Nets make three second-round picks

Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown, right, scores over Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown, right, scores over Baylor center Isaiah Austin, left, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Waco, Texas. Photo Credit: AP / Rod Aydelotte

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Without a pick at the start of Thursday night's NBA draft, Nets general manager Billy King just couldn't sit back and watch the events unfold without getting into the action.

So he pulled off three minor deals, jumping into the second round to acquire the 44th, 59th and 60th overall selections.

With the 44th pick, landed from the Timberwolves for a reported $1 million, the Nets took Oklahoma State shooting guard Markel Brown. King took San Diego State shooting guard Xavier Thames at No. 59 with the Raptors' pick and Baylor power forward Cory Jefferson at No. 60 with the 76ers' pick. Early Friday morning, all three picks were said to be official.

"We were working different angles, different picks," King said. "We had our board and had guys ranked on there, and there were places where we could have gotten into the first round. But the price was too high and so as we looked at it, Markel Brown gives us an athletic combo guard, probably one of the top athletes in the whole draft, and . . . the chance to add some youth to our backcourt was a plus also."

A 6-3, 185-pound native of Alexandria, La., Brown is athletic and is a high riser with a 431/2-inch vertical leap, which tied for the best mark at the NBA Scouting Combine. Brown, named to the All-Big 12 team for a second straight season, averaged 17.2 points per game as a senior and canned 38 percent of his shots from beyond the three-point arc.

He might be slapped with the dreaded "tweener" label, meaning he doesn't have the height to compete with the league's taller shooting guards or the ballhandling skills to be a high-level point guard. "I just look at it as a combo guard," King said. "I think you've got to put your best players on the court and they'll figure it out."

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Thames, a 6-2, 187-pounder, and Jefferson, who is 6-8, 218, worked out for the Nets earlier in the week. Thames averaged 18.1 points per game and shot 36.7 percent from behind the arc. Jefferson averaged 13.6 points per game, nailing 37.8 percent of his three-point tries.

Garnett starts early. After an injury-plagued season, Kevin Garnett -- perhaps understanding how difficult it has become to keep Father Time at bay -- apparently is changing things up. Set to return for a second season with the Nets and his 20th season in the NBA, Garnett is breaking from his typical routine. Indications are he's getting himself ready for the 2014-15 season a little earlier than usual.

"If you would ask him, I think he's working out sooner," coach Jason Kidd said. "He's working out now. Talking to him, his plan to start shooting starting July 1 is a lot sooner than when he started working out last year.

"Older players, they tend to wait a little bit longer. But he feels good, so it's a good sign to see him working out, seeing him back working out. It's good to see everybody in the gym this early."

Garnett is scheduled to make $12 million in the final year of his deal, a lofty figure for someone who's coming off career lows in pretty much every major statistical category and for a guy who missed 19 games because of back spasms.Garnett, now 38, averaged 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He also played 20.5 minutes per game, his lowest average since he logged 28.7 minutes per contest as a 19-year-old rookie with the Timberwolves in 1995-96. Sounds as if that won't change much in 2014-15.

"We talked about the role last year [and] I thought he understood it," Kidd said after the franchise unveiled its plans for a new training facility in Brooklyn. "And again, I think the reward for me is seeing guys working out in the gym in June, meaning guys are not tired. Talking to Joe [Johnson] and these guys and seeing those guys are working out shows you are deep like that. Not having to play a lot of minutes until playoffs, that was the plan and we executed. Hopefully, we can do the same thing next year."

Count Mason Plumlee among those who couldn't be more thrilled to see Garnett in the fold again.

"It does nothing but help me," he said. "He's the best veteran to have as a rookie in the league, if you ask the other young guys that have played with him. But I was so happy when I heard that because it's only going to help me. Another year with him, another year of learning, it's a blessing."

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