“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.”
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).
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.
Knicks guard Alec Burks has been placed on the league’s health and safety protocols list, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Burks is coming off a 21-point outing against New Orleans on Wednesday.
Burks has exceeded all expectations since the Knicks signed him to a one-year, $6MM contract, having averaged 12.6 PPG on 40.8% shooting beyond the arc in 25.8 minutes per contest. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent once again this summer, but the club has plenty of cap room and will try to retain him, Berman writes in a separate story.
We have more on the Knicks and Nets:
- The Knicks have their eyes on Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, according to Berman, though he won’t hit free agency until after next season. Dallas needs only to guarantee his contract this summer, a modest $1.8MM, to hold onto him for one more year.
- Brunson’s father, Rick Brunson, is under consideration as a possible Knicks assistant, Berman writes in the same story. The elder Brunson served under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago and Minnesota but left the Timberwolves amid allegations of workplace misconduct. He’s currently coaching Camden HS in New Jersey.
- After allowing big man John Henson‘s 10-day deal to expire, the Knicks might add to their backcourt instead of pursuing another center, according to Berman. Euro standout and former NBA point man Mike James is one of the players the team is considering. James was recently suspended by CSKA Moscow after an altercation with his coach and returned to the U.S., though he’s still technically under contract with the Russian team.
- With the abrupt retirement of LaMarcus Aldridge due to a heart condition, Nets GM Sean Marks is mulling all options regarding a roster move, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. The team is “doing due diligence” and hasn’t decided whether to bring in another big man or add depth elsewhere.
Though the Nets certainly wouldn’t mind being the top seed in the Eastern Conference, what matters most to them is player health, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets are currently the second seed in the East with a 37-18 record, one game behind the 38-17 Sixers and 2.5 games ahead of the Bucks.
“Health is everything,” head coach Steve Nash noted. “It’d be great to have the No. 1 seed — I think it means a lot, it’s valuable — but not at the expense of losing players or prolonging our injury situation.”
There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
- Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca wonders about the recent past and current trajectory for the Raptors if Toronto had never traded franchise stalwart DeMar DeRozan for 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who departed for the Clippers in free agency after leading the Raptors to a title during his lone season in Canada.
- With injured center John Henson not expected to be re-signed to a second 10-day contract, the Knicks are considering other veteran big men for the newly-opened roster spot, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman reports that one option on New York’s radar is 31-year-old power forward Kenneth Faried, who most recently suited up for the Zhejiang Lions of the CBA in 2019.
- Nets head coach Steve Nash appreciates that the team has had to adjust creatively to various absences. “We may not get any games with our whole roster,” Nash conceded, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “I don’t want to worry about or be concerned about things that are out of our control.” The club has employed 29 different starting lineups this season. Nash also acknowledged that, following a surgery on a fractured third metacarpal of his right hand, two-way Brooklyn point guard Chris Chiozza will be unavailable “basically for the regular season.”
Nets big man LaMarcus Aldridge has retired as an NBA player, announcing his decision in a statement on Twitter. As Aldridge explains, he made the decision after experiencing an irregular heartbeat during his most recent game.
“Though I’m better now, what I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest things I’ve experienced,” Aldridge said in his statement. “With that being said, I’ve made the difficult decision to retire from the NBA. For 15 years, I’ve put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my health and family first.”
Aldridge’s irregular heartbeat last Saturday wasn’t the first time he has dealt with a heart-related health issue. He was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome as a rookie in 2007 and missed time in 2017 due to a hearth arrhythmia. Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News wrote more in ’17 about Aldridge’s heart history.
Aldridge, who gave up a significant chunk of his remaining 2020/21 salary in a buyout agreement with the Spurs last month, joined the Nets as a free agent in the hopes of earning his first championship ring. However, the 35-year-old was only able to appear in five games for Brooklyn before making the decision to call it a career.
Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement of his own today that the franchise fully supports Aldridge’s decision, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv relays (via Twitter).
“While we value what he has brought to our team during his short time in Brooklyn, his health and well-being are far more important than the game of basketball,” Marks said. “We know this was not an easy decision for him, but after careful consideration and consultation with numerous medical experts, he made the best decision for him, his family, and his life after basketball.”
Aldridge, the second overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Texas, averaged 19.4 points and 8.2 rebounds in 1,029 career NBA regular season games for the Trail Blazers, Spurs, and Nets. He contributed 20.8 PPG and 8.5 RPG in another 72 postseason contests.
Aldridge was named to the NBA All-Star team seven times over the course of his 15-year career, earning All-NBA honors five times — twice as a member of the Second Team and three times as part of the Third Team.
While Aldridge’s health is the Nets’ primary concern for now, it’s worth noting that his retirement will have a significant impact on Brooklyn’s frontcourt rotation as the team pursues a title. Aldridge had started all five games he played for the club. Nicolas Claxton and DeAndre Jordan will handle the majority of the minutes at center with Aldridge no longer in the mix.
Whether or not Aldridge remains on Brooklyn’s roster for the rest of the season, he’ll earn his remaining salary, so the team will likely release him in a procedural move in order to sign a 15th man for the postseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
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.
It’s been nearly two months since we checked in on the status of 2021’s traded first-round picks, and there have been plenty of shifts in the NBA standings since then. Those changes have an impact on where in the draft certain traded picks will land, as well as whether or not some protected picks will change hands at all.
With just over a month left in the 2020/21 regular season, it’s worth revisiting the traded first-round picks for 2021. With the help of our reverse standings tool, here’s our latest look at which of those traded picks are most and least likely to change hands, and which ones are still up in the air:
Picks that will definitely change hands:
- Knicks acquiring Mavericks‘ pick (unprotected).
- Rockets acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-nine protected swap).
The only unprotected traded pick for the 2021 draft, the Mavs’ selection currently projects to be the No. 21 overall pick. That would be a reasonably good outcome for the Knicks, but there’s even more upside here — since Dallas is currently the No. 7 seed in the West, a win in the play-in tournament may be necessary to secure a playoff spot.
The NBA has yet to clarify exactly how draft positioning will be affected by the play-in results, but presumably if the Mavs don’t clinch a postseason berth in the play-in, that pick would move into the lottery.
Meanwhile, the Rockets will acquire the Bucks’ pick, currently projected to land at No. 24 overall, in a swap for their own second-rounder (No. 32, for now).
Picks that definitely won’t change hands:
- Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘s pick (1-7 and 15-30 protection).
- Pelicans acquiring Lakers‘ pick (8-30 protection).
- Rockets acquiring Pistons‘ pick (top-16 protected).
The Jazz are definitely making the postseason and the Pistons definitely aren’t, so their picks (currently projected to be No. 30 and No. 4, respectively) won’t change hands.
The Grizzlies should at least be able to count on getting Utah’s first-rounder in 2022, when it will become top-six protected. It may be a while before the Rockets get a pick from Detroit though — that first-rounder remains heavily protected in 2022 (top-16), 2023 (top-18), and 2024 (top-18) before those protections start to loosen a little.
As for the Lakers‘ pick, it isn’t technically a lock yet — there’s theoretically a scenario in which L.A. misses the playoffs and then moves into the top four in the lottery, sending its pick to the Pelicans. But that’s an extreme long shot. The Lakers’ pick is at No. 23 for now.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Knicks have the ability to swap their own 2021 first-rounder for the Clippers‘ pick. At the moment though, New York’s pick would be No. 15 and L.A.’s would be No. 26, so that won’t happen.
Still up in the air:
- Warriors acquiring Timberwolves‘ pick (top-three protected).
- Magic acquiring Bulls‘ pick (top-four protected).
- Thunder acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected).
That Timberwolves pick will be a fascinating one to watch in the lottery. If Minnesota finishes with a bottom-three record, there will be a 40.1% chance it remains in the top three.
The Warriors will actually be rooting for the Wolves to finish with the NBA’s worst record, since in that scenario, there’s a 59.9% chance the pick lands at No. 4 or No. 5. If the Wolves instead have the third-worst record, the pick would be just as likely to land in the top three, but could slip as far as No. 6 or No. 7.
The Magic will have a good chance of landing the Bulls‘ pick, which currently projects to be the No. 10 overall selection. If Chicago remains in that spot, there would only be about a 14% chance of the pick moving up into the top four.
Golden State’s own pick, which currently projects to be No. 13, is unlikely to be sent to the Thunder unless the Warriors get hot late in the season. Assuming the Warriors’ first-rounder is protected, Oklahoma City would instead receive Minnesota’s second-round pick (currently No. 31).
Latest on the Rockets/Thunder/Heat/Blazers/Nets situation:
As a reminder, this series of trades and pick swaps is too convoluted to fit cleanly into any of the above sections. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:
- The Thunder will have the right to swap either their own first-round pick or the Heat’s first-round pick for the Rockets‘ first-round pick, but only if Houston’s pick doesn’t fall in the top four. In other words, if Houston gets a top-four pick, the Rockets will keep their own first-rounder; if not, the Thunder will get the two most favorable picks of their own, the Heat’s, and the Rockets’, and Houston will get the least favorable.
- Once the first step is complete, the Rockets will be left with at least one first-round pick, and almost certainly two, since they’re also owed the Trail Blazers‘ first-rounder (top-14 protected). They would then have the right to swap either of those picks for the Nets‘ first-rounder (unprotected).
As of today, the Rockets have the second-worst record in the league, giving them a 52.1% chance of having their pick land in its top-four protected range on lottery night. In that scenario, Houston would keep its first-rounder (tentatively No. 2) and would get the Trail Blazers’ pick at No. 22. The Thunder would keep their own pick (No. 6, pending lottery results) and receive the Heat’s first-rounder (No. 17), while the Nets would hang onto their own selection (No. 27).
On the other hand, if the Rockets’ pick falls outside of the top four, the Thunder would acquire it along with their own first-rounder, while Houston would get Miami’s pick at No. 17.
No matter how the rest of the season plays out, it’s safe to assume that lottery night on June 22 will have massive implications for the Timberwolves, Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder, and potentially for the Magic and Bulls as well.
While the Pistons, Cavaliers, and a handful of other lottery teams will also be invested in the results that night, the outcome won’t be quite as all-or-nothing for those clubs.
APRIL 13: Monday’s Timberwolves/Nets game has been rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). It will be played at 3:00pm central time without any fans in attendance, sources tell Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).
APRIL 12: The NBA is postponing the Timberwolves/Nets game that had been scheduled to take place in Minnesota on Monday night, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). The NBA has formally confirmed the postponement.
Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN first reported (via Twitter) that there were ongoing conversations about a postponement of Monday’s game due to unrest in Minneapolis in the wake of a police shooting. A 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, was fatally shot during a traffic stop on Sunday.
The MLB contest between the Red Sox and Twins that was scheduled to be played on Monday afternoon in Minnesota was also postponed.
While it won’t take place tonight, there’s still a chance that the Wolves/Nets game could be played on Tuesday, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
With just over a month left in the regular season, there won’t be a ton of opportunities to make up postponed games, and every win or loss is important for a Brooklyn team currently tied for first in the Eastern Conference. Minnesota’s final record will also be important for draft lottery reasons — the team is a half-game “ahead” of Houston for the top spot in the lottery standings.
9:36am: The deal is official, the Nets announced in a press release.
Johnson’s agent, George Langberg, confirmed the deal, which could be worth up to $4.1MM. Johnson could have received more guaranteed money from another team, but he was comfortable in Brooklyn, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter link).
Johnson, 24, signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Nets, the second of which expired overnight. He has appeared in six games, averaging 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per night. Coach Steve Nash told reporters earlier this week that the Nets were happy with Johnson’s production and hoped to keep him around.
Brooklyn was able to sign Johnson for up to three years because the team still had part of its taxpayer mid-level exception available, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (Twitter link).
A second-round pick in 2018, Johnson played his first two seasons with the Pacers and was in training camp this year with the Raptors.