Avery aims for defensive decency

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avery_johnson_new_jersey_nets.jpgRome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Newark. If the Nets are going to build something on the ground charred by their ’09-’10 season that went up in flames, it’s going to take some time.

New Jersey’s significant roster upgrades from this offseason are a good start. The Nets now have the raw materials to put a proper framework in place, but it’s still up to Avery Johnson to engineer a creative way to arrange all the pieces. His job won’t be easy, and while Johnson’s vision and persistence will be crucial in his role as team architect, Avery’s most valuable attribute may be his patience.

Improvement should be expected, but the pace of that improvement is anything but certain. The new Nets will take to some aspects of Avery’s game plan quickly, but with some of his more complicated stratagems? Especially on the defensive end? It could take some time.

In a situation like this one, reasonable expectations are essential, and Avery seems to have that part of the job under wraps. From Al Iannazzone of Nets Insider:

“The guys are very attentive and coachable,” Johnson said. “We have
a chance to be a decent, decent defensive team. We have a chance. We
still don’t take enough charges. We don’t block enough shots, but we’ll
get there. We have a chance.”

“Everyone has their certain talents on the offensive end: we’ve got
shooters, slashers and guys who can score in the paint,” Lopez said.
“We all know our roles offensively. It’s really defensively where we
needed to pick up.

We’ve spending most of the time in training camp on the defensive
end, learning rotations, learning our help-side and stuff like that.
That’s where the roles aren’t as well-defined.”

Johnson’s camp isn’t over yet. The Nets still have plenty to learn.

These Nets aren’t the pre-constructed Mavericks that Avery was handed in 2005. They aren’t a group of veterans with an established star, or a team with any kind of identity or direction, really. Much of that will be up to Johnson and his staff, who will look to instill New Jersey with a new defensive focus.

Easier said than done, obviously. Avery will look to make his mark on this franchise from game one, but his job will be far from done even by game 82. Such is life for the coach of a young team, and a newly formed one at that.

Despite revoked passport, Enes Kanter says Thunder have arranged his travel to Mexico City, Toronto

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Thunder center Enes Kanter – who had passport revoked by Turkey – lacked documentation to travel for a December game against the Nets in Mexico City and a March game against the Raptors in Toronto.

Apparently, that issue has been resolved.

Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman:

Kanter said on Sunday that the team has worked out an arrangement to allow him to travel to games in Toronto and Mexico City even without a passport.

It always seemed highly likely Kanter would get to Toronto and Mexico City. He’s a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company.

Report: Carmelo Anthony’s camp ‘cautiously optimistic’ Knicks will trade him by Monday

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In July, Carmelo Anthony was reportedly confident he’d be traded to the Rockets.

That optimism always seemed misguided. A couple months later, with Anthony still on the Knicks, it looks downright foolish.

Yet…

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Anthony’s camp is cautiously optimistic that a deal will be struck before Monday, and trying not to think about the potential media circus that will take place if Carmelo is still with the Knicks.

It’s more likely Anthony’s confidants are hopeful than optimistic. If they’re actually optimistic, they’re very likely to be disappointed.

If Anthony hasn’t been traded by now, what will change between now and Monday? Houston still must find a taker for Ryan Anderson, and that’s no easy task – not without relinquishing sweeteners more valuable than Anthony. I suppose Anthony could waive his no-trade clause for additional teams, but it’s late for a deal to come together.

Hopefully for Anthony, his advisors aren’t pinning everything on a longshot trade and are helping him craft answers to the numerous questions he’ll face at media day next week – likely in New York.

Rick Pitino predicts NBA draft will accept high schoolers within two years

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Once an advocate of increasing the age minimum and a willing accepter of one-and-done, NBA commissioner Adam Silver sounded more open about allowing high school players to declare for the NBA draft.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement left the issue open, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino predicts change is coming – relatively soon.

Pitino, via ESPN:

When I was at Kentucky, I had seven high school basketball players, told me they were coming, and instead, they went to the pros out of high school. And by the way, I think that rule is going to change back to that. I think high school players are going to be able to go pro again.

I think the commissioner is probably going to do it within two years.

Does Pitino know something? With decades of experience in the NBA and college, he could have many contacts with inside information. It’s certainly imperative for devising a recruiting strategy to know how this rule will change.

It’s also possible Pitino saw Silver’s comments, like any outsider could have, and is making a relatively blind guess.

But the possibility of inside information makes his comments more intriguing.

Warriors executive: Golden State rejected richer jersey-ad offers

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The Warriors are charging $60 million over three years for their jersey ads – about double what any other NBA team is getting.

Golden State chief marketing officer Chip Bowers, via Darren Rovell of ESPN:

“We actually had multiple finalists,” Warriors chief marketing officer Chip Bowers said. “This was not the biggest deal that we were offered.”

Bowers said the team felt it was important for the deal to be with a worldwide brand.

Light years ahead.