Photo by Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Nets looking to fill point guard gap

Jason Kidd’s departure from the Nets this summer took everyone by surprise. It happened so suddenly that there was not much time for many of the Nets’ players to digest it.

For a young point guard like Marquis Teague, the departure was real sudden. Like a veteran on a team, the Nets newcomer was learning and soaking up everything he could from his new head coach — and he was traded to Brooklyn mid season after bouncing between the Bulls and the D-League.

The Nets lost a lot more than their point guard as a coach. They lost their backup with Shaun Livingston reportedly agreeing to sign a contract with the Warriors. That opens up some room for two young point guards to make their mark and make their presence in the rotation known.

The work to crack the lineup and sort out the Nets point guard situation will begin this week in Orlando as both Marquis Teague and Jorge Gutierrez play for the Nets’ summer league team.

In Saturday’s opener, Teague got the starting nod over Gutierrez although both saw near equal playing time. It was the first of what should be many evaluations from the Nets coaching staff in the coming week and the coming months before training camp.

Teague scored 14 points on 4-for-11 shooting and six assists while Gutierrez had eight points on 3-for-6 shooting. Both did some things well and some things poorly. It is still obviously a work in progress for both as they are both incredibly young. The opportunity is there.

“[I’ve got] to take any opportunity you can get,” Teague said. “Going to work as hard as I can and keep trying to get better.

“We’re competing. We know we’re on the same team. But at the end of the day, it’s a job. You’ve got to be ready to compete with anybody and everybody.”

Last year, Teague played 21 games for the Nets, averaging 3.0 points per game and 1.0 assists per game in 9.6 minutes per game. He was often passed over by the other player competing for that spot — Jorge Gutierrez.

Gutierrez appeared in only 15 games for the Nets, averaging 4.1 points and 2.0 assists per game. He spent most of the year playing for the D-League’s Canton Charge. The Nets believed in him enough to sign him to a multi-year deal and give him the chance with the team again this year, with the chance to earn it.

“I’m just here to help the team,” Gutierrez said. “I’m here to do everything I can to help the team win.

“It has been great for me [playing with and against Teague]. We both push each other. We’re both making each other better. That’s not just great for us, but great for the team.”

It is still far too early to make any statements about who will be the Nets backup point guard behind Deron Williams. That player may not even be signed at this point. Brooklyn is always searching the free agent ranks and are not afraid to spend. There are rumors the Nets are even shopping Paul Pierce around to gain some more assets.

What is pretty clear is Williams is often injured and that both Gutierrez and Teague will be needed at some point to fill in those minutes. Both have to be capable of doing so at a high level for Brooklyn to achieve its goals.

Certainly the time competing against each other this month at Summer League will help sort things out some and make each better, more prepared to fill in that role.

It is rare to see these kind of position battles occurring in Summer League. It will continue beyond Summer League.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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