NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have been creative in their attempt to start from scratch after selling away the future of the franchise five years ago hunting for a championship that never came.
Two months after capping a third straight losing season, the Nets hope their latest acquisitions might be part of the solution.
Brooklyn continued its rebuild Thursday night, selecting Dzanan Musa with the 29th overall pick and Rodions Kurics at No. 40 in the NBA draft.
Musa was taken with the pick acquired from the Toronto Raptors in a trade last July, which also landed forward DeMarre Carroll.
The Nets have been trying to salvage something of the previous drafts after the last regime sent three unprotected first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 to the Boston Celtics and the right to swap first round picks in the 2017 draft for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.
The trade netted Brooklyn a disappointing second-round exit that season and sent the organization into a downward spiral with no draft assets to show for it.
So now, the Nets are looking abroad.
Brooklyn has invested heavily in its international scouting department since New Zealand-born general manager Marks took over in February 2016, and that group led them to Musa and Kurics.
Musa, 19-year-old from Bosnia and Herzegovina, spent the last three seasons with KK Cedevita, leading them to the Croatian League championship. At 6-foot-9, he averaged 13.3 points and shot 46.2 percent from the field in 30 league games.
Brooklyn was impressed with what they had seen at the international level from Musa, who has been playing professionally since the age of 16.
“I think from scouting perspective we’ve enjoyed watching him play. Very dynamic,” general manager Sean Marks said. “Obviously his offensive skills are pretty special. (A good) size for (his) position. He has been playing at a very, very high level. A very competitive young man.”
Kurocs, a 6-foot-9 prospect, was tabbed by draft experts in years’ past as a first-round selection but sat mostly on the bench for FC Barcelona in the Spanish ACB League and in Euroleague competition this past season. He averaged 1.4 points in 10 games.
“I am not sure why he was there when we picked, but he is a guy that we had been targeting for some time,” Marks said. “We’re thrilled to get our hands on Rodions.”
Marks said he expects both players to join the Nets roster for the upcoming season.
Musa has a $1 million buyout clause with KK Cedevita. Rodions’ contract calls for a $4 million fee to free him up from his Spanish club.
“There is a lot of development there with their bodies and so forth. Again, I think both (are) really great development pieces for our coaching staff, performance (and) so forth to get their hands on,” Marks said. “I am intrigued to what they can do for both player. Playing in an elite level in Europe for quite some time, I think that transition that we talked about before will hopefully won’t be seamless.”
Brooklyn also drafted at the 45th spot, taking Kentucky shooting guard Hamidou Diallo, and traded his rights to the Charlotte Hornets as part Wednesday’s deal for Dwight Howard, who is expected to be bought out by the Nets.
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