NBA PM: Nets Looking for Twin Towers?
Nets Looking for Twin Towers?
The Nets have been rumored to be interested in Magic center Dwight Howard as well as free agent big men Tyson Chandler and Nene, which is interesting because the team already has 23-year-old center Brook Lopez.
At 7-0, 265 pounds, Lopez has been disappointing as a defender (1.5 blocks and 6.0 rebounds per game last season) and has seen his rebounding rate fall to 10.0, which was third worst among qualifying centers.
But Lopez has his good, borderline great points as well. Specifically he’s a solid jump shooter with range out to 18 feet and that means the Nets could conceivably play him next to a power forward or a center on offense.
“That’s why we don’t necessarily have to go the route of just signing a power forward,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said Tuesday. “We just think he can play with anybody. He can be a power forward or a center because of his versatility.”
So the Nets could conceivably sign the seven-foot Chandler, Nene or a power forward like New Jersey native David West to play alongside Lopez. And there’s still the chance that, if GM Billy King doesn’t trade Lopez first, New Jersey could sign Howard in the offseason.
Whoever the Nets sign to play next to Lopez will have to be able to defend both 4s and 5s while rebounding effectively. At first glance, that makes Chandler the best bet for New Jersey during free agency. As a member of the World Champion Mavericks last season, Chandler ranked third among centers in rebounding rate (19.7), denied shots in the paint effectively and, because of his ability to clean up around the hoop, led all 5s in true shooting percentage.
Nene ranked third among centers in true shooting percentage, but was only 37th at the position in rebounding rate (14.4), which suggests Chandler might be the better fit to play next to Lopez.
A Lopez-Chandler tandem offers a lot of advantages and disadvantages on defense. Chandler moves well for his size, but could have trouble defending jump-shooting or slashing power fowards. Lopez doesn’t have Chandler’s mobility. Of course, at the very least, being 7-0 allows him the ability to deny shots if not block them completely. And then there’s always the possibility that Johnson could call for more 3-2 zone, which would make it very difficult for opposing offenses to finish around the basket.
The saying “You can’t teach height” is as true now as it’s ever been, especially considering the dearth of big men who can score reliably these days.
Johnson Not Surprised by Williams’ Preference to Stay with Nets
As many know by now, Nets point guard Deron Williams told New York’s WFAN last week that there is a “90 percent” chance he’ll remain with the team beyond this season. The announcement was greeted by skepticism (he’s obviously not going to tick off fans before the season), but Nets coach Avery Johnson says it’s the same message he’s been hearing from Williams since he joined the team last February.
“It’s been consistent in terms of what we’ve been saying all along,” Johnson said. “And I think he just wanted to really put it to bed in terms of what he was thinking. It makes sense for him to do exactly what he’s doing.
“We’re just excited that he’s happy to be here,” Johnson continued. “There’s a possibility, a strong possibility, that we’re going to have him not only for this year but for years to come. Nothing’s guaranteed. June 30th is a long time away. I don’t want to think too much about June 30th right now as much as I want to think about December 9th. But again, I think he’s just being consistent. He’s excited. He’s a big part of what we do behind the scenes. We communicate with him a lot. That’s what I’ve seen happen with really good teams.”
Johnson said his history in San Antonio and Dallas has taught him that star players want to work with owners and executives that listen to their input (“That’s what happens”) so GM Billy King and Johnson have afforded Williams that same opportunity with the Nets.
“It’s just good that we won’t have to answer the question too much this year unless somebody didn’t show up at this press conference,” Johnson said. “We’re excited about having him. We’re a much better team starting this training camp… than where we were at the start of last season.”
Johnson said Williams’ presence puts pressure on him and King to field a winner so the All-Star does in fact stay beyond this season. Johnson, however, refuses to complain about pressure.
“I’ve been feeling pressure since 1988 so there’s always some pressure,” Johnson said, referring to his rookie season as an NBA player. “We would always rather be in this situation where there is some more pressure to continue to built our roster than just to be a lottery team every year.”
Johnson also announced the addition of longtime NBA head and assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo and Manhattan-native Mario Elie to his coaching staff. Carlesimo is also considered the greatest coach in Seton Hall history, so like Elie, he has roots in the area.
A Couple of Glasses With Outgoing Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide
Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide is stepping down and will be replaced by current president Alex Martins, Bright House Sports Network reported. The news was confirmed at a press conference on Tuesday.
“It was a good long run for 20 years,” said Vander Weide to BHSN’s David Baumann. “I originally committed for three years and stayed another 17.
“I’m very proud of the last four years, especially,” he continued. “A trip to the finals a couple of years ago and winning season after winning season.”
A lot of the Magic’s success over that time was directly related to the presence of center Dwight Howard, who Vander Weide called recently… at 1 a.m…. while slightly intoxicated.
“I was playing paddle with friends and had a couple of glasses of wine,” Vander Weide said. ”Maybe Dwight thought it was inappropriate to talk business after a couple of glasses of wine… Maybe I should have waited until the morning.”
(Question to the readers: What is “playing paddle?” Was Vander Weide playing squash at 1 a.m.?)
Vander Weide claimed to have a ““pretty clear understanding where Dwight’s head is,” adding that he wouldn’t disclose the information because “that’s between him and this organization.” He also said he believes the Magic have the pieces to acquire another star player because “teams like our assets.”
One of the reasons for Vander Weide’s resignation is so he can help commissioner David Stern finalize the collective bargaining agreement.
“I felt engrained in the committees,” he said. “Part of the reason I’m stepping down from my role now is because I wanted to complete my role in the new CBA, planning committee and audit finance. I am faithful to David Stern, I really wanted to get through the CBA.”
Training Camps to Start Friday
After some speculation that NBA training camps wouldn’t start until next week, New York Times beat writer Howard Beck wrote that teams will be opening their doors this Friday.
“NBA will open training camps on Friday, according to league officials. No delays.”
Players to Vote Wednesday
And in order to get the players to training camp on Friday, they’ll have to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday, reports Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated. The players will reportedly vote from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. There will also be an accompanying conference call.
The players and owners have been working on the so-called “B-list issues” since agreeing in principal on a new CBA on Nov. 26.
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