Cam Thomas

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Celtics, Moser, Nets, Thomas

After Raptors 905 head coach Patrick Mutombo was hired away by Phoenix, Eric Khoury will take the reins coaching Toronto’s G League team in 2022/23. As Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes, Khoury’s background in academia and analytics is a little out of the ordinary for an NBA coach, but the 33-year-old has been in the Raptors’ organization for nearly a decade and has proven his basketball bona fides.

“I think that shows that you can come from any sort of background, any diverse background and if you show interest in the game, passion for the game, some hard work … you don’t necessarily need to come from the most traditional, ‘Well, I’ve coached at this level, now at this level’ and slowly bring your way up the ranks,” Khoury said.

“If you show that you have a passion for the game and you bring a cool perspective or a different perspective and you’re willing to work hard at it that it’s possible to make it at the next level.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Mike Moser, who spent the 2021/22 season as an assistant for the Oregon women’s basketball team, has accepted a job on the Celtics‘ coaching staff, writes Jarrid Denney of On3.com. Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves announced the news on Twitter.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic takes a look at which Celtics Summer League players made the strongest cases for a shot at a regular season roster spot, evaluating Brodric Thomas, Matt Ryan, and Justin Jackson, among others.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post shares his takeaways from the Nets‘ Summer League performance, including his impressions on Cam Thomas, David Duke, and Alondes Williams. While Thomas had another big Summer League showing as a scorer, he’ll have to continue improving as a play-maker and defender to earn an increased role in Brooklyn’s regular season rotation, Lewis says.
  • In addition to carrying a pair of Australians (Ben Simmons and Patty Mills) on their roster, the Nets now have one on their coaching staff. Alex Schiffer of The Athletic profiles Adam Caporn, the newly-promoted Nets assistant who coached Brooklyn’s Summer League team after spending last season in the G League coaching the Long Island Nets.

Keegan Murray Named Las Vegas Summer League MVP

Kings forward Keegan Murray has been named the Most Valuable Player of the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League, according to an announcement from the NBA (Twitter link).

Murray, the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, averaged 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.3 steals in his four Summer League games. He also made 50% of his shots from the field and knocked down 40% of his 8.8 three-point attempts per contest.

It was a terrific start for a rookie who figures to play a major role for a Kings team that badly wants to end its 16-year playoff drought. The first player selected after the consensus top three prospects were off the board, Murray was rated behind No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey on some experts’ draft boards, so the two youngsters will likely be measured against one another for at least the first year or two of their professional careers.

Murray looks like he’ll be an excellent fit on a Kings roster led by De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, two talented scorers who aren’t elite defenders or reliable outside shooters. The former Iowa standout is capable of stretching the floor and handling a variety of defensive assignments, so he’ll presumably see plenty of action alongside Sacramento’s two stars.

Tari Eason (Rockets), Quentin Grimes (Knicks), Sandro Mamukelashvili (Bucks), and Cam Thomas (Nets) joined Murray on the All-Summer League First Team, according to the league (Twitter links). Thomas and another King, Davion Mitchell, shared the Summer League MVP award in 2021.

This year’s All-Summer League Second Team is made up of Santi Aldama (Grizzlies), Bennedict Mathurin (Pacers), Marko Simonovic (Bulls), Trendon Watford (Trail Blazers), and Lindell Wigginton (Bucks).

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Sixers, Thomas

Fresh off his first Finals appearance, Celtics guard Marcus Smart is excited for the on-court fit of the newly-acquired Malcolm Brogdon and recent free agency signing Danilo Gallinari, per Jay King of The Athletic.

“I love it,” Smart told Kang. “You’ve got two veteran guys who can feed off each other, who can rotate and help this team in multiple ways. I think it’s going to fit perfect. Not one of us will have all the pressure of running the team. We’re doing this together… Of course, we all know what Malcolm brings to the table, we know what Gallo brings. And it’s just exciting to add those guys.”

According to King, team president Brad Stevens, Smart’s head coach with Boston from 2014-21, talked to Smart about both new Celtics and about the team’s evolution during their shared tenures with the franchise.

Though Smart served as Boston’s starting point guard throughout the club’s 2022 playoff run, he’s not a traditional pass-first ball-handler. The scoring and passing touch of the 6’5″ Brogdon, who can play either guard spot and defend at a high level when healthy, could make him an excellent complement to Smart in Boston’s backcourt rotation.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • As the Jazz field conversations with rival front offices for All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, the Sixers may actually reap some ancillary rewards, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. Should the Jazz continue to offload their older players, Neubeck notes that proven veteran Utah guards like Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley and Jordan Clarkson could be solid fits for Philadelphia as the team continues to build out its depth.
  • Second-year Nets shooting guard Cam Thomas is prioritizing on his own Summer League development and not Brooklyn’s potential upcoming personnel turnover, specifically regarding the futures of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape“Anybody can get traded,” Thomas, the No. 27 pick out of LSU in 2021, acknowledged. “So, I try to stay away from them as much as I can, and just keep working on what the coach wants me to work on, even though that might change depending on who we have. I just want to keep working on what I’ve been working on, honestly.” Through four games in Las Vegas thus far, Thomas’s hard work has been paying off. He’s averaging 28.0 PPG, 3.8 APG, 1.8 RPG and 0.8 SPG.
  • In case you missed it, we previously relayed the contract details for new Knicks Jalen Brunson, Mitchell Robinson, and Isaiah Hartenstein.

Nets Notes: Irving, Simmons, Durant, Sumner, Claxton, Gray

Nets wing Cam Thomas isn’t letting the drama surrounding Kyrie Irving affect his outlook for the 2022/23 season and said this weekend that he won’t think any less of his star teammate if Kyrie pushes to be traded elsewhere, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Irving has been spotted at multiple Las Vegas Summer League games, but didn’t attend the Nets’ contests on Friday or Sunday.

“Kyrie’s my guy. Whatever’s his choices, that’s a choice,” Thomas said. “So I still keep in contact with him. That’s my guy. So whatever he does, that’ll still be my guy, my brother. So, it is what it is; it’s part of the business.”

While Thomas said he wasn’t bothered by Irving not showing up to the Nets’ Summer League games, he did praise three-time All-Star Ben Simmons for coming out to watch some of his young teammates on Sunday vs. Philadelphia.

“Yeah that’s big to have somebody of that stature come out and support us as the young guys. That makes us feel good. It makes us happy to play,” Thomas said. “So kudos to Ben for coming out here and watching us play.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Nets general manager Sean Marks and Heat GM Andy Elisburg were seen talking in Las Vegas on Monday, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter links), who says the two GMs are “going beyond cursory conversation” by dining together. Miami is, of course, considered one of Kevin Durant‘s preferred landing spots, so any discussions between the two front offices are worth keeping an eye on.
  • The new contract Edmond Sumner signed with the Nets is a two-year, minimum-salary contract, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who tweets that the second year is non-guaranteed.
  • Nic Claxton‘s new two-year contract with Brooklyn, initially reported to be worth $20MM, actually has a base value of $17.25MM, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. The deal includes $2,587,500 in total unlikely incentives, so if Claxton earns all those bonuses, he could end up making nearly $20MM across the two seasons.
  • A second-round pick in 2021, forward RaiQuan Gray signed a G League contract and spent his rookie season with the Long Island Nets in the G League, so Brooklyn still controls his NBA rights. As Lewis writes for The New York Post, Gray has worked hard to get into better shape and show the Nets that he deserves a shot at an NBA roster spot this fall.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Thomas, Duke, Free Agency

Though his two All-Star Nets colleagues Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving could very well be on the move this summer, a trade for injured All-Defensive Team Brooklyn guard Ben Simmons remains very unlikely, Brooklyn sources inform Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Simmons missed the entire 2021/22 season due to mental health issues and a back injury that required surgery. Sources tell Lewis, who notes that Simmons is on track to rejoin Brooklyn in time for the team’s training camp this fall, that the former No. 1 overall pick has little trade value at present. The three-time All-Star, still just 25, holds career averages of 15.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 7.7 APG.

There’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • Several teams have contacted the Nets about potential deals for second-year player Cam Thomas, Lewis writes in another story for the New York Post. According to Lewis, a Thomas trade may fetch a first-round draft pick for Brooklyn, should the team want to move off the 20-year-old shooting guard. Across 67 games with the Nets, Thomas averaged 8.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 1.5 APG in just 17.6 MPG.
  • After going undrafted in 2021 out of Providence, point guard David Duke Jr. impressed the Nets on a two-way deal. This summer, he has thus far passed on an offer from Brooklyn for a second two-way contract (presumably the standard two-way QO that includes a $50K partial guarantee) in the hopes of instead being signed to a standard deal to join the team’s 15-man roster, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post“Well, you know, I’m always going to strive for the most that I can get, right?” Duke said of his reasoning. “So if there’s a roster spot to strive for that, then whatever happens from there, happens… But like I said, I’m just out here [in Summer League] trying to play the best that I can, show what I can bring to Brooklyn, to whoever.”
  • The Nets are thus far the biggest losers in free agency this year, opines Kevin Pelton of ESPN (YouTube link). That issue may have more to do with the team’s top stars potentially wanting to be traded off the team more so than its fairly minimal free agent signings. “No matter how this Durant situation plays out, even if they’re able to retain him… still you’re going to have Kyrie Irving’s situation hanging over their entire season,” Pelton said. “And it’s also kind of affected their ability to make moves so far this offseason,” Pelton added. While Pelton applauded their low-risk signing of T.J. Warren to a one-year contract, he was less enthused about another big Brooklyn transaction. “[I] wasn’t a big fan of their trade to send a first-round pick to Utah for Royce O’Neale. People are going to describe O’Neale as a 3-and-D player, but the defense part of that equation has been lacking the last couple of seasons.”

Scotto’s Latest: Portis, Johnson, Graham, Nets, Batum, More

Within his latest round-up of NBA rumors, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype confirms a number of items that have been previously reported or speculated. According to Scotto, Bucks forward Bobby Portis is widely expected to decline his $4.56MM player option to become a free agent, the Lakers are considered a strong bet to pick up Stanley Johnson‘s $2.35MM team option, and Pelicans guard Devonte’ Graham is available in trade talks.

Scotto’s article includes several other intriguing tidbits related to the draft, free agency, and the trade market. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Nets have fielded trade inquiries on Joe Harris and Cam Thomas, according to Scotto, who says rival executives believe Brooklyn could potentially get a first-round pick in exchange for Thomas. While there’s a sense that Harris might be more available than in previous years due to the Nets’ February acquisition of Seth Curry, the team still believes Harris would be a useful piece on next year’s roster due to his ability to help on the boards and space the floor around Ben Simmons, Scotto writes.
  • The Timberwolves, Grizzlies, and Bucks are among the teams that have inquired about the No. 14 overall pick, currently held by the Cavaliers, league sources tell HoopsHype. Scotto previously reported that Cleveland would be open to the idea of moving down in the draft if it meant acquiring a future first-round pick.
  • Rival executives who spoke to Scotto believe veteran forward Nicolas Batum could be in line for a deal worth $10MM per year after turning down his player option. The Clippers would have the ability to go that high to re-sign Batum using his Early Bird rights.
  • Wake Forest forward Jake LaRavia has visited Milwaukee and worked out for the Bucks twice during the pre-draft process, Scotto reports. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who previously identified LaRavia as a player on Milwaukee’s radar, has him ranked 28th on ESPN’s big board of 2022 prospects. The Bucks hold the 24th overall pick.

Nets Notes: Durant, Harden, Irving, Trade, Curry, Drummond

For much of the season, Nets star Kevin Durant didn’t want to see the team’s Big Three broken up, but it’s clear last week’s James Harden trade wouldn’t have occurred without Durant’s blessing, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

“KD didn’t want to get rid of James,” a person familiar with the situation told Fischer. “But he knew it was over.”

According to Fischer, while Durant was disappointed by Harden’s poor conditioning in training camp and his Media Day comments about wanting to test free agency, the situation was fine for a while. However, with Kyrie Irving unavailable for much of the first half and Durant and Harden taking on increased responsibilities, a strain developed between the two stars, writes Fischer.

Ultimately, the Nets’ brutal recent slump and Harden’s “freelancing behavior” forced Durant to recognize that a change needed to be made, according to Fischer, who says KD had called general manager Sean Marks by last Thursday morning to suggest something needed to be done.

“Kevin’s the one that pulled the trigger with this,” a second source told Fischer. “Kevin’s the one that said, ‘Do this deal.’ There was growing concern that this entire season would be lost and then they’d lose James for nothing.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Durant is consulted on every major Nets decision and was “instrumental” in the team’s selection of Cam Thomas at No. 27 in the 2021 draft, per Fischer. Sources tell Bleacher Report that Durant also lobbied Brooklyn to permit Irving to play in road games after the team initially didn’t allow Kyrie to suit up for any games to start the season.
  • Irving’s unwillingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to play and the Nets’ decision to allow him to be a part-time player didn’t sit particularly well with Harden, according to Fischer. “Kyrie not being held accountable and Kyrie being allowed to do whatever he wants. James, being his age, knows he doesn’t have any time to waste to get his first championship,” a source close to Harden told Bleacher Report.
  • Before they agreed to a deal with the Sixers, the Nets hoped to land Matisse Thybulle as part of their trade package and gauged rival teams’ valuations of the young forward, Fischer writes. However, 76ers personnel were adamant about not including Thybulle (or Tyrese Maxey) in any offer.
  • One front office source who spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com suggested that a difference in playing styles was one factor in why things didn’t work in Brooklyn. “James Harden wants spacing on the court,” the source said. “That’s all he cares about. ‘I need spacing. I need shooters all around me.’ … And Kevin Durant wants defensive guys, because he doesn’t need spacing. He just catches and shoots over people. It’s a different mentality of how to go about it. They’re all right. Of course you want defense and size. But for James Harden to score 40 points and have 15 assists, he needs shooters everywhere and a lob catcher at the rim. So everybody wants to play their way.”
  • The Nets were in good spirits on Monday after snapping an 11-game winning streak with a blowout win over Sacramento, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Nets guard Bruce Brown suggested a “team-bonding event” in Miami over the weekend helped change the team’s attitude. “The locker room, it’s just a great vibe in there right now,” Brown said. “I don’t know what it is, everything just shifted after the trade deadline. Everybody likes everybody, so it’s just great.”
  • Seth Curry and Andre Drummond had impressive Nets debuts as starters on Monday and are bullish on the team’s chances to contend, especially once everyone is available, writes Friedell. Brooklyn was without Durant (knee), Irving (vaccination status), and Ben Simmons (reconditioning) for the victory over Sacramento. “We have a great group of guys,” Drummond said. “Guys that are missing right now, we got to wait for them to get healthy, but once everybody gets back I think we’ll be very, very good and make a very good push in the playoffs.”

Nets Notes: Irving, Thomas, Harden, Simmons

When the Nets decided to let Kyrie Irving be a part-time player — appearing only in road games because he hasn’t complied with New York City’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate — they expected him to prop up a roster that was decimated at the time by the virus. But that hasn’t happened, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post, who notes that Brooklyn is just 3-7 in the games Irving has played.

“I don’t feel like I’m very close to where I want to be personally,” Irving said after making just 6-for-20 shots in Friday’s loss to the Jazz. “The eight-month layoff, coming off my ankle injury [last season] and not being able to have the summer that I wanted to, not being able to have preseason, not being able to just dial in with the guys early on in the season the way I wanted to, it definitely had an impact.”

Irving’s return has overlapped with a knee sprain for Kevin Durant, along with hand and hamstring issues that have put James Harden in and out of the lineup. As a result, the Nets have fallen to sixth place in the East and are just a half-game away from the play-in tournament. And unless Irving changes his mind about the vaccine, he will only be eligible for 11 of the team’s final 30 games.

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • One encouraging sign amid the Nets’ downturn has been the bench scoring provided by rookie Cam Thomas, Botte adds in a separate story. With 30 points at Utah on Friday, he outscored the team’s entire starting lineup. “It’s good to get a little accolade here and there but it doesn’t mean nothing because we lost by 30, as well,” Thomas said. “So I’d rather have the win and accolade, but it’s always good to have a little accolade like that in your rookie year.”
  • Harden’s frustrations in Brooklyn stem from having to be the primary option on offense so often when he expected to be part of a three-star alignment with Irving and Durant, Alex Schiffer of The Athletic says in a discussion with other writers about a potential Harden trade to the Sixers. A source tells Schiffer that Harden isn’t necessarily on board with Irving’s part-time status, but has been supportive because Irving has played hard when he’s been on the court.
  • The Nets could wind up with a huge savings, possibly $40MM in salary and luxury tax, by moving Harden in a deal for Ben Simmons, John Hollinger of The Athletic states in the same piece. Hollinger expects a lot of haggling over assets before Brooklyn and Philadelphia could realistically work out an agreement.

COVID-19 Updates: Mavs, B. Boston, Cacok, Lakers, C. Thomas

The Mavericks have placed center Boban Marjanovic and guard Brandon Knight – who signed a hardship deal last week – in the health and safety protocols, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Marjanovic and Knight are the sixth and seventh Dallas players currently in the protocols.

As we noted earlier today, the Mavericks reportedly reached an agreement to sign Isaiah Thomas, who will be the team’s seventh replacement player. If Dallas had just five players in the protocols, the team wouldn’t be able to make another hardship signing, so the fact that Marjanovic and Knight are now in the protocols helps explain the Thomas deal.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the league:

  • Clippers rookie Brandon Boston Jr. has entered the health and safety protocols, the team announced today. Boston had been playing an increased role as of late with the Clippers shorthanded, averaging 19.6 MPG in 13 games this month.
  • Spurs two-way big man Devontae Cacok has joined teammate Dejounte Murray in the COVID-19 protocols, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). They’re the only two San Antonio players affected for now.
  • Lakers guards Austin Reaves and Kent Bazemore have cleared the protocols, tweets Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group. They won’t be with the team in Memphis tonight, but should be available by Friday’s home game vs. Portland.
  • Nets rookie guard Cam Thomas has exited the protocols and is available, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Three Nets Rookies Enter Protocols; Harden, Two Others Exit

The Nets announced some good news and some bad news on Thursday morning. Three players – James Harden, Paul Millsap, and Jevon Carter – have exited the health and safety protocols, but three others – rookies Cameron Thomas, David Duke, and Kessler Edwards – have entered the protocols, tweets Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

You could make a strong case that no team has been hit harder in the last couple weeks by COVID-19 than Brooklyn, which still has 10 players in the league’s protocols after today’s updates. Of the 17 players the team had been carrying on its standard roster, 13 have been in the protocols this month, while Joe Harris (ankle) and Nicolas Claxton (wrist) have dealt with injuries.

Patty Mills and Blake Griffin have been the only players unaffected, and even Griffin is playing through knee pain. The Nets have also signed four replacement players – Langston Galloway, James Ennis, Shaquille Harrison, and Wenyen Gabriel – via hardship exceptions to help fill out the roster.

Brooklyn’s game in Portland on Thursday has been postponed, but the NBA will certainly want to avoid having the team’s Christmas Day game vs. the Lakers endure a similar fate. Head coach Steve Nash said today that Harris won’t play on the Nets’ current road trip, but the team hopes to have Claxton return on either Saturday vs. the Lakers or Monday vs. the Clippers (Twitter link via Brain Lewis of The New York Post).

If Harden, Millsap, and Carter are all cleared to return and Mills, Griffin, and the four replacement players are good to go, Brooklyn would have at least nine players available, even without Claxton. The Nets remain eligible to complete more hardship signings before Saturday too, if they so choose.