Nets Rumors

Knicks Notes: DSJ, Trier, Free Agent Targets

Last year’s Kristaps Porzingis trade was ultimately the “undoing” for Steve Mills in New York, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who notes that Dennis Smith Jr.‘s inconsistent play for the Knicks didn’t help keep Mills off the hot seat leading up to his February ouster.

As Berman writes, former head coach David Fizdale and assistant Keith Smart were among Smith’s “key allies” within the franchise, and their departures – along with Mills’ – significantly reduce the odds that DSJ has a long-term future with the Knicks. Berman suggests Smith will be a trade candidate during the 2020 offseason, with the Magic among the teams that could have interest. Some teams still believe the former lottery pick can evolve into a solid pro, per Berman.

“He thinks too much about his shot and trying to score the ball,” one NBA scout said of Smith. “He needs to be more of lead pass-first guard and score second. Dennis also need a coach who shows him love and gives him confidence. The quickness and ability to dribble-drive is always there, but he wants to always be the highlight play with traffic dunks.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While Fizdale was fond of Allonzo Trier, interim head coach Mike Miller preferred to play stronger defenders with more experience, Berman writes in a separate New York Post story. Given Trier’s lack of a regular role in 2019/20, he seems unlikely to stick with the Knicks as a restricted free agent this offseason, according to Berman.
  • Mike Vorkunov and John Hollinger of The Athletic take an in-depth look at the Knicks’ future, breaking down the upcoming head coaching search, identifying possible free agent targets, and discussing which of the club’s current players are long-term keepers. Fred VanVleet is one free-agent-to-be singled out by Holliner as a potentially nice fit for the Knicks.
  • 2020’s free agent class isn’t a particularly strong one, but there will be some intriguing players available if the Knicks want to try to make a splash, writes Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Rafael Canton of SNY.tv explores whether the Knicks’ financial flexibility could give them a chance to be in better position that the Nets three years from now.

Coronavirus Updates: Tsai, “Bubble,” Vogel, Schedule

The battle against COVID-19 in New York is getting a boost from a few NBA sources, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that Nets owner Joe Tsai is donating 1,000 ventilators to the effort.

“The Chinese government is going to facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators that will come into JFK today. And I want to thank Joe Tsai and Clara Tsai and Jack Ma from Alibaba, and the Nets – but I’m not stating a preference – for their donation,” Cuomo said. “That’s going to be very helpful. And I want to thank (consul General Huang Ping) very much for his help in making all of this happen, because this is a big deal and it’s going to make a significant difference for us.”

Cuomo also tweeted that the NBA is contributing one million surgical masks in collaboration with the Knicks and Nets for essential workers in the state. New York has already reported more than 113,000 coronavirus cases and more than 3,000 deaths.

There’s more NBA-related news about the virus:

  • A contingency plan to finish the season in a quarantined “bubble” may be harder than it sounds, states Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports Philadelphia. He talked to Dr. Caroline Buckee, an associate professor of Epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who believes it would be too difficult to ensure that everyone who has to be involved is virus-free. “It sounds like potentially a bad idea,” she said. “I don’t think it’s realistic to completely isolate and quarantine the players. For a start, there are people who will need to clean their rooms, feed them, wash their clothes, janitorial staff and so forth. And those people will not be protected and they will be interacting with their communities. It is very difficult to truly self-isolate. Purposefully putting people at risk seems foolish.”
  • Jackie MacMullan of ESPN examines how coaches are dealing with an unprecedented situation that leaves them with no set schedule for the first time in months. “I’ve mentally flipped my seasons,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “I’m in the summer now. I really feel it’s necessary for us to mentally decompress. It’s a better mindset than trying to power through this. If we sprint through what could potentially be a two- to three-month break, with workouts and meetings and projects and film throughout, will we be fresh when it matters? We need to realize ‘when it matters’ could be July or August.”
  • Conflicts with Major League Baseball telecasts may be the biggest impediment to moving the NBA schedule back two months, observes Keith Smith of NBC Sports. Twenty-two NBA teams share a regional sports network market with MLB clubs, creating problems if both leagues have a large number of regular season games throughout spring.

European Players Separated From Families

  • The Nets’ European players — Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot — have been separated from their families indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. Travel restrictions prevent them from reuniting with their families. “They are coping, and their families are coping with this. But that’s really difficult,” Nets GM Sean Marks said. “Their families are completely separated. They’re not in the same time zone, they’re in completely different countries, and obviously there is a travel ban in place.”

Nets Notes: LeVert, Durant, Irving, Vezenkov

The Nets need to determine whether Caris LeVert can be the third star alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on a championship team or a trade piece to acquire one, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.

LeVert was on a tear prior to the suspension of play and figures to be in high demand on the trade market, Lewis continues. LeVert is entering the first season of a three-year, $52.5MM extension. The Nets have several trade assets, including Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen, but LeVert might be their best chip, Lewis adds.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Longtime NBA guard Jamal Crawford believes Irving and Durant will go through an adjustment period, Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News relays. Crawford made his comments in a Scoop B Radio interview with Brandon Robinson. “They’ll have moments where they have to figure it out and work their way through,” he said. “Those moments may come more in the closer games because they’re both used to having the ball and making plays and making decisions and certain ways they may go about things in the closer games. So maybe more presence there, but I’m sure it will happen during the course of the season.”
  • The Nets hold the rights to four European draft-and-slash players but none are potential difference-makesr, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. The most recent of those picks, 2017 second-rounder Sasha Vezenkov, isn’t an NBA-caliber athlete, Hollinger continues. The combo forward doesn’t move his feet well and is a poor rebounder, Hollinger adds.
  • All four of the team’s players, including Durant, who tested positive for COVID-19 are now symptom-free. Get the details here.

Nets Notes: COVID-19, Coach, Kyrie, KD, More

Speaking today on a conference call with reporters, Nets general manager Sean Marks said that all the team’s players are now symptom-free of COVID-19, including the four that tested positive for the coronavirus last month, tweets ESPN’s Malika Andrews. The club’s entire traveling party has now completed its 14-day self-isolation period, but continues to practice social distancing.

Marks addressed a handful of other topics on that call, including the team’s search for a permanent head coach. According to Brooklyn’s GM, the club isn’t currently reaching out to potential candidates, since it “would completely not be fair to our group” (Twitter link via Andrews).

When asked if he’ll consult Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant on the head coaching decision, Marks said the Nets have always collaborated with players, but the decision will ultimately be made by the front office and ownership (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post).

Finally, speaking of Irving and Durant, Marks was also asked about the possibility of those injured stars returning to action if the 2019/20 season resumes this summer. According to Andrews (Twitter link), the GM replied that it wouldn’t be fair to set a specific timeline for either player’s return. Marks also cautioned that social-distancing practices and the closure of training facilities may slow the rehab process for injured players, further clouding the recovery timetables for Kyrie and KD.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post takes a look at DeAndre Jordan‘s role with the Nets this season and going forward, noting that the veteran center was immediately elevated to the starting lineup following Kenny Atkinson‘s departure.
  • Atkinson’s exit is among the topics Lewis explores in a New York Post mailbag — he also answers questions related to the likelihood of a Jarrett Allen trade and how Nets players are staying in shape while self-isolating.
  • In yet another story for The New York Post, Lewis shares some details on how Nets and Barclays Center are still being paid during the NBA’s stoppage. One source tells Lewis that the pay checks cut for event staffers may end up totaling approximately $6MM.
  • In case you missed it, Durant is one of 16 NBA players participating in a players-only NBA 2K20 tournament starting on Friday.

NBA Plans To Launch Players-Only 2K Tournament

12:07pm: The Boardroom has provided a full list of the 16 participants in the tournament, along with the first-round matchups (Twitter link). Devin Booker (Suns), Trae Young (Hawks), and Zach LaVine (Bulls) are among the other stars set to take part in the event.

11:19am: With no NBA games expected to happen on the court anytime soon, the league is setting up a virtual tournament in an attempt to sate fans’ appetite for basketball, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

According to Haynes, the league intends to launch an NBA 2K tournament that will feature NBA players competing against one another. The goal is to begin the 10-day event this Friday, though the league is still working out and finalizing the details, sources tell Haynes. The tournament would be broadcast on ESPN.

Nets star Kevin Durant, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, and free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins are among the 16 players expected to participate, per Haynes.

Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel had previously tweeted that Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside and Heat swingman Derrick Jones were among the players set to play in an NBA 2K20 Players Tournament in April. That info appears to be based on an announcement from the NBPA, which was quickly deleted. Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone (via Twitter) shares the full list of participants the NBPA identified in that premature release.

According to Winderman, the tournament is expected to have a $100K prize for charity.

Nets Rumors: Third Star, Dinwiddie, Coach, Kyrie

In the latest edition of his Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said he believes the Nets have signaled they’ll try to use some of their young talent to trade for a third star this offseason to complement Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“We could enter a healthy debate here about whether Caris LeVert is that third star, and they may make the decision that he is,” Windhorst said. “But my feel (from) reading the tea leaves, paying attention to what (general manager) Sean Marks has said, and also being aware of some conversations that they had at the trade deadline – which was some sticking the toe in the water on some things – I think that they are going to swing for the fences whenever the offseason comes.”

As Windhorst and guests Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton note, it’s not clear which stars on other rosters would even available via trade and whether the Nets would be willing to package players like LeVert or Spencer Dinwiddie. Marks and Pelton point out that moving a point guard like Dinwiddie could be somewhat risky, given all the games Irving has missed due to injuries in recent years.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Windhorst also suggested in today’s podcast that the Nets figure to seek an established head coach who would be comfortable leading a veteran team going all-in on contending. “One of the things that has been expressed sort of through the grapevine – that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators – is that Durant and Irving would like a blue chip coach,” Windhorst said. “I don’t know what this says about the way they felt about (Kenny) Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”
  • In a subsequent discussion on potential head coaching options for Brooklyn, Windhorst speculates that Tom Thibodeau will receive consideration from both the Nets and Knicks. As Windhorst observes, Thibodeau’s experience as an assistant for Team USA gives him a connection to Durant and Irving.
  • In the latest installment of his player-by-player look at the Nets’ roster, Brian Lewis of The New York Post focuses on Irving, writing that it’s hard to imagine Kyrie’s second year in Brooklyn being as “tumultuous” as year one was. Lewis also doesn’t close the door on the possibility of Irving returning to action in 2019/20 if the season resumes in two or three months.

Atlantic Notes: Harris, Knicks, Brown, Hernandez

The Nets hope to re-sign sharpshooter Joe Harris in free agency this summer, provided the two sides can agree to terms, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.

Harris is set to enter unrestricted free agency, with the 28-year-old likely to seek a big pay upgrade on the open market. The Nets hold his Bird Rights and can go over the salary cap to re-sign him.

“Yeah, definitely! Why wouldn’t you?” Harris said when asked whether he hopes to play with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, with the Nets unable to sport their full rotation this season due to injuries.

“Obviously those are guys who I’ve gotten close with now that I’ve been with them this past year. They’re obviously incredible players. You see what they’re able to do when they are healthy and are playing. I don’t see that there’s anybody in the NBA who wouldn’t want to play with those guys.”

The Nets view Harris as a valuable off-ball threat and necessary asset to have alongside primary ball-handlers such as Irving, Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. He held per-game averages of 13.9 points on 41% shooting from deep this season, starting in all 63 games.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic division:

  • The Knicks’ most important offseason need is an upgrade at point guard, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes in his mailbag. Berman notes that adding a point guard who can play-make and shoot from distance would elevate the games of RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox immensely.
  • For Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, it’s a matter of when — not if — he will become an NBA All-Star, A. Sherrod Blakely writes for NBC Sports Boston. Brown averaged 20.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season, narrowly missing his first All-Star selection.
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic examines the recovery of Raptors big man Dewan Hernandez, who battled a major right ankle sprain this season. “It was one of the worst sprains ever. That takes time,” Hernandez said. “But I’ve been through worse, so I’m good mentally.” Hernandez, the No. 59 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, originally suffered the ankle injury in late December.

Clippers Notes: Free Agency, Dunn, Lue, Hiatus

The Clippers have a realistic opportunity to bring back their 11-man rotation next season, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Many of the decisions will come down to whether the organization wants to make a financial commitment to its current players or explore other options.

L.A. has Bird rights on Montrezl Harrell and can offer him a longer and more valuable contract than anyone else. The Clippers have Non-Bird rights on Marcus Morris, who was acquired from the Knicks last month, and can offer a new deal starting at $18MM per season. JaMychal Green has a $5MM player option, and the team might decide to use part of its mid-level exception to re-sign Reggie Jackson.

Buha adds that the loss of revenue from the shortened season could work in the Clippers’ favor by depressing a free agent market that’s already limited by the small number of teams with cap space. Harrell and Morris may not get the offers they would have under normal circumstances, while Green could decide to stick with his guaranteed money.

There’s more Clippers news to pass along:

  • There may be something to the rumors that Doc Rivers would like to add Bulls guard Kris Dunn as a defensive specialist next season, Buha states in the same piece. Dunn will be a restricted free agent if Chicago makes a $4.6MM qualifying offer, and he could be a nice backcourt partner for Lou Williams coming off the bench. The downsides are Dunn’s poor 3-point shooting — 25.9% this year — and his season-ending knee injury.
  • Speculation regarding Tyronn Lue as the next head coach of the Nets has died down while the league has been on hiatus, but Buha understands why Brooklyn would be interested. During his time in Cleveland, Lue proved he could win a title and he developed a strong relationship with Kyrie Irving. Buha identifies two other members of Rivers’ staff, Rex Kalamian and Sam Cassell, who might get head coaching offers soon.
  • The Clippers may benefit as much as anyone from having several weeks off, Buha suggests in a separate column. They are among the league’s oldest teams and injuries have been a concern, particularly for Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley. New additions Morris and Jackson will also get more time to learn Rivers’ system.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Kurucs, Hayward, Dinwiddie

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is doing “great” after testing positive for the coronavirus, coach Brad Stevens told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and other media members. “He’s great. Great spirits. Joking as always,” Stevens said Friday. Smart is one of 10 NBA players known to have tested positive for COVID-19. Smart revealed his diagnosis on March 19.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets’ Rodions Kurucs was due in Brooklyn court on Monday for his misdemeanor assault case but that proceeding was postponed, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reports. The case has been administratively adjourned due to the pandemic and a new date will eventually be set. Kurucs was arrested last summer on a domestic assault charge.
  • There’s a general sense that Celtics forward Gordon Hayward will opt in to his contract next season, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Hayward holds a $34MM option. “It’s too much money to pass up,” an unnamed NBA GM told Deveney. “He could get a longer deal if that is what he really wants. But I don’t think the Celtics want to give it to him. … He can opt in this year and then take a big contract next year.”
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie will be in demand on the trade market this offseason, Lewis opines in a separate story. Dinwiddie, who can opt out after next season, has posted career highs in points (20.6 PPG) and assists (6.8 APG).