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LAS VEGAS — With free agency winding down and the Spencer Dinwiddie trade done and dusted, Nets fans will turn their eyes toward Las Vegas and focus their attention on NBA Summer League.
Yes, Kevin Durant and Team USA will be going for Olympic gold Saturday and the Big 3 still have contract extensions to be ironed out. But one will be decided on Saturday, and the other will not be sorted out for a while.
In the meantime, there are still summer league stories worth paying attention to, with the Nets opening Monday versus Memphis (5 p.m., ESPN2).
Reggie Perry and Alize Johnson are two players on the NBA roster looking to impress summer league coach Jordan Ott, and by proxy, Nets head coach Steve Nash. There is former Pistons guard Brandon Knight, who at 29, has gone right past veteran and all the way to venerable by summer league standards.
After the Nets shockingly made all five of their selections in this year’s NBA draft, all five have made the trip to Las Vegas. And after Durant is finished leading Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, he is intent on watching his new young Nets teammates.
“I’m super excited about having them,” Durant said. “I can’t wait to see what they do in their careers, but especially starting with summer league. Definitely will be watching and rooting for them and giving them advice as much as I can and just being there for them.”
Despite rumors that the Nets offered one or both of their first-round picks to dump DeAndre Jordan’s contract, they ended up taking LSU guard Cam Thomas 27th and North Carolina center Day’Ron Sharpe two spots later.
There are questions about Thomas’ shot-selection (just 33 percent from 3-point range, despite great form), and how another iso volume scorer can fit with Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Sharpe can rebound, but will he fit into the Nets’ switching scheme better than Jordan, and well enough to get playing time?
“I feel like I have to prove myself to get my minutes,” Sharpe said. “I feel like if there’s anything you got to do, you got to prove yourself before anybody gives your respect and I feel I just got to come in and whatever the Nets need me to do, I can do it. That’s my mindset from Day 1.”
Second-round picks Kessler Edwards, Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray also will be in Las Vegas. Edwards is a potential 3-and-D wing out of Pepperdine who has been viewed as a potential value pick, with CBS Sports giving the Nets an A-plus for his selection.
Anything the Nets get out of a second-round pick, however, is a bonus. Making a team this loaded will be no small feat for any of them, even if it’s on a two-way deal.
Perry, a second-round pick last year, found that out as a rookie. The forward was actually MVP of the U19 FIBA World Cup two years ago, starring for a loaded U.S. team that had eight players who were selected in the lottery during the past two drafts: Kira Lewis and Tyrese Halliburton in 2020, then Cade Cunningham, Josh Green, Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes and Jalen Suggs (the top five picks), as well as No. 10 selection Ziaire Williams this year.
Internally, the Nets like Perry. But the 21-year-old logged just 211 minutes last season, scoring 78 points. The Nets think they might have something, and Perry can take at least a step in showing it over the next two weeks.
The summer league team also will feature former Kings forward Chris Silva (a New Jersey native) and guard Quinndary Weatherspoon (a Spurs two-way last season), though fans won’t see promising third-year big man Nic Claxton.
The final part of the Dinwiddie trade is in, and the Nets are getting the rights to Serbian 7-footer Nikola Milutinov from the Spurs, according to The Athletic. The 26-year-old was a first-round pick of the Spurs when Nets general manager Sean Marks was running their draft as assistant GM.
Milutinov is a traditional big and the third-highest paid player in Europe at CSKA Moscow, where he played alongside Mike James. He doesn’t have an NBA out for two years, according to Yahoo. Then again, neither did James.