Brooklyn Nets: Evaluating this Team through 3 games

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

The date is March 10th, 2020. Spencer Dinwiddie hits the go-ahead jumper against the Lakers to put the Nets up 2. Anthony Davis misses a wide-open three to win the game, and the Brooklyn Nets hold on to upset the Lakers 104-102, which ends up being their last game together before the season is suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Nets were playing their best basketball of the season at that point under interim coach Jacque Vaughn.

Let’s fast forward a few months (with no basketball) to present day. The Brooklyn Nets have now played three games since the NBA season resumed and are a shell of what the team looked like in March, due to a large portion of the roster either choosing to opt-out or being forced to opt-out due to health/injury reasons. The team still has Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Chris Chiozza, Garrett Temple, and Joe Harris,  players who have all been essential pieces for Brooklyn all year. New faces, including Lance Thomas, Justin Anderson, Tyler Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and Donta Hall, have been thrust into the rotation as they work on developing chemistry and finding their role on this team.

Let’s break down the Nets performances game by game, starting with their first match-up with Orlando.

Orlando: 128  vs. Brooklyn: 118 – Full box score

Remember how Nets fans were excited to play this Orlando Magic team twice in the bubble? Well, it turns out that excitement was extremely misguided because the Magic destroyed the Nets in every aspect of this basketball game. This was a rough game for the two leaders on this team, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen. LeVert finished with 17 off of 7-17 from the field and 0-4 from three but, most importantly, was a -26 while on the floor. Jarrett Allen scored 14 points and grabbed 5 boards. The Nets started the game off well, scoring 39 in the first quarter and grabbing a 3 point lead, but fell apart in the 2nd and the 3rd quarter, being outscored by Orlando by 32 points. 

The only bright spot for the Nets was Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who got out of the #NETSTwitter doghouse after his awful play in the scrimmages. TLC finished with 24 points off 8-12 from the field and 5-8 from three. It was great to see TLC get in a rhythm and get some shots to fall. Outside of LeVert/Allen playing poorly, Chris Chiozza (2 points on 1-6) and Garrett Temple (3 points on 1-5) were extremely underwhelming in this game. The Nets, as a team, failed to stop Orlando on the break and had no answer for Evan Fournier (24 points), Nikola Vucevic (22 points), Johnathon Issac (16 points), and Aaron Gordon (10 points & 11 rebounds).

Brooklyn: 118 vs. Washington: 110 – Full Box Score

Things went much differently for Brooklyn in Game #2. While they were unable to stop Thomas Bryant of the Wizards the entire game, who went for 30 points and 13 rebounds, everyone on the floor played significantly better for Brooklyn and were able to win a close contest in the 4th, outscoring the Wizards 35 to 25 in the final quarter.

Caris LeVert (34 points), Joe Harris (27 points & 6 made threes), and Jarrett Allen (22 points & 15 rebounds) rebounded well from their subpar performances in the Orlando game, and all played up to their potential. Chris Chiozza finally decided to show up, dropping 14 points and dishing out 6 dimes off the bench. No other player was in double figures for Brooklyn, but they were able to pull out a much-needed win against Washington, who might win the title for “worst team left in the NBA restart.”

Brooklyn: 119 vs. Milwaukee: 116 – Full Box Score

Even though the Brooklyn Nets won a much-needed contest against the Wizards, many doubted their chances against Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon. Jacque Vaughn even decided this game would be a great time to rest his most important three starters; Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris. The spread was as high as -18 before the game began. But never forget that old adage, that’s why you play the game.

The Nets stunned Giannis and the Bucks in the first half, hitting 14 shots from three-point land, a season-high for Brooklyn. TLC finished the game with 26 points on 8-12 from the field and 5-7 from the three-point line. Garrett Temple chipped in with 19 points and had his best game of the season as well.

The Nets led the Bucks 73 – 65 after the 1st half, and that was a half in which Giannis and Middleton each played a significant amount of minutes. Those two players were on the bench for the remainder of the game after halftime, a strategy most would assume was the Bucks plan prior to tip-off. While the Bucks clawed their way back into the game by outscoring the Nets in the final two quarters, Brooklyn was able to show toughness and resolve we hadn’t seen from them since March in the final few minutes of the game. Whether it was a clutch TLC three or a gritty Tyler Johnson rebound and put back, the Nets made all the plays they needed to make down the stretch to win the game.

Some other guys who gave the Nets great minutes: Donta Hall, who only scored 4 points and grabbed 9 boards, had an epic dust-up with Giannis after the two were wrestling for a rebound and Giannis ended up on the ground. Hall also had a highlight-reel block on Sterling Brown later in the game as well. Justin Anderson gave the Nets 11 off the bench, hitting 3 three-pointers in the process. Chiozza had a nice 10 point 10 assist game and has proven to be an excellent decision-maker in these last few games.

The Bad News: Jamal Crawford made his highly anticipated Nets debut, only to leave the game after a few minutes with some type of hamstring injury. His return to the court this season is now questionable.

Biggest Takeaway from first 3 Games & What’s Next?

Three games in, if anything about this team, it’s that they are extremely tough, and it will take a lot to break this team’s will. Many fans assumed the team would try and tank after their embarrassing loss to Orlando. The Nets followed that game up with two close wire to wire wins against Washington and Milwaukee. In that Milwaukee game, 8 of the 11 active players on the roster were G-League players at some point this season. The Nets will not shoot this well from three every game, and TLC/Garrett Temple most likely will not combine for 45 points on a nightly basis, but you have to like what you’re seeing from this Nets team through three games. Jacque Vaughn has done an outstanding coaching job with the Net’s gameplan these last two games, especially for Milwaukee, in which the team primarily ran a 2-3 zone on defense, and really seems to be coming into his own as Head Coach of this team.

Next Up: The Brooklyn Nets will go for their 3rd straight win when they face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday (8/5/20) night at 9:00 pm EST.

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Report: New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets keeping tabs on Zach LaVine

New York Knicks, Zach Lavine

According to SNY’s Ian Begley, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets “have been monitoring” Zach LaVine’s situation with the Chicago Bulls.

And it’s worth noting that both the Knicks and the Nets are among the teams who have been monitoring LaVine’s situation in Chicago. Per SNY sources, both teams have done background work on LaVine to be prepared for the possibility that Chicago ends up listening to trade offers on the 25-year-old guard.

The Bulls finished the 2019-20 NBA season as the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference (22-43), missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season. LaVine has two seasons remaining on a four-year, $78 million deal, initially signed with the Sacramento Kings and matched by the Bulls in the summer of 2018.

LaVine has been Chicago’s leading scorer in each of the last two seasons. Last season the 25-year-old averaged 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 45.0 percent from the field and 38.0 percent from beyond the arc.

The Knicks could potentially offer the Bulls some combination of Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr. and their two first-round draft selections in both the 2020 and 2021 NBA Draft for LaVine. New York has also been linked to Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker.

New York finished the regular season as the 12th seed in the East (21-45), missing the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. They’re looking to name a head coach for next season.

The Nets could potentially offer the Bulls some combination of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Spencer Dinwiddie and their first-round draft selections in both the 2020 and 2021 NBA Draft for LaVine. Brooklyn has also been linked to Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal.

Brooklyn is the seventh seed in the East (30-34), preparing for the NBA restart in Walt Disney World next week under interim head coach Jacque Vaughn, who took over for Kenny Atkinson in March.

Tyler Johnson views the Brooklyn Nets as a chance at ‘redemption’

Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Tyler Johnson will be one of the handful of new faces suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA restart later this month.

Ironically, Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Nets in 2016, but the Miami Heat matched the contract, as the guard was a restricted free agent.

Johnson is “ecstatic” to finally be playing for the Nets (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“My mom still says Sean is one of her favorite people of all time. We’re very fortunate to be in this position. I signed that offer sheet four years ago, so I was ready at that time to become a Net,” Johnson said, referring to a restricted free agent offer sheet.

“Obviously we know the story, Miami matched it. But … we were very interested in what was being built here. So we actually did sign that offer sheet and I was ecstatic when we got that call to come back over here.”

Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn says Johnson “fit into the description of what a Net is.”

“I did meet Tyler and overall impression was this was a guy we’d love to have with us in our organization, a guy that understands what it means to play and consider more than just himself when he’s on the floor. So he fit into the description of what a Net is,” Vaughn said.”

“Part of life’s twists and turns. We get him a little later, and fortunate to have him on the team now.”

The Heat traded Johnson to the Phoenix Suns two and a half seasons into his four-year deal. The Suns released Johnson in February.

Johnson ponders whether he was “100 percent” in Phoenix.

“Maybe I wasn’t at 100 percent. I was working through it, trying to get right. But I didn’t have that pop, that bounce I used to have where I’d try to go up over the top of people. Who knows if that played a role in anything,” said Johnson, adding his knee is OK now. “I don’t put any blame anywhere but myself. At the end of the day I can only control myself.”

Johnson views being with the Nets as a chance at “redemption.”

“Obviously it didn’t work out the way I would’ve wanted. There was a handful of things that could’ve gone better, not necessarily being anybody’s fault. Coming in and having the quick change, it took a long time for everyone to get on the same page. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But fortunately, I’m here. I find myself in a position where I can have a little bit of redemption.”

Johnson averaged 5.7 points and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 38.0 percent from the field across 31 games with the Suns this season.

Brooklyn Nets sign Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley

Brooklyn Nets, Jamal Crawford

Thursday afternoon the Brooklyn Nets announced on Twitter that they have signed forward Michael Beasley as a Substitute Player for the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season.

Wednesday night The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Nets reached a deal with guard Jamal Crawford.

Like Beasley, Crawford will be a Substitute Player for the Nets when the season resumes in Walt Disney World later this month.

Prior to these transactions, guard Spencer Dinwiddie, forward Taurean Prince and center DeAndre Jordan tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently opted out of the NBA restart. Kevin Durant tested positive in March.

Brooklyn Nets big man Nic Claxton is out for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury, and Wilson Chandler opted out of play. Brooklyn signed guards Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson to fill their place.

How did Crawford perform in 2019 and what can he offer the Brooklyn Nets?

Crawford, 40, has 19 seasons in the NBA under his belt and hasn’t suited up for a team this season. Last season he appeared in 64 games for the Phoenix Suns. For his career, Crawford is averaging 14.6 points per game.

Beasley, 31, has 11 seasons in the NBA under his belt and hasn’t suited up for a team this season. Last season he appeared in 26 games for the Los Angeles Lakers. For his career, Beasley is averaging 12.4 points per game.

Brooklyn’s active roster now includes Crawford, Beasley, Johnson, Anderson, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Garrett Temple, Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa, Jeremiah Martin, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Chris Chiozza.

Jacque Vaughn took over as interim head coach after Kenny Atkinson and the Nets parted ways in March.

The Nets, 30-34, are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, eight and a half games behind the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and six games ahead of the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards.

The Nets will resume the NBA season against the Magic on Friday, July 31 at 2:30 PM EST at HP Field House.

Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie Tests Positive for COVID-19 a 2nd time, Will Not Travel to Orlando with team

Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets

You ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go your way, and you find yourself asking, how can today possibly get any worse? And then low and behold, something else terrible happens and it immediately gets worse? That has been the last several months for our Brooklyn Nets.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who was hopeful to travel with the Nets to Orlando despite being infected with COVID-19 and showing symptoms, tested positive for a 2nd time on Monday, thus ending any hopes of returning to the hardwood once the season resumes. Dinwiddie updated fans and commended the Nets organization in several tweets earlier on Tuesday afternoon:

Dinwiddie is the 6th player on the Nets roster to have tested positive for COVID-19 since March and the 2nd Net in the last two weeks, as DeAndre Jordan also tested positive for the virus. Unlike Jordan, who immediately stated he would not be playing in Orlando, Dinwiddie’s goal was to rehab as much as he can and see where things stood before the team left to Orlando. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie fell short of his goal and will be watching what’s left of the Nets compete from the comfort of his home. The Brooklyn point guard did leave fans on a positive note by tweeting out the following:

With Dinwiddie officially out, the team has some tough roster decisions to make. Who will start at point guard? Which players will step up and attempt to match the production that was given to the Nets on a nightly basis from Dinwiddie, DeAndre, and Wilson Chandler? As NetsDaily pointed out, here is what the remaining roster looks like for Brooklyn:

It seems as though newcomer Tyler Johnson will get big minutes now, paired with the likes of Chiozza and Temple backing up Caris LeVert and Joe Harris. TLC will also be in that mix. Reserves such as Jeremiah Martin and Dzanan Musa could see an increase in playing time if there is any injury to the guards mentioned previously.

It will be interesting to watch how interim HC Jacque Vaughn handles this new roster and what lineups he decides to use in Orlando. There are several fans out there (myself included) that believe Vaughn is coaching for the Nets HC job next year, which could be a motivating factor for this team to perform well and exceed expectations. The Nets may not be the team they were when the season ended in March, but this team still has some fight left in them.

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Jacque Vaughn the favorite ‘against the field’ to coach the Brooklyn Nets next season

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

Among the many storylines surrounding the Brooklyn Nets is their head-coaching future. Jacque Vaughn took over as interim head coach after Brooklyn and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in March.

Vaughn coached two games before the NBA season was suspended and will be traveling to coach the Nets in Walt Disney World later this month. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Vaughn could be roaming the Nets’ sidelines beyond the summer festivities.

On the latest edition of “The Woj Pod,” Wojnarowski said he’d take Vaughn “against the field” to be the Nets head coach next season.

“He’s the head coach. They didn’t make him interim coach. I think the Nets are considering the possibility of a search, but I would still give Jacque Vaughn — I would take Jacque Vaughn against the field right now.”

Prior to his head-coaching promotion Vaughn was an assistant under Atkinson for three and a half seasons, the head coach of the Magic from 2012-15 and an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs from 2010-12.

The Nets have been connected to other coaches around the league such as Tyronn Lue, Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, among others.

The Nets (30-34) are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, eight and a half games behind the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and six games ahead of the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards.

Forward Wilson Chandler and center DeAndre Jordan have opted out of the NBA season, and big man Nic Claxton is out for the season with a shoulder injury. The Nets signed guards Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson. Jarrett Allen recently discussed the challenges of players living in the NBA bubble and his role in the Nets rotation with the aforementioned players absent.

The NBA regular season is scheduled to resume on July 30.

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks talks Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving’s health and input

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

Last summer, the Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year, max-level contracts. Durant has missed the entire 2019-20 season as he rehabs from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the 2019 NBA playoffs. Meanwhile, Irving has been limited to 20 games this season due to a handful of injuries.

As the NBA gears up for the resumption of the 2019-20 regular season, Nets general manager Sean Marks feels it’s important to take into account the long game with Durant and Irving regarding them playing this season (quotes by means of Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“[Irving] is doing well. But like Kevin, you have to look at the risk-reward. When you have a lot of money and your future tied to a couple guys — the whole team, but these two guys are an integral part of it — they haven’t had the appropriate buildup,” Marks said Friday on WFAN. “The last thing you want to do is put these guys out there when they haven’t had the appropriate workload and buildup.”

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, subsequently promoting Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach. Vaughn coached two games prior to the NBA season being suspended.

Marks feels that Durant and Irving should have some input on the team’s head-coaching future.

“It would not be smart of us if we were not to involve some of these key players in this decision,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie, we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they need. They’ve been brutally honest so far.”

Marks makes it clear that the two stars want to win a championship with the Nets.

“I’m not going to be asking Kevin to come down to Orlando to evaluate anybody. When you get to the level of those elite players, they have ultimate goals in mind. They want to be held accountable. Kevin and Kyrie have told me they want to win a championship in Brooklyn.”

Brooklyn Nets: Jarrett Allen talks NBA bubble, his role in team’s rotation

Brooklyn Nets, Jarrett Allen

In an interview with Brian Lewis of the New York Post, Brooklyn Nets big man Jarrett Allen expressed uncertainty about whether players will be able to fully abide by the rules of the NBA bubble in Walt Disney World later this month.

“It’s going to be 310 players or something like that. Take NBA players out of it: That’s a lot of people to make sure you have complete control and complete guidelines over. Then you add the NBA aspect, a bunch of grown men in this situation. We have our needs, we have our wants, and you know how we are,” Allen said with a smile. “I agree there’s going to be some level of hardship like Dame [Damian Lillard] said.”

Despite the varying levels of apprehension Allen feels the players are in good hands with the NBA and Walt Disney World.

“For everybody, including myself, it’s a little bit of worry. We’re all going to an unknown,” Allen said. “But at the end of the day, I have no doubt the two powerhouses — Disney and the NBA — are coming up with the best solution for us. Obviously, there’s a little doubt in my mind; we’re all human. But I’m confident.

Allen ultimately determined his best choice was to suit up for Brooklyn this summer.

“I did question myself whether it’s worth risking my health. But at the end of the day, weighing the options, it’s better for me to go.”

The Brooklyn Nets could use some more big men

Head coach Jacque Vaughn’s rotation will be thin inside, as center DeAndre Jordan will be sitting out the resumption of the NBA season in the wake of testing positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, fellow big man Nic Claxton is out for the season with a shoulder injury, and forward Wilson Chandler announced he will also be sitting out.

Allen feels there’s “some” pressure on him to answer the bell.

“There is some pressure. I don’t want to say I’m the last big standing, as bad as that sounds. There’s some pressure for me to be able to stay healthy and help the team succeed,” Allen said.

“I’ve been in this position before… Rookie year I was the main big playing, then last year when Ed [Davis] got hurt I had the load, and this year this happened. I just need to come out and prove I’m able to play at this level again.”

Allen is averaging 10.6 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this season.

Brooklyn Nets: The COVID-19 Nightmare Continues

It was only a few months ago when a report came out that four Brooklyn Nets players, one of them being Kevin Durant, tested positive for COVID-19. Now, in the last 48 hours, two more Nets have publicly announced that they too have tested positive for the virus.

DeAndre Jordan, at 9:34pm EST on Monday night, tweeted the following about how he found out he had tested positive for COVID-19:

Several hours earlier, it was reported that Spencer Dinwiddie also had tested positive for the virus after feeling COVID-19 symptoms such as chest tightness and a fever. While Jordan has made it clear he will not be playing when the NBA season resumes, Dinwiddie has been hopeful he can recover from the virus in time to rejoin the team hopefully during the playoffs. He had this to say in response to Woj implying Dinwiddie was strongly considering not joining the team in Orlando.

It’s been a rough few months for Nets fans who hoped to see some form of the team they envisioned way back when KD and Kyrie signed in last July. Fans got their hopes up several weeks ago that the two superstars might return when basketball resumes in late July, a rumor that was shut down quickly by both players.

In the last two weeks, it was reported that two more players would not be traveling to Orlando with the team, as the young power forward Nic Claxton had season-ending should-surgery several days ago and journeyman Wilson Chandler has chosen to spend more with his family this summer. Add DeAndre Jordan and possibly Spencer Dinwiddie to the mix, and that’s 6 key contributors the Nets will be missing when play resumes in Orlando. Some fans may be optimistic about the recent signings of Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson, but at this point, fans will be watching an almost entirely different team than the one we saw for most of the year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that more than anything, we hope Spencer, DeAndre, and all the professional athletes that have tested positive for COVID-19 get well soon. This virus is terrifying for these athletes and their families to have to endure, and I wish them nothing but the best during their recovery period. For the Nets players who have chosen not to return to the bubble for reasons outside of health, such as Wilson Chandler and Kyrie Irving, I have nothing but respect for those men and their decisions. They have a right to either fight for the cause they believe in or spend time with their family during these scary times.

While the Nets will be missing a large portion of their team in Orlando, they still will have Caris LeVert, who was playing the best basketball of his career prior to the season being suspended. Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris should most likely be traveling with the team as well. They should still be competitive and put up a fight in the first round of the playoffs. But many Nets fans can rest assured that this team at full strength and health next year, will be a real title contender and quite possibly the favorite in the East.

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Brooklyn Nets sign Justin Anderson

Brooklyn Nets, Justin Anderson

Wilson Chandler’s one-way ticket to Walt Disney World has been transferred. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets have signed Justin Anderson.

This move comes on the heels of Chandler, who appeared in 35 games this season, telling the Nets that he won’t be present when the 2019-20 NBA regular season resumes in late-July. Chandler was averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Anderson appeared in three games for the Nets this season, playing on a 10-day contract. Across those games he averaged 5.7 minutes per contest. Anderson also played for the team’s G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.

Across 16 games, 14 of which he started, Anderson averaged 20.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Anderson spent time with the Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks. He was selected by the Mavericks with the 21st pick in the 2015 NBA Draft out of Virginia. The forward is averaging 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game for his career.

The Nets recently waived guard Theo Pinson. He appeared in 51 games for the Nets over the last two seasons after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2018. Brooklyn subsequently signed guard Tyler Johnson. Johnson previously appeared in 31 games for the Phoenix Suns this season, averaging 5.7 points per game.

The Nets (30-34) are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, eight and a half games behind the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and six games ahead of the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving aren’t expected to make the trip to Florida. Durant, recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, recently said on the “Dawg Talk” podcast that he wouldn’t play if he were healthy.

“I feel, me right now, I probably wouldn’t have played because the unknown going into that situation looks crazy right now, seeing so many new cases. It’s just so unpredictable. It’s easy for me to say right now because I’m injured, but I probably wouldn’t have went down there [to Orlando].”