Dzanan Musa poses with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted by the Brooklyn Nets on June 21, 2018.

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Lichtenstein: Nets Look Overseas To Find Newest Development Projects

Brooklyn Counting On Pair Of European Draft Picks

Steve Lichtenstein
June 22, 2018 - 2:08 pm
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I don’t want to say that NBA Draft Day was a disappointment for Nets fans, but Brooklyn’s pick was the only one that wasn’t preceded by a leaked “Woj verb.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and others employed by the NBA’s media partners, were supposed to refrain from tweeting the draft picks in advance of commissioner Adam Silver’s announcement at the podium. Instead, Wojnarowski tweeted that a team “has focused on” or “is targeting” a certain player.  It was a running joke all evening.

MORE: Sean Marks On WFAN: Nets Were 'Very Close' To Trading Up In Draft

However, when it was the Nets’ turn at No. 29, Wojnarowski merely wrote, “Source: Brooklyn will select Dzanan Musa.”

The pick was as anticlimactic as the social media delivery.

The Nets, as has been noted ad infinitum, did not have their own pick due to the 2013 summer blockbuster trade with the Celtics for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.  The Musa slot was obtained last offseason when the Nets agreed to take on the salary of wing DeMarre Carroll from Toronto. 

General manager Sean Marks was not able to make a deal this draft to move up to the low end of the lottery or late teens, as many had speculated prior to Thursday’s affair at Brooklyn’s own Barclays Center.

He then selected Musa, a 19-year-old Bosnian known as a “scoring machine,” whatever that’s worth.  Musa is a slender, 6-foot-9 forward with an improved stroke (36.4 percent from deep last season for Cedevita at the EuroCup). Musa’s defense and shot selection were said by scouting reports to be issues needing development. 

Wonderful. 

Nets general manager Sean Marks said he expects Musa to buy out his Euro contract for NBA availability this season, even if it’s on the club’s Long Island G League affiliate.

The Nets also received a second-round pick, 40th overall, in the Raptors trade. Marks went with Rodions Kurucs, a 6-10 Latvian who the Nets had scouted heavily over the last two seasons.

Kurucs, who reportedly signed a four-year deal with Brooklyn on Friday after buying out his contract with Barcelona, projects to be a reserve stretch four. 

I’m not suggesting that either or both of Musa and Kurucs will or won’t be legitimate NBA players. Who knows how any of Thursday’s draftees will pan out? Every draft is a crapshoot.

I just found these picks underwhelming, since I was maybe spoiled by Marks’ prior picks, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.

The tone for the day was set in the morning when it was reported that Dwight Howard, whom the Nets acquired Wednesday from Charlotte in exchange for Timofey Mozgov, two second-round draft picks (including the 45th overall selection Thursday) and cash, wanted his $23.8 million contract bought out.

While I wasn’t opposed to having Howard, an alleged locker room cancer but a guy who has averaged a double-double his entire 14-year career, play here for a new contract, evidently the decision has been made that it will not happen.

I just hope it wasn’t because the Nets were concerned about Allen’s minutes. As if having a 20-year old who has not yet matured to play a very physically demanding position work his way up from a bench role is intolerable.

As I noted in my previous post, the main objective of the trade was to get Mozgov’s $16.7 million salary in 2019-20 off the Nets’ books. If it turns out there are no other benefits and that the cost was the picks and the cash, then it’s probably still a good deal.

The only issue is that the Nets, coming off a 28-54 campaign, did not use the time leading up to and through draft day to move the needle much, if at all, for next season. Maybe the free agency signing period will be different, but I'm not very hopeful.    

For me, the best part of draft day was knowing that there are no more scheduled “(from Nets)” annotations on the first round of draft boards going forward.

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1