NEW YORK — No disrespect to Josh Boone whose belligerence on both boards is greatly appreciated, but the guy is not a true center or an adroit shooter.
Brook Lopez, on the other hand, has everything going for him — 213 cm, spacious shoulders, a soft inside-out touch, practiced moves, sure hands, balanced feet and a menacing demeanor.
There is nothing not to like about him, leading me to meekly predict the rookie’s first start (25 points nine rebounds, four blocks) in Friday’s arresting Nets’ victory over the Hawks will be unswervingly followed by 10 to 12 seasons of opening taps.
A lot of exceptional talent — Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love — was gobbled up before New Jersey’s turn at No. 10, but four teams (Knicks, Clippers, Bucks and Bobcats) may never forgive themselves for passing on Lopez.
Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe readily admit the Nets lucked into Lopez, who was widely projected as a top-five choice. However, chance had little or nothing to do with management’s remarkable restocking of its dormant pond and payroll shakeup in fewer than six months.
It’s astonishing that the Nets currently have $23 million of salary cap room on tap the same summer of 2010 when LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have the right to declare free agency.
More significantly, they’ll flaunt a coveted core of rising and diminishing superstars (Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Lopez, Yi Jianlian), regal role players (Boone, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts) and veteran stunt doubles (Eduardo Najera, Keyon Dooling and Jarvis Hayes) one of those quasars (or a lesser luminous lunar) might find it irresistible to join if the ultimate sketch is to compete for a championship.
At the time, trading Harris, 24, for Jason Kidd, 34, was a dreadful idea. As evidenced by Harris’ last three recitals (68 points, often overshadowed by ingenious passes in traffic), it was Mark Cuban’s worst mistake not associated with Don Nelson since purchasing the Mavericks.
As for Carter whose fourth-quarter duel with unearthly Joe Johnson almost negated the frustration of getting trapped in 10:30 p.m. Lincoln Tunnel gridlock, it’s easy to see why management rejected the Cavaliers’ off-season offer of Anderson Varejao and Wally Szczerbiak; a licensed hit man, Carter is even more lethal now that he has a partner in Harris.
This just in: Jersey again beat Speedy Claxton-less Atlanta as the Carter-Harris cartel coalesces for 62 points. Nets fans haven’t been this giddy since the franchise left Piscataway.
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There has been exploratory talk between Jamaal Tinsley’s agent and the Pacers about restructuring the $21 million remaining on his 3-year contract. If a downgrade can be arranged, the Bobcats are interested in acquiring the NBA’s and Brooklyn’s best deactivated point guard . . . no doubt for Matt Carroll.
Last season Marvin Williams was 1-for-10 from 3-point range. His lone make was a half-court buzzer-beating fling.
Friday against the Nets he stuck 3-for-4, finishing with 21 points, nine above his average. In eight games (including last night’s loss when he missed both trifectas) he has downed 11 of 17.
When Rick Sund replaced Billy Knight as Hawks GM he explained to Williams the magnitude of a playoff team boasting a forward accomplished at forcing his defender to play him honestly, 6 meters from the basket. Williams spent all summer in the gym and returned with a deadly new dimension.
Sad to submit, but no matter how much he perfects and expands his game we’ll all look at him (and Knight) funny for being selected ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul.
Kings co-owner Joe Maloof, interviewed by a Sacramento radio station, was somewhat critical of Reggie Theus. He said his coach needed to develop a system like Rick Adelman had with the Kings.
“You know, when someone is injured, he would plug someone into that position and the machine would continue to work,” Maloof said.
I could’ve sworn the Maloof brothers forbid team president Geoff Petrie from re-signing Adelman.
Maloof went on to say Theus and assistant Chuck Person must figure out how to improve the team defensively.
“We need to protect the 3-point line,” Maloof added. “We’re close to last in defense and close to last in turnovers.”
Lest we misinterpret Maloof he continues to have confidence in Theus, I think, saying he has a bright future with the Kings. That is, as long as he cultivates a system and does it quickly.
Now’s a good time to mention the guaranteed portion of Theus’ exceedingly edible contract (roughly $2 million) expires at season’s end.
Peter Vecsey covers the NBAfor the New York Post.
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