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Summer League is over, Free Agency is nearly wrapped up, and it is time to focus on what matters most: Mascots. We want you to get involved! Tweet out your suggestions for who the next Nets Mascot should be with the #MyBrooklynMascot.
Start: Goodbye Paul. Hello Bojan!
18:45: Did Paul Pierce and Deron Williams have a frosty relationship?
26:00: News Around the League: Knicks Orange Jerseys, Love Trade, Embiid's Twitter Revolution, and China.
42:40: Killer Komparison: A deep dive into the next Nets Mascot. #MyBrooklynMascot
The knives are out of the backs, new leadership is installed, and Paul Pierce has joined Barack Obama and John Wall. Brooklyn Nets fans are left with a dapper new coach, some fresh (and even young!) faces and a whole lot of question marks about how their team plans to play next season.
It starts up top. Coach Lionel Hollins last coached the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012-2013, to 56 wins and a Conference Finals loss to the Spurs (duh) in the ultra-competitive West.
By examining Hollins’ use of personnel in his last season with Memphis, we can unearth some clues on what next season’s Brooklyn Nets will look like on the offensive and defensive end.
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The above is five minutes of highlights, average-lights, and general on-court awareness from new Brooklyn Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who the Nets selected with the first pick of the second round in the 2010 NBA draft. This isn't an NBA game -- it was a part of the NBA's Global Games initiative in the 2013-14 preseason -- but it was nonetheless a chance for Bogdanovic to showcase his NBA-level skills against real competition.
There's a lot of good to see in here. Bogdanovic scores in a few different ways, throws a beautiful one-handed, 70-foot pass that hits the target perfectly, backs down Jeremy Lamb and hits a nice floater (negated by an early whistle), and generally looks like he belongs amongst the trees. There's a couple of moments where he passes up hitting an open teammate, but in an exhibition where he's the best player on the floor against an NBA team, you can't really blame him for going for his own shot.
Besides, Bogdanovic's bullheadedness led to the inarguable highlight of the video, when he pulls up off the dribble and nails a three right in Kevin Durant's face. The full play begins around 2:50.
Though the Thunder won 95-82, Bogdanovic led all scorers not named Durant with 19 points on 4-10 shooting. All of his baskets came from behind the arc (4-8 from deep), he hit seven of eight free throws (he shot 81% from the line in all Euroleague phases last season), and he added four rebounds to only one turnover.
The Brooklyn Nets have officially signed Bojan Bogdanovic to a three-year contract using their taxpayer mid-level exception, the team announced today.
The team originally drafted Bogdanovic 31st overall (the top pick in the second round) in the 2011 NBA draft, acquiring him in a draft-day trade. He's played overseas ever since, even after it appeared imminent that the team would sign him last offseason before they signed Andrei Kirilenko to a two-year contract.
“Having drafted Bojan in 2011, it is rewarding to finally welcome him to the Nets,” Nets general manager Billy King said in a prepared statement. “We obviously have a high regard for his game, and we are glad he will now bring that talent to Brooklyn.”
King said earlier this month that he'd discussed how Bogdanovic would be best utilized with Lionel Hollins during the team's interview process with their new head coach.
Bogdanovic's contract will cost the Nets about $10.1 million over three years. Given their current roster construction, his contract will cost roughly $10 million additional this season in luxury tax payments.
Are the Nets primed to play their preseason games in Russia? It looks that way. Sergei Kushchenko, who is on the team's board of directors, told a Russian news agency that the NBA could set up exhibition games in Russia, particularly with "those Brooklyn Nets":
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Since 1976, the last pick in the NFL draft has been referred to -- with tongue firmly planted in cheek -- as "Mr. Irrelevant." The dubious honor even comes with some hardware, "The Lowsman Trophy," a play on the Heisman with the player fumbling a football.
The NBA's version of Mr. Irrelevant has changed quite a bit over the years. The most recent king of irrelevancy is Brooklyn draft property, as the Nets selected Cory Jefferson with the 60th and final selection in the 2014 draft with a pick that they bought from the San Antonio Spurs. The 6'9" Baylor product has a legitimate chance to make the Nets roster, and if he does he would be the third Mr. Irrelevant in four years to make the NBA following Isaiah Thomas (2011, Kings) and Robert Sacre (2012, Lakers).
It hasn't always been number 60. From 1948 to 1986, the draft did not have a limited number of rounds, with teams picking until they did not want to pick any longer. This system produced Mr. Irrelevants like Willie Horton -- no, not THAT Willie Horton -- in the 21st round of the 1968 draft, and Steve Martin -- not that Steve Martin either -- with the 202nd overall pick in the 1979 draft. Like virtually all Mr. Irrelevants of this era, neither ever played in the NBA.
The NBA drafts of yesteryear were so long that Carl Lewis -- actually, yes, THAT Carl Lewis -- was drafted 208th overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1984, despite never playing high school or college basketball. But even with basketball absent on his CV, the ten-time Olympic medalist in track and field wasn't Mr. Irrelevant, as 20 players were taken after.
The probability of a Mr. Irrelevant making an NBA roster increased exponentially as the NBA draft was curtailed to seven rounds in 1987, then three rounds in 1988, and finally the current two-round system in 1989. While more Mr. Irrelevants have made NBA rosters since the late 1980s, their relevancy has not increased all that greatly, with only one player averaging over 7 points per game in an NBA uniform.
In honor of Mr. Jefferson, let's look at the non-illustrious history of the top three "Mr.Irrelevants" in NBA history.
Progress Report #1
We've already gotten some interesting suggestions.
— Mike King (@MikeKing00) July 21, 2014
Several calls to bring back Sly, the NJ Nets mascot:
— Tyler Hernandez (@YoItsTizzy) July 21, 2014
Over at Reddit, hueypriest suggests, "New mascot needs to be a badass but huggable pit bull, or Jerry Stackhouse."
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After the bold move to sack the BrooklyKnight, the Nets have the opportunity for a much-needed fresh start in the mascot department. But after the horrors of the past two seasons, the team clearly cannot be allowed to make this decision on their own. You, the fans, must weigh in.
How to enter: Send us your ideas for the next Nets mascot in the comments section, on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MyBrooklynMascot, or by emailing us at devin(at)thebrooklyngame(dot)com. Soon, we'll post all the ideas, and allow you to vote on your favorites. When you've picked your top 3, we'll decide the winner.
While we can't guarantee the Nets will use your winning entry, we can guarantee that the winner will be wildly celebrated with a post on The Brooklyn Game AND pick up a free t-shirt, courtesy of The Brooklyn Game. Don't worry, we've ensured that Paul McCartney is not eligible.
He tries so hard.
The fine print: by sending us an image or text on social media or through email, you acknowledge that you hold all relevant intellectual property rights to the idea and/or image, and give us the rights to showcase said property on The Brooklyn Game. Part-time contributors to The Brooklyn Game are free to enter. All full-time employees of The Brooklyn Game, plus legendary Beatles guitarist Paul McCartney, are ineligible. You must be 13 or older to enter.
And one more time for posterity: be gone, BrooklyKnight. (Note: not the guy who had to play him in costume. That guy seems very nice and incredibly athletic.)
In a Russian tabloid SovSport, Andrei Kirilenko told a reporter that the Nets intend to compete for a championship in the upcoming season, before taking some parting shots at former coach Jason Kidd.
Via NetsDaily, who provided the translation:
"We intend to seriously compete for the title," said Kirilenko at point in the interview, later adding that "everyone is waiting for a championship victory from Brooklyn.
It'll be difficult. The Nets are a year older, let Paul Pierce go for financial reasons, and the East is suddenly flush with talent. But that's the right attitude for a veteran to have.
Kirilenko also alleged Kidd wasn't ready for both a coaching job or the bright lights of being a leader in New York City:
As he has previously, Kirilenko seemed to diss Kidd, at one point suggesting he may not have wanted to deal with the pressure of coaching in New York, "So the pressure is huge. And Kidd couldn’t handle it. Or maybe didn’t want to." He called the team's second round exit a "lack of success." (Kirilenko's wife, Masha, publicly criticized Kidd for not playing the veteran in the playoffs.)
The criticism got harsher, more so than in previous interviews.
"Basically he was not able to do much of anything, if you look at the big picture – we have to admit that fact," says Kirilenko, throwing his arms open. "There were objective reasons. Our starting center, Brook Lopez, injured himself early and was out for the whole season. There were health problems with other players. But the serious goals set before the club were not cancelled. We were serious about fighting for the title."
"When Kidd became head of the team, no one really knew what to expect," he added. "Of course he had colossal experience as a player but no coaching experience. Or reputation. At the beginning it was difficult. What else could it be when you’re losing more games than you’re winning? Things were a bit easier for me as I was injured at the time and couldn’t be on the court and do anything about it, no matter how much I wanted to. So, inside, I was calm."
By saying Kidd wasn't able to do much of anything, Kirilenko echoed the criticism from an anonymous scout in November that said Kidd was a total non-factor on the bench early in the season.
This isn't Kirilenko's first lap around the Kidd criticism track. Back in January, I asked Kirilenko about Kidd's progress as a coach. He acknowledged that things were getting better, but also added that it was a confusing process. "In the beginning of the season when we started, we were kind of wondering, 'what are we doing? Why are we doing this?' A lot of talking, like people sometimes didn’t understand," Kirilenko said.
Related: The Ultimate Jason Kidd Timeline