Tag: Josh Childress

New Jersey Nets v Atlanta Hawks

NBA Season Preview: Brooklyn Nets


Last Season: I want you to imagine the most you’ve ever vomited. Like, literally, the greatest single bout of nauseated vomiting you’ve ever gone through. I want you to think about what you ate, what it smelled like, that cold, hard porcelain  or unfeeling trash can that embraced you after the day-old shellfish or that bottle of Bullit whiskey you thought would be awesome to drink in bulk.

That, plus some turnovers, was the Nets last year.

Brook Lopez was hurt. Gerald Wallace was getting adjusted. The organization was clearing the decks for this summer, and Deron Williams, honestly, it seemed like, was not fully invested in throwing himself into the vomit-water over and over again. They weren’t the worst team in the league. But there were games they could have made a good effort for that title. They were not good, at the basketball, as the kids say.

Key Departures: Johan Petro.

Just kidding! Gerald Green also took off. The Nets didn’t really lose anyone in free agency of note, because it was hard to note anyone beneath all the vomit.

However, the trade for Joe Johnson did send Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson out.

Key Additions: Mikhail Prokhorov kind of made it rain. Barclays finished construction and the sky over Brooklyn opened up and started to rain down cash for sub-All-Stars.

They re-signed Deron Williams, after it was expected there would be a tense decision over Dallas vs. Brooklyn, instead, Mark Cuban didn’t even attend the Mavs’ meeting with Williams, and Williams re-upped for the max. How did Brooklyn sway the All-Star point guard to buy into their team after all the vomit?

They traded for what many consider to be the worst contract in the NBA. The Nets pulled off a stunner trade, as Danny Ferry kick-started a rebuilding process in Atlanta. Sending out a package of delete-able contracts for Johnson netted them a second All-Star to pair with Williams, showed their commitment, and drastically improved their team, regardless of what the salary hawks might say.

From there… more money! Gerald Wallace was re-signed at either a drastic overpay or a semi-bargain depending on which side of the fence you’re on, at four-years, $40 million. They brought back Kris Humphries on a pretty massive deal considering what he brings to the table. They upgraded their bench considerably, adding Reggie Evans to club people, C.J. Watson for back-up point guard, brought over Mirza Teletovic, and added bargain veterans in Andray Blatch and Josh Childress.

Oh, and they gave Brook Lopez a huge four-year deal. They needed a quality starting center and were capped out, so they had to put the money in on Lopez. It’s a big investment in Lopez considering his issues and injury, but if you look at his production before his health problems, very much worth it.

Three Keys to the Nets’ Season:

1. Avery Johnson gets the defense to work: Avery Johnson’s track record with the Nets has been very poor, but so has the talent. He’s got the talent, now he’s got to make it work. Brook Lopez is an offensive-focused center, and can have issues defensively. He’s also got the injury history, but the foot condition is not supposed to  be a recurring problem and the other issue was mono, so you can’t really think he’s going to have problems. That said, he’s not a rim protector. Kris Humphries brings a lot of effort and can defend in space, but he’s also not a dominant defensive presence.

Johnson has to figure out how to put all the pieces together for a team that has no real time together, and has to do it immediately. He’s going to need a lot from Gerald Wallace, almost asking Wallace to do what Andre Iguodala did for the Sixers the last few years. It’s building a strong defense in a defensive-centric conference from non-defensive-focused players who haven’t spent any time together. But if he can make it work, the Nets have the offensive firepower to shoot their way to a high seed in the East.

2. Joe Johnson must learn to live without the ball: For years, Johnson has operated in an ISO-heavy offense in Atlanta where he was allowed to go one-on-one (or one-on-three) at any moment. Now he has to work off-ball because Deron Williams will be the maestro most of the time. He needs to set good screens for the wing pick-and-pop and take advantage of the defense not being prepared for his cuts and catch-and-shoot opportunities. This isn’t to say that Johnson won’t isolate, he will, and Johnson will provide him with those opportunities. But the Nets will be at their best when they employ the tactics that have made the other “super teams” effective, by using their talent to create constant dilemmas for the defense on who to guard, and then creating open looks for star players. Johnson could have the best season of his career if he adjusts to that.

3. Brook Lopez has got to do his thing: Lopez was among the players on the annual “(X Player) got how much money?!” list, but the truth is that he’s a top offensive center in this league (when healthy). He has terrific range, footwork, touch, court awareness and finishing ability (when healthy). Lopez has true size at the position, and if defenses are sagging off of him to guard the Nets’ perimeter weapons with help defense, Lopez is absolutely going to feast (if he’s healthy). You seeing a pattern, yet?

He’s going to get a ton of opportunities, and he’ll be the third best offensive weapon on the team. But more importantly, the Nets desperately need him to improve his rebounding. There are a lot of reasons listed why Lopez’ rebounding fell off the map. The mono and injuries are a good one. But his issues with Avery Johnson should also be noted. He’s got to show a re-commitment to the glass because the Nets are going to need it, even with Humphries on the floor. Lopez has to become an all-around center this year and there is absolutely zero time for him to develop into it any more.

What one thing should scare Nets fans? That these players are not considered elite outside of Williams, and yet the Nets spent a fortune on them. Johnson is a perennial All-Star, but he’s not considered in the top three of shooting guards, when shooting guards is the weakest position in the league at the moment. Lopez comes with a host of concerns. Humphries brings production and effort but has always thrived on losing teams, which can be a worrisome sign. (But would you rather he have struggled on a poor team?).  And Wallace is a one-time All-Star who is dependent on his athleticism and is starting to creep up the age ladder at 30. This is not a superstar team on the level of Boston, Miami, L.A., but they’re paying Brewster’s millions towards the club not just this year but for the next four years, really. If the combination of players isn’t right, it could be a disaster they can’t pull out of, and could make for an ugly situation.

Alternative option: If the past two years of Deron Williams’ play has not been an aberration but a legitimate slide in effectiveness.

How it likely works out: Just fine. Look, Deron Williams, when initiated, is one of the top five point guards in the league and on any given night can look like a top-two point guard (at least). He’s a great defender, a good team leader, a versatile offensive player, and an all-around stud. Joe Johnson is, in all honesty, one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, something he almost never gets credit for. And while the dribble-dribble pull-up jumper act gets old, he can still have nights where he takes over. This is the most talent he’s played with since Phoenix (and those Hawks teams were no joke), and he’s got a real opportunity to take his name to the national stage, finally. Wallace is an all-around monster in terms of what he does end to end and Lopez is a fantastic weapon (when healthy). They still have MarShon Brooks they added versatile forwards, and Avery Johnson did coach a Finals team.

They have all the talent in the world. And talent matters in this league. The odds of this being an unmitigated disaster are minuscule. The worst case scenario for them is that they end up on the bottom of the Knicks-Nets-Sixers lump, or that someone gets injured and the thing falls apart. But there’s just too much talent to believe that will happen. This is a team with loads of talent and players that do understand how to play in a team concept, no real divas on this squad. It’s going to be a good team, a very good team, maybe even a borderline-great team.

It’s just not a title contender, and that’s OK.

Prediction: 47-35. That’s right, I’m copping out and putting them with the same record we slapped on New York and the Sixers. The margin of error here is honestly three wins, as any of those three teams could hit 50 win and any of them could wind up just two games over .500. We have to see how it works out. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Nets run up a huge regular season record, though, and land in the top three in the East should the Central division struggle. But coming in just a hair over .500 isn’t out of the question, just because it’s a lot of new faces trying to get on the same page without elite talent outside of Williams. So we land at 47 wins, and for a franchise as bad as the Nets have been (see: vomit) over the past few years, that’s a great start to a new era in Brooklyn.

Thursday And-1 links: Whole lot of training camp notes

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• The Brooklyn Nets signing of Josh Childress is official. While that is technically a non-guaranteed contract he is expected to make the team and get minutes off the bench behind Gerald Wallace.

• Dexter Pittman has gotten his chance in Miami and has not impressed. Or not enough. At least not yet. The Palm Beach Post’s Ethan J. Skolnick says Pittman will need a good camp to make the team, he is on the bubble.

• From our daily “Player X got so much better this summer” comments file, we bring you Tyshawn Taylor saying he spent the offseason “shooting a million” jumpers and saying he got a lot better at it.

• If I were a betting man, I would think Ivan Johnson is going to sign the qualifying offer the Hawks gave him, play this season in the ATL and become an unrestricted free agent next year. But so far he has done nothing, he has not signed anything with anyone. By the way, the Hawks have put themselves in a spot where they can’t match any offer larger than the bi-annual exception for him ($2 million a year). But nobody seems to be offering that much.

• Ryan Gomes is expected to get a workout with the Bobcats next week. I kind of like that fit.

• The Celtics are bringing in  Rob Kurz for training camp on a non-guaranteed contract. Which means he’s camp fodder.

• Along the same lines, the Nets have invited Carleton Scott to training camp.

• This has been rumored for a while, but the Heat have officially signed Garrett Temple for camp.

• Chris Mullin and Phil Jackson are going to be talking about philosophy and basketball at an event in the Bay Area this weekend, if you’re around.

• Former Cavalier Manny Harris has signed with BC Azovmash of the Ukrainian league.

Tracy McGrady worked out for Spurs, Knicks up next

Tracy McGrady

Tracy McGrady is auditioning for jobs.

Like a lot of veterans he is finding the financial realities of the new CBA are keeping teams from guaranteeing contracts for veterans, so he is out there working it trying to find a team that will sign him, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Still searching for an NBA franchise willing to guarantee a contract for next season, seven-time All-Star Tracy McGrady worked out for the San Antonio Spurs this week at the team’s practice facility, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Next up for McGrady on Thursday is a workout for the New York Knicks, league sources said.

Time is running out for the 33-year-old McGrady to secure a guaranteed contract for the season. Sources say he will likely have to choose between accepting a “make-good” training-camp invite or going overseas – perhaps to China.

The days of McGrady as an elite — or even good — scorer are gone, he averaged just 5.2 points per game for the Hawks last season, playing 16 minutes a game. But he played within himself like you expect of a veteran and didn’t make a lot of mistakes. He still could provide solid minutes off the bench for a team.

His problem is the guaranteed part — he wants that kind of deal, as does Kenyon Martin and Derek Fisher and a host of other veterans still on the market. But teams are not handing those out now. For example, both Andray Blatche and Josh Childress had to accept make-good deals with the Nets.

Would McGrady put his ego aside and accept that, or would he rather go overseas?

Despite non-guaranteed contracts, expect Blatche, Childress to make Nets


Usually teams go young, looking at rookies with potential to round out their final couple roster spots. They Nets got potential but they went another direction — they snatched up two athletic players coming off contracts they did not live up to, two guys amnestied by their former teams.

Josh Childress and Andray Blatche are both expected to sign non-guaranteed deals with the Nets in the coming days, as has been previously reported. Non-guaranteed deals are the kind given to guys who are training camp fodder, the contract means the team can cut them without repercussions, just a little buyout.

But expect these two to make the team, reports Howard Beck at the New York Times.

Blatche and Childress will be the 14th and 15th players under contract. Although the Nets will sign another few players for training camp, team officials expect Blatche and Childress to stick.

“He thinks that he can help the team,” said Childress’s agent, Chris Emens. “The team thinks Josh can help them. This team obviously has got one of the strongest starting fives in the East, if not the whole N.B.A. For them to probably achieve their potential and their long-term goals, it’s critical that they have a strong bench, as well.”

Childress will likely come off the bench behind Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson on the wing. Blatche will get minutes off the bench along the front line.

Both are on one-year minimum deals (both make just over $1 million) which is great for the Nets — even if things go south they are not that expensive and only a one-year commitment. It’s a good gamble on two guys with potential who will feel the pressure to start to live up to it. These are good gambles for the bench.

Josh Childress reaches one-year deal with Brooklyn Nets

Golden State Warriors vs Phoenix Suns

Adding some depth and athleticism on the wing — something they already had but can you ever have enough? — the Nets have reached a one-year deal with Josh Childress.

Childress himself confirmed this on twitter. Howard Beck of the New York Times broke the story.

This is a non-guaranteed deal, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network. Which means the Nets can cut him in camp and just pay a small buyout, but if he pans out he would get the veteran minimum.

Childress has a career average of 9.5 points per game, but it was never higher than 5 with the Suns.

This is one of a couple smart gambles by the Nets on athletic players amnestied by other team — Childress was amnestied by the Suns, Andray Blatche by the Wizards. What it really means is other executives saw enough potential in these guys to offer fairly big contracts, but ones they did not live up to. However, those are the kinds of guys that are steals and can have value with a minimum contract.

Childress was an up-and-coming star with the Hawks but felt he was lowballed when it came time for his first big post-rookie contract, so he jumped to Greece to play for a couple seasons. The Suns got him via trade when he returned and it seemed a good fit on paper — the athletic Childress paired with Steve Nash — but it never worked out.

For the Nets, this is another smart gamble.