Talking About Chris Douglas-Roberts…Again…

With the Nets in Memphis last night to play the Grizzlies, I was expecting some news about CDR to come out of it.  The city of Memphis loves CDR from his college years, and with him not getting much time fans are probably curious about why it is happening.  This afternoon an article from Scott Cacciola of the Memphis Commercial Appeal popped up, and in it were some interesting quotes about the relationship between CDR and Kiki Vandeweghe.  Here are some excerpts:

The disconnect between Douglas-Roberts and coach Kiki Vandeweghe could not have been more obvious. Not counting the two times Vandeweghe requested that Douglas-Roberts report to the scorer’s table, neither appeared to acknowledge the other’s existence. And while Vandeweghe has been diplomatic in his public remarks about Douglas-Roberts, their relationship is strained. It is one of the worst-kept secrets in the NBA.

When Douglas-Roberts was asked about the situation, he craned his neck to check if anyone was listening and lowered his voice to a whisper.

“It’s unique,” he said. “We talked a lot when he got here. But then he took over as the head coach, and it’s … it’s, uh, unique.”

Under Frank, Douglas-Roberts averaged 16.3 points on 14.3 shots per game. Under Vandeweghe, he is averaging 8.3 points on 7.7 shots per game. And his playing time continues to deteriorate. In February, he averaged just 3.3 points on 39-percent shooting in 14.4 minutes per game.

He also was benched twice, and that included the Nets’ 104-94 loss to the visiting Grizzlies on Feb. 21. Vandeweghe told reporters it was the result of an “internal matter,” which provided at least an indication of the turmoil that has hindered the Nets – and CDR, in particular – this season.

“I’m fully aware of what’s going on,” Douglas-Roberts said. “Earlier in the year, I was really successful. The first 30 or 35 games, I was averaging 17 a game. But we were still losing. And then the coaching change, and he came in with a different system, philosophy. Basically I had to take a backseat.”

Asked how the system is different, Douglas-Roberts said: “It’s more of an inside-out team. We have a great big in Brook Lopez. And another young big in Yi Jianlian. And then basically we have to play through them, which is fine. But I’m suffering a little from that.”

Douglas-Roberts, during his cameos, often stationed himself outside the 3-point arc along the baseline. He looked almost uncomfortable.

“I don’t really know what my role is,” he said. “I just go in there and, you know, play while I’m in there. It’s not really an established role like it was earlier in the year. So I just go out there and try to play and help us out however I can.”

That is a lot to take in, so let’s look at each individual topic.

The Disconnect

CDR has been saying something to this effect for a while now.  I don’t know what happens behind the scenes, but I have been to a couple of practices and to me it doesn’t seem like Kiki is going out of his way to talk to him, but he isn’t going out of his way to avoid him.  Again, just based on my observations it seems that CDR is more of the initiator of the disconnect.  It all probably started after Kiki’s first benching of CDR.  I am not saying he needs to be happy, but it is pretty important to have a working relationship with your coach, and if the coach doesn’t feel like he can trust a player to listen to him, he isn’t going to play him.  It is that simple.  The problem is that the more CDR sits, the more introverted he becomes.

The System

This has been CDR’s biggest complaint of the season and of Kiki.  That Kiki’s decision to play inside-out is disrespectful to CDR and his game, but in all actuality this was the decision that turned the Nets’ season around (from 0 wins to now 7).  The fact that CDR still spouts off his scoring average after the first 30 games off the top of his head is troubling.  He seems to be hanging on to that despite not doing what got him there.  Ever since Yi returned and Kiki decided to play inside-out, Kiki has lost that aggression and willingness to attack the basket.  That’s why his shots and his scoring have gone down.  The shots are out there (especially now that the Nets need a 4th scorer with Yi out).  Even the Memphis paper admitted this:

Douglas-Roberts is a slasher, not a distributor. But there does seem to be room in Vandeweghe’s system for guards and wings who are capable scorers. Against the Grizzlies, swingman Courtney Lee scored 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting and point guard Devin Harris added 28 – though, in fairness, they had to take on more responsibility because Jianlian was sidelined with an injury.

CDR’s Role

This seems to be CDR’s new complaint about the Nets and Kiki.  That CDR doesn’t know his role anymore, as if it is an excuse for him to stand out beyond the three point line when he is in.  I have an idea for CDR, if he doesn’t know his role, why doesn’t he ask his coach?  Oh yeah, I forgot, their relationship is “unique”.  Not knowing his role shouldn’t prevent him from doing things like boxing out (gave up a key rebound in the fourth quarter against Memphis) when he is in the game.

Talking about CDR and his complaints about the Nets is getting old.  It seems like he needs to come up with a new excuse or reason why he isn’t playing (or playing well) about every month.  CDR is a guy with a chip on his shoulder, and rightfully so.  That chip is what makes CDR a potentially special player, but he needs to realize that not everyone is against him, especially his teammates and coaches.