Category Archives: Rumor Central

What if the Nets Never Got Deron Williams

By: Dylan Mendelowitz (@mendnba)

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012, a day that would forever change the Brooklyn Nets franchise. After two years of gathering win-now talent to convince him to stay, Deron Williams announced via Twitter his intentions to resign with the Brooklyn, instead of signing with his hometown Dallas Mavericks.

 

Nearly two full years later, the results have been underwhelming. Williams has dealt with numerous ankle injuries, and his play has been less than stellar. Brooklyn has yet to receive the $100 million man they thought they were getting when Williams was signed to a max contract, and while they have made the playoffs both seasons, they have finished well below expectations (especially in year 2), getting eliminated in the first and second rounds in their first two seasons.

 

Deron’s poor play and injury struggles bring up countless questions, on and off the court. An interesting one: What if Deron actually did leave for Dallas? What would the Nets roster look like today? Would they be better off?
Before Deron made his decision to re-sign, the Nets made several moves, getting big time players to try and entice Williams to stay, leaving them with a few core pieces, whether he stayed or not. If Deron had bolted for Dallas, Brooklyn would have been left with a core of Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. A solid lineup, but nothing special. While some reports surfaced that the Joe Johnson trade was contingent on Deron’s resigning, the Nets were also hellbent on bringing a winner to Brooklyn immediately. The trade for Joe: floatsam of expiring contracts and draft pick swap options for Joe Johnson – fits Billy King’s M.O. and I believe it still would have went down.

 

Deron was far and away the best player, and specifically point guard on the free agent market. There were other decent options, however, many of which the Nets were expected to pursue had Deron left. These players include names like Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, Goran Dragic, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and a few other notables. While none of these were labeled as “stars” (sans Nash, who was much older), most were solid backup plans if Williams decided to leave. The most likely of the bunch seemed to be Jeremy Lin, who was coming off a breakout performance as a New York Knick, and is a big name who became very popular all throughout the world. With the Nets intent on making a splash immediately in Brooklyn, and Goran Dragic nowhere near the level he is at now, my money is on Lin being Brooklyn’s first starting point guard had Deron bolted.

 

So say Deron left, and Brooklyn outbids Houston for the services of Jeremy Lin. This leaves them with a backcourt of Jeremy Lin and Joe Johnson, and a frontcourt containing Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. Not so good looking, eh?

 

Of course, we know ended up happening to each player in that projected lineup. Jeremy Lin went to Houston, and has been decent, but has not been the special force he was during Linsanity. Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez worked out, as Johnson went on to become “Joe Jesus”, while Lopez became an All-Star. Wallace and Humphries, not as successful, as both have underwhelming seasons, the latter losing his starting job to Reggie Evans. While things could have worked out differently for each player if Deron really did leave, the lineup and roster looks less than stellar. Also notable: a key aspect to the trade for Pierce and Garnett was that both players desired playing with Deron. So last year’s team likely did not have them, Kirilenko (who came because of the trade), or Thornton (who was acquired for Terry, who came through the trade), if Deron is not here. Do the 2013-2014 Nets, who essentially finished as the east’s third or fourth best team, even make the playoffs without the Deron trade?

 

Perhaps the Nets could have been good without Deron, or even better than the Nets of this or last season. Maybe Jeremy Lin becomes an All-Star as a Net. Maybe Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries play better with Lin quarterbacking the offense. There’s really no way to tell, but whether it was Lin, Nash (what a disaster that would have been), Dragic or any other point guard available in the 2012 off-season, it doesn’t look as if the Nets roster would be better off without Deron.

 

It’s easy to blame Deron Williams for the Nets’ failures over the past two seasons. He hasn’t lived up to his contract or former “superstar” title, and in the world’s biggest sports market, New York City, Deron’s struggles have been even more evident and publicized. But the New York media and social media leads people to believe he’s been downright terrible.

 

Truth is, Deron has been an average point guard. Not great, not terrible, but average. Average play from the point guard, dealing with chronic ankle pain (being repaired with surgery this offseason), isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Sure, he isn’t living up to his max contract and hasn’t taken the Nets as far as they were expected to go, but he really hasn’t been THAT bad.

 

After dual ankle surgery this offseason, I expect Deron to come back strong next season. Will he ever be the Deron of Utah? Probably not. But a healthy Deron Williams, regaining his confidence and explosiveness, is still capable of being a very good basketball player. He doesn’t need to carry the team, he doesn’t need to be the superstar Deron, but a good Deron Williams, will lead to a good Brooklyn Nets team.
The Brooklyn Nets would not be a better basketball team with Deron Williams in Dallas. The player he would be replaced with would be significantly less talented and would not have made the Nets any better off. One year from now, all of this talk of the Nets being better off without him will be nonsense. Deron Williams will bounce back and have a good year next year.

You can hold me to that.

 

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So What’s Next

Whether we should have known as the tea leaves came in or not, we know now.  The Nets are going to be watching the balance ledger going forward.  They may not be tanking and will look to compete.  But the budget matters, and the goal of opening cap space for the summer of 2016: the summer of a mega free agent class of 2016, a cap which should be higher, and a landscape presenting the Nets with something they currently lack: options.

So what do the do in the interim?

I. The Roster

PG: Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack, Jorge Gutierrez (Nonguaranteed), Marquis Teague

SG: Joe Johnson, Markel Brown (if signed), Xavier Thames (if signed)

SF: Andrei Kirilenko, Bojan Bogdanovic (reportedly signed), Sergey Karasev

PF: Kevin Garnett (if he sticks around), Mirza Teletovic, Cory Jefferson (if signed)

C: Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee

Of note, if you include Bogdanovic and all three second round picks, that’s 15 men, right there.  The Nets could conceivably stand pat right now, sign all three second rounders, and make no changes to the roster.  I do not foresee Thames making the roster, and Jefferson is likely to at least have to fight for a camp invite.  So I do see the Nets at least testing the free agency waters, to see who they can add.  But with only the minimum to spend, the shopping is going to be light.

II. The Cap Sheet

There’s only two deals on the ledgers for 2016 for guaranteed money: Deron Williams, and Bogdanovic if his deal is as reported.  While Deron has a player option for $22,331,135 (gulp), he is likely to exercise it because he’s not worth that money.  Maybe he’ll be truly franchise dedicated, opt out, and take less so the Nets have more flexibility that summer: I’ll hold my breath.

The other thing: there is not much the Nets can do on the trade market if they would like to get younger and cheaper.  Bogdanovic, Plumlee, Karasev, Teague, Gutierrez, Brown, Jefferson, and Thames? Those are pieces you keep around if you want to remain young and cheap.  Could the Nets entertain a trade? Sure. But the goal is also to leave the 2016 cap sheet free and clear, and those assets without control over tradeable first round picks leave the Nets short on assets for a significant piece.

Deron, Brook, and Joe occupy about $63 million of salary in 2015-2016: the Nets are basically anchored down to this roster so long as they have all 3 players.  The Nets could very well kick the tires around on any of the 3, especially if the goal is to cut costs. That would surely be dramatic.  But the only way to reshape the roster, and the financial picture, BEFORE 2016, is to deal at least one of those three pieces for an expiring contract. Otherwise, the Nets are looking at an offseason next summer in which they will flirt with the tax line, and will likely be limited to the full midlevel exception and biannual exception in adding to the roster.

Is dealing Deron Joe or Brook smart? That’s an open question, and my answer is probably not.  But if you want a roster makeover before 2016, that is the way.

The Nets payroll for 2015-16 as of now: approximately $72,311,663: the tax this summer was at $77 million and will be a bit higher next summer, so the Nets are ALREADY flirting with it…and that’s with 10 roster spots to fill.  That number is deceivingly low.

Picking up team options on Plumlee (no brainer), Karasev and Gutierrez (possible), and Teague (doubtful) increases the payroll by about $1.5 million per player. We have not included contracts yet for the Nets second round picks of this summer, any free agents they sign this summer, OR the Nets first round pick and second round pick next year: those numbers will spike the payroll up higher, and now you’re flirting with the tax. Now, the Nets would have decisions to make on their own free agents: Garnett is likely to hang them up next summer if he does not now, and the Nets would then have to decide on Teletovic and Kirilenko going forward: are they worth paying? For how long? Will they accept 1 year deals to not cloud 2016? If they won’t, are they worth clouding the 2016 cap picture? That probably depends on what the cap is expected to be, and is contingent on if Deron is traded (given his salary commitment beyond 2016. No easy answers here.

Given all that, and the hard cap placed on teams that use their MLE, the Nets face a salary crunch next summer where they’re seemingly set to be unable to add more to the roster.

All of which makes the Jarrett Jack trade puzzling, now that we know the Nets’ plans are to cut costs?  Sure the Nets could have used more behind Deron than Gutierrez and Teague.  But Jack struggled a year ago.  The Nets could have used the league minimum on a Toure Murry, a Shelvin Mack, or someone of that ilk (they’re out there: Livingston was a minimum signing after all) with upside, to play backup point guard.  They’d be looking at 70-80% of Jack’s production, but for 10% of the cost.  And when you’re cutting costs, losing players to a numbers game, worried about your financials going forward: that matters.  Given the salary constraints I just outlined, the $6,300,000 owed to Jack in 2015-2016 is a thorn in the side of the Nets tea building nets summer. Costs matter, especially when you say they matter, and there were better value signings than Jack out there given the Nets’ goals of financial flexibility.

And that only breeds more questions: is Teletovic dealt for draft picks? Kirilenko for a second rounder if that’s even scrounge-able.  These were incredulous questions 17 hours ago. Not now.

It’s a new day in Brooklyn. #HelloCostCutting

Paul Pierce Gone: A Rudderless Organization

Paul Pierce is gone. And the reason he is gone, based on multiple reports, is clear. According to David Aldridge, Pierce preferred becoming a Net or Clipper, but neither option materialized, so he became a Wizard. Apparently the Nets did not want Pierce anymore, in their choice to be more frugal given what was an outrageously expensive roster. By all accounts he wanted to be here, and he’s gone because the Nets did not want him: not the other way around.

My problem is pretty simple. I know the CBA. I understand that with the tax rules the way they are, the tax can become so prohibitive it may as well be a hard cap. I understand that if you go over it regularly, you become a repeater tax team, only spiking the penalties. Thereby, the spending of last season was unsustainable, as a long term thing. I have looked at the CBA, and I do not make any presumptions about the Nets, their wallets, or what they can or should do with their money, without that basis.

With that, I will say this: this decision from the Nets to deliberately watch Pierce walk out the door is ridiculous, and shows that the Nets do not have a plan.

The Nets in trading for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry, traded away three first round draft picks. THREE. First round picks are cheap. You have the player for years. You get the opportunity to grow and develop a young player, making likely between $900,00 and $2.5 million, and if he’s good, you get more on court value than that. The Nets dealt that for Paul Pierce’s $15.3 million salary. For Kevin Garnett’s $12 million salary — and in doing it VOLUNTARILY PICKED UP his $12 million option for 2014-2015. For Terry’s $5.6 million salary coming off a season in which he was nowhere near worth that — just to get the deal done.

Here’s the thing: the spending never stopped. They traded nonguranteed deals for Toko Shengelia and Tyshawn Taylor to get Marquis Teague, whose guaranteed for this year. They broke Terry and Reggie Evans’ smaller deals into $8,697,500 in salary for Marcus Thornton.

Oh, they did not even stop there. Likely staring at some cap space next offseason given the rising cap, the Nets could have watched Thornton roll off their books next summer. They chose not to, and VOLUNTARILY traded Thornton for Jarrett Jack’s toxic contract, putting $6,300,000 on their books next year. That’s no small commitment when you have Deron and Joe Johnson on your team: we’re talking about, at best, a third guard here.

These are not the types of moves teams make when they’re cutting costs. Look at the deals around the league. Teams are hoarding first round picks. If you want to keep costs manageable, you need the ability to add cheap talent to your team. The best way to do that is the draft. Teams looking to cut costs don’t trade picks: they amass them. Teams looking to cut costs don’t deal toxic contracts on 1 year deals for toxic contracts on 2 year deals which eat more salary: they keep the guy rolling off the books.

Yet, here the Nets are, pitching to all of us that they have to cut their costs. Sure, the team was cost prohibitive. But here’s the thing. If you trade for Paul Pierce, and you KNOW he’s becoming a free agent, you KNOW you’re going to have to pay him to keep him. According to sources, Pierce wanted $9-10 million per year, and now is playing for about $5.5 million per year in Washington. That’s a commitment you KNOW you’re going to have to make when you do the deal, especially when you threw first rounders in the deal.

Brooklynites, think of it this way. You’re in sheepshead bay, heading to Mill Basin. You get on the highway by exit 8, headed east. There’s a ton of traffic, so you get off at exit 9, Knapp Street: “I’m taking the streets!” Then you’re taking the streets and say “well I can’t take the streets, there’s red lights!”

Isn’t that ridiculous! You know when you get off the highway and take the streets, that there will be redlights: that’s how streets work. Maybe you should’ve thought about that when exiting the highway.

That’s the Nets here. If it’s too cost prohibitive to pay Paul and Kevin beyond one year, when you’re already paying Deron Brook and Joe, that’s understandable. If that’s the case, you don’t do the deal. The Nets made a BIG trade here. Trading three first round picks, for three players like this is a BIG deal. You don’t make a franchise altering, cap and balance sheet altering transaction like this, and ask questions later!

The Nets apparently, did.

That is why I am incredibly incensed at the choice not to retain Paul Pierce. I understand the financial ramifications: the Nets clearly do now, but they SHOULD HAVE when they made the deal. That they would need to pay Paul $9 million or so (let’s use the number his agent leaked) to keep him: that’s got to be known when you make the deal, not discovered a year later. Just like when you’re on the highway, you know that if you take the streets, you’ll hit red lights. Or that if you get a sandwich with turkey mayo cheese and nothing else, that your sandwich won’t have ham on it. This is basic logic.

I supported the Boston deal but in light of this, it made absolutely no sense. If you’re going to need to dial spending back, to keep costs under control, you simply do not make the deal. You decide the draft picks are too important, and either push for getting the deal done without them (or with maybe just one of them), or just don’t deal at all. Instead, the Nets are like that 13 year old girl who opens a credit card, buys Macy’s, and flips out when she gets a big bill. “I thought the card was paying”!

To add insult to injury, Paul Pierce makes less money over the next two seasons than Jarrett Jack does. The Nets could have simply kept Pierce, not done the Jack deal, signed a point guard for the league minimum as their backup — Steve Blake got $2.1 per so the Nets could have gotten someone – and put a bow on the offseason.

I’ve said it and will say it again. My issue is not the general fact of the Nets choosing to cut costs: they probably need to. It’s that you don’t deal first round picks for players you know you can’t keep down the road due to costs, and that cost cutting franchises don’t deal 1 year bad deals for 2 year bad deals. It shows a total lack of direction.

The Nets complain they have no identity, but this only makes finding an identity harder.

This just calls into question: why was the deal made? Was it all a headline grab. Was it a all in push for one season knowing they’d be unable to keep it together. Everything is called into question.

All along, I thought the plan was to spend, try to remain competitive through 2016, and then use that established winning culture, together with the lure of New York City, to reel in free agents with their cap room — or at least remake the roster. That’s a kind of crazy plan, yes: but a plan is a plan, at least.

Right now, there apparently is no plan. Well, maybe there is: taking lame jabs at the Knicks about having a practice facility in the city.

And on that note, maybe it’s time to stop worrying about the Knicks. Everyone loves to say that the organizations are competitors, and I understand that. There’s only a certain number of people in New York. Both want to maximize how many they get. So it leads to a political game between the franchises.

That needs to stop. Worrying about the Knicks, or anyone else, is getting tired. Did the Nets make this deal because the Knicks won a playoff series, so the Nets felt they had to keep pace, or win a headline, or something? Who knows? But that practice facility jab doesn’t sit right with me.

Maybe the Nets think that’s how they have to run their business. But you know what happens to the shiny new restaurant with cool promotions and cool giveaways to the customers? It goes under, because it’s unsustainable.

There is only one way to truly win market share, to win over the fanbase: to win, and win on a regular basis. This is New York City: people care what your team is doing. If you win, people come to the games. People buy tickets. People believe you know what you’re doing. People may even choose to watch you over the other team, because people like to watch teams that win. The Nets need to worry about that, not the other stuff.

Maybe some will say I am being too harsh. But if you have followed me and read my work, you know that I will always defend this team … when my heart is in it. I defended the Boston trade when it was made. I defended it during 10-21, during 44-38, during round 2 against Miami. During the offseason. I defend Deron: yes, I know he needs to play better, but I said the Nets shouldn’t deal him, believe he can get back to the Deron he was. I defended Billy many a time as well, and Jason Kidd as well. When people have called for their jobs, I have always been staunch in my rebuke.

I can’t defend this. While I will note that this may not be Billy’s fault, but could be ownership, I cannot defend how little sense this makes.

All I want is a franchise that cares about doing what it believes is in the best interests of building a winner, in the short or long term, based on the situation in front of them (and what they know of their finances). And I always thought I had that. I guess I don’t.

Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov just got off at the Knapp street exit. They’re taking the streets because the highway has traffic. And they can’t believe they’re stuck at a red light.

And that’s the Paul Pierce.

 

Free Agent Targets

The draft has come and gone, and now free agency is a week old.  As the Nets dug into their well of future assets to make the Boston trade, and are over the luxury tax (with no real shot at getting under), they are limited to one $3.3 million exception, and essentially unlimited minimum contracts in free agency. So, who can they target.

I. The Roster: 12 players. 11 guaranteed. Subtract 1 if KG retires: PG: Deron, Jack, Gutierrez, Teague.        SG: Joe, Karasev      SF: Kirilenko, Bogdanovic      PF: Garnett, Teletovic.      C: Lopez, Plumlee

II. Other Players Under the Nets Control: Draft Rights: Markel Brown, Cory Jefferson, Xavier Thames

III. Nets Players Who Are Free Agents And Could Be Back: Paul Pierce, Alan Anderson, Jason Collins

IV. The Short of It: The Nets roster is nearly full.  They could have as many as 13 players already, assuming Markel Brown makes the roster, the Bogdanovic signing is made official, and KG runs it back for another year.  That makes finding a reserve big to replace Blatche and keeping Pierce a priority.  But Billy King is creative: with the rights to several younger pieces and some roster duplication (four point guards), don’t be surprised if the Nets make a trade: just expect it to be something relatively minor, though there is not much out there.

So Who Are the Candidates:   With Bogdanovic reportedly taking the mini midlevel, the Nets are confined to the minimum with whoever they sign. As for a note on Bojan, look at the market: $4.5 million to CJ Miles and Ben Gordon. $4 million to Thabo Sefolosha.  $6 million to Jodie Meeks. A higher cap yields higher salaries, and the value of $3.2 million only takes you so far.  I prefer Bojan to a 9th man with limited upside: even if he’s a flop the risk is small and the Nets roster can use his upside. His smaller deal also keeps our 2016 plans intact.

The Home Runs: Can we Sell These Guys on a Paycut?:

Emeka Okafor: Having just missed the year hurt, he may prefer a one year deal to a long term deal (at a number below his norms), to reestablish his value, then reenter the market next summer.  Could Brooklyn sell him on doing that while winning? I’m surely not betting on it, but as a GM you make the calls.

Rodney Stuckey: Due for a paycut after making $8.5 million, but not this steep of a cut.  Still, he does not have a great reputation, and his stock may fall.  The Nets could offer him a similar chance as Okafor to reestablish some value, with the same unlikelihood of it happening.

More Plausible Targets: 

BIGS:

Anthony Tolliver: shot over 40% from 3 this year. A nice stretch 4, albeit somewhat duplicative of Mirza.

Mike Scott: Nets don’t have a need for a floor spacing big, but you can’t ever have enough shooting. May be too pricey.

Trevor Booker: A big whose primary skill is his rebounding, something this franchise does need.

Elton Brand: He’s looking at a paycut anywhere he goes. A rugged rebounder who has Lionel and Billy written all over him.

Kris Humphries: Was traded to get the Celtics guys, not because of any issues with his game.  Is looking at a paycut, and we know he rebounds.

Jermaine O’Neal: Still has a bit in the tank. If only a bit.

GUARDS:

Francisco Garcia: Could be a find on the league minimum. A quality shooter coming off a down year; Houston is in no rush to keep him as it pries space open for bigger names.

Shelvin Mack: A good defender who shoots the corner 3 well. You can certainly do worse than this with the league minimum.

Luke Ridnour: A decent option for Brooklyn. Has played competent point guard for a long time.

Brian Roberts: Has real potential as a sparkplug off the bench.  Fills the Thornton role at a substantially lower number.

DJ Augustin: Played well under Tom Thibodeau after being so bad he was nearly out of the league? Is it a mirage? Could be worth exploring on a minimum deal.

Ramon Sessions: Can score, struggles to guard.  A player nobody seems to want, but who produces.

James Anderson: Can’t shoot, but thrived with the Sixers last year and can both score and guard.  Would be helpful off the bench.

Chris Douglas Roberts: Shot 39% from 3 last season. A mirage? Or a legitimate skill? With only the minimum to spend, why not find out?

Toure Murray: Limited offensively, but showed defensive chops for the Knicks.

Jordan Hamilton: Seen as a player with upside who has yet to stick.  Gambling on him to stick in Brooklyn could be worth the gambit, though I doubt he lands in Brooklyn.

Nets Announce Lionel Hollins: Thoughts

The Nets have announced Lionel Hollins as their new head coach.  A few thoughts on some of his comments from the presser, as well as Billy’s. Some of these are direct quotes, some paraphrases.

Billy on Lionel: “in going through it last year . . . it made it easier this time to be able to do it quick.”  —  There were reports last year that Billy was denied Memphis’ permission to speak with Lionel, and Billy always mentioned doing homework on many guys.  That tells me that Hollins was a primary target last year, which helps explain how this happened so quickly.

Billy on Memphis and Lionel: “the development of Conley and Randolph, and the discipline of the team.”  — It is definitely intriguing to Billy that Lionel developed talent in Memphis, and particularly helped Randolph rebound from the dumps (read: Deron).  While Hollins is dinged by some for poor player development, the only 2 examples are OJ Mayo and Ed Davis: both of whom have actually regressed after leaving Hollins.

Billy on the Decision: Discussed Lionel as an old school ball coach, referenced people Lionel referenced, like Cotton Fitzsimmons, as people he respects. Discussed it “feeling right,” before giving ownership a call.  It seemed clear to me that Billy is extremely comfortable with Lionel and that this is his decision, his type of man and coach.  He did not seem as comfortable with Kidd who seemed forced on him at least in part by ownership.  This feels more like Billy made a decision and sold ownership on it.

Hollins on Contact with Players: He reached out to Deron but let him relax with his family, he has not talked with Joe or Kevin, and called reaching Paul “premature,” citing it as Billy’s job  to deal with a free agent.  He later omitted Paul from the team’s nucleus.  I am not worried about Lionel’s lack of contact.  Between interviews, getting back to people with congratulatory remarks, making arrangements with jobs, interviews, etc, he’s barely had time to talk to players, and apparently has only spoken to one.  As for Paul, Lionel was sure to say he’s not here to be a GM, which was of course critical after how Jason left.  That Lionel mentioned it being premature to talk with Paul because it’s Billy’s job is no source of concern, and I take his omission of Paul from the nucleus in the same light.

Hollins on Deron: “When you’re not healthy you can’t be the player you want to be . . . and then once you’re healthy you have to have your conditioning.” – Clearly Deron has been hobbled.  But it was interesting that Lionel also jabbed at his conditioning.  Lionel come’s across as a coach’s coach, and men like him have a keen sense of whether a guy is out of shape.  If it’s even slight, they’ll notice it.  Lionel coached against Deron in Utah, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, and watched him play this year: if Deron is lagging with his conditioning, he knows it. The Lionel-Deron dynamic appears poised for a clash at some point. The difference between Lionel and Avery? Lionel doesn’t have to beg Avery to stay with the Nets. And Deron has lost clout, capital, and reputation as compared to that time period.  Look for Lionel to exert the iron fist. Hopefully Deron can handle it.

Lionel on Prokhorov: He talked multiple times of Mikhail’s resources to win, his desire to win, the new practice facility, and again, the word resources.  Lionel left Memphis, and during his clash with ownership and management retorted about its frugality, saying that you can’t have “champagne on beer money.” Take Lionel’s adulation for Mikhail’s desire to spend, together with the Boston trade (picks for older guys making big money), together with the Thornton deal (an expiring for a bad 2 year contract with a partial guarantee in year 3), and the rumors that the team does not want to spend anymore just don’t add up, in regards to Pierce and in regards to the team generally.

Lionel on the Personnel: “you can never have too many shooters.” – Perhaps a clue the Nets will look for more of that as they fill the roster.

Lionel on his Family: that he is soon to be an “empty nester” and hopes to enjoy the city with his wife as a contender is developed.  That made it sound like here looks to be here for the long haul, as he and his wife enjoy New York.

Lionel on Style, and Memphis “Grit n Grind”: He mentioned that he wants to play to a team’s strengths and that style is discussed too much.  He said, paraphrased, “I want to win more than anything . . . when we find what works that is what we’ll do.  I did not come to Memphis wanting to play that way but it worked for them so that’s what I did.”  — Seemed to indicate that he is in no way married to any style.  Did he run a slow paced offense based on the post in Memphis? Sure. He also had little team speed and 2 burly, punishing bigs: the style suited Memphis.  He in no way feels constrained to bringing that here and seems flexible to doing what suits this roster, not necessarily what he did in Memphis.

Lionel on the Lakers as related to Paul Pierce in my Opinion: “I’m all about who wants me.”  — People want to be wanted.  Maybe Hollins would have enjoyed LA, enjoyed living there and coaching Kobe, perhaps Melo, or their future acquisitions.  But people want to feel wanted, the Nets made him feel wanted, and he’s here.  They need to do that with Paul.

 

One General Remark: Lionel clearly takes no B.S.  Everyone who wanted a coach willing to yell, willing to display his authority, willing to push the roster to the limit and put his stamp on them: you’ve got your man.