Nets Are Scorching Interview – Dave D’Alessandro

Yup, it is another one of these interviews, I really think it is interesting hearing the take of the beat writers that follow the Nets.  They are around the team the most, and they really seem to know what makes a team tick (There are some questions in here about Lawrence Frank’s job, this was done before Lawrence Frank was brought back, I am just getting to posting it now).  In this edition, I sent a few questions Dave D’Alessandro’s way and he was kind enough to answer them.  Dave writes covers the Nets for The Star Ledger, you can find his stuff over at his blog on called Nets Blast.

NAS:  Looking back on it, was the Richard Jefferson trade a complete failure?

No, I look at the RJ trade as a salary dump, because that’s what it was. If they could catch lightning in a bottle by turning Yi into a rotation player, then it’s a fair deal. But he’ll never be as good as Jefferson, and everyone knew that already. Remember that three-game stretch in January – 19 ppg, 7 rpg —  that everyone watched in slack-jawed amazement? Those were off-nights for Richard. Perhaps Yi gets his averages up to that level someday – I wouldn’t say it’s beyond the realm of possibility. And that will make some people say, “OK, not a terrible deal.’ And those are the ones with short memories. Even then, Yi cannot have the same impact on a game as RJ did – scoring, boarding, passing for profit, defending, competing, inspiring – and he never will.

NAS:  How impressed were you with the rookies this year?

Muy impresionado, senor. Getting three contributors in one draft? That’s extremely rare – someone ought to do the research to check the last time it happened with a team that kept its original picks (I’m not talking about getting Collins/RJ/Armstrong from Houston; I mean the original picks). Usually a team that keeps its multiple picks gets one really good player, another that sticks around for a bit, and a third that bombs. Kind of a Charles Barkley-Leon Wood-Tom Sewell thing.

NAS:  I think we got a diamond in the rough with CDR.  Do you think CDR can be a starter for the Nets someday?

Don’t know if he’s a starter, but he’s a player. And once he becomes a knockdown guy from 20 feet, he’ll be a very good player. I don’t think it makes sense to wish for a guy to be a starter – this phase is all about acquiring assets, and he can be a big one, especially if he shows that he can play multiple possessions.

NAS:  Would you consider the Nets season a failure?

Hardly. We thought all along that the best-case scenario would be 35 wins, and 34-48 doesn’t exactly burst the balloon. People are probably sick of hearing it, but Job 1 was developing the kids, and they succeeded in most cases.

NAS:  What is your opinion on Vince Carter?  Is he staying or going?

This isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of opportunity. If there’s a team out there that has some bad contracts it wants to dump that add up to $16M, and the Nets can sell it by suggesting there’s an asset in the deal that can help down the road without dropping them in the sewer in ’09-10, they’ll pursue it. If not, they won’t.

NAS:  Does Lawrence Frank need to go?  If so, who would you like to see replace him?

I’m old school on this. If you judge a coach on every facet of the job – and the game strategy which most fans are fixated on is only about 20 percent of it – you have to give him passing marks. Player development, role definition, preparation, game-planning, communication, attention to detail, temperament, accountability – he’s not good, he’s very good. And in the end, if they’re playing hard for him, that’s the only criterion to determine whether it’s time to make a change. The only area in which I have my doubts is with relationships. Don’t get me wrong – he hasn’t heard a hostile word since McInnis dogged his way out of town. But I wonder whether there are times when he may be too close to some of these guys. Yes, that’s the way it goes in big-time politics – your survival is often intertwined with how your best players feel about you. But I wonder if he is often too easy on some guys, because some of them need a roundhouse kick in the kaboose – I can’t tell you with any certainty, because I’m not allowed to watch the practice interaction. I do know this much, however: This is not the kind of self-motivated team he inherited in ’04 – it’s a very different group. As for a replacement, you know the deal: Management usually goes with a type that is the opposite in temperament, style, etc. It would have to be a defensive guy – a Skiles type, but he’s otherwise engaged. Van Gundy is probably going to stick with TV for the time being. I’ve always wondered what a guy like Adelman would do with this group. Thibodeau would be great, but he’s not exactly the most engaging interview. And Eddie Jordan would be fine, but he’s not exactly a defensive coach. And there’s nothing that I just said that Thorn hasn’t thought about for hours at a time, which is why I think he’s going to bring Frank back.

NAS:  Do you see the Nets going after any free agents?

Not likely. The payroll is already as low as it can go, but ownership actually wants it to go lower, regardless of what Bruce has been saying. If they can pick off somebody for half the midlevel, however (Bass? Kleiza?), Rod can probably sell it.

NAS:  What do you think the Nets are going to do draft wise?

Haven’t looked it yet. And I’m happy to report that they haven’t any idea what they’re going to do draft-wise either, other than keep their fingers crossed that there’s a space-and-glass eater available down at 11, because all they know right now is that Griffin/Rubio/Thabeet are top 3 and everything else is a muddle.

NAS:  Yi.  Do you think he will be on the team next year?  If so, is he just going to be riding the pine?

Did you really say “riding the pine?” You know they actually sit in cushy chairs now, right? Yes, he’ll be on the team next year, because his trade value is nil. And he’ll be a sub unless he comes to camp 10 pounds heavier, 10 times more confident in his shooting stroke, twice as strong, far more willing to take a hit and finish, automatic with his face-up move from the elbow, 20 times more willing to take on a defensive challenge, and generally pissed off at the world for laughing at him over the last two months of ’08-09.

I just wanted to thank Dave again for taking the time to answer my questions.  It was interesting reading his answers and getting his take on these topics.