Knockout in China. (AP)

Knockout in China. (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets will hold their open practice on October 26th at 11 A.M. at Barclays Center, and while most open practices are little more than an excuse for a basketball team to jog through various basic drills in front of hardcore fans, the Nets have added a bonus element to their preseason event.
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Mirza Teletovic

Mirza Teletovic primed to start in Lopez's absence. (AP)

While beat writers noticed a buoyant Brook Lopez moving without the aid of a walking boot today, talk quickly returned to contingency plans in the absence of the All-Star center.

If Lopez misses the opener with a foot sprain, Lionel Hollins expects to shift Kevin Garnett to the center spot, and insert Mirza Teletovic into the lineup as the starting power forward. On nights when Garnett cannot suit up, the team believes Mason Plumlee can manage as the starting center after starting 22 games at the position last year.

Despite Lopez's setback, GM Billy King seemed optimistic about the team's depth entering the season. King said the team is prepared to deal with the loss of Lopez thanks to the continued development of players like Teletovic and Plumlee.

When asked about the starting five, Coach Hollins expressed "no desire to change anything right now." A sign that Bojan Bogdanovic likely earned the starting wing spot alongside 7-time All Star Joe Johnson.

The Nets season tips off in 12 days at Boston.

 

Brook Lopez

AP

Nets center Brook Lopez suffered a soft tissue injury to his surgically repaired right foot, leaving his status for the team's opening game against the Boston Celtics on October 29th in doubt. The team categorized the injury as a mild right midfoot sprain.

"Brook Lopez experienced right foot soreness after being stepped on during the pre-season game against the Kings Wednesday night," team doctor Riley Williams III said in a prepared statement. "X-ray and CT scan studies done Thursday in New York reveal no fractures or bone injuries. Brook has been diagnosed with a mild midfoot sprain and is likely to be out for approximately 10-14 days."

Lopez first injured the foot in 2011, breaking the fifth metatarsal on his right foot, requiring surgery. He later required a surgery to replace a screw inserted in the first surgery after it had bent in his foot, and underwent a third surgery in January to fix an additional break to the bone, as well as to realign the foot in the hopes that it would lessen pressure on the bone.

Though any injury to Lopez's foot is going to cause serious concern, the location of the injury within the foot is a positive. The injury is said to be in the middle of the foot, rather than at the fifth metatarsal bone, which runs along the outer edge of the foot. But any injury to a foot weakened by bone breaks and multiple surgeries is a compounding worry.

After playing in all 246 regular season games over his first three seasons, Lopez has missed 134 games in his last three, playing in just five games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and 17 last season, missing most of the time due to his right foot injuries.

Nets general manager Billy King will speak with the media regarding Lopez's foot Friday morning.

ESPN -- Brook Lopez could miss two weeks

 

AP

AP

The first two years of the Brooklyn Nets were marked less by their on-court product than by their lavish introductions, interweaved with bombastic pronouncements of the team's rapid rise to greatness. "Hello Brooklyn. I'm Joe Johnson," the first campaign began, a simple introduction befitting Johnson's subdued style, before intersecting Johnson the star and Johnson the man: "Six-time NBA All-Star and lifelong Razorback." The Nets wanted to get across three things: they were here, they were human, and they were great.

But after two seasons of building the buzz, there's a muted subtext to this year's Nets. The team stayed home for training camp. They went away for two of their preseason games, and only two of their regular season games will be on national television. No one is barking about championships. After two years of lavish spending, bombastic marketing campaigns, and prideful declarations of dominance, the Nets have finally become the Park Slope roommate that's gotten used to his leaky shower and loud neighbors, and just wants to pipe down and pay rent until he can move to a cheaper apartment.

On a related note, the Nets this year project to finish the season with their worst year in Brooklyn. ESPN's SCHOENE released their annual NBA projections (Insider), and they have the Nets finishing 36-46, which would leave them out of the playoffs for the first time since moving to the borough, and projects them as a below-average team on both ends of the floor. Their Real Plus-Minus Projected record has them around the same, at 35-47.

Before you go off the rails and admonish SCHOENE for its inherent bias against Deron Williams or Brook Lopez or Brooklyn Brewery or whatever disdain is folded into the projection, remember that SCHOENE is nothing more than a statistical projection model, with no bias or human error involved. Also remember that the model projected the Knicks to finish 37-45 last year, a projection the team and many of its fans scoffed at as proof of how SCHOENE was foolish, and then watched as the Knicks finished the season... 37-45.

Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez

AP

But there's noise in the signal. Health is a tricky thing for any model to take into account; the Nets remain the hardest team to project in the NBA, with a dizzying collection of variables means they could easily end the season with either 30 or 50 wins. They're relying on Brook Lopez to stay healthy, unless his departure from the team actually makes them better, as it did last season. They're relying on Deron Williams to return to form after two ankle surgeries this offseason, even after Williams struggled last season. They're relying on Joe Johnson to remain ageless, Kevin Garnett to turn back the clock, and Lionel Hollins to impart elder wisdom. They're relying on a flex system that takes time to implement but couldn't be easier to create open shots. SCHOENE's projections are often spot-on, but on a team that projects anywhere, 36 is as good as 46.

If most of those things happen, they shouldn't have any issues competing for the Atlantic Division. ESPN's projection acknowledges that, with that first question mark as its biggest one: "If Lopez does manage to make it through the season, though, the Nets are the one team that can challenge the Raptors atop the Atlantic Division. The other development that would bridge that gap is a potential bounce-back season for Williams. He claims his ankles are finally healthy, and if that's the case, he should be able to improve on his 14.3 points and 6.1 assists from last season -- his worst numbers in both categories since he was a rookie."

If optimism is your game, you can argue that the Nets, who never had both a complete roster and competent coach at the same time last year, are primed to compete throughout the year with a core that led them to a 49-win season two years ago. Last season, one ESPN statistical projection had the Nets winning 64 games, which looks silly in hindsight. But the Nets aren't asking for any accolades, and they're not getting any, statistical or otherwise. Come October 29th, we'll get some answers.

 

Brook Lopez, Deron Williams

Brook Lopez, Deron Williams (AP)

The Nets have a lot of decisions to make about their future in the next few years. Here's a quick primer on when the team's 13 current players with guaranteed contracts will likely be in their contract year, and what the Nets could decide to do about it.

Expires in 2014-2015
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AP

AP

The Nets will play a 44-minute preseason game Sunday afternoon against the Boston Celtics, in a landmark decision that could change the future of the NBA. In preparation for playing four fewer minutes this weekend, the Nets got five extra ones in this week.

The Nets staved off the Sacramento Kings, blowing a late fourth-quarter lead before winning in overtime in the second of their two NBA Global Games in China over the Sacramento Kings, 129-117.

With Lionel Hollins returning from illness to coach and Kevin Garnett out to rest, The Nets took a 32-21 first-quarter lead behind 14 points from Brook Lopez, but struggled with their starters off the floor, shooting 4-16 and getting outscored 36-16 in the second quarter. The Nets fired back in the second half behind Mirza Teletovic's reckless shooting and a youth infusion, but a late three-pointer by Sacramento's Omri Casspi tied the game at 112 and eventually sent this one to overtime.

Teletovic led the Nets with 22 points, with Mason Plumlee adding 18 and Brook Lopez 16. 14 of Lopez's 16 points came in the first quarter.

Some notes on the game after the jump:
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Good morning! Usually your bleary eyes aren't accustomed to eyeballing anything but Nets basketball at this time of day, which unfortunately never happens this early on a weekday morning. But today, you're in luck! That means you, Brook Lopez!

Yuichi Masuda, Kikuo Ibe, Brook Lopez, Shigenori Itoh

He's happy. (AP)

Yes, the Nets are in Beijing taking on the Sacramento Kings as part of the NBA's Global Games Initiative, and in the interest of making the game palatable to local fans, it's airing at 7:30 A.M. Eastern Standard Time.

So while you stumble to your coffee pot and try not to trip over that wire right there (no, not that one — that other one), here's three things to watch in this morning's game:
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Lionel Hollins faces low odds to win Coach of the Year. (AP)

Lionel Hollins faces low odds to win Coach of the Year. (AP)

After two lavish seasons of spending and expectations, the Nets enter their third year with tempered expectations, both in the organization and around the league, and recently released odds reflect it.
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Mikhail Prokhorov

Mikhail Prokhorov (AP)

Zach Lowe joined the chorus of voices skeptical about The Nets’ playoff chances this year. In his annual column that offers readers “33 Crazy Predictions for the NBA season” Lowe predicts that the Detroit Pistons leapfrog one or more of the following projected playoff teams “Miami–Brooklyn–New York–Indiana” under new Head Coach Stan Van Gundy.

Now before you go picking fights, Lowe does not trash the team when he notes “Brooklyn has lots of interesting pieces, including stealth first-team All-Rookie candidate Bojan Bogdanovic” but adds the team faces a challenge reintegrating “Brook Lopez without sacrificing what emerged as a legit top-10 defense last season.” Lowe shares the near universal concern for “Lopez and Deron Williams” health.

This site, and several others, noted the improvements Lopez has made defensively to leverage his size and strength to protect the rim and body up big men in the post. But, there is no denying that ball handlers lick their chops each time they see a slow-footed Lopez stretched far from the paint.

These tendencies were on full display in the team’s first exhibition game with the Kings. You saw some of Lopez’s better tendencies bodying up talented scorer DeMarcus Cousins. You also saw some the challenges Lopez faces as Kings’ guard Darren Collison and Ramon Sessions turned on the jets when Lopez left the paint to defend a pick-and-roll.

From what we saw in just a few preseason games: Lopez “ices” most picks and rolls very conservatively ceding plenty of room for a pull-up jumper.  A strategy the Nets tried last season. It’s a defense far different from the Nets aggressive “long ball” scheme that asked its big men to play to the touch, and its position-less wings to “switch” on most pick-and-rolls in search of turnovers. It should be noted that in the first two exhibition, other big men Nets rosters have varied their pick-and-roll coverage – showing and playing to the touch –  compared to the more conservative style of Lopez.

Lopez’s integration on defense is a fair question mark that we hope to explore more as the season progresses.

Lowe also predicts ownership of one teams will change hands during the season, and it might be The Nets:

Mikhail Prokhorov wants to retain control of the Nets even if he can strike a deal with Guggenheim Partners for some minority stake, but no one in the league offices would be surprised if Prokhorov eventually cashes out.

Reports from several outlets and direct statements from team management refute any interest in a sale, but money does talk, and Prokhorov proves quite adept at furthering his fortune.

Either way, the Nets get the opportunity to put predictions and projections behind them on October 29 when they open up the season in Boston.

Grantland –“33 Crazy Predictions for the NBA season”

5 Biggest Brooklyn Nets Rivals

Posted on: October 14th, 2014 by Alex Mazer Comments

 

AP

AP

Who are the 5 biggest rivals to the Brooklyn Nets? You may be surprised to find out.

next-2

 

AP

AP

What do you know about your Brooklyn Nets' coaching staff? If your answer is “not much,” you’ve come to the right place.
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The BrooklyKnight was always doomed.
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