Bruce Brown

COVID-19 Updates: Hawks, Blazers, Celtics, Bucks, Nets

Wesley Iwundu, who just signed a 10-day contract with the Hawks on Thursday, has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Iwundu played 23 minutes in the Hawks’ 98-96 victory over the Sixers Thursday night, scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds. ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets that the Hawks will need to sign another replacement player to replace Iwundu — himself a replacement player.

Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu, who made his season debut last week, has entered the protocols as well, Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. In three games this season (22.3 MPG), Okongwu is averaging 10.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.0 BPG. The Hawks now have nine players in the protocols.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates:

  • Backup point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and two-way rookie Trendon Watford have entered the protocols for the Trail Blazers and the rest of the team will now be re-tested, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). DSJ and Watford are the only players currently in the protocols for the Blazers.
  • The Celtics have four new players entering the protocols: C.J. Miles, Justin Jackson, Aaron Nesmith, and Bruno Fernando, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. However, Al Horford, Juan Hernangomez, Jabari Parker, and Brodric Thomas, who’ve all been in the protocols, are listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against Milwaukee, so they could be exiting the protocols soon. Until those four are cleared, the Celtics will have 12 players in the COVID-19 protocols — the largest outbreak in the NBA.
  • In addition to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis has exited the protocols for the Bucks, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. Like Horford and the other Celtics, Donte DiVincenzo, who’s also been in the protocols, is listed as questionable to make his season debut Saturday.
  • Meanwhile, Bruce Brown and James Johnson have exited the protocols for the Nets, but seven others, including star Kevin Durant, remain in the protocols for their game Saturday against the Lakers, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
  • Warriors rookie Moses Moody has entered the protocols, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Golden State now has four players in the protocols.

James Harden, Bruce Brown Newest Nets In COVID-19 Protocols

The Nets suddenly have seen seven players enter the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols within the 24 hours. All-Star guard James Harden and versatile swingman Bruce Brown have joined five other afflicted comrades on the sidelines for Brooklyn, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

It was reported earlier that Nets role players LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, DeAndre’ Bembry, Jevon Carter, and James Johnson are all in the NBA’s coronavirus protocols.

Brooklyn currently has just reached the league minimum for available players to stave off a cancelation of its scheduled game against the Raptors tonight. In addition to the team’s seven coronavirus-related absences, the Nets are also still missing COVID-19 vaccine holdout Kyrie Irving and injured wing Joe Harris. All-Star forward Kevin Durant had been listed as questionable due to a sore ankle, but he’s set to suit up for the Nets now, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (via Twitter).

Bontemps notes in a separate tweet that both Brown and Harden had been in the Nets’ home arena, the Barclays Center, ahead of the team’s game against Toronto this evening. Brown had apparently even been warming up on the hardwood before he received the bad news.

Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that the Nets will be eligible to sign up to five players via the hardship provision due to this swath of absences. Marks adds that Brooklyn will be dinged approximately an extra $500K in tax penalties for each 10-day signing the team completes.

The league postponed two games this week for the Bulls, who are currently missing as many as 10 players due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Should further spread of the virus among the Brooklyn locker room continue, the league could take similar precautions with the Nets.

Injury Notes: Okongwu, Embiid, Raptors, Harris, B. Brown

Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu played some 3-on-3 this week and “came out OK,” head coach Nate McMillan said on Tuesday (Twitter link via Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). McMillan added that the Hawks will continue to be cautious with Okongwu and that there’s no set timeline for his return from shoulder surgery. Atlanta initially estimated a recovery period of about six months when Okongwu went under the knife in July.

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

  • After ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Tuesday that the Sixers are hopeful Joel Embiid will be able to return as soon as Saturday, Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) reiterated today that there’s growing optimism about Embiid’s ability to play on Saturday. The star center hasn’t suited up since November 6 due to a case of COVID-19.
  • For the first time this season, the Raptors may have a fully healthy roster later this week, per Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. As Smith writes, Yuta Watanabe (calf) and OG Anunoby (hip) are both close to returning, while Khem Birch (knee) and Precious Achiuwa (shoulder) are day-to-day. All four players are currently listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. Memphis.
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash doesn’t expect Joe Harris (ankle) to be back for Saturday’s game vs. Phoenix, but is optimistic Bruce Brown (hamstring) will be available by that point, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Nash said Brown wanted to play tonight, but the team is opting to give him a little more recovery time.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Brown, Bembry, Drummond, Milton

Nets head coach Steve Nash knows he needs to be careful not to overburden star Kevin Durant, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Durant, who leads the NBA in scoring with 29.5 points per game, is shooting a career-high 58.5% from the field. Nash says the team is intent on finding Durant more shots within the flow of the offense, instead of relying on him to bail them out with his great one-on-one play.

That’s the luxury of All-Star players, that they can do that. Kevin’s obviously elite at scoring and isolating, and there are times when we lean on him. But it’s important for our team that we don’t overburden (him),” said Nash.

You want to give him as many great opportunities to score out of the flow and out of teamwork, rather than have to face a loaded defense all night. So while that is a luxury — that he can make plays against anyone — we definitely don’t want to rely on that. That’s the antithesis to our vision. But that is a luxury, when he can just rise up and score over people.”

The Nets have just seven players back from last season, and Nash says all the new faces are still trying to figure out how to play together.

It’s a new group, and we’re asking them to play a lot of basketball where they’re reading situations, playing early, and with a randomness, but with principles,” Nash said. “That takes time to develop that feel for one another. But I think that’s where our group needs to go. … It still takes time and there are only stretches of the game where we execute that vision.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Matthew Brooks of NetsDaily.com provides a video breakdown of how the NetsBruce Brown and DeAndre’ Bembry have played key roles in shaping the team’s newfound defensive identity. Brown re-signed with Brooklyn in the offseason, while Bembry was added in free agency.
  • With Sixers star Joel Embiid sidelined with COVID-19, it’s Andre Drummond‘s time to shine, opines Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey believes that Drummond, a free agent signing on a one-year, minimum-salary contract, has already proven to be a clear upgrade over Dwight Howard, Embiid’s replacement last season. Drummond is averaging 15 points, 20 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game in three starts this season.
  • Sixers guard Shake Milton has given the team a boost since returning from a sprained ankle, according to Gina Mizell of the Inquirer. Milton has shown a willingness to play multiple roles and is competing harder on defense. “However it comes, I think I’m going to be prepared,” Milton said. “My mentality every game is to come in and bring the team energy, pick up full court, play-make on offense, guard my guy on defense and do whatever I can to help the team win.”

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Raptors, Brown, Toppin, Sixers

The 2018 trade that sent DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio in a package for Kawhi Leonard ultimately helped make the Raptors champions the following year, but it created some hard feelings at the time, as DeRozan and his good friend Kyle Lowry felt blindsided by the deal. According to Lowry, when he neared free agency earlier this year, that experience helped him and the Raptors avoid a similar situation.

“Sometimes franchises have to do what’s best for them, but I was in a position where I had say and I had…I wouldn’t say power — but I had a little bit of, ‘Listen, it’s not going to be a good look if we don’t collaborate on this together,'” Lowry told Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times. “We all agreed that to be on the same page was the best thing to do, and that was that.

“With DeMar not having the autonomy of having a decision, I think it was just such a different circumstance. It prepared them to not do that to me.”

The Raptors were in touch with Lowry at the trade deadline when they discussed him with a handful of teams. After no deal materialized at that time, the team worked with the veteran guard in the offseason to help steer him to his desired destination (Miami) via sign-and-trade.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Nets guard Bruce Brown was expected to play a key role for the team with Kyrie Irving unavailable indefinitely, but Brown was out of the rotation until garbage time in Tuesday’s opener, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Head coach Steve Nash doesn’t expect that to be permanent. “He’s definitely going to play for us, he’s definitely going to be a part of what we do,”  Nash said. “I just think right now we’re looking at exploring some other things until we understand what we have. With Bruce, I know what we got. … We know what he brings, and he’ll be a big part of this team.”
  • Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post takes a closer look at Obi Toppin‘s promising sophomore-season debut and what it could mean for the Knicks if Tom Thibodeau becomes comfortable regularly playing the former lottery pick alongside fellow power forward Julius Randle.
  • Prosper Karangwa, who holds the role of VP of player personnel in the Sixers‘ front office, has been named the general manager of the Delaware Blue Coats, the team’s G League affiliate (Twitter link). Karangwa’s first task will be leading the team through Saturday’s draft — Delaware currently holds the first overall pick.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Hachimura, Nets, Hawks, Magic

Although Ben Simmons has reported to the Sixers and head coach Doc Rivers has said he assumes the three-time All-Star plans to suit up and play for the team, we still don’t know when that will happen or what version of Simmons the club will get, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.

One source who spoke to Neubeck described Simmons as “going through the motions” during his individual workouts this week, though that source said things have improved each day since the 25-year-old’s return. The expectation is that Simmons will clear the health and safety protocols soon, but he’s considered “doubtful” to play in Friday’s preseason finale.

Within Neubeck’s report, he notes that the Sixers have shown little interest in a Pacers trade package that includes Malcolm Brogdon and/or Caris LeVert. The 76ers have been focused on acquiring a star, since trading Simmons for multiple “good” players isn’t something they believe will improve their title odds or increase their chances of acquiring another impact player down the road, Neubeck explains.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura remains in the health and safety protocols after recently reporting to the team, and he may miss some time at the beginning of the regular season as he gets back up to speed and adjusts to a new playbook and coaching staff, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I don’t think (him catching up) is way down the line,” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “We already have some edits that we’ll send to him. Obviously, when he’s ready we’ll spend some time away from the court to try to help him get back up to speed. That in itself is going to take some time.”
  • Nets forward Kevin Durant admitted to reporters on Thursday that Kyrie Irving‘s absence is not an “ideal” situation and said he’d rather be playing alongside his friend this season. However, Durant added that he’s confident “things will work out the best for both parties” and said he’s not upset about the situation. “What is being mad going to do?” Durant said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “We are not going to change his mind, know what I’m saying? We’ll let him figure out what he needs to do and the team figure out what they need to do.”
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash plans to lean on the team’s depth to replace Kyrie Irving, rather than putting that responsibility on one player, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. Bruce Brown and Patty Mills are among the obvious candidates for increased roles.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic liked the Hawks‘ offseason moves and is optimistic about the club’s chances of avoiding regression in 2021/22, projecting them to win 50 games and a playoff series. Predictably, Hollinger is far less bullish on the Magic, forecasting a 21-win season and a last-place finish in the East for Orlando.

Nets Confident About Extending Harden, Irving

The Nets completed one major piece of offseason business when they signed Kevin Durant to a four-year, maximum-salary contract extension worth nearly $198MM. Now, the team is shifting its focus to James Harden and Kyrie Irving, both of whom are extension-eligible too.

Speaking today to reporters, general manager Sean Marks said the Nets have engaged with both star guards about new deals and are “confident” that they’ll get something done before training camp begins in late September (Twitter link via Malika Andrews of ESPN).

It’s unclear if Brooklyn will simply put long-term, maximum-salary offers on the table for Harden and Irving, as the team did for Durant, or if more extensive negotiations will be required.

The largest possible extensions for the two stars would work out to $161MM over three years for Harden (starting in 2023/24) and a projected $186.6MM over four years for Irving (starting in 2022/23), according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Marks admitted today that he thought restricted free agent Bruce Brown might get a big offer sheet from another team that would make life difficult for the Nets (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post). However, Brown – who accepted his one-year, $4.7MM qualifying offer – told him that “the job wasn’t done” in Brooklyn.
  • While he acknowledged that the roster could look a little different in a month or two, Marks said the plan is “definitely” for DeAndre Jordan to be part of the team moving forward (Twitter link via Lewis).
  • The Nets made defense a priority in free agency, according to Marks (Twitter link via Lewis). Lewis wrote about that subject in more depth for The New York Post, noting that in addition to re-signing Brown, the team brought in Jevon Carter, DeAndre’ Bembry, and James Johnson.
  • Marks pointed to rebounding as an issue the Nets still need to address, whether via a roster addition or internally (Twitter link via Lewis).

Atlantic Notes: McBride, Brown, Siakam, Achiuwa

The contract that rookie point guard Miles McBride signed with the Knicks covers three years, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram video link). Marks reports that the first two seasons in the deal are guaranteed, while the third is a team option. The team used cap room to complete the signing.

McBride, 20, was selected with the No. 36 pick out of West Virginia. The 6’2″ guard was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team for the 2020/21 season, his sophomore year. During his final collegiate season, McBridge averaged 15.9 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.9 RPG, on a .431/.414/.813 shooting line.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Do-everything Nets guard Bruce Brown drew outside interest as a free agent but said that he always knew he wanted to remain in Brooklyn, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link). Brown, 24, opted to accept a one-year, $4.7MM qualifying offer from the Nets, and will be an unrestricted free agent next season. “I really didn’t pay it any mind, honestly,” Brown said of the decision to remain in Brooklyn, per Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com. “I thought everything would take care of itself. I really was just working out the whole time, and then when free agency started, I actually was on the plane back to New York. So I didn’t really talk to anybody until I landed. I’m just happy to be back. It’s a great fit. I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”
  • Appearing on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster downplayed ongoing rumblings about a potential impending Pascal Siakam trade. “Teams call on our players and we call on other teams’ players,” Webster said, per Steven Loung of Sportsnet (Twitter link).
  • New Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa, acquired as part of the sign-and-trade that sent point guard Kyle Lowry to the Heat, is excited to contribute however he can to a winning culture with Toronto, writes Neil Davidson of The Toronto Star“Rebounding,” Achiuwa said, explaining what he brings to the team. “Guarding multiple positions. Creating offense for my teammates with screens, pick-and-rolls. Passing the ball. Just whatever it takes to win basketball games. Getting loose balls… For me, it’s all about winning.” During his rookie season in Miami, Achiuwa averaged 5.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 12.1 MPG after being selected 20th overall in the 2020 draft.

Bruce Brown Accepts Qualifying Offer From Nets

AUGUST 8: Brown is officially back under contract with the Nets, the team announced today in a press release.


AUGUST 3: Bruce Brown will remain with the Nets after opting to accept a $4.7MM qualifying offer, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The news was confirmed by Brown’s agent, Ty Sullivan of CAA.

The one-year offer made Brown a restricted free agent, which would have limited his options on the open market. He will be unrestricted next summer as a result of accepting his qualifying offer.

Brooklyn holds Bird rights on the third-year combo guard and can work out a long-term deal. If the team were to trade Brown during the 2021/22 league year, he’d lose those Bird rights, so he’ll have the power to veto any trade involving him until he becomes a free agent in 2022.

Brown, 24, became a part-time starter in his first season with the Nets after being acquired from the Pistons in an offseason trade. He started 37 of the 65 games he played, averaging 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per night while playing tough, versatile defense for Brooklyn.

Brown is one of two Nets free agents who has agreed to return to the team so far, joining Blake Griffin.

Nets Issuing Qualifying Offer To Bruce Brown

The Nets are tendering a qualifying offer to Bruce Brown, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). The procedural move will ensure that Brown is a restricted free agent this summer.

Brown, who will turn 25 next month, played an important role for the Nets in 2020/21 after being acquired last fall from Detroit. He averaged 8.8 PPG and 5.4 RPG on .556/.288/.735 shooting in 65 games (22.3 MPG) and played tough, versatile defense for Brooklyn.

Because he met the starter criteria, Brown’s qualifying offer is worth approximately $4.7MM. If he accepts that one-year offer, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in 2022, but he’s more likely to negotiate a new multiyear deal with the Nets or a rival suitor. Brooklyn would have the ability to match any offer sheet Brown signs with another team.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Preview: Brooklyn Nets]

The Nets hold Brown’s Bird rights, so they won’t face any cap restrictions when it comes to re-signing him — it will simply be a matter of how much further into tax territory team ownership is willing to go.