Caris LeVert

Nets Notes: LeVert, Durant, Free Agency

Swingman Caris LeVert is going to be a key piece for the Nets this summer, in more ways than one, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. LeVert, affectionately nicknamed “Baby Durant” due to his lanky build, style of play, and relationship with his nickname-namesake, is the one player on the Brooklyn roster with connections to Kevin Durant, the cream of this summer’s free-agent crop.

But on top of that, LeVert is also a key piece of the Nets’ young core – he led the team in scoring before injuring his foot and then again during the playoffs – and locking him up to a long-term contract extension should be near the top of the team’s offseason to-do list, right next to making a run at Durant, writes Lewis.

LeVert, 24, just completed the third season of a rookie contract he signed after being drafted No. 20 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Therefore, per the CBA, the Nets have until the day before the start of the 2019/20 season (but not before the end of the July Moratorium) to lock LeVert up to a long-term deal, potentially through 2024 (or 2025 if the club designates him), right before LeVert turns 30.

As Lewis notes, the Nets opted not to extend the rookie contract of D’Angelo Russell last summer, instead letting the 23-year-old All-Star hit restricted free agency. Brooklyn is still in a good position to re-sign Russell, but it’s likely they could have gotten him on a cheaper contract last summer before his breakout 2018/19 season. Failing to extend LeVert could again cost the Nets money next summer should LeVert outperform expectations in 2019/20 akin to how Russell did this season.

Furthermore, keeping LeVert happy is important in order for the Nets to have the best chance at signing Durant this summer. And LeVert has made it clear he’s happy in Brooklyn. “I’d love to play here as long as possible,” LeVert said. “I love the city of Brooklyn, I love the coaches and the team here. So whatever we decide to do, I’ll be happy with.”

There’s more news out of Brooklyn this evening:

  • The Nets being ahead of schedule in their rebuild does not mean they should sacrifice their core to go wild in free agency, writes Sean Deveney of Sporting News. For example, Brooklyn could make a trade and let Russell go in free agency in order to create two max-contract slots. But doing so would destabilize the nucleus of a team that is on the rise, and there is no guarantee that the two-max players would fit into head coach Kenny Atkinson’s system. Even signing one max-guy shouldn’t be a no-brainer, writes Deveney, as that player could potentially stunt the growth of LeVert or a guy like Spencer Dinwiddie.
  • Despite the lack of an on-court rivalry between the two teams from the Big Apple, the Knicks and Nets could be headed for an offseason, front-office-oriented showdown this summer in the form of Durant’s free agency, writes Stefan Bondy of the Daily News. One factor in the Nets’ favor is location – per forward Jared Dudley – as the Nets practice in Brooklyn while the Knicks practice in Tarrytown, a village in Westchester County located roughly 30 miles north of Manhattan.
  • Frank Isola of The Athletic also chimed in on the difference in value between the Knicks and Nets from the eyes of free agents, writing that Madison Square Garden, fan base, and team history tip the scales in New York’s favor, despite the tremendous job that Atkinson and Sean Marks have done in the last three years.

New York Notes: Jordan, Robinson, Russell, LeVert

Mitchell Robinson will be the Knicks‘ starting center for the rest of the season, pushing DeAndre Jordan out of the rotation, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Coach David Fizdale made the move official yesterday, with Robinson and Luke Kornet each playing 36 minutes while Jordan never left the bench. The Knicks are also taking a long look at Kornet before deciding how to handle his upcoming free agency.

Fizdale has been holding off the move out of respect for Jordan, who was acquired from the Mavericks in the Kristaps Porzingis deal. The 30-year-old Jordan will also be a free agent this summer and is a close friend of Kevin Durant, whom the Knicks are hoping to sign. There had been talk that Jordan might seek a buyout, but he opted to remain in New York.

“I can’t speak highly enough about DJ,’’ Fizdale said. “I spoke to [Jordan] today about it. Asked him what he thought. The pro that he is — exactly what he’s been since he got here. He sacrificed not going to another team to stay here with the Knicks to help Mitchell. He said, ‘Coach, let’s get that kid in there and see what he can do and I’ll be ready for you.’ I can say he’s one of the most professional veterans I’ve ever been around, been a great leader.”

There’s more this morning from New York City:

  • Landing Durant would be just the first step toward solving the Knicks‘ problems, observes Steve Popper of Newsday. Massive overhaul is expected during the offseason on a roster where few players have established themselves as part of the future. Robinson and rookie Kevin Knox appear most likely to stay, but Knox and Durant play the same position.
  • The NetsD’Angelo Russell dominated Boston’s Terry Rozier Saturday in a matchup of the top two restricted free agent point guards who will be on the market this summer, notes Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Russell’s 29-point, 10-assist performance is part of a season of redemption that could land him a contract starting at more than $20MM a year. “Everybody was wrong obviously,” Russell said. “Everybody was wrong about me, so I don’t have to say anything.”
  • Nets guard Caris LeVert feels like he’s finally getting his game back after recovering from a severe right leg injury he suffered in November, relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post. LeVert posted his third straight solid game Saturday as Brooklyn tries to lock down a playoff spot. “I’ve just been trying to stay consistent with my habits off the court, get my work in, taking care of my body,” LeVert said.

Atlantic Notes: Monroe, Lowry, LeVert, Sixers

Greg Monroe is ready to contribute right away after signing a 10-day contract with the Celtics earlier today, relays Taylor Snow of NBA.com. The deal was finalized this afternoon after being first reported Friday and delayed amid rumors that Boston wanted to give the final roster spot to Thomas Robinson. An injury to Robert Williams last night, with Al Horford and Aron Baynes already sidelined, may have convinced the Celtics to add another center.

“Obviously those guys were having a few little injuries and have been missing a few games,” Monroe said. “So it’s definitely about helping them out and getting ready for the playoffs. That what it’s about, trying to get those guys fully healthy to make a run.”

The 28-year-old spent the first part of this season in Toronto, but has been out of the NBA since being acquired and then waived by the Nets at the trade deadline. Monroe hopes to help out the Celtics the way he did last year when he averaged 10.2 PPG and 6.3 RPG after joining the team in February.

“We’ve always thought highly of Greg,” coach Brad Stevens said. “… He’s a bright guy and when you put him through our stuff, he knows it right after he gets here. Doesn’t take him long.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry returned to the court tonight even though his right ankle isn’t fully healed, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Lowry missed back-to-back games after a scary incident Monday night, but said he felt like he needed to start playing again. “I could sit out until the playoffs with the type of injury I have but I want to play, keep a rhythm, get out there with the guys and play some basketball,” he said. “If I can get out there and play, I’m going to go play.”
  • Nets players aren’t waiting for summer to start recruiting Kevin Durant, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Durant’s new video series “Fly By” will include a tour of Brooklyn from D’Angelo Russell. Teammate Caris LeVert, who serves as Durant’s summertime workout partner, isn’t shy about making his pitch. “I don’t think superstars, especially Kevin, want to be the one who has to carry the whole team, the full load on his own,” LeVert said. “He’s in his 30s now, so he definitely wants to go to a team that has a good core, has a good culture, has good guys on the team, and we fit all those categories.”
  • The Sixers‘ blockbuster trades could backfire if they can’t keep the starting five together after this season, warns Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The front office will likely have to give max deals to both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, and J.J. Redick will be a free agent as well.

New York Notes: Dinwiddie, LeVert, Knox, Ntilikina

The Nets are looking forward to having three of their most productive players together for the stretch run, writes Mike Mazzeo of The New York Post. Spencer Dinwiddie will return to action tonight after thumb surgery sidelined him for about a month. The trio of Dinwiddie, D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert, who recently came back after missing three months with a dislocated right foot, have only been on the court together for 90 minutes all season.

“D’Lo is obviously playing at a high level. Caris is working his way back into form,” Dinwiddie said. “They’re going to do what they do, and our focus and our sights are set on the playoffs and trying to win as many games as possible, trying to be that team that not only makes it but strikes a little fear into some of those top seeds’ heart.”

Dinwiddie will be available for back-to-back games, coach Kenny Atkinson said, but his minutes will be limited at first and will gradually increase. The Nets were 6-8 while he was injured.

There’s more NBA news out of New York:

  • LeVert doesn’t want to blame the injury for the struggles he has encountered since returning, Mazzeo relays in a separate story. The Nets guard was off to a career-best start before getting hurt, averaging 18.4 PPG in his first 14 games. In the seven games since coming back, his scoring has dropped to 8.9 PPG. “Three months is a long time to be out, but I don’t want to put it all on the injury,” LeVert said. “I feel like I could have had better energy and defensively and maybe sparked something offensively. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it was.”
  • Knicks rookies Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier continue to exceed expectations, but first-round pick Kevin Knox‘s shooting woes are concerning, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knox has hit just 5-of-28 shots in his last two games, continuing a problem that caused him to lose a starting job in the preseason. “I want him to stay aggressive,” coach David Fizdale said. “We’re not going to get caught up in the percentages right now. He’s taking shots he can make. So keep taking them.’’
  • After missing more than a month with a strained groin, Frank Ntilikina may return during a three-game road trip, Berman adds in another story. Ntilikina could be cleared for practice tomorrow, which would mark the first time he has played alongside Dennis Smith Jr. Ntilikina had taken over the Knicks‘ starting point guard role before being sidelined, but that position now belongs to Smith.

Nets Notes: Rotation, Kurucs, LeVert, Davis

Now that the Nets have a healthy lineup again, it’s up to coach Kenny Atkinson to find the right combinations to break them out of a slump, writes Greg Joyce of The New York PostCaris LeVert, Allen Crabbe and Jared Dudley recently returned from injuries, leaving Spencer Dinwiddie, who had thumb surgery in late January, as the only player still sidelined. However, Brooklyn has lost six of its last eight games and has fallen back to .500.

“I think part of getting healthy again is just getting that chemistry and getting our lineups right,” Atkinson said. “That’s where we’re a little — confused is the wrong word, but we’re trying to figure it out what the best thing is and who’s getting the minutes and all that. It’s almost like another new season for us with all our returning players.”

LeVert was off to a sizzling start before suffering a dislocated foot in November, and backcourt partner D’Angelo Russell didn’t begin to excel until LeVert got injured. Atkinson has to find a way for them to be effective together, while also working out a logjam at power forward, where Treveon GrahamRondae Hollis-Jefferson and Dudley are all battling for playing time.

There’s more today out of Brooklyn:

  • Also competing for minutes at forward will be rookie forward Rodions Kurucs, even though he was held out of the lineup Thursday, Joyce adds in a separate story. Atkinson said the 21-year-old, who was part of the Rising Stars Challenge, will remain in the mix for a spot in the rotation.
  • LeVert expected to be out for the season when he first suffered his injury, relays Bryan Fonseca of NetsDaily“I looked down and I was like, ‘Man, this is bad,’” LeVert said in an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “But I think, probably 15-20 minutes after it happened, they kind of told me that it may have only been a dislocation. And that was the best case scenario in that situation.”
  • Ed Davis was happy to get a one-year, $4.4MM offer from the Nets last summer, but he wasn’t sure he would be joining a contender, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “When I signed here in July, I didn’t think this was a playoff team, honestly,” Davis said. “But when I got here and started to see players and how good guys were — and see coach, his philosophies and his schemes — my mindset changed.”

Atlantic Notes: Brand, Nets, Atkinson, Irving

After years and years of asset collection and patience being the primary focus of the Sixers‘ plans, Elton Brand has dramatically changed the team’s course of action in a few months. First it was trading for Jimmy Butler. Then this past week, Brand took it to another level by trading several future assets for Tobias Harris, effectively creating a “big four” in Philadelphia.

These moves were made because Brand’s mindset is that the Sixers are in a position to contend for a championship right now. As Brian Seltzer writes for the 76ers’ team website, Brand is acting with a sense of urgency and focus on building a true championship team this season.

Should the 76ers re-sign both Harris and Butler, the team would instantly become one of the more expensive in the league, but Brand should be satisfied with the group of talent he has assembled for the foreseeable future.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

Caris LeVert Set To Return For Nets

The Nets‘ most significant addition at the trade deadline may be the return of one of their own players. According to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link), injured guard Caris LeVert is ready to get back on the court and will be available for tomorrow night’s game against Chicago.

LeVert, 24, was off to a great start in 2018/19 before going down with a gruesome right foot injury in November. While it initially looked like we might not see him again until the 2019/20 season, the third-year guard was diagnosed with a dislocated foot, with the team indicating that he was expected to return before the end of the season. He’s now on track to return to the Nets before the All-Star break.

Prior to the injury, LeVert 18.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, and .475/.311/.721 shooting in 14 games (29.7 MPG). While it remains to be seen whether he’ll pick up right where he left off, LeVert should help the Nets solidify a playoff spot, adding more talent to a squad that could be a tough out in the postseason.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/5/19

Here are Tuesday’s assignments and recalls from the G League:

  • The Nets assigned oft-injured guards Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert to their affiliate in Long Island for practice, the team announced (Twitter link). Brooklyn recalled both men after practice, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link). LeVert has not played since Nov. 12 when he suffered a right foot dislocation and Crabbe has been sidelined with a sore knee since Dec. 12. Crabbe will be available Wednesday against the Nuggets while Brooklyn is hopeful LeVert can return shortly thereafter.
  • The Wizards assigned John Jenkins to their G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, the team announced (Twitter link). Jenkins has yet to play in a game with Washington and has appeared in just one game with the Go-Go.
  • The Bulls assigned Antonio Blakeney to their G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, the team announced (Twitter link). Blakeney has appeared in 40 games with Chicago this season, averaging 7.8 PPG and 1.6 RPG.
  • The Lakers assigned rookie Isaac Bonga to their G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers, the team announced (Twitter link). The 19-year-old has averaged 12.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 2.6 APG with South Bay.

Nets’ Caris LeVert May Return By All-Star Break

Nets guard Caris LeVert is on track to begin participating in five-on-five practices soon, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who hears that there’s optimism LeVert will return to the court for Brooklyn before the All-Star break.

It’s great news for the Nets and for LeVert, who went down with a gruesome right foot injury in November. While it initially looked like we might not see him again until the 2019/20 season, the third-year guard was diagnosed with a dislocated foot, with the team indicating that he was expected to return before the end of the season.

Even based on that recovery timeline, it’s a little surprising that LeVert is already nearing a return. If he’s able to get back on the court before the All-Star break, he’ll only have missed about three months. He’s expected to practice with Brooklyn’s G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, later this week, per Wojnarowski.

LeVert, 24, was off to a great start in 2018/19 before his injury, averaging 18.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, and .475/.311/.721 shooting in 14 games (29.7 MPG). While it remains to be seen whether he’ll pick up right where he left off, LeVert should help the Nets solidify a playoff spot, adding more talent to a squad that could be a tough out in the postseason.

Nets Notes: Allen, Russell, Trades

There aren’t many “untouchables” in the NBA when it comes to trade talks, though most teams have a few players that it would take a king’s ransom to part with. Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and D’Angelo Russell have earned their place in the Nets‘ long-term outlook and barring an overwhelming return, Michael Scotto of The Athletic doesn’t envision any of the three going anywhere anytime soon.

Before the season, Russell’s inclusion on the list may have seemed silly, but the former No. 2 overall pick is having his best season as a pro and he’s become a key part of the team’s success.

“Everything that we do offensively, he is sort of the lifeblood of us,”  Joe Harris said after a recent Nets win. “Everything flows through him. He does a really good job of dictating the pace, getting guys in rhythm, and just doing a really good job on every level. He does a really good job facilitating for others and for himself. Obviously, we’re really lucky to have a player of his caliber on our team.”

Russell will be a restricted free agent after the season. GM Sean Marks has a history of going after other team’s RFAs and this offseason, he’ll likely get a taste of his own medicine with rival teams looking at Russell.

Scotto offers more in his piece for The Athletic. Here are the highlights:

  • Ed Davis, who signed a one-year deal last summer, hopes to remain with the Nets long-term, as he tells Scotto. “I’m at a point in my career where I don’t want to keep bouncing around,” Davis said. “This is my fifth team. I’ve got a wife and kids. They like it here. It’s close to home, so hopefully, when the season is over, we can figure something out and make something work.
  • The Nets love Allen’s ability to pick up schemes quickly and his coachability, Scotto adds in the same piece. Allen has made highlight reels with his ability to make monstrous blocks but he’s actively working on his offense, including a corner 3-point shot.
  • Harris and Rodions Kurucs are unlikely to be traded but if either player was put on the trade block, the Nets would likely garner a first-round pick in return, Scotto speculates. The scribe adds that if there were a re-draft of this year’s rookie class, Kurucs, who was selected with the No. 40 overall pick, would be a first-rounder.