Brooklyn Nets: Brooklyn Nets

New and improved Johnson? Joe says so

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
3:37
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Johnson said on media day that he “expected more” from himself last season.

Our question is: What more could he have done?

[+] EnlargeJoe Johnson
Bill Kostroun/AP PhotoBelieve it or not, Joe Johnson said he "expected more" from himself last season.
Johnson hit two game-winning buzzer beaters -- including the one that turned his team’s season around in Oklahoma City -- and scored 29 points in a quarter against Philadelphia. In the playoffs, he averaged 21.2 points on 53.3 percent shooting. And against Miami, in the Nets' final game of the season, he had 34 points.

Johnson explained Tuesday that he wants to get better at two things this season: getting to the free throw line and helping the big men by grabbing more defensive rebounds.

As a Net (since 2012-13), he has averaged 2.4 free-throw attempts and 2.6 defensive rebounds per game. During his time in Atlanta, those numbers were higher: 4.1 free-throw attempts and 3.3 defensive rebounds.

Johnson said he’ll continue to keep his mouth shut when it comes to questionable calls. He realizes the referees are human, and doesn’t want to annoy them by complaining.

The 33-year-old veteran is known most for his scoring ability. He said it has been a challenge trying to figure out new systems seemingly every season, but he’s more than willing to adjust.

“I’ll never complain. I’m a basketball player, so whatever offense you wanna run, I’m capable of running it or adjusting to it,” Johnson said. “Whether you want me to be more of a catch-and-shoot guy or you want me to be more off-the-dribble, post-up, whatever you want me to do, I can do it.”

He’s right.

According to Synergy Sports data, Johnson’s offense was evenly distributed and efficient last season. He was considered excellent in spot-up situations (22.6 percent of plays, 92nd percentile in the league) and very good in both post-up (20 percent of plays, 82nd percentile) and isolation sets (16.6 percent of plays, 66th percentile).

“That’s one thing I try to do with my game, not have any weaknesses as far as being able to help this team,” Johnson said.

Hollins: D-Will confident as ever

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
8:00
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Late in Monday’s practice, during 5-on-5 drills, Deron Williams fired a 3-pointer.

As he took the shot, the Brooklyn Nets point guard yelled, “Layup!”

The ball swished through the net.

Sure, it’s only training camp, but D-Will’s confidence was evident.

Noted Nets coach Lionel Hollins, “They all talk crap out there. He’s as confident as he’s ever been. I coached against him, and he always looked confident to me then. It’s practice. These guys all talk crap to each other. It’s part of the game.”

But who is the biggest -- in the words of Hollins -- “crap talker?” Must be Kevin Garnett, right?

“No, Alan Anderson,” Hollins said. “They go out there, they’re competing, they’re getting after each other, they’re pushing each other, and that’s good.”

Garnett, as usual, was extremely vocal during practice. It’s pretty much how he has always been -- encouraging his teammates and leading by example.

“It’s great. It’s fun,” Hollins said. “It’s good to have a guy that’s vocal, that understands a lot, that’s a good leader, and he sets a good example out there that all our young guys can follow. For the young guys just coming into this league, it’s good to be playing with a guy like KG that can set a foundation for them for the rest of your career.”

So how would Hollins sum it up?

“He’s not a coach on the coach. It’s just leadership, doing your job and doing it to a high-intensity level and not making excuses,” he said.

With Andrei Kirilenko out, Alan Anderson got the majority of the time with the other starters, though Hollins was mixing and matching.

Developing chemistry, continuity and a rotation is going to be key as training camp progresses into preseason games and then the regular season.

The Nets had just one practice Monday and will not do two-a-days on Tuesday either, Hollins said.

Lopez: 'I'm ready to play'

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
5:19
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez would be happy if he never had to field another question about his health again.

The 26-year-old veteran, who looks to be in great shape after putting in plenty of rigorous workout sessions in the offseason, is confident in his surgically-repaired foot and ankle -- and hopes the injuries that have caused him to miss 134 games over the last three seasons are behind him.

“I don’t have any questions about my health,” Lopez said Sunday. “I’m ready to play basketball.”

The questions will not stop until Lopez can prove he is healthy and sustain that health over the course of an 82-game season -- a season the Nets hope also includes a long playoff run.

He will get his chance shortly.

“I feel great right now,” Lopez said. “I’m not looking for any restrictions. If they come, it’s not going to be because I said something. It’s going to be from Timmy (trainer Tim Walsh) or from coach [Lionel Hollins]. I’m just looking forward to getting to work.”

Since being selected by the Nets with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft out of Stanford, Lopez has shown a unique ability to score in a variety of ways. And over time, he has become more efficient.

Last season, he set career-highs in points per game (20.7), field-goal percentage (56.3) and Player Efficiency Rating (25.50) before going down with a season-ending foot injury on Dec. 20 in Philadelphia. In his 17-game 2013-14 campaign, he made 63.6 percent of his hook shots and 47.3 percent of his jump shots.

According to data obtained from Synergy Sports, Lopez excelled in the post. In post-ups, which represented 39.3 percent of his offense plays, the All-Star center amassed 1.157 points per play, good enough to put him in the 98th percentile league-wide in that category.

“He’s very skilled,” Hollins said. “From an offensive perspective, he ranks right up there with a lot of guys from that perspective.”

But it’s on the defensive end where Lopez needs to become a more complete 7-footer.

While he held opponents to just 39.5 percent shooting at the rim and was a strong post defender (1.8 blocks per game), Lopez struggled against the pick-and-roll. According to Synergy, he allowed opposing bigs to amass 0.926 points per play in pick-and-rolls, which put him in the 23rd percentile, or below average.

Lopez has also not averaged more than 6.9 rebounds per game since the 2009-10 campaign -- his second season in the NBA.

“[Lionel] wants me to take more charges,” Lopez said. “Become a better pick-and-roll defender and crash the glass.”

[+] EnlargeBrook Lopez
AP Photo/Jason DeCrowIn his 17-game 2013-14 campaign, Lopez hit a career-high in points per game (20.7).
Lopez went into more detail about snagging boards.

“It’s just been a matter of increasing my effort,” he said. “Not just boxing out, but going to get the rebound after and focusing on certain numbers on the offensive rebounds, as well as defensive rebounds.”

Clearly, as Hollins installs his systems and schemes, Lopez is going to be a focal point -- both offensively and defensively. The Nets would like him to be better at facilitating for his teammates as well. Often times during games, the ball would go into Lopez, and it would never come out. This is all part of the learning process, part of Lopez maturing as a basketball player.

For all his talent, and he has quite an abundance of that, many wonder just how much Lopez yearns to be great. He certainly doesn’t have the typical personality of a franchise player.

“I don’t know what the mentality of a dominant big man is,” Hollins said. “But I think that he has a lot of growth left and maturity to go with regards to him wanting the ball and getting to where he can get the ball.”

The organization hopes that Lopez can stay healthy over the course of the season. To that end, they have not said anything about limiting Lopez’s minutes or prohibiting him from playing both games of back-to-back sets. But that is something that very-well could occur as he makes his way back to being 100 percent.

Lopez is looking forward to reestablishing cohesion with point guard Deron Williams. The duo has played just 100 games together, compiling a 55-45 record. Conversely, when either one or neither is in the lineup, the Nets are 67-88.

During his time as a Net, Lopez has had seven different coaches. He has seen both good times and bad.

Now, he hopes, it’ll be good times from here on out.

Lopez has a lot at stake. He will make $15.7 million this season, then holds a $16.7 million player option for 2015-16. If he can stay healthy and return to All-Star form, he’ll be able to reestablish his value and perhaps create a nice market for himself going forward.

And by doing all of that, Lopez will also be helping the Nets get back to where they want to be.

KG unfazed entering 20th season

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
4:00
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kevin Garnett and Derek Jeter may share the same number -- 2 -- but the Brooklyn Nets power forward says that is where the comparisons between the two future Hall of Famers end.

“He’s been on one team,” Garnett said Monday of the New York Yankees captain, who played the last game of his 19-year career on Sunday in Boston. “He’s done unbelievable things for the Yankees and just sports in general. If you want to say that’s similar or parallel (between us), sure. But with all due respects to what Jeter has done for sports period, I’m just so happy for him and that he went out the way he wanted to, which is not always the way that some athletes get to go. So salute to my man.”

Garnett, 38, is entering his 20th -- and perhaps final -- season in the NBA. He has pondered retirement the last three summers. At this point, it doesn’t appear that Garnett will have a Jeter-like retirement tour since he declined to say whether this season would be his last.

Last summer, Garnett had to be convinced by longtime teammate Paul Pierce and coach Jason Kidd to leave Boston for Brooklyn. This summer, he says, was different.

“I prepared myself this offseason like I have, not last year because I was in decisive in what I wanted to do with the decision-making,” Garnett said. “This year, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I did that throughout the whole summer. So I’m in more better spirits because I know what I’m here to do this year and I’m here to enjoy this. You never know when it’s going to be your last. Watching Jeter and his whole thing has been inspiring and what I took from it is to enjoy this because you never know when it’s going to be your last.”

Asked to expand, Garnett said: “Just because I knew I could do better and just motivated. That’s it. Plus I knew contractually I knew I had to come in here and do that. I’m a person that wants to run through the finish line if you will and I’m happy to be here. So that’s what it is.” He is in the final year of his contract and will earn $12 million in 2014-15.

Garnett, who was his usual vocal self at practice Monday, says he is aware that he will become just the fourth player in league history to play for a 20th season: Kevin Willis, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parrish are the others.

“I told Kevin McHale when I came in here (to Minnesota) after my first practice -- to be not cute or not you know kinda smart -- but he kinda cracked a joke that I had a buncha ice on me. I was just turning 19 and I was hurting and I told him that I wanna be in this league for half my life. And he kinda just giggled,” Garnett said, later acknowledging his appreciation and love for McHale. “But he never knew what was inside so 19 years later here we are. ... I’m motivated and I’ve always been motivated. I’ve never had a problem with that.”

[+] EnlargeKevin Garnett
Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsGarnett is in the final year of his contract and will earn $12 million in 2014-15.
Last season, Garnett had to become acclimated with a new team in a new environment. He says he feels more comfortable with his surroundings now.

“Being honest, I know what to expect this year, living in New York -- let me explain that -- and coming to the Brooklyn Nets. I’m coming from Beantown, didn’t really know what to expect. First year, having Jason (Kidd), didn’t know where I fit in at,” Garnett said. “Obviously, I understood coming in here I knew I wasn’t going to be primary, and what I mean by that is big minutes, play calling. So I wanted to facilitate. Help Brook (Lopez) as much as I could and what I know. Other guys, Mason (Plumlee) and so on and so on. This year, coming in with a little more edge, with a little more assertiveness, kind of deferring back to obviously when I came into this league and hat I created for myself. I’m going to be a lot more aggressive, but then letting the coach know that I’m not 18. If you can, let’s be on the same page as far as minutes and stuff like that, just so I have something to give.”

Garnett was asked what it would mean to him to finish with a strong season.

“To finish the season strong, to be able to look back and say I’ve enjoyed not only the guys, but the opportunity and because it’s so many things play into it with the injuries and so many different things play into just how players are moved or just how players maneuver,” Garnett said. “So I set small goals for myself, but more importantly team goals and team goals are always going to trump my own personals. So I’m just glad I’m able to be out here. Good Lord knows Lionel [Hollins] is totally old-school. He’s kicking our a-- in here, got us running around like a chicken with their head cut off. But it’s all good. It’s all good. He’s working us and we are trying to meet the standard of which he wants and I feel like we are giving it to him. So far so good. Talk to me in five more days and see what the f--- I look like, all right?”

Garnett said he doesn’t want to be a coach when his playing carer is over. “Hell nah,” he said, laughing.

Last season, Garnett openly said he hated playing center. Now, he’s back to his normal power forward spot.

“But now I got used to playing five and now I gotta get used to playing the four. Man it’s terrible right now,” Garnett joked. “But as long as I’m able to be on the floor and contribute, that’s what’s most important.”

Hollins: Fifth starter will be a guard

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
5:10
PM ET
Hollins
Hollins
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins said Joe Johnson is going to be playing small forward, which means the team has an opening at its starting shooting guard position.

“It’s gonna be a guard,” Hollins replied when asked who is going to start alongside Deron Williams, Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez.

“Joe Johnson’s gonna be a three. But as I say that I don’t want to be held to it because 2/3 is the same position basically like 4/5 is the same position, technically, but I’m looking for one of those guys to play guard. We don’t have a lot of small forwards, so those guys -- Bojan [Bogdanovic] to me is a guard, Alan Anderson is a guard -- and we’ve got AK [Andrei Kirilenko] and Joe at small forward. So when you say that I’m thinking more from a guard perspective.”

So it sounds like Anderson and Bogdanovic are the leading candidates.

“It’d be great [to start],” Anderson said. “If it’s starting or if it’s coming off the bench, I’ll be ready. But it’ll be good if I could start with the guys he’s going to have starting, because I’m familiar with a lot of the guys.”

Anderson, who averaged 7.2 points and started 26 games last season, seems like the favorite. With Williams, Johnson, Garnett and Lopez on the court, he can be a glue-guy type.

The organization likes Anderson a lot. But maybe Bogdanovic, the European import with long-range shooting abilities, will somehow impress his way into the job during training camp and the preseason.

Anyway, with all that being said, here’s what the depth chart may look like heading into training camp:

C: Brook Lopez/Mason Plumlee/Jerome Jordan
PF: Kevin Garnett/Mirza Teletovic/Cory Jefferson/Willie Reed
SF: Joe Johnson/Andrei Kirilenko
SG: Alan Anderson/Bojan Bogdanovic/Sergey Karasev/Markel Brown
PG: Deron Williams/Jarrett Jack/Marquis Teague/Jorge Gutierrez

Here’s what coach Lionel Hollins had to say about what he saw from his players in 5-on-5 workouts:

“Mirza has shown me that he’s more than just a shooter, though I do like when he’s just standing still and making open shots. Bojan has shown me that he is a guy that is a basketball player that is not just a shooter which bodes well for our team. Deron Williams has looked really good, Jarrett Jack has looked really good. Our two rookies Markel Brown and Cory Jefferson have more than held their own. But as I tell them, this is just the first phase, and the intensity will be ratcheted up. Now it’ll be plays and systems that you have to learn and it won’t just be free-flowing so they’ve looked good now, but tomorrow may be a different story.”

Lionel Hollins: Deron Williams is a coach killer? Well, I'm 'a player killer'

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
4:30
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Over the years, Deron Williams has developed a reputation as a coach killer.

With that in mind, Nets coach Lionel Hollins was asked how his personality will mesh with his point guard's.

“Well, I have a reputation of being a player killer,” Hollins said tongue-in-cheek.

Hollins is known as an old-school, no-nonsense coach who can be combative with the media.

Not Friday. Hollins was funny. He was witty. And he gave some excellent quotes.

Asked about Kevin Garnett's leadership and what he tells his teammates in order to encourage them, Hollins said, “I don’t think he’s telling them anything. He’s talking crap. Leadership stuff is overrated. You just go out and play your game and do your job, and you’ll lead by example. You try to make your teammates better, and KG has done that his whole career, and I expect him to continue to do that.”

Asked about the perception that the West is the stronger conference, Hollins said, “Same thing that people who look in the mirror and think they’re beautiful. There’s people who aren’t as beautiful as they think they are. It’s just someone’s opinion.”

Asked about how he emphasizes more practice, while previous Nets coach Jason Kidd emphasized more rest last season, Hollins said, “I hear no evil, I see no evil, I speak no evil. I don’t even know about that. All I know about is how we’re going to do.”

Hollins also spoke on some more serious topics:

“I’d like us to be tougher, more aggressive, compete harder every moment that they’re on the court, persevering through everything,” Hollins said when asked what he’d like to change from last season. “I want them to be tougher mentally. There’s a lot that goes into being a good team, and that’s the type of foundation that we’re gonna lay.”

As for his offense, Hollins said, “In general, I’m looking for a system that involves a lot of people at every possession so that whoever has the ball that’s open can shoot the ball. We’ve got a lot of good shooters, a lot of good decision-makers, a lot of high-IQ guys, and I want to utilize that and take advantage of all the personnel that’s on the floor. Now I’m not gonna say we’re not gonna iso, I’m not gonna say we’re not gonna post up, but that’s not going to be our focal point.”

The Nets are hoping Hollins brings some stability to a role that hasn’t had any lately.

Brook Lopez has had seven different coaches with the franchise. As for Joe Johnson?

“It’s the fourth [voice] in three years [since I’ve been here], so you know, maybe this’ll be the right voice,” Johnson said. “Hopefully it’s the right voice.”

W2W4: Training camp edition

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
2:00
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The Brooklyn Nets begin training camp Saturday with their first of several two-a-day practices. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

The health of Brook and Deron: Deron Williams (ankles) and Brook Lopez (ankle/foot) are both said to be healthy. If the Nets want to go anywhere this season, their starting point guard and center need to sustain that health over the course of an 82-game regular season (and, perhaps, the playoffs). The Nets will likely take it easy on both players; GM Billy King already said that Lopez would probably not participate in both sessions of two-a-days, at least initially, and the team would play it by ear with Williams.

New coach, new system: Since moving to Brooklyn, the Nets have gone through Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo and Jason Kidd. Enter Lionel Hollins. Hollins’ teams in Memphis thrived by dominating in the post and playing tough, tenacious defense. Hollins will be implementing yet another new system for these players to learn. How quickly will they be able to pick it up?

We know four, but who is the fifth? Williams, Lopez, Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett will start. This we know. What we don’t know is who Brooklyn’s fifth starter will be. If the Nets want to play bigger, Andrei Kirilenko and Mirza Teletovic are the obvious candidates. There’s also highly touted rookie Bojan Bogdanovic, too. And Alan Anderson. Hmm...

The ascension of Mase: Mason Plumlee, 24, just completed a surprising stint with Team USA at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. It had to be a confidence-builder for the soon-to-be second-year pro. Plumlee figures to get plenty of minutes behind Lopez and Garnett, and probably some starts when the Nets play games on back-to-back days. The high flyer’s continued growth and development is paramount to Brooklyn’s success in 2014-15.

Keep an eye on: Bogdanovic, who just came off an extremely successful showing at the World Cup with Croatia. Jerome Jordan, on a training camp deal, was in camp for Hollins in Memphis before getting cut. The Nets could use more depth up front. Also, the third point guard competition between Marquis Teague and Jorge Gutierrez. Or will the Nets decide to take both? And we didn’t forget about Markel Brown, who is athletic and explosive. Is he a project and/or will Hollins have anywhere to play him if he shows he can contribute?

Nets sign Willie Reed

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
11:32
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The Brooklyn Nets officially signed big man Willie Reed on Thursday, giving them 17 players heading into training camp.

Over the past two seasons, Reed spent time with Brooklyn’s former D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor.

Reed could perhaps have a shot at making the team given the Nets may seek more depth up front behind Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee. They also brought in Jerome Jordan for a look.

Reed, Jordan, Jorge Gutierrez and Cory Jefferson do not have fully guaranteed contracts; the 13 other players on the roster do.

The max roster size during the season is 15.

Nets unveil All-Star logo

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24
1:59
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To celebrate the upcoming All-Star Weekend being held in New York, the Brooklyn Nets have unveiled a customized All-Star Brooklyn logo.

Nets players will wear the logo on a patch on their jerseys during home games and the logo will be on the Barclays Center court on both baselines leading up to All-Star weekend on Feb. 13-15.

Barclays will host the Rising Stars Challenge, the 3-point Contest, Slam Dunk competition, Skills Challenge and NBA Shooting Stars competition on Feb. 13 and 14.

Madison Square Garden will host the All-Star Game on Feb. 15.

King: Less talk, 'let’s just play basketball’

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
8:11
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“Where we are now, the goal is to win a championship. That’s the goal. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re playing for.” -- Avery Johnson, Oct. 1, 2012

“We are going to kick butt and take names. There’s something in the air here that says the Brooklyn Nets will be the NBA champions next year.” -- Jason Terry, July 18, 2013

This is just a small sampling of comments out of the Brooklyn Nets over the last two seasons. But all of that talk -- combined with several high-priced upgrades to the roster -- has produced just eight playoff wins over the last two seasons.

And so, Brooklyn GM Billy King told the New York Post, Daily News and Newsday on Monday, the team is trying something new going forward.

“Two years in a row, it was something we created ourselves. We beat our own drum. This year it’s more of let’s just play basketball,” King said.

King’s goal, the previous two years, he said, is to finish with a top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs standings, which means homecourt advantage in the first round.

• That could be tough without Paul Pierce, who left for Washington in free agency.

(We broke down the reasoning behind his departure from Brooklyn’s prospective here).

“We did [want him back]. That was the plan of attack and I think as we started negotiating, the numbers that they asked for were,” King told reporters. “And I thought at one point that he was definitely leaving. And then you started switching gears because you start hearing that he's going to end up at a different place. So then you start preparing. And then when he came back to us [to try to negotiate again], we already moved on.”

• King also told reporters that Brook Lopez (foot/ankle) played 5-on-5 for the first time on Monday. The GM added that Lopez probably won’t do both sessions of two-a-day practices early in training camp, as the Nets look to ease him back.

• The Nets are bringing in Willie Reed, a 6-10 big man, for training camp, King told reporters. That would give them 17 players -- 13 with fully guaranteed contracts.

Burnings Q's: Best position battle?

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
11:53
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With training camp set to begin on Saturday, we explore the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.

Today’s question: What will be the best position battle in training camp?

As we’ve written on the blog before, we know four of the five players that are going to start for the Nets next season: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez.

SportsNation

Who would prefer as the Nets' starting small forward?

  •  
    13%
  •  
    34%
  •  
    23%
  •  
    30%

Discuss (Total votes: 381)

Will there be a competition for the starting small forward spot? Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe Nets coach Lionel Hollins will just come out on Day 1 and tell us that -- let’s just say -- Andrei Kirilenko will be the starting small forward.

Or maybe he won’t. And if the latter is the case, that means Alan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic and perhaps Bojan Bogdanovic could potentially vie for the position.

As it stands, if Hollins started Williams, Johnson, Kirilenko, Garnett and Lopez, there would be room for Jarrett Jack, Anderson, Bogdanovic, Teletovic and Mason Plumlee, assuming the Nets coach decided to go with a 10-man rotation.

If Hollins decided to give Jack a starting spot, the backup point guard competition between Marquis Teague and Jorge Gutierrez could become interesting.

The Nets have 13 players who have fully-guaranteed contracts for 2014-15 -- Gutierrez, rookie Cory Jefferson and training camp signee Jerome Jordan not among them.
What intrigues us is:

  1. Will Kirilenko be named the starting small forward or will someone else get the nod?
  2. Will Bogdanovic, giving his learning curve, be inserted into the rotation from Day 1 or have to earn his way in?
  3. Will Jordan be given a real opportunity to make the team given they may want a third center? And will that decision affect Jefferson, who the Nets spent $300,000 to acquire on draft night?
  4. Will Markel Brown, who adds some serious athleticism, be given a chance to play regular minutes?
  5. Will the Nets decide to carry three or four point guards?


The starting small forward spot could provide the best position battle -- assuming it’s even a battle to begin with. Otherwise, it’s just about reserve roles, and figuring out how much Hollins trusts his younger players versus his veterans.

Agent: Andray Blatche to China

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
1:54
PM ET
Former Brooklyn Nets reserve center Andray Blatche has signed a contract to play in China, his agent, Andy Miller, tweeted Saturday.



Blatche, 28, averaged 11.2 points and had an 18.85 Player Efficiency Rating for the Nets last season. But the team ultimately decided not to bring him back after he opted out.

Blatche was an extremely talented player -- a 6-11, 260-pound big man with the unique ability to make plays off the dribble -- but he also made headlines for the wrong reasons during his tenure in Brooklyn.

In 2012-13, Blatche was questioned and ultimately cleared as part of a sexual assault case that occurred in a Philadelphia hotel room. Last season, he was suspended indefinitely by the Nets due to a lack of conditioning and preparedness, sources told Grantland. He returned after missing four games. Team brass was also not happy with his partying lifestyle, sources said.

Recently, Blatche gained dual citizenship in the Philippines and averaged 21.2 points and 13.8 rebounds per game for the country during the FIBA World Cup in Spain.

Nets void Ndiaye deal

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
11:42
AM ET
The Nets have voided center Hamady Ndiaye's contract due to a failed physical.

The team had inked Ndiaye to a training camp deal Wednesday.

With Ndiaye out of the mix, Jerome Jordan's chances of earning a spot on the team may have increased.

The Nets now have 16 players signed for training camp -- 13 with fully guaranteed contracts.

Cory Jefferson, Jorge Gutierrez and Jordan do not have guarantees.

Training camp begins Sept. 27.

Burning Q's: Who needs to break out?

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
10:42
AM ET
With training camp a week away, we explore the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.

Today's question: Who needs to break out this season?

There are plenty of potential young breakout candidates for the Nets this season. The Nets are eager to get their first look at Bojan Bogdanovic against NBA talent. But it might be unfair to expect Bogdanovic to have a breakout season in his first full year in the league.

The Nets like Sergey Karasev's potential, but he likely has a way to go before we can think about a breakout. Mirza Teletovic had a breakout season of sorts last season when he showed what he can do with consistent minutes.

Rookie Markel Brown certainly looks as if he can provide some highlight dunks, but he may not see enough minutes to deliver a breakout season.

In my mind, the Net who needs to have a breakout season is Mason Plumlee. He surprised with an All-Rookie first season with the Nets. He averaged 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 18.2 minutes as a rookie who did most of his damage off putbacks and exciting dunks. Jason Kidd wouldn't allow his rookie to take many shots in the offense.

Plumlee, though, should be even better this season after spending the summer winning a gold medal with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. He gained invaluable experience practicing with stars like James Harden, Derrick Rose and Stephen Curry. He had to go up against big men like DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and Andre Drummond every day in practice. He received daily coaching from Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Thibodeau, among others. More than anything, Plumlee had to gain incredible confidence from just making the team after initially being brought into the mix to practice against the veterans.

Plumlee certainly has plenty of time in his career to develop a back-to-the-basket game and inside offensive moves. But the reason the Nets could use a breakout season from Plumlee -- in just his second season -- is the uncertain health of the Nets' big men.

Kevin Garnett is entering his 20th season and the Nets simply have to do what they can to keep KG fresh and healthy. Who knows how many games Garnett will play in this season, let alone his availability for back-to-backs. Then there's Brook Lopez, who is returning from surgery. Lopez is trying to show that he can come back strong and be a force again. But the Nets would also be wise to keep their big man healthy by monitoring his minutes and games.

With Andray Blatche gone, Plumlee's rapid development becomes key. He should see plenty of minutes from Lionel Hollins, given the health of Garnett and Lopez, and could see his share of starts when one of the other big men needs a night off to rest. The Nets will be looking for one more big man in camp to step up and earn some minutes. Plumlee will have plenty of opportunities to show that he can do more than just throw down a spectacular reverse dunk or come up with some sensational blocks.

If Plumlee can take a big step forward in his second season, the Nets could be in great shape while also having the luxury of resting Garnett and Lopez on certain nights.

Question: Who do you think needs to have a breakout season for the Nets this season?

D-Will, Nets happy 'flying under the radar'

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
3:45
PM ET
Over the summer, all the talk in the Eastern Conference has been about the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls, the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Hornets.

As for the Brooklyn Nets? Well, they’re just fine with it.

“It’s good. I think that’s good,” Deron Williams said Monday when asked if lower expectations are motivating him and his teammates.

“We’re flying under the radar. We’ve got a lot of work to do. When you get between the lines, anything can happen. So it’s our job to get better, gel as a team over training camp an the first month and be ready to go in November.”

Brooklyn’s summer was not supposed to be very hectic. A few tweaks here and there. That was supposed to be it.

But then Jason Kidd left for Milwaukee, and all of sudden, the Nets needed a new head coach. Quickly, they got one in Lionel Hollins.

Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston, two key cogs in the team’s turnaround, also departed via free agency.

Nets GM Billy King traded for Jarrett Jack and brought Bojan Bogdanovic over from Europe as part of a roster re-tool.

The Nets, who were in win-now mode last season, have gotten younger, but their core remains intact.

How far they will go in 2014-15 largely depends on how Williams' surgically-repaired ankles and Brook Lopez's surgically-repaired foot hold up.

“We’ve got to step up, myself included, especially leadership-wise,” Williams said. “I think having myself healthy and having Brook healthy, that makes up for a lot. I think that’s what people don’t really understand. Let’s talk about Brook. Missing Brook, that’s 20 points a night and a big man who can score on anybody in this league. Right there changes the landscape of things, just putting him back in the lineup.”

That lineup also will include Kevin Garnett, who is returning for his 20th, and perhaps final, season in the NBA. Hollins said Garnett will start at power forward and receive more than 15 minutes of playing time a night -- assuming he’s healthy.

“Health is the No. 1 issue for this team going in with Brook, KG and Deron,” Hollins said. “If they are healthy and we can create continuity and a foundation of a group playing together, then I think things will fall into place.”

Training camp begins Sept. 27 in East Rutherford, N.J.

“I think [not having the attention] is very good,” Andrei Kirilenko said. “I think last year we had too much pressure from the outside. I think this year we have the chance to step back before the season and then make that jump.”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8