Monthly Archives: June 2010

Second Tier FA Breakdown- Joe Johnson

By: Victor Nash

With all the talk about Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, I decided that we needed to talk more about the second tier free agents that the Nets have a better shot at snagging. Today, we are going to break down Joe Johnson.

What he’ll ask for: something around 6 years 90 million(a max)

Is he worth it: NO

His skills and what to like: For starters, Johnson is a great offensive player. He can shoot from basically anywhere, which is something the Nets lacked last season and is good at getting to the line as well.  He also has better court vision than most shooting guards, as he averages 4.9 assists per game and can make the pretty pass when necessary. Johnson is a big guard at 6″7 and can properly utilize his size to get to the basket. He is a beast on isolation plays, giving the Nets a bread and butter play to run with him on the floor towards the end of games. He is sometimes too reliant on the play, however, as nearly half of his offense is just this play. The iso doesn’t let other players get involved and should strictly be reserved for the end of the game, in my opinion. Johnson didn’t run the pick and roll too much last year, but I believe that he has the skill set to run it, and with a player like Brook Lopez on the team, I think that he could be coaxed to run it. All in all, Johnson is a good offensive player, as shown by his PER of 19.3(32nd in the NBA).

The cons?: Johnson could be considered a selfish player by all means with a usage rate of 26.3%. This offsets his good assist numbers. With a good number of  players on this team that need the ball to be effective(Devin Harris, Terrence Williams), this might hurt the team’s attack on offense. For being a big guard, Johnson could rebound better, as he got 7.1% of rebounds while on the floor for the Hawks last season, and averaged 4.6 rebounds in general. Not bad numbers, but was looking for more for a team that desperately needs rebounding help. He is also an older player(28) and could decline the way Michael Finley did. This is a huge worry for me, because the Nets really don’t need a player that could drop off after 2 or 3 years.

However, one of the biggest knocks on Johnson is that he is a poor defender. He allowed 109 points per 100 possessions last season, which places him as a slightly below average defender. Johnson is not a lost cause, though, and with Avery Johnson as a coach he could become a better defender in due time.

Perhaps the biggest knock on Joe Johnson is the 2010 NBA playoffs, particularly the second round. The Hawks got swept, and they lost big. Johnson played horribly, and very un-superstar like, averaging 12.8 ppg on 30% shooting and 18% shooting from 3. He also ripped Atlanta fans for booing the team after their pitiful Game 3 performance, despite the fact that they completely deserved those boos. Actions like this lead me to question whether he could be a leader on a young team, or whether he deserves a max contract.

So should the Nets get him? Under what circumstances, would they get him and what are their chances of doing so?: I believe that the Nets should pursue Johnson ONLY if they strike out on the Big Three and players like Amare, and Rudy Gay, AND if he doesn’t demand a max. Johnson is older than most players wanting a max and would be 34 by the end of his contract. He fills a need at SG, and would improve the Nets for at least another two years. If the Nets sign him and a guy like Amare or Carlos Boozer, than I think you can peg the Nets as a contending team in the East.

To answer your(my) second question, I think that teams will be reluctant to sign Johnson to a max and that the Nets will be able to sign him if they really desire him. The Nets have a better supporting cast, more money, and a better future than Atlanta and Johnson has been open to signing with the Nets especially if the Knicks don’t pursue him. The Nets only real competition would be Atlanta at that point, and they could offer him a real playmaker and PG in Harris, a future star in Brook Lopez, and a possible future star in Derrick Favors, plus another max player if he doesn’t demand 15 million or more.

All in all, I would be against signing Johnson. But I sure hope that the Knicks do.


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Why Free Agency Is Great For The NBA

By: John Fraty

We here at The Nets Nation are all huge NBA fans, so don’t be surprised if you see some general NBA posts pop up here and there on this site. When something as big as 2010 Free Agency is going on, we will be discussing it and posting columns about it.

When I think of Free Agency this year, the first thing that comes to my mind is the huge names: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, etc. But secondly, I start to think about how good this truly is for the NBA. The sports world right now is more then busy: the middle of the baseball season, NFL teams are starting their training camps, the World Cup is going on, and Wimbledon is coming to an end. Amidst all of these events, NBA Free Agency may be receiving the most coverage from the likes of ESPN and other sports news organizations.

This is a great thing for the NBA. At a time when David Stern preaches his want of basketball to be a global sport, this free agent class is definitely helping his cause. When a sport has it’s biggest names without a team and ready to shift league powers with a signature, no matter the result it is great for the league. I heard some people complaining about a potential superteam down in Miami with Wade, James, and Bosh. I heard some people saying that basketball in Cleveland will be destroyed if James leaves, or that the fans of the New York Knicks would be absolutely devastated if the King doesn’t come their way. There are different opinions about the result of this free agent class, but the press that it is getting for the NBA right now is invaluable. People who have never been in touch with the NBA all of a sudden want to know “Where is LeBron going?”. The NBA is taking center stage in the sports world.

Yesterday I was watching SportsCenter on ESPN when a clip of Tiger Woods at a press conference was shown. What was one of the questions? “Where do you want LeBron to go?” Imagine, who some believe to be the great golfer of all-time (or atleast they believe he will be after he retires) is coming off one of the greatest sports scandals, and he is being asked about a player in a completely different sport? That’s when you know the NBA has gone big-time.

Often the NBA is considered the third sports league in America behind the NFL and MLB, respectively. With the interest of people all across the globe being attracted to the free agency situation, the NBA might be able to leapfrog those two leagues in the global limelight. The NFL is by no mean a global sport, while baseball gets imports mainly from Latin American nations and Asian countries. Basketball? Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, the Gasol brothers, even Omri Casspi. The NBA is growing into the global league Stern envisions it to be and free agency will be a huge help to achieving that goal, no matter the results.

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Nets Summer League Roster

By: Victor Nash

For those of you who don’t know, the Nets released their Summer League roster today.

The Summer League is great for developing young players and can get the Nets some talent. Players to watch during the Summer League include, Terrence Williams, Derrick Favors, Damion James, Brian Zoubek, and Wayne Chism.

One player that really interests me the most is Zoubek. He had great character at Duke, and has the potential to be a good backup C for the Nets in the future. He has the tools to be a great rebounder at 7″1 and is also a good shot blocker. If he does well during these five games in Orlando, I think you can expect the Nets to think about giving him a contract.

I also would look for whether Terrence Williams has improved his passing game. This is his team, and I would like to see him show leadership and court vision.

I was interested by the amount of international players and D-Leaguers on the roster. The Nets have two players from Greece, one from Spain, and two from the D-League.

And finally, I would like to see Favors and Jones prove to us that they have the strengths they have shown in college. This should be an interesting team to watch, and one to definitely pay attention to.

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News And Rumors Regarding The Nets

By: Victor Nash

I know that we are  a little late on this, but the Nets have officially waived backup PG Keyon Dooling. This move was already expected and will not change the Nets’ estimated amount of cap space(which is now around 30 mil due to the Yi trade). The Nets now owe Dooling a total of 500,000 dollars. We at The Nets Nation all wish Dooling good luck in the future. He was a class guy in the locker room and really a team player throughout the season, and will definitely be an important piece on a team next year. With all the open roster spots we have, I hope the Nets sign a player like Dooling in the offseason.

In other news, Kris Humphries took his player option, meaning that we have him for another year. This means that he is making 3.2 million next season. This move was also expected, as Hump was not going to get this kind of money any where else, thus not changing the Nets’ estimated cap space. My hope is that the Nets find a way to trade Hump for a second round pick, or lottery protected first(like Marcus Williams) to clear up the necessary cap space needed to sign two max free agents.  This is highly unlikely, though, due to the amount of teams that want to get under the cap. However, even if we keep Hump he could be a good backup to Derrick Favors, or a good third-string, should the Nets sign a marquee FA.

Lastly, I have heard some noise from fans, readers, and pundits questioning whether the Nets should use Derrick Favors as trade bait. This originally sounded like a bad idea to me, considering that we used our 3rd pick on Favors, and he is a huge part of our future. Once I thought about this more, I realized that this could be a good idea. For example….

Let’s say Chris Bosh tells the Raptors that he wants to leave them, and is open to a sign and trade(he has made this clear) because it is a win-win scenario(he gets 30 million more, and the Raptors get some talent in return). The Nets call in and say that they will offer Derrick Favors, a future first rounder, and the Raptors’ choice of Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams, or Damion James, and maybe throw in Hump to even out the salaries. I don’t see another team offering the Raptors a better offer than this, amongst the teams with cap space and the Mavs. With Chris Bosh, the Nets would still have the money to sign one more max free agent. With this kind of supporting cast(Devin Harris, Chris Bosh, Brook Lopez), I think that Dwayne Wade or Lebron James would definitely want to sign with the Nets leading to a dream scenario.

The above scenario is also very unlikely, but something that the Nets would look into if the Raptors wanted a sign and trade with Bosh.  It is also a perfect scenario for any Net fan.

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Filed under Derrick Favors, Free Agency 2010, Miscellaneous

Rod Thorn Stepping Down

By: Adam Callahan

After playing a huge role in the Nets’ development from just another team into back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships, Rod Thorn is walking away from the Nets after the first couple of weeks of Free-Agency 2010. Thorn didn’t bring a championship to New Jersey during his tenure with the Nets, but he certainly brought a winning culture to New Jersey early on in his time with the Nets.

Rod Thorn’s brilliance in executing trades at the right time was always something that he will be remembered for. Rod Thorn was part of the trades bringing Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, and Vince Carter to New Jersey. For Jason Kidd and Chris Dudley, the Nets traded Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman, and Somailia Samake. For Richard Jefferson and Jason Collins, the Nets gave up Brandon Armstrong and Eddie Griffin; also, for Vince Carter the Nets conceded Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, and two future draft picks. Rod Thorn picked the right time to deal these players and by doing so, the Nets are now spenders again with a young core to work with.

Although Rod Thorn is stepping down, he will remain with the Nets for the pivotal first two weeks of free agency. While the Nets are set to meet with the likes of Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire, etc., it is important that they bring their team President and GM with them. I give credit to Rod for understanding this and doing his best to put the Nets in as good a position he can before walking away.

There are many candidates for the Nets do choose to replace Thorn. It is certainly an attractive situation with Mr. Prokhorov’s wallet in play. Some candidates include recently fired Kevin Pritchard, Jerry Colangelo, Sam Presti, and Jeff  Bowers. Thorn’s replacement will have to be hired in timely fashion so that the Nets don’t spend too much time hiring their new President/GM rather than pursuing free agents in one of the best free agent classes ever.

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I’m Very Happy Today

By: John Fraty

I just got some great news regarding the Nets: they traded Yi Jianlian. Needless to say, I’m not Yi’s biggest fan. Besides his lack of prowess on the offensive end, his lack of physicality defensively, and his overall lack of skill on the basketball court, I’m sure he’s a nice guy. All that being said, let’s face it: Yi Jianlian is not a very good basketball player. His faceup game is more than limited and when he tries to go back to the basket it is laughable. We haven’t started talking about his defensive abilities; he is soft, too put it simply.

Yi was not good a transaction for the Nets from the beginning and when they traded him (and $3 million) to the Wizards today for Quint0n Ross  in a salary cap deal. But this is much more than a salary cap deal, this is a deal that will help dictate the style of the Nets next season. When they decided on this (and this is a no-brainer, trust me) the Nets knew that this would send the message that although they struggled mightily last season they are committed to moving forward and finding ways to become a better basketball team overall.

This trade was not about Ross, it was about cap space. With this trade the Nets now have about $30 million in cap space, not enough to sign two max free agents but enough to lure one max free agent and a second tier player. I’m thinking a Rudy Gay and Carlos Boozer combination would be a great one for the Nets, but there are so many other possibilities that could go down. The Nets could hold on to this cap space for the future when Brook Lopez demands big money or if they have to pay Derrick Favors big bucks if he pans out into an All-Star player. Signing a Rudy Gay and keeping on to a significant amount of cap space would be ideal for the Nets in my mind, or they can play it like the Oklahoma City Thunder by continuing to acquire young assets and being able to sign them in the future. Of course, that would mean they would need to keep this core group of players together but if this core could develop in the future this may be huge for the Nets.

All in all, I am very, VERY happy with the transaction and the Nets are showing their fan base that they are willing to cut the dead weight in order to make their future brighter. Ross is a journeyman who has bounced around the league since being signed by the Clippers in ’04-05. He has played for four teams in seven years, but this trade is still a very effective one.

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Nets Bolster Coaching Staff

By: Adam Callahan

With free agency set to take off next week, the Nets have added another valuable piece to their coaching staff. Earlier in June, Avery Johnson was brought in as the new head coach of the New Jersey Nets. Now, Sam Mitchell has been hired as his assistant. Avery Johnson and Sam Mitchell were both former players. A little background on Sam.

Sam Mitchell was drafted in the third round of the 1985 NBA Draft. However, Mitchell began play in the NBA in 1989 where he began with the Timberwolves. He was traded to the Pacers in 1992, and spent three seasons in Indiana. In 1995, Sam was back in a T’Wolves uniform where he served as a mentor to rising star Kevin Garnett. He retired in 2002 and soon became an assistant with Milwaukee until 2004 when he became the top assistant with the Bobcats for a very short stint. Sam was offered the head coaching position of the Toronto Raptors where he won Coach of the Year in 2007 and helped cultivate Chris Bosh, one of the best players in the NBA today.

As we have seen time and time again, all championship teams in this league have a good head coach and a strong staff behind him. In bringing Sam Mitchell on board, I think the Nets have accomplished just that. Avery Johnson is a winner. You can argue that he has not had playoff success, but his winning percentage does not lie. If the Nets were to make the playoffs next year, then the season would be a success. If we take a look at previous teams that won the finals, you see names of established coaches in this league with a strong staff. Names like Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovic, Larry Brown, and Pat Riley come to mind. The Nets front office has done a nice job in putting together the right coaching staff that undoubtedly has the ability to turn it around in Newark next season.

One observation I made when reading up on Sam Mitchell was the very creditable work that he has done with power forwards. Sam helped Kevin Garnett when he was much younger and has done the same with Bosh. Sam Mitchell should be able to do the same with Derrick Favors who is as athletic as both KG and CB4 if not more athletic, along with being a hard worker. Favors seems to have everything that will make Sam Mitchell’s mouth water when he begins working with Derrick. Is Sam Mitchell part of the Nets’ plans to woo Chris Bosh to New Jersey? If Bosh signs do the Nets trade Favors? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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