David Duke

Nets Sign David Duke Jr. To Another Two-Way Contract

 The Nets have re-signed guard David Duke Jr. to a two-way contract, according to a team press release.

The signing came as no surprise, as a report surfaced late last month that Duke was likely to return on a two-way deal. Former Wake Forest guard Alondes Williams holds the other two-way slot. Duke will earn about $502K (half the rookie minimum) on the deal, and could eventually have it converted into a standard contract if he’s productive.

The Nets tendered a two-way contract offer to Duke earlier this summer. Duke had initially passed on the proposal and was reportedly eyeing a spot on Brooklyn’s 15-man roster but eventually settled for another two-way deal.

Duke Jr. played on a two-way contract last season. In 22 games (seven starts) for Brooklyn, he averaged 4.7 PPG and 3.0 RPG  in 15.5 MPG. The 22-year-old started games for the G League Long Island Nets, averaging 16.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.3 APG and 1.5 SPG in 29.5 MPG. He also averaged 19.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.0 APG and 1.4 SPG in 28.6 MPG in five Summer League games this July.

Prior to joining the Nets, Duke went undrafted in 2021 after playing three seasons at Providence College.

David Duke Jr. Likely To Return To Nets On Two-Way Deal

Free agent guard David Duke Jr. will likely rejoin the Nets on his second two-way contract, sources tell Chris Milholen of NetsDaily.

The Nets tendered a two-way contract offer to Duke earlier this summer. Duke had initially passed on the proposal and was reportedly eyeing a spot on Brooklyn’s 15-man standard roster, but it sounds like he’s prepared to accept the two-way offer.

Duke would be Brooklyn’s second two-way player, joining former Wake Forest guard Alondes Williams. As Milholen notes, the 6’5″ guard will earn about $502K (half the rookie minimum) on the deal, and could have his two-way deal converted into a standard contract later on in the season.

After going undrafted out of Providence, Duke averaged 4.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 1.8 APG in 22 games with Brooklyn for the 2021/22 season. In Summer League play this year, he put up 19.0 PPG on 50% shooting, along with 4.6 RPG and 4.0 APG.

Duke’s return to the fold would bring the total sum of Nets players to 15 ahead of training camp. The team has 12 players inked to fully guaranteed deals, along with the partially-guaranteed contract of Edmond Sumner and the aforementioned duo of two-way players.

Brooklyn can still sign up to five players to its 20-man offseason roster and is reportedly considering some veteran big men for bench depth.

Atlantic Notes: G. Williams, Duke, Koloko, Mitchell

The Celtics have a recent history of reaching extensions with their first-round picks, and Grant Williams hopes to be next, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Weiss reports that Boston has already started extension talks with Williams, who displayed his value during the team’s run to the NBA Finals. He provides a strong defensive presence off the bench and shot 39.3% from three-point range during this year’s playoffs.

Williams talks about wanting to play his entire career for the Celtics and help the organization add more banners to the rafters. Weiss notes that negotiations might be tricky in light of recent deals for similar players, but Williams expressed confidence that management will be fair with him.

“Just making sure that the extension works for both sides. My number one focus is winning,” Williams said. “You take care of the good guys. You take care of the guys that provide value to your team, both on and off the floor. I feel like the Celtics are feeling the same way. I’m not too stressed about the negotiations because I feel like both parties want to get a deal done.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • David Duke Jr. improved his chances for a standard contract after turning down a two-way offer from the Nets prior to Summer League, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Duke, who also had a Summer League offer from the Raptors, showed the most improvement among Brooklyn’s second-year players in Las Vegas, Lewis observes. “The great thing is I haven’t noticed anything other than complete professionalism and dedication to playing well and doing everything we asked of him: Attacking and being aggressive within the team framework,” coach Adam Caporn said. “I just love what he’s doing defensively, picking the ball up, setting the tone. He’s doing everything the right way.”
  • The Raptors may be saving part of their mid-level exception to sign second-round pick Christian Koloko, Eric Koreen of The Athletic suggests in an overview of Toronto’s roster. Koreen adds that the team might also be waiting to to see if the Arizona center’s draft rights are needed in a trade package before officially signing him.
  • The Knicks‘ collection of young players and draft assets makes them seem like a logical landing spot for Donovan Mitchell, but Fred Katz of The Athletic looks at why Jazz CEO Danny Ainge and New York’s front office might night not be perfect trading partners.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Thomas, Duke, Free Agency

Though his two All-Star Nets colleagues Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving could very well be on the move this summer, a trade for injured All-Defensive Team Brooklyn guard Ben Simmons remains very unlikely, Brooklyn sources inform Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Simmons missed the entire 2021/22 season due to mental health issues and a back injury that required surgery. Sources tell Lewis, who notes that Simmons is on track to rejoin Brooklyn in time for the team’s training camp this fall, that the former No. 1 overall pick has little trade value at present. The three-time All-Star, still just 25, holds career averages of 15.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 7.7 APG.

There’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • Several teams have contacted the Nets about potential deals for second-year player Cam Thomas, Lewis writes in another story for the New York Post. According to Lewis, a Thomas trade may fetch a first-round draft pick for Brooklyn, should the team want to move off the 20-year-old shooting guard. Across 67 games with the Nets, Thomas averaged 8.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 1.5 APG in just 17.6 MPG.
  • After going undrafted in 2021 out of Providence, point guard David Duke Jr. impressed the Nets on a two-way deal. This summer, he has thus far passed on an offer from Brooklyn for a second two-way contract (presumably the standard two-way QO that includes a $50K partial guarantee) in the hopes of instead being signed to a standard deal to join the team’s 15-man roster, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post“Well, you know, I’m always going to strive for the most that I can get, right?” Duke said of his reasoning. “So if there’s a roster spot to strive for that, then whatever happens from there, happens… But like I said, I’m just out here [in Summer League] trying to play the best that I can, show what I can bring to Brooklyn, to whoever.”
  • The Nets are thus far the biggest losers in free agency this year, opines Kevin Pelton of ESPN (YouTube link). That issue may have more to do with the team’s top stars potentially wanting to be traded off the team more so than its fairly minimal free agent signings. “No matter how this Durant situation plays out, even if they’re able to retain him… still you’re going to have Kyrie Irving’s situation hanging over their entire season,” Pelton said. “And it’s also kind of affected their ability to make moves so far this offseason,” Pelton added. While Pelton applauded their low-risk signing of T.J. Warren to a one-year contract, he was less enthused about another big Brooklyn transaction. “[I] wasn’t a big fan of their trade to send a first-round pick to Utah for Royce O’Neale. People are going to describe O’Neale as a 3-and-D player, but the defense part of that equation has been lacking the last couple of seasons.”

Atlantic Rumors: Tucker, Sixers, Knicks, Robinson, Nets

With free agency still two days away, rumors about P.J. Tucker landing in Philadelphia continue to percolate. After Marc Stein reported earlier in the week that multiple executives believe the Sixers will sign Tucker to a three-year, $30MM contract, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer conveys a similar sentiment today.

According to Pompey, three sources believe Tucker to the 76ers is a “done deal,” while a fourth source said he’d be shocked if the veteran forward doesn’t end up in Philadelphia. Sources tell Pompey that Tucker’s three-year deal with the Sixers, assuming it materializes, could be worth $27MM with incentives that increase the value to $30MM.

The Sixers still need to do some cap work in order to realistically make that kind of offer to Tucker. If James Harden turns down his $47MM+ player option and agrees to a lesser first-year salary on a new contract, the team could create the cap flexibility necessary to use its full mid-level exception on Tucker. But Harden is expected to opt in and then sign an extension, which means Philadelphia would have to shed some salary. Furkan Korkmaz ($5MM), Matisse Thybulle ($4.4MM), and Georges Niang ($3.5MM) are among the club’s potential trade candidates.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Knicks are considering converting Jericho Sims‘ two-way contract into a standard NBA deal, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. If that occurs, second-round pick Trevor Keels would likely receive a two-way pact. Both moves were considered likely as of Tuesday afternoon, Begley writes.
  • Within the same story, Begley says he expects the Knicks to give strong consideration to re-signing Taj Gibson if they waive him this week as part of their cap-clearing efforts.
  • The four-year, $48MM contract Robert Williams signed with Boston last fall is viewed by rival executives as a fair comparable for Mitchell Robinson, according to Steve Popper of Newsday, who suggests the Knicks likely wouldn’t want to go much higher than that to retain Robinson this summer.
  • The Nets are expected to give David Duke a prominent role in summer league games next month and will give him an opportunity to compete for a roster spot in 2022/23, sources tell Chris Milholen of NetsDaily. Duke received a two-way qualifying offer from Brooklyn, as we relayed earlier today.

Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III Among Players Receiving QOs

The Suns have issued a qualifying offer to center Deandre Ayton, making him a restricted free agent, reports Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Ayton’s qualifying offer is worth $16,422,835.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Qualifying Offers]

Although there have been consistent whispers about the possibility of Ayton leaving Phoenix in free agency this summer, there was never any doubt that he’d receive a qualifying offer. That QO ensures that he doesn’t become an unrestricted free agent and gives the Suns the opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs with a rival team. Ayton also has the option of signing the one-year, $16.4MM deal if he wants to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023, though that’s considered very unlikely.

Here are a few more updates on qualifying offer decisions from around the NBA:

  • The Pistons have tendered a qualifying offer worth $7,228,448 to big man Marvin Bagley III, making him a restricted free agent, tweets Smith. Multiple reports in recent weeks and months have indicated that re-signing Bagley will be a priority for Detroit this offseason. His cap hold will exceed $28MM, but if the two sides agree to terms quickly once free agency opens, the Pistons will be able to maximize their cap room by reducing that $28MM cap hold to a first-year salary that will come in much lower.
  • The Nets have issued qualifying offers to center Nic Claxton and two-way guard David Duke, per Smith (Twitter link). Claxton’s QO is worth $2,228,276 while Duke’s is for another two-way contract. Both players are now restricted free agents.
  • The Nuggets have extended qualifying offers to forward Vlatko Cancar and two-way swingman Davon Reed, according to Smith (Twitter link). Like Claxton, Cancar has a $2,228,276 qualifying offer. Reed’s is for another two-way contract, though it’s possible he could generate interest from teams interested in giving him a standard roster spot.
  • Wizards forward Anthony Gill received a qualifying offer making him a restricted free agent, according to Smith (Twitter link). Gill’s QO projects to be worth $2,011,516, though that could increase or decrease slightly depending on where the salary cap for 2022/23 ends up.
  • The Warriors have made swingman Quinndary Weatherspoon a restricted free agent by giving him a two-way qualifying offer, reports Smith (Twitter link). Golden State reportedly agreed to a deal with Lester Quinones to fill the team’s other two-way slot.

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.