Blake Griffin

Nets Notes: Irving, Durant, Griffin, Harden

The facial contusion that Kyrie Irving suffered Tuesday night isn’t believed to be serious, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Irving was held out of Wednesday’s game, but the Nets are hoping he can return to the court this weekend.

Irving took an inadvertent elbow to the face from Bulls center Nikola Vucevic during the third quarter of Tuesday’s contest. He was down on the court for several minutes and was eventually ruled out of the game.

“Kyrie’s scans were clear fortunately,” coach Steve Nash said. “No concussion, nothing on the scans.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin played Wednesday on the second end of a back-to-back, Lewis notes in the same piece. Although both veterans have a history of injuries, they want to focus on getting ready for the postseason. “Kevin wants to play and get his rhythm and continue to get back to his best, and then just feel comfortable heading into the playoffs,” Nash said. “So you’re trying to find that balance between where the risk is, but also where they feel most confident for the playoffs. So, it’s one of those things where I take a leap of faith in what would make them feel best and make them feel in rhythm and confident prepared and then at the same time, not risking anything.”
  • James Harden, who had never missed more than 10 games in a season prior to 2020/21, acknowledged that he wasn’t sure what to expect upon returning this week from the longest absence of his career. However, as Lewis writes in a separate story for The New York Post, Harden also wasn’t surprised by his big game on Wednesday (18 points and 11 assists in 26 minutes). “Not really,” he said. “Not to brag or anything, but I’m really good at this game.”
  • Owner Joe Tsai is taking advantage of the Nets’ success to seek new sponsorship deals for the team, but the name of the Barclays Center is unlikely to change, according to Brianna Lopez of the BK Reader.
  • In case you missed it, Mike James – whose 10-day deal with the Nets expired overnight – is set to sign a rest-of-season contract with the team.

Nets Notes: Harden, Seeding, Griffin, Sponsorships

James Harden won’t play on Tuesday but Nets coach Steve Nash is optimistic the star guard will see action in at least one regular season game heading into the postseason, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. Harden has missed 18 games due to a hamstring strain.

“He is putting in his consecutive high-intensity work modes, he has responded and so it’s all positive,” Nash said. “We can’t commit to anything right now because we’re not committed to anything … but definitely possible that he plays one or more of these next four games.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • Brooklyn will likely be either the No. 2 or 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs but its seeding is not a high priority for Nash, Dunleavy relays in a separate story“I think the No. 1 thought and priority as a staff is health over seeding,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re 1,000 percent in on health over seeding.”
  • Since joining the Nets as a buyout-market addition, Blake Griffin has settled in with the club, producing a 20-point game against Denver this weekend. Kyrie Irving believes Griffin will be a big key in the postseason, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “That’s what we need Blake to be in terms of being out there, being an option for us, being a playmaker,” Irving said. “His game has evolved. We understand that he’s going to play a different style with us out there, and that’s going to complement when he figures that role out.”
  • Owner Joe Tsai is seeking out new corporate partnerships to raise money, including a jersey patch sponsor, Lewis and Josh Kosman of the Post report. A name change for the Barclays Center could be in the works as well, as the franchise could get $15-20MM annually for the naming rights to the arena. Barclays Center owes more than $500MM in debt, the Post duo adds.

Atlantic Notes: Blake, Dwight, Knicks Vets, Raptors

Recent Nets addition Blake Griffin has found himself impressed by the club’s depth, according to Peter Botte of the New York Post.

“When you look at this team you see the big three there, but I think something that kind of goes overlooked is how solid the supporting cast is to our three main guys,” Griffin said of his Brooklyn comrades. Joe Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green, Bruce [Brown], Tyler [Johnson], all these guys are solid, solid basketball players.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Veteran Sixers reserve center Dwight Howard said on Monday that he feels like he is being “targeted” by league officials, per Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Narducci notes that the former Defensive Player of the Year will get a one-game suspension with his next technical foul. He currently has 15 technical fouls.
  • Bench Knicks players Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson are looking forward to helping New York in the playoffs, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “They’re great guys, they’re team-first guys,” said head coach Tom Thibodeau, who also served as both players’ head coach in Chicago and Minnesota. “So if you want team-first guys, you want hard-playing guys, you go out and find them. They both have proven that.”
  • Standout Raptors power forward Freddie Gillespie has inspired Blake Murphy of The Athletic to assess all 31 players the Raptors have signed to 10-day contracts in team history to determine where Gillespie ranks. A hint: Gillespie does crack the top five.

Atlantic Notes: Blake, Thibs, FVV, Randle

Nets power forward/center Blake Griffin‘s role will increase with recently-inked starting center LaMarcus Aldridge now retired, as Peter Botte of the New York Post details.

“It’s not so much about, ‘It’s my time’ or anything like that. It’s just, when your name is called and when you’re asked to do something, you be ready and do it,” Griffin said of his increased opportunities with the Nets. “And that’s sort of our mindset here is everybody has their part. You’ve got to stay ready and execute when you’re called.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is striving to keep his club dialed in with the playoffs in sight, according to Ian Begley of Thibodeau has guided the Knicks to six straight victories during the season’s home stretch. The club is now 31-27, the No. 6 seed in the East, and just 0.5 games behind the fourth-seeded Hawks for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. “We try not to get wrapped up in any of that stuff,” Thibodeau said after winning the team’s fifth straight game Friday. “If we’re taking care of all the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. Just stack good days.”
  • Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, in the first season of his new four-year, $85MM contract with Toronto-by-way-of-Tampa, has criticized the NBA’s treatment of a truncated 2020/21 season in the midst of a pandemic, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “It’s pretty much all about business this year on every level and it’s hard to hide it, you know what I’m saying?” VanVleet said. “The NBA is a great balance of like the pure love and joy of one of the best sports in the world mixed with a billion-dollar industry, and I think this year the industry side has taken precedence over some of the love and the joy.”
  • All-Star Knicks forward Julius Randle is proving his doubters wrong with a career season at age 26, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Randle, who appears to be well worth the three-year, $63MM deal he signed with New York in 2019, detailed how he has improved his approach for the improved Knicks. “It’s not just about the weight room and the court. I’m going to handle that,” Randle said Friday. “But my mentality and my mindset was just different. So I changed that aspect as well. And the results are showing.” Randle is averaging 23.6 PPG, 10.6 RPG and 6.0 APG for the Knicks, all career-bests. He is also connecting on 41% of his 5.1 three-point attempts per game.

Nets Notes: Harden, Dinwiddie, Bigs, Jordan, Durant, Irving

James Harden has missed five games due to a hamstring strain, but Nets general manager Sean Marks said the All-Star guard should be back soon, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “James is progressing well,” Marks said. “He’s looking forward to having at least one or two more play days, which means he’ll play 4-on-4, 5-on-5 with the group in practice. And then hopefully if things go smoothly, he’ll be out and joining the guys in a game.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • While it seems doubtful Spencer Dinwiddie could return from a partially torn ACL for the playoffs, Marks would not rule it out, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. “I would never bet against Spencer Dinwiddie,” he said. “We saw four years ago with him. He has a chip on his shoulder. He loves to prove people wrong.”
  • Coach Steve Nash plans to mix and match DeAndre Jordan, Nicolas Claxton, Blake Griffin and Jeff Green at center in the aftermath of LaMarcus Aldridge‘s retirement, Lewis relays in a separate story. “I don’t think it makes sense to just pencil something in if the matchups aren’t more favorable for us,” he said. “They all bring something different. They all have a different profile.”
  • Jordan’s role was reduced dramatically prior to Aldridge’s departure. He’s back in that mix now but he was never going to be a distraction, Lewis tweets. “Selfishly, individually, it’s obviously not ideal for me,” Jordan said. “But being on a team, you have to be able to sacrifice and put the team first, and I’ve done that night-in, night-out. And I’ll continue to do that.”
  • Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving started in the 130-115 win over Charlotte on Friday and Marks is confident his big three will be ready to go for the postseason, he said in a Sirius XM NBA Radio interview (Twitter link).

Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Blake Griffin, Nets, 32, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.23MM deal in 2021

Well, Griffin proved he could still dunk after agreeing to a buyout with the Pistons and joining the Eastern Conference favorite. He’s also proven that he’s a shadow of the All-Star performer who carried Detroit into the playoffs just two years ago. Other than a 17-point outing against his former team and drawing some charges, Griffin has made a minimal impact with Brooklyn. He went scoreless in 41 minutes of floor time against the Lakers and Timberwolves this week before getting rested on the second game of a back-to-back. Griffin might go from a max player to a veteran’s minimum backup as soon as this offseason.

Dwight Howard, Sixers, 35, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

Speaking of former perennial All-Stars playing on a veteran’s minimum contract, Howard has managed to stay healthy again after playing just nine games for Washington two seasons ago. Howard helped the Lakers win last season’s title but his production has dropped as a second-unit center in Philadelphia. His turnovers are up and his field goal percentage is down, though he does lead the league in one category – most technical fouls. Howard has nearly as many turnovers (12) as shot attempts (16) in the last six games. Perhaps Howard will get another minimum contract to stay in the league but it appears the end is near for an NBA career that began in 2004.

Reggie Bullock, Knicks, 30, SF/SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $8.2MM deal in 2020

While the playing time of the Knicks’ younger players has fluctuated quite a bit under Tom Thibodeau, Bullock has been a steady presence in the starting lineup. He’s the quintessential 3-and-D player, spacing the floor offensively and providing hard-nosed defense at the other end. Bullock is attempting 8.1 field goals per game, with 5.6 of them beyond the arc. He’s made 39.9% of his long-range attempts, connecting with incredible consistency. He drained 40% in both January and February, 40.5% in March and 43.1% this month. He’ll be in demand when he hits unrestricted free agency this summer.

Gary Trent Jr., Raptors, 22, SG/SF, (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.92MM deal in 2018

The Raptors traded away Norman Powell to the Trail Blazers in part because they weren’t sure they could re-sign him in unrestricted free agency. Trent, one of the two players they acquired for Powell, will be a restricted free agent this summer. While Toronto can match any offer, the team may have a dilemma if another suitor makes a big offer to the young sharpshooter. He’s averaging 17.4 PPG in 11 games with the Raptors, including a 44-point eruption against Cleveland on Saturday when he missed just two of 19 field-goal attempts. He tossed in a clunker against Atlanta on Tuesday but no doubt, Trent is hitting restricted free agency at a very good time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chris Chiozza Undergoes Right Hand Surgery

Point guard Chris Chiozza, who is on a two-way contract with the Nets, underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a fractured third metacarpal of his right hand, the team announced in a press release.

Brooklyn didn’t set a specific timeline for Chiozza’s recovery, stating that more information on his status will be provided as it becomes available. However, it sounds like he’ll probably miss an extended period due to the hand injury.

Chiozza has appeared in 22 games this season, averaging 4.0 PPG and 3.0 APG in 10.5 minutes per contest as a depth piece for the Nets. He has seen most of his minutes either during garbage time or when Brooklyn’s backcourt has been hit particularly hard by injuries.

Chiozza is one of seven Nets players who has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. the Sixers. Kevin Durant (left hamstring injury management), James Harden (right hamstring strain), LaMarcus Aldridge (illness), Blake Griffin (left knee injury management), Tyler Johnson (right knee soreness), and Spencer Dinwiddie (partial right ACL tear) are also unavailable for the showdown between the East’s top two teams.

Nets Notes: Jordan, Griffin, Durant, Big Three

Two big-name additions on the buyout market have cut into DeAndre Jordan‘s playing time, but the Nets aren’t considering buyout talks with the veteran center, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Jordan has played just 12 minutes in each of the last two games, with much of his time going to Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. Even though Jordan has fallen down the rotation, Brooklyn appears content to keep him on the roster.

“It’s never been discussed,” one source told Lewis about the possibility of a buyout. “Nothing going on there,” another source added.

The 32-year-old center was part of the Nets’ 2019 free agent bonanza, joining the organization at the same time as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. He averaged 8.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game during his first season and was putting up similar numbers this year before Brooklyn added Griffin and Aldridge. Today marks the deadline that players must be waived to preserve their playoff eligibility with a new team.

“(Jordan’s) got to stay ready. Who knows when it might be? It might be Sunday. It might be in two weeks. But everyone’s got to continue to prepare and stay ready and see what happens,” coach Steve Nash said. “We’ve got a lot of centers. We’re going to work through it and see what our rotation is going to be come playoff time.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Griffin believes he benefited physically from the time he spent preparing to return to the court after signing with Brooklyn, Lewis adds in the same story. The Nets had him work his way back into condition before he began playing again, and he has looked more like his old self, with five dunks in his seven games with the team. “From top to bottom this organization does an unbelievable job of taking care of their guys and thinking of everything,” Griffin said. “Just being able to come here and take a couple of weeks and get with the performance staff and work on the things they wanted me to work on was huge.”
  • Durant was in top form Wednesday as he returned after a 23-game absence with a strained hamstring, notes Nick Friedell of ESPN. In 19 minutes, Durant made all five of his shots from the field and posted 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot. “I expected to come out here and play the way I played,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to ease into the game. I just wanted to go out there and dive right into the action.”
  • Injuries to Durant, Irving and James Harden have limited their time playing together, which Nash admits is “not ideal” heading into the postseason, Lewis writes in a separate story. The three stars have only been available at the same time for seven games since Harden was acquired in January.

Health Updates: Harden, Durant, Drummond, More

The Nets announced today that James Harden, who left Wednesday’s game with hamstring tightness, has also been ruled out for Thursday’s contest vs. Charlotte. However, according to Shams Charania of Stadium (video link), the injury isn’t considered to be serious, and Harden will be day-to-day going forward.

Harden’s teammate, Kevin Durant, has been dealing with a more serious hamstring issue, having not played at all since February 13. But Charania says Durant is “closing in” on a return to action, adding that if this were the postseason, the star forward would already be playing. Durant still isn’t expected back until possibly sometime next week.

Meanwhile, Blake Griffin will rest on the second night of a back-to-back for injury management purposes, but the Nets will have their other buyout-market addition, LaMarcus Aldridge, available on Thursday for the first time, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Here are a few more health updates from around the NBA:

  • Andre Drummond‘s debut with the Lakers didn’t exactly go as planned. The veteran center left the game with a right toe bruise, a diagnosis that understated how painful the injury was, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “I didn’t really think anything of it,” Drummond said, referring to a play where Brook Lopez stepped on his foot. “I came back in the second quarter and it was hurting a little bit more. And then after halftime, I finally took my sock off to look and my whole toenail was gone. So, it was just all bad from there. I couldn’t walk or run. So I just told Coach (Frank Vogel) to take me out.” Drummond is considered day-to-day.
  • Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova has yet to appear in a game this season due to a concussion and an appendectomy, but that may change on Thursday. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said on Wednesday that Dellavedova is close to being ready, and that he’s hopeful of a “Delly sighting” against Philadelphia, tweets Chris Fedor of
  • Suns big man Frank Kaminsky isn’t injured, but he’s on the shelf for now after being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.
  • As we relayed earlier today, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will remain sidelined through at least mid-April.

Nets Notes: Durant, Irving, Griffin, Johnson

The Nets will remain careful with Kevin Durant, who isn’t expected to return for another week or two, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Durant has already been sidelined for more than a month with a strained hamstring and Brooklyn doesn’t want to take any chances, considering that he recently returned from an 18-month absence caused by a ruptured Achilles.

Durant, who has missed 14 straight games, hasn’t played since February 13, and that appearance came after he sat out the previous week due to contact tracing. Lewis talked to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Laith Jazrawi, who said six weeks should be considered the minimum time needed to recover from a hamstring strain.

“It’s almost involved in every movement, every sort of twisting and cutting,” Jazrawi said. “So, it’s so hard to manage these patients, rest it or even rehab it because it’s just such a big muscle unit that resting it is almost impossible. It’s very difficult. Anytime you engage, do a sprint or cut quickly, the hamstrings fire.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Kyrie Irving is excited about what the Nets can be with the eventual return of Durant and the addition of Blake Griffin, writes Ryan Dunleavy of The New York Post. Griffin is listed as probable to make his debut with Brooklyn today and will be on a minutes restriction, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. “It’s just high-level talent out there,” Irving said. “So, when you can just prepare for the game and go over the X’s and O’s, you can look to your left and right and know the guys next to you have your back and you’re able to play at a high level offensively and defensively and make an impact. I look forward to it, for sure. As a competitor wanting to be on the main stage, we want all our guys healthy.”
  • After bouncing around the league for a couple of seasons, Tyler Johnson seems to have found a home as a three-point specialist in Brooklyn, writes Chris Milholen of NetsDaily. Johnson only plays about 15 minutes per night, but he’s connecting on a career-best 41.8% beyond the arc. “The shooting is the cherry on top but the rest of the stuff is what we love about Tyler,” coach Steve Nash said. “Just the competition, fight and energy.”
  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic doesn’t expect general manager Sean Marks to be busy leading up to the trade deadline because the Nets don’t have many draft picks or young players left to offer. Schiffer believes the team will concentrate more on the buyout market and sees JaVale McGee as a better addition than Andre Drummond if both are bought out by the Cavaliers.