Dudley intends to do right by Nets
Veteran forward eager to play in Brooklyn under Atkinson
Fuhgetabout the buyout.
Jared Dudley is all in with head coach Kenny Atkinson and the Brooklyn Nets.
General manager Sean Marks’ latest addition to the Downtown-based NBA franchise’s revamped roster can’t wait to carve out his spot as one of the Nets’ veteran leaders and key members of Atkinson’s rotation off the bench.
“I think in Brooklyn they respect the hustle and playing the right way,” said Dudley during his introductory press conference with the local media Wednesday afternoon at the team’s HSS Training Center in Sunset Park.
“And because of that, fans come out and support that.”
Acquired from Phoenix along with a protected future second-round draft pick in exchange for Darrell Arthur last week, the 33-year-old stretch-four forward was originally a target for Marks two years ago, but he passed up a shot at inking a two-year deal to play in Brooklyn for a three-year pact with the Suns.
Now entering the final year of that deal, and likely the twilight of his career, the 12-year veteran is eager to fit in with Atkinson’s plan in Brooklyn and making the most of what figures to be a one-year stay in our fair borough.
“I think that you could tell the way he talks he’s a New Yorker in a sense of his confidence,” Dudley said of the third-year head coach, who led the Nets to an eight-game improvement in 2017-18.
“Not being bold, but his attitude toward trying to get better, trying to work, the hard work. He seems to me a blue-collar guy, put your hardhat on here, come and let’s work, let’s have fun and let’s get better.”
Dudley’s relationship with the Nets wasn’t always a fun and friendly one.
Back in 2011, he drew the ire of the team’s fan base by openly questioning why then-superstar Dwight Howard was interested in playing for the franchise via an insulting tweet.
Ironically, Howard was acquired and subsequently bought out by the Nets earlier this summer in a move designed to clear salary cap space for the summer of 2019, when Marks will have the potential to lure two maximum salary players here.
Some thought Dudley might follow a similar path, but judging by his comments Wednesday, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound long-range threat is likely to be a part of the roster and rotation this coming season.
“Being a trailing four where he likes those power forwards to be able to, once the point guard swings to you, to be able to go from side-to-side both ways and kind of being a second point guard,” Dudley noted when asked how he would fit into the Nets’ run-and-gun, long-range shooting system under Atkinson.
“For me, that’s one of my strong suits here in the NBA with reading defenses, moving side-to-side, going to pick-and-rolls. I just think it’s kind of a perfect match.”
Boasting a career 39.6 percent shooting percentage from 3-point range and coming off a season in which he saw limited playing time for another young, developing team in Phoenix, Dudley should be fresh and focused to aid in this ongoing Brooklyn rebuild project.
Knowing he will likely be playing alongside point guard D’Angelo Russell and budding young center Jarrett Allen, Dudley complimented both players and hopes to further complement them on the hardwood.
“Everybody knows [Russell’s] scoring ability,” Dudley said of the team’s leading scorer with a 15.5 points-per-game average last season. “I think for him, and I talked to him on the phone, is how you can make your teammates better. In this league if you look at all the top stars everyone can score, it’s about how you can make others better.
“I think Jarrett Allen – the potential for him where he’s a big that can move side to side, be able to block shots,” he added. “I know he’s progressed over the last year and I think those two are the cornerstones and we all have to fall in place and play our roles around them.”
Dudley isn’t likely to be around when Marks’ plan shifts into its next phase, one that is designed to see the Nets seriously compete for their first-ever NBA championship.
But this season, even if it’s his only one in Brooklyn, figures to be an important one for a player who once infamously tweeted: “lol Why would you wanna play for the Nets over teams such as the Lakers, Bulls, and Mavs.”
“It was no disrespect towards Brooklyn as an organization,” Dudley explained.
“If anything, I was telling people two years ago I almost signed here. I actually thought…me and my wife were looking at places, as a matter of fact. So for that, I’ve always wanted to be in New York. So, there should be no problem.”
There won’t be as long as Dudley finds his niche in a Brooklyn locker room with plenty of new faces, many of whom won’t be around when Marks completes his renovation.
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