proko putin

Nets exec says team could play preseason games in Russia

Nets board of directors member Sergei Kushchenko said Brooklyn could play preseason games in Russia in the future.

Kushchenko told Russia’s Itar-TASS news agency that exhibition games between the Nets and Russian-based VTB United League teams are “possible.”

Kushchenko is also the president of the VTB league.

Brian Erni

Oh, and what great timing, too! Without delving too much into the current geopolitical landscape, suffice it to say that right now wouldn’t exactly be the best time for this little experiment. I know the principle owner of this team is Russian, and many who sit on the board are as well. I’m also aware that expanding the brand into a foreign land is always high up on any team’s list of priorities, but is particularly important to this team. But I suspect that the Players Association, the league, and maybe even some Nets themselves would have something to say about this happening any time soon.

Kirilenko backtracks on Kidd criticism, but he shouldn’t

Brian Erni

This week, Andrei Kirilenko made waves by openly criticizing Jason Kidd for bolting to Milwaukee, as well as his seemingly-flightiness with rotations and playing time. But AK47 told Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York that he didn’t mean for his comments to be construed in that way.

“It sounds in the [SovSport] article like I have a negativity [in regards to Kidd leaving], but that’s completely untrue,” Kirilenko told Mazzeo. “We’ve been discussing why it happened — because I don’t know why it happened — but we’re just speculating. We don’t know what the real reason is from Jason’s point-of-view.”

ak47 dribble“It’s tough to kind of judge him because he obviously came into a lot of pressure,” Kirilenko continued. “New York is a city with a lot of legends and a lot of history, and every move you make is under a microscope. So I guess it’s easier for the coach to start [fresh] with a younger group of guys, with his own vision, in a smaller city where you don’t have that much pressure. And I think that’s what Jason’s doing now.”

That’s all well and good, but there’s no reason for Kirilenko to come off his public criticism of Kidd. Kirilenko obviously wasn’t a big Kidd fan. Between the “Kiddin’ like Jason” Instagram post to some less-than-glowing remarks to The Brooklyn Game back in January, it seems like there was a riff there. So while Kirilenko probably doesn’t want bad blood between him and Kidd, it’s not necessary that he clarify these comments. In fact, I wish he hadn’t.

From a player’s view, I can see why you’d want to lash out at Kidd. A year ago, he came back as the prodigal son, got his number retired, bought an ownership stake, the whole nine yards. Less than 12 months later, it was fleshed out as a mirage. It wasn’t about the organization that he took to back-to-back Finals, or the players that helped cultivate his rookie season into a successful one. The same players that didn’t quit on him when they easily could have packed it in after a beleaguered November and December. Instead, he made a powerplay steeped in ego, one that — nearly a month later — still seems both equal parts amusing and surreal. So I don’t blame a guy who took less money to play for the Nets coming out and asking a simple, “Why?”

If Kidd wants to act like he’s as accomplished as someone like Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich, then he can take the criticism that comes with that greatness. Especially from a veteran who seems to feel like he never knew what his role was in a season that flamed out in the second round. Kirilenko is entitled to his opinion, primarily — in my eyes — because it’s a valid one. Maybe Kidd would just rather be a big fish in a small pond. So AK, stick to your guns. Because Nets fans are squarely behind you.


Michael Jenkins accepts a training camp invite from Nets

Michael Jenkins has accepted a training camp invitation from the Nets, agent Daniel Moldovan of Entersport tweeted out on Monday.

Hoops Rumors speculates the deal is “likely the standard non-guaranteed one-year deal for the minimum salary that most camp invitees receive.”

Jenkins averaged 6.8 points in 15.7 minutes per game with the Nets summer league team. This past season he averaged 10.3 points and 25.9 minutes per game with Pallacanestro Cantu of Italy.

Brian Erni

Jenkins definitely has a shot in making the roster. His biggest competition should be Markel Brown, Xavier Thames and Cory Jefferson, who were all selected by the Nets in the second round last month. Of those three, Brown made the biggest impression in the summer league, but Jenkins could be a valuable piece for depth at shooting guard. At Winthrop, he developed nicely into a 13-14 point per game player in his junior and senior year, and the Nets can never have too much insurance with Alan Anderson possibly due for a regression and Joe Johnson’s age always a factor. Just a nice little move that bears watching as we gear up for camp.

What does rebuilding in the New York market look like? A lot like these Nets

Brian Erni

It’s the same tired song and dance. A New York team hits their ceiling short of a championship, and it’s time to reverse course. Yet, somehow, the old refrain always billows down in identical fashion: “You can’t rebuild in New York.” I’m here to tell you that you can, and the Nets are… and they’ll still be competitive.

Here’s a secret: the idea that you can’t rebuild in New York is really, really dumb. Despite what you hear on WFAN, the New York fan is pretty savvy. Most understand that the way to build a long, sustained period of success is crafting an organization that is fiscally responsible, has a core of homegrown talent, and stability in the front office. Whether it was the Islanders dynasty of the ’80s, the Mets crafting the best record in baseball from ’84-’89, or the Yankees winning four titles in a five year span, that’s how you get the job done. The economics vary based on the intricacies of each league’s collective bargaining agreement, but the premise remains the same. Start from a clean slate, building it back up again, then spend money retaining that talent and adding a key piece or two.hollins king

The problem is somewhere during that Yankees run of championships, the collective New York zeitgeist decided that 12 million people magically overnight morphed into Veruca Salt and, “I WANT A CHAMPIONSHIP NOW, DADDY!” It got worse when both front offices and the collective New York fan consciousness bought into it, so much so that as recently as Friday when I was talking to my Knicks fan friend, he insisted the Knicks should double down on acquisitions because, “You can’t rebuild in New York.” This phenomenon is to blame for almost every cringe-worthy acquisition in New York sports history from Mo Vaughn and Hideki Irabu to Gerald Wallace and Andrea Bargnani.

However, a happy medium to rebuilding has emerged of late. A sort of hybrid system of rebuilding, never more prevalent than in the NBA. A way to bridge that gap to a brighter future, while staying competitive and not necessarily tanking to enter the lottery.

To read more of this story, click here


AK47 thinks Nets will ‘seriously compete’ for title

Andrei Kirilenko had no idea what to expect from Jason Kidd, and he thinks the Nets will seriously compete for the NBA crown this season.

Kirilenko told Russian sports tabloid SovSport (h/t NetsDaily) that the Nets goal is still to bring a championship for Brooklyn, that he was relieved he wasn’t a part of the Nets’ abysmal stretch to open the season, and that he is confident in the hiring of Lionel Hollins.

“We intend to seriously compete for the title,” Kirilenko stated matter-of-factly about the team’s chances next season.

Kirilenko also seemingly took a shot at Jason Kidd, who his wife famously criticized on Instagram during Game 1 of the Nets’ first round series against the Raptors for keeping Kirilenko on the bench. He said the team never knew what to expect with Kidd at the helm and called the Nets’ second round exit a “failure.”

“When Kidd led the team, no one knew what to expect from him,” Kirilenko said. “It is clear that he had huge experience as a player, but there was no coaching experience.”

Kirilenko also said he believes his Olympic teammate and one of the newest members of the Nets, Sergey Karasev, will thrive in his new home:

“[...] Cleveland never put put Sergey on the floor,” Kirilenko explained. “It’s hard to achieve something without taking part in the games. I’m sure on the Nets that will change. Our new head coach Lionel Hollins will necessarily give Karasev a chance to prove himself.”

Brian Erni

Wow, this is certainly a revealing interview. First, I’m stoked to hear Kirilenko talk about Karasev so glowingly. I think many of us forget that Karasev is a first round talent that Cleveland may have given away in haste during their pursuit of LeBron James. He has all the makings of a lights out NBA shooter, and the Nets now have an opportunity to cultivate two first round picks (Plumlee and Karasev) and potentially build a solid young core. It’s excited to say the least.

Meanwhile, Jason Kidd really makes friends everywhere he goes, huh? It’s incredible to see some of the critiques out of the organization and some of its players after Kidd bolted for Milwaukee. He may have been respected, but I’m not sure how well he was really liked. Either way, one of the team’s veterans coming out and reinforcing those championship goals didn’t bolt to Wisconsin with Kidd, nor Washington with Pierce, is expected, but still good to hear as a fan. This team is going to have plenty of talent, and with the East still Kevin Love-less, it’s very much up for grabs.


Plumlee to train with U.S. team

Mason Plumlee will be a member of the U.S. select team that will practice against the men’s national team later this month in preparation for the FIBA World Cup this fall.

Plumlee was a first team All-Rookie selection and averaged 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season for the nets. He averaged 18 PPG in the recently completed Orlando Summer League earlier this month.  Playing on the select team is seen as a gateway into the pool for the national team. Current Team USA players such as Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving once practiced with the select team.

The FIBA World Cup — formerly known as the World Championships — will be held on Aug. 30 – Sept. 14 in Spain. Irving heads Team USA.

Brian Erni

I’m really excited about the prospect of Plumlee getting some more mentoring to help with his development. Last year, Plumlee really seemed to benefit being around veteran basketball minds, and that was never more evident when he stepped in for Kevin Garnett while KG was battling his back spasms. Now, he’ll get an up close and personal look at the national team; guys who are performing at the top of their game and have gone through the growing pains of being a young player in the NBA. This can only help, and I’m glad he’ll have the opportunity.

Checking in on the balance of power in the East

Brian Erni

It’s a brave new world in the East. The offseason may be far from over, with at least one big name star (Kevin Love) still in limbo, but the free agency dominoes have largely fallen. So where does that leave the landscape of the Eastern Conference?

Obviously, the Cavs are the biggest beneficiaries of the summer wheeling-and-dealing. The prodigal son has returned, and within LeBron’s redemption still looms the very real possibility of Love coming on board. The under-the-radar move of the summer of Cleveland? The addition of Mike Miller, who was so big for Miami in its 2013 title, and whose absence was just as glaring in its 2014 defeat. It just makes Cleveland all the more dangerous. That’s even before Ray Allen inks anywhere, and Cleveland seems like the most likely destination. I don’t think anyone would argue that they’ll be much, much better.lebron cavs

Meanwhile, Miami did its best to keep the infrastructure — which, in this year’s playoff run, looked cracked at its best, crumbly at its worse —  in tact. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are returning, and Luol Deng came on board to help do whatever he can to offset the loss of the best player in the world. In Chicago, the Bulls snatched Pau Gasol and brought over Montenegro-born Nikola Mirotic from Spain. That should help provide Derrick Rose, in whatever form he is able to return in this year, some insulation. But the biggest piece to fall outside of the King may be Indiana’s loss of Lance Stephenson, as the meme-making extraordinaire inked a deal with the resurrected Charlotte Hornets.

So while the rest of the East ensures executives at U-Haul or Mayflower can pad their coffers, where does it leave the Nets, who looked so much like a team built for a one year window, then a lengthy transition?

Well, the result of an shocking power struggle has Lionel Hollins manning the helm, while Jason Kidd takes up residency in the most desired of locales: Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Shaun Livingston and Paul Pierce are out, while Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, and Bojan Bogdanovic are in, and that spells one thing: Transition is here.

The Nets certainly got more malleable in their lineup on the wings, where they have some room to get a player with superstar potential (Karasev) meaningful minutes, give Mirza Teletovic the chance he has earned, and see what Bogdanovic can do. But in a league where “transition” usually equates losing years and bad times, that may not be the case. The Nets could potentially from a healthy Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, two players who have really not seen the floor together while either is at their best. They’ll play slower, and Lopez’s resumed presence in the middle could give Williams more opportunities to drive the rim. And there’s always Joe Johnson, who has only gotten finer with age.

That’s why I’m not panicking. The weakening of the Heat bring them down towards the rest of the pack. Yes, is D-Wade is healthy, Miami is still very good, but Wade is pretty much done, and Miami got by mostly on guile, experience, and LeBron before running into the San Antonio buzz saw. Even the second round series with the Nets could have had a different result if not for Miami’s experience closing out games. Indiana should experience a set back, too, and who knows which Paul George shows up. Washington, with another year under Bradley Beal and John Wall’s belt — along with Pierce’s tutelage — should be significantly better than a five seed, and of the non-playoff teams, I do believe the Charlotte takes a significant move forward, but there’s not much after that. The Knicks are in full salary blow off mode and, Carmelo or not, I can’t see much better than an eighth of ninth place finish.

So even with all the comings and goings, to me, the Nets find themselves exactly where they did at the middle of April: a middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference team that needs a break or a D-Will and Brook Lopez renaissance to get a little hot and lucky in the postseason. That might not be exciting, but it’s competitive. And unlike Miami, there’s no obvious number 1 here, leaving the field wide open. Who knows. This window could be open a bit longer than anyone thought.

christmas jerseys 2014

Nets 2014 Christmas jersey revealed

The design for the 2014 Christmas Day jerseys have leaked, thanks to Paul Lukas at UniWatch.

The concept art for the designs were taken from the adidas catalog, and Lukas has confirmed their authenticity.

Last season, the league wore sleeved uniforms, with large, monochrome logos on the front and numbers on the left sleeve.

To see the complete collection of 2014 Christmas uniforms, click here.

Brian Erni

As many of you know, Lukas is the standard bearer for this kind of news. He’s the only full time uniform reporter, and he does one heck of a job. Last year, we worked together in conjunction to bring last year’s Christmas design to light, and I’m pleased to see him all over the story as a Uni Watch exclusive this season.

At first glance, my thoughts: I enjoy that there aren’t sleeves. I think the contrasting nameplate is a nice touch, however I really wish that they would have kept in it its traditional place above the numbers. Also, it’s a design like this that makes me lament the fact that the Nets don’t have a broader color scheme. I wish there was an outline to make the numbers pop a bit more, but that’s a whole other conversation. The Nets will also have a “pride” uniform for next season, one that is rumored to look like a Dr. J-era jersey rendered in black-and-white, but that design has not been confirmed yet.

pierce again

How Paul Pierce became a Wizard

The departure of Jason Kidd and a trip to Vegas by an ex-teammate both played a role in Paul Pierce moving to Washington.

Buried in his piece on the NBA’s free agency winners and losers, Zach Lowe has a nugget about how Pierce became a Washington Wizard.

“The Wiz didn’t have Paul Pierce in the bag when they drew a line in the sand on [Trevor] Ariza, but they had intel that Pierce would be amenable to moving after the Jason Kidd fiasco, per sources familiar with the situation,” Lowe said. “They put on the full-court press, sending Sam Cassell, a former teammate in Boston, to visit Pierce in Vegas [where Pierce was competing in the World Series of Poker], and having Marcin Gortat, John Wall, and others pepper him with texts and calls.”

Brian Erni

Huh, and Washington didn’t even had to crib any potions out of the Half Blood Prince’s book. (Sorry, had to.)

The departure of Pierce really is the signaling of a new era in Brooklyn, one that I believe will forsake aging veterans in exchange for fresh-faced youngsters and future assets. And while Pierce packing himself up for a trip down I-95 seems like a set back, the Nets seem to be insulated enough to absorb the hit at forward. The one thing that I worry about it Kidd’s role in all of this. Kidd was obviously well liked by the players, even if he seemed to evolve into a a Machiavellian with little glints of sociopath-like tendencies when it came to relating to the front office. So as the Nets begin down a new path,I think it’s fair to ask when Lionel Hollins brings that same appeal to incoming players that Kidd did.

Ultimately, the chance to win is usually the biggest lure to free agents, and if the Nets had a player of John Wall’s talent, things may have been different, coaching situation be damned. But considering Brooklyn will probably set their sights on a very lofty goal in the coming years, it’s worth wondering if they’re more or less attractive now than before.