Daily Briefing: July 10, 2011

– Derek Jeter got his 3000th hit yesterday, and he did it in grand style.  His home run to give him 3000 hits was part of a 5-5 day.  He delivered the game winning hit in the 8th inning.  Christian Lopez, who caught the home run ball, will be rewarded with front row tickets for today’s game, suite tickets for the rest of the season, and a plethora of signed merchandise.

–  Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez has indeed hired Scott Boras to be his agent, according to multiple sources.  K-Rod refused to acknowledge the move yesterday, but we have no reason to believe the Boras hiring isn’t true.

– Rangers Wojtek Wolski could still be bought out, according to Larry Brooks.  This move only makes sense if the Rangers plan on perusing another high-priced player.  The Blueshirts have enough money to sign all of their RFAs, and like a few million dollars left over.  There’s no reason to buyout a player with such a high ceiling.  The Rangers need offense, and cutting ties with Wolski would only hurt them in that department.  The only way buying out Wolski could make sense is if the Rangers are looking to go after another scorer

– There’s been no news on either the NFL or NBA lockouts.  Deron Williams’ and Michael Beasley’s signings overseas have caused a stir throughout the NBA.  There’s word that some players could stay beyond 2011-2012, even if the lockout ends.  We also must wonder how D-Will playing overseas impacts his future with the Nets.  I think, if anything, not playing a second season with the Nets is a bad thing for the franchise.  It would have been much easier to re-sign Deron with a full season as a Net under his belt.

– Reports say Shaq is set to join the TNT studios.  This is a huge win for TNT and fans of the NBA.  The problem is that there likely will not be a season next year, so we may have to wait until 2012-2013 to see Shaq’s hard-hitting analysis.

– Oddly enough, Lebron James will now be sponsoring three college basketball teams.  Ohio State, Kentucky, and Miami should all benefit off of Lebron’s great public image, especially in recent months.  Great move by those those colleges.  I’m sure people from Ohio just love that their college basketball team is paying Lebron money to represent them.  The funny thing is, Lebron didn’t even go college.

– If you were wondering or concerned, Yi Jianlian is doing just fine during the lockout. Here’s a video of a recent epic dunk of his. Where was this Yi with the Nets?

– One of the main issues concerning the next NBA CBA is the salary cap.  Players want to keep the soft cap in place, while the owners want a hard/flex cap.  In this article, Gilbert Arenas explained how a hard cap won’t help small market teams.  I never though Arenas would say something intelligent, but he’s 100% right about this one.  I believe a hard cap really wouldn’t improve parity at all in the NBA.  Until you put actual rules in place to limit what the top teams in the league can do during the offseason, you’ll never have a competitive balance.  Something like the “Final Four” and “Final Eight” rules like we had in the NFL last season would be perfect.  I don’t get why realistic solutions like that aren’t brought up.  In the end, it’s about the owners and the league making money.  That’s the only reason they want a hard cap.

As always, feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest breaking news on all things New York sports.

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Daily Briefing: July 7, 2011 (Nets Edition)

With the media spending so much attention the Knicks recently, it seems as if the Nets have been forgotten.  But with a new arena coming in 2012 and rumors of Dwight Howard wanting to leave Orlando, the Nets certainly have a very bright future.  With Deron Williams likely to re-sign with the team, the Nets are going to be major players in free agency during the next few years.  Although they have a few bad contracts, the team still has plenty of cap flexibility.  Combine that with an owner willing to do anything to win, and you could have a special team in Brooklyn in the near future.

– Earlier today Deron Williams made news by apparently signing with a Turkish team.  D-Will would obviously only play with this team if the lockout dragged onto into the NBA season, but it’s significant news nonetheless.

– These types of moves are important because they put pressure on the owners to get a deal done.  No one wants to see their star player get hurt playing overseas.

– The Nets apparently prefer re-signing Kris Humphries rather than signing Nene.  It’s hard to argue with that logic.  Humphries will likely cost less and already has a year under Avery Johnson.  Him and Brook Lopez are a very potent frontcourt duo.  There’s no reason to break that up to bring in a guy who is more of a center than a power forward.

– Speaking of the center position, there will be a battle for minutes there.  Brook Lopez is obviously the starter, but who will get the remaining minutes?  After a disappointing first season in New Jersey, Johan Petro is on the hot seat.  The Nets probably won’t be able to move his contract, but it’s worth a shot.  He only has two-years and a little more than $6 million left on his deal.  It’s not exactly an albatross contract, but I believe Petro is one of the worst players in the league.  The signing (along with the Outlaw’s ridiculous deal) continues to baffle me to this day.

– With all of that said, Jordan Williams should be able to compete for backup minutes at center.  He’s a rebounding machine that could serve as a solid role player for the Nets in the upcoming season.  It’s not going to take much to be better than Petro.

– As I mentioned before, Travis Outlaw’s contract is ridiculous.  He’s not a terrible player, but he’s not worth anywhere near $7 million per year for the next four years.  The Nets have to ship him to another team if they want to be able to make a huge impact in free agency the next few years.  They’ll have enough money for Dwight Howard regardless, but Outlaw may prevent the Nets from adding another piece to the championship puzzle.

– So where else do the Nets look for free agency help?  I say the Nets should look to acquire quality players at the wing positions.  Shooting guard and small forward are two major positions of concern for the Nets.  Even with Marshon Brooks, the Nets don’t have enough firepower at two-guard.  Billy King has to bring Sasha Vujacic back and then look for even another scorer.

– As for the three, Travis Outlaw and Damion James just aren’t enough.  Outlaw showed this year that he is simply a mediocre player who could fit in somewhere off the bench.  He’s not a starter in this league.  As for James, he can be a good player, but he’s proved nothing yet after an injury-filled 2010-2011.

It’s great to have an all-star point guard, but there’s no point in having him if he has no one to pass to.  The Nets have to explore improving every area of their team during this offseason.  With the right pieces, this team could definitely make a push for the playoffs.

For more on the Nets, the lockout, and the rest of the NBA., feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

The new arena is coming, but there's a season for the Nets to play first.

Josh Smith Would Like to Play for the Nets

Josh Smith is apparently on the trade market.  The Hawks are curious to see what they could get in return for Smith.   Smith said that he would prefer to play for the Celtics, Nets, Magic, or Rockets.  Smith is a good friend of Dwight Howard’s so it would make sense for the Nets and Magic to show interest in acquiring Smith.

For the Nets this off-season is all about acquiring players to put around Deron Williams.  The Nets need to prove to Williams that they trying to put a winning product on the court.  Acquiring a guy like Josh Smith would send a good signal to Deron.  Smith is only 25 years old, and he has a great combination of offensive and defensive skills.  Acquiring Smith may also give the Nets an edge in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.  If Howard and Smith are truly as great of friends as the above article makes them out to be, Howard may pressure the Magic to deal him to the Nets so he could play with Smith and Williams.

Could Smith and Howard join Deron Williams in New Jersey and eventually in Brooklyn?

Dwight Howard Seen with Nets…

… Dancers.

Yeah, not what you were expecting.  Don’t look into this too much, but realize that Howard to the Nets is a serious possibility.  Along with the Knicks and Lakers, the Nets would present the best opportunity for Howard.  Dwight would be the man in Brooklyn, something he wouldn’t have anywhere else.  Deron Williams would be there, but Howard would be the main superstar.  He could be what Jason Kidd was for the Nets in the 2000s.

Also, the Nets would be pretty damn good with him.  They’d have Humphries and Deron Williams, and could likely attract some valuable swingmen to fill out the roster.  It’s going to be exciting to see the Nets good again.  I have a feeling they may make the playoffs as soon as next season if they have a decent offseason, with or without Dwight Howard.  But to take that next step, they’re going to need to get that second superstar.  I have a feeling Howard may be that guy.

I’ve said it all along, and I’ll say it again.  Dwight Howard and Deron Williams would be a better duo than Stat and Melo.  If the Knicks add a third star, they’ll obviously have a better core than the Nets.  But if the Nets were to acquire Dwight tomorrow, they may just be better than the Knicks right now.  I’ve always said if I were to start a team tomorrow and had to pick one player to be my franchise guy, it would be Dwight Howard.  “D12” is a once-in-a-generation talent at center, which in my opinion is the NBA’s premium position.

Nets to Trade Up for Derrick Williams?

The Bleacher Report claims that the Timberwolves could trade the second overall pick to the Nets.

Minnesota will most likely trade the pick away and a likely suitor is the New Jersey Nets.  

The Nets don’t have a first round pick in this year’s draft after they traded it away for Deron Williams.  New Jersey desperately needs a small and power forward.  They can instantly start Williams in whichever spot they prefer.

He averaged 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds a game last year at Arizona.  Many consider his three point shot a weakness, but he shot 57 percent from behind the arc for the season.

At 6’8″, 240 pounds, you can call him a tweener, or you can call him a match-up problem.  He’s going to be too big for wings to guard in the post and too quick for bigs to guard on the perimeter.

Minnesota could ask for a package of a future first round pick plus one or two players like Jordan Farmar and Damien James in return.

First of all, the article is wrong.  The Nets do have a first round pick this year.  They could trade that, their second round, along with future picks and some players to move up.  I’d really support this move.   All signs show Williams could become a great player in this league.  He could be the long-term fit at SF.  If the Nets re-sign Humphries, then SG is the only position of concern.  This is the move we could look back on as the one that changed the Nets franchise forever.  I’m 100% on board with this, although the chance of it happening is slim.

Could we see a Deron Williams to Derrick Williams connection in Newark next season?

Nets Looking to Deal at Draft

The New York Post says the Nets and GM Billy King are looking to make some deals at the NBA Draft.

“I’m trying to move up already or even acquire another pick,” Nets general manager Billy King said yesterday after landing in Chicago, where the NBA conducts its annual pre-draft camp. “I couldn’t give you a percentage or odds if it’ll happen, but we’re trying.

“It gives you a chance to see some guys,” he said. “They don’t play 5-on-5 but you see how competitive they are in drills, you get to interview guys. But the big thing for me is you get to talk to other teams.”

You’ve got to love this if you are a Nets fan.  This team can use some attention, and big trades are one way to go about getting some.  I’m always in favor of trading down and trying to draft that impact player.  I hope Billy King does just that.  The Nets could really use a nice complementary piece to help build around Deron Williams.

Could the Knicks Acquire Kenyon Martin?

On the day after justice was served on a much bigger scale, we now must move on and talk about justice in a different sense.  After a rather mediocre 2010-2011 campaign, the Knicks must go back to the drawing board and make up for this lackluster season.  Quite frankly, the fans deserved better than this after two years of tanking and a decade of losing.  In a perfect world, the Knicks would get Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, Deron Williams, and every free agent their hearts desired.  Unfortunately, you can’t re-build the Olympics team in the NBA.  So the Knicks must pick and choose.  One option according to LoHud is Kenyon Martin.

Often lost amidst the incessant talk of Dwight Howard this, and Chris Paul that, is the fact that the Knicks’ most glaring need this off-season is for players that come cheaply, understand their respective roles, and complement the existing roster.

And there isn’t much doubt that the player attribute that should be most sought after by GM Donnie Walsh is toughness.

A presence on the defensive end, a respected veteran that can that can hit a big basket when necessary. Someone who is entirely comfortable being just a piece of the puzzle at this stage of their career.

So might one of those pieces be Carmelo Anthony’s former teammate, and unrestricted free agent, Kenyon Martin?

It’s not so far fetched, if you believe what Martin told the Denver Post a few days ago:

“At this point in my career, I think winning and being part of a winning team is more important than starting,” Martin said.

Sure, Martin is no longer anywhere near the player he once was — and an argument can be made that he has always been overrated and under productive given his talent level (surprisingly just 13.5 PPG and 7.2 RPG for his career), but for 20-25 minutes a night, the Knicks could probably do worse.

Yes, he’s injury prone, and yes, he was something of a bad apple earlier in his career, but Martin does bring elements of intensity and “not in my house-ed-ness” to the table that the Knicks could use. And although Martin’s never been mistaken for an all-world defender, he’s better than any other Knick “big,” he’s is an above average passer, and he shot over 50% from the floor last season in Denver.

Much like how Bill Walker sometimes provided the 2010-11 team with an infusion of attitude, perhaps Martin can do the same.

Martin has ties to area — having been drafted by New Jersey 11 season ago — and he’s never been bashful about shooting, a quality that fits right in with Mike D’Antoni’s coaching philosophy. As a bench player capable of scoring when Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo are getting a breather or find themselves in foul trouble, why not?

Plus, he has lots and lots of tattoos.

If he’s willing to play for peanuts, and he truly just wants to be part of a winner — along with some like minded other players — Martin just might make some sense.

If Martin would take a one-year deal, I’d sign him in a heartbeat.  He not only would be a very useful player, but he would be a valuable trade piece in a possible deadline deal for CP3 or Dwight Howard.  Having watched Kenyon since his Nets days, I know what he’s capable of.  Obviously a lot has changed since then, but I think Mike D’Antoni could find a role for him on this team.

Could one of Melo's former teammates join him in New York?