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Jared Dudley sees himself a key cog in Nets machine

Two years ago, as Sean Marks was trying to pull together his first team, he offered Jared Dudley a deal, two years and $20 million, according to various reports at the time. He went with Phoenix who was willing to give him another year and another $9.53 million.

Then, in the mid-July deal-making that defined the Nets summer, Marks got his man, sending Darrell Arthur, acquired in the Nuggets salary dump, to Phoenix for Dudley and a lightly protected second rounder in 2021.

There were rumors at the time that the Nets were planning to buy out Dudley, but both Kenny Atkinson denies it and Dudley says he wouldn’t have agreed to a buyout anyway.

“No. I think the discussion with Sean was we were both like, ‘This guy fits the way we play.’” Atkinson told the media Friday. “I think Sean and I both had a real respect for his game and plus he’s a fun guy to be around. Let’s talk in February (laughs), but I enjoy being around him. He understands the game and has a good spirit.”

And as Greg Logan reports Saturday, Dudley had already rejected a Suns buyout offer.

“Not one time was waiving an option for me,” Dudley said after practice on Friday. “I mean, I’m not giving any money back. I almost signed here two years ago. It was down to Brooklyn and Phoenix. For someone with a high IQ like myself to fit them and help them out, I thought it was a perfect fit.”

Dudley has lost 20 pounds since last year … something the Suns wanted him to do. Perhaps a combination of the better strength and conditioning and the confidence of his coaches can help Dudley revive his career. Ask DeMarre Carroll how it works.

The 6’7” forward thinks it can work for him as well.

“I’m a four where distributing is obviously a strong suit and I think IQ when it comes to the defensive end, being able to call switches,” Dudley told Logan. “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve controlled a lot of defenses, transition defense, putting guys in the right position. I think that’s one thing they lacked when it comes to that defensively with guys being assertive and pointing people in the right direction. I think it’s a great fit for me. I’m looking forward to it.”

“He gives us some more versatility when we need more shooting on the floor,” Atkinson agreed. “I think it’s big. I think it allows us to, kind of what we talked about, play big and play small with him.”

And Atkinson thinks he has equal value as a veteran player. “Just those side conversations with the younger players,” the coach said in describing the subtlety of how it works.

What happened with Arthur, who the Nets traded to Phoenix? He’s not with the team because of what local media describe as “an undisclosed medical issue.” The Suns are looking to deal his contract … or perhaps buy him out. So the Nets are already made out on that deal.

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