Caris LeVert

New York Notes: Walker, Fine, Durant, Fizdale

Kemba Walker‘s interest in signing with the Knicks as a free agent last summer was “very serious,” the Celtics guard said in a Ringer podcast (Twitter link). The New York native revealed that “before Boston actually came along, the Knicks were one of my top priorities. I was thinking they were going to get another player (top free agent) but it didn’t work out.” Walker wound up agreeing to a four-year, $141MM max contract with Boston.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • The Nets were fined $25K for failing to comply with league policies regarding the reporting of injuries, according to an NBA.com post. The fine was not related to public injury reports distributed to the media, but rather something related to its own internal database, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets.
  • If Kevin Durant has his way, he’ll be playing next season with Caris LeVert, Chris Chiozza and Jamal Crawford. Durant praised the trio on the Play for Keeps podcast, Lewis relays. That could influence the way the Nets approach roster changes in the offseason. LeVert is considered to be the Nets’ best asset to acquire a third star but Durant may feel differently. “[LeVert] is definitely better than I thought,” Durant said. Chiozza is on a two-way deal, while the veteran Crawford was signed as a substitute player for the restart.
  • Ex-Knicks coach David Fizdale endorses his former team’s selection of Tom Thibodeau as its new head coach, according to Ian Begley of SNY. Fizdale made his comments during a Sirius XM Radio interview. “I think (Thibs) is a great hire. I think Thibs is a hell of a coach,” Fizdale said. “He demands hard work and toughness out of his guys.”

Nets’ LeVert, Harris, Allen Won’t Play On Tuesday

The Nets will be without three of their key players on Tuesday, with head coach Jacque Vaughn announcing today that Caris LeVert (thigh contusion), Joe Harris (back tightness), and Jarrett Allen (rest) won’t play against Milwaukee (Twitter links via Alex Schiffer of The Athletic).

Tuesday’s game against the Bucks will be the first half of a back-to-back set for the Nets, which Vaughn noted today when announcing his inactives. Allen, at least, should be good to go on Wednesday vs. the Celtics after playing 38 minutes on Sunday vs. Washington — we’ll have to wait to find out if LeVert and/or Harris will be back for Wednesday’s game as well.

The Nets’ active roster on Tuesday will look almost nothing like the group that the team relied on for much of the season. Even with LeVert, Harris, and Allen in the lineup, Brooklyn entered the restart shorthanded, missing injured players like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Nicolas Claxton, as well as Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince, DeAndre Jordan, and Wilson Chandler, all of whom either opted out of the restart or were ruled out following positive coronavirus tests.

On Tuesday, the Nets will be led by the likes of Tyler Johnson, Garrett Temple, Chris Chiozza, Rodions Kurucs, Lance Thomas, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot as they go up against the NBA’s best team.

Nets Notes: Crawford, Kurucs, LeVert, Hall

After more than a year away from the NBA, Jamal Crawford will be one of the oldest players in Orlando when he takes the court for the Nets, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Crawford, who joined his ninth team when he signed with Brooklyn earlier this week, credits a focus on his health with helping to extend his career.

“My wife changed my diet a few years ago, and that was huge,’’ Crawford said. “And I’m just staying in love with the game. I didn’t turn 40. I turned 20 twice.’’

It’s not clear what Crawford’s role will be when the season resumes, but his veteran presence might be important on a team that is projected to start Chris Chiozza at point guard after losing Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie. Berman states that Crawford may be in line for a role on next year’s Nets team, which could be among the title favorites once Kevin Durant returns.

“The Knicks were one of my favorite places to play — just the energy of the New York fans in general is amazing,’’ Crawford said, recalling a four-year stint in New York early in his career. “I’m sure with the Nets, that energy is amazing as well. The fans in that area are so passionate, and so knowledgeable.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • After playing a back-up role for most of the season, Rodions Kurucs seems ticketed for the starting lineup, Berman notes in a separate story. On a depleted roster, the only serious challenger at power forward appears to be veteran Michael Beasley, who will sit out the first five games due to a drug suspension. Kurucs has fond memories of his new teammate. “He’s a great player,’’ Kurucs said. “I was watching him when he played in New York. When he was doing really great, I was watching him. He was one of my favorite players when he played with the Knicks back then.”
  • With so many teammates either out for health reasons or choosing not to play in Orlando, Caris LeVert appears comfortable stepping into a starring role, Berman adds in the same piece. “I think he just has that different swagger about himself,’’ coach Jacque Vaughn said. “He’s put in work individually on his game during this hiatus, I think you can sense it in the way his shoulders are in the way he’s carrying himself. He’s eye contact, his leadership, he would be a guy that initially has looked really good.”
  • Chiozza likes the addition of big man Donta Hall, whom he faced frequently in college and the G League, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “His athleticism is off the charts. That’s going to help us,” Chiozza said. “He’s like (Jarrett Allen).”

Nets Notes: LeVert, Crawford, Beasley, Chiozza

The absence of so many key players means Caris LeVert will have to take on a larger role for the Nets in Orlando, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. The 25-year-old guard has always been a reliable scorer, but he will need to serve as a play-maker and team leader with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler and Nicolas Claxton all unavailable.

“I think for me it’s just taking on that challenge of being a leader, being the leader of that group,” LeVert said. “Going down there with some of the most experience on the team, playoff experience. I feel like I relish these types of opportunities and situations. Everything aside, I’m looking forward to going down there and seeing what we can do.”

The restart will give LeVert a chance to prove he can be a third star in Brooklyn and show management it doesn’t have to pursue someone else to team with Irving and Durant. A strong performance could also raise his trade value if the Nets decide to go that route. He agreed to a three-year, $52.5MM extension last summer.

“I feel good right now,” said LeVert, who missed 24 games earlier this season after thumb surgery. “I haven’t played in games since March so that’s the question I really don’t know. I feel good in my workouts though. And if I didn’t, I honestly wouldn’t be going down there to play. So I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Adding Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley shows that Brooklyn intends to be competitive in Orlando despite its depleted roster, observes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. Schiffer looks at what the veteran duo can provide the Nets along with scoring punch.
  • Even with the additions, Brooklyn will need increased contributions from players such as Chris Chiozza and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, according to a NetsDaily article. Both could be competing for a chance to be on the roster next season. “I feel like it’s a big opportunity for me,” Chiozza said recently. “It’s something I’m looking forward to. I hope Spencer feels better, but if not, I’ll be ready to take on those extra minutes.”
  • The Nets’ misfortune could wind up costing the Timberwolves a first-round pick this fall, writes Michael Rand of The Star-Tribune. Minnesota will receive Brooklyn’s first-rounder as long as the Nets reach the playoffs, which no longer seems certain with the number of players sitting out.

Nets Notes: Durant, Irving, LeVert, Luwawu-Cabarrot

Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have been “brutally honest” with their input into the team’s coaching situation, but neither will be in Orlando to watch interim coach Jacque Vaughn in action, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. General manager Sean Marks discussed their input during a Friday interview with WFAN.

“It would not be smart of us if we were not to involve some of these key players in this decision,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie, we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they need. They’ve been brutally honest so far. I’m not going to be asking Kevin to come down to Orlando to evaluate anybody. When you get to the level of those elite players, they have ultimate goals in mind. They want to be held accountable. Kevin and Kyrie have told me they want to win a championship in Brooklyn.”

Marks noted that Irving is “doing well” in his recovery from shoulder surgery in March, but implied that the team never gave serious consideration to having Irving or Durant play in Orlando, citing the “risk-reward” factor and how it could affect the franchise in the long run.

There’s more Nets news this morning:

  • With a severely short-handed team headed for the NBA’s restart, Brooklyn’s next decision will be how much to use Caris LeVert, Lewis adds in the same piece. LeVert has a history of being injured and is considered the team’s best trade asset if it decides to pursue a third star. “I don’t make those decisions; I feel like that’s outside of me. That’s Sean and ownership. That’s not really my job to think of those things,” LeVert said.
  • The Nets’ roster woes will provide an opportunity for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to prove he deserves a larger role, Lewis states in a separate story. After being waived in a preseason, then working his way onto the roster through a two-way contract and a pair of 10-day deals, Luwawu-Cabarrot should see plenty of playing time in Orlando. “It’s huge for us, huge for me,” he said. “Obviously, we’re going to miss them. But as we say this year and as it’s always been, it’s next man up. You have to stay ready and be ready to play … I’m sure they’ll support us and we’ll try and do the best job we can.”
  • Matt Brooks and Chris Milholen of NetsDaily discuss potential replacements for DeAndre Jordan, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

Nets Notes: LeVert, Durant, Irving, Vezenkov

The Nets need to determine whether Caris LeVert can be the third star alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on a championship team or a trade piece to acquire one, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.

LeVert was on a tear prior to the suspension of play and figures to be in high demand on the trade market, Lewis continues. LeVert is entering the first season of a three-year, $52.5MM extension. The Nets have several trade assets, including Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen, but LeVert might be their best chip, Lewis adds.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Longtime NBA guard Jamal Crawford believes Irving and Durant will go through an adjustment period, Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News relays. Crawford made his comments in a Scoop B Radio interview with Brandon Robinson. “They’ll have moments where they have to figure it out and work their way through,” he said. “Those moments may come more in the closer games because they’re both used to having the ball and making plays and making decisions and certain ways they may go about things in the closer games. So maybe more presence there, but I’m sure it will happen during the course of the season.”
  • The Nets hold the rights to four European draft-and-slash players but none are potential difference-makesr, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. The most recent of those picks, 2017 second-rounder Sasha Vezenkov, isn’t an NBA-caliber athlete, Hollinger continues. The combo forward doesn’t move his feet well and is a poor rebounder, Hollinger adds.
  • All four of the team’s players, including Durant, who tested positive for COVID-19 are now symptom-free. Get the details here.

Nets Rumors: Third Star, Dinwiddie, Coach, Kyrie

In the latest edition of his Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said he believes the Nets have signaled they’ll try to use some of their young talent to trade for a third star this offseason to complement Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“We could enter a healthy debate here about whether Caris LeVert is that third star, and they may make the decision that he is,” Windhorst said. “But my feel (from) reading the tea leaves, paying attention to what (general manager) Sean Marks has said, and also being aware of some conversations that they had at the trade deadline – which was some sticking the toe in the water on some things – I think that they are going to swing for the fences whenever the offseason comes.”

As Windhorst and guests Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton note, it’s not clear which stars on other rosters would even available via trade and whether the Nets would be willing to package players like LeVert or Spencer Dinwiddie. Marks and Pelton point out that moving a point guard like Dinwiddie could be somewhat risky, given all the games Irving has missed due to injuries in recent years.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Windhorst also suggested in today’s podcast that the Nets figure to seek an established head coach who would be comfortable leading a veteran team going all-in on contending. “One of the things that has been expressed sort of through the grapevine – that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators – is that Durant and Irving would like a blue chip coach,” Windhorst said. “I don’t know what this says about the way they felt about (Kenny) Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”
  • In a subsequent discussion on potential head coaching options for Brooklyn, Windhorst speculates that Tom Thibodeau will receive consideration from both the Nets and Knicks. As Windhorst observes, Thibodeau’s experience as an assistant for Team USA gives him a connection to Durant and Irving.
  • In the latest installment of his player-by-player look at the Nets’ roster, Brian Lewis of The New York Post focuses on Irving, writing that it’s hard to imagine Kyrie’s second year in Brooklyn being as “tumultuous” as year one was. Lewis also doesn’t close the door on the possibility of Irving returning to action in 2019/20 if the season resumes in two or three months.

New York Notes: Durant, Nets Backcourt, Knicks Fans, Rose

Kevin Durant provided a medical update during the Nets‘ broadcast Wednesday night on the YES Network, relays Peter Botte of The New York Post. Durant said he continues to make progress in his recovery from Achilles surgery and confirmed that he recently started playing three-on-three games with teammates.

“I feel all right. It’s been fun, playing three-on-three with the guys every day,” Durant said. “I miss the routine. I’ve missed getting up every day and being one of the guys, going to practice, going to shootarounds. It’s been difficult, being away from the scene. But I’m about nine months out (from surgery), so I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.”

There’s more NBA news from New York City:

  • Because of injuries to Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson still doesn’t know if they can form an effective backcourt rotation with Spencer Dinwiddie, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Irving will miss the rest of the season after shoulder surgery and played just 20 games in his first year in Brooklyn. LeVert was injured early in the season and has been available for only 36 games. “That would be the piece we still have to figure out,” Atkinson said. “You have a lot of ball dominant guards. That being said, Caris and Spencer, with D’Angelo [Russell], they played a lot without the ball. I think D’Angelo’s usage rate was higher than Kyrie’s. We can definitely do it.”
  • Four fans tell Marc Berman of The New York Post they were ejected from Madison Square Garden after starting a “sell the team” chant directed at owner James Dolan late in Wednesday’s loss to Utah. The Knicks are denying the claim, stating that no one was ejected or escorted out of the building. Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press notes that years of losing may be catching up with the organization as last night’s crowd was the smallest since 2006 and overall attendance is likely to drop for the fourth straight season.
  • Jazz star Donovan Mitchell believes hiring Leon Rose as president of basketball operations will help turn the Knicks around, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. A CAA client, Mitchell talked about Rose when he was asked about the team’s dispute with Spike Lee. “I think with Leon — who I know personally — things are going to trend upward. I love Leon to death,” Mitchell said. “He’s a great dude, great person and a really good businessman. So I think they’re going to start going in the right direction when he gets in there.”

Nets Notes: Lineups, Bryant, Claxton, Levy

As the Nets prepare for Kyrie Irving‘s return to action, the team seems to be mulling the idea of leaning more heavily on small-ball lineups, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. While it’s possible not all of Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Caris LeVert will be in Brooklyn’s starting five, there’s a chance that all three guards could play together at the end of games.

“The big question, the big thing is who’s going to finish; that’s the one, how do you finish?” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We have opportunities to play small, really small, too. That’s within our possibilities. We’ll just figure it out. It’s hard to know until you have it in your hands what exactly you’re going to do.”

As Lewis notes, a lineup that features the Nets’ top three guards alongside Joe Harris at the four and Jarrett Allen at the five has only played 18 minutes together this year, but it has been one of the club’s most effective five-man units, outscoring opponents by 20.5 minutes per 100 possessions. Harris told Lewis that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Brooklyn opts for smaller lineups more often the rest of the way.

“I would’ve never thought in my life I’d be playing power forward in the NBA, but that’s the direction the NBA is going,” Harris said. “And as the year wears on, teams are doing whatever it takes to win games. Sometimes that’s going with a smaller lineup.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic takes a look at how Travon Bryant, who had a decade-long career as a player in international leagues, has become a key member of Atkinson’s coaching staff. Bryant, who works with Brooklyn’s frontcourt players, has had an impact on rookie big man Nicolas Claxton this season. “I enjoy working with him every single day,” Claxton said. “I have to give some credit to him. He’s extremely knowledgeable of the game, and I think he’s going to be a good coach in this league for a while.”
  • Back in November, the Nets parted ways with CEO David Levy after just two months. Speaking recently to Ira Boudway of Bloomberg (hat tip to Brian Lewis of The New York Post), Nets owner Joseph Tsai explained that he and Levy had different expectations for what that job would entail. “He was already looking ahead at how to grow the J Tsai sports portfolio, but we also needed someone to do the nuts and bolts,” Tsai said. “Maybe he thought that he wanted to do something that’s bigger and he could just bring in other people to do it, and I’m of a view that before you outsource something you should do it yourself.”
  • After getting a week off for the All-Star break, the Nets will make a concerted effort to avoid a repeat of their post-Christmas-break struggles, Lewis writes in a separate story for The New York Post. Following a four-day Christmas break, Brooklyn lost seven consecutive games and 12 of 14. A similar post-All-Star run could jeopardize the club’s hold on a playoff spot.

Nets Notes: LeVert, Irving, TLC, Kurucs

Having returned to the Nets‘ starting lineup last week when Kyrie Irving was sidelined, Caris LeVert is thriving. He has averaged 29.7 PPG and 6.3 APG with a .517/.688/1.000 shooting line in those three games (30.6 MPG). As Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, it may be hard for the team to send him back to the bench when Irving is ready to return.

“[LeVert’s] one of the best players in the league,” teammate Spencer Dinwiddie said. “He’s our third star, one of the best iso players in the league.”

Of course, it could also be Dinwiddie, not LeVert, who loses his starting job when Irving returns, despite averages of 21.0 PPG and 6.5 APG this season. Starting Irving, Dinwiddie, and LeVert is a possibility for the Nets, but that might not be the most optimal way to stagger the club’s rotation, given how good all three players are with the ball in their hands.

Brooklyn may have to make that lineup decision soon. Although Irving has been ruled out for Monday’s game, head coach Kenny Atkinson said there’s still a chance the star point guard could return before the All-Star break on Wednesday, when the Nets host Toronto.

“There’s a chance he could play. Knowing him, he’ll want to play if he’s cleared. We just don’t know yet,” Atkinson said, per Lewis. “We’ve got to wait until we get back (to Brooklyn) and see how it’s going.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • After starting the season on a two-way contract and then signing a pair of 10-day deals with the Nets, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot got a rest-of-season guarantee following the trade deadline and is thankful for the opportunity he has received in Brooklyn. “It’s just amazing,” Luwawu-Cabarrot told Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “When people trust you and give you that confidence, it’s amazing. That’s when you are the best version of yourself, and when you are confident. It’s great to call Brooklyn home, for sure.”
  • Luwawu-Cabarrot’s new deal isn’t guaranteed at all for 2020/21 for now, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The former first-round pick will get a $150K partial guarantee if he remains under contract through early August, and that guarantee would increase to $250K on opening night.
  • In a separate New York Post story, Lewis takes a look at how Rodions Kurucs has regained his confidence on the court and become one of the NBA’s most accurate three-point shooters this season.
  • In case you missed it, three Nets players – Irving, Kevin Durant, and Joe Harris – were among the 44 finalists announced by USA Basketball for this summer’s Olympic roster.