Nets Finally Ink 2011 Second-Round Pick Bogdanovic
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Three years ago, Bojan Bogdanovic decided to take his talents to Istanbul, rather than Downtown Brooklyn.
On Tuesday, the Nets officially announced that their 2011 Second-Round Draft pick would be showing off his international skills on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues this coming season.
“Having drafted Bojan in 2011, it is rewarding to finally welcome him to the Nets,” Nets general manager Billy King said, without revealing terms of the deal, which are reportedly upwards of $10 million over the next three years via the team’s mid-level exception.
“We obviously have a high regard for his game, and we are glad he will now bring that talent to Brooklyn,” King added.
The Nets tried in vain to sign the 6-foot-8 native of Bosnia and Herzegovina after buying his draft rights from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Bogdanovic went on to star as a forward for Fenerbahce Ulker in the Turkish Basketball League over the next three seasons, earning All-Star honors last year and helping his club score league and Supercup titles in 2014.
The 25-year-old will now join the ever-growing list of players – Alan Anderson, Andrei Kirilenko, Mirza Teletovic and Sergey Karasev – the Nets hope can help fill the void left by future Hall of Fame forward Paul Pierce, who opted to sign with Washington this summer.
Selected 31st overall by Minnesota in 2011, Bogdanovic is no stranger to professional ball as he began his career back in 2004 with his hometown team, Zrinjski Mostar.
The Croatian National Team member averaged 14.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists while logging just over 30 minutes per contest last season in 24 Euroleague contests with Fenerbahce.
How well he fits in and progresses with the Nets will fall largely on new head coach Lionel Hollins, who is trying to bring some consistency to a franchise that has already had four head coaches in two seasons since relocating to Brooklyn.
Bogdanovic shined brightest during last summer’s European Championships, leading Croatia to eight straight wins in the tournament and joining the likes of NBA regulars Tony Parker, Goran Dragic, Linus Kleiza and Marc Gasol on the FIBA Eurobasket All-Star Team.
The Nets weren’t done signing players for the week after nailing down Bogdanovic.
On Wednesday morning, King announced that two of the team’s second-round picks from this year’s draft, guard Markel Brown and forward Cory Jefferson, had also inked multi-year agreements with the team.
Brown, the 44th overall pick last month at the Barclays Center, was also picked up from the Timberwolves on draft night in exchange for cash considerations.
He recently completed his senior season at Oklahoma State, averaging 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 35.3 minutes per game, earning All-Big 12 Second Team honors for the second consecutive season.
During his junior season with the Cowboys, Brown averaged 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 34.1 minutes per game.
The high-flying 6-foot-3 combo guard, who boasted the top vertical leap of any of his fellow draftees, played in 134 games during his collegiate career, averaging 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.00 steals in 30.5 minutes per game.
He also became the only player in Oklahoma State history to record 300 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocked shots in his career and his 969 career points in Big 12 games are a school record.
Brown was named Louisiana’s Mr. Basketball in 2010 after a standout career at Peabody Magnet High School in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Jefferson, the 60th overall pick in the draft, was acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers on draft night in exchange for cash considerations.
He completed his fifth and final season at Baylor University, averaging 13.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.30 steals and 1.30 blocks in 29.0 minutes per game en route to All-Big 12 Third Team honors.
During his junior season, the 6-9 forward was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention after averaging 13.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.90 blocks in 27.9 minutes per game. He also earned All-Tournament Team honors after helping Baylor to the NIT championship.
These three signings give the Nets a full NBA roster of 15 players under contract for the upcoming campaign, though they can add another five before heading to training camp in September.
While Bogdanovic and Brown appear to be shoe-ins to make the final cut, Jefferson will likely have to earn his spot over the next few months
With point guard Deron Williams and center Brook Lopez scheduled to return from offseason surgeries, and shooting guard Joe Johnson and power forward Kevin Garnett likely penciled in as regulars, Pierce’s spot in the Nets’ starting lineup remains wide open.
Whether they wind up filling that slot by committee or choose one player to get the majority of minutes, the Nets stand to benefit greatly from the open competition.
And those who don’t quite make the cut will serve to strengthen Brooklyn’s bench, which was indispensable during last season’s push to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Nothing But Net: Kirilenko made some noise over the weekend after his comments from a newspaper in his native Russia appeared to direct criticism at recently departed Nets coach Jason Kidd for his well-chronicled defection from Brooklyn to Milwaukee. While translations of the article in question seemed to indicate that Kirilenko believed Kidd left our fair borough to avert the pressure of coaching in a major media market, the Nets’ power forward cleared the air a bit this week regarding the matter. “It sounds in the article like I have a negativity [about Jason leaving], but that’s completely untrue,” Kirilenko told ESPNNewYork.com on Monday. “We’ve been discussing why it happened -- because I don’t know why it happened -- but we’re just speculating. We don’t know what the real reason is from Jason’s point of view. … It’s tough to kind of judge him because he obviously came into a lot of pressure. New York is a city with a lot of legends and a lot of history, and every move you make is under a microscope. So I guess it’s easier for the coach to start [fresh] with a younger group of guys, with his own vision, in a smaller city where you don’t have that much pressure. And I think that’s what Jason’s doing now.”