Nets Rumors

Nets Rumors: Millsap, Brown, Carter, Harris, Claxton, Edwards

Although the Nets are trying to find a new home for veteran forward/center Paul Millsap, they don’t want to just give him away for free or attach an asset to move him, Michael Scotto said on the latest episode of the HoopsHype Podcast.

According to Scotto, Brooklyn wants some sort of asset in exchange for Millsap, such as a veteran who can contribute right away or a future second-round pick. It remains to be seen whether any team will meet that asking price for a player who turns 37 on deadline day and has been ineffective in his limited minutes this season.

Here’s more on the Nets from Scotto:

  • Scotto suggests that Bruce Brown and Jevon Carter are among the other Nets to keep an eye on as possible trade candidates. Brown’s role has fluctuated this season, while Carter has fallen out of the rotation in recent weeks and is believed to be available.
  • Although the Nets have received inquiries on players like Joe Harris and Nic Claxton, they’re unlikely to be moved unless Brooklyn can land an impact player in return, according to Scotto. As we relayed earlier, the Cavaliers are reportedly among the teams with interest in Harris.
  • If the Nets get through the trade deadline with an open roster spot or two, rookie Kessler Edwards will be a strong candidate for a promotion to the 15-man roster, per Scotto. Edwards has started Brooklyn’s last eight games and is averaging over 32 minutes during that stretch, but would be ineligible for the playoffs if he remains on his current two-way contract.

Cavaliers Eyeing LeVert, Gordon, Ross, Covington

Caris LeVert, Eric Gordon, and Terrence Ross are among the players the Cavaliers have been monitoring as potential trade targets, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The 29-19 Cavaliers, led by point guard Darius Garland and big men Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, remain firmly in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, but could use some extra help on the wing. They’re reportedly dangling Ricky Rubio‘s expiring contract and draft assets in trade discussions.

LeVert has been linked to Cleveland several times since word broke in December that the Pacers had made him available, but Gordon and Ross haven’t been mentioned as possibilities for the Cavs nearly as often. Both the Rockets and Magic are believed to be seeking a first-round pick in exchange for their respective wings.

LeVert, Gordon, and Ross are all under contract for at least one more season beyond 2021/22, which perhaps increases their appeal for the Cavs, who wouldn’t want to give up any significant assets for a rental.

Besides those three shooting guards, the Cavs have reached out to the Trail Blazers about Robert Covington, according to Scotto, who says the Timberwolves and Jazz are among the other teams to inquire on the forward. Covington is on an expiring contract and is a bigger wing who doesn’t play the two, so he may not place as high on Cleveland’s list of targets, but it’s worth noting that the team isn’t just looking at guards.

The Cavs also like Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris, says Scotto, but a deadline deal involving Harris seems unlikely. His ongoing recovery from ankle surgery will likely limit what suitors are willing to offer, but Brooklyn wouldn’t want to give him up in a deal that doesn’t include an impact player, per Scotto.

Nets Notes: Harden, Nash, Harris, Durant

Asked on Tuesday about Jake Fischer’s report that suggested he was frustrated by certain aspects of his experience with the Nets and is becoming increasingly interested in testing the free agent market, All-Star guard James Harden denied that those claims came from him, tweets Alex Schiffer of The Athletic.

However, Harden didn’t explicitly call out the report as false, as Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post writes. And while the 32-year-old didn’t confirm that he has been frustrated by Kyrie Irving‘s inconsistent availability or the team’s constantly changing crunch-time lineups, he did acknowledge some disappointment about the way the season has played out so far.

“Of course I’m frustrated because we’re not healthy,” Harden said. “There’s been a lot of inconsistency for whatever reason — injuries, COVID, whatever you want to call it. I think everyone in the organization is frustrated because we’re better than what our record is.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Head coach Steve Nash was also asked on Tuesday about the claim that Harden has been frustrated by Irving’s status and Nash’s rotations. I haven’t spoken to him about these things,” Nash replied, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). “I’m not sure what to believe. James and I speak all the time. I think we have a great relationship. I’m not sure the validity of these comments, to be honest with you.”
  • Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris, who is recovering from left ankle surgery, flew to Indianapolis earlier this week to get a second opinion on his injury, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported on TNT’s Tuesday night broadcast (video link). Harris still intends to return this season, but there’s no set timeline for when that will happen.
  • Kevin Durant is a shoo-in to make the All-Star team, but he doesn’t plan to play in next month’s All-Star Game in Cleveland, Haynes said on Tuesday night (video link). That’s not a big surprise, since Durant’s recovery from an MCL sprain may keep him sidelined beyond All-Star weekend anyway.

Treveon Graham Joins Nets' G League Affiliate

  • After signing NBA G League contracts, veteran wings Treveon Graham and Wes Iwundu have new teams, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link), who hears from league sources that Graham has been acquired by the Long Island Nets (Brooklyn’s affiliate), while Iwundu has joined the Cleveland Charge (the Cavaliers‘ affiliate).

James Harden Reportedly Interested In Testing Free Agent Market

Word is circulating around the NBA about James Harden‘s increased interest in testing the free agent market this summer, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says the Nets star has “clear intentions” of becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

Harden holds a $47.4MM player option for the 2022/23 season, but the expectation is that he’ll turn down that option and seek a longer-term contract. The former MVP, who has always signed extensions prior to free agency in the past, expressed interest back in September in going through free agency, even while he suggested that his plan was to remain in Brooklyn.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve never been a free agent before. I’ve always just been loyal, just signing contract extensions, just being there, being there, being there,” Harden said during training camp. “I just want to take my time with it. It’d be a very, very difficult thing to leave here, or to leave Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But I think this season I just want to focus on winning a championship and everything else will work itself out.”

On the surface, Harden’s plans to reach free agency aren’t a cause for concern for Brooklyn. The Nets will be able to offer him more years and more money than any other team, and he, Durant, and Irving make the team a perennial title contender. He’s among a handful of star free-agents-to-be – along with Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal – who can maximize their future earnings by forgoing an early extension and waiting until the offseason to sign a new deal. As Fischer acknowledges, Harden may very well remain with Brooklyn after testing the market

However, multiple reports this week have stated the Sixers are looming as a potential suitor for Harden, and Fischer hears from sources that the 32-year-old has recently told confidants he may be interested in exploring opportunities outside of Brooklyn.

Fischer shares a few more potential red flags for the Nets, writing that Harden has been frustrated by Irving’s status as a part-time player, as well as Steve Nash‘s fluid rotations. Fischer also hears from multiple sources that Harden hasn’t enjoyed living in Brooklyn as much as he liked living in Houston.

Fischer stresses that Harden isn’t asking for a trade and that he’s extremely likely to finish the season in Brooklyn. Beyond that though, it seems there are no guarantees.

Sixers Rumors: Harden, Simmons, Trade Talks

After Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Monday that the Sixers‘ preference would be to retain Ben Simmons until the offseason in order to pursue James Harden, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer cited sources who said the same thing.

“At the end of the day, it’s Harden all the way,” one league source told Pompey. “They want Harden, whether they get him now (or) whether they get him on a forced sign-and-trade this summer.”

The idea of the Nets trading Harden during the season can probably be ruled out. But the former MVP will be eligible for free agency this summer, so he’ll have leverage at that point if he wants a change of scenery. Still, the Sixers wouldn’t have the cap space necessary to sign Harden outright, so Brooklyn would have to get on board with the idea of acquiring Simmons in a sign-and-trade.

Sources tell Pompey that the Nets are aware of Philadelphia’s plan to pursue Harden in the offseason and know that the star guard has good relationships with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and co-owner Michael Rubin. But Harden has previously stated that he plans to remain in Brooklyn long-term — and even if he has a change of heart, it would likely take a lot of convincing for the Nets to send him to a division rival.

“If I’m the Nets, am I giving up James Harden until I know what Ben is going to be?” one source said to Pompey. “And am I giving him up to go 100 miles away? I’m going to have to see [Harden] several different times a season.”

For what it’s worth, Pompey says people close to the Sixers deny that the team is focused specifically on Harden, reiterating that Morey just wants a star player in return for Simmons — Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard are among the other potential targets who have been frequently mentioned. Harden may be atop Philadelphia’s wish list though, and sources who spoke to The Inquirer suggested Harden would welcome playing with center Joel Embiid.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Some of Pompey’s sources believe potential trade partners are wary of seriously engaging in talks with the Sixers for fear of leaks. “Whenever teams inquire, it shows up in the media at some capacity within the next 24 hours,” a source told The Inquirer. “Everyone is wanting Daryl to come to them with hard proposals. No one wants to be the one to bring something in because they are afraid as soon as they do it, they’re going to be exposed.”
  • One source told Pompey that trade discussions with the Sixers are also challenging because Morey has a tendency to move the goal posts — you might think you’re getting close to making a deal, then Morey will come back and ask for more.
  • In a pair of stories for PhillyVoice.com, Kyle Neubeck examines the Harden rumors in an effort to determine how seriously to take them, and ranks hypothetical Simmons trade packages from most to least intriguing.
  • David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer advocates for patience on the Simmons front, since trading the former No. 1 overall pick represents the Sixers’ best chance to get Embiid the help he needs to turn the team into a title contender. While taking the best offer at the deadline may help in the short term, it could backfire in the longer term by limiting the team’s ceiling, Murphy writes.

Latest On Ben Simmons

The Sixers continue to discuss possible Ben Simmons trades with potential suitors, but sources with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking – and sources from rival clubs – believe Philadelphia still prefers to hang onto Simmons until the offseason in order to pursue James Harden or another star player, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

The Kings and Hawks are among the teams that have been most engaged with the 76ers as of late, with the Hornets also inquiring on Simmons, per The Athletic’s report. Philadelphia has asked Sacramento for a package that includes Tyrese Haliburton and multiple first-round picks, and wants John Collins and multiple first-rounders from Atlanta, according to Charania and Amick, who hear that the Sixers would also want the Hawks to take on Tobias Harris‘ pricey contract.

None of those scenarios have generated serious traction, and team officials in Sacramento and Atlanta are skeptical that the Sixers will lower their asking price for Simmons much – if at all – by the February 10 trade deadline, according to The Athletic’s duo.

Sources tell Charania and Amick that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has the full support of ownership to extend the Simmons sweepstakes into the offseason. Although Philadelphia obviously doesn’t want to waste an MVP-caliber season from Joel Embiid, the club is more concerned about not squandering its top trade chip in Simmons by settling for one of the offers currently on the table. There’s a belief those offers will still be available in the summer, and there could be better options for Philadelphia at that point, Charania and Amick say.

“There’s no sense of panic (to do a deal before the deadline),” a source with knowledge of the Sixers’ thinking told The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Simmons situation:

  • The Sixers have explored deals that would be centered around players like Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Pacers center Domantas Sabonis, and Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, but felt those players weren’t “championship-altering, perfect fits” for their roster, according to Charania and Amick.
  • When the Rockets traded Harden to the Nets a year ago, the Sixers were a serious contender for the star guard, having offered Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, and two first-round picks, per The Athletic. During the Rockets’ decision-making process, owner Tilman Fertitta asked Harden whether he preferred to go to Brooklyn or Philadelphia, and Harden chose Brooklyn. It’s unclear if Houston would’ve taken the Sixers’ deal if Harden preferred Philadelphia, according to Charania and Amick, who hear from sources that the Rockets liked the Nets’ proposal more.
  • Although Harden chose Brooklyn over Philadelphia last year, sources tell The Athletic that Morey is optimistic about his chances of landing the former MVP in the offseason and believes Harden views the Sixers’ situation “in a positive light.” Philadelphia’s cap situation would make an offseason sign-and-trade acquisition of Harden challenging (even if the Nets were interested in Simmons), but not impossible.

Patty Mills Discusses Leaving Spurs, Joining Nets

  • Nets guard Patty Mills discussed a variety of topics with Michael Wright of NBA.com, including how difficult it was to leave the Spurs last offseason. Prior to signing with Brooklyn, Mills spent 10 straight seasons with San Antonio. “I think why it was hard was because I was leaving a place, and more importantly, people, that have helped me grow up in a way,” Mills explained as part of a larger quote.

Eastern Notes: Harris, Hornets, LaVine, Green, Claxton

Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris has now missed 31 straight games due to an ankle injury, a process that head coach Steve Nash called “tricky,” Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Asked if Harris has experienced setbacks during his rehab, Nash acknowledged the forward’s progress has been stop and start.

“Yeah, there’s been some awareness (of it) and irritation,” Nash said. “He’s been doing a tug-of-war between making progress and then having some irritation. It’s really a process that’s been tricky.”

Last season, Harris scored 14.1 points per game, shooting 47.5% from three-point range in his 69 contests. The Nets own the best record in the Eastern Conference (29-16) despite Harris only playing 14 of those games.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • In a piece for The Charlotte Observer, Roderick Boone lists how several Hornets players have graded their seasons to date. Key players such as Terry Rozier, LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges all gave themselves assessments in the C range, suggesting they believe there’s plenty of room for improvement. On the season, Charlotte is 26-20, which includes a 13-6 home record and 13-14 road mark.
  • Bulls guards Zach LaVine (knee) and Javonte Green (adductor) are meeting their team in Oklahoma City, head coach Billy Donovan said, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Bulls will play the Thunder on Monday. LaVine could return for that game, Mayberry adds.
  • Nets center Nicolas Claxton hopes to return early next week, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays (via Twitter). Claxton has been dealing with a left hamstring injury and won’t rush the return process, Lewis adds in a separate tweet. He’s only appeared in 20 of the team’s 45 games this season.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Sharpe, Rivers, Celtics

James Harden believes the lingering effects of last year’s hamstring injury are gone and he’s ready to play at an MVP level again, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Harden was dominant Friday in the Nets‘ win over the Spurs, putting up 37 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds along with a highlight dunk that should calm any fears about his explosiveness.

Brooklyn will need those type of performances to remain in contention for the top spot in the East with Kevin Durant likely sidelined until after the All-Star break with a sprained left knee and Kyrie Irving limited to road games because of New York City’s vaccine requirement. Harden feels ready to lead the team while it’s short-handed.

“Yeah, I’m definitely back,” he said. “It’s just throughout the course of the year we had so much going on (with) our team. A lot of injuries and whatnot, and obviously the situation with Kyrie, so it’s really difficult to get a rhythm like we all want to. But we just got to continue to fight, continue to take one game at a time and push through it. Eventually this thing is going to come together where we’re all together and we all make a really, really huge run at this thing.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have found their most effective center combination with rookie Day’Ron Sharpe starting and LaMarcus Aldridge as his primary backup, Lewis notes in a separate story. “I thought (Sharpe) did some great things,” coach Steve Nash said Friday, “got 10 rebounds and was a good screener-and-roller. Looked a little bit tired at times and then (Aldridge) was super-solid making shots and a big night for him coming back.”
  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers snapped at a reporter who questioned his coaching tactics after the team let a 24-point lead get away in Friday’s loss to the Clippers, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. When asked how much his coaching decisions contributed to the defeat, Rivers responded, “Would you ask (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) that question? No you wouldn’t. So don’t ask me that question. I’ve earned that.”
  • The Celtics need to abandon their lineup that has Robert Williams and Al Horford playing together, argues Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Boston had a minus-31 rating in the 15 minutes that Williams and Horford shared the court in Friday’s loss to Portland.