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New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2008-06-30 News New Jersey Nets

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News » New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2008-06-30

New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2008-06-30

New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2008-06-30
General manager Kiki Vandeweghe said no team can answer all its needs in one draft night. But it seemed as if the Nets sure as heck tried.

They got size. They got shooting. They got depth. They got some salary cap relief and flexibility for down the road through a trade of one of their main pieces.

So before the Nets gratefully took 7-foot center Brook Lopez at No. 10, 6-10 Cal shooter Ryan Anderson at 21 and multi-purpose wing Chris Douglas-Roberts at 40 in the second round, the Nets made headlines by dealing Richard Jefferson, the last member of their NBA Finals teams of 2002 and 2003, to Milwaukee for 7-foot Yi Jianlian and 6-6 veteran forward Bobby Simmons.

"I'm going to try to bring energy and an interior defensive presence," Lopez said.

"New Jersey is a great fit for me," Anderson said. "I'm a shooting big guy."

And the deal of Jefferson, who has $42.4 million remaining over three years, won't immediately help the Nets financially but will help considerably for the summer of 2010 when LeBron James will head to free agency. It's no secret James is very friendly with the Nets' minority owner/adviser, rapper Jay Z. The talk of "Bring LeBron to Brooklyn" will only intensify.

But the brass insist the Jefferson-for-Yi deal was made for Yi's upside, not as a means to James in the end.

"Short term, no. It's virtually a wash. Long term, yes, because Richard's contract is longer," team president Rod Thorn said, maintaining there was "not any" impact on the deal from a financial standpoint, that talent was the motivator. "My feeling is with Yi's upside, it was something we had to look at. A 20-year-old kid with his skill set we feel he has a big future."

And so the rebuilding has begun in earnest in New Jersey. It started with the trade of Jason Kidd to Dallas for talented point guard Devin Harris, Kidd's junior by 10 years. It continued with the deal of Jefferson and carried into the draft which left the Nets, ostensibly, with 16 players on the roster and seven of those with three years or less of NBA experience.

"It really started with the realization that Jason Kidd was ready to leave. He requested a trade, the team was not doing well, it wasn't performing as we would hope, so we got a very good young point guard in Devin Harris, and additional draft picks with it," Vandeweghe recapped. "We wanted to be a championship-level team at some point. We weren't satisfied with being middle of the pack, and that's what we felt we were headed if we brought back the same team. So it was incumbent on us to do something."

So the Nets were intrigued by Yi's upside. In 25 minutes a night with the Bucks, he averaged 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds. Simmons is a blue-collar type favored by coach Lawrence Frank.

"We think with his skill set, athleticism and size, he can be a very good player," Thorn said of Yi. "We obviously need size. One of our negatives is we're a very small team. We'll feel he's got a big upside."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: There was a road victory over the Lakers in November, one of the few flashes of light in an overall gloomy season. But a five-game post-Christmas and into-the-New Year celebration contained the Nets' longest winning streak and most of the feel-good moments of the season. The Nets even beat three playoff teams in the Dec. 28 to Jan. 5 run: Washington, Milwaukee, Orlando, Charlotte and Atlanta. But after splitting the next two games, reality returned and the Nets lost nine straight.

TURNING POINT: Maybe the breakdown began with Vince Carter's sprained ankle in November, but Dec. 5 is the date for the season's most crucial and ultimately damaging moment. That was the night Jason Kidd, citing a migraine, took off a game against the hated Knicks. Numerous insiders throughout the organization maintained Kidd was protesting his failure to secure a contract extension, something Kidd still denies. Kidd's unhappiness and subsequent trade request ultimately came to light and until it was resolved, as Richard Jefferson later claimed, the Nets were "dead men walking."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 30, 2008


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