Andre Drummond

Atlantic Notes: Drummond, Embiid, Tatum, Brown, R. Williams

Andre Drummond has been a valuable addition for the Nets since being acquired in the James Harden trade, but he understands the arrangement may be short-term, writes Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News. Drummond has taken over as Brooklyn’s starting center, averaging 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in 17 games. However, he’s playing on a veteran’s minimum contract that he signed with the Sixers and will be seeking a raise in free agency this summer.

That offer is unlikely to come from the Nets, who are already facing a salary cap crunch with the league’s second-highest payroll, Winfield adds. Considering the situation, Drummond acknowledged that Brooklyn was wise to hold onto young center Nic Claxton at the trade deadline.

“And if we’re all being honest, I’m only here til the rest of the season,” Drummond said. “So who knows what’s gonna happen in the offseason? So they need a guy like (Nic).”

Drummond clarified his comments at this morning’s shootaround, saying he wants to stay with the Nets but the situation is unpredictable, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Sixers center Joel Embiid said it was “draining” to have to deal with the Ben Simmons situation, but it forced him to become a better leader. Embiid was often vocal in the media about Simmons’ absence, saying in October that “our job is not to babysit somebody.” “It was a tough situation to navigate and go through (with Simmons),” Embiid told Amick. “Even to this day, I don’t have any hard feelings towards everything that happened. But being in my position, having to answer questions about that whole thing every single day, it was kind of draining. And I’m sure it was draining for my teammates.”
  • The Celtics never seriously considered breaking up Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown before last month’s trade deadline, but there was talk around the league and among sources close to both players that Boston might pursue that path over the summer, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. There’s no chance of a split following the Celtics’ recent surge to the top of the Eastern Conference, but Fischer states that a few teams had their eyes on Brown in early February. The Sixers would have pursued him if they hadn’t found a taker for Simmons, and Fischer identifies the Hawks and Heat as other potential suitors.
  • Celtics coach Ime Udoka said some surgical options could enable injured center Robert Williams to return for the second or third round of the playoffs, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Claxton, Aldridge, Durant

Nets guard Ben Simmons is dealing with a herniated disc in his back but he wants to make his season debut as soon as he can, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports. Simmons received an epidural injection last week to relieve the soreness. He has dealt with back issues since February 2020, when he missed time due to a nerve impingement, Charania notes.

Simmons is expected to continue to work toward a return and would make his debut whenever he is fully cleared to play. However, it’s not certain that will happen this season.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Nic Claxton has seen his playing time expand since LaMarcus Aldridge was sidelined earlier this month, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes. Aldridge will miss at least another week with the hip injury that has kept him out of action since March 6. Claxton has averaged 10.2 PPG,  7.4 RPG and 1.2 BPG over the last five games heading into Monday’s home game against the Jazz. Claxton will be a restricted free agent this summer if the team extends a qualifying offer.
  • Kevin Durant doesn’t think the window of opportunity will close if the Nets come up short in the playoffs this season, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN. Durant, who signed a four-year, $198MM extension in August, says he expects Brooklyn to be serious contenders for years to come. “If you’re looking at it as if, like, this is our only chance to ever do something special with this group — and other people looking at it that way — then I can see why,” Durant said. “But to be honest, I signed here for five years to play. You know what I’m saying? Looking at, obviously this year’s important, but no matter what happens this year I still want to do it again. And again.”
  • Andre Drummond missed Monday’s game due to a non-COVID illness, Chris Milholen of Nets Daily tweets.

Nets Notes: Curry, Brown, Drummond, Edwards

Nets guard Seth Curry offered a reminder of how valuable he can be when he returned Friday after missing three games with a sore left ankle, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Beyond his 27-point outburst, Curry provided a floor spacer who can make teams pay for throwing double- and triple-teams at Kevin Durant.

“It was huge … he had 27, 9-for-14, efficient from all angles on the floor,” Durant said. “We needed that, and it was good to see him back out there. Missed a few games with that ankle, but I’m glad it’s getting better and he’s able to come out here and play. And we needed all those points.”

Curry has the best career three-point shooting percentage among active players, so it’s easy to understand why the Nets targeted him in the trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia. They lead the NBA in both offensive rating and effective field-goal percentage in the games that Curry has played, and he will be counted on to provide scoring with Kyrie Irving only able to play in three more games.

Curry, who will be eligible for an extension this summer, said the ankle pain began when he was still with the Sixers, but he believes he can play through it.

“I was dealing with it probably a month before the trade. It’s been a while. It’s something I’m just going to have to manage and deal with until the offseason,” he said. “It’s not something that’s going to go away. So as long as it’s not getting worse, I should be good.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets were able to keep Bruce Brown on a $4.7MM qualifying offer last offseason, but his price may be a lot higher this summer, Lewis suggests in a separate story. Brown has upped his game since the Harden trade, and while some of the improvement has come from more minutes and a revamped role, part of it is related to attitude. “Early in the season, it was all mental for me,” Brown said. “I was trying to fit in the role that I had last year, and it wasn’t working. So I got kind of frustrated, and that’s when I kind of got out of the rotation. Then I went to ‘Smoke’ [assistant coach Royal Ivey], and I was like, ‘Bruh, I want to get better.’ So we got to work on something different. I started working on a little bit of guard stuff, just getting back to my game, the way I played my whole life, and it started to work.”
  • Andre Drummond, another addition in the Sixers trade, has found the game comes a lot easier playing alongside Durant and Irving, Lewis states in the same piece. Drummond is putting up his best numbers of the season, averaging 14.3 points and 10.5 rebounds in his last six games. “For me, it’s a lot of fun for two reasons: One, I’m playing with two of the best players in the world,” he said, “and secondly, when they do miss, there’s nobody down there because everybody’s so worried about contesting their shots. So when they do miss, it’s a walk in the park for me to go get the rebounds.”
  • Kessler Edwards is hoping to bounce back after hitting the “rookie wall” at midseason, Lewis adds. Edwards fell out of the rotation following 18 straight starts in January and February, but he scored 26 total points in back-to-back games this week.

New York Notes: KD, Simmons, Reddish, Sims

All-Star forward Kevin Durant could return from his sprained left knee MCL as soon as this Thursday or Saturday, Nets head coach Steve Nash indicated, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. Durant has been sidelined since injuring his knee on January 5.

“We’re hopeful that he can play this week,” Nash said. “So Kevin’s getting close, which is exciting.”

In the 36 games he has been healthy, Durant has been his typical All-NBA self for the Nets. This season, he is averaging 29.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 5.8 APG, with shooting splits of .520/.372/.894.

“He’s going to come back and impact the game every way possible,” new Nets starting center Andre Drummond said of Durant. “I think with our chemistry together on the floor, it’s going to make it very difficult for teams to pick their poison, with who they want to guard, along with Kyrie [Irving], Seth [Curry] and when Ben [Simmons] comes back. And we go on the list of our roster, we have a lot of threats.”

There’s more out of the City That Never Sleeps:

  • Rich Paul, the agent for new Nets addition Ben Simmons, told Brian Windhorst of ESPN (video link) that Simmons should be thought of as “week-to-week” with back soreness as he works his way into game shape ahead of his 2021/22 season debut. Windhorst expressed uncertainty about whether Simmons would even be ready at any point in March for Brooklyn, suggesting that he’s “frankly not close” to debuting for his new team.
  • With Knicks wing Quentin Grimes unavailable for much of the remaining season, new swingman Cam Reddish finally has a path to regular rotation minutes in New York, per Greg Joyce of the New York Post“I’m trying to work my way in,” Reddish said. “Just trying to make the right play, really. Not trying to force it too much. But yeah, I think the last 20 games are definitely a good spot to start.” In 11 games with New York thus far, Reddish is averaging 5.4 PPG, 1.0 RPG and 0.7 SPG across 12.5 MPG.
  • With the 25-36 Knicks seemingly stuck on the outside of the play-in race looking in, rookie reserve center Jericho Sims has been getting some run as New York looks towards the future, per Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “[Sims is] a great kid, great worker, getting better day by day,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said Tuesday. “Very diligent. Comes in and watches film and wants to do well. So I think this experience is really good for him.” Sims has displaced Nerlens Noel in the rotation as Noel continues to grapple with a plantar fasciitis injury. 36-year-old veteran center Taj Gibson has also been a healthy scratch for the last two games in favor of the No. 58 pick in the 2021 draft.

Nets Notes: Curry, Drummond, Simmons, Irving, Nash

While Ben Simmons remains out of action, two other players dealt from the Sixers to the Nets have been productive, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. In five starts with Brooklyn, Seth Curry is averaging 19.2 PPG on 47.4% shooting from deep, while Andre Drummond is posting a double-double (11.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG) in 22 MPG. Curry’s contract runs through next season, while Drummond will be a free agent this summer.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers is pleased to see Drummond take on an expanded role in Brooklyn, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Rivers was happy the way Drummond accepted a backup role with the Sixers and said the former All-Star is missed from a chemistry standpoint.
  • Simmons’ back soreness that caused a delay in his return is a minor issue and he’ll try once again to work his way into playing shape this week, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne (video link). “This is the same back issue he had at the beginning of training camp when he returned to Philadelphia,” she said. “This is something he’s had for a couple of years. … The plan is the same this week, ramp it up and see where you’re at.” However, coach Steve Nash has already ruled out Simmons from practicing this week, Lewis tweets.
  • As we noted last week, Kyrie Irving is excited by the possibility of vaccine mandates being relaxed in New York City. However, mayor Eric Adams reiterated in a CNBC interview he’s in no rush to do so, according to an ESPN report. “We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue,” Adams said. “I can’t have my city closed down again. It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless number of New York City employees, ‘If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be able to be employed.'”
  • Nash did not coach on Monday after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, Lewis tweets. Jacque Vaughn filled in for him.

Nets Notes: Dragic, Durant, Simmons, D. Green

Goran Dragic didn’t intend to sit out most of the season, but he said there was no defined role for him with the Raptors, according to a story. Dragic, who chose the Nets after receiving interest from several teams following his buyout with the Spurs, spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since signing with Brooklyn.

“It’s been a unique situation this year for me, unfortunately couldn’t get along in Toronto, they said they wanted to go young, they didn’t see me to be a part of that team,” Dragic said. “We talked and they said we’re going to trade you, we agreed I go home to be with my family until everything got resolved.”

The Raptors acquired Dragic in the offseason trade that sent Kyle Lowry to the Heat, but he was never in their long-term plans. He played just five games before taking a leave of absence in November. The Nets will play in Toronto next week, and Dragic is looking forward to returning to the city.

“(I have) no hard feelings towards them, wish them all the best … we play against them twice in next couple of weeks so should be interesting,” he said.

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Nets players were heavily involved in recruiting Dragic once his buyout became official, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and others sent text messages to Dragic urging him to join them in Brooklyn. Dragic said the Nets were among six contenders that tried to sign him.
  • Although Dragic has been training during his absence, coach Steve Nash doesn’t plan to use him in tonight’s game against the Celtics, according to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic (Twitter link). Nash said Dragic needs to practice with the team a few times, but he doesn’t expect his debut to be far off. Nash added that he expects Durant to be ready before Simmons, but there are no definite dates for either to begin playing again.
  • Simmons’ first game back in Philadelphia is scheduled for March 10, but Sixers guard Danny Green doesn’t expect to see him on the court, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. On his “Inside the Green Room” podcast, Green said Andre Drummond and Seth Curry, who were also traded to Brooklyn, “weren’t on the most cordial terms” with Simmons when they were all together in Philadelphia. Green added that his reaction to Simmons will be determined by his actions if he does play March 10.I understand you have a mental health issue, I understand you don’t want to play where you want to — whatever it is, you did what you needed to do to make better for you in your life. That’s cool,” Green said. “Do I think you could have handled it better? For sure, because we had nothing against you as teammates, still have nothing against you. But it all depends on how that game goes, how he interacts in that game, how well he plays or how cleanly or non-cleanly he or us plays against each other, is going to determine how we shake hands.”

Nets Notes: Drummond, Simmons, Trade Reactions

Veteran center Andre Drummond played more than 22 minutes just once in his final 31 games as a Sixer, but he has already exceeded that benchmark twice in three appearances since being traded to the Nets.

Drummond, who has averaged 21.7 minutes per game with the Nets, will likely see that number continue to increase as long as his conditioning is up to par, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The big man says he has felt “tired” since arriving in Brooklyn, but is looking forward to getting the chance to play more.

“From the moment I’ve got here, I condition in the morning and I condition after the game,” Drummond said. “So by the time the [All-Star] break is over, I should be back to normal again, just getting myself back in that speed and that mode again.”

Having averaged an impressive 12.3 rebounds per game in his part-time role so far, Drummond is helping to address an area of weakness for the Nets. Head coach Steve Nash, noting that his team had “struggled to rebound the ball,” said he’s counting on the 28-year-old to continue playing a key role.

“He fills needs that our group is looking for, and we’re excited for him to continue to get more comfortable in the way we play and also really get in great shape,” Nash said. “He’s going to play more minutes for us as far as the way we project things to go, so he’s used to [backing up Joel Embiid], but we’re asking him to play more.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • The plan is for Ben Simmons to “really ramp it up this week” to see where he’s at in terms of his conditioning, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said during an appearance on NBA Today on Monday (video link). Although Shelburne suggests Simmons is “getting close,” she cautions that his Nets debut isn’t imminent yet. “It’s going to be more like weeks rather than months,” Shelburne said (hat tip to NetsDaily).
  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer spoke to a handful of players at All-Star Weekend to get their thoughts on the Simmons/James Harden blockbuster completed on February 10 by the Nets and Sixers. “Just 12 months ago … we were thinking Brooklyn was going to go on to win five championships in a row, and that was the narrative, ‘Who can stop this Big Three?’ It didn’t pan out that way, and now they’re shuffling the deck again,” veteran guard Fred VanVleet said, jokingly adding that, for the Raptors’ sake, he hopes the deal doesn’t work out for either team.
  • At 31-28, the Nets hold the No. 8 seed in the East and wouldn’t be guaranteed a playoff spot if the season ended today. However, veteran guard Patty Mills is optimistic about what the rest of the season will look like for the club, especially once Kevin Durant returns and Simmons is available. “I think being able to add the pieces we’ve added, getting people back from injury, this is who we got,” Mills said, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I keep talking about the vibe around the locker room and everyone enjoying each other’s presence. … You can feel it in the locker room and that’s gonna carry us a long way, I believe, if we can stay tight as a group. It’s gonna take all of us to get the job done. It’s a massive push for us coming up.”

Nets Notes: New Rivalry, Curry, Drummond, Irving

The Nets/Sixers matchup has the making of the league’s next great rivalry, Brian Lewis of The New York Post opines. There could be some bad blood between the two sides after the James Harden/Ben Simmons trade, as Harden and Simmons both clearly left on poor terms.

Simmons refused to suit up for the Sixers this season and didn’t exactly get along well with Joel Embiid, while Harden appeared to stop trying towards the end of his stint in Brooklyn after becoming frustrated with the team’s performance and Kyrie Irving‘s part-time status.

The two teams clashed in the playoffs in 2019, creating some animosity, but Brooklyn’s roster is very different now. Lewis thinks a feud could be great for the league.

Yeah, it could,” Patty Mills said. “Or not; we’ll have to see. And if it is, then, awesome, it’s great. I mean, we’re trying to get better as a team; if that brings the best out of us, great. Vice versa. Good for the fans. Good for TV. Good for basketball around the world.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Seth Curry and Andre Drummond are integrating quickly with their new team, as relays. Brooklyn has gone 2-1 since the trade was officially completed, and both players have started all three contests. “I think in our league today it’s so important to have shooters who can space the floor [and] having him to do so for Kevin [Durant], Ky [Kyrie Irving] and Ben [Simmons] is really important,” coach Steve Nash said of Curry. “It gives us depth in shooting, spacing, but I think he’s a better player than just that. He’s pretty good in pick-and-roll, pretty good at scoring out of pick-and-roll situations or playing that game taking space to create offense and he can deliver the ball pretty well in those scenarios as well.” Curry is eligible for an extension this summer. He’ll earn $8.5MM in 2022/23, the final year of his four-year deal.
  • Nash expects Drummond to play a larger role with Brooklyn than he did with Philadelphia, per the same article from NetsDaily. “I think he fills needs that our group is looking for, and we’re excited for him to continue to get more comfortable in the way we play and also really get in great shape,” Nash said. “He’s going to play more minutes for us as far as the way we project things to go, so he’s used to (playing behind Embiid, but we’re going to ask him to) play more. I think part of it is adapting to the new role.” The Nets were interested in Drummond last season after he reached a buyout agreement with the Cavaliers, but he ultimately finished the season with the Lakers before signing with the Sixers on a minimum deal as a free agent last summer. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link) ponders what the future holds for Irving. He has a player option for 2022/23, but no one knows what his plans are. Only a few teams project to have money to spend on free agents this summer, and given Irving’s volatility, Lowe questions whether other teams would even offer a long-term deal. Will the Knicks make another run at Irving if he opts out? A short-term contract with the Nets could make sense if Irving opts out, Lowe posits, assuming they want him back.

Nets Notes: Durant, Harden, Irving, Trade, Curry, Drummond

For much of the season, Nets star Kevin Durant didn’t want to see the team’s Big Three broken up, but it’s clear last week’s James Harden trade wouldn’t have occurred without Durant’s blessing, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

“KD didn’t want to get rid of James,” a person familiar with the situation told Fischer. “But he knew it was over.”

According to Fischer, while Durant was disappointed by Harden’s poor conditioning in training camp and his Media Day comments about wanting to test free agency, the situation was fine for a while. However, with Kyrie Irving unavailable for much of the first half and Durant and Harden taking on increased responsibilities, a strain developed between the two stars, writes Fischer.

Ultimately, the Nets’ brutal recent slump and Harden’s “freelancing behavior” forced Durant to recognize that a change needed to be made, according to Fischer, who says KD had called general manager Sean Marks by last Thursday morning to suggest something needed to be done.

“Kevin’s the one that pulled the trigger with this,” a second source told Fischer. “Kevin’s the one that said, ‘Do this deal.’ There was growing concern that this entire season would be lost and then they’d lose James for nothing.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Durant is consulted on every major Nets decision and was “instrumental” in the team’s selection of Cam Thomas at No. 27 in the 2021 draft, per Fischer. Sources tell Bleacher Report that Durant also lobbied Brooklyn to permit Irving to play in road games after the team initially didn’t allow Kyrie to suit up for any games to start the season.
  • Irving’s unwillingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to play and the Nets’ decision to allow him to be a part-time player didn’t sit particularly well with Harden, according to Fischer. “Kyrie not being held accountable and Kyrie being allowed to do whatever he wants. James, being his age, knows he doesn’t have any time to waste to get his first championship,” a source close to Harden told Bleacher Report.
  • Before they agreed to a deal with the Sixers, the Nets hoped to land Matisse Thybulle as part of their trade package and gauged rival teams’ valuations of the young forward, Fischer writes. However, 76ers personnel were adamant about not including Thybulle (or Tyrese Maxey) in any offer.
  • One front office source who spoke to Steve Bulpett of suggested that a difference in playing styles was one factor in why things didn’t work in Brooklyn. “James Harden wants spacing on the court,” the source said. “That’s all he cares about. ‘I need spacing. I need shooters all around me.’ … And Kevin Durant wants defensive guys, because he doesn’t need spacing. He just catches and shoots over people. It’s a different mentality of how to go about it. They’re all right. Of course you want defense and size. But for James Harden to score 40 points and have 15 assists, he needs shooters everywhere and a lob catcher at the rim. So everybody wants to play their way.”
  • The Nets were in good spirits on Monday after snapping an 11-game winning streak with a blowout win over Sacramento, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Nets guard Bruce Brown suggested a “team-bonding event” in Miami over the weekend helped change the team’s attitude. “The locker room, it’s just a great vibe in there right now,” Brown said. “I don’t know what it is, everything just shifted after the trade deadline. Everybody likes everybody, so it’s just great.”
  • Seth Curry and Andre Drummond had impressive Nets debuts as starters on Monday and are bullish on the team’s chances to contend, especially once everyone is available, writes Friedell. Brooklyn was without Durant (knee), Irving (vaccination status), and Ben Simmons (reconditioning) for the victory over Sacramento. “We have a great group of guys,” Drummond said. “Guys that are missing right now, we got to wait for them to get healthy, but once everybody gets back I think we’ll be very, very good and make a very good push in the playoffs.”

Nets Notes: Curry, Drummond, Simmons, Durant, Irving

Some of Seth Curry‘s family members may not have been pleased with Thursday’s trade that sent him from the Sixers to the Nets, but he’s looking forward to the opportunity in Brooklyn, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Curry, who is married to the daughter of Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers, was part of the price the Sixers had to pay to bring in James Harden.

“I had a feeling if this trade did go down I was going to be a part of it,” Curry said. “I was preparing for the last week or so. I kind of prepared my mind for it, and I’m just looking forward to the next opportunity. I feel I can fit into a lot of different situations: Play with the ball, play without the ball. I’m just looking forward into coming here and trying to help these guys in whatever way I can.” 

Curry ranks second among active players in career three-point shooting percentage at 43.7%, so his role should be obvious, especially on a team that might not get Joe Harris back this season. Curry became a full-time starter for the first time in his career during his year and a half with the Sixers and he’s averaging a career-high 15.0 points per game this season. Now he hopes to bring that same production to Brooklyn.

“Throughout my career, I’ve been somebody who has fit in with different types of star talent, whether it’s Luka [Doncic], [Damian Lillard] and CJ [McCollum], obviously Joel [Embiid],” Curry said. “It didn’t take me long to get used to playing with those guys, so I’m going to just try to come in and do what I do and try to do it within the concept of the team.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The players the Nets acquired in the trade weren’t eligible tonight because Harden and Paul Millsap didn’t complete their physicals in Philadelphia until after the game started, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Curry, Andre Drummond and Ben Simmons have been cleared to play Monday against the Kings, but there’s no word on when Simmons might return to action.
  • Kevin Durant is making progress in his rehab from a sprained left knee, but there’s still not a timetable for his return, coach Steve Nash told Nick Friedell of ESPN. Durant, who hasn’t played since January 15, is hoping to be back some time after the All-Star break, but everything depends on how his knee responds. “I feel that the next couple weeks that I’ll start to do more,” Durant said. “That’s probably as much as I can give you and I don’t know for sure. I’m just listening to the training staff, just doing my job and coming in and following the game plan every day. Whatever they give me. But from the last few weeks I feel like they’ll be able to give me more and more each day goes on, so I’ll ramp up here soon and we’ll see what happens. I want to be back as fast as possible but I also know that I don’t want to go out there and be 80%. I want to be 100 so I can be the best that I can be.”
  • Kyrie Irving‘s part-time status has been called a distraction, but he’s not bothered by the situation, Friedell tweets. “There’s no guilt that I feel,” he said. “I’m the only player that has to deal with this in New York City because I play there. If I was anywhere else in another city then it probably wouldn’t be the same circumstances.”