Nets Rumors

More Reactions To Kobe Bryant’s Death

Despite some speculation that Sunday night’s games might be cancelled in the wake of Kobe Bryant‘s death, the NBA moved forward with those contests. Moments of silence were held before the games, eight- and 24-second violations were committed in Bryant’s honor, and many players admitted to being preoccupied with thoughts of the longtime Lakers star.

Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, who played on multiple Team USA squads with Bryant, said that basketball “was the furthest thing on my mind,” but that he believed Kobe would have wanted him to play, per Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“This probably was the hardest game I ever had to play,” Anthony said after scoring 14 points in the Blazers’ home win over Indiana. “Just uh … I don’t know … whoooo. It was tough. It was tough.”

Kyrie Irving, who was held out of Sunday’s Nets contest in New York for “personal reasons,” was said to be devastated by the death of Bryant, who had been his idol growing up, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details. According to Lewis, Irving left the arena altogether after hearing the news.

“I was with him. I’ll keep [the scene] private, but they were very close,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said of Irving. “Tough, tough, tough, tough times.”

There were “heavy hearts” in the other Madison Square Garden locker room as well, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who suggests that many Knicks players didn’t feel like going forward with the game.

“Somebody said to me earlier, ‘Superman is not supposed to die,'” Knicks forward Marcus Morris said. “And to us, he was Superman. I just feel sorry for his family. And the other passengers on there, I feel sorry for their families. It’s just a tough day.”

Blake Murphy of The Athletic provides a look at the Spurs and Raptors players who were heartbroken by the news, while Chris Kirschner of The Athletic looks at the reaction of Hawks guard Trae Young, who received a congratulatory FaceTime call from Kobe and his daughter Gianna after he was named an All-Star starter. Young, who began the game wearing a No. 8 jersey, became the first player to record a 45-point double double on fewer than 25 field goal attempts since Bryant did it in 2006.

Here’s more:

  • According to a report from CBS Los Angeles, the nine people who were killed in Sunday’s helicopter crash have all been identified. Several of those victims have since been profiled by various outlets, with Alden Gonzalez of ESPN discussing Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, Scott Gleeson of USA Today writing about girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, and Molly Knight of The Athletic remembering Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gigi Bryant.
  • More details are emerging on the circumstances surrounding Sunday’s crash, according to Paula Lavigne of ESPN, who writes that the Los Angeles Police Department had grounded its helicopters on Sunday morning due to foggy conditions. It remains to be seen whether those visibility issues were the reason for the crash, and the full investigation may take weeks, writes Mark Medina of USA Today.
  • Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times explore how Lakers players reacted to the death of the franchise legend.
  • Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, who was one of a handful of full-time Lakers beat writers during Kobe’s early years, examines how Bryant evolved into an NBA icon.
  • The list of current players who looked up to Bryant and counted on him for advice is long, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic, who notes that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard were among the superstars who fit that bill.
  • An ESPN report details the worldwide impact of Bryant’s death, sharing reactions from around Europe and Asia.

Nets Notes: Irving, Lineup Changes, Dinwiddie, Dudley

A year ago, Knicks fans were hoping Kyrie Irving would be part of a free agency coup that would turn the franchise around. Today marks their first chance to see him since his decision to sign with the cross-town Nets, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. Irving was sidelined with an injury during Brooklyn’s first trip to Madison Square Garden, and players expect a raucous setting for today’s game.

“The atmosphere has been crazy this whole week, so no question, it’s going to be a super-ecstatic atmosphere,” Taj Gibson said. “Hopefully we can match the same intensity and pull out a tough one.”

Even though Irving missed 27 games with a shoulder impingement, the Nets are eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff race, while the Knicks are headed for the lottery again. Irving’s 45-point outburst in last night’s win at Detroit is the latest reminder that he’s the type of impact player New York still doesn’t have.

There’s more this morning out of Brooklyn:

  • Coach Kenny Atkinson juggled his lineup against the Pistons, helping the Nets break a five-game losing streak, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Defensive specialist Garrett Temple started in the backcourt next to Irving as Spencer Dinwiddie was used off the bench for the first time in more than two months. “I always talk to the coaches about it, but it was a little bit of a hunch. I thought we needed to shuffle some things up,” Atkinson said. “It had nothing to do with Spencer’s play, absolutely nothing. It was more can we get Spencer in that ballhandling role a little bit more, because we all know that’s where he’s great.”
  • Dinwiddie tells Matt Schoch of The Detroit News that it’s no longer a big deal to play against the Pistons, who drafted him in 2014 but traded him to the Bulls after two seasons. “Honestly, I would rather see Wilson (Chandler) go out there and go get 40 because he’s from here,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s a bigger game for him than anyone else.”
  • Jared Dudley wanted to stay with the Nets, but got tired of waiting for the team to make a commitment, relays Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily. He wound up signing a one-year deal with the Lakers. “When I’m looking at how it’s going and all the guys are coming off the board, watching Jeff Green go to Utah and when I saw (Anthony) Tolliver signed with Portland, I was supposed to sign before Tolliver, there’s usually a pecking order,” Dudley recalled. “When I saw that, that’s when I started making my phone calls. Once L.A. offered me, Brooklyn offered, but by that time my mind was already — once LeBron (James) and (Anthony Davis) signed off on it — there was no turning back.”

Nets Sign Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot To Second 10-Day Deal

9:00am: The Nets officially signed Luwawu-Cabarrot to his second 10-day contract, the team announced in a press release. The deal will run through February 3, at which time Brooklyn will either have to re-sign TLC to a standard deal or let him return to the free agent market.

8:37am: The Nets will sign forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to a second 10-day contract, tweets Bleacher Report’s Michael Scotto. Brooklyn inked the swingman to a 10-day deal on Jan. 15 as his 45-day window as a two-way player was set to expire. That first 10-day deal expired on Friday night.

Since signing the first 10-day pact, Luwawu-Cabarrot appeared in four games with Brooklyn, averaging 6.0 PPG. In 21 total games this season, the France native is averaging 5.0 PPG and 2.3 RPG.

“He’s still a very young player, and I think that was the thought process when we brought him in,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson recently said of  Luwawu-Cabarrot (via NetsDaily). “He’s a guy that has played minutes in the NBA, played a decent sample size of minutes, but he’s still young, hasn’t found his mark yet in the league. But he’s still young. Let’s take a shot at him.”

The 2016 first-round pick (24th overall) has played for the Sixers, Thunder, Bulls and Nets.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Atlantic Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. 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:

Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers, 22, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $3.34MM deal in 2019
This was the player the Sixers envisioned when they made Korkmaz a draft-and-stash pick in 2016. Korkmaz has become a steady presence in Philadelphia’s rotation and is averaging 8.9 PPG while shooting 39.5% from deep. He’s made a significant impact in the last five games, averaging 16.6 PPG while lifting the Sixers to four victories. With Josh Richardson out a few weeks with a hamstring injury, Korkmaz figures to get even more playing time in the near future. Korkmaz’s $1.76MM contract for next season isn’t guaranteed but it’s a foregone conclusion Philadelphia will retain him.

Joe Harris, Nets, 28, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $16MM deal in 2018
Overall, Harris’ numbers are virtually identical to last season’s output, other than a dropoff from an outstanding 47.4% success rate on 3-point tries to a still very solid 40.8%. However, like his team, Harris has been in a slump. He’s scored 13 or fewer points in his last seven games and made seven more turnovers than 3-pointers during that stretch. Harris is too established to stay in this funk for very long. He will still receive offers well above his current salary of $7.67MM but stretches like this might temper some of the enthusiasm for his services when he heads into unrestricted free agency this summer.

Wayne Ellington, Knicks, 32, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $16MM deal in 2019
Ellington had a couple of good years in Miami and gave Detroit a lift during the second half of last season but he’s been a non-factor with the Knicks. Ellington has only appeared in 23 games, averaging 4.0 PPG in 14.3 MPG while making just 30.9% of his 3-point attempts. If the veteran guard isn’t knocking down his threes, there’s no reason to play him — he hasn’t seen any court time since January 14. Only $1MM of Ellington’s $8MM contract for next season is guaranteed. It’s safe to say he will not have to other $7MM forwarded to his bank account. In fact, he may struggle to find anything more than the veteran’s minimum on the market this summer.

Fred VanVleet, Raptors, 25, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $18MM deal in 2018
The arrow continues to point upward for the fourth-year guard, whose production has steadily climbed as his playing time has expanded. VanVleet has missed some games this season due to injuries, most recently a hamstring strain. In the 34 games he’s started, he’s averaging 18.5 PPG, 6.8 APG and 2.0 SPG while shooting 40.2% on 3-point attempts. In the first three games since returning to action, VanVleet averaged 23.7 PPG and made 14 of 19 3-point attempts. He could be looking at offers in the $20-25MM per year range as an unrestricted free agent.

Enes Kanter, Celtics, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $9.77MM deal in 2019
Kanter was the third overall pick in the draft back in 2011, so it’s easy to overlook the fact he’s still just 27 years old. Kanter has always been a double-double machine when given extended minutes. He’s averaging 18.5 MPG, his lowest amount of court time since the 2012/13 season with Utah. Yet he’s posted six doubles-doubles since New Year’s Eve, including a game-changing 18-point, 11-rebound outing against the Lakers this week. Kanter holds a $5MM player option on his contract for next season. He might test the market again and see if he can get a better deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/24/20

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Sixers recalled Zhaire Smith from the Delaware Blue Coats, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. Smith has appeared in six NBA games this season, averaging 6.7 PPG in 18.5 MPG. He provides depth at the shooting guard spot with Josh Richardson sidelined by a hamstring strain.
  • The Rockets assigned guard Chris Clemons to their Rio Grande Valley affiliate, Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston tweets. The undrafted rookie has appeared in 25 games with Houston but only three this month.
  • The Jazz assigned forward Juwan Morgan to the Salt Lake City Stars, according the G League transactions log. The rookie forward has appeared in 10 games with the NBA club this season.
  • The Nets assigned guard Theo Pinson to their Long Island affiliate, according to the G League transactions log. He has appeared in 26 games with Brooklyn this season, averaging 4.5 PPG in 12.5 MPG.

Eastern Notes: Oladipo, DSJ, Jackson, Pinson

Victor Oladipo remains on track to return to the court next Wednesday when the Pacers take on the Bulls, a source tells Hoops Rumors. Oladipo, who has spent time this month in the G League rehabbing, hasn’t played since January of last year after he ruptured his quad tendon in his right knee, but has had January 29 circled on his calendar for the last few weeks.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. could get moved prior to the trade deadline for the second straight season but he’s not focused on the rumors, as Peter Botte of the New York Post writes. “Everything happens for a reason, you know what I’m saying?” Smith said. “It was already written, God’s plan, I just gotta execute my part, put my work in and everything will work out…It’s a business. I’m here, playing for the New York Knicks, that’s my job right now, so that’s what I’m focused on. You realized [last year] anything can happen, so you just gotta be the best version of yourself.”
  • Reggie Jackson recently returned to the court and Pistons coach Dwane Casey is looking for ways to incorporate him with Derrick Rose, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Both point guards could get serious run on the court together. “That’s what today’s NBA is about and that’s what a lot of my offense is about: multiple ballhandlers — and sometimes we get stuck. We have some options in case we do have a non-ballhandler involved in a situation, but it works a lot more fluid,” Casey said.
  • Theo Pinson, who has struggled with his shot this season, spoke about his up-and-down sophomore campaign with the Nets, as Chris Milholen of NetsDaily relays. “Just listening to the vets. It is not going to be highs the whole season. It’s a long season. Just take everything and embrace it and I’m always telling myself that the Lord won’t put me in situations I couldn’t handle. I just try to remember that,” Pinson said.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 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 is perhaps the most confounding NBA division when it comes to the trade deadline. The Raptors, Celtics, and Sixers are all potential contenders to come out of the East and may theoretically be looking to make upgrades, but their contract situations make it tricky to identify specific moves that would help.

The Nets are essentially in a holding pattern until they get their full roster healthy next season. The Knicks as sellers appeared to be the only safe bet on the board in the Atlantic, but they’ve resisted that label to some extent.

As we wait to see how the Atlantic teams approach the deadline, here are three (or four) more potential trade candidates from around the division…

Dennis Smith Jr., PG
New York Knicks

$4.5MM cap hit; $5.7MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; RFA in 2021

A report last month indicated that teams, including the Timberwolves, had expressed some interest in Smith. There are plenty of factors complicating a potential deal though. For one, he was sidelined for a month with an oblique strain before returning last night, and will probably have to show he’s fully healthy before the deadline to increase the odds of a trade. That means the Knicks will have to give him more playing time than the four minutes he received on Wednesday.

Even then, Knicks management may be reluctant to move Smith without a decent return, since doing so would represent a further admission that last year’s blockbuster with the Mavs isn’t working out. The team already failed to land a star with the 2019 cap room created in that deal, and the two future first-round picks owed to New York almost certainly won’t be as valuable as initially hoped, given Dallas’ improvement.

Considering how poorly Smith has played in limited minutes this season, it’s hard to see the Knicks netting more than a low second-round pick and salary filler in exchange for Smith. The club may decide it would rather take its chances on DSJ turning things around and recapturing some of the potential that made him a top-10 pick in 2017.

A trade before the deadline is a possibility, but I think it’d be more likely if the same executives who acquired Smith a year ago weren’t the same ones tasked to decide whether or not to move him.

Raul Neto / Trey Burke, PG
Philadelphia 76ers
$1.62MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Neither Neto nor Burke has really been involved in any rumors yet, but they’re trade candidates in a roundabout way. The Sixers have been linked to point guards who could be on the trade block, and if the team actually acquires a point guard, either Neto or Burke would become expendable.

The 76ers have gone back and forth this year between Neto and Burke as the primary backup to Ben Simmons, so it’s not entirely clear who would be the odd man out if the team makes a move to fortify its backcourt.

Both players are on minimum-salary contracts that expire at season’s end, meaning there’s no financial incentive to move one over the other. Neto is the better defender and perhaps the steadier floor general, but he doesn’t possess Burke’s play-making or scoring ability. The on/off-court numbers favor Burke — the Sixers have a +7.2 net rating when he plays, compared to +1.2 for Neto.

If the 76ers end up standing pat or focus on improving another area, both Neto and Burke could certainly finish the season in Philadelphia. But if they go out and acquire another guard, I’d expect the Sixers to try to find a trade partner interested in acquiring Neto or Burke as a third point guard.

Rodions Kurucs, F
Brooklyn Nets
$1.7MM cap hit; $1.8MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $1.9MM team option for 2021/22

After a promising rookie season, Kurucs has taken a step backward in 2019/20. Despite a series of injury creating a path to a regular role for the Latvian forward, he doesn’t seem to have fully earned Kenny Atkinson‘s trust. His minutes per game have dipped from 20.5 to 13.3 and he’s received several DNP-CDs.

There are some promising numbers in this year’s small sample, including a .439 3PT%, and teams monitoring the Nets may view Kurucs as a buy-low candidate. However, off-court concerns may scare those teams away, since the 21-year-old was arrested during the offseason on a domestic violence charge.

We heard in December that there are teams doing their homework on Kurucs to see if he makes sense as a trade target. Presumably, that research centers on the domestic violence allegation — if it’s credible, clubs will be less enthusiastic about the idea of making a deal for the former second-round pick.

Kurucs is due back in court on February 11, meaning there will be no resolution in his legal case by the February 6 trade deadline. As a result, it’s hard to see him being moved.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets' G League Team Trades Ellenson For Anderson

  • The Nets‘ and Raptors‘ G League teams swapped a pair of players with NBA experience, as the Raptors 905 traded swingman Justin Anderson to the Long Island Nets for big man Henry Ellenson. Ellenson was a two-way player for Brooklyn earlier in the season, while Anderson was on a 10-day contract with the Nets this month. Kelsea O’Brien of Raptors Republic first reported the deal (via Twitter).

Nets Being Cautious With Kyrie's Hamstring Issue

  • After Kyrie Irving was a late scratch on Monday due to a tight hamstring, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson explained that the team is just being “cautious” with the star guard, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. However, Atkinson did acknowledge that the issue had been nagging Irving for a few days.
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News says it’s ridiculous to claim the Nets are better without Irving and argues that some of the criticism Kyrie is facing for recent comments is unfair.

Nets Notes: Allen, Irving, Chiozza, Martin

  • As Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily details, Jarrett Allen isn’t holding any sort of grudge toward Kyrie Irving after the Nets‘ point guard failed to mention the big man when he listed several of the team’s core players. “What do I expect him to do, name the whole team? That’s really the only comment I have on that,” Allen said. “… We talked about it. He ended up saying everything is fine, so no bad blood.”
  • In a pair of stories for NetsDaily, Chris Milholen checks in on Nets youngsters Chris Chiozza and Jeremiah Martin. The two point guards are aiming to earn a longer look from the NBA club after recently replacing Henry Ellenson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot as Brooklyn’s two-way players.