Caris LeVert

Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Raptors, LeVert, Sixers

The announcement of this season’s All-NBA teams will be important for the Raptors, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic, who notes that the value of Pascal Siakam‘s rookie scale extension would increase from 25% of next season’s cap to 28% if Siakam is named to the All-NBA Second Team.

Even if Anthony Davis is considered a center and Luka Doncic is listed as a guard, making the Second Team might be a tall task for Siakam, as the Raptors forward figures to be behind LeBron James, Giannis Antetokonmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Jayson Tatum on many ballots.

While the savings for the Raptors on a 25% max instead of 28% for Siakam wouldn’t be massive, the club will likely welcome any extra cap flexibility it can get as it looks to re-sign Fred VanVleet and preserve cap room for 2021.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Steven Loung of Sportsnet.ca examines five pressing offseason questions facing the Raptors, including which of their veteran free agents to re-sign and what OG Anunoby‘s value on a rookie scale extension would be. Meanwhile, Eric Koreen of The Athletic contends that a new contract extension for president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, whose current deal expires in 2021, would be the best move Toronto could make this offseason. The team extended head coach Nick Nurse earlier today.
  • Nets forward Kevin Durant isn’t convinced the club needs to trade for a third star this offseason, expressing a belief that Caris LeVert is capable of being that star. “I think Caris is that perfect guy for us — any given night he can lead us in scoring or lead us in assists or he can control the offense or we can go to him in the post in a matchup,” Durant said during an appearance on the Old Man & The Three podcast (hat tip to Ian Begley of SNY.tv). “I feel like he has the tools to do everything on the basketball court. On our team, we play unselfishly, and we’ve got guys that can play off the basketball so on any given night anybody can be the star.”
  • Rich Hofmann of The Athletic takes a closer look at Mike D’Antoni, exploring whether the former Houston head coach would be a good fit on the Sixers‘ bench.

New York Notes: Carmelo, LeVert, Beal, Holiday

Is a Carmelo AnthonyKnicks reunion at all possible? Don’t count on it, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Anthony has revived his career with the Trail Blazers and would prefer to re-sign with Portland. However, Anthony has been on team president Leon Rose’s radar since he took the job in early March, Berman continues, and the Knicks have an opening at small forward.

We have more on the two New York City teams:

  • Will the Nets get a third star to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving? They may already have something to close to that in Caris LeVert, Brian Lewis of the New York Post opines. LeVert was the team’s best player in Orlando and the alternatives, unless they can pry Bradley Beal from the Wizards, are mostly question marks. Guards such as Jrue Holiday (potential opt-out after next season) and Victor Oladipo (knee issues) may not necessarily be an upgrade over LeVert, Lewis adds.
  • Whether to keep LeVert or trade him in a package for another star is also the topic of choice for HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. A majority of scouts polled by Scotto believe the Nets should hold onto LeVert, though a deal that would net Beal or perhaps Holiday would change the equation.
  • In case you missed it, the Nets have formally interviewed coach Jacque Vaughn, who hopes to have the interim tag removed.

Nets Will Consult Numerous Players in Coaching Search

The Nets plan to get input from several players as they look for their next head coach, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. As expected, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will be consulted during the process, but sources tell Lewis that general manager Sean Marks plans to talk with DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and possibly Caris LeVert as well.

“Yeah, I would say it would totally be not incredibly smart of us if we did not involve some of these key players in this decision. And that not only goes for Kevin,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie; we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they want in a coach, what they need. The guys have been brutally honest so far.”

The additions of Durant and Irving in free agency last summer make the Brooklyn job one of the most attractive in the league. Kenny Atkinson appeared to be the coach of the future, but his surprising dismissal in March created an opening amid rumors that the two stars weren’t enamored with Atkinson’s style of play.

Jacque Vaughn was successful in an interim role, leading the Nets to two wins before the hiatus, followed by a 5-3 record in reseeding games even though half the roster wasn’t available. Vaughn has been promised consideration as the team looks for a permanent coach, and he has the advantage of working with Marks on three separate occasions in the past decade. However, he may be overshadowed by some bigger names on the market.

Vaughn and Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue are viewed as the early favorites for the job, Lewis notes, as Irving has interest in reuniting with his former coach in Cleveland. Joe Harris was also a Cavalier under Lue and called him “an excellent coach.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who served as a mentor to Marks in San Antonio, has been mentioned as a possibility, along with Jason Kidd, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Ime Udoka. Durant and his representatives reportedly have an interest in Jackson, Lewis adds.

NBA Announces All-Bubble Awards

The NBA announced today that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has been named the Player of the Seeding Games, earning de facto MVP honors for the league’s restart.

Lillard, who averaged 37.6 PPG and 9.6 APG on .497/.436/.888 shooting in eight seeding games, led the Blazers to a 6-2 record, allowing the team to surpass the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West. Portland will earn the conference’s final playoff spot if it picks up a win over Memphis today or tomorrow.

Lillard was the unanimous selection among 22 media voters for the bubble’s MVP award. Devin Booker (Suns) received 19 second-place votes, with T.J. Warren (Pacers) picking up two and Luka Doncic (Mavericks) getting the other one. Booker, Warren, Doncic, James Harden (Rockets) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) all received third-place votes.

Meanwhile, Suns head coach Monty Williams was named the Coach of the Seeding Games, per today’s announcement. The selection comes as no surprise after Williams led Phoenix to an 8-0 record this summer. The Suns narrowly missed out on a spot in the play-in tournament, but were the only club that went undefeated during the seeding games, despite initially being ranked 21st of the 22 teams invited to Orlando.

Williams was a near-unanimous choice, with Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts receiving one first-place vote and finishing second overall in voting. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn and Raptors coach Nick Nurse were among the other top vote-getters.

The NBA also announced All-Seeding Games First and Second Teams, as follows:

First Team:

  • Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  • Devin Booker (Suns)
  • Luka Doncic (Mavericks)
  • James Harden (Rockets)
  • T.J. Warren (Pacers)

Second Team:

Lillard, Booker, and Doncic were unanimous First Team selections, with Harden and Warren each receiving 18 of 22 First Team votes. Antetokounmpo received the other eight First Team votes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets Notes: Harris, Crawford, Durant, Dinwiddie

The Nets will have plenty of key decisions to make this fall, including who will become their permanent head coach and whether they should package some of their talent in an effort to trade for another impact player. However, GM Sean Marks isn’t underestimating the importance of re-signing veteran sharpshooter Joe Harris.

“Priority No. 1,” Marks said of locking up Harris, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “It’s that simple, yeah. … Signing him and seeing him with this group will certainly be a priority for us.”

Harris, who signed a two-year, $16MM contract with Brooklyn in 2018, figures to be in line for a raise this offseason and it could be a substantial one. He has become one of the NBA’s most consistent outside shooters, knocking down 44.8% of his three-point attempts over the last two seasons, and will be one of the top UFAs in a somewhat weak market.

The Nets already have about $133MM in guaranteed money on their books for next season, per Basketball Insiders, which will almost certainly make them a taxpayer. They’ll have to weigh how much more they’re willing to pay to retain Harris.

Here’s more on Brooklyn:

  • The Nets have been so impressed by Jamal Crawford‘s leadership skills this summer – as well as the offensive ability he has shown in limited practices – that they’re seriously considering adding him to their roster for the 2020/21 season, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
  • Kevin Durant (Achilles rehab) and Spencer Dinwiddie (contracted COVID-19 in June) aren’t participating in the restart this summer, but they’re among the Nets players working out and playing pickup ball in Los Angeles. Chris Milholen of NetsDaily has the details and the video.
  • If the Nets go star-hunting this offseason, Caris LeVert is one player whose name could come up in trade rumors. However, LeVert has shown with his play this summer that he may be capable of complementing Durant and Kyrie Irving himself. After scoring 37 points on Thursday, LeVert earned praise from Damian Lillard and was referred to as “the best kept secret in the NBA” by Crawford (via Twitter).

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.