet that set the stage for the highest payroll in NBA history. An all or nothing strategy that unsuccessfully ran its course leaving the Nets devoid of draft picks and waiting for Johnson’s $24.9 million salary to come off the books this summer and finally open up some salary cap space.

No matter who comes in to clean up the mess in Brooklyn, it isn’t going to be easy and the new GM will have to choose between a risky re-tool strategy around center Brook Lopez and forward Thaddeus Young this summer or blowing it all up now to acquire some draft picks and young prospects.

This season is toast and the Nets don’t even have a first round draft pick to tank for. Prokhorovhas will be challenged “to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching” from here.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets Andrea Bargnani

Nets Andrea Bargnani Is Still A Giant Question Mark

by Frank McLean

The Brooklyn Nets are finding out what the Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks already figured out, Andrea Bargnani is still a giant pain in the you know what. The Nets signed the seven foot Italian center in the summer and he did not play a single preseason game for the club as his left hamstring bothered him for the entire preseason. First impressions are everything and you can say he has not made a good one with his new ball club.

Andrea Bargnani headshot

Bargnani did take part in the club’s first week of practice at Duke University. Then October 5th the team announced that he had hurt the hamstring and no timetable was given for his return. Right now the Nets are not sure if he can play in their opener at home Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls in Brooklyn.

Last week at practice Bargnani was very evasive when asked if he can play in the opener. He was asked three times if was going to play and each time he didn’t really give an answer.

“I’m positive about it”, Bargnani said. “I feel pretty good, and I think we’re doing pretty good. Tomorrow I’m going to do even more.”

Now the media that covers the Nets knows what the Raptors and Knicks beat reporters had to put up with.

Many pundits questioned the signing of Bargnani. He has a history of calf and hamstring injuries. He missed 49 of the Knicks first 51 games last season. Maybe Brooklyn should have listened to Knicks president Phil Jackson. Back in August Jackson did not give a very glowing recommendation of Bargani by first calling him a big tease in an interview with ESPN.

“When he was injured he refused to do the simple non-contact activities, like dummy our offense in practice,”  Jackson said. “He seemed to be an enigma and this had a bad effect on the team”. “AB was and still is a big tease”.

That’s not the comment one wants when asking for a recommendation from their former employer.

All teams in professional sports will tell you that only an athlete can tell you when his body will let him play. You cannot feel another man’s pain. An MRI did not show any injury. What has frustrated Brooklyn’s coaching staff is that he has practiced then not practiced and they need him in the line-up as there are other injuries on their roster.

Right now Brooklyn has only 3 healthy big men to start the season Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young and Thomas Robinson. Willie Reed (thumb surgery) and rookie Chris McCullough (knee surgery) are out. They don’t have enough size right now to last through the first month of the season. Brooklyn head coach Lionel Hollins was very excited about the potential Bargnani brings to the team. However, he’s not sure if he is a go in the opener.

“I hope he will,” Hollins said. “I just want him to come and be healthy and play at full speed, play up to his capabilities.”

The signing of Bargani was a bit of a gamble for Brooklyn. He has spent a better part of the last 4 seasons on and off the injured list. He has always shown flashes of brilliance when he plays regularly, that’s why the Toronto Raptors made him a first round pick in the draft. Toronto Raptors fans always thought he was a lazy underachiever and they booed him off the court at every opportunity, however, many scouts saw him as a special talent when he was playing in Europe.

Brooklyn hopes he can show some of that special talent those scouts in Europe saw because he is a big part of the answer they hope can get them contending for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

 

 

Frank McLean - small sizeVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets Brook Lopez

If Raptors GM Ujiri Wants A Star – Nets Brook Lopez?

So Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri says his Blackberry is on and there are reports he would like to land a star player before the deadline, but star players don’t often get traded without extenuating circumstances and the best current example of a team that might do such a deal is the luxury tax burdened Nets.

The Nets have issues. A $90 million payroll and a 21 win 31 loss record, Brooklyn has three players earning over $58 million combined this season and over $62 million next year. If they don’t do something about it, this team won’t have any salary cap space until 2016 and chokingly huge luxury tax bills. All this ties nicely into their inability to grab talent via the draft. The Hawks have the right to swap first round picks this year – happy 29th overall selection. Boston owns the Nets first round picks in 2016 and 2018, plus for good measure, Boston can swap first rounders in 2017.

Earning $24.9 million next season, Joe Johnson is an immoveable object. Deron Williams is owed $43 million after this season and with his bad ankles, who takes him? Even Brook Lopez has foot issues, but with a player option at $16.7 million next year, there have been proposals.

Rotoworld sums up various trade discussions involving Lopez:

The Nuggets offered Javale McGee, J.J. Hickson and a first-round pick for Brook Lopez, but the Nets turned them down, sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Pat Riley strongly denied a rumor that the Heat have interest in a Brook Lopez trade.

The Nets have reportedly decided to not move on the reported deal that would send Brook Lopez to OKC in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Jeremy Lamb.

The deal that has been discussed involves sending Brook Lopez to OKC in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Lance Stephenson, with Jarrett Jack and Jeremy Lamb going to Charlotte.

“I’ve been on the block for, like, six-and-a-half years now,” Lopez said. “So it’s no big deal.”

Head coach Lionel Hollins said on Tuesday that he believes Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson will still be Nets when the Feb. 19 trade deadline passes.

The Nets have issues, but apparently they aren’t willing to risk making those issues worse by taking on players and contracts they don’t want.

Lopez, when healthy, is a star player. Just ask Toronto. The big center hung a 35 point, 12 rebound, 3 steal, 3 block game on the Raptors in a Brooklyn win at the Barclays Center a couple of weeks ago. While he has missed 10 games this season with a sore back, he says he’s been healthy since the end of December and the numbers bear that out. Lopez has averaged 16.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 27.7 minutes over the past 22 games. For comparative purposes, on the season he is averaging 20.3 points, 8.2 boards and 2.2 blocks per 36 minutes played and that’s higher than his career averages.
(Note: he is averaging 27.1 actual minutes played this year, career average 32.5 minutes)

The seven-footer has been a rim protector and an offensive force since he came into the league in 2008 and only his foot problems have kept him from becoming a perennial All-Star. Lopez has broken his right foot twice and had surgery to reposition a bone in his foot to protect the injured area. He has also had surgery to repair a torn tendon and tighten ligaments in his left ankle. He missed most of the 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons as a result.

It’s possible Lopez’s foot problems are behind him, corrective surgery has worked for other players in the past and he has put together some dominating performances again this season including two 6 block games over the past four weeks.

Lopez is an impact player. Splitting minutes with Jonas Valanciunas at center would help protect his foot and back and keep him ready for what could be a deep playoff run for the Raptors. The obvious questions being: would Brooklyn trade with a Division rival? And what would it take to do a deal?

The Nets won’t take back another team’s mistake (JaVale McGee – no thanks), especially if the contract lingers past this season, but the Raptors have expiring contracts to move with players that are not in their current rotation. Toronto has been reported to be willing to move third year prospect Terrence Ross in the right deal and this could be the right deal, but what should peak the Nets interest is recent first round draftees/prospects and first round draft picks for this year and next.

A deal worked around a couple of expiring contracts, Ross, Lucas Nogueira and the Raptors 2015 or 2016 first round draft pick is a lot better and less risky than what Brooklyn has been offered thus far. Is it too much? Maybe, but it will take something of value to pry Lopez out of Brooklyn – injury risks and all.

If the Nets are holding out for a coveted solid young center without health issues in return for Lopez, Hollins belief that no deal will happen is probably going to come true.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Waiver Wire Prospects To Watch

Picking up a player waived by another team between the end of December and the trade deadline is a tradition in the NBA and sometimes these castoffs can make a difference to a playoff team. With only a month left before teams that have players they would like to “help out” by finding them another home are past the trade deadline, there is a growing list of prospects that have been released or could be released very soon. Here are some of the current and potential waiver wire players to watch.

Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Garnett

Yes the Nets are still barely clinging to a playoff spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference and they desperately need to turn some of their aging assets into future potential, but KG might explode if he’s stuck playing in this situation too much longer and the trade offers for a 38-year-old on an expiring deal are not going to be very good. Garnett is still one of the top rebounders in the game and the Nets should do him a favor and let him help a team with a shot at some measure of playoff success before he hurts someone.

 

New York Knicks

Amar’e Stoudemire

The Knicks season has been over for quite a while and S.T.A.T. is making an untradeable $23.4 million in the final year of his deal. Stoudemire has knee and back issues that restrict how much he can play, but the 32-year-old is still putting up solid numbers and can provide the occasional wow factor. As a backup center playing limited minutes, Stoudemire could be a huge difference maker on a good team. As it is, S.T.A.T. is wasting whatever he has left in his surgically repaired knees playing for a team trying to win the lottery. The Knicks should just free him asap.

 

Andrea Bargnani

Bargnani has yet another calf injury and the only good thing to come out of the Knicks trade for him last year is his contract is finally expiring. There is no longer any reason to wait. The Knicks should negotiate a buyout (maybe too late) while there is still a chance his agent believes some other team will pick him up.

Boston Celtics

Nate Robinson – waived 1/15

Robinson was coming off of ACL surgery at the start of the season in Denver and has missed games for hamstring, knee, back and wrist issues. He has always found it hard to stick with a team (6 different teams in 10 seasons), but he’s never had any trouble leaving an impression. Robinson is now 30-years-old – as hard as that is to believe – so, he’s been around, but if he can convince a team he can still play, he’ll get another chance to impress.

 

Chris Douglas-Roberts – waived 1/18

The 28-year-old wing Douglas-Roberts missed a big part of this season with an Achilles injury and has only played in a dozen games for limited minutes. Like Robinson, Douglas-Roberts wasn’t needed in Boston. He was mostly relegated to “garbage time” with the Clippers, so it’s hard to get a read on his future this year or beyond.

Tayshaun Prince

Prince will be 35 in February, but the veteran is shooting 45.5 percent from three-point range on the season and may still have enough left in the tank to help a playoff team one more time. The Celtics will try to trade Prince before making any decisions about releasing him, but he is player to watch as the trade deadline approaches and the Celtics face the likely reality that they are better off negotiating a buyout with Prince than taking back any assets other teams might offer for him.

 

Los Angeles Clippers

Jordan Farmar – waived 1/16

Farmer’s minutes, productivity and efficiency all took a nose-dive this season, but the 28-year-old veteran backup point guard might still be an attractive option to a desperate team hoping to improve their guard depth.

San Antonio Spurs

Austin Daye – waived 1-17

The 6’11 small forward Daye is a three-point shooting tease that keeps on getting another shot because of the “what if” factor. It’s hard to see how he would help a playoff team, but it should not surprise anyone if he gets another look-see from a lottery-bound club.

 

The waiver wire gives teams in the playoff races hope of grabbing talent without giving anything up. As February approaches, it’s the place to watch for those tweaks that teams hope will make the difference in May and June.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Toronto Raptors Should Trade For A Rebounder

President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri should be forgiven if he chooses to sit on his hands through the NBA trade deadline. His Eastern Conference leading team is exceeding all expectations and will be instantly improved once DeMar DeRozan returns from his groin injury – which could happen any day now. However, rebounding has been an issue all season and Ujiri would be remiss if he wasn’t looking to add some frontcourt help on the glass.

The bane of Head Coach’s Dwane Casey’s defense has been giving up offense rebounds after a tough defensive stand. The Raptors are 26th in the Association at grabbing available defensive boards at 72.7 percent. Only the guard heavy Suns and the offensive-minded Mavericks are worse among +.500 teams. The Wizards are top five in defensive rebounding at 77.2 percent of available defensive rebounds and the Hawks and Bulls grab better than 74 percent. These are teams Toronto will have to beat if this season is going to go as well as the early indications suggest it might.

Big men that can rebound and provide some rim protection are always in demand, but looking around the league, there are some trade targets Ujiri could go after if he is willing to part with some of his future oriented assets. Also, Toronto has players on expiring contracts that could provide matching salaries in a deal.
 
Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn Nets
 
It might seem crazy to rent the 38-year-old Garnett for the rest of the season, but he leads the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage at 33.5 and is currently a top 10 rebounder per minute. No one should question his passion to win and the impact he would have on a young team like Toronto.

Garnett doesn’t come without some risks and he should be a polarizing figure in any debate about who the Raptors should target. However, his expiring deal shouldn’t command a high price and he is best suited to a backup center role and that meets the Raptors needs for this season.
 
Brandan Wright, Boston Celtics
 
The Raptors were interested in the 27-year-old 6’10 athletic forward/center when he signed with Dallas two summers ago as a free agent. His rebounding numbers are average, but his shot blocking is superior. Wright is efficient offensively and he has the kind of long reach and big hops that seems to attract Ujiri.

Boston doesn’t seem interested in keeping Wright, but they are not under any to pressure to move him either. The Celtics will likely hold out for a future oriented asset in return and Wright will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. His $5 million salary makes a trade relatively straightforward if Ujiri is willing to part with a draft pick or a rookie?
 
Jordan Hill, Los Angeles Lakers
 
When the Lakers claimed center Tarik Black off of waivers, they may as well have fired off an email to every GM that they now have a big man available to trade. The most likely available target, Jordan Hill, has a $9 million deal and a team option for $9 million that would probably have to be picked up to get a trade done.

The 27-year-old 6’10 center is starting for the woeful Lakers, but would probably look better coming off the bench against other backups. He is long, bouncy and plays with energy and he is a solid defensive rebounder that grabs about 20 percent of the available defensive boards. In Toronto, only Valanciunas has better numbers on the glass than Hill.

It’s tough to know what the Lakers would want in return. They should be rebuilding and the acquisition of Black suggests that might be the direction the team is heading. Toronto does have an ‘extra’ first round draft pick in 2016 if Ujiri wants a specific player badly enough and one look at the Lakers roster suggests players like Landry Fields and Tyler Hansbrough would actually help them.
 
Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets
 
At 22-years-old, Bismack Biyombo is still young, raw and coming to the end of his rookie deal in Charlotte. He is playing 14.4 minutes a night and earning $3.9 million. The Hornets will have to make him a $5.1 million qualifying offer this summer or risk losing him for nothing in free agency. There is a deal to made here if another team wants him.

Biyombo isn’t going to score much and it’s likely he never will. He’s 50 percent from the free throw line as well. However, he rebounds the heck out of the ball. Top 5 in rebounds per minute grabbing over 25 percent of the available defensive boards and over 15 percent at the offensive end, Biyombo does what no one else on the Raptors can except Valanciunas. He is also blocking 7.7 percent of opponent’s two-point shots while he is on the court. This kid provides rim protection and takes away opponents’ second chance opportunities.

On a team that is at the top of the league in scoring, a shot blocking rebounder could look pretty good coming off the bench.
 
Players to keep an eye on:
 
Nuggets JaVale McGee had tibia surgery last year and is out with leg soreness, but if he comes back in time, he is a player Denver might give up assets to move along. He makes $12 million next season and appears to have lost his job to Timofey Mozgov, but he is an active player and very good rebounder when 100 percent healthy. There will be rumors about all the Nuggets big men if they keep losing at the current rate.

Rockets Terrence Jones will be out for 4-6 weeks with nerve damage in his leg and when he gets back, it looks like recently acquired Josh Smith will be his team’s main man at power forward – for now and in the future. His return should coincide with the trade deadline, so if the Rockets feel they have a need, he is an attractive trade asset.

Ujiri has options to look at during the season. The bigger question in Toronto revolves around messing with some very effective team chemistry and keeping one’s powder dry (salary cap space available) for the July free agency period. However, when a team is doing this well and has a legitimate shot at reaching the NBA Finals, Ujiri has to look at what’s available. The future is unpredictable. The opportunity to go far in the playoffs may not be there again next year.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Amir Lowry and DeRozanToronto Raptors New Year’s Hopes And Wishes

A GM’s job is never done and the Raptors have hopes and wishes for the New Year. Fortunately, outside of a couple of possible roster tweaks, the Raptors best chance at a dramatic improvement is already in their own locker room. It isn’t often a team can hold onto first place in the conference while their only All-Star is out of action for over a month. However, their biggest wish is for their fans to vote Kyle Lowry onto the All-Star team.

 

 

Landry Fields - croppedThe Toronto Raptors Landry Fields Showcase

Fields has the highest salary of any player on the Raptors who isn’t part of the regular rotation and that big expiring contract could make him a key piece in any trade President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri might make in an attempt to upgrade the team’s roster for the postseason and beyond.

 

 

TOR DeRozan Lowry ValanciunasRaptors No. 1 In Attendance But Not In All-Star Voting

After 30 games, 17 of them at home, the Toronto Raptors lead the NBA in attendance at 334,624, but their fans just aren’t getting the job done in the All-Star voting. In the early All-Star ballot returns, Toronto doesn’t have any players even close to being voted into the big game.