David Duke

Nets Notes: Big Three, Irving, Duke, Mills

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the trade that brought James Harden to Brooklyn and gave the Nets an imposing Big Three of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. That trio hasn’t been on the court together very often, but on Wednesday they provided a reminder of how dominant they can be, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

With all three players in the lineup for only the second time this season, Brooklyn broke open a close game in the third quarter and smashed the East-leading Bulls by 26 points. Harden scored 25 points and handed out 16 assists, while Durant put up 27 points and nine assists. Irving, playing his third game of the season, had just nine points but created plenty of scoring opportunities for his teammates.

“Since I’ve been here it’s been crazy, lots of ups and downs,” Harden said. “Nah. Like, we’re that good. We just haven’t had enough of it. Last we had 15 games maybe together, and this year only two. We haven’t had a real season to where y’all can consistently see how great we can be. And we’re working on that. We need to get to that point.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • During a SportsCenter appearance Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski cited “real optimism within the organization” that Irving will be a full-time player by the end of the season (Twitter link from Anthony Puccio). Irving isn’t permitted to play home games because he hasn’t complied with New York City’s vaccine mandate, but Woj suggests that either the mandate could be relaxed by spring or the Nets may be willing to pay a fine for each home game that Irving appears in.
    [Note: Wojnarowski later clarified that paying fines for Irving to play home games likely wouldn’t be a viable option.]
  • After being passed over in the July draft, David Duke Jr. worked his way into Brooklyn’s starting lineup, notes an article on NetsDaily. A defensive specialist with three-point range, Duke started five straight games before Wednesday. “When it got to the mid-second round, I got a call from my agent who gave me some scenarios with multiple teams and it was up to me to decide. Having faith in God, and truly believing in myself, I felt the situation with Brooklyn was the best for me based on my pre-draft experience with them,” Duke said. “Although I felt overlooked going undrafted, I knew wherever I ended up I would show what I bring to the table and would be just fine.”
  • Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been in the headlines for his standoff with the Australian government over the COVID-19 vaccine. Nets guard Patty Mills, who has experienced the effects of the regulations in his home country, said he understands and supports those rules, Lewis writes in a separate story. “I won an Olympic medal and quarantined in a hotel by myself for two weeks,” Mills said. “As much as a buzzkill as it was to (not) go home and celebrate with family and friends, I’ve done it.”

COVID-19 Updates: Payton, Nader, Lopez, Ross, Cavs, Duke

It has been an unusual week for Suns guard Elfrid Payton, who entered the health and safety protocols on Sunday, then exited them on Monday after what appeared to be a false positive. On Wednesday, prior to Phoenix’s game vs. Oklahoma City, Payton reentered the protocols, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes.

The specifics of Payton’s situation are unclear, but he’ll now remain in the protocols for at least six days unless he can once again return two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart.

According to Rankin, Payton wasn’t the only Sun to be placed in the protocols on Wednesday — Abdel Nader has also joined that list. However, Nader has been out of Phoenix’s lineup since November 19 due to what the team has called “right knee injury management,” so his placement in the protocols had no real impact on the rotation.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Magic center Robin Lopez has entered the COVID-19 protocols, the team announced on Thursday morning (via Twitter). However, Terrence Ross is listed on Orlando’s latest injury report as out due to “return to competition reconditioning,” which suggests he has exited the protocols. With Lopez in and Ross out, there are still five Magic players in the protocols.
  • The Cavalierslatest injury report lists Jarrett Allen, Dylan Windler, and Lamar Stevens as going through return to competition reconditioning, so they’ve cleared the protocols. Allen is considered doubtful for Thursday’s game in Washington, while Windler and Stevens are questionable.
  • Nets rookie David Duke has exited the health and safety protocols, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Brooklyn’s list of players in the protocols was in the double-digits earlier this month, but is now down to just two — Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe.
  • Our running list of players in the protocols can be found right here.

Three Nets Rookies Enter Protocols; Harden, Two Others Exit

The Nets announced some good news and some bad news on Thursday morning. Three players – James Harden, Paul Millsap, and Jevon Carter – have exited the health and safety protocols, but three others – rookies Cameron Thomas, David Duke, and Kessler Edwards – have entered the protocols, tweets Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

You could make a strong case that no team has been hit harder in the last couple weeks by COVID-19 than Brooklyn, which still has 10 players in the league’s protocols after today’s updates. Of the 17 players the team had been carrying on its standard roster, 13 have been in the protocols this month, while Joe Harris (ankle) and Nicolas Claxton (wrist) have dealt with injuries.

Patty Mills and Blake Griffin have been the only players unaffected, and even Griffin is playing through knee pain. The Nets have also signed four replacement players – Langston Galloway, James Ennis, Shaquille Harrison, and Wenyen Gabriel – via hardship exceptions to help fill out the roster.

Brooklyn’s game in Portland on Thursday has been postponed, but the NBA will certainly want to avoid having the team’s Christmas Day game vs. the Lakers endure a similar fate. Head coach Steve Nash said today that Harris won’t play on the Nets’ current road trip, but the team hopes to have Claxton return on either Saturday vs. the Lakers or Monday vs. the Clippers (Twitter link via Brain Lewis of The New York Post).

If Harden, Millsap, and Carter are all cleared to return and Mills, Griffin, and the four replacement players are good to go, Brooklyn would have at least nine players available, even without Claxton. The Nets remain eligible to complete more hardship signings before Saturday too, if they so choose.

New York Notes: Randle, Knicks, Noel, Claxton, Nets

The Knicks will be looking to pick up a win in Milwaukee on Friday night, but Julius Randle views the Bucks as a success story worth emulating, as Fred Katz of The Athletic details. Milwaukee won a title in Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s eighth season, having patiently built a championship-caliber roster around its star player without making any major splashes on the free agent market.

“It was beautiful to watch simply because the aspect of, they built it from the ground up,” Randle said. “They didn’t put a super team together or whatever it was. These guys were in the mud every day grinding the thing out. They took some lumps along the way there trying to figure it out.”

While the Knicks lack a bona fide superstar on the level of Antetokounmpo, Randle likes the idea of building the roster “organically” and believes that it an eventual breakthrough would be more rewarding.

“(The Bucks) did something that’s very unique, especially in today’s league, as far as building something like that and not putting a bunch of players together,” he said. “They really built it.”

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

  • Responding to news that Owen Phillips is joining the Knicks‘ coaching analytics team, Seth Partnow of The Athletic notes (via Twitter) that the franchise has gone from one of the league’s smallest analytics departments to one of the largest under president of basketball operations Leon Rose.
  • Knicks center Nerlens Noel missed the first six games of the season with what was termed “knee soreness,” but he told reporters today that it was more of a hamstring issue, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.
  • The Nets have assigned Nicolas Claxton to the G League as he works his way back from an illness. According to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link), Claxton still isn’t ready to play and will just be training and ramping up during his time with Long Island.
  • While Claxton probably won’t play in any games for Brooklyn’s G League affiliate, a handful of the team’s rookies are expected to be regulars for the Long Island Nets this season. Chris Milholen of NetsDaily takes a closer look at the Nets‘ developmental plans for Cameron Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, Kessler Edwards, and David Duke.

Nets Notes: Griffin, Aldridge, Two-Way Slot, Harden, Irving, Thomas

The Nets are likely to move away from their approach of spreading the court and could field one of the tallest rotations in the league, writes Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News. That decision was forced partially by the uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving, but Brooklyn focused heavily on the frontcourt in its offseason moves, re-signing Blake Griffin and adding veteran big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap.

Griffin played alongside center Nicolas Claxton with the first unit in Saturday’s practice, Winfield notes, but he frequently started at center after joining the team last season and can be effective at either position. Millsap and Aldridge have spent most of their careers as power forwards, but they will also see time in the middle.

“It’s not a traditional big lineup. Blake can switch a lot. I can switch at times. (Kevin Durant) can do it all,” Aldridge said. “I think it’s a big lineup, but it’s not traditional. You’re going to need that. I think teams can play big and play small, and I think having the ability to do both is nice for us.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets’ decision to give David Duke Jr. their final two-way spot and waive Devontae Cacok was based on their philosophy related to two-way deals, Winfield adds. “I think it’s more development at this point,” coach Steve Nash said. “I think when you look at a team like this, it’s hard for those guys fighting for two-way spots to be guys that are playing in the rotation. So it’s not impossible, but it’s more of a development spot, someone that we can groom and help grow into a piece of this organization’s future.”
  • The Nets were determined to trade for James Harden last season because they already had doubts about whether they could trust Irving, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast (hat tip to RealGM). Woj added that Brooklyn and Philadelphia haven’t discussed a trade involving Irving and Ben Simmons, and he doesn’t believe the Sixers would have any interest in such a deal. He also said the Nets are preparing to play the entire season without Irving.
  • Cameron Thomas put together a strong preseason after being named co-MVP of the Summer League, but he’s still not likely to have a spot in the Nets’ rotation, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Brooklyn has an experienced backcourt after the offseason additions of Patty Mills and Jevon Carter, and there may not be many minutes available for the rookie guard. “I think there’s some ground for him to make up, but we love him as a player and think he’s got a bright future, but it might take some time,” Nash said. “He’s joined a pretty tough team to crack into.”

Nets Convert David Duke Jr. To Two-Way Deal, Waive Devontae Cacok

4:10pm: The Nets have officially announced that they’ve converted Duke’s contract to a two-way deal and waived Cacok, issuing a pair of press releases to confirm the moves. The team’s roster is now set for the regular season.


2:40pm: The Nets will sign David Duke Jr. to a two-way contract, rewarding him for his impressive play during training camp, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The signing means that 25-year-old Devontae Cacok will likely be waived, as the two players were competing for a spot in training camp. Cacok’s G League rights were acquired by Long Island on Friday, signaling that he may end up as a returning-rights player for the Nets’ NBAGL affiliate after he’s cut.

In addition, the move signals that neither of Brooklyn’s two unsigned draft picks, Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray, will be receiving a two-way deal, with Duke and second-rounder Kessler Edwards occupying those spots. Zegarowski and Gray, who were drafted 49th and 59th overall, respectively, could end up signing G League contracts and reporting to Long Island while Brooklyn retains their NBA rights.

Duke, 22, went undrafted in July and signed an Exhibit 10 deal with Brooklyn in August. He averaged 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game at Providence in 2020/21.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Duke, Cacok, Brown, Raptors

Kyrie Irving has not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19, Yaron Weitzman of FOX Sports reports. Under current New York City restrictions, players are prohibited from practicing or playing in their home arena “without providing proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption.” Thus, the Nets star point guard could technically miss all 41 of his team’s home games unless he receives one of these approved exemptions. GM Sean Marks said this week that he doesn’t expect vaccine-related issues to prevent any of his players from suiting up during the regular season.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Undrafted rookie David Duke Jr. and third-year forward Devontae Cacok are among the players who will be competing for the Nets’ remaining two-way contract, according to Tom Dowd of the team’s website. “Regarding the two-way, I think it’s nice to go in and have healthy competition,” GM Sean Marks said. “That’s the way we’re going to look at that. There’s going to be nothing set in stone. There’s nobody with a leg up, per se.”
  • Celtics forward Jaylen Brown admits he’s still dealing with soreness in his wrist, he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated. Brown is recovering from a torn ligament in his left wrist, which required surgery in May and sidelined him for the postseason. “My wrist has been healing. Some days it’s better than others,” he said. “I got to continue to push and work, but I’m excited to be there for camp.”
  • The Raptors must find ways to maximize a “formless” style of basketball due to the configuration of the roster, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. Lacking an efficient, high-usage star, they must rely on versatility, flexibility and unpredictability to keep defenses off-balance about where the ball is designed to go.

Nets Notes: Extension Talks, Vaccinations, Two-Way Slot, Aldridge

With a week left until training camp commences for the Nets, general manager Sean Marks expressed optimism during a press conference today that the club will be able to come to terms on contract extensions for All-Star guards James Harden and Kyrie Irving, writes Peter Botte of the New York Post.

“Regarding the extension conversations, we’ve had very positive conversations with both those guys and whether it’s family members, (their) people, and so forth, I think it always helps to do these things in person,” Marks said.  “We’re looking forward to sitting down with them over the course of the next week, two weeks, and furthering those discussions.”

As Botte writes, Irving is eligible to sign a contract that tacks on an additional four years and $181.6MM to his current agreement. Harden, the better player, can agree to terms on an extension that would pay him $161.1MM over three additional years. All-Star forward Kevin Durant signed a four-year, $197.7MM extension that will keep him on the Nets through the 2025/26 season.

There’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • The Nets still need to get a few of their players fully vaccinated for COVID-19 so that they are permitted to practice and play in New York City under the terms of the city’s new vaccine mandate, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I won’t get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate and so forth,” Marks said about the situation. The Nets’ GM expects everyone to be vaccinated before the 2021/22 regular season begins. Per the new vaccine executive order, individuals over the age of 12 without at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will not be permitted inside certain indoor locations, including the Nets’ and Knicks’ home arenas.
  • Marks said today that the Nets will have a “healthy competition” for the team’s current available two-way contract during training camp, per Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link). Big man Devontae Cacok and guard David Duke seem destined to be in the mix for the opening. Brooklyn still has an open spot on its 20-man roster, so the club may yet invite another candidate to compete for the second two-way slot before camp begins.
  • During a press conference today, Marks admitted he was initially wary about bringing back center LaMarcus Aldridge, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Aldridge was compelled to retire just five games after joining the Nets during the 2020/21 due to an irregular heart beat issue. “I tried to talk him out of it,” Marks said. “I said, ‘You don’t need this. Why would you come back?’ I think it was important to see his conviction, and it’s not a conviction made without really doing due diligence.” According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (via Twitter), Marks revealed that Aldridge reached out to the Nets as soon as he was medically cleared to return to the hardwood.

Nets Notes: Mills, Jordan, Millsap, Aldridge, Duke

Longtime Spurs guard Patty Mills was attracted to the Nets because of a couple of familiar faces there, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Mills, who agreed to a two-year, $12MM contract to come to Brooklyn, joins general manager Sean Marks and lead assistant Jacque Vaughn, who both spent time in San Antonio while Mills was there and have adopted some of the Spurs’ philosophies.

“To know free agency was going to be right in the middle of (the Olympics) definitely did make it quite tough,” Mills said. “The thing for me was not being able to have the conversations I wish I would’ve had leading into such a big decision. But turning to a new chapter and going to a new place, it was definitely something that knowing that we know people throughout the organization and in the city as well, it was comforting to know there are people there that look after us and look after my family.”

Another influence was a long talk that Mills had in Tokyo with Nets star Kevin Durant. Brooklyn made a strong effort to recruit Mills when free agency began, and he said the chance to exchange ideas with Durant influenced his decision.

“The conversation I had with Kevin was so pure and so genuine, being able to understand that he’s such a true pure hooper, and to go back-and-forth about basketball specifics,” Mills said. “It’s exciting for me to know there’s an opportunity there for me to try to be who I am. After a good Tokyo Olympics campaign, being able to ride the wave of that momentum and take it into Brooklyn is something I’m looking forward to … share the court with guys like that, I’m really going to continue to learn about the game and continue to get better myself and find little ways that I can do that.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • DeAndre Jordan isn’t likely to be on the Nets’ roster when training camp begins next month, per Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. The 33-year-old center, who is owed close to $20MM over the next two seasons, has been on the trade market all summer, according to Schiffer, but Brooklyn hasn’t found any takers.
  • The Nets would like to add another veteran big man, Schiffer states in the same piece, and while Paul Millsap may be out of their price range, a reunion with LaMarcus Aldridge seems more realistic. Millsap is reportedly looking at teams that still have their mid-level exception, and Brooklyn is limited to a minimum-salary contract. Schiffer notes that Aldridge played well in his five games with the team last season and enjoyed the experience, but isn’t certain to get medical clearance after being forced into retirement by an irregular heartbeat.
  • David Duke Jr. appears to be the favorite for the Nets’ open two-way spot, but a final decision probably won’t be made before training camp, Schiffer adds.

Nets Sign David Duke Jr.

The Nets have officially signed undrafted rookie guard David Duke Jr. to a contract, the team announced today in a press release. Duke first announced on Twitter shortly after the draft ended that he’d be joining Brooklyn — it appears it’ll be for more than just Summer League.

Duke, who declared for the draft following his junior season at Providence, averaged 16.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 4.8 APG on .387/.389/.792 shooting in 26 games (37.1 MPG) in 2020/21.

The terms of Duke’s contract aren’t yet known, but it seems likely to be a training camp deal that includes Exhibit 10 language. Exhibit 10 contracts, which can be converted into standard or two-way deals, give players the opportunity to earn bonuses worth up to $50K if they end up joining the club’s G League affiliate after being cut.

The Nets now have 14 players under contract, with that total set to rise to 16 once Blake Griffin and Patty Mills officially sign. Three of Brooklyn’s second-round picks also remain unsigned, and the team has a two-way qualifying offer out to Reggie Perry.