DeAndre Jordan

Kevin Durant Out At Least Two Games With Hamstring Strain

Nets star Kevin Durant has been diagnosed with a mild left hamstring strain and will miss at least the next two games, the team announced (via Twitter).

Brooklyn’s next two games are in Sacramento on Monday and in Phoenix on Tuesday. If Durant’s absence doesn’t extend beyond those two contests, he’d be able to return for a Thursday showdown in Los Angeles against the Lakers on TNT.

It has been a stop-and-start year so far for Durant, who missed the entire 2019/20 season as he recovered from an Achilles tear. The Nets have played it safe with the former MVP in the early going, holding him out of half of some back-to-back sets to manage his return from that injury. Durant has also been sidelined for several games due to two separate week-long stints in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Since James Harden made his Nets debut on January 16, the team’s Big Three – Durant, Harden, and Kyrie Irving – has been active for just seven of 15 games, and Durant was forced to exit one of those games early due to COVID-19 protocols.

On the plus side for Brooklyn, DeAndre Jordan, who missed Saturday’s game vs. Golden State for personal reasons, is listed as probable to play on Monday against Sacramento.

Kevin Durant Cleared To Return

After missing three full games – and parts of a fourth – due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Nets star Kevin Durant has been cleared to return. Head coach Steve Nash confirmed that Durant was able to practice today and said he’ll be a “full go” for Saturday’s game against the Warriors, per Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).

Durant was placed in the league’s COVID-19 protocols last Friday after being in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. The two-time Finals MVP has continued to test negative for the coronavirus during the last week, allowing him to get back in Brooklyn’s lineup on Saturday. It will be his first time playing in Golden State since he left the Warriors as a free agent in 2019.

While the Nets will have Durant back, they’ll be without DeAndre Jordan, who will miss the game for personal reasons unrelated to the coronavirus, according to Nash (Twitter link via Andrews). The expectation is that Jordan will continue to be tested for COVID-19 during his absence and will be able to rejoin Brooklyn during its West Coast road trip, which runs through February 21.

With Jordan out, both the Nets and Warriors will be extremely shorthanded at the center position, so we could see plenty of small-ball when the two teams take the court tomorrow.

Nets Notes: Irving, Jordan, Eastern Contenders

The Nets suffered a third consecutive loss on Tuesday, dropping a 122-111 decision to the last-place Pistons, prompting some self-reflection from star guard Kyrie Irving and head coach Steve Nash, among others. Irving said the team looked “very average,” as Malika Andrews of ESPN writes, while Nash said the club needed to improve its “competitive spirit,” per Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

The Nets responded on Wednesday with a 104-94 victory over Indiana — it was just the second time since acquiring James Harden on January 17 that Brooklyn had allowed fewer than 100 points in a game.

That game, which Brooklyn led by as many as 36 points, was an encouraging sign, but the Nets will need to string together more wins like it to show that they’re truly elite, says Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. The team, which has a modest 15-12 overall record, has too often looked discombobulated and disinterested, according to Vaccaro.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Although Kyrie Irving‘s injured right index finger only forced him to miss one game, he admitted that it bothered him in his return on Tuesday, as Brian Lewis writes for The New York Post. “It’s uncomfortable, but at the same time I don’t want to make any excuses,” Irving said. “I’m out there, put myself out there, do a lot of treatment on it and we’re down a few players obviously, as well, so you just want to go out there and compete and worry about the pain later.”
  • Nets center DeAndre Jordan bounced back nicely after sideline clashes with James Harden and Steve Nash on Tuesday, Lewis notes in a separate story for The Post. “If I’m honest, it was an emotional night (Tuesday),” Nash said. “D.J. and I got upset at each other for a minute. I know D.J. got upset a few times during the game. So I’m proud of him because he bounced back with an incredible attitude, effort, performance.”
  • Tim Bontemps of ESPN polled a handful of coaches, scouts, and executives from around the league on which Eastern teams are capable of reaching the NBA Finals and found that the Nets and Bucks are still considered the two frontrunners, despite the fact that the 76ers are currently the conference’s No. 1 seed.

Eastern Notes: Jordan, Allen, Bey, Okeke, Vucevic

Nets coach Steve Nash is trying to avert a controversy over his decision to keep DeAndre Jordan as the starting center, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Nash gave Jarrett Allen more playing time off the bench on Friday but didn’t tinker with the lineup. Allen will be a restricted free agent in the summer. “I want to be very careful not to make it like a mini-drama because it’s not,” Nash said. “They both play. JA has been outstanding and will play plenty, if not the bulk of the minutes, but for right now, he’s just playing those minutes from the second unit.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Pistons veteran point man Derrick Rose is highly impressed with the maturity of rookie forward Saddiq Bey‘s game, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Bey started in place of injured Blake Griffin, who is in the league’s concussion protocol, and fired in five 3-pointers against Boston on Friday. “Right when we picked him, I knew we had an asset,” Rose said. “He’s a shooter. Whenever I’m out there with him, I always keep an eye on him and see where he is on the floor.”
  • Gary Clark will likely fill Chuma Okeke’s bench role with the Magic until Okeke returns, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Clark is a solid defender but does not bring much to the table offensively, Robbins notes. Okeke will miss several weeks due to a left knee bone bruise. Clark re-signed with the Magic on a two-year contract, though the second year isn’t guaranteed.
  • Nikola Vucevic has become the Magic’s all-time leader in field goals made and he’s achieved that feat without having a lot of plays drawn up for him, as Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel explains. Coach Steve Clifford says Vucevic gets his points within the flow of the offense. “There’s no guy here that I’ve done less to help than him,” Clifford said. “If there’s any guy in the locker room who would have a complaint that Steve doesn’t get him the ball, it would be him.” Vucevic, the team’s highest-paid player, is signed through the 2022/23 season.

New York Notes: Allen, Jordan, Quickley, DSJ

Jarrett Allen is one of the NBA’s top rebounders and he could force Nets coach Steve Nash to consider a change in his starting lineup, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Allen is only playing 22.6 minutes per night off the bench, but he’s leading the league in offensive rebounds, offensive rebound percentage, and total rebound percentage.

Nash has been using DeAndre Jordan as his starting center, but the 32-year-old hasn’t been impressive. Lewis notes that Jordan’s plus-minus rating has declined in each game this season, hitting minus-8 on Wednesday as he managed just five points and one rebound against the Hawks.

“That’s a good debate. It’s a small sample, one, and I’m not sure if plus-minus is the best barometer,” Nash said. “But that was a tough matchup for DJ. Those guys are good, dynamic rollers, (Clint) Capela, but even more so (John) Collins’ speed is exceptional getting out of the screen and it poses a unique problem.”

There’s more from New York City:

  • The Nets are still adjusting to life without Spencer Dinwiddie, who may be lost for the season with a partially torn ACL, Lewis adds in a separate storyTimothe Luwawu-Cabarrot replaced Dinwiddie in the starting lineup Wednesday, but that new unit had never practiced together. They wound up with a minus-10 in 13 minutes. “It’s a big loss because of (Dinwiddie’s) versatility, skill set, size, speed, defensive ability. We’ll miss him dearly,” Nash said. “We’re going to see a lot of different lineups, different combinations.”
  • The Knicks should be getting a couple of injured guards back soon, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tvImmanuel Quickley, who’s been dealing with a sore left hip, could return Saturday or Monday. Dennis Smith Jr., who has a left quad issue, will rejoin the team during its road trip but will have to work on conditioning before being cleared to practice.
  • Austin Rivers, who played his first game with the Knicks Thursday night, posted an Instagram message afterward asking fans to be patient, Begley tweets. “Trust us. We’re getting better,” Rivers wrote. “We have a new great coach, all new players, really young, learning to play with each other and get chemistry right still, and we still getting all the way healthy. It’s a process but I promise we getting there step by step.”

Vince Carter: Nets’ Third Star Can Be DeAndre Jordan

The Nets will enter the 2020/21 season with increased expectations as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are expected to return healthy, led by new head coach Steve Nash.

There has been plenty of speculation about the possibility of the Nets bolstering their already formidable (when healthy) lineup with another All-Star caliber player. After a strong showing in the Orlando campus, Caris LeVert made his case to take on the role of consistent third scoring option.

Former Nets All-Star Vince Carter sees things differently, suggesting that Brooklyn’s other high-profile free agent signing from the summer of 2019 can be that third impact player, Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News writes.

“You’ve gotta be careful. It’s a slippery slope when you’re putting guys together,” Carter said. “I feel like you could have a third star in somebody like DeAndre Jordan who can shine. He’s not somebody who’s gonna get a lot of touches, but what does he do? He puts a lot of pressure on the defense going to the rim.”

Brooklyn inked Jordan to a four-year, $40MM pact, but the former All-Star only started six games as promising youngster Jarrett Allen got the nod. Jordan has historically been a rebounding machine and an intimidating presence under the rim as a defender. However, at 32 years old, it’s fair to wonder if he can play up to the same level as his days with the Clippers.

Carter feels that Jordan’s mere presence opens up looks for the Nets’ best non-Durant options and that not having a third ball-dominant scorer would work better for Brooklyn.

“I just feel like you have to find the right pieces if you’re gonna go get a third scorer,” Carter said. “If you’re gonna go get three guys who really demand the ball, that gets tough after a while. One if not two guys of your big three tend to become unhappy sometimes. If they buy into that, then it’s a possibility. If they don’t, then a big three doesn’t work.

“I feel like a guy like DeAndre Jordan, somebody like that putting pressure on the rim,” Carter continued. “It’s not enough basketballs out there if you put three big names out there on the floor, so it takes a lot to think about.”

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.

DeAndre Jordan Tests Positive For Coronavirus, Won’t Go To Orlando

Nets center DeAndre Jordan has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not join the team for the league’s restart in Orlando, he tweeted on Monday night.

Jordan said he learned of the positive test on Sunday evening and it was confirmed on Monday.

The news on Jordan is another huge blow for the Nets. High-scoring guard Spencer Dinwiddie revealed on Monday he had tested positive with symptoms and is unsure whether he’ll participate in the restart.

Brooklyn’s roster has been decimated by injuries, defections, and positive coronavirus tests. Superstars Kevin Durant (Achilles) and Kyrie Irving (shoulder) won’t participate. Nicolas Claxton is also injured, while Wilson Chandler has decided to sit out for family reasons.

Teams can sign substitute players to replace those who voluntarily opt out or contract the coronavirus, so Chandler and Jordan are eligible to be replaced, but injured players like Durant, Irving, and Claxton aren’t. Brooklyn is signing Justin Anderson to replace Chandler; the team will also add a substitute player in place of Jordan, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Durant was one of four Nets players to test positive for COVID-19 shortly after the suspension of play in March.

After signing a multi-year contract with the Nets last offseason, Jordan averaged 8.3 PPG and 10.0 RPG in 56 games while splitting time at center with Jarrett Allen. Under new head coach Jacque Vaughn, Jordan took Allen’s spot in the starting lineup right before the season was suspended in March.

Nets Notes: COVID-19, Coach, Kyrie, KD, More

Speaking today on a conference call with reporters, Nets general manager Sean Marks said that all the team’s players are now symptom-free of COVID-19, including the four that tested positive for the coronavirus last month, tweets ESPN’s Malika Andrews. The club’s entire traveling party has now completed its 14-day self-isolation period, but continues to practice social distancing.

Marks addressed a handful of other topics on that call, including the team’s search for a permanent head coach. According to Brooklyn’s GM, the club isn’t currently reaching out to potential candidates, since it “would completely not be fair to our group” (Twitter link via Andrews).

When asked if he’ll consult Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant on the head coaching decision, Marks said the Nets have always collaborated with players, but the decision will ultimately be made by the front office and ownership (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post).

Finally, speaking of Irving and Durant, Marks was also asked about the possibility of those injured stars returning to action if the 2019/20 season resumes this summer. According to Andrews (Twitter link), the GM replied that it wouldn’t be fair to set a specific timeline for either player’s return. Marks also cautioned that social-distancing practices and the closure of training facilities may slow the rehab process for injured players, further clouding the recovery timetables for Kyrie and KD.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post takes a look at DeAndre Jordan‘s role with the Nets this season and going forward, noting that the veteran center was immediately elevated to the starting lineup following Kenny Atkinson‘s departure.
  • Atkinson’s exit is among the topics Lewis explores in a New York Post mailbag — he also answers questions related to the likelihood of a Jarrett Allen trade and how Nets players are staying in shape while self-isolating.
  • In yet another story for The New York Post, Lewis shares some details on how Nets and Barclays Center are still being paid during the NBA’s stoppage. One source tells Lewis that the pay checks cut for event staffers may end up totaling approximately $6MM.
  • In case you missed it, Durant is one of 16 NBA players participating in a players-only NBA 2K20 tournament starting on Friday.

Nets Notes: Atkinson, Durant, Irving, Jordan

In an in-depth story for The Athletic, Shams Charania and Alex Schiffer take a closer look at Kenny Atkinson‘s final days in Brooklyn, detailing how the Nets ultimately came to the decision to part ways with their head coach.

As Charania and Schiffer explain, a team meeting following last Wednesday’s blowout home loss to Memphis was an inciting event. During that “spirited” session, people in the room aired their grievances, with Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan among the players who were called out. Perhaps most importantly, Kevin Durant suggested that the Nets must improve certain habits and that they weren’t building the sort of culture traits that a legit title contender has.

According to The Athletic’s report, no directive from Kyrie Irving or Durant was ever given to replace Atkinson, but the Nets’ two new stars “never connected” with the incumbent head coach and there was a growing belief they weren’t interested in playing for him next season. A handful of other players were also believed to have started “disconnecting” with Atkinson, per Charania and Schiffer.

In Wednesday’s meeting, players didn’t hold back on critiquing Atkinson’s coaching style, expressing their “growing displeasure” with his communication tactics. Charania and Schiffer write that the aftermath of that meeting could have gone one of two ways. Atkinson could have become more motivated to fix those issues players had — however, sources tell The Athletic that the head coach instead came out of that session “dejected” and not wanting to let anyone “dictate his job.” He began to talk about leaving the job on his own terms, if necessary.

Atkinson and GM Sean Marks ultimately made the final decision to part ways late on Friday night and into Saturday morning, according to The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Nets and their coaching change:

  • Nets center DeAndre Jordan took exception to the idea of blaming Durant and Irving for Atkinson’s departure, calling those reports “bullsh–,” as Peter Botte of The New York Post writes. “I’m close with Kyrie, but Wilson (Chandler) is a new player, Garrett Temple’s a new player. We’re all new players,” Jordan said. “So if you’re going to say new players, put it on all eight of the new players.” Jordan added that he was “shocked” by the news, adding that Atkinson “did a great job with us.”
  • For what it’s worth, the Athletic report from Charania and Schiffer suggested that Jordan was among the players to express frustration to Atkinson last week, with sources indicating there had been a “season-long tension” relating to the coach’s decision not to start Jordan over Jarrett Allen. In Brooklyn’s first game under Jacque Vaughn, Jordan entered the starting lineup, signaling the “beginning of the end of the old Nets,” writes Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post explores whether Mark Jackson – who is expected to be a candidate for the Knicks‘ head coaching job this spring – may also be on the Nets’ list of targets, given Rich Kleiman‘s fondness for the former Warriors head coach.
  • As for Atkinson’s next move, one source with knowledge of the situation who spoke to Charania and Schiffer is confident that the former Brooklyn head coach won’t be out of work for long if he doesn’t want to be. “Kenny will be back coaching soon,” the source said. “He works too hard. Works his ass off. He will probably take the time away and replay the scenarios and relationships that went wrong — and come back stronger for the job he wants.”