Tagged: Jarvis Hayes

Douglas-Roberts on a fighting mission

douglasroberts_300_102009.jpgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Chris Douglas-Roberts is like that hungry-slash-angry defensive back – he’s not big enough to be a linebacker – who can’t wait until the regular-season starts so he can hit somebody.

Wrong sport, we know, but that’s how Douglas-Roberts acts and talks – and he’s always talking.

The good-natured Nets’ swingman said he would like to see more hitting in practice, more fights. He thinks the team will get closer, tougher and going at it in practice will make the Nets better.

“Last year was my first time ever being on a team that was under .500,” Douglas-Roberts said. “I’ll do anything to try and change that. Whether it’s being more vocal in practice, whatever it has to be. I’ll do anything to change that and mainly trying to make us a tougher team. We need more fights in practice. We need more hard fouls. That makes a tough team.”

This attitude is one of the reasons the Nets think Douglas-Roberts is going to have a breakout year and be in the NBA for a long time. He hates losing. Who doesn’t? Right. But Douglas-Roberts really hates losing, wants to do something about it and has done something about it.

He spent the offseason improving his game and gaining more confidence, which isn’t easy for the secure – and we’re putting it nicely – Douglas-Roberts. He can’t wait to show what he’s got and believes he can help the Nets be better than expected.

Nets coach Lawrence Frank said in-practice fighting isn’t the answer, but loves the passion Douglas-Roberts plays with at all times. The Nets hope it rubs off on other players and can carry it over agianst the opposition.

“The thing is this: the competitiveness,” Frank said. “Like in football, they don’t necessarily encourage fights in practice but go fight the other team.

“One of the greatest competitors I’ve ever been around is Jason Kidd. Now he never got into a fight in practice. My thing is have some fight in you. It doesn’t literally have to be Sonny Liston, but have some fight in your approach.

“I like Chris’ competitiveness. I like his approach. I like his fire. I like that.”

It has gotten Douglas-Roberts in trouble in the past though. Last year, assistant coach Doug Overton screamed at Douglas-Roberts at the end of a practice last year.
 
Douglas-Roberts was upset that in this post-practice game he wasn’t getting any foul calls because he was a rookie. He kept talking and it incited Overton. Cooler hears prevailed, but that’s Douglas-Roberts. And there were several members of the organization who said something to the effect of if all of last year’s Nets had CDR’s competitive fire.

It helps now that Douglas-Roberts is a big part of the rotation, the expected starting small forward for the Oct. 28 opener.

“Every day he comes ready to practice,” Frank said. “He brings juice to the gym. He brings energy.”

The Nets are going to need everyone to bring that “fight” into the games.
 

_______________________

No Devin Harris (groin), Jarvis Hayes (stress reaction, right shin) or Keyon Dooling (hip surgery) for tomorrow’s sixth preseason game against the Knicks. Harris and Hayes hope to play in Friday’s final preseason game against the Sixers.

Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)

 

Harris hoping to shed fragile tag

harris250.jpgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Devin Harris knows the phrase “injury-prone” is linked to his name, and he would like to change that.

He’s off to a bad start, though.
 
The Nets’ All-Star point guard spent about five minutes yesterday talking about his injuries this preseason and what he can do to prevent them, and what he did in the off-season to try and strengthen his ankles, which have been the cause of many days off since early 2008.
 
Harris tried several things, mostly ligament-strengthening exercises. He did some acupuncture and chiropractic work as well as band exercises to strengthen the ligaments.
 
“Things you don’t do until you injure it to strength it,” was how Harris described it. “We’re doing more precautionary.”
 
Who knows if the way Harris plays contributes to his injuries. His strength is stopping and starting, changing speeds and directions. He breaks defenders’ ankles — figuratively speaking — and has done some damage to his own.
 
Harris missed 14 games in 2008, three games last year, one preseason game and part of another and a practice this year because of left ankle injuries. He also tweaked his right ankle early in camp. Right now, Harris has a strained groin that will keep him out of tomorrow’s exhibition game against the Knicks.
 
But you can tell with all the extra stuff Harris did, aside from regular basketball activity during the break, he really wants to shed the “always injured” tag.
 
“I can only control what I can control on the floor,” said Harris, who has missed 31 games due to injury the past two seasons. “Things happen. I don’t know why they happen. You put all the time in [during] the summer. Sometimes nagging things happen. I can only control what I can control.”
 
This is a big year for Harris on many levels. It’s the first time in his six NBA seasons that he is the star of the team, the focal point, the leader. He had somewhat of a dry run last year, but Vince Carter was still here. Now it’s just Harris.
 
There are other guys that will be featured, such as Brook Lopez and Courtney Lee, and, thanks to a strong camp, perhaps Chris Douglas-Roberts. There are other guys who can be leaders like Rafer Alston, Jarvis Hayes and Keyon Dooling.
 
But this is Harris’ team and he knows that how they play will reflect on him. So naturally, he wants the Nets to do better than everyone expects and he wants to make sure he’s out there, directing them and leading them to that type of season.
 
He says that’s why the Nets are taking this approach of resting him now so things don’t worsen. It makes sense; it’s more important that Harris is out there for 82.
 
One good thing is that Harris is not just getting treatment, or sitting off on the side when the team is practicing. He’s also on the floor, pulling guys to the side, advising them, encouraging them, telling them where they should be. He did the same thing the other night when the Nets lost to the Celtics in Newark.
 
“I’m watching practice, [seeing] things I’m trying to correct, whether it’s Brook with his roles or [Terrence Williams] when he’s running the point or [Douglas-Roberts],” Harris said. “Anything I can correct, I try to help those guys throughout the practice and try to build a relationship with those guys.
 
“Even though I’m not physically out there, I’m going to try to help them from a mental aspect.”
 
The Nets need Harris physically on the floor, and he wants to be there, and expects to be there. He said these preseason setbacks are no cause for concern.
 
“Until I miss a whole season,” Harris said, “I don’t worry about it.”
 
Harris and the Nets don’t even want to think about that.
 
***
Joining Harris on the bench for tomorrow’s game at The Garden will be Jarvis Hayes, who has a stress reaction in his right shin. He will miss at least a week.

Nets go small by necessity, not design

nets250.jpgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Nets’ roster is loaded with backcourt or wing players that will allow coach Lawrence Frank to play numerous lineups. Their best one may prove to be one with three guards, as it was last year when Devin Harris, Keyon Dooling and Vince Carter played together. Not sure what it will be yet, but you can see Frank playing Harris, Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts together or Dooling, Harris and Lee in what would be a small group.
 
“McDonald’s supersizes,” Frank said today. “The league has downsized.”
 
The theory is that the more guys who are 6-foot-7, 6-8 and interchangeable, the better. Most of the Nets’ talent, however, is in the 6-2 to 6-6 range. If there are holes and questions at this point, they seem to be up front, particularly at the forward spots.

It was the same last year when the Nets didn’t get consistent production from either forward position. Their starting smalls totaled 594 points, 114 of those scored by Vince Carter during a seven-game stretch late in the season. Take Carter out of the equation and the Nets starting small forwards last year — Bobby Simmons and Trenton Hassell — combined to score 480 points in 75 games, an average of 6.4 points. Yi Jianlian and Ryan Anderson were a little better, totaling 734 points or about 9.0 points total. Still not enough. It’s a team effort, but it isn’t a stretch to say those numbers are not going to get it done this season, not with this team.
 
The Nets will be fine in the backcourt with Harris, Lee, Douglas-Roberts, Rafer Alston, Terrence Williams and Dooling when he’s healthy. They have Brook Lopez at center. The backup hasn’t been determined from the group of Josh Boone, Sean Williams and Tony Battie, but provided Lopez can stay healthy and out of foul trouble, the Nets should be fine.
 
Then come the questions and concerns.
 
Yi will start at power forward. His potential backups are Eduardo Najera, Simmons, Boone, Sean Williams and Battie. Each of them brings different things — and the Nets are hoping for an injury-free productive year from Yi. But Yi, Najera, Boone and Battie have been injury-prone, and Sean Williams hasn’t been reliable. Simmons is more of a small forward, but when the Nets go small, he can play power forward and probably will see more time there. After Yi, he’s the best scorer of the bunch.
 
At small forward, the depth chart reads something like this: Jarvis Hayes, Terrence Williams, Douglas-Roberts, Simmons and Hassell. Hayes looked like the frontrunner to start when camp opened, but you have to wonder if he’s better suited for providing an offensive lift off the bench. Williams is strong enough to guard some of the bigger small forwards. But it’s hard to know what you’re going to get from young players like Williams and Douglas-Roberts on a nightly basis. Douglas-Roberts can score, but he may not be strong enough to guard the big smalls.
 
“You figure it out and you see what works,” Frank said.
 
The Nets are expecting more production all around because they’re not going to be able to rely on Carter this year.
 
“That’s going to be more opportunity right there in itself,” Hayes said. “If we can get better effort from not only the forward positions but also everybody on the defensive end, that will pick up everybody on the offensive end.”
 
The Nets have had just one preseason game and less than a dozen practices, so it might be too early to judge. But it’s not too early to wonder whether last year will repeat itself.

The future of these Nets

dooling250_041709.jpgThe season ended Wednesday. The players have had their exit interviews. The Nets will have meetings early next week to discuss numerous things, including the future of coach Lawrence Frank.
 
Here’s a look at the future of all the Nets gathered from a combination of sources, educated opinion, speculation and conversations with my 2 -year-old son.
 
Lawrence Frank: The Nets’ NBA leader in wins achieved most of what management wanted, except for developing Yi Jianlian. But, we don’t blame Frank for that. Yi got hurt and you know the rest of the story. Frank did a good job. But, the questions Rod Thorn will ask himself is can someone get more out of this team, are the players still listening, can he come back with one year left on his deal and expect the players to run through walls for him. The owner endorsed Frank if that means anything.
Odds of returning: 50 percent
 
Brook Lopez: The Rookie of the Year candidate hasn’t scratched the surface of his potential. The Nets see the center as a franchise centerpiece, especially if he continues to develop.
Odds of returning: 99.9 percent
 
Jarvis Hayes: The Nets will pick up the $2 million option on his contract for next season and gladly call him their sixth man again.
Odds of returning: 90 percent
 
Devin Harris: The first-time All-Star was great most of the season but didn’t commit to defense. The Nets like what they see from Jason Kidd’s replacement and won’t move the person they dealt their franchise player for unless they have a shot at Blake Griffin or another potential franchise-type of player.
Odds of returning: 85 percent
 
Keyon Dooling: The ball moved better with him, and he’s the kind of instant energy player every team loves and the Nets of recent years have lacked. He should be back.
Odds of returning: 80 percent
 
Vince Carter: You’re not going to find many players who can produce the way he can and who makes his teammates better like he does. Money will be a factor both ways. The Nets would like to shed some payroll, but it’s going to be tough to find teams that will take back his $33.6 million salary over the next two years.
Odds of returning: 75 percent
 
Chris Douglas-Roberts: Showed great potential at the end of the season that made some question why the rookie swingman didn’t play sooner. The Nets would like to see how he progresses. He’s already one of their most competitive guys, a trait they wish more had.
Odds of returning: 75 percent
 
Ryan Anderson: The Nets like him and what he can become, but other teams like Anderson too. He could sweeten any potential trade.
Odds of returning: 70 percent
 
Yi Jianlian: The Nets already gave up too soon on a 20-something 7-footer (Nenad Krstic) in part of because of Yi. That was a mistake. But, they should make some calls. Not sure what the interest level is. The Nets would like an upgrade at power forward.
Odds of returning: 65 percent
 
Eduardo Najera: The Nets’ oldest player played only 27 games due to injury. Teams could be scared away by his age, 33, his health and his contract (three years, $8.5 million).
Odds of returning: 60 percent
 
Bobby Simmons: Improved as the season went on and is entering the final year of his deal at $11.24 million. It’s a lot for a role player, but he could value if not now then by the trade deadline. The Nets would like an upgrade at small forward.
Odds of returning: 60 percent
 
Trenton Hassell: Won’t opt out of the $4.35 million due him next season because he won’t sniff close to that if he does. It’s a lot of money for a role player, but better than Simmons’ deal and he’s a better defender. It’s the type of contract that could be used to make a deal work.
Odds of returning: 50 percent
 
Josh Boone: Serviceable big man has a manageable contract — $2 million next season; qualifying offer slightly less than $3 million the year after. He should have value but needs a fire lit under him.
Odds of returning: 25 percent
 
Sean Williams: Everyone knows he’s a terrific athlete and shot blocker, but his off-court troubles spoiled what could have been an I’ll-show-you season. If the Nets can’t move him, they always could buy him out.
Odds of returning: 20 percent
 
Maurice Ager: The only free agent on the roster can begin looking for a job, if he wants.
Odds of returning: 0 percent
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).

Nets come through despite struggling stars

hayes_250.jpg
MILWAUKEE – The Nets showed what it’s going to take for them to be a playoff team. Even on a night when their two best players don’t have it, the Nets have to find a way to get a win.
 
Considering the importance of the game, where it was and what Vince Carter and Devin Harris were doing to their own and the team’s shooting percentage, this had to rank as one of the most impressive victories of the season.

 They left the Bradley Center with a 99-95 win that really counted double because they moved within one-half game of Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot and to a 2-1 edge in the season series.
 
The first tiebreaker if the two teams are deadlocked at season’s end is head-to-head battles. They play for the last time on March 30 at the IZOD Center.
 
Back to this game: the Nets normally can’t survive nights when Harris has more turnovers (five) than field goals (three) or when Carter misses 75 percent of his shots.
 
But the Nets were able to withstand Carter’s 5-for-20 performance and Harris’ 3-for-14 effort that was influenced by an apparent asthma attack and come back from 10 down in the third because they defended and got the proverbial contributions from everybody.
 
The Nets’ zone defense was effective if not stalwart. They held the Bucks to 38.5 percent shooting, and Richard Jefferson was just 4-of-18 from the field.
 
Rookie Brook Lopez was a stud with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. But the Nets don’t win this game without the bench.
 
Ryan Anderson, who hadn’t played the prior two games, was a perfect 3-for-3 and scored 13 points off the bench in 13 minutes over the third and fourth quarters. And Keyon Dooling, playing with an arthritic hip, and Jarvis Hayes, with partially torn ligaments in his left thumb, buried huge buckets in the fourth period.
 
Dooling hit two 3-pointers early, and Hayes sunk another trey off a Carter feed with 18.5 seconds left that gave the Nets the lead for good, 93-90.
 
“Ryan came in and gave us a huge lift after not playing the last couple of games,” Hayes said. “He came in with sense of urgency and he kind of picked up everybody else. We fed off his energy in the second half.”
 
Coach Lawrence Frank called each of the three bench guys a “game changer,” which they were.
 
If the Nets lost this game, they would have been in 10th place, 2 in back of Milwaukee and been behind in the season series with games upcoming against the Celtics Wednesday night and in Orlando on Friday. So this was as close to a must-win in March as there is.
 
“We’re all jockeying for that same position,” Dooling said. “That makes it more gratifying.”
 
“It’s big for a lot of reasons — just the time of the season when we need wins, when we could have easily folded,” Carter said. “I’m glad to see guys come together and play well.”
 
It’s not always going to be like this. As long as Harris is healthy, and this isn’t a recurring thing — he has exercise-induced asthma and said he never had it as bad as last night — the Nets’ stars aren’t going to shoot like this on most nights. But it’s important that their teammates picked them up.
 
The bench guys came in and were game changers. They may wind up being season changers.
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)

Welcome to the club, Devin Harris

harris_250_022409.jpgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Vince Carter is the Net with the greatest flair for the dramatic, but Devin Harris is showing he can play that game.
 
The Nets’ All-Star guard hit one of the most incredible shots to win an NBA game on Monday. Not only did it end a five-game Nets’ losing streak, it also gave Harris two buzzer-beating game-winners this season, tying him with Carter.
 
Here are those four, ranked in order by magnitude and degree of difficulty.
 
1. Harris’ heave
Feb. 23, 2009: Nets 98, Sixers 96

This game was over, or at least it appeared to be. The Nets were headed for their sixth straight loss and the effect could have been devastating for their playoff hopes considering how hard they fought to get back in the game.
 
But as Carter said, “the stars were aligned.” They had to be for Harris to hit the shot he hit.
 
Down 96-95 with no timeouts and 1.8 seconds left, Bobby Simmons threw the inbounds pass to Harris, who raced to midcourt, lost it, saw it bounce off Andre Iguodala, caught it and heaved it from the left sideline. Swish.
 
That was as head shaking a basket as you will see.
 
“It was a wild shot,” Harris said.
 
There seemed no way all that could have happened in 1.8 seconds. No one believed it but the Nets’ faithful.
 
Official Violet Palmer originally waved it off. But the refs huddled, watched replays for about two minutes and 30 seconds and said Harris did all of that – raced to midcourt, lost the ball, caught it and in one motion heaved it in under 1.8 seconds.
 
That took amazing speed and strength for Harris to do that.
 
Ironic that it was Derrick Stafford who raised his hands and signaled the shot was good. (See No. 3).
 
2. Carter slams Toronto
Nov. 21, 2008: Nets 129, Raptors 127 (OT)

The Toronto fans blistered Carter to no end and Carter shut them up seemingly with each stroke of his wrist. But on the last play, it was Carter’s legs and a perfectly placed pass by Simmons that sent Toronto fans home even angrier.
 
First, the Nets had to come back from 18 down and needed a Carter three from straight away as the horn sounded in regulation to force overtime. Simmons fed that one, too.
 
Carter wasn’t done.
 
In the OT, after Anthony Parker hit a game-tying three on a defensive breakdown, Simmons threw a side out-of-bounds pass at the rim, where Carter jumped, caught it, and threw it down with his back to the basket.
 
You never see games end with a back-to-the-basket, reverse alley-oop dunk.
 
3. Vince-dication
Jan. 2, 2009: Nets 93, Hawks 91 (OT)

That morning, the league ruled on the Stafford-Carter dust up from New Year’s Eve in Detroit when Carter became irate because Stafford called him boy. Later that night, Carter shook off a bad shooting performance and a missed shot in regulation to bury a 33-foot shot at the buzzer to lift the Nets to the win.
 
“I just wanted to go back out and play,” Carter said, “get all that [garbage] of the last game out of the way and go play basketball.”
 
The Nets came back from 20 down and did it with coach Lawrence Frank in his office watching the game with general manager Kiki Vandeweghe. Frank was ejected on purpose and his team made sure it wasn’t in vain. They also were without Harris late. He left the game with a hamstring injury.
 
This also appeared to be a game the Nets would lose. Jarvis Hayes’ inbounds pass was deflected and Carter chased it down in the backcourt. Josh Smith gave Carter too much room and he made him pay.
 
“That’s the worst, best shot I’ve seen in my life,” Harris said.
 
“Only Vince Carter does that,” Frank said.
 
4. Harris’ Happy Holiday
Dec. 23, 2008: Nets 108, Pacers 107

The Nets were embarrassed the night before by Houston and looked to be headed for their third straight loss to the Pacers, especially after Danny Granger’s jumper from the foul line with 10 seconds left.
 
But Harris had the answer on a night when Carter scored 38 points.

Everyone probably figured it was going to Carter, but the play was designed for Harris all along. Harris shook Jarrett Jack with a crossover and canned the 22-footer as time expired.
 
“It was great for him to hit the game-winner,” Carter said. “I told him ‘this is your first one, so welcome.”‘
 
Harris definitely is a member of the club now.
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).

 

Trade Carter? The Nets may have to be sellers

carter_250_012909.jpgATLANTA – Effort wasn’t the problem for the Nets in their loss to Toronto Wednesday, so that’s definitely a step forward from what happened in Oklahoma City. But you can’t help but notice that the Nets keep taking steps backward.
 
They’ve lost eight of 10 to drop six games below .500 and there’s a good chance the Nets won’t see breakeven again. By losing all these games, the Nets also have dropped out of the top eight, even falling behind the Knicks and into 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
 
Yes, the Nets only are one-half game behind eighth-place Milwaukee, which you would expect will lose more now that Michael Redd is out for the season. But the Nets also are just two games out of 14th place, so these nine games before the February 19 trade deadline – starting with tomorrow against the Hawks – are critical for the Nets and their future. Eight of those games are against teams with better records and six are on the road. You probably get where this is going.
 
It’s about what the Nets should do by the deadline. Earlier this season, when they were hovering around fifth and sixth place they couldn’t really consider trading Vince Carter. They may have to start now. His trade value maybe at its highest considering how well he’s playing at 32 and what some teams think they need to get them over the hump. What contender other than the Celtics or Lakers wouldn’t want someone like Carter?
 
The Cavaliers are interested, that’s known. You could see Orlando being intrigued, although GM Otis Smith said some negative things about the hometown product two summers ago. The Rockets and Mavericks could also use help back there, although you wonder if Jason Kidd would vouch for Carter after he was one of the reasons he wanted out.
 
Then there are the teams that could try and block others from getting a player like Carter, maybe a New Orleans.
 
The point is the Nets should be fielding many calls in the next few weeks, especially if they keep going backward. Jarvis Hayes could help contending teams. Eduardo Najera can also.
 
The Nets have pieces that other teams may want and more than ever they have to think about what makes sense. Are they playing for today or next season or 2010?
 
Dealing Carter would open up an additional $17.3 million for 2010, especially if they were to move him for players whose contracts expire after next season. But then the question is who would want to come here if the Nets are not competitive? Certainly, they’re more competitive with Carter than without him. To which, the Devil’s advocate would say how good will Carter be in his 13th season, pushing 34 years old?
 
This scenario has been and continues to be discussed by the Nets’ hierarchy and might be spoken about more because of the team’s losing ways.
 
By the way, on a side note, did you ever think Yi would be missed this much?
 
You had to expect the Nets would hit the skids at some point. Their schedule has been a bear and the road ahead isn’t easy either. If we look ahead a little further, March features nine road games, including a West Coast trip, and 13 games overall with teams with better records than the Nets, including two with the Cavs and one each with the Lakers, Nuggets, Blazers and Hornets.
 
That’s what made Monday’s game at Oklahoma City and yesterday’s against the Raptors big ones for the Nets. You have to win the games you should win if you want to be a playoff team.
 
The way things are going, the Nets probably won’t be a playoff team. And if they continue going the way they are over the next few weeks, Net officials may have to make another bold move. Their phones should be busy.
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)