1980-81 New Jersey Nets Games Played/Started & Transactions

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1980-81 New Jersey Nets Games Played/Started & Transactions

Postby MCT » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:09 pm

This is the tenth of a planned series of threads analyzing games played, games started and transactions for the 1980-81 season. Before reading any further, see the introductory thread below:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4961

NEW JERSEY NETS – PART I

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Nets had a 24-58 record. They finished fifth and last in the Atlantic Division, and tenth out of eleven teams in the Eastern Conference overall. The Nets did not qualify for the playoffs.

The Nets used 14 different players for the season, three above the minimum. One additional player was also on the team’s roster during the regular season, but only on the injured list (not the active roster), and did not appear in any games.

ROSTER AND TRANSACTIONS

OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

*Tate Armstrong
Darwin Cook
Bob Elliott
Mike Gminski
*Edgar Jones
Eddie Jordan
Maurice Lucas
Lowes Moore
Mike Newlin
Mike O’Koren
Cliff Robinson
Jan van Breda Kolff
Clarence “Foots” Walker

*placed on injured list 10/9/80

Note: during the 1980 offseason, George Johnson, formerly of the Nets, had signed with the Spurs as a Veteran Free Agent. As of the start of the 1980-81 regular season, compensation for Johnson had not yet been settled.

IN-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

In the list below, anything which is underlined is the subject of discrepancies or guesswork, or is the result of further research beyond my usual sources.

10/22/80 – Waived Tate Armstrong.

10/29/80 – Received a 1981 1st round pick from the Spurs as compensation for the Spurs’ earlier signing of George Johnson as a Veteran Free Agent.

11/11/80 – Placed Maurice Lucas on the injured list; activated Edgar Jones from the injured list.

11/20/80 – Traded Eddie Jordan to the Lakers for a 1982 1st round pick.

11/21/80 – Activated Maurice Lucas from the injured list.

12/19/80 – Placed Clarence “Foots” Walker on the injured list; signed Rory Sparrow to a 10-day contract.

12/30/80 – Signed Rory Sparrow to a second 10-day contract.

1/9/81 – Activated Clarence “Foots” Walker from the injured list.

2/18/81 – Placed Mike Gminski on the injured list; signed Rory Sparrow as a free agent.

3/13/81 – Claimed Bob McAdoo off waivers from the Pistons; placed Rory Sparrow on the injured list.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

Tate Armstrong:

My source for Armstrong being waived on 10/22/80 (he had been on the IL since the start of the season and had not appeared in any games) is the transaction column in the following day’s Globe. I did not find any transactions concerning Armstrong’s brief stay with the Nets in any of my other usual sources. Because Armstrong never actually appeared in an NBA regular season game after the 1978-79 season, he is not included in any subsequent NBA Registers, so there is no Register coverage of his stay with the Nets.

I don’t have any documentation of how the Nets originally acquired Armstrong, though they presumably signed him as a free agent sometime during the 1980 offseason. I couldn’t find anything on this in the Globe transaction columns. Off-season signings of minor “street” free agents like Armstrong were often not widely reported in the media, and the NBA Register is frequently the only commonly available source for the dates of these transactions. Since Armstrong has no Register entry following the 1980-81 season, in this case I don’t have any source at all.

George Johnson compensation:

My source for the Nets receiving compensation for Johnson on 10/29/80 is the transaction column in the following day’s Globe. Other sources either don’t specify a date or seem to assume that compensation was sent on the same day Johnson signed with the Spurs (which was 8/15/80).

Rory Sparrow:

Sparrow was involved in several different transactions with the Nets before and during the 1980-81 season. No one source seems to have all of them, which required pulling together information from several different sources. As far as I can tell, Sparrow’s travelogue goes like this: he was selected by the Nets on the 4th round of the 1980 draft; signed a contract with the Nets in the preseason on 9/4/80; was waived towards the end of training camp on 10/7/80; was signed to a 10-day contract on 12/19/80; was signed to a second 10-day contract on 12/30/80; was not immediately re-signed upon the expiration of that contract; was signed as a free agent on 2/18/81; then was placed on the injured list on 3/13/81 (to make room on the active roster for the newly acquired Bob McAdoo), where he stayed for the rest of the season. Here’s how this came together:

--pst.com has all of the above transactions except for Sparrow signing his initial contract with the Nets on 9/4/80 and being placed on the IL on 3/13/81. (Like my own transaction list in this thread, Sparrow not being immediately re-signed upon the expiration of his second 10-day contract is not explicitly stated, but is implied by the absence of any transaction showing him re-signing at that time.)

--The only items listed above that were reported in the Globe transaction columns were Sparrow signing his initial contract with the Nets on 9/4/80 (reported in the 9/5 edition), Sparrow being “released” on 1/9/81 (reported in the 1/10 edition; this seems to be referring to Sparrow not being retained upon the expiration of his second 10-day contract), and Sparrow being placed on the IL on 3/13/81 (reported in the 3/14 edition).

--The 1981-82 and 1982-83 editions of the NBA Register simply show Sparrow signing outright with the Nets on 12/19/80, with no mention of it being a 10-day deal or of any subsequent contracts. As we’ve discussed in previous installments in this series, the Register typically wrote things up that way whenever a player who initially joined a team on a 10-day deal stuck around for longer than that, and shouldn’t be read as inconsistent with what pst.com shows. Sparrow is a little bit different from the cases we’ve seen previously, though, in that he had a large gap between his second 10-day contract and his subsequent signing. The way these editions of the Register write this up makes it look like he was with the Nets continuously from 12/19/80 onward.

--Starting with the 1983-84 edition, the NBA Register changed to show Sparrow signing a 10-day contract that expired on 12/29/80, then being re-signed on 2/18/81. This confirmed that what Sparrow signed on 12/19 was a 10-day deal, that he was not with the team continuously all season from that date forward, and that he signed with the Nets for the last time on 2/18. There is no mention of Sparrow signing a second 10-day deal following his first one, however. Sparrow's NBA Register entries continued to show the same information for the rest of his career. (The edition of the Register following his last year in the NBA, 1992-93, changed the wording to show him signing a 10-day contract on 12/19, rather than a 10-day contract that expired on 12/29, but the meaning is the same, and there was still no mention of a second 10-day contract.)

--b-r.com has absolutely no transactions listed for Sparrow between the time he was drafted by the Nets in June 1980 and the time he was traded to the Hawks in August 1981. Not only do they not show the full details of his multiple signings, they don’t show him signing during the season at all, or even being waived before the season for that matter. This makes it look as if Sparrow made the team out of training camp and was with the Nets continuously all season.

That Sparrow signed a 10-day deal on 12/19, and signed for good on 2/18, seems pretty well documented. I only have one source for the 12/30 and 3/13 transactions, however. pst.com is my only source for Sparrow signing a second 10-day deal on 12/30 (this transaction is conspicuous in its absence from post-1983 NBA Registers), and the Globe is my only source for Sparrow being placed on the IL on 3/13. Both of these are consistent with other known information, though. Sparrow must have signed a second 10-day contract on or about 12/30, because he keeps appearing in box scores for another several days after his first 10-day deal expired on 12/29. The Globe transaction showing him being “released” on 1/9 is also consistent with his having signed a 10-day contract approximately ten days before that. The editors of the Register must have simply missed the second 10-day contract when they updated Sparrow’s transaction history in 1983 to show more detail. The Globe being my only source for the 3/13 transaction is not surprising, as most of my other sources do not include player movement on and off the injured list. Sparrow being placed on the IL on that date is consistent with the TSN box scores (Sparrow appears in no box scores after that date) and with other transactions the Nets are known to have made (they acquired Bob McAdoo on 3/13, and needed to move someone off the active roster to make room).

When Sparrow signed with the Nets on 2/18, it appears to have been to a regular free agent contract, not to a “remainder of the season” contract. Both the NBA Register and pst.com have it written up that way, with no indication that it was a contract only for the remainder of the season. Also, the Nets would trade Sparrow to the Hawks in the offseason, so he somehow ended up under contract to the Nets for the 1981-82 season (if he was a free agent, he couldn’t have been traded). Based on that sequence of events, it’s likely that the contract Sparrow signed with the Nets in February 1981 ran beyond the end of the 1980-81 season.

Bob McAdoo:

McAdoo was placed on waivers by the Pistons on 3/11/81, and subsequently acquired by the Nets on 3/13/81. There is a discrepancy between sources as to whether the Nets claimed McAdoo off waivers or signed him as a free agent after he cleared. All modern-day reference sources indicate the latter, but I have found several contemporary sources stating the former.

b-r.com, pst.com, and every post-1982 edition of the NBA Register that I’ve seen (McAdoo was included in the All-Time Greats section after he retired) state that McAdoo was waived by the Pistons on 3/11, then signed by the Nets as a free agent on 3/13. There is no indication that he was claimed off waivers. When a player is claimed off waivers, these sources typically say so. In addition, for McAdoo to have signed as a free agent, he must have cleared waivers first.

By contrast, the transaction column in the 3/14/80 edition of the Globe indicates that the Nets claimed McAdoo off waivers. I found other newspaper articles in the Google News Archive stating the same thing:

--The 3/14/80 Milwaukee Journal has a brief game report on the previous night’s Nets-Cavaliers game which describes McAdoo as having been claimed off waivers by the Nets earlier in the day.

--A UPI wire service story in the 3/15/80 Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Bulletin Journal is very clear that McAdoo was acquired via a waiver claim, although it contains a few pieces of confusing information. For example, one place in the article states that the Nets “will pay McAdoo $54,000” for the remainder of the season, while another passage states “the Nets will assume Detroit’s contractual obligations for the remainder of the season, saving the club approximately $59,500” (out of a $542,000 salary for the full season). The Nets also took on the need to make a decision about an option in the contract for the 1981-82 season. If the option wasn’t exercised, McAdoo had to be paid a $50,000 buyout. (Note that under NBA free agency rules of this era, the Nets would still hold a right of first refusal over McAdoo if they declined the option and allowed him to become a free agent.) The article states that the Nets had put in the waiver claim after “tentatively agreeing with McAdoo and his agent, Bill Madden as to the details of the contract”. But a player claimed on waivers doesn’t normally “agree to a new contract” with his new team. The team assumes his old contract, just as if he had been traded; the player has no choice. I’m guessing that the Nets may have talked to McAdoo to confirm that he would actually report if they claimed him (there were only ten games left in the season, and he had apparently been involved in an ongoing dispute with Pistons management). They may have also wanted to discuss the disposition of the option year with him. The article states that the Pistons had previously told McAdoo they weren’t planning to pick it up. McAdoo ultimately became a free agent during the 1981 offseason, so it looks like the Nets didn’t pick up the option. Maybe McAdoo didn’t want them to pick it up, and the Nets agreed not to if he agreed to report for the remainder of season without incident.

--An AP wire service story in the 3/14/80 Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter is also fairly clear that McAdoo was acquired via a waiver claim. The article states that the Nets “took a $104,000 gamble Friday morning [3/13] and claimed him”. The $104,000 apparently refers to the $54,000 McAdoo was owed under his contract for the remainder of the season and the $50,000 to buy out the option year. The article notes that since the Mavericks had a worse record than the Nets, they had priority over the Nets on waiver claims. As a result, the Nets needed to wait until the waiver period ended at 5:00 pm on 3/13 before they could officially know their claim went through. The Mavericks had indicated that they weren’t interested in McAdoo, however, so the Nets had flown McAdoo to Cleveland earlier in the day. That way he would already be present at 5:00 and could then get ready to play in their game against the Cavaliers that night.

When I looked in the 1981-82 NBA Register, I made an interesting discovery: that edition of the Register also indicates that McAdoo was claimed off waivers. For the 1982-83 edition, this was changed to the description that appears in subsequent Registers, and in other modern-day sources like b-r.com and pst.com, showing McAdoo clearing and then signing as a free agent. Post-1982 editions of the NBA Register were likely the ultimate source of this information for both b-r.com and pst.com. If you stop and think about it, it makes more sense that McAdoo was claimed off waivers. If he cleared waivers, why would McAdoo have signed a contract covering only the last ten games of the 1980-81 season, giving the team he signed with a right of first refusal over him after the season?

Based on all of the above, I believe that McAdoo was in fact claimed by the Nets off waivers, rather than signing with them as a free agent after clearing waivers. I am curious as to why the description in the NBA Register was changed in 1982, as this likely led to the transaction being written up the way it is in virtually all modern-day sources, seemingly incorrectly.

Injured list transactions:

The 10/9/80, 10/22/80, 11/11/80, 11/21/80, 1/9/81 and 3/13/81 transactions involving players coming on and off the injured list were all reported in the Globe’s transactions column (i.e., in the following day’s edition of the paper). Of these, pst.com has only the 11/21/80 transaction, though it is written up simply as “activated” (quotation marks in original) with no further details. Frank probably sourced from this from a different newspaper but did not have sufficient context to say with certainty what Lucas was being activated from.

Someone has to have been placed on the IL when Sparrow was signed to a 10-day contract on 12/19/80, but I don’t have any documentation of who it was. Walker looks to be the best candidate. Walker did not appear in any games between 12/14/80 and the All-Star break. He was the only player on the Nets’ roster who did not appear in any games during the entire period of Sparrow’s two 10-day contracts. Since Sparrow and Walker played the same position, Sparrow appears to have been signed to fill in for Walker, so it would make sense for Walker to have been placed on IL when Sparrow was signed. I also have some documentation that Walker was on the IL during at least the later part of Sparrow’s stay, as the Globe reported Walker being “activated” on 1/9 at the end of Sparrow’s second 10-day contract. Robinson was absent for a stretch of 11 games that overlapped with the first half of Sparrow’s stay, however; it is possible that Robinson was on the IL during the first 10-day contract and was then swapped with Walker during the second 10-day contract. Given how long Walker was out, though, and that he and Sparrow played the same position, I think it is far more likely that Walker was on IL the whole time.

Who went on the IL when Sparrow was signed on 2/18 is a bit fuzzier, but my best guess is Gminski. Someone must have been placed on the IL on or shortly before that date, but again I don’t have any documentation of who it was. Since Walker was out at the time, and Sparrow was presumably signed to fill in for him, Walker is a distinct possibility. But Gminski was also out, and would miss the remainder of the season. By contrast, Walker would return to action in the seventh game after Sparrow was signed (3/3/81). Especially if it wasn’t yet known that Gminski would be out for the rest of the season, it’s possible that Walker was placed on the IL when Sparrow was signed, then Walker and Gminski swapped places when Walker returned to the lineup. Under the principle of “the simplest explanation is usually the right one”, however, I am assuming that Gminski went on the IL when Sparrow was signed, and remained on IL for the rest of the season.

GAMES STARTED INFO

MEDIA GUIDE

The 2013-14 Nets Media Guide has regular season games started stats going back to the 1976-77 season, the club’s first year in the NBA. For 1980-81, it shows the following:

Newlin 79
Lucas 53
O’Koren 48
Robinson 42
Gminski 37
van Breda Kolff 34
Walker 32
Elliott 29
Cook 28
Moore 20
Jordan 5
Jones 2
McAdoo 1

Note that the Nets had a very unstable starting lineup, due in large part to injuries. Ten players started at least 20 games, but only one player made more than 53 starts.

TSN BOX SCORES

All but three of the TSN box scores for the 1980-81 Nets appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. The three exceptions were games on 12/12/80, 1/25/81, and 3/20/81.

--In the 12/12/80 box score, the first four names look like they could be in “starters first” order (Lucas, O’Koren, Elliott, Newlin), but the fifth makes no sense at all (Gminski at what would be a G slot). In addition, two of the first four players listed were not the regular starters in the surrounding games (O’Koren and Elliott), although their places in the box score do correspond to the positions they typically played. The surrounding games were started by Lucas, van Breda Kolff, Gminski, Newlin and Walker.

--In the 1/25/81 box score, the first five players listed look like they could be the starters, but with a couple out of order (Cook is shown in the C slot, Gminski in a G slot). Four of the first five players listed were the starters in all of the surrounding games. The fifth (Cook) did not start the prior games but started in those that followed.

--In the 3/20/81 box score, the first five players listed look like they could be the starters, but with a couple out of order (Cook is shown in the C slot, Lucas in a G slot). Four of the first five players listed were the starters in all of the surrounding games. The fifth (Newlin) did not play in the previous game but started all other surrounding games.

If we assume that 1) the 12/12 game was started by the same players who started the surrounding games – not the first five players in the TSN box score – and 2) the first five players listed in the 1/25 and 3/20 box scores are in fact the starters, just with a couple out of order, the games started totals for all players are in agreement with those in the Nets Media Guide, except for the discrepancy noted below.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

After making the above assumptions, there is one discrepancy between the Nets Media Guide and the TSN boxes, involving one game and two players. The Media Guide indicates that Lowes Moore started 20 games, and Eddie Jordan 5. The TSN boxes suggest that Moore started 21 games, and Jordan 4. The source of the discrepancy seems to be the game on 11/16/80, as this is the only game that the TSN boxes show Moore starting before the point where Jordan was traded on 11/20/80 (11/16 was the second-to-last game before the trade).

At first glance, however, Jordan couldn’t have started on 11/16, because he doesn’t appear in that box score at all. Official NBA statistics show Jordan playing in 14 games for the Nets this year, though, but I can only find him in 13 TSN box scores. Is it possible that 11/16/80 is Jordan’s missing game, and that he not only played but started? Note that the four games the TSN box scores show Jordan starting were the four games immediately preceding the one on 11/16, and the final game in that stretch is the last TSN box score he appears in.

In this series of articles, I am assuming that the games started numbers in team media guides are correct, and I have used the numbers from the Nets Media Guide in Part II below.
Last edited by MCT on Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:29 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 New Jersey Nets Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby MCT » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:13 pm

NEW JERSEY NETS – PART II

PLAYER INFORMATION

The Nets’ many injuries and constantly shifting lineup make it hard to pick a “snapshot” date that really makes sense. For most of the teams we’ve looked at so far, I’ve used late February as the point for our snapshot. Many of these teams had a fairly stable roster for much of the season, and the roster as it stood in late February – after the trade deadline had passed – has presented a sensible way to look at the team. In that timeframe, the Nets had a couple of key players out with apparent injuries (Mike Gminski and Foots Walker). One roster spot had been filled by signing a player who only appeared in 15 games, while the other had not been filled at all, leaving the team short a player. Another player who started for much of the season (Cliff Robinson) was in the midst of an anomalous period where he was being used off the bench. As a result, the roster as it stood in late February doesn’t really present a “typical” Nets roster.

For another team that had these types of issues, the Hawks, I was able to back up to late January/early February and find a lineup that was a much more sensible way to look at the team. That doesn’t work as well for the Nets. It’s hard to find a game with a typical lineup where all players were present and being used in their primary roles. One could even debate exactly which lineup was typical. No player started more than 37 games at center or more than 48 games at forward, and only one player started more than 32 games at guard. There are strong arguments for why Lucas, Robinson and O’Koren should all be labeled as starting forwards, but you can only use two of them (van Breda Kolff started a substantial number of games at forward as well). At guard, one player started 79 games, but three others cycled through the opposite spot; there are strong arguments why none of them should be labeled as a starter, but someone has to be.

Here’s the approach I’m going to take: the lineup below reflects the Nets’ roster as it stood between mid-January and mid-February, assuming everyone was healthy, with the starters being those players who seemed to be the “preferred” starters for the bulk of the season. In Part III, I will explain in more detail why I consider these five players to have been the preferred starters. The end result is a roster that is artificial as a snapshot, but that I think represents a sensible way to look at a “typical” Nets roster. I could only find three games all year, in early December, where the starting five shown below all started at the same time. There were significantly more games with various combinations of four starting at the same time, although none of these were after early February.

MIKE NEWLIN

History: 2nd round pick of Rockets in 1971. Acquired in trade with Rockets, October 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 79 G, 36.8 MPG): The three games in which Newlin did not appear were on 12/25/80, 12/30/80 and 3/18/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 79): Newlin started every game he played in. He was the only player to remain in the Nets’ regular starting lineup all season with no significant interruptions.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career. Newlin may have played some small forward earlier in his career, but at this point I would think that he was a full-time guard.

MAURICE LUCAS

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1974. Acquired in trade with Blazers, February 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 68 G, 31.8 MPG): The 14 games in which Lucas did not appear were nine consecutive games from 11/5/80 through 11/22/80 (from 11/11/80 to 11/21/80, Lucas was on the injured list), 12/26/80, three consecutive games from 1/7/81 through 1/10/81, and 2/25/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 53): Even though he started only about 65% of the Nets’ games, Lucas was second on the team in games started, and first among frontcourt players. His starts were split between forward and center, however. Based on the TSN box scores, Lucas started 37 games at forward and 16 at center. Most of Lucas’ absences from the starting lineup were in the early part of the season, and most were probably injury-related. He started more consistently during the middle and later parts of the season, but even in those time periods he experienced a few brief interruptions. All of his starts at center came towards the end of the year.

The 53 games Lucas started were as follows: four consecutive games from 10/25/80 through 11/1/80; 12 consecutive games from 12/2/80 through 12/25/80; four consecutive games from 12/30/80 through 1/6/81; 18 consecutive games from 1/17/81 through 2/24/81; and the final 15 games of the season, from 2/27/81 on. Full details from the TSN box scores:

--Lucas came off the bench for the first nine games of the season (through 10/24/80), while Jan van Breda Kolff started at forward. I don’t know if Lucas was nursing an injury (I would have expected him to be the starter), or why else the Nets might have been using this arrangement. These nine games account for more than 30% of the games Lucas didn’t start, and fully 60% of the games he played in but did not start.

--Lucas moved into the starting lineup at forward for 4 consecutive games from 10/25/80 through 11/1/80. These four games were followed by the stretch of nine games that Lucas missed in November. Lucas was on the injured list for most of that period. As of the end of that period, Lucas had played in only 13 of 22 games, and had started just four. After this point, he played in 55 of 60 games, starting 49 of them.

--When he returned to the lineup, Lucas came off the bench for his first three games back. He then started 12 consecutive games at forward, from 12/2/80 through 12/25/80. Following this stretch, Lucas didn’t play in the next game, then played but came off the bench in the game that followed.

-- Lucas then started four consecutive games at forward from 12/30/80 through 1/6/81. This was followed by three consecutive games in which he didn’t play, then two games where he played but came off the bench.

--Lucas returned to the starting lineup on 1/17/81. At that point there were 34 games remaining in the season. Lucas would start all but one, which was the game he did not play in on 2/25/81. Lucas started the first 14 games of this stretch at forward. He shifted to center for one game on 2/18/81, apparently because regular starting center Bob Elliott did not play (Elliott had taken over as the starter a few weeks earlier after Mike Gminski was apparently lost for the season due to injury). Following this, Lucas went back to starting at forward for the next three games, before missing the game on 2/25.

--For the following game, on 2/27/81, Lucas returned to the starting lineup, but was shifted to center. Lucas would start at center for all 15 games that remained. Elliott played in most of these games, including the one on 2/27, so this doesn’t appear to have been done due to an injury to Elliott. It looks to me like the Nets simply decided that, in Gminski’s absence, Lucas was a better option at center than Elliott was.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for most seasons of career, including 1980-81. The only exceptions (both in the ABA) are his rookie season of 1974-75 and the portion of the 1975-76 season he spent with the Spirits, both of which are shown as C.

CLIFF ROBINSON

History: 1st round pick of Nets in 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 63 G, 28.9 MPG): The 19 games in which Robinson did not play were six consecutive games from 10/25/80 through 11/8/80, eleven consecutive games from 12/7/80 through 12/28/80, and two consecutive games on 1/21/81 & 1/22/81. For all the time he missed, I don’t think Robinson was ever on the injured list. As discussed earlier, it is possible he was on the IL during Rory Sparrow’s first 10-day contract in December, but I think it is more likely that Walker was the player on IL at that time, and the Nets were simply playing shorthanded at forward.

Games Started (Regular Season: 42): Robinson started barely half of the Nets’ games, but he still ranked second on the team in games started at forward. Robinson’s limited number of starts was likely due mostly to injury. He appears to have been a preferred starter at forward for most of the season, when healthy. There was a period later in the season where he seems to have been used off the bench in a sixth-man type of role for about a month, however. Robinson started the first nine games of the season, through 10/24/80; nine consecutive games from 11/19/80 through 12/5/80; nine consecutive games from 1/4/81 through 1/18/81; one game on 2/18/81; and fourteen of the last fifteen games of the season (every game from 2/27/81 through the end of the season except for 3/18/81).

The three nine-game runs of starts that Robinson made prior to February were all interrupted by stretches of games in which he did not play, presumably due to injury. Robinson’s first run of nine starts was interrupted by the six-game stretch that he missed in late October and early November. After coming off the bench for his first four games back, he returned to the starting lineup. The second run of nine starts was interrupted by the eleven-game stretch that Robinson missed in December. Upon returning to action, he came off the bench for two games before resuming his place in the starting lineup. The third run of nine starts was interrupted by the two games Robinson missed in late January.

When he returned to action after missing those two games, Robinson did not move back into the starting lineup right away. He came off the bench for 14 of his first 15 games back. Mike O’Koren started in place of Robinson for most of this period. It appears to me that the Nets made a decision to start O’Koren and use Robinson in a sixth-man type of role. This was the only portion of the season where Robinson appears to have been coming off the bench by design. The one game in this period that Robinson started, on 2/18/81, was a game in which Maurice Lucas was shifted over to start at center. Robinson started at forward in Lucas’ place.

On 2/27/81, with 15 games remaining in the season, Lucas was again shifted to starting at center, and would stay in that role for the remainder of the season. This opened up a starting slot at forward, and Robinson again filled it. He would start all remaining games, alongside O’Koren, except for 3/18/81. Bob McAdoo started that game instead of Robinson, for reasons that are not clear to me.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for most seasons of career, including 1980-81, although he is listed at SF for three seasons later in his career, and at C for one season (1983-84).

MIKE GMINSKI

History: 1st round pick of Nets in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 56 G, 28.2 MPG): Gminski appeared in 56 of the first 58 games of the season (through 2/7/81). The two games in that period in which Gminski did not appear were on 12/30/80 and 1/28/81. After 2/7/81, which was the second game after the All-Star break, he did not appear in any further games. I would assume that Gminski got injured. As discussed earlier, I believe that Gminski was placed on the injured list at some point (so that his roster spot could be filled by another player), probably when Rory Sparrow was signed on 2/18/81, and spent the rest of the season on IL. The Nets’ later acquisition of Bob McAdoo was probably intended to plug the hole left by Gminski’s absence.

Games Started (Regular Season: 37): Although Gminski started less than half of the Nets’ games, he started more games at center than any other player. Gminski came off the bench behind Bob Elliott in the early part of the season. Through the Nets’ first 20 games, he made only two starts, which were two consecutive games on 10/25/80 & 10/29/80. Gminski then moved into the starting lineup, where he would remain until his apparent injury in February. Between 11/21/80 and his last appearance of the season on 2/7/81, Gminski started 35 of 38 games. The only three games in that period that Gminski did not start were the two games he did not play in on 12/30/80 and 1/28/81, and the game immediately following the one on 12/30 (1/2/81), in which he played but came off the bench.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

CLARENCE “FOOTS” WALKER

History: 3rd round pick of Cavaliers in 1974. Acquired in trade with Cavaliers, September 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 41 G, 28.6 MPG): Walker appeared in 27 of the Nets’ first 32 games, a stretch running through 12/14/80 (he did not appear in five consecutive games from 11/8/80 through 11/16/80). He then appeared in just 3 of the next 37 games, presumably due to injury. Walker finished out the season by appearing in 11 of the final 13 games, a stretch beginning on 3/3/81 (the two games he did not play in were on 3/6/81 and 3/25/81).

The 37-game stretch when Walker was mostly absent from the lineup lasted from 12/16/80 through 3/1/81. The three games that he played in were three consecutive games from 2/4/81 through 2/8/81, which were the first three games after the All-Star break. As discussed earlier, I strongly suspect that Walker was on the injured list for the entire period when Rory Sparrow was with the Nets on two 10-day contracts between 12/19/80 and 1/9/81. I’m fairly certain Walker was on the IL for at least the later part of it, as I have documentation that he was activated when Sparrow’s second contract expired on 1/9/81. It would be nearly a month from that date before Walker actually played in a game, however. The Nets simply played shorthanded for the remainder of the period he was out. It is also possible that Walker was placed on the IL when Sparrow was signed as a free agent in February, but I think it is more likely that Mike Gminski was the player placed on the IL at that time. That’s certainly how things ended up, as Gminski missed the remainder of the season while Walker returned to action within a few weeks.

Games Started (Regular Season: 32): Prior to the point where he dropped out of the lineup for an extended period in December, Walker had started all 27 games he had played in. He also started the three games he returned to the lineup for just after the All-Star break (three consecutive games from 2/4/81 through 2/8/81). When he returned again in early March, Walker was used mostly off the bench, but he would make two more starts, on 3/18/81 (regular starter Mike Newlin did not play in this game) and 3/29/81 (last game of the season).

Even though Walker made only 32 starts, that was still the most starts of any guard other than Newlin. Note that Walker did not appear in a single game off the bench until March; up to that point, any time Walker was healthy enough to play, he was starting. Neither of the players who filled in after Walker got hurt (Lowes Moore and Darwin Cook) really established themselves as the starter to any greater degree than Walker had.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

MIKE O’KOREN

History: 1st round pick of Nets in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 79 G, 31.3 MPG): The three games in which O’Koren did not appear were two consecutive games on 12/30/80 & 1/2/81, and one additional game on 3/3/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 48): O’Koren’s 48 starts were the most by any player at forward, and ranked third on the team overall. He was also second on the team in total minutes played, and third in minutes per game. Despite all of that, I am listing him as a reserve. It appears to me that Maurice Lucas and Cliff Robinson were the preferred starters for most of the season, and the vast majority of the starts that O’Koren made were during periods when one of them was unavailable to start or when Lucas had been shifted to center. To some degree, that O’Koren started so many games and got so much playing time is a testament to how often Lucas and Robinson were unavailable to start at forward.

The 48 games O’Koren started were as follows: 16 consecutive games from 10/25/80 through 11/30/80; five consecutive games from 12/17/80 through 12/26/80; 3 consecutive games from 1/10/81 through 1/16/81; and 24 of the 25 games from 2/7/81 through the end of the season (all except the game he did not play in on 3/3/81). Full details from the TSN box scores:

--O’Koren came off the bench for the first nine games of the season.

--On 10/25/80, O’Koren moved into the starting lineup as a fill-in for Robinson, who had apparently gone out with an injury. Robinson missed six games, then came off the bench for his first four games back. Meanwhile, Lucas had also gone out with an injury, and Jan van Breda Kolff started in his place. When Robinson returned to the starting lineup, van Breda Kolff went to the bench, and O’Koren continued to start. When Lucas was ready to return to starting duty on 12/2/80, O’Koren finally went back to the bench. By that point, O’Koren had started sixteen consecutive games.

--For the next two months, O’Koren was used mostly as a reserve, making only 8 starts in the next 32 games. The starts that O’Koren did make were all games in which Lucas or Robinson do not appear to have been available to start. Robinson was out for much of December; during this period, O’Koren started five consecutive games from 12/17/80 through 12/26/80. Lucas was absent from the starting lineup for five games in January; O’Koren started the last three, consecutive games from 1/10/81 through 1/16/81.

--Later in January, Robinson missed two games, and van Breda Kolff started in his place. When Robinson returned, van Breda Kolff continued to start, and Robinson was used off the bench. Starting on 2/7/81, the second game after the All-Star break, O’Koren took on the starting role opposite Lucas and van Breda Kolff went to the bench. O’Koren would start every game from this point on except for the one he didn’t play in on 3/3/81. Robinson continued to mostly come off the bench until the end of February. On 2/27, Lucas was shifted to center. This opened up a slot at forward for Robinson, and from that point through the end of the season, O’Koren and Robinson started alongside each other. The stretch between 2/7 and 2/27 is the only portion of the season where it appears that the Nets were using O’Koren as a starter over Robinson (or Lucas) by design.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Guard. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career. O’Koren may have played some guard later in his career, but at this point I would think that he was a full-time forward.

DARWIN COOK

History: 4th round pick of Pistons in 1980. Signed as a free agent, July 1980. (Note: although Cook was drafted by the Pistons, they waived him on 7/3/80, less than a month after the draft; I’d guess that he was cut following some kind of post-draft rookie/free agent camp. The Nets signed him two weeks later.)

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 24.4 MPG): The only game in which Cook did not appear was on 12/3/80. Cook led the Nets in games played; no player appeared in all 82 games.

Games Started (Regular Season: 28): Most of the games that Cook started were in the later part of the season. Prior to late January, he was used almost exclusively as a reserve, only starting two games on 12/25/80 and 12/30/80. Both were games in which regular starter Mike Newlin did not play. Cook’s next appearance as a starter was in four consecutive games from 1/25/81 through 1/29/81. These were the last four games before the All-Star break. This was during the period when Foots Walker was absent from the Nets’ lineup. Lowes Moore had been filling in as the starter, but the team apparently decided to switch to starting Cook instead.

Cook moved back to the bench when Walker returned to start the first three games after the All-Star break. But Walker then had another extended absence, and Cook went back into the starting lineup again. Cook started 22 consecutive games from 2/11/81 (the fourth game following the All-Star break) through 3/27/81 (the second-to-last game of the season). Cook continued to start even after Walker returned late in the season, with the exception of the last game on 3/29/81. For whatever reason, Walker started that game and Cook came off the bench.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position switches back and forth between SG and PG. 1980-81 is shown as SG; the next five seasons are shown as PG before switching back to SG for Cook’s last two seasons in the NBA (1986-87 and 1988-89).

LOWES MOORE

History: 3rd round pick of Nets in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 71 G, 19.8 MPG): The 11 games in which Moore did not appear were on 10/10/80 (opening night), 10/17/80, three consecutive games on 10/22/80 through 10/25/80, 11/1/80, two consecutive games on 12/7/80 & 12/10/80, 2/27/81, 3/17/81, and 3/28/81 (the second-to-last game of the season).

Games Started (Regular Season: 20): As discussed earlier, there is a one-game discrepancy in Moore’s regular season games started. The Nets Media Guide credits him with 20 starts, but the TSN box scores suggest that he started 21 games. The discrepancy involves a game on 11/16/80, and whether Moore or Eddie Jordan started it. Excluding the possibility that Moore started the 11/16 game, all of his starts came in a stretch of 20 consecutive games from 12/16/80 through 1/22/81. This stretch began at the point when Foots Walker went out with an apparent injury in mid-December; Moore took his place in the starting lineup. In late January, Moore went back to the bench and was replaced as starter by Darwin Cook.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

BOB ELLIOTT

History: 2nd round pick of 76ers in 1977. Signed as a free agent, September 1978.

Games Played (Regular Season 73 G, 18.1 MPG): The nine games in which Elliott did not appear were on 12/2/80, 12/5/80, 12/14/80, 12/17/80, 12/28/80, 2/18/81, 3/20/81, and two consecutive games on 3/25/81 & 3/28/81 (the game on 3/28 was the second-to-last game of the season).

Games Started (Regular Season: 29): There were two periods of the season in which Elliott started regularly, and two in which he primarily came off the bench. Elliott began the season by starting 18 of the Nets’ first 20 games, a stretch running through 11/19/80 (the only two games in this period that Elliott did not start were two consecutive games on 10/25/80 & 10/29/80, which Mike Gminski started). Gminski then took over as the starter, and Elliott started only 3 of the next 38 games, a stretch running from 11/21/80 through 2/7/81 (Elliott started two consecutive games on 12/30/80 & 1/2/81, and on 1/28/81; Gminski didn’t play on 12/30 and 1/28). At that point, Gminski appears to have gotten injured, and Elliott returned to the starting lineup. He started 8 of the next 9 games, a stretch running from 2/8/81 through 2/25/81 (the only game in his period that Elliott did not start was on 2/18/81, when he did not play). Maurice Lucas was then shifted over to start at center, and all of Elliott’s appearances after 2/25 were off the bench.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for 1980-81, but is shown as PF for the other two seasons he played in the NBA (1978-79 and 1979-80). I can’t speak for how Elliott was used in other seasons, but I think b-r.com’s assessment that his primary position this year was C is correct.

JAN VAN BREDA KOLFF

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1974. Acquired in ABA dispersal draft, August 1976.

Games Played (Regular Season 78 G, 18.3 MPG): The four games in which van Breda Kolff did not appear were two consecutive games on 11/21/80 & 11/22/80, 12/17/80, and 1/4/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 34): Similar to Mike O’Koren, van Breda Kolff looks to have been primarily a reserve, but managed to accumulate a significant number of starts due to time missed by Maurice Lucas and Cliff Robinson. The vast majority of the starts that van Breda Kolff made were during periods when either Lucas or Robinson appear to have been unavailable to start. The 34 games van Breda Kolff started were as follows: the first nine games of the season, through 10/24/80; six consecutive games from 11/5/80 through 11/16/80; five consecutive games from 12/7/80 through 12/16/80; three consecutive games from 12/28/80 through 1/2/81; two consecutive games on 1/7/81 & 1/9/81; seven consecutive games from 1/21/81 through 2/4/81; one game on 2/25/81; and one game on 3/3/81. Full details from the TSN box scores:

--van Breda Kolff started the first nine games of the season, through 10/24, alongside Cliff Robinson. I would have expected Lucas to be the starter, but he came off the bench in all of these games. I don’t know if Lucas was nursing an injury, or why else the Nets might have been using this arrangement.

--Lucas then moved into the starting lineup, sending van Breda Kolff to the bench. After just four games, however, Lucas apparently got injured. Van Breda Kolff moved back into the starting lineup for the next six games (11/5/80 through 11/16/80). Robinson was also out for part of this period, with Mike O’Koren filling in for him. When Robinson was ready to return to the starting lineup, van Breda Kolff went back to the bench. Following that point, van Breda Kolff would be out of the starting lineup for nine games, seven of which he played in. (Several games after Robinson returned, Lucas was back in the starting lineup as well, and O’Koren then also went back to the bench.)

--Robinson then disappeared from the lineup, apparently due to an injury. Van Breda Kolff started the first five games Robinson missed (12/7/80 through 12/16/80; this streak was snapped by the game van Breda Kolff did not play in on 12/17). O’Koren started the next five games after that, but the Nets then went back to van Breda Kolff as the starter for the next three games (12/28/80 through 1/2/81; this streak was snapped by the game van Breda Kolff did not play in on 1/4). Robinson then returned to the starting lineup.

--After one game out of the lineup and one game on the bench, van Breda Kolff returned to the starting lineup for two games on 1/7/81 & 1/9/81, as a fill-in for Lucas, who did not play in those games. O’Koren started the next three games after that, before Lucas returned to the starting lineup.

--After five games on the bench, van Breda Kolff returned to the starting lineup for seven games from 1/21/81 through 2/4/81. Robinson did not play in the first two games in this stretch. After he returned, the Nets appear to have kept Robinson on the bench by design for a time in a sixth-man type of role. Five games after Robinson returned, however, O’Koren displaced van Breda Kolff as the starter.

--For the rest of the season after 2/4 (which was the first game after the All-Star break), van Breda Kolff was used almost exclusively off the bench. He made just two starts, which were on 2/25/81 and 3/3/81. Both were games in which one of the regular starters did not play. Lucas did not play in the game on 2/25, while O’Koren did not play in the game on 3/3.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Guard. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career. van Breda Kolff may have played some guard at some point in his career, but I see him as a full-time forward this season.

EDGAR JONES

History: 2nd round pick of Bucks in 1979. Signed as a free agent, June 1980. (Note: Jones had been cut by the Bucks in training camp in 1979, so even though he had come out of college a year earlier, he had no regular-season NBA experience prior to this season.)

Games Played (Regular Season 60 G, 15.8 MPG): Jones was on the injured list for the first 15 games of the season. At the time he was activated (11/11/80), the Nets had 67 games remaining, of which Jones appeared in 60. The seven games after 11/11/80 in which Jones did not appear were on 11/12/80 (Jones’ first game on the active roster), 12/2/80, 12/5/80, 12/10/80, two consecutive games on 1/25/81 & 1/27/81, and 2/7/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 2): The two games that Jones started were two consecutive games on 12/26/80 & 12/28/80, as a fill-in for regular starter Maurice Lucas. Lucas did not play in the first game. In the second game, Lucas played but came off the bench. These two games fell during a period when the other regular starter at forward, Cliff Robinson, was also absent from the lineup. Jones started alongside Mike O’Koren in the first game and alongside Jan van Breda Kolff in the second.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

NOT YET (RE-)ACQUIRED:

RORY SPARROW

History: 4th round pick of Nets in 1980 (waived in training camp and did not start 1980-81 season with team). Signed by the Nets on multiple occasions during the 1980-81 season, the last in February 1981.

After being cut in training camp, Sparrow was brought back and signed to a 10-day contract on 12/19/80; signed to a second 10-day contract on 12/30/80; then, following a gap of several weeks, signed as a free agent on 2/18/81.

Games Played (Regular Season 15 G, 14.1 MPG): Sparrow had two distinct stints with the Nets. During the first, Sparrow appeared in ten consecutive games from 12/19/80 through 1/7/81. This appears to represent every game the Nets played during Sparrow’s two 10-day contracts with the team. During his second stint, Sparrow appeared in five games during a six-game stretch from 2/22/81 through 3/3/81. There were a few games both before and after that period in which Sparrow was on the roster but did not play, as well as one in the middle on 2/27/81. Sparrow was placed on the injured list on 3/13/81 in order to make room on the active roster for the newly acquired Bob McAdoo, and remained on IL for the rest of the season.

During Sparrow’s two 10-day contracts in December and January, he was filling in for Foots Walker, who seems to have been out with an injury. When Sparrow was signed on 2/18, he was again filling in for Walker, but center Mike Gminski was also out. When Walker returned in early March, this left the Nets with an extra guard, but short on big men (with Gminski apparently on the IL). McAdoo subsequently seems to have been acquired to shore up the big man corps. When this happened, the Nets no longer had a spot to carry an extra guard on the roster. Sparrow was the odd man out. He apparently suffered a conveniently-timed injury, and joined Gminski on the IL for the rest of the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Sparrow did not start any games. Of the 14 players who saw action for the Nets this year, Sparrow was the only one who did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

BOB McADOO

History: 1st round pick of Braves in 1972. Claimed off waivers, March 1981.

McAdoo spent most of the season with the Pistons, although he was injured or inactive for much of the portion of the season he spent with them. He was waived by the Pistons on 3/11/81, and acquired off waivers by the Nets on 3/13/81. (As discussed earlier, there is a discrepancy between sources as to whether McAdoo was claimed off waivers or signed as a free agent after clearing waivers, but I believe that he was claimed off waivers.) The Nets were likely interested in bringing McAdoo in for the rest of the season due to Mike Gminksi’s absence from the lineup, which had left the team’s lineup thin on big men. Rory Sparrow was placed on the injured list to make room for McAdoo on the active roster.

Games Played (Regular Season 10 G, 15.3 MPG): When McAdoo was acquired, the Nets had 10 games remaining. McAdoo played in all of them. McAdoo had played in 6 games for the Pistons prior to being waived, giving him a total of 16 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 1): The one game that McAdoo started was on 3/18/81, at forward. McAdoo displaced Cliff Robinson from the starting lineup; it isn’t apparent to me why, as Robinson did play in this game.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for most seasons of career, but is listed as PF for a few, including 1980-81 (McAdoo’s primary position is shown as PF for his rookie season of 1972-73; the portion of the 1978-79 season that he spent with the Knicks; 1979-80; and 1980-81).

NO LONGER WITH TEAM:

EDDIE JORDAN

History: 2nd round pick of Cavaliers in 1977. Claimed off waivers, December 1977.

Jordan started the season with the Nets, but was traded to the Lakers on 11/20/80 for a 1982 1st round pick. His roster spot was filled by activating Maurice Lucas from the IL. The trade allowed the Nets to get down to just their basic 11-man roster, after having carried at least one player on IL all season up to that point.

Games Played (Regular Season 14 G, 17.1 MPG): At the point Jordan was traded to the Lakers, the Nets had played 20 games. Jordan is credited with appearing in 14 regular season games, but I only noted him in 13 TSN box scores. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Jordan in only 13 Nets box scores. It is possible that Jordan was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score.

Jordan appears in just two of the first seven box scores, which were 10/10/80 (opening night) and 10/15/80. He then appears in 11 of the next 12 box scores, from 10/19/80 through 11/15/80 (the one box score in this period that Jordan is absent from is 10/25/80). The Nets played two additional games before Jordan was traded, on 11/16/80 and 11/19/80, but Jordan does not appear in either box score. As discussed earlier, a discrepancy in Jordan’s games started between the TSN box scores and the Nets Media Guide raises the possibility that he may have started the game on 11/16/80. If that’s correct, that would be the missing game, since he does not appear in the TSN box score for that game at all. After being traded, Jordan played in an additional 60 games for the Lakers, giving him a total of 74 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 5): As noted above, there is a one-game discrepancy in Jordan’s regular season games started. The Nets Media Guide credits him with 5 starts, but the TSN box scores suggest that he started only 4 games. The discrepancy involves a game on 11/16/80, and whether Jordan or Lowes Moore started it. The TSN box scores show Jordan starting four consecutive games from 11/8/80 through 11/15/80, which are the last four Nets box scores that Jordan appears in. The 11/16 game that is the apparent source of the discrepancy was the game immediately following those four, and the Nets’ second-to-last game before Jordan was traded to the Lakers. (Regular starting point guard Foots Walker did not play in any of the five games from 11/8 through 11/16.) Jordan doesn’t even appear in the TSN box score for the 11/16 game, but his games played totals are also one game short. If he in fact started on 11/16, that would resolve the discrepancies in both his games played and games started.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

TATE ARMSTRONG

History: 1st round pick of Bulls in 1977. Signed as a free agent, 1980 (?)

Armstrong was placed on the injured list on 10/9/80 (the day before the start of the regular season), as the Nets cut their active roster down to the minimum 11 players in preparation for the start of the season. He was waived on 10/22/80 without having been activated from the IL or appearing in any games. I don’t have any details of how Armstrong was acquired by the Nets, but presume that he was signed as a free agent during the 1980 offseason. See the discussion of in-season transactions in Part I.

Games Played: Armstrong was on the injured list for the entire portion of the season he was on the Nets’ roster, and did not appear in any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.
Last edited by MCT on Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
MCT
 
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Re: 1980-81 New Jersey Nets Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby MCT » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:18 pm

NEW JERSEY NETS – PART III

PLAYERS BY POSITION

As described earlier, the Nets’ lineup used in Part II isn’t really a snapshot, but more of an attempt to construct a “typical” Nets lineup reflecting how players likely would have been used had everyone been healthy. The end result is a lineup that is somewhat artificial, but makes more sense as a way to look at the team than any true snapshot would.

In identifying certain players as the “preferred” starters, I gave credit to players who I believe would have started more had it not been for issues with injuries. I also placed more emphasis on who started in the middle and later parts of the season, discounting the early-season lineup shuffling that many teams experience. A couple of positions are real judgment calls. I think there are strong arguments for why Lucas, Robinson and O’Koren should all be labeled as starting forwards, but you can only use two of them. At guard, I think there are strong arguments why none of the three players who cycled through the spot opposite Newlin should be labeled as a starter, but someone has to be. Here is how I arrived at these selections:

Center – Mike Gminski only played in 56 games and only started 37, but he still made significantly more starts at center than anyone else, and played significantly more minutes per game than any other player whose primary position was center. Gminski appears to have gotten injured in February, with about 25 games left in the season. Had it not been for that, I think he likely would have continued to start for the remainder of the season, which would have left him with 60+ starts. The early part of the season was the only time Gminski, who was a rookie, was used consistently off the bench.

Power Forward – I have Maurice Lucas at one forward slot. Lucas only started 53 games (out of 68 played), but that was more than any other frontcourt player, and he also led all frontcourt players in minutes per game. Most of the games he didn’t start appear to have been injury-related, and most were in the early part of the season. Lucas was pretty clearly one of the most important players on the team, and I’d have a hard time not labeling him a starter; a “most important Net” discussion would likely involve only Lucas and Newlin. A complicating factor is that Lucas was shifted to center late in the season, and made only 37 of his starts at forward. But it wouldn’t make any sense to list him as the starting center. He clearly played much more heavily at forward.

Small Forward – I have Cliff Robinson at the other forward slot. This was a tougher call than Lucas. Robinson started only 42 games (out of 63 played), but that ranked him second among forwards. It’s also hard to ignore Robinson’s 19.5 ppg, which ranked second on the team, behind only Newlin and nearly 5 ppg ahead of anyone else. The problem is that Mike O’Koren started even more games than Robinson did, and also averaged more minutes per game. From that point of view, it would make more sense to list O’Koren as the starter.

I still think that Robinson was the player the Nets really wanted starting, though, at least for most of the season. O’Koren accumulated so much playing time largely due to the frequent absences of Robinson and Lucas. Robinson does appear to have been deliberately used off the bench behind O’Koren for most of the month of February, however, and arguably only returned to the starting lineup after that due to Gminski’s injury (which had prompted the Nets to shift Lucas to center). Had it not been for that, Robinson may have ended up with fewer than 30 games started. That’s a valid point, but the fact is, Robinson did return to the starting lineup, and ended up only six starts behind O’Koren.

Another issue is that b-r.com shows both Lucas and Robinson as PFs (by contrast, O’Koren is shown as an SF). But Robinson is shown with a primary position of SF in other seasons later in his career, and may have been able to take on an SF role for stretches when playing alongside Lucas. That said, b-r.com’s identification of Robinson as primarily a PF this year isn’t necessarily wrong, as he probably played alongside Lucas relatively little. The next two forwards in the Nets’ rotation (O’Koren and van Breda Kolff) were both SFs, and Robinson probably spent more time playing alongside them than Lucas. I only counted seven games all season where Lucas and Robinson were the two starting forwards (though there were significantly more where one started and the other came off the bench, or where Robinson started at forward and Lucas started at center). In a lineup alongside O’Koren or van Breda Kolff, Robinson would be the PF.

The bottom line: there are arguments for and against listing either Robinson or O’Koren as the starter; either one makes sense for certain points of view, but not from others; for the reasons explained above, I’ve gone with Robinson.

Shooting Guard – this one is easy. Mike Newlin started 79 games.

Point Guard – this one is trickier. Foots Walker began the season as the starter, but appears to have missed much of the season due to injury, ending up playing in only 41 games, starting only 32. Only five of his starts came after mid-December. That doesn’t make a very convincing case, but both of the players the Nets tried as starters in his place (rookies Lowes Moore and Darwin Cook) started even fewer games, and played fewer mpg for the season than Walker did. One of these guys has to be listed as the starter, so Walker gets the title more-or-less by default. The Nets do seem to have considered Walker to be the true starter until fairly late in the season. When Walker made a brief three-game return just after the All-Star break, he was installed as the starter, and wouldn’t actually appear in a game off the bench until March.

With so many injuries and lineup shuffling, it’s no surprise that only two of the players listed above averaged 30 mpg: Newlin and Lucas. O’Koren, who I chose not to list as a starter, was also over 30 mpg. Gminski, Robinson and Walker all averaged 28 mpg and change, their numbers perhaps dragged down a little by periods when they were used off the bench.

RESERVES

All six of the reserves on the Nets’ basic 11-man roster saw a fair amount of playing time; no one was really buried on the far end of the bench. With all the time missed by the starters, that’s not surprising. In fact, there was only one player who didn’t spend a fair amount of time starting (Edgar Jones), never mind merely playing. In contrast to the players I have listed as the starters, most of these guys stayed in the lineup throughout the season, with relatively few absences:

The two reserves who saw the most playing time were Mike O’Koren (79 g, 31.3 mpg) and Darwin Cook (81 g, 24.4 mpg), both of whom were rookies. Both were starters for substantial portions of the season, of course. One could easily argue that both (especially O’Koren) should actually be considered the starters in our analysis of the Nets’ lineup. Their heavy usage as starters undoubtedly drove up their minutes. But both players likely would have been among the first few players off the bench in any event. O’Koren was an SF who managed to start 48 games. Cook’s primary position is shown as SG, but he looks to have been a combo guard, and probably got a lot of playing time at PG as well, due to Walker’s injury. He started 28 games as a fill-in for Walker, mostly in the later part of the season.

Next we have Lowes Moore (71 g, 19.8 mpg), Jan van Breda Kolff (78 g, 18.3 mpg), and Bob Elliott (73 g, 18.1 ppg). Another rookie, Moore was a PG who undoubtedly saw his minutes increase due to Walker’s absence from the lineup. He started 20 games in the wake of Walker’s initial injury but was later benched in favor of Cook. VBK was an SF. O’Koren was also an SF, but both of the forwards I have as starters are shown as PFs; the way these players were actually used together probably made more sense than the way they appear here. For similar reasons to O’Koren, van Breda Kolff managed to accumulate 34 starts. Elliott could play both PF and C but seems to have been used mostly at C this year. He started early in the season, and again for a time after Gminski got hurt, totaling 29 starts at center.

The last player on the bench was Edgar Jones, but he got more playing time than most eleventh men got. After spending the first 15 games of the season on the injured list, Jones played in 60 out of 67 games, averaging 15.8 ppg. Unlike the other reserves, he was rarely used as a starter, only starting two games. Jones could play both PF and C and probably saw some time at both positions.

POSITION NOTES

Center-Forwards

A lot of teams have players listed by b-r.com as playing both center and (power) forward, and it isn’t always obvious who played how many minutes where. The Nets had at least four such players: Elliott, Jones, Lucas and McAdoo. A fifth player, Robinson, is shown with a primary position of C for one season later in his career (not 1980-81), although his old b-r.com header lists him only as a forward.

The only players on the Nets’ roster who are shown with a primary position of center this year are Gminski (the only player listed exclusively at center both in his old b-r.com header and as his primary position for each season of their career) and Elliott. With the time that Gminski missed, the two collectively played 1062 minutes fewer than was available at center. Those minutes must have been covered by players whose primary position is shown as forward. With several different players involved, and an apparent need to shift players around due to injury, it’s impossible to work out precisely who played how much where. But this is my sense:

Since Gminski is listed exclusively as a center, I assume that he played exclusively (or nearly so) at center.

Even though Elliott is shown with a primary position of PF for his other two seasons in the NBA, I agree with b-r.com’s assessment that C was his primary position this year. I think Elliott played heavily, maybe even exclusively, at center. He made a significant number of starts there, and I can’t see anyone else on the Nets’ roster being available to play enough minutes at center for Elliott to have played much elsewhere. The Nets’ minutes played numbers just don’t add up unless Elliott played the vast majority of his minutes at center.

Jones’ primary position is listed as PF for every season of his career, but his position in the old b-r.com header is shown as “Forward-Center”. I suspect that he played mostly PF, but may have seen some time at C as well. When Gminski was healthy, he and Elliott were likely covering the vast majority of the available playing time at C, but Jones may have been picking up a few minutes there. He may also have been used more heavily at C after Gminski dropped out of the lineup. Jones clearly doesn’t account for all the minutes at center left over after Gminski and Elliott, though, as he only played 950 minutes for the season. I’d be surprised if Jones played any more than half of those minutes at center, if it was even that many.

Lucas obviously played some center, as he was shifted over to start at that position late in the season. Until Gminski dropped out of the lineup, though, I would think that Lucas played more-or-less exclusively at PF. When Gminski was healthy, there wouldn’t have been many minutes available at center, and Lucas would have been needed more at PF. b-r.com shows Lucas playing center in his ABA days, but at this stage of his career, I think he was playing out of position there. I’d guess that Lucas played several hundred minutes at center (maybe 25-30% of his total minutes). This would account for the majority of the minutes at center not played by Gminski or Elliott, with most if not all of these minutes coming in the last quarter of the season.

McAdoo was with the team for such a short time (153 minutes) that it’s hard to tell where he played more, and it wouldn’t have a major impact on an analysis of the season as a whole. b-r.com shows McAdoo’s primary position this season as PF, and the one game that he started for the Nets was at forward.

I’d be surprised if Robinson played much at center, though it’s not inconceivable that the Nets used him there out of desperation in the wake of Gminski’s injury. Could this be (at least part of) the reason the Nets used Robinson off the bench for most of the month of February?

Power forwards vs. small forwards

As discussed earlier, the Nets’ lineup that I used for my snapshot is highly unbalanced at forward, with two starting forwards who are both shown as PFs (Lucas and Robinson), while the two players I have as reserves who played the most minutes (O’Koren and van Breda Kolff) are both shown as SFs. The explanation I’ve given for this is:

--Based on patterns of when they were starting, I believe that Lucas and Robinson were the intended starters, but ended up not being the dominant starters largely because of time missed due to injuries.

--While Lucas and Robinson may have both been natural PFs, Robinson played some SF later in his career, and may have been able to slide into more of an SF role for stretches when he and Lucas were on the court together.

--Because Lucas and Robinson likely played together relatively little at forward, it is probably true that both had a primary position of PF this season. There were only seven games all season where Lucas and Robinson started together at forward (though there were significantly more where one started and the other came off the bench, or where Robinson started at forward and Lucas started at center).

I would be curious as to whether my theory is correct, and to know how the Nets originally envisioned these players fitting together. For the first nine games of the season, Robinson and van Breda Kolff started; could the original plan have possibly been to use Lucas off the bench? I guess they could have played both Lucas and Robinson “starter’s minutes”, using one as a sixth man, in a manner that minimized the amount of time they spent on the court together. Even if both were starting, they still could have been used in a similar manner. Under that type of arrangement, Robinson could have been playing the majority of his court time at PF, even if he was starting at SF.

Whatever the original plan was, with all the time Lucas and Robinson spent out of the lineup (or that Lucas spent at center late in the season), the Nets must have sometimes had a shortage of available PFs. There must have been times when they were playing O’Koren and van Breda Kolff together in a lineup with no real PF. There were seven games where those two were the starting frontcourt, although in most of them Lucas or Robinson were available off the bench. Rookie Edgar Jones was also available to cover some minutes at PF from 11/11/80 on, and Bob McAdoo for the last ten games of the season.

For the season as a whole, the two SFs (O’Koren and van Breda Kolff) combined for 3899 minutes, while the two PFs (Lucas and Robinson) combined for 3984 minutes. Lucas likely played several hundred minutes at center late in the season, but minutes played at PF by Jones and McAdoo need to be factored into the equation at PF as well. In the end, the minutes played at forward by players whose primary forward slot was PF, and by players whose primary forward slot was SF, probably weren’t too far off from one another.

Forwards-Guards

The Nets had three players whose old b-r.com headers listed them as playing both forward and guard: Newlin (G-F), O’Koren (F-G) and van Breda Kolff (F-G). All three are shown with the same primary position for every season of their career, though (Newlin at SG; O’Koren and van Breda Kolff at SF).

If you add up the minutes played by every player on the Nets whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Nets whose primary position was in the backcourt, the two work out almost exactly; there is an overage of exactly two minutes in the frontcourt. Based on that, I don’t see why the Nets would have had any pressing need to use Newlin at forward, or to use O’Koren or van Breda Kolff at guard. As always, though, I would be interested in any information about how these three were used, this season or at other times in their careers.

TRIVIA

Oldest Player: Mike Newlin, born 1/2/49 (age 31 at start of season, turned 32 in January).

Played in ABA: Maurice Lucas, Jan van Breda Kolff.

Longest continuous service with team: Jan van Breda Kolff, with the Nets since the 1976-77 season. Although van Breda Kolff had played in the ABA, he had never played in the ABA with the Nets (the Nets acquired him in the ABA dispersal draft). The Nets had no remaining players who had been with them in their ABA days.

Highest original draft position*: #2 overall – Bob McAdoo.

Lowest original draft position*: 4th round, #75 overall - Rory Sparrow. Darwin Cook was also a 4th round pick, but went five positions earlier than Sparrow, in the same draft.

Youngest Player: Cliff Robinson, born 3/13/60 (age 20 throughout most of the season, turned 21 a few weeks before the season ended). Robinson was actually the youngest player in the NBA this year, even though he was in his second year in the league. Robinson had turned pro in 1979 following his sophomore year of college, which was an unusual occurrence in this era. At the time he turned pro, he also appears to have been unusually young for a sophomore, for whatever reason. Robinson started college in the calendar year he turned 17, did not turn 18 until late in his freshman year, and did not turn 19 until late in his sophomore year. Most students his age would have been finishing up their freshman year at that point, not their sophomore year.

*Which player was chosen with the highest/lowest selection, by round and/or overall pick, with no regard to whether any players may have been drafted under circumstances not reflecting their “true” value (e.g., player was a junior eligible who had not committed to turn pro right away; player was already under contract to ABA, or thought to be likely to sign with ABA).
Last edited by MCT on Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 New Jersey Nets Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby meej » Fri Jul 18, 2014 11:57 am

MCT wrote:I would assume that Gminski got injured. As discussed earlier, I believe that Gminski was placed on the injured list at some point (so that his roster spot could be filled by another player), probably when Rory Sparrow was signed on 2/18/81, and spent the rest of the season on IL. The Nets’ later acquisition of Bob McAdoo was probably intended to plug the hole left by Gminski’s absence.


http://www.nytimes.com/1981/10/14/sport ... ories.html

This was not Gminski's first problems with injury since the Nets drafted him out of Duke in the first round of the 1980 draft. Various ailments caused him to get off to a mediocre start last season, with an average of 13.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. Then he was felled for good by a right-elbow injury that caused him to miss the final 24 games. In February, he had surgery.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1 ... 76,3763757

"Gminski Has Surgery on Elbow" (Jan. 24 1981). Despite the title, the actual news is that surgery is scheduled for the end of the season.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2 ... 66,3312398

"Elbow Surgery Set for Nets' Gminski" (Feb. 16 1981)
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Re: 1980-81 New Jersey Nets Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby MCT » Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:57 pm

MCT wrote:Injured list transactions:
..........
Someone has to have been placed on the IL when Sparrow was signed to a 10-day contract on 12/19/80, but I don’t have any documentation of who it was. Walker looks to be the best candidate. Walker did not appear in any games between 12/14/80 and the All-Star break. He was the only player on the Nets’ roster who did not appear in any games during the entire period of Sparrow’s two 10-day contracts. Since Sparrow and Walker played the same position, Sparrow appears to have been signed to fill in for Walker, so it would make sense for Walker to have been placed on IL when Sparrow was signed. I also have some documentation that Walker was on the IL during at least the later part of Sparrow’s stay, as the Globe reported Walker being “activated” on 1/9 at the end of Sparrow’s second 10-day contract. Robinson was absent for a stretch of 11 games that overlapped with the first half of Sparrow’s stay, however; it is possible that Robinson was on the IL during the first 10-day contract and was then swapped with Walker during the second 10-day contract. Given how long Walker was out, though, and that he and Sparrow played the same position, I think it is far more likely that Walker was on IL the whole time.

Having figured out a way to do more comprehensive Google News Archive search, I checked for more information on this. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything in the Archive documenting who was placed on the IL when Sparrow was signed to his first 10-day contract. I continue to think that Walker is the most likely candidate, but I still have no confirmation.

The Archive does have four newspapers reporting the same transaction as the Globe on 1/9; Walker "activated", Sparrow "released" or "dropped". Two papers, the 1/10/81 Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard and 1/9/81 Norwalk (Conn.) Hour -- the latter appears to have been an evening paper -- explicitly state that Walker was being activated from the injured list, providing absolute confirmation that Walker was on the IL during at least the later part of the period when Sparrow was with the Nets on his two 10-day contracts. The article in the Hour even explains that Walker was being activated even though he would not be ready to play right away. Walker was "at least a week away from being able to play", but because the Nets had already signed Sparrow to two 10-day contracts, they couldn't keep Sparrow any longer without signing him for the remainder of the season, which they were apparently unwilling to do. The Nets presumably figured that once Walker was back, they would have one too many players, and didn't want to have to pay Sparrow for the rest of the season if they cut him at that point (the contract-guarantee deadline had already passed).

MCT wrote:Who went on the IL when Sparrow was signed on 2/18 is a bit fuzzier, but my best guess is Gminski. Someone must have been placed on the IL on or shortly before that date, but again I don’t have any documentation of who it was. Since Walker was out at the time, and Sparrow was presumably signed to fill in for him, Walker is a distinct possibility. But Gminski was also out, and would miss the remainder of the season. By contrast, Walker would return to action in the seventh game after Sparrow was signed (3/3/81). Especially if it wasn’t yet known that Gminski would be out for the rest of the season, it’s possible that Walker was placed on the IL when Sparrow was signed, then Walker and Gminski swapped places when Walker returned to the lineup. Under the principle of “the simplest explanation is usually the right one”, however, I am assuming that Gminski went on the IL when Sparrow was signed, and remained on IL for the rest of the season.

The Archive has several articles between 2/14/81 and 2/20/81 discussing Gminski's season-ending elbow injury, including the one on 2/16 that meej cited above. Interestingly, a game recap of the 2/11 Nets-Bulls game in the 2/12/81 Wilmington (N.C.) Star indicates that Gminski had missed that game due to an ankle injury. This suggests that he may have missed the first few games after he dropped out of the lineup due to a different, probably more minor injury. The earliest article I could find that mentions the elbow injury is in the 2/14/81 Lexington (N.C.) Dispatch. It appears that Gminski was originally going to have surgery after the season, but it was subsequently decided to have the surgery done sooner.

I could not find anything documenting when Gminski was placed on the IL, even though he must have been at some point. From the articles in the Archive, though, it's pretty clear that it was known that Gminski would be out for the season prior to 2/18 (when the Nets re-signed Sparrow). Even when the plan was to have the surgery after the season, Gminski was still expected to miss the remainder of the year. Given that, I am leaning even further in the direction of Gminski being the player who was placed on the IL to make room on the roster for Sparrow. It looks a little odd that the Nets signed a guard to replace a center, but if Gminski had been declared out for the season, it would have made sense to put him on IL regardless of why they were signing a new player.
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Re: 1980-81 New Jersey Nets Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby MCT » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:51 pm

MCT wrote:McAdoo was placed on waivers by the Pistons on 3/11/81, and subsequently acquired by the Nets on 3/13/81. There is a discrepancy between sources as to whether the Nets claimed McAdoo off waivers or signed him as a free agent after he cleared. All modern-day reference sources indicate the latter, but I have found several contemporary sources stating the former.

b-r.com, pst.com, and every post-1982 edition of the NBA Register that I’ve seen (McAdoo was included in the All-Time Greats section after he retired) state that McAdoo was waived by the Pistons on 3/11, then signed by the Nets as a free agent on 3/13. There is no indication that he was claimed off waivers. When a player is claimed off waivers, these sources typically say so. In addition, for McAdoo to have signed as a free agent, he must have cleared waivers first.

By contrast, the transaction column in the 3/14/80 edition of the Globe indicates that the Nets claimed McAdoo off waivers. I found other newspaper articles in the Google News Archive stating the same thing:

--The 3/14/80 Milwaukee Journal....[snipped]

--A UPI wire service story in the 3/15/80 Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Bulletin Journal...[snipped]...The article states that the Nets had put in the waiver claim after “tentatively agreeing with McAdoo and his agent, Bill Madden as to the details of the contract”. But a player claimed on waivers doesn’t normally “agree to a new contract” with his new team. The team assumes his old contract, just as if he had been traded; the player has no choice. I’m guessing that the Nets may have talked to McAdoo to confirm that he would actually report if they claimed him (there were only ten games left in the season, and he had apparently been involved in an ongoing dispute with Pistons management). They may have also wanted to discuss the disposition of the option year with him. The article states that the Pistons had previously told McAdoo they weren’t planning to pick it up. McAdoo ultimately became a free agent during the 1981 offseason, so it looks like the Nets didn’t pick up the option. Maybe McAdoo didn’t want them to pick it up, and the Nets agreed not to if he agreed to report for the remainder of season without incident.

--An AP wire service story in the 3/14/80 Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter....[snipped]

When I looked in the 1981-82 NBA Register, I made an interesting discovery: that edition of the Register also indicates that McAdoo was claimed off waivers. For the 1982-83 edition, this was changed to the description that appears in subsequent Registers, and in other modern-day sources like b-r.com and pst.com, showing McAdoo clearing and then signing as a free agent. Post-1982 editions of the NBA Register were likely the ultimate source of this information for both b-r.com and pst.com. If you stop and think about it, it makes more sense that McAdoo was claimed off waivers. If he cleared waivers, why would McAdoo have signed a contract covering only the last ten games of the 1980-81 season, giving the team he signed with a right of first refusal over him after the season?

Based on all of the above, I believe that McAdoo was in fact claimed by the Nets off waivers, rather than signing with them as a free agent after clearing waivers. I am curious as to why the description in the NBA Register was changed in 1982, as this likely led to the transaction being written up the way it is in virtually all modern-day sources, seemingly incorrectly.

Having done a more comprehensive Google News Archive search on this transaction, I can report that the archive has numerous articles reporting McAdoo's acquisition by the Nets as a waiver claim. It is very clear that this is how the transaction was reported at the time it occurred. This leaves open the question of why the Register changed its description in 1982 to a clearing/signing, leading to virtually all modern-day sources reporting it that way.

In my earlier post I had referred to an article that spoke of McAdoo negotiating and reaching an agreement with the Nets. I’ve found a few more articles with similar stories. I had previously dismissed this angle, but now I think there must be something to it. Why would McAdoo have had this ability? Here’s a theory.

It is my understanding that under current MLB rules, a player may refuse a waiver claim by a team if he could not be traded to that team without his consent. This may occur because the player has a clause in his contract restricting his team’s ability to trade him, or because the player falls under the “10-and-5” rule (players with 10 years of MLB service time, including the last 5 with the same team, cannot be traded without their consent, even if their contract does not include a no-trade clause). This makes sense, since in most respects a player who is claimed off waivers is treated the same as a player who is traded. Could it be that the NBA had a similar rule at the time, and McAdoo had a no-trade clause in his contract? None of the articles I’ve seen so far mention this, but it it’s the most plausible explanation I can come up with.

As far as I can tell, there is no current NBA rule allowing players this right. Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ, the Bible of modern NBA transaction rules, makes no mention of it. If it once existed, what happened to it? The Salary Cap FAQ suggests a possible answer. A section of the FAQ contains a table listing of every collective bargaining agreement in NBA history, with brief comments on the changes brought about by each. The description of the collective bargaining agreement that was in effect from 1980 to 1983 reads “No-trade clauses eliminated”. From that, it would seem that no-trade clauses were completely banned in the NBA for a time. Perhaps this had something to do with switching to a free agency system based on a right of first refusal rather than a right to demand compensation.

No-trade clauses are allowed today, so they obviously became allowed again at some point, but I don’t know when that was. Larry’s FAQs for the 1999, 2005 and 2011 collective bargaining agreement all indicate that no-trade clauses were allowed, so they became legal again no later than 1999. When they became legal again, the ability of players who had them to block waiver claims was apparently not reinstated.

Why not? While no-trade clauses are legal in the NBA, they are still restricted. A player is not allowed to have one unless he has 8 years of NBA experience, including 4 with the team he is signing with. As a practical matter, only a handful of superstar-level players have no-trade clauses. It’s rare to see a player who has one get waived, and aside from the special rules that apply to players who are “amnestied” under the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap makes it rare to see a player get claimed off waivers if he makes much more than the minimum salary. So whether NBA players have this right is largely a moot point. If they did, it would probably rarely come up. Even in McAdoo’s day, it was probably rare to see a player with a no-trade clause get claimed off waivers.

If all of this is correct, whoever changed the description in the Register probably felt that New Jersey needing McAdoo’s agreement to go there made the practical effect of the transaction more like a signing than a waiver claim. Based on contemporary media articles, however, it was definitely a waiver claim.

If McAdoo’s decision to go to New Jersey was voluntary, this again raises the question of why he would have done that, giving the Nets a right of first refusal when his contract expired at the end of the season, rather than allowing himself to clear waivers and seeking out a contract in the offseason with no strings attached. My guess is that it was important to McAdoo to get back on the court before the end of the 1980-81 season, to prove to himself and to NBA general managers that he was ready to play again. With the season winding down, and NBA teams in this era much less likely to bring in short-term help than they are today, going with the Nets probably seemed like his best chance to do that. Even if he signed with a different team, he still would have presumably been dealing with a right refusal at the end of the season. Note also that the full effect of the right of first refusal was also not yet known, as 1981 would be the first offseason it was in effect.

To summarize (or tl;dr version):

--Based on contemporary media articles, I believe that McAdoo was acquired by the Nets via a waiver claim. He did not clear waivers first and then sign with the Nets as a free agent.

--Based on contemporary media articles, McAdoo appears to have had the ability to refuse the waiver claim, and only agreed to go to New Jersey after some sort of negotiation with the Nets. While the articles don’t explain why McAdoo had this ability, I suspect that he had a no-trade clause in his contract, and that NBA rules at the time did not allow a player with a no-trade clause to be claimed off waivers without his consent.

--At first glance, it seems a bit odd that McAdoo would go to the Nets voluntarily, as allowing the Nets to assume the remainder of his contract meant that they would have a right of first refusal over him in the offseason. If he had cleared waivers, he could have waited until the offseason to seek out a contract with no strings attached. I am guessing that McAdoo agreed to go to the Nets because he wanted to get back on the court before the end of the 1980-81 season, and with the season winding down, thought this was his best chance to do that.

--I am guessing that the description of the transaction in the NBA Register was changed in 1982 under the theory that, because McAdoo had the ability to refuse the waiver claim and went to New Jersey voluntarily, the transaction was more like a free agent signing than a normal waiver claim. As noted earlier, however, I believe that it was technically a waiver claim.

--NBA players with no-trade clauses do not currently have the ability to refuse a waiver claim (although MLB players do). No-trade clauses were completely banned in the NBA for a while in the 1980s, and when they were restored on a limited basis, the right to refuse a waiver claim was apparently not revived. This is largely a moot point anyway, due to the scarcity of no-trade clauses in NBA contracts and the need to fit a player claimed off waivers under the salary cap. It is likely extremely rare for an NBA player with a no-trade clause in his contract to be claimed off waivers.
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Re: 1980-81 New Jersey Nets Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby MCT » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:41 pm

A while back, Mike G. posted some material in the Spurs thread, with position information for 1980-81 sourced from Neft & Cohen’s NBA Encyclopedia. I recently posted about this in the introductory thread to this series, noting that I planned to post and comment on this data on a team-by-team basis. See the eighth post in the introductory thread for more information.

Here’s what Neft & Cohen have for the Nets:

Mike Goodman wrote:
Code: Select all
tm    player          pos   Min   
NJ   Mike Newlin       G   2911         
NJ   Mike O'Koren      F   2473         
NJ   Maurice Lucas    cf   2162         
NJ   Darwin Cook       g   1980         
NJ   Cliff Robinson    F   1822         
NJ   Mike Gminski      C   1579         
NJ Jan Van Breda Kolff f   1426         
NJ   Lowes Moore       g   1406         
NJ   Bob Elliot        f   1320         
NJ   Foots Walker      G   1172         
NJ   Edgar Jones       c    950         
NJ   Eddie Jordan      G    239         
NJ   Rory Sparrow      g    212         
NJ   Bob McAdoo        c    153         


MCT wrote:A lot of teams have players listed by b-r.com as playing both center and (power) forward, and it isn’t always obvious who played how many minutes where. The Nets had at least four such players: Elliott, Jones, Lucas and McAdoo. A fifth player, Robinson, is shown with a primary position of C for one season later in his career (not 1980-81), although his old b-r.com header lists him only as a forward.

The only players on the Nets’ roster who are shown with a primary position of center this year are Gminski (the only player listed exclusively at center both in his old b-r.com header and as his primary position for each season of their career) and Elliott. With the time that Gminski missed, the two collectively played 1062 minutes fewer than was available at center. Those minutes must have been covered by players whose primary position is shown as forward. With several different players involved, and an apparent need to shift players around due to injury, it’s impossible to work out precisely who played how much where. But this is my sense:

Since Gminski is listed exclusively as a center, I assume that he played exclusively (or nearly so) at center.

Neft & Cohen agree that Gminksi was exclusively a center.

MCT wrote:Even though Elliott is shown with a primary position of PF for his other two seasons in the NBA, I agree with b-r.com’s assessment that C was his primary position this year. I think Elliott played heavily, maybe even exclusively, at center. He made a significant number of starts there, and I can’t see anyone else on the Nets’ roster being available to play enough minutes at center for Elliott to have played much elsewhere. The Nets’ minutes played numbers just don’t add up unless Elliott played the vast majority of his minutes at center.

Jones’ primary position is listed as PF for every season of his career, but his position in the old b-r.com header is shown as “Forward-Center”. I suspect that he played mostly PF, but may have seen some time at C as well. When Gminski was healthy, he and Elliott were likely covering the vast majority of the available playing time at C, but Jones may have been picking up a few minutes there. He may also have been used more heavily at C after Gminski dropped out of the lineup. Jones clearly doesn’t account for all the minutes at center left over after Gminski and Elliott, though, as he only played 950 minutes for the season. I’d be surprised if Jones played any more than half of those minutes at center, if it was even that many.

Lucas obviously played some center, as he was shifted over to start at that position late in the season. Until Gminski dropped out of the lineup, though, I would think that Lucas played more-or-less exclusively at PF. When Gminski was healthy, there wouldn’t have been many minutes available at center, and Lucas would have been needed more at PF. b-r.com shows Lucas playing center in his ABA days, but at this stage of his career, I think he was playing out of position there. I’d guess that Lucas played several hundred minutes at center (maybe 25-30% of his total minutes). This would account for the majority of the minutes at center not played by Gminski or Elliott, with most if not all of these minutes coming in the last quarter of the season

Neft & Cohen don’t agree with my takes on any of the above three players. I thought that Elliott played primarily, maybe even exclusively at center. Neft & Cohen have Elliott as exclusively a forward (“f”). I thought that Jones likely played at both center and forward, but more heavily at forward. Neft & Cohen have him as exclusively a center (“c”). I had Lucas playing primarily forward, with center as a secondary position. Neft & Cohen agree that Lucas played both positions, but have them other way around (“cf”).

There’s a lot of moving parts involved here, and as noted in my original analysis, it’s virtually impossible to work out precisely who played how much where. But I can offer a few reactions to Neft & Cohen’s conclusions. First, for their conclusions to be correct, Lucas has to have played a lot more center than I thought he did. I suggested that Lucas was really playing out of position at center, and only played there as much as he did due to Gminski’s injury. But if Neft & Cohen are correct that Lucas actually played more minutes for the season at center than at forward, he has to have been swinging to play significant minutes at center all season, even when he was starting at forward and Gminski was still in the lineup. His late season switch to center may have then pushed it over the threshold to become his primary position for the season.

Second, I am having a hard time seeing how things fit together without Elliott playing at least some center. While my original analysis had him as more-or-less exclusively a center, it’s certainly plausible that he played some forward. If Lucas really played as much center as Neft & Cohen think, it’s even plausible that Elliott played more at forward than he did at center. (Note that b-r.com has Elliott’s primary position as PF for his other two seasons in the NBA.) But the TSN box scores show Elliott starting 29 games at center. That alone would seem to make center at least a secondary position for him.

I am guessing that Neft & Cohen have Jones as exclusively a center because they have Elliott as exclusively a forward, so center is where they saw the available minutes. As I don’t think Elliott played more-or-less exclusively at forward, I think there would have been enough minutes available at forward for Jones to have played it as at least a secondary position. Note also that the two games Jones started were at forward, and that b-r.com shows his primary position as PF for every season of his career. It’s possible that Jones saw little or no time at forward this season other than those two games, or that he was used differently this season than every other season of his career, however; I can’t prove that this wasn’t the case.

We’re also left with the question of how these players were used in relation to one another. My original analysis assumed that Lucas mostly stuck to forward (until late in the season, after Gminksi’s injury), and Elliott mostly stuck to center. Neft & Cohen’s conclusions suggest that Lucas and Elliott didn’t stick to those positions. Were they used somewhat interchangeably, or were there defined roles? Giving weight to Neft & Cohen’s designation of Elliott as exclusively a forward and Jones as exclusively a center, did Elliott rarely play center outside of the games he started there, and perhaps not play a lot of minutes at center even in those games? Late in the season, when Lucas was starting at center, did Elliott stay at forward, and Jones served as the backup center?

Another thing to bear in mind is that Neft & Cohen don't appear to have used the TSN box scores, and don't appear to have had access to the games started data found in modern-day team media guides. This is borne out by the fact that a number of their starter identifications are contradicted by those sources (see the eighth post in the introductory thread to this series for further discussion on Neft & Cohen's starter identifications). In the last paragraph, I tried to rationalize how Elliott could have started 29 games at center, yet still play forward more-or-less exclusively as Neft & Cohen suggest. But there's a good chance Neft & Cohen drew their conclusions without being aware that Elliott started 29 games at center. If they had been, they might have drawn a different conclusion. And trying to figure out how they drew the conclusion they did in spite of what they didn't know is a pointless exercise.

Ultimately, this is where I am on these three players:

--Different sources contain mixed signals as to whether and how much each played at center and forward. It is possible that all three saw significant time at both positions.

--I am somewhat skeptical of Neft & Cohen’s conclusion that Lucas played more at center than at forward, but it is plausible. If Neft & Cohen are right, Lucas’ use at center late in the season (after Gminksi’s injury) was not a case of Lucas being shifted to a position he otherwise wasn’t used much at (which was my original take), but a case of Lucas being used more heavily at a position he was already playing on at least a secondary basis to begin with.

--I am somewhat skeptical of Neft & Cohen’s conclusion that Elliott’s primary position was forward, but it is plausible, especially if they are right about how Lucas was used. I disagree with Neft & Cohen’s conclusion that Elliott played forward more-or-less exclusively. Given that the TSN box scores show him starting 29 games at center, I think he must have played enough center for it to at least be a secondary position for him.

--I am somewhat skeptical of Neft & Cohen’s conclusion that Jones’ primary position was center, and am very skeptical of Neft & Cohen’s conclusion that Jones played center more-or-less exclusively. Given that the TSN box scores show Jones starting two games at forward, and that all other evidence points to him playing primarily forward, I suspect Jones saw time at forward as at least a secondary position. I think Neft & Cohen’s identification of Jones as exclusively a center may simply be a by-product of their having classified Elliott as exclusively a forward, which I disagree with.

MCT wrote:McAdoo was with the team for such a short time (153 minutes) that it’s hard to tell where he played more, and it wouldn’t have a major impact on an analysis of the season as a whole. b-r.com shows McAdoo’s primary position this season as PF, and the one game that he started for the Nets was at forward.

Neft & Cohen have McAdoo as exclusively a center. Note that this contradicts b-r.com’s identification of McAdoo’s primary position as PF.

MCT wrote:I’d be surprised if Robinson played much at center, though it’s not inconceivable that the Nets used him there out of desperation in the wake of Gminski’s injury. Could this be (at least part of) the reason the Nets used Robinson off the bench for most of the month of February?

Neft & Cohen have Robinson as exclusively a forward.

MCT wrote: The Nets had three players whose old b-r.com headers listed them as playing both forward and guard: Newlin (G-F), O’Koren (F-G) and van Breda Kolff (F-G). All three are shown with the same primary position for every season of their career, though (Newlin at SG; O’Koren and van Breda Kolff at SF).

If you add up the minutes played by every player on the Nets whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Nets whose primary position was in the backcourt, the two work out almost exactly; there is an overage of exactly two minutes in the frontcourt. Based on that, I don’t see why the Nets would have had any pressing need to use Newlin at forward, or to use O’Koren or van Breda Kolff at guard.

Neft & Cohen have Newlin as exclusively a guard, and O’Koren and van Breda Kolff as exclusively forwards.
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