Caris LeVert

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.

Woj’s Latest: Love, Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, More

ESPN insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks published a pair of podcasts on Sunday examining each of the NBA’s two conferences, breaking down trade possibilities and scenarios for a number of teams.

The two podcasts, which are worth listening to in full, included several interesting notes and tidbits on the trade market, so we’ll pass along several of the highlights right here:

Eastern Conference (full podcast link):

  • The Cavaliers are resigned to the fact that they likely won’t end up moving Kevin Love by Thursday, per Wojnarowski. Unless something “comes out of nowhere,” Cleveland may end up having to revisit Love’s trade market in the offseason, Woj adds.
  • Based on how well they’ve played this season, the Bucks will be somewhat “risk-averse” at the deadline, according to Wojnarowski. Although Milwaukee may make a move, the buyout market could be a safer bet for an upgrade around the edges of their roster. For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Zach Lowe suggested today that, given their crowded rotation, the Bucks could use Indiana’s 2020 first-round pick to make “some sort of consolidation trade” if they don’t think it’d disrupt their chemistry.
  • Wojnarowski is hearing the same thing that Lowe is about Hawks center John Collins — teams have been monitoring him, and Atlanta is in the market a for a center, but it would be a surprise if the club trades Collins at this point.
  • If the Pistons can get a first-round pick for Andre Drummond, they seem likely pull the trigger. If not, they may have to decide whether it’s worth it to accept expiring contracts and a second-rounder or two, says Wojnarowski.
  • The Nets are active in trade talks and could make a deal as long as it makes sense for next year’s team, according to Woj and Marks. For what it’s worth, while sources told Lowe that Brooklyn won’t trade players such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, or Jarrett Allen for draft picks, Lowe wonders if the Nets will eventually consider a move involving a player like Dinwiddie and LeVert, since the team’s backcourt hasn’t fully meshed when everyone has been healthy this year.

Western Conference (full podcast link):

  • While the Lakers and Clippers may be active on the trade market, they may not be feeling tremendous pressure to do anything, since they’re expected to be the top two choices for many players on the buyout market, Wojnarowski points out.
  • Andre Iguodala, for instance, would almost certainly gravitate toward either the Lakers or Clippers if he’s bought out, per Wojnarowski. However, as we’ve heard all season, the Grizzlies remain firm on finding a trade and avoiding a buyout for the former Finals MVP.
  • Speaking of Iguodala, Wojnarowski says the Rockets tried for “months” to find a way to acquire him, exploring a number of multi-team possibilities. They’ve backed off that pursuit after not finding any viable scenarios
  • Woj and Marks agree that there’s no pressure on the Thunder to move any of their veteran trade candidates. Lowe made a similar point today, writing that it could make sense to stand pat with guys like Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams, who could be traded (or signed-and-traded, in Gallinari’s case) in the summer.

Atlantic Notes: LeVert, Irving, Siakam, Gasol, Leonard

Nets guard Caris LeVert made his highly-anticipated return against the Raptors on Saturday night, seeing his first in-game action with the team since November 10.

LeVert, who had missed the last 24 games after undergoing surgery to address ligament damage in his thumb, finished with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting off the bench despite being on a minutes restriction.

“I felt pretty good out there. Obviously we wanted to get a win, but just me personally, I felt pretty good,” LeVert said, as relayed by Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

LeVert is widely considered as one of the most talented players on the Nets when healthy, and it’s possible he’ll rejoin the team’s starting lineup in the coming weeks. He averaged 13.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in 40 contests last season.

“Just adds one of our best players to the lineup quite honestly,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said of LeVert’s return. “A dynamic player, athleticism, quickness, speed. A guy that knows our system too. It’s not like some guy we signed out of the blue. I feel comfortable once he gets his rhythm. He knows what we’re doing on both sides of the ball so that’s a big comfort level.”

The Nets have been plagued with injuries to start the season, playing without Kevin Durant (torn Achilles’ rehab), Kyrie Irving (right shoulder; 11 games played), LeVert and others. Brooklyn owns the seventh-best record in the East at 16-18.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic details what we know about Kyrie Irving‘s lingering right shoulder injury, which has forced the six-time All-Star to miss the past 23 games. Irving recently received a cortisone shot for the shoulder impingement, opting to go this route instead of having arthroscopic surgery — for now. “I’m in a better place now that it’s been some significant time,” Irving said. “I tried to go without any anti-inflammatories, which is why it took so long. Now I’m at a place where the next step was to either get a cortisone shot or get surgery. So that was the ultimatum I was fixed with. So now I’m just doing the best I can to live off this cortisone and move forward if I need surgery in the future.”
  • Raptors big men Pascal Siakam (groin) and Marc Gasol (hamstring) still aren’t close to returning to action, head coach Nick Nurse said, as relayed by Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). “I would still say, if I was guessing, the order of comeback would probably be Matt [Thomas] and Norm [Powell], Marc and then lastly Pascal if that’s the case,” Nurse said. “But I think we’re still, I mean, we’re still a ways away with Marc and Pascal. I think Norm and Matt are in the front-view mirror, let’s put it that way.”
  • Kawhi Leonard said he never considered joining the Knicks in free agency and denied scheduling a meeting with the team, Ian Begley of SNY.tv writes. “I never said I was considering going to the Knicks. Everybody knew where I wanted to go once I requested the trade so I don’t know where that came from,” Leonard said. New York lost out on Kawhi, who signed with the Clippers, as well as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who signed with the Nets. The Knicks claimed they pulled out of a scheduled meeting with Leonard.

Caris LeVert Expected To Return Saturday

Injured Nets swingman Caris LeVert is expected to suit up for Brooklyn for a Saturday game against the Raptors, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

LeVert has missed the last seven weeks with a right thumb injury that required surgery. The 25-year-old Michigan alum signed a three-year, $52MM extension with the club this summer.

The 16-17 Nets, currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, are reeling after a four-game slump. LeVert (16.8 PPG) and Kyrie Irving (28.5 PPG), two of the team’s three top scorers, have both been out since mid-November.

In his nine healthy games for the Nets this season, LeVert has made contributions beyond his scoring. He is averaging 5.0 RPG and 4.0 APG, while shooting 36.1% of his 4.0 three-point attempts a night. LeVert fell to the No. 20 pick in the 2016 NBA draft in part due to injury concerns. The athletic, 6’6″ wing has played in just 177 of a possible 279 games in his pro career thus far.

New York Notes: Randle, Knicks, LeVert, TLC

While the Knicks‘ front office has talked a lot about player development over the last year or two, that’s not what Julius Randle is prioritizing on the court, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. Randle stressed this week that he won’t be satisfied with moral victories unless they come along with actual victories.

“Winning is all that mattered. It’s always mattered. Development or not — we didn’t come here to develop,” Randle said. “We want to bring the younger guys along and help them, but at the same time we want to win. That’s our expectation. That’s the only thing that matters. And from my end, that’s the only thing that matters.”

Despite the fact that the Knicks are looking to develop young players like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and Kevin Knox, Bondy suggests that Randle’s attitude should be welcomed, since the team’s locker room has too often “been a cheerful place following defeats.” And, of course, winning games and developing prospects don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Injured Nets guard Caris LeVert has one more hurdle to clear before he returns from thumb surgery, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who suggests that LeVert could be cleared to play if he participates in a full practice on Wednesday. Although LeVert has done some 5-on-5 work already, Brooklyn wants to make sure he gets a little more practice time in before he returns. “I personally don’t feel comfortable just rolling a guy out there without the proper build-up and game simulations,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I think it’s important we want when guys step in the lineup that they’re ready to go.”
  • Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, one of the Nets‘ two-way players, has become a regular contributor in recent weeks as a result of the team’s injuries woes. He may return to the G League when Brooklyn’s roster gets healthier, but Luwawu-Cabarrot’s solid play has given the team something to think about, says Net Income of NetsDaily.
  • In case you missed it on Monday, Jared Dudley shared one reason why Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan may have chosen the Nets over the Knicks in free agency this past summer.

Latest On Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert

Nets point guard Kyrie Irving remains on the shelf, but head coach Kenny Atkinson refuted a report claiming that Irving is suffering from thoracic bursitis, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes.

“Whatever that report said is not true,” Atkinson said. “We’re still in the same place the last time I talked. Like I said, the thing is we haven’t gotten to the contact with him. We’re on-court workout situation but the contact just hasn’t been cleared yet. I think that’s the next hurdle. I wish I could tell you when that is. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”

Asked if Irving’s lingering shoulder issue would require surgery, Atkinson said that the team doesn’t believe that’s necessary, adding that the six-time All-Star remains focused on his rehab process.

Although Irving’s return doesn’t appear imminent, today’s update on fellow injured guard Caris LeVert was more positive. According to Malika Andrews of ESPN, LeVert told reporters that he was able to go through 5-on-5 work on Tuesday and again on Thursday.

Atkinson was unwilling to commit to getting LeVert back in the lineup during the Nets’ upcoming road trip to Houston (Dec. 28), Minnesota (Dec. 30), and Dallas (Jan. 2), but also didn’t rule out the possibility of LeVert playing in one or more of those games, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

“Of course you want to push me. I’m afraid I’m going to say yes and then it doesn’t happen, so I’m not going to go there,” Atkinson said, explaining why he wouldn’t commit to a specific date. “I’d just say, he’s getting really close.”

With LeVert expected to return before Irving does, Atkinson also left the door open for LeVert to play a backup point guard role when he’s healthy.

“Yeah, he’s done it before. Completely comfortable with that. And yes that’s something we’ll think about,” the head coach said. “That’s something we’re going to need, and he’s really good at it, so that’s going to help us when he comes back.”

Brooklyn has been hit hard by injuries as of late and could badly use some reinforcements after tonight’s 12-point home loss to the Knicks. Spencer Dinwiddie was the only Net to score more than 10 points in that game.

Eastern Notes: Collins, Jackson, LeVert, Irving, Kanter

Hawks forward John Collins decided against appealing his 25-game NBA suspension, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

“I was going to take the first step, but after reconvening with my team and talking some things out, we just decided it was best to move forward,” Collins said. “But it was definitely in consideration.”

Collins, who returned to action without a minutes restriction on Monday after finishing out the suspension, admits the ban for testing positive for a growth hormone injured his reputation.

“I’ve seen some of those comments and they hurt me a little bit, saying ‘This guy’s a cheater,’” Collins said. “I would want to let them know I’m not a cheater and this is something that will never happen again, if I can control it.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics center Enes Kanter will play at Toronto on Christmas, he wrote in a story for The Globe and Mail. Kanter has an ongoing dispute with the current regime in his native Turkey and the government has issued a warrant for his arrest. Kanter wrote in part, “I want to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, the Celtics, the NBA and my managers for working diligently to make my Christmas game against the Raptors possible and ensuring my safety there. And, on Christmas night, I will play in my first game as a Celtic outside the U.S. when I take the court against the Raptors.”
  • Nets guard Caris LeVert is close to returning, ESPN’s Malika Andrews tweets. LeVert participated in most aspects of the team’s practice on Monday and did contact work with the Nets’ coaches. LeVert has been out since mid-November with a thumb injury. Kyrie Irving, who is trying to work his way back from a shoulder injury, still hasn’t been cleared for contact and is unlikely to play Thursday against New York, Andrews adds in another tweet.
  • Pistons guard Reggie Jackson will soon get another evaluation on the back injury that has sidelined him since the first two games this season, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Jackson has been doing non-contact activities for several weeks, Ellis adds.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Musa, Kerr, Knicks

Joel Embiid‘s numbers are down in the major categories and the Sixers center feels that must change in order for the team to get rolling, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Embiid, who has missed four games during the Sixers’ 8-5 start, is averaging 22.9 PPG, 11.4 RPG and 1.4 BPG. He averaged 27.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG and 1.9 BPG last season.“I need to do more,” Embiid said. “I felt like I haven’t done enough. So that’s what I think I need to do.”

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The role of Nets second-year shooting guard Dzanan Musa has expanded with Caris LeVert sidelined by a thumb injury, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. Musa has averaged 9.0 PPG in 21.0 MPG over the last four games. “We need his scoring on that second unit now, with no Caris,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “You can’t just have Spencer (Dinwiddie) out there taking every possession.” We’re going to need Musa to play well.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes the FIBA World Cup helped the Celtics get off to a fast start, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown all played for Team USA. “You could tell [Team USA] was a head start for them,” Kerr said. “You could tell over the summer that those guys would click, and they absolutely have.”
  • Small, quick guards have lit up the Knicks lately, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post notes. Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham, Chicago’s Coby White and Cleveland’s Collin Sexton have all enjoyed big games against them, forcing head coach David Fizdale to consider going smaller in his backcourt. “The battle that we are fighting is the speed guard who can shoot, those little guards that can get anywhere on the floor that can shoot the ball from the moon,” Fizdale said. “Those guys have been giving us headaches.”

Caris LeVert Undergoes Thumb Surgery, Out 4-6 Weeks

NOVEMBER 14, 1:27pm: LeVert will likely be sidelined for approximately four to six weeks, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

NOVEMBER 14, 12:14pm: LeVert underwent successful surgery today to repair ligaments in his right thumb, the Nets announced (via Twitter). The team didn’t provide a specific timeline for LeVert’s return, stating updates will be “provided as appropriate.” However, Charania reiterates (via Twitter) that the fourth-year guard will likely miss several weeks.

NOVEMBER 13, 4:01pm: The Nets fear that guard Caris LeVert has ligament damage in his right thumb and will be sidelined for the next several weeks, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (video link).

Brooklyn has yet to make any formal announcements on LeVert’s status, but we can probably expect an update from the team soon, as Charania reported earlier in the day that the 25-year-old was visiting specialists to undergo further evaluations on his thumb injury.

Although the Nets haven’t officially revealed LeVert’s recovery timeline, the team signed Iman Shumpert this afternoon for extra depth on the wing, which is a strong hint that Charania’s report is accurate.

Brooklyn will be free to carry Shumpert for the next month, then will have to either release him or trade or waive another player by December 15, when Wilson Chandler‘s 25-game suspension ends. By that point, LeVert may be back or at least close to returning, reducing the need for an additional wing like Shumpert.

The thumb injury is a tough break for LeVert, who missed over half of last season due to a major ankle injury. He was off to a solid start in 2019/20, with 16.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 4.0 APG to go along with a .421/.361/.645 shooting line in nine games (31.6 MPG).