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The Brooklyn Nets face off against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, in what will be the first time Deron Williams competes against his former team since an unceremonious buyout agreement in July. (The two teams faced off in December, but Williams sat out with an ankle injury.) With the two facing off, let’s take a look at where some of last year’s players have ended up, from A(lan) to (Mir)Z(a).
Deron Williams, Dallas Mavericks: We start with Williams, who’s no longer relied on as the top dog with a max salary (though he’s still making a bonus $5.5 million from Brooklyn for the next five seasons). He’s experienced a leveling off in his game, but a major uptick in his mood. Williams is shooting better from 2-point range (45.8%, up from 39.5% last year) and the free throw line (89.6%, up from 83.4%), but otherwise has regressed from last season, shooting worse from three-point range and dishing fewer assists. Still, Williams is an important piece for the Mavericks, who should comfortably land between 5th and 7th in the Western Conference playoff race, while the Nets have nosedived in on-court production without him.
Williams also hit a game-winning three in double-overtime for the Mavericks this season, the type of shot he wasn’t often willing or able to take in Brooklyn.
Mason Plumlee, Portland Trail Blazers: Plumlee thrived as a backup center for two seasons for the Nets, limited mostly to a role of running towards the rim and finding ways to dunk basketballs through hoops. After the Nets dealt him on draft night, Plumlee said he was excited to explore the other facets of his game, particularly his passing. It’s worked out for him: Plumlee’s averaging nearly three assists per game with the Trail Blazers, more than triple what he averaged in either season with the Nets, and he’s still averaging a solid double-double per 36 minutes. Plumlee’s contributions are helping the Trail Blazers fight against the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Mirza Teletovic, Phoenix Suns: One of just four players who stuck with the Nets for their first three years in Brooklyn, Teletovic bolted for Phoenix on a one-year deal shortly after the Nets rescinded their qualifying offer in an attempt to avoid the luxury tax line. Teletovic has thrived in the more spacious Phoenix offense, averaging a career-high in points per game (9.7) and three-point percentage (41.8%). Teletovic struggled to keep a role under a revolving door of Nets coaches, and seems much more comfortable with the Suns.
He, like Williams, also hit a game-winner earlier this year.
Alan Anderson, Washington Wizards: Anderson signed on for a one-year deal with the Washington Wizards hoping to join a winning team, but has yet to play this season after undergoing surgery in October on his left ankle. He’s expected to return sometime in February.
Andrei Kirilenko, Russian Basketball Federation: Kirilenko never carved out a role with the Nets under Lionel Hollins, and after just 36 minutes in seven games and Hollins’s decision to bench him permanently, was traded to the 76ers in an unceremonious end to his NBA career. But if there’s a way to step up from being an NBA player, Kirilenko’s done it: after a brief stint playing for CSKA Moscow, Kirilenko is now the Commissioner of the Russian Basketball Federation, meeting with head honchos like former NBA commissioner David Stern (via Kirilenko’s Instagram). Not a bad job if you can get it. (You can’t get it. Kirilenko has it.)
Cory Jefferson, Phoenix Suns: Jefferson, the bouncy forward who refused to go overseas on draft night, has apparently stuck to his USA-centric dreams: Jefferson found his way to the Suns after getting cut by the Nets in Summer League, signing a one-year, non-guaranteed deal. After getting waived in January, Jefferson found his way back to Phoenix, and is currently on a ten-day contract with the Suns.
Jerome Jordan, Chinese Basketball Association: Jordan was a little-used third-string center who had an uncanny knack for hitting free throws and did a lot of good things in very limited time, but never stuck for a significant role. Jordan’s now playing in China for a team called Jiangsu Monkey King, which is a real team name, where he’s currently averaging over 20 points and 9 rebounds per game as their starting center. The above is a photo from agent Brad Ames’s Twitter account.
Earl Clark, Fenerbahce Ulker?: Clark signed a couple of ten-day contracts with the Nets after an injury to Thaddeus Young last season, and immediately fired a barrage of mid-range jumpers to prove he could stick. The Nets waived Clark in August, and bounced between the Bakersfield Jam and Delaware 87ers of the D-League before reportedly signing a deal with Turkish club Fenerbahce Ulker today (January 29th), Bojan Bogdanovic’s former team. It wouldn’t be Clark’s first jaunt overseas, as he’s previously spent time playing in China with the Shandong Golden Stars.