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February 17, 2012

Assignment: Armor

NETS rookie forward Jordan Williams was the first player sent on assignment to the NBA Development League's Springfield Armor since the teams began a one-to-one, "hybrid" affiliation earlier this year. A successful stint has translated into NBA results.

Here's a preview of our exclusive feature:

This is the way it was supposed to work. Nets rookie Jordan Williams, who battled severe dehydration throughout his first training camp, shedding weight and gaining little on-court experience against NBA competition, couldnt crack Avery Johnsons rotation. In this compressed rookie season, practice time proved scarce, providing Williams little opportunity to improve and Johnson little sense of what he could offer.

Through 14 games, Williams made only six appearances, totaling 37 minutes not even a full games worth while posting six points and nine rebounds. He often looked lost, caught out of position and only able to offer the quickest of breathers for a teammate. His single-game high minutes total was 10.

So the Nets assigned him to the NBA Development League. In the first season of their hybrid, one-to-one affiliation with the Springfield Armor, the Nets took advantage of the relationship to get more minutes for Williams and more game tape for themselves to review.

We talked to Jordan, says Nets general manager Billy King, (telling him) Its not a demotion its a chance for you to play. Being where you are on the depth chart, you werent going to get minutes. It gave him a chance to go down there and play games, and get himself in game shape, because sometimes when youre riding on the treadmill, riding on the bike, you dont get that game conditioning.

Click here to read the full article.

--Posted by Ben Couch at 1:23 p.m.



February 15, 2012

Morrow Makes the 3-Point Shootout

After four years of campaigning, Anthony Morrow finally earned an invite to the Three-Point Shootout. He'll join Deron Williams (Eastern Conference reserves) and MarShon Brooks (Rising Stars Challenge) in Orlando. And he says he's got something in store for NETS Nation:

"Its all perfect timing, man," Morrow said, before Wednesday's game. "Its all Gods timing, you know what Im saying? Im excited for it, Im excited about it, I cant wait Im just ecstatic. Ive got a little surprise for the Nets fans; its going to be a good way to kind of honor the tradition of the Nets, since were leaving and the whole theme is showing the tradition, Im gonna try to do something. I cant wait though, man."

Nets coach Avery Johnson took advantage of the opportunity to officially comment on news he'd been expecting:

"Its really exciting to have a third guy representing us at All-Star Weekend. Great news. We think hes arguably the best 3-point shooter in the league; he makes 3s consistently; hes efficient from the 3-point line, he makes big 3s, so again, glad that hes in the contest and hopefully he can bring the trophy home."

He's glad to be joining Williams and Brooks, and that those responsible for selections didn't penalize the individuals for the team's record and tough run of injuries.

"Its great, man. Its great for the fans, for the organization. Obviously, weve been hit by the injury bug, and I think everybody knows that, but they see that we have talent to be able to win. Obviously, weve got some pieces, so its a good way to show some love for our fans, and appreciation."

--Posted by Ben Couch at 7:15 p.m.



February 14, 2012

Andre Emmett, An Introduction

With Keith Bogans going down for the season with an ankle injury just a week after signing, the Nets needed help at small forward, and dipped into the D-League player pool to acquire Andre Emmett from the Reno Bighorns. Signing the 6-foot-5 forward to a 10-day contract, the Nets are adding a player Coach Avery Johnson believes is "tough, hard-nosed defensively and runs the floor well."

We checked in with Andre after his first practice:

NJNets.com: You've been called up from the D-League a few times now. How'd you hear you'd be joining the Nets?

Andre Emmett: I was having practice, working at the end of practice I stayed extra to put up some shots, and coach was sitting on the side, and told me to come here, he said, 'Somebody wants to talk to you.' It was my agent Larry Fox. He asked me what was I doing? I said, 'Putting up shots.' He said, 'You need to run home and pack you've got a red eye, you're going to Jersey.' I was like, 'Cool.' He said, 'Are you excited?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Show some emotion!' I said, 'I can't yet I don't know how to feel right now.' So I'm just happy to be here, I'm trying to pick up everything I can, as fast as I can and try to stick.

NJNets.com: Have you figured out a specific approach to starting a 10-day contract?

Andre Emmett: I know some of the guys, so the guys are making me feel welcome. I'm just trying to come in and pick up as much as I can, just continue to play how I've been playing and hope it's a good fit.

NJNets.com: Deron Williams said you know each other from high school?

Andre Emmett: Oh, yeah, absolutely. We're both from Dallas. And I played against Kris (Humphries) in college. Those are just some of the guys from around the way.

NJNets.com: Has that made it an easier?

Andre Emmett: They accepted me well. It doesn't feel like a first day.

NJNets.com: What should we look for in your game while you're here?

Andre Emmett: I've always been a slasher, a stretch-floor shooter. Hopefully I'll bring some energy on defense, get some stops so we can get transition buckets on offense. Just do whatever these guys need. Whatever they need.

--Posted by Ben Couch at 2:12 p.m.



February 10, 2012

King's Court: All-Star and Injuries

With the Nets suffering yet another rough injury setback this time, that recently signed guard Keith Bogans has fractured his ankle, also tearing the deltoid ligament general manager Billy King checked in with the team's beat writers via conference call to discuss the roster, the state of the team and also the pair of players (Deron Williams, All-Star Game; MarShon Brooks, Rising Stars Challenge) headed to Orlando for NBA All-Star 2012. Here are the highlights:

On the good news:

Billy King: "I think it's great for Deron. I think the reason that we have eight wins and the reason our team has started to play better, is because of Deron's play. I think he's been an All-Star, despite what Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal say (about their qualms with the choice due to a belief the coaches should 'reward winning.') They're all good friends of mine, but they're wrong. He's the only guy in the league that's averaging 20 points and eight (assists).

"We're not losing games because we're not a good team; we're losing games because we have a lot of guys out. When you lose your starting center, averaging 20 points, that makes a big difference. And for Deron to be able to score the basketball the way he has, and distribute it, when people are double-teaming him and trying to take him out of the offense, I think he is deserving.

"And then MarShon, I think it's a great accomplishment for him, what he did to set the tone early – despite getting injured. Getting back on the court, he can put himself back in the conversation for Rookie of the Year with Kyrie Irving and Rubio and those guys, because I think he is as good as any of those guys when playing and healthy."

On the bad news:

Billy King: "In regards to the roster, we have 15 guaranteed spots and at this point in time I don't expect to bring anybody in; I don't expect to waive anybody to create a spot. DeShawn Stevenson's making progress, so we'll see how he is on the 14th. If everything goes well, hopefully he'll be back in time to play after the 14th. With (him and MarShon) coming back, I think we're okay with the roster as we stand."

On the state of the team:

Billy King: "Where do you want me to start? I think the injuries have been the underlining theme, and with that, I think our guys have battled pretty hard and put ourselves in a position where we've lost some games that I think we should have won, but I think we've managed to with the short amount of practice that all teams have been able to implement Avery's defensive system, which is still being worked on. With the limited minutes we've been able to use for practice because of recovery time, we've bounced back.

"So I think the guys that have been able to be in uniform have given us everything they can, and that's all you can ask for. Would you have liked a healthy roster? Yeah. Nobody has that, so you've got to make do and I think our guys are doing the best they can, right now, under these circumstances."

On Brook Lopez:

Billy King: "He's been following the same rehab and increasing it with a little bit more movement and doing a little more. I think he'll take part in more of shootaround today, and then we'll see how it goes. His progress is still the same; he'll continue to rehab and increase activity on a day off today. But there's no timetable when he'll be back on the court. We'll just keep increasing activity and as we progress, we'll update more next week."

On Mehmet Okur:

Billy King: "Mehmet had another procedure at the beginning of the week, and he's going to be increasing his activities; Sunday and Monday he'll increase, if he shows better – he's getting better each day. But if things progress, we'll see how he feels Saturday, tomorrow, and if he feels better we'll increase activity starting Sunday and Monday."

On whether Okur's injuries caused him to reflect on the acquisition:

Billy King: "I think I'd much rather have Okur at the beginning of the season to play, rather than not have him. When Brook goes down, if you don't have Okur, you've got a bigger hole in the middle. And he's going to be back. I'm not worried – this is not a situation where he's done. We're being extra careful with him, and I told him, 'Don't rush yourself back, despite losing a game or two here. It's a long season.' So I'm not worried about that.

"Adding Okur to when Lopez comes back, with MarShon Brooks and Stevenson, we're going to have a lot of depth. And the great thing about it now, Jordan Williams has had a chance to play, so he got his feet wet; we got Shelden; we got Humphries, so we'll be deep when we get all these guys back. And the great thing is, I know that's coming soon. Whether it's before the break, or after the break, but I know in Dallas – God willing we don't have any more injuries – we'll have all our guys playing except for our guys that are out for the season."

--Posted by Ben Couch at 1:44 p.m.



February 4, 2012

Brook Offers an Update

After the game, before Deron Williams and Anthony Morrow were done showering, Nets center Brook Lopez entered the locker room and checked in with the assembled media. Here's the Q&A:

What's new with your rehab?

Brook Lopez: Today, I got some jump rope in, running, shooting, box jumps. That's about all that was new. We're going to start working on some lateral movement like slides sometime soon.

Does that feel like progress?

Brook Lopez: Yeah. I had no idea how excited I would be to jump rope.

You were excited to jog last week

Brook Lopez: Yeah, it's been fun. My spirits are definitely high.

Are you feeling comfortable with the foot yet?

Brook Lopez: I think through the whole process I've felt that way. There hasn't really been a moment where I've been hesitant or worried about it.

What's the next step?

Brook Lopez: I think lateral movement, some pivoting and more jumping. We're trying to do the minimum right now, as opposed to the maximum. Do the minimum, see if it's sore after that; if it's sore after that, we know to pull back. If I was doing a lot, it could be anywhere in those reps that it hurt. But since I'm doing very little, we know that it could be a certain motion.

You got a date for us or what?

Brook Lopez: I just took a little pocket schedule to Timmy (Walsh, the team's athletic trainer) and told him to point to a game. He folded it up and put it in his pocket.

--Posted by Ben Couch at 11:55 p.m.



February 3, 2012

The Foundation of Suited Style

As better-fitting online men's apparel brand Bonobos prepared to launch their new Foundation Suit Collection, they sought a partnership that would provide them with a spokesman whose subtle, classical style matched their own. Finding that in Nets guard Deron Williams, Bonobos debuted the partnership with an interactive cocktail party at Catch Roof in New York City's Meatpacking District.

Williams, nattily attired in a single-breasted grey suit, with a light blue shirt and diagonally-striped, light-blue-and-purple tie, posed for cameras and then spoke with NJNets.com about the partnership:

NJNets.com: Bonobos says they picked you because you're 'subtle and classical, just like them.' Why did you pick Bonobos?

Deron Williams: It's really similar. Somebody from my agency, they had some Bonobos pieces at the agency, one of the first days I got back from Istanbul, and I was looking at it like, 'I like this.' And they told me the Web site (www.bonobos.com), and I went on and looked at some of the stuff and said, 'This is my style. I think this could be a good opportunity, a good partnership.' We reached out to them and it developed from there. I liked the clothes, I liked the fit. It's just really classic-looking suits, nothing crazy. And I just add my own little flavor, a little color, just to make it 'pop.'

NJNets.com: Word on the street is you get that 'pop' with purple

Deron Williams: I really like purple, I don't know why. A lot of guys shy away from it, but I like it, I think it looks good, especially with greys and browns. I try to mix it up.

NJNets.com: No doubt. And they're doing an online pop-up to benefit your foundation, Point of Hope?

Deron Williams: I think that was a big deal for me. When I look at partnerships, I try to incorporate my foundation as much as possible. It was really important to them, as well. We both like to help children in need with our foundations and our philanthropy, and the pop-up store is going to be a good way to do that. Part of the proceeds are going to go to my foundation; I'm really excited about that.

NJNets.com: Bonobos attempts to offer a 'made-to-measure feel available off the rack,' particularly for athletes and former athletes. Have you found that to be true?

Deron Williams: Yeah, I think so. It's really hard for a lot of athletes to go out and buy suits off of the rack, whether their arms are too long, their shoulders are too big. I really stepped into this suit and could wear it right off the rack. I really liked that. And they're really good looking suits, good material and I'm loving wearing them.

NJNets.com: You know there's a rumor going around that you might be designing some pants?

Deron Williams: [Laughs] They told you about that? That's how Bonobos started, was with their pants, and they have some crazy ideas, something that's a little different, but not too wild. They do have some wild stuff. But I'm going to try and design my own piece, and hopefully they'll put that in the store. I was joking with them about a lot of people messing up their name: 'BON-a-bose.' And I'm 'duh-RON' Hopefully together, at some point, we can get it right.

--Posted by Ben Couch at 11:20 a.m.



February 1, 2012

Bogans Signs, Comes Up Big

Keith Bogans was at home in Orlando two days ago, a free agent awaiting a call. By Tuesday, he was working out in East Rutherford; by Wednesday, playing in the final minute of a Nets victory at Prudential Center.

A veritable Goldberg reaction of injuries and roster shuffle left the Nets without a backup swingman, and veteran guard Bogans who last season started every game for the Bulls, regular season and playoffs included had yet to join a team in this lockout-shortened season. Nets coach Avery Johnson said the team was looking for a veteran presence who could provide defense and easily fit into the rotation.

"I've been going crazy," Bogans admitted, pregame. "It's good to be back on the court, be a Net, play some basketball. I haven't played since the Eastern Conference Finals last year. I've been working out every day, but you can't get in basketball shape unless you play, so we'll just have to see when I get out there."

Bogans got out there halfway through the first quarter and immediately slipped into the flow of the game, bodying Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince and denying him the ball. From there, he went on to surpass Johnson's pregame prediction of 12 minutes, playing 17 and finishing with two points and a rebound. The two points came in crunch time, when Bogans flashed through the lane, took a pass from Deron Williams and dropped it in while being fouled. Though he missed the free throw, the bucket gave them a six-point lead with 1 minute, 17 seconds to play.

"(Keith) came in and had a big bucket for us," Johnson said. "We haven't had a cut like that to the basket, Deron and I were laughing about it, we haven't had a cut like that to the basket all year and he made a big bucket for us."

Bogans was glad to come away with a win, just two days after getting the first call to come work out. The terminology might be different, but the instincts are starting to kick in.

"I felt my wind was there," Bogans said. "Legs felt a little shaky, but it felt good to be out there. It's going to take a minute for me to get in basketball shape, there was a lot thrown at me, played like 15 minutes, I was trying to learn plays, but it was fun. I had fun playing out there."



The 'Great 8'
Postgame, Deron Williams offered a great anecdote about the depleted bench coming up big:

"We had to, otherwise we're not going to win. We only had eight people. We got out before the game, I went to the huddle, our little huddle, and I was like, 'Where's everybody at?' They were like, 'This is it.' It's kind of hard to do layups before the game with eight people. You get tired, cause it's just like, going around and around. But, you know, hopefully we get some guys back here soon. They've got the next two days to try to recover and then we got two more (games)."

--Posted by Ben Couch at 11:26 p.m.




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