Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish: Richard Jefferson rejoins Nets … as analyst

Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) /

More than 10 years after being traded away by the organization, Richard Jefferson has returned to the Brooklyn Nets as an analyst for YES Network.

It’s a very special Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish — what with Wednesday being opening night for the Nets and all.

We tip off the Dish with a feel-good story about a guy proving, once again, that you can come home again, as Richard Jefferson has returned to the Nets organization, per this report from Newsday.

Jefferson, who played for the New Jersey Nets for the first seven seasons of his NBA career before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008, recently announced his retirement from the league after 17 seasons and is back with the Nets as an analyst for YES Network.

According to the report, Jefferson will be an analyst for select Nets games and will debut Wednesday in the studio for Brooklyn’s season opener against the Detroit Pistons in Motown.

He’s scheduled to work his first game next week, alongside play-by-play man Ian Eagle, when the Nets go to Cleveland on Oct. 24.

The transition of Jefferson from player to media member has been in progress for years.

He was always terrific in interviews, had great success with his podcast, Road Trippin’, and did some analyst work for Fox Sports Ohio last spring during the NBA Playoffs and has also done work for ESPN in the past.

It’s a good get for YES.

Tempered optimism as season opens

Newsday columnist Barbara Barker waxed optimistic about the future of the Brooklyn Nets, while pointing out that the playoffs are likely still out of reach.

If the Nets and New York Knicks both miss the playoffs again, it would be the longest playoff drought for New York City since the Nets came into the NBA in 1976.

The city hasn’t had a playoff team since the Nets were in the postseason in 2015, but has never gone four straight years without an appearance in the NBA’s big party.

This is shaping up as very much a transitional season for Brooklyn, which has more than half its roster in the final year of contracts. As Barker points out, this season could be an 82-game audition for the next stage of the rebuild.

One overriding question for Russell

Brian Lewis of the New York Post took a closer look at one of those players on an expiring contract, fourth-year point guard D’Angelo Russell.

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The biggest question facing Russell has to do with whether his individual skill set — which is considerable — can begin to translate into wins for a team.

Russell started 48 games as a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2015-16 and their record was just 9-39 in a season in which L.A. finished 17-65.

In 2016-17, he started 60 games — missing 19 outings with knee issues. In those 60 starts, the Lakers were 21-39 and finished 26-56 overall.

After being traded to Brooklyn last season, Russell missed 34 games because of a knee injury and was limited to 35 starts. The Nets’ record in those games was 13-21, while they were 15-33 without him as the starter.

Former YES analyst Mike Fratello raised that question in his new gig on NBA TV, while claiming that 18 of Brooklyn’s wins last season came with Spencer Dinwiddie running the point.

"“The guy is a big shot-maker,” Fratello said. “He can make shots. Can he help a team win? That’s what I’m waiting to see. Can he take that leadership role and bring guys together and get Ws on the board?“There’s no question he’s talented. There’s no question this guy can knock down shots, and with range. But can he get a team to win?”"

The Nets let Monday’s deadline to extend Russell’s rookie deal pass and instead will give the 22-year-old former No. 2 overall pick an opportunity to earn his next contract with what he does on the floor this season, a scenario Russell is perfectly OK with.

Former Net says Simmons’ jump shot not a concern

There has been much made of the similarities between the styles of play of reigning Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers and that of a former Rookie of the Year winner and now Hall of Famer, Jason Kidd.

Simmons’ game is often criticized because he doesn’t really have much of a jump shot and is not a threat from 3-point range, because the buzzword of today’s NBA, boys and girls, is “spacing.”

As Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson points out in a post in which he spoke to former Nets big man Mikki Moore, Kidd was called “Ason Kidd” early in his career — no “J.”

T.J. Kidd, son of the Nets’ Hall of Famer, told Robinson in September that he sees the similarities between his father’s game and that of Simmons.

Moore said the jump shot thing is vastly overstated.

"“I think he needs to be more of a floor general than working on that jumper right now. As long as he can control the tempo of the game and help the other four that’s out there with him, that jumper is going to come, you know?”"

Last season, Simmons attempted just 11 3-pointers among his 998 field-goal attempts and made exactly none of them.

But he shot 54.5 percent from the floor and averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game … as a 6-foot-10, 230-pound point guard and matchup nightmare.

So what’s the issue? I get the whole “2-point shots aren’t as efficient as 3-point shots” debate, but if the kid is setting up teammates for wide-open looks from the great beyond, why — exactly — is this such a problem?

For the record, Simmons attempted 14 shots in Philadelphia’s 105-87 loss at Boston on Tuesday night — four of them outside the restricted area and none from 3-point range. He made 1-of-4 on those attempts and finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.

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Now, as for that 5-for-11 night at the free-throw line on the heels of hitting just 56 percent last season? That’s the problem that needs to be fixed. Then they can work on the whole jumper thing.