Caris LeVert

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.

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.