Nets Rumors

Poll: Nets’ Playoff Chances

Heading into the 2018/19 season, many expected the Nets to make another jump in the standings as a result of their players developing and the quality depth they added in the offseason. However, there were no expectations that at the halfway point of the season, the Nets would be sitting in the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference despite not having their best player available for the past two months.

The Nets are 21-23, which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that they were 8-18 in early December. Instead of focusing on getting the best draft pick possible, Kenny Atkinson continued to believe that his team could turn it around, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Since December 6, the Nets own the league’s 12th-ranked offense and 15th-best defense.

D’Angelo Russell has made strides as a playmaker and scorer, Spencer Dinwiddie is a top candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, and Joe Harris has provided elite shooting and floor-spacing.

Keep in mind that a lot of this recent run by the Nets has come without Allen Crabbe and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, not to mention Caris LeVert. The Nets use their depth and bench to their advantage on a nightly basis, which allows them to stay afloat when injuries strike.

With that being said, many still expect teams like the Pistons and Hornets to improve moving forward, while the Wizards have found new life since John Wall went down for the season. Do the Nets have enough top-end talent to lead them to the playoffs? Or will their strong bench and depth be enough for them to sneak in? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments!

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Nets Need Dinwiddie To Break Out Of Slump

  • While the Nets currently sit in seventh in the Eastern Conference, Brian Lewis of The New York Post points out that they will have to go through a tough stretch of the schedule in the near future, which will test their playoff chances.
  • Speaking of the Nets, they would surely love to see Spencer Dinwiddie snap out of his slump as they enter this stretch of the schedule. As Brian Lewis points out, Dinwiddie is averaging just 11.5 points and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 35.1% and 16.7% from deep in the past four games, far cries from his season averages.

Tsai To Acquire WNBA's Liberty

  • Fellow Latvian Rodions Kurucs has fared well for the Nets after being selected 40th overall in the second round this past summer. Kurucs has been solid on both sides of the ball and eclipsed both his and the team’s expectations, Chris Milholen and Net Income of NetsDaily write.
  • Nets minority owner Joseph Tsai is reportedly close to acquiring the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the AP’s Doug Fienberg reports. Tsai purchased 49% of the Nets in April 2018 and the James Dolan-owned Liberty — which were placed for sale in November 2017 — are close to being added to his portfolio.

Nets Re-Sign Alan Williams

JANUARY 11: The Nets have officially re-signed Williams to a two-way contract, the team confirmed today in a press release.

JANUARY 10: After complications arose during his contract talks with a Chinese Basketball Association club, veteran NBA big man Alan Williams has decided to remain stateside, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Williams will re-sign with the Nets on a two-way contract.

The news comes just over a week after Brooklyn ended Williams’ previous two-way deal. At the time, it appeared to be a favor to the 25-year-old and his agent, since he seemingly had an opportunity lined up in China, reportedly with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. With that opportunity no longer on the table, Williams will return to the Nets, with Wojnarowski suggesting he’ll likely be dressed for Friday’s game against Toronto.

After missing most of last season with a knee injury, Williams has bounced back nicely in the G League in 2018/19, averaging 21.0 PPG and a league-high 14.7 RPG in 17 games (26.9 MPG) for the Long Island Nets. The former Sun has yet to appear in a game for Brooklyn at the NBA level though.

Williams’ new deal with the Nets looks like bad news for Paul Zipser, who was said on Tuesday to be in line for a two-way contract from Brooklyn. With Williams back in the mix, there’s no room for Zipser unless the team parts ways with its other two-way player, Theo Pinson. That won’t happen, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who tweets that Zipser will no longer be joining the Nets.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic Division

Over the course of the 2018/19 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Atlantic was viewed as one of the NBA’s most top-heavy divisions entering the season, with experts and fans banking on the Celtics, Raptors, and Sixers to be the top three teams in the East. Those teams have – for the most part – delivered on expectations (they’re all on pace for 50+ wins), and now a fourth Atlantic club has unexpectedly entered the playoff picture — the 21-22 Nets currently hold the No. 6 seed. As a result, the division could feature four buyers at the trade deadline next month.

Here’s our latest look at a few possible trade candidates from the Atlantic…

Enes Kanter, C
New York Knicks
$18.62MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

As talented as Kanter is as an inside scorer and rebounder, he doesn’t have the versatility necessary to excel as a primary frontcourt option for a contender. Modern NBA big men need to make outside shots and/or protect the rim to make themselves indispensable to teams, and Kanter does neither. He’s also earning more than $18MM.

Still, Kanter’s offensive and rebounding talents have value, and the Knicks likely won’t be asking for much as they seek out a potential trade. New York figures to prioritize player development over winning games during the second half, and Kanter has made it clear he’s not on board with that approach, so the club may be best served to end the relationship sooner rather than later, even if the return is minimal.

The Knicks won’t want to take back any multiyear money for Kanter’s expiring contract, given their 2019 free agency aspirations, which will limit their options. A trade that involves another sizable expiring contract or two would be ideal.

The team has reportedly discussed the possibility of a Kanter/Zach Randolph swap with the Kings, but Sacramento is reluctant to move forward on such a trade without dumping at least one more expiring deal. In that scenario, the Kings would probably have to attach an asset like a draft pick or young prospect to entice the Knicks.

Kenneth Faried, F/C
Brooklyn Nets
$13.76MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

Faried has a pricey expiring contract and has been out of the Nets‘ rotation for most of the season, which seemingly makes him a prime buyout candidate, rather than a trade candidate. Still, if Brooklyn moves on from Faried, the club will explore the trade market before trying to negotiate a buyout (or simply waiving him).

With injuries plaguing the Nets’ roster, Faried got a chance to play 29 minutes in the team’s loss to Boston on Monday. He proved he’s still capable of crashing the boards, racking up a team-high 12 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. He spent some time as Brooklyn’s primary big man and alongside fellow bigs like Jarrett Allen or Ed Davis. Most intriguingly, he attempted four three-point shots, making one. By comparison, Faried had made 2-of-20 three-pointers in 441 career games entering this season.

If Faried can start knocking down outside shots with regularity, it could change his career trajectory — just ask former Net Brook Lopez. But he probably hasn’t shown enough yet to be a worthwhile gamble for any potential Brooklyn trade partners, unless it’s in a swap for unwanted expiring contracts. Faried remains a more likely buyout candidate than trade chip for now.

Norman Powell, G/F
Toronto Raptors
$9.37MM cap hit; three years, $32.6MM left on deal after this season

After signing a four-year contract extension during the fall of 2017, Powell turned in a dismal 2017/18 performance, averaging just 5.5 PPG with a .401 FG% and .285 3PT% (all career worsts). He has enjoyed a modest bounce-back season so far in 2018/19, the first year of his extension, posting 6.9 PPG with a .467 FG% and .333 3PT% in 21 games.

Still, at $10MM+ per year over four seasons, Powell is overpaid for his current role and production in Toronto. The Raptors are in the luxury tax this season and will remain there if they’re able to convince Kawhi Leonard to re-sign, so moving Powell’s contract would provide some long-term cap relief. It’s also a good size for salary-matching if the Raptors seek out a trade for a veteran play-maker or sharpshooter who could contribute more in the short term.

At age 25, Powell still has room to get better, and could develop into a reliable three-and-D wing with some play-making ability. But he hasn’t shown enough yet to make his long-term deal a positive asset. If Toronto wants to get a player of value back in return for him, the team would likely have to throw in a future draft pick or two as well.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Dolan, Durant, Russell, Nets

With Kristaps Porzingis sidelined due to his ACL tear, the Knicks have lacked star power this season, something owner James Dolan observed this week, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News details. Drawing a line between the Knicks and the other team he owns – the NHL’s New York Rangers – Dolan suggested that his NBA club would “probably be competing for a playoff spot” if it featured a star player like Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Instead, the 10-30 Knicks are just two games away from having the NBA’s worst record. Although New York has been focusing on developing its young players at the expense of some veterans’ playing time, Dolan dismissed the idea that he’s in favor of tanking, per Bondy.

“You have responsibility to the fans,” Dolan said. “Fans pay for tickets and they deserve (the) best game you can give them. That’s probably No. 1. But when you go in and tell a team, even if you’re just telling the coach, to lose the game, you’re dispiriting your team. That hurts more than getting a better draft pick helps. It’s hard to reignite the spirit of the team.”

While Dolan publicly disavowed the idea of tanking, he did acknowledge that he hears from plenty of Knicks fans who want the team to lose in order to have a chance to draft “this kid out of Duke.” NBA executives generally aren’t permitted to publicly comment on college underclassmen, but the league isn’t expected to take action against Dolan for his oblique reference to top prospect Zion Williamson, tweets Bondy.

Let’s round up a few more items on the NBA’s two New York clubs…

  • Kevin Durant didn’t offer up any juicy comments today when he was grilled by New York reporters about the idea of joining the Knicks in free agency later this year, but he also didn’t seem to mind the back-and-forth, Bondy writes in a separate Daily News story. “I wish it was the other way where it was totally about the game, but I get it,” Durant said. “Our league has grown so much in popularity. The sexy thing is what happens in the summer moreso than what happens in the season – playoffs and free agency is the big thing now. I get it.”
  • After starting his 41st game of the season on Monday, Nets guard D’Angelo Russell has officially met the “starter criteria” for restricted free agents, as Bobby Marks of ESPN.com observes (via Twitter). That means that Russell’s projected qualifying offer ($9.16MM) and cap hold ($21.06MM) for this summer will remain unchanged — both would have been reduced if he hadn’t started at least 41 games or played 2,000 minutes this season.
  • Hamstrung for years by their infamous trade with the Celtics, the Nets aren’t in the same class as the C’s, who comfortably beat them on Monday, but Brooklyn’s future looks much brighter than it once did, says Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com.

Nets Expected To Sign Paul Zipser To Two-Way Contract

Former Bulls forward Paul Zipser appears to have lined up a deal with the Nets, according to reports from German outlet Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link).

The RNZ story indicates that Zipser has an agreement in place with Brooklyn, while Carchia hears that it’s for a two-way contract. According to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link), the Nets have yet to confirm or deny that they’re adding the 24-year-old.

Zipser, a second-round pick in the 2016 draft, had a decent rookie year, but averaged just 4.0 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 54 games (15.3 MPG) for the Bulls last season. He was waived by Chicago in July in order to create the cap room necessary to finalize the signing of Jabari Parker.

The Nets are currently one of a handful of teams around the NBA with an open two-way contract slot. The club released one of its two-way players, Alan Williams, last week in order to allow him to pursue an opportunity in China.

Teams have until January 15 to sign players to two-way contracts for the 2018/19 season, so Zipser has a week to finalize his reported deal with Brooklyn.

DeMarre Carroll Has Stepped Up Play For Nets

The Nets have been surging in recent weeks, and the team’s hot streak has coincided with strong play from DeMarre Carroll, who is finally gaining comfort after returning from ankle surgery on November 9. As Brian Lewis writes for The New York Post, Carroll has been providing stellar and consistent play off the bench, averaging nearly 17 points and 6 rebounds per game in his last five contests, while knocking down 50% of his 3-pointers.

Carroll’s turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time for the Nets, who are missing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert due to injuries.

Coming into the season, Carroll was expected to play a key role for the Nets as a small-ball power forward. Due to his injury and early struggles this season, he lost that role and has had to work to regain it. Now he is a key cog on the Nets’ bench unit, which is one of the best in the league.

International Notes: Kilpatrick, M. Williams, China, Pitino

Sean Kilpatrick received an offer to play for Panathinaikos is Greece, but turned it down as he waits for another NBA opportunity, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The news was first reported by George Zakkas of SDNA.

Saturday marked the first day that NBA teams could offer 10-day contracts, and Kilpatrick, who has gone that route with four organizations, is hoping it will be his way back into the league. He played for four teams last season, starting the year with the Nets before being waived in December. He signed a two-way deal with the Bucks later that month and was converted to a regular NBA contract before being waived in March. He signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Clippers, then finished the season with the Bulls before they waived him over the summer.

The 29-year-old averaged 6.3 points per game last season, including 15.4 PPG in nine games with Chicago.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Matt Williams, who started last season as a two-way player with the Heat, has reached an agreement with GS Kymis in Greece, Lupo notes in a separate story. Williams began this  season with KTP Basket in Finland. He got into just three games with Miami before being waived in December of 2017.
  • The Lakers and Nets will play a pair of preseason games in China, according to an ESPN report. The contests are set for October 10 in Shanghai and October 12 in Shenzhen. It will be the third appearance in China for LeBron James and possibly the fourth for Lance Stephenson, who will set a record if he remains on the roster.
  • In the wake of Steve Alford’s firing at UCLA, a group of boosters is targeting Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino, writes Adam Zagoria for Forbes. Pitino made his debut with the Greek team late last month and is under contract for the rest of the season, so the move couldn’t take effect until the 2019/20 season. A source tells Zagoria that Pitino is “very interested” in taking over the Bruins. Approval from the UC Board of Regents is seen as the main obstacle in light of Pitino’s dismissal from Louisville amid his alleged role in an NCAA scandal. Murray Bartow is serving as interim coach at UCLA.

Russell's Numbers Up As He Heads For Free Agency

  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell has improved significantly during his second season in Brooklyn, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Russell, who is averaging career highs with 18.2 points and 6.4 assists per game, is headed for restricted free agency this summer but indicated a desire to stay with the Nets. “We’re winning,” he said. “I haven’t won a lot in this league, so for me to get that type of success, I’m going to stick with it.”