New Jersey Nets: Damion James

Flight of the Concords: Best retro Jordans?

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
8:39
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Damion James and Anthony Morrow have a bit of a sneaker battle going on. Morrow says that he has "way more Jordans" that James. But he hasn't been able to land the new Nike Air Jordan XI Retro Concords, the sneaker that's been causing consumer havoc across the country.

James got a hold of the Concords before they were released at midnight Friday morning. The fact that he has a Nike contract does make it a little unfair, though. Morrow said that his "connection" in Atlanta didn't work out, so he's still on the lookout for a pair of his own.

"I always find a way to get the shoes. I know I'll get them," Morrow said.

The Air Jordan Concords are arguably the most anticipated re-release of an Air Jordan sneaker. But the conversation begged the question: What are the best retro Air Jordans ever released (or re-released)?

James gave the nod to the Cool Greys. Morrow said the Concords top his list but gave honorable mention to the Air Jordan V.

So we'll pose the question to you. What are the best retro Air Jordans ever released? What's your top three?

Christmas Countdown: Prediction

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
10:00
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Continuing through Dec. 23, ESPNNewYork.com is running a series called "Christmas Countdown" examining a hot topic each day that involves the New Jersey Nets.

Today's Hot Topic: Prediction

Somewhere between 25-30 wins. A borderline playoff team at best.

That’s my prediction for the Nets this season.

Now, that prediction comes with a massive disclaimer. If the Nets are somehow able to land Orlando center Dwight Howard, I reserve the right to change my prediction.

Eight teams are going to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Baring any injuries of seismic proportions, I expect the Heat, Bulls, Knicks and Celtics to get in. The Magic join that list as long as they keep D-12. The Hawks have qualified for the postseason four straight times, while the Pacers have a young and emerging roster only made better by the addition of David West. And the Sixers are probably going to hover around the .500 mark like they always do.

All that being said, it’s going to be tough for the Nets to make the playoffs this season. Deron Williams is an absolutely phenomenal point guard, and Brook Lopez looks like he could be a legitimate 20-and-8 center this season. But that duo alone isn’t going to be enough to get the Nets over the “Hump.” Pun intended.

Damion James and MarShon Brooks look like they’re going to have a big impact this season, but they’re young and inexperienced. Kris Humphries is back, but he looks like he’s a ways away from being the double-double machine he was last year. Anthony Morrow and Shawne Williams are lethal 3-point weapons, but can they create their own shots?

Remember, this is a Nets team that has gone 36-128 over the past two seasons. A Nets team that went just 5-36 on the road last season and 13-39 in the conference. A Nets team that ranked 28th out of the 30 NBA teams in scoring.

Coach Avery Johnson isn’t trying to pull anyone’s chain when he says this team now is better than the one he had at the beginning of the 2010-11 campaign. The problem is -- as a result of the NBA lockout -- the Nets haven’t had the practice time to develop the type of cohesiveness that a team with seven newcomers (counting DeShawn Stevenson) needs to develop. And playing 10 of their first 14 games away from the Prudential Center isn’t going to help in that respect.

As Johnson said after a two-game preseason in which his team had 46 turnovers, the Nets are “far from a finished product.”

Unlikely most seasons, there is no margin for error. No time for tinkering. Johnson is going to have to find a rotation quickly.

The Nets are very well-positioned for the future. They’ll have a ton of cap space into the summer of 2012 and have assets like Lopez and several first-round draft picks that they can package together in a trade.

But their roster right now -- as currently constituted -- still leaves much to be desired.

That’s why I’m picking them to win 25-30 games. The playoffs appear to be slightly out of reach at this point, but as the New York Lottery Jackpot slogan goes, “Hey, You Never Know.”

Christmas Countdown: Forwards, march (!)

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
9:00
AM ET
Continuing through Dec. 23, ESPNNewYork.com will run a series called "Christmas Countdown" examining a hot topic each day that involves the New Jersey Nets.

Today's Hot Topic: Forwards, march (!)

The Nets may have rid themselves of Travis Outlaw and his four-year, $28 million albatross via the amnesty clause, but they still have plenty of issues to address at forward.

Consider: As of Monday -- a week before the team’s season opener in D.C. -- their projected starters at the 3 and 4 spots are second-year pro Damion James and veteran journeyman Shelden Williams.

Try to name a worse starting forward tandem in the NBA. You’d be hard-pressed to find one.

Williams is a solid rotation big man who possesses the intangible qualities NBA coaches love -- in bench players. The Nets clearly need to upgrade at power forward, but the prevailing thought is that they want to wait and see if they can land Orlando center Dwight Howard before the season begins. They currently have $18.9 million in cap space, so they have the ability to take on the bloated contracts of Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon.

Kris Humphries appears to be their fallback option if they can’t meet the Magic’s steep demands for their franchise player. Humphries is coming off a career season in which he averaged a double-double in New Jersey, and he may have to settle for a short-term deal in an effort to prove he’s not just a one-year wonder. If Humphries is agreeable to signing a one-year pact, he’d be eligible to be dealt on March 1, and could serve as an expiring contract in a Howard blockbuster. Andrei Kirilenko was allegedly another option -- and the Nets have spoken highly of him -- but he’s hurt and may stay and play in his native Russia.

In the offseason, the Nets contemplated moving 23-year-old Brook Lopez from center to power forward, but had to abandon those plans after failing to score Tyson Chandler or Nene in free agency.

As for the small forward spot, James will likely get the starting nod due to his defensive prowess. He’s probably the Nets’ best wing defender given his size and strength, and did an admirable job guarding Carmelo Anthony on Saturday afternoon, holding the Knicks swingman to 7-for-15 shooting. Coach Avery Johnson has said James is going to be every opportunity to try and contain the hybrid forwards that caused so many nightmares for the Nets last season.

Behind James is ex-Knickerbocker sharpshooter Shawne Williams, who connected on 40.1 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2010-11.

Stephen Graham sits third on the small forward depth chart, but he’s an offensive liability and his $1.1 million salary is only guaranteed unless he makes the team out of camp. And then there's Ime Udoka, whose contract is also unguaranteed.

As for the wildcard, it’s Dennis Horner, an NBDLer who made quite an impression in his NBA debut. And then there's second-round pick Jordan Williams, who hasn't been able to practice recently due to dehydration issues. The 21-year-old was a tremendous rebounder at Maryland, but he's still acclimating himself at the NBA level.

There’s no question forward is the Nets’ weakest position, and one that needs to be improved immediately.

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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