New York Notes: Nets, Irving, Durant, Noel, Samanic

The Nets lost for a second time in three games on Sunday, prompting reporters to press Kevin Durant on whether he believes the team has enough firepower to seriously contend without Kyrie Irving available, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details.

“While we are playing in a game, I am not going to sit there and say … when we get down or it is a tight game, like ‘Damn, we don’t have enough,'” Durant said. “We are not going to be thinking about (that) during the game. We definitely want Kyrie Irving out here on the floor. And he is a huge part of what we do. But it is not happening right now. So we got to figure it out.

“… It’s three games in. Of course we have enough.”

With Irving on the shelf until he agrees to be vaccinated or New York City drops its vaccine mandate for indoor public venues, the Nets will have to make up his scoring elsewhere. The first step will be getting James Harden on track — the former MVP is averaging just 18.3 PPG on 38.8% shooting through three games, both well below his career marks.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Nets head coach Steve Nash said on Sunday that the plan is to have Durant play both games in back-to-back sets most of the time this season, tweets Youngmisuk. However, Durant may sit out the occasional game during back-to-back sets to keep him fresh.
  • After signing a lucrative new three-year contract with the Knicks in the offseason, Nerlens Noel has yet to make his 2021/22 debut due to a knee injury. However, head coach Tom Thibodeau said today that Noel is “doing more” in practice and has a 50-50 shot at playing on Tuesday vs. Philadelphia, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.
  • Thibodeau doesn’t expect Luka Samanic to play for the Knicks anytime soon, suggesting the former first-round pick will begin the season in the G League, as Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “I think it’s for the Westchester team,” Thibodeau said of signing Samanic to a two-way contract. “We’re excited to have him. We’ll get a look at him once they get going.”
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