|New Jersey traded their first round pick to Orlando for Rony
Seikley. In the real draft, the Nets have no pick.Their GM is
who selects: Tyrron Lue, PG, 6-1, Nebraska
I. Team Analysis
The New Jersey Nets. Once a joke, now a team of the future. Here is the recent draft history of the Nets that matters.
The 1997 players took a trip on the Metroliner and returned as Kieth Van Horn. Kittles is becoming a great young SG who is exceeding exceptions and is part of a good future.
Here's the rest.
A couple of good players a bunch of head-cases and some duds and one shining example of untapped potential in Rex Walters whose career was put on hold by the bad attitude and petty grudges and jealously of Kenny Anderson.
Through various transactions over the last two years or so, primarily big trades with Dallas, Orlando, and Philly, the Nets have gone from the team of a bunch of head-cases and a really tall guy that Don Nelson likes to this (cut and paste from ESPNet):
Now this looks like a team. An all-star, a future all-star (maybe two), above average players at every position, a few role players and a lot of depth. Does that translate into a contender? Without going into a detailed analysis of the rest of the Eastern Conference, the answer is probably not. But it is going to be a playoff team for the next five years or so. Most importantly, Yinka Dare will only grace the benches of the Meadowlands four or five times a year.
II Position Analysis
Front-Court Power Position: The Nets have three players who could start at Center or Power Forward in Jayson Williams, Rony Seikaly and Chris Gatling. Williams is an all-star who can rebound with the best of them, defend against most of them and score enough to make the other guy expend energy on defense. Mostly, he's the heart and soul of the team. Unlike nearly everyone on the draft-list, he wants to be a Net. Seikaly can put up big numbers occasionally and disappears other times. But he's going to be the starting center next year. If he's consistent, a combo of him and Williams (starting PF) will be formidable. Gatling, who once complained about starting since it could have ruined his chances at the 6th Man Award, will come off the bench and provide support at the Power Positions. If you noticed, I didn't distinguish between C and PF. Only a handful of teams do these days. Seikaly is more of a center and Williams has played both most of his career. Having three big men who can score and rebound gives the Nets a lot of options which will be explained in the next section. Michael Cage and David Vaughn are also frontcourt players. Cage is old and will probably retire or be waived but he put in some good bench minutes. Vaughn shows some promise and will probably do what Cage has done (rest the starters) with younger legs.
Outside/Slashing Forward Position: Kieth Van Horn. He's 6'10", but until he gains 15 lbs and rebounds better, he cannot be called a power forward. What he can be called is fearless, a slasher, a shooter, and very good. I'd take him over Kevin Garnett (a similar player with lots of potential) any day. He should be the third starter which might be a defensive liability. The other option would be starting him at PF, Williams at C and Gill at SF. Gill, incidentally is the other player worth mentioning in this slot. He's a good shooter, a good slasher, a good defender and a good guy. He's a little short, but was pretty effective all year. Like Williams, he wants to stay in New Jersey. He was on the trading block last year and said he'd rather retire..
Having four players who can start at the three frontcourt positions gives the Nets a lot of flexibility. They can play big (Seikaly, Williams, Van Horn) or small (Williams, Van Horn, and Gill). But since Seikaly has been injured during his tenure as a Net, next year's lineup is not set. Brian Evans is the other SF. He's not quick, not notably strong, but plays smart (he's the epitome of a Bob Knight player) and can shoot. After one game, Calipari told the press that he was ordering Evans to shoot every time he touches the ball. That's good advice. Don MacClean was injured for a good portion of the year. He had one great year with the Bullets then became a bench player. A return to his glory days of four years back would be a pleasant surprise, but it isn't expected. And with the rather deep frontcourt, it isn't crucial.
Shooting Guard: Kerry Kittles, Gill and Lucious Harris. Kittles is a promising young player who sometimes must defer to Cassell and Van Horn but is capable of taking over a game. He'll flirt with the all-star game for a while and is as good or better than Stackhouse and the other young shooting guards. Gill will usually play backup SG before Harris, but Harris is prototypical but not outstanding NBA SG.
Point Guard: Sam Cassell and Sherman Douglas. Two complimentary PGs. Cassell is brash, quick, a great passer and a great scorer. He's scored 30+ points on several occasions and I'm pretty sure the Nets won. If he goes cold or the game needs to be controlled, you bring in Douglas, who can still score (not like Cassell) and distribute the ball. He played very well at the end of the season and hopefully will be back next year. Overall, a very good combo.
Coach/Front Office: Calipari has gotten the Nets back on track. He is still adjusting from the college game. He is learning how to coach adults and the players are beginning to accept his authority. I think a lot of this has to do with Jayson Williams. The two of them clashed in 1997. Williams didn't pull any punches when talking to the media. It wasn't a matter of handling his grievances in the press as much as it was Williams not pulling any punches. But it bridged the gap and the two of them came to an understanding. Now it seems that a lot of the other players are going along and Calipari has stopped treating them like kids. It might help that Kittles and Van Horn don't have huge egos and they are the future of the team. As an X&Os coach, he's good. They made the playoffs despite losing a lot of close games that experience will win in the future. Personnel moves have been entirely positive in the last few years. Comparing the line-up in 1996 to 1998 shows that they are serious. The old lineup was a bunch of mediocre players with big salaries.
What does the future hold? Here is some contract information (purloined from Patricia Bender's site and ESPN):
Free Agents (espn) F-C Jayson Williams G Sherman Douglas F David Vaughn
So, it looks like the core will be around for a few more. However, it is absolutely imperative that they re-sign Jayson Williams. I think they're offering about $8-10 million/year and he wants about $15. I'm certain management will re-sign him at a good deal. He's the powertrain of the team and since they are able to offer him more than any other team (Larry Bird rule), it will merely be a battle of egos. They'll probably settle around $12M per year.
Douglas is a different story. I am pretty sure that the Nets can only offer him a limited amount, less than his market value of probably $1.5-2.5M/year, as he excelled as a backup PG and really kicked butt against the Bulls in the playoffs. If it is possible to keep him around, it would be great. There aren't that many good backup PGs on the market this year. There are quite a few who can fill out a roster spot, but not that many you'd want running a team. I've been a fan of Terry Porter's for a long time and he might be good for a one year fix. But, he's really old. However, names like Reggie Geary, Reggie Jordan, and Doug Overton don't exactly inspire confidence. Anthony Goldwire or Greg Anthony might be a possibility. Travis Best would be ideal, but he might be out of reach (if they can afford him, they can afford Douglas). Basically, the Nets need to insure another year of 48 minutes of solid and sometimes spectacular PG play.
It wouldn't be bad to have Vaughn around. He probably won't get much more than minimum from any team.
|III. What do the Nets
Experience. With a roster like this (assuming the PG spot remains solid) this team has as bright of a future as Miami or Cleveland. The Knicks and Pacers are aging fast and the Hornets and Hawks are in flux next year. Someone has to take over the East when the Bulls fall apart at the seams and it may as well be the Nets. Of course it is dependent on Van Horn and Kittles blooming into All-Stars and every other player continuing to play at their level. Calipari is learning how to manage himself and the team and if he sticks around (there are rumors about him burning out), the future looks bright.
I had no player or position in mind until I realized that the PG spot was fragile a few days ago when I read an article about the Knicks PG situation. It seems Douglas is on the Knicks wish list. But he's not a starter and that's what the Knicks need with Ward being an ideal backup. I figured I'd just take the best player available since there was so much depth at every position and I wasn't going to find a superstar in the second round.
IV. My Selection
So, the choice is pretty obvious...
Tyrron Lue. In the context of the mock draft, he works perfectly in two ways. He's the highest ranked player available and he fits the team's potential needs. The Magic took their pick and turned it into Jason Williams of Florida, who is probably who I would have picked with the same pick (basically going up the list of available PGs). I chose him over Alston and S. Williams because of his quickness. He can score in bunches. In college, he would shoot even if he was cold. But that wouldn't happen in the NBA since he seemed pretty cacheable.
V. Others Considered
Here is a list of who is available that was ranked from 20-40 by ESPN (first list) or Owen O'Malley (2nd list):
My opinion on the players and whether or not they'd fit in with the Nets.
R. Patterson - Good scorer, athlete, and defender. I seem to recall some "citizenship" problems (I don't remember if it was the police, NCAA, or Cincy). Not a starter, but a contributor. Does he do anything Gill can't do? No. Can he do more than Lucious Harris? Since neither Harris, Kittles or Brian Evans is physical defender, yes.
Lue - Similar to Nick Van Exel without the baggage. Very quick, good defender. A zone could shut him down, but the NBA is one on one and he would not be the focus of a defense. He is more like Cassell than Douglas in the sense that he's more of an individual than a team player. But he's the best PG available in the second round.
Alston - He's gotten a lot of got press lately, apparently making a good impression on the Knicks with his game and personality.
Williams - Is he a PG or SG? Played SG, but can play the point. Not as good of a PG as Lue.
I don't see any reason to go any further. These two are the only ones on this list that could contribute to the Nets. The big frontcourt positions are deep with Williams, Siekaly, Gatling, Van Horn, and Vaughn/Cage/MacClean. None of the guys listed could crack that lineup. The combo of Gill, Kittles, Evans, and Harris is good, but Patterson could slip in since he offers things that Harris and Evans don't have. If Douglas can't be re-signed, Kittles is the backup PG and that won't go very far in the playoffs (which is the goal of the Nets).
VI. What will the Nets likely do?
Nothing this week. They have no draft picks, having used them to essentially build their current team.
Once July 1st rolls around and all contracts that will expire do expire, they will have to find a way to keep Douglas or find a replacement.
Free Agents? See above. Ideally re-signing Douglas, but if Salary Cap restrictions prevent this (and the article in the NY Post last week implied they would), someone else must be brought in.
Trades? Kittles, Gill, Siekaly, Williams, Van Horn and Cassell are out of the question. Gill would be expendable if he hadn't claimed he'd retire if traded, limiting his trade value. Any of the rest for a good backup PG would be a good trade if Douglas leaves.
Other than that, the Nets are in good shape and should only get better, even without a pick in this year's draft.