By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The only thing missing from Nets general manager Billy King's near-perfect summer was a big man to back up 7-foot center Brook Lopez for the franchise's upcoming inaugural season in Downtown Brooklyn.
Apparently, King has filled that hole, according to a Yahoo! Sports report, by inking 6-foot-11, Syracuse native Andray Blatche to a one-year deal.
With a starting five featuring the All-Star backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, and Kris Humphries, Lopez and Gerald Wallace up front, the Nets followed up their big offseason splashes by rounding out the roster with key reserve players and veterans, including the likes of Reggie Evans, Jerry Stackhouse and C.J. Watson.
Rookies Tyshawn Taylor, Mirza Teletovic and Tornike Shengelia are also in the mix, but none had the physical presence to come off the bench and give the Nets' pivotman a breather during the 82-game grind of a regular season.
Enter Blatche, who reportedly beat out the likes of former Knick Eddy Curry and Hilton Armstrong for a coveted spot on the team that will represent Brooklyn's first major pro sports franchise since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957. Blatch averaged 9.9 points and 5.4 rebounds with the Washington Wizards over his first seven NBA seasons.
Lopez, who missed all but five games last season due to nagging ankle and foot injuries, didn't sit out a single contest during his first three seasons in the league.
The Nets will kick off their season Nov. 1 with a crosstown showdown against the Hudson River rival Knicks.
Before that, however, the team will play the Knicks in an Oct. 24 exhibition at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the original home of the ABA Nets when they played on Long Island.
In other Nets news, the New York Post reported Thursday that the team is looking for a more localized practice facility than the one it has used out in East Rutherford, N.J.
According to the story, team brass toured a 660,000 square-foot site in Red Hook as a potential spot for a new practice facility.
"A Brooklyn training complex would provide a great 'assist' to the arena," Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz told the Post. "The team that plays together should practice together -- in their home city of Brooklyn."
With many Nets players living in Jersey, the organization will have to decide whether a Brooklyn practice facility would be beneficial and convenient.