James Harden

Woj’s Latest: Kawhi, Simmons, Schröder, Kings, Lowry, Nets, More

There’s no indication that Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard wants to leave Los Angeles as a free agent this offseason, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in Sunday’s televised Woj & Lowe special (video link). However, there is a belief that Leonard is at risk of missing the entire 2021/22 season following his ACL surgery earlier this month, says Wojnarowski.

That nugget was one of several that Wojnarowski and fellow ESPN reporter Zach Lowe shared during their half-hour special and the bonus YouTube segments that followed. We’ve already passed along several of their other insights, including some draft-related rumors, the latest updates on Bradley Beal‘s status, and the fact that the Lakers have shopped Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to many teams around the NBA.

However, the ESPN duo dropped several more notes and rumors during their special. We’re using the space below to round up a few of the most interesting ones:

  • The Sixers have engaged in Ben Simmons trade talks and are making and receiving offers, says Wojnarowski (video link). However, Woj thinks Philadelphia will be patient, noting that Simmons is under contract for four more years, which “opens up the landscape” for possible trade partners. The 76ers are looking for the best possible player they could get back in a Simmons deal, Woj adds.
  • Despite the fact that the Lakers have been linked to so many other point guards in advance of free agency, Wojnarowski believes there’s still a deal to be made with Dennis Schröder (video link).
  • The Kings have talked to teams in both the West and East about Buddy Hield, according to Wojnarowski (video link), who says the club has also received plenty of trade interest in Harrison Barnes. Woj would be surprised if Barnes is dealt though.
  • In a discussion of free agent point guards, Wojnarowski (video link) said that he anticipates a “big market” for Raptors star Kyle Lowry, who could receive offers in the neighborhood of $25-30MM per year, and that the Bulls and Lonzo Ball would be an ideal match in a perfect world, but his restricted FA status could complicate matters. Woj also thinks luxury tax concerns will prevent the Jazz from simply re-signing Mike Conley and keeping everyone else on their roster (video link).
  • The Nets hope to lock up Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden to contract extensions and are optimistic that Blake Griffin will want to return, per Wojnarowski (video link). Jeff Green may be trickier to re-sign, however, as he’ll likely seek more than the veteran’s minimum. Woj and Lowe both identify the Bucks as a possible suitor for Green if he leaves Brooklyn.

New York Notes: Tucker, Thor, Duarte, Knicks Front Office, Martin

After winning a title with the Bucks this week, free agent forward P.J. Tucker seems unlikely to pursue another with the Nets, according to NetsDaily.com. The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer has indicated the Nets were interested in the veteran forward even before the James Harden trade and Tucker is also good friends with Harden and Kevin Durant. However, Brooklyn will likely be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception and Tucker is expected to command more in the open market. Milwaukee also holds Tucker’s Bird rights and wants to retain him despite luxury tax concerns.

We have more on the Nets and Knicks:

  • Count both New York clubs among the 11 teams that have brought in JT Thor for a workout, Mike Mazzeo tweets. The Auburn power forward is ranked No. 28 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list. Brooklyn owns the No. 27 pick and three second-rounders, the earliest at No. 44, while New York has picks No. 19, 21 and 32.
  • Chris Duarte worked out for the Knicks on Friday, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets, and it was a solo workout, Ian Begley of SNY.TV tweets. The Oregon shooting guard is ranked No. 23 on ESPN’s list but others have Duarte going much higher, Begley points out. The Knicks are seeking to move up into the late lottery, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report said on the Knicks Film School podcast (Twitter link). Today’s workout could indicate Duarte is the target.
  • While the Knicks have agreed to a two-year extension with Scott Perry, multiple Western Conference teams have expressed interest in other members of the front office, according to Begley. The contracts of several of those executives expire at the end of the month, Begley adds.
  • Point guard Jeremiah Martin will join the Knicks’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. Martin played with the Cavaliers in the closing weeks of the season on a two-way deal.

Central Notes: Tucker, Bucks, Pacers, Workouts, Pistons

P.J. Tucker is used to being a part of contending teams, but this season took a detour before he landed in Milwaukee, notes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Tucker had to endure a lot of losing in Houston after the Rockets dealt James Harden in mid-January. He was stuck in a rebuilding situation until the Bucks traded for him in March.

“I thought about the stuff I was doing with Houston this year, this season has just been a long year for me,” Tucker said. “To go from being a top team in the West to falling apart instantly and being the last one left (in Houston) and everything I went through with that, the transition, it was just a lot this season.”

Tucker has enjoyed his time with the Bucks and is looking forward to competing for his first NBA championship, but isn’t sure whether his time in Milwaukee will extend beyond this season, as Nehm writes.

“I’m really excited to be able to pick where I want to go,” Tucker said. “The (contract) extension thing was for a different period of time. We didn’t even talk about that when I came to Milwaukee. There was no extension. I just wanted to come play and get a chance to do what I do and that was it. I just wanted to have a chance.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

LaVine, Grant Commit To Team USA; Harden Withdraws

Bulls guard Zach LaVine and Pistons forward Jerami Grant have committed to play for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).

There were already 11 players who had committed to represent the U.S. in Tokyo, but one of those players – Nets guard James Harden – is withdrawing, Charania reports (via Twitter).

Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press had noted earlier today (via Twitter) that there are still concerns about the hamstring injury that sidelined Harden for part of the second half of the season and several games in the Eastern Semifinals. He’ll focus on getting that hamstring back to 100% this summer.

As a result of the new commitments and Harden’s decision to pull out, the 12-team roster for Team USA now looks like this:

Booker, Holiday, and Middleton are still alive in the postseason. However, Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo previously said that Booker intends to play in Tokyo no matter how late the Suns’ season goes, and he suggested today that Holiday and Middleton have made similar commitments, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Even assuming those three players all remain committed, it’s possible the 12-man U.S. squad could undergo more tweaks if players suffer injuries or reconsider their summer plans. For now though, we have a pretty good idea of what the group competing for gold in Tokyo will look like. The Olympics are scheduled to begin a month from today.

Nets Notes: Marks Presser, Dinwiddie, Harris, Offseason

The Nets‘ first season with their Big Three is over, and they now enter a period of reflection and planning. As BrooklynNets.com’s Chris Dowd details, GM Sean Marks held his end-of-season press conference on Monday, addressing the team’s Game Seven overtime loss to the Bucks and looking towards the future.

It hurts. It should hurt, but life moves on,” Marks said of the series loss. “Nobody is feeling sorry for the Nets, and we’re not feeling sorry for ourselves. That’s pro sports.”

Marks touched on the fact that all three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden are extension-eligible this summer for deals that could run through the 2025/26 season and be worth a combined $540.4MM. While Marks declared it too early to discuss such matters, he reiterated the team’s commitment to building a sustainable winner around them.

He also addressed the question of Nets players participating in this summer’s Olympics, saying: “That’s a collective decision where we’ll sit down with the player and also with the performance team and map out, this is what it looks like.”

Finally, he addressed guard Spencer Dinwiddie‘s free agency: “We’ll deal with Spencer when the time comes. And, obviously Spencer has put himself in a position to secure his future long-term. We’d obviously love to play a role in that, whether that’s here or whether we can help them. But you know, we’ll focus on that at a later date.

We have more from the Nets:

  • Dinwiddie has been cleared to participate in all basketball activities, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The 28-year-old guard tore his ACL in December, and – before the Nets were eliminated – had been hoping to return for the Finals. Charania reports that Dinwiddie’s surgeon, Dr. Riley Williams, said that Dinwiddie “looks and feels and moves like the pre-injury Spencer Dinwiddie.” Dinwiddie will be a free agent this summer, and is one of the higher-profile point guards on the market.
  • Joe Harris had a nightmare end to the Nets’ series with the Bucks, averaging 7.0 PPG on 24.2% shooting from three in almost 40 minutes a night over the final five games, but the Nets reaffirmed their support for the three-point champion, writes The New York Post’s Brian Lewis. “We have to be careful with what-have-you-done-for-me-lately,” Marks said. “He’s a huge part of this culture and driving it, and we owe a lot of that just to who Joe is as a person both on and off the court, how he’s developed, how he’s sacrificed, the work he’s put in.” However, Marks stopped short of confirming that Harris would be with the team long-term. “In terms of his future on the team, there’s no comment: Joe is a Brooklyn Net until otherwise, whether that’s his decision or mine.” Harris called the experience a motivating factor for him moving forward.
  • Marks and head coach Steve Nash are optimistic about the future, but they have plenty of decisions to make, writes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. One such decision will be how to handle the team’s many free agents — Brooklyn has nine of them, including Dinwiddie, breakout guard Bruce Brown, Blake Griffin, who started at center throughout the playoffs, and Jeff Green, another key contributor. With cap space so tight, the Nets may look at trades for center DeAndre Jordan, who is owed nearly $20MM over the next two seasons and lost his place in the rotation during the playoffs. The team also expects to lose one or more of its assistant coaches, as Mike D’Antoni, Jacque Vaughn and Ime Udoka are all candidates for head coaching positions.

Durant, Harden, Adebayo Expected To Play For USA’s Olympic Team

Team USA’s roster for the upcoming Summer Olympics is taking shape, with a new trio of star players set to play in Tokyo, according to reports.

Nets forward Kevin Durant is expected to commit to represent Team USA at the Tokyo games, according to Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Durant’s teammate James Harden will join him, according to Charania, who says (via Twitter) the All-Star guard has committed to play. The third member of Brooklyn’s Big Three, Kyrie Irving, is expected to sit out the Olympics while he rehabs an ankle injury.

Team USA has added a frontcourt player as well, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that Heat big man Bam Adebayo has committed to join the roster. Adebayo trained with USA Basketball leading up to the 2019 World Cup, but didn’t make the team. He’s unlikely to be cut this time around.

Durant, Harden, and Adebayo join a star-studded group that also features Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, and Draymond Green. Devin Booker is expected to participate too, though if the Suns make the NBA Finals and play a long series in July, it’s possible his plans could change. The Finals could run as late as July 22 if they go seven games, while the Olympics are scheduled to get underway on July 23.

With or without Booker, there are still at least four spots on the 12-man roster up for grabs, and Team USA figures to bring more than 12 players to its pre-Olympic camp as insurance for injuries or withdrawals.

Nets Notes: Harden, Brown, Griffin, Dinwiddie

The Nets‘ plan to build a championship team around three stars was derailed by injuries, writes Malika Andrews of ESPN. Brooklyn pulled off a bold trade in January to acquire James Harden from Houston and combine him with 2019 free agent additions Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but Brooklyn’s Big Three were rarely all healthy at the same time. With the season on the line against Milwaukee Saturday night, Irving was out with a sprained ankle and Harden was limited by a strained hamstring.

“I still thought we could win it,” coach Steve Nash said. “And clearly, I think we proved tonight that we could. Game could have gone either way. You always know there’s a chance. Anything can happen. I think we just faced one too many obstacles this year. Because our guys gave everything they had.”

Harden, who hurt the hamstring in the opening minute of Game 1 and didn’t return until Game 5, revealed that he had been playing with a Grade 2 strain that limited his mobility. He missed nearly a month during the regular season with an injury to the same hamstring.

“Me, personally, like, it’s frustrating,” said Harden, who played all 53 minutes Saturday. “Just being durable and being myself for the last so many postseasons and dealing with this particular hamstring, I’m frustrated. We did everything we could towards the end. Just frustrated, but give the Bucks credit. They fought until the end, had a hell of a series. We just came up short.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Bruce Brown, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, expressed interest in returning to Brooklyn next season, Andrews adds. Unrestricted free agents Jeff Green and Blake Griffin both said they need time to recover before thinking about the future, but they enjoy playing for the Nets. “I’m still happy with my decision,” Griffin, who signed with Brooklyn after reaching a buyout with the Pistons, told Marc Berman of The New York Post. “This was obviously a tough loss, and not where we’re expected to be. But injuries are part of the game, things happen. Being without James for four games and then having him on one leg … (it’s) a messed up situation.”
  • Durant, Harden and Irving will all be eligible to sign extensions of up to four years during the offseason, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Brooklyn will have to determine how much money it wants to commit to the trio, and each player will have to decide whether to take the security now or seek more money when they can opt out in 2022.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie has until Monday to make a decision on his $12.3MM player option for next season, Marks adds. Dinwiddie has indicated that he will turn down the option and pursue free agency, and Marks believes he’ll get at least that much on the open market. The veteran guard played just three games this season because of a partially torn ACL, but his rehab has gone well and he talked about possibly playing if the Nets had reached the NBA Finals.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Simmons, Harden, Nets, Mann

The Sixers forced a Game 7 on Sunday in their second-round series against the Hawks by winning on the road Friday night. That didn’t stop Joel Embiid from complaining about the officiating, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. Without specifically naming Trae Young, Embiid claims the Hawks’ star gets favorable treatment.

“I just felt like it wasn’t called both ways, especially because of the minimal contact that they get on the point guard, and when it comes to us, we don’t get the same thing,” Embiid said. “So I just want it called both ways. If you’re going to call something like nothing on their point guard, it should be the same way and call the same thing [for] me when I get — if I get — touched.”

Young has taken an average of 9.7 free throws in the series but only five on Friday. Embiid has shot an average of 12.0 free throws per game, though just four on Friday.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Ben Simmons‘ performances in the last three games have damaged his reputation, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic opines. The Sixers’ guard has four years remaining on his five-year, $177.2MM extension but he hasn’t improved upon his weaknesses. The same knocks against Simmons from four years ago still exist, according to Hofmann, mostly notably that he remains an offensive liability against a set halfcourt defense. Simmons’ 29.8% shooting from the foul line in the series has also forced coach Doc Rivers to pull him out of the game at crucial stages.
  • James Harden promises to be a bigger threat in Game 7 on Saturday than he was the past two games, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. The Nets’ star guard scored a combined 21 points on 21.9% shooting after returning from hamstring tightness. “It’s not even about rust, it’s about being able to move,” Harden said. “As I go day-by-day, continue to get better. … I’ve got to be better on both end of the ball, which I will be in Game 7.”
  • With Kevin Durant on their side and the home-court advantage, the Nets have no excuses in Game 7, Ian O’Connor of the New York Post opines.
  • Clippers guard Terance Mann exploded onto the national scene on Friday with a career-high 39 points as his team eliminated the Jazz. Some members of the Knicks’ front office lobbied to acquire Mann in the Marcus Morris deal last year, Ian Begley of SNY tweets. The Clippers retained Mann and instead shipped Maurice Harkless, a 2020 first-round pick and 2021 second-rounder to the Knicks.

Kyrie Irving Unavailable For Game 7, Return Possible Later In Playoffs

All-Star Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will officially miss Game 7 of Brooklyn’s second-round playoff series against the Bucks on Saturday, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.

Nets head coach Steve Nash said that Irving still has “some miles to make up” as he continues to treat a sprained right ankle that he incurred in the Nets’ Game 4 loss to Milwaukee.

Nash seemed hopeful that Irving would be able to return later in the playoffs, should the Nets move on, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. “It is not a season-threatening situation,” Nash said. Since Irving went down, the Nets are 1-2 in the series.

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie also remains sidelined, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Dinwiddie remains optimistic that his surgically-repaired ACL will be ready in time for him to also return in these playoffs, should the Nets advance. But James Harden, playing through hamstring tightness, was not listed on the club’s on official injury report.

Woj’s Latest: Irving, Harden, Leonard, Paul

There’s “no expectation” that injured point guard Kyrie Irving will return during the Nets‘ series with the Bucks, even if it goes to a seventh game, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said this morning on “Get Up” (video link).

Irving, who is dealing with a a sprained right ankle he suffered Sunday, has already been ruled out for tonight’s Game 6. He didn’t travel to Milwaukee with his teammates, opting to stay in Brooklyn to get treatment on the ankle.

The Nets remain hopeful that Irving will be available for the Eastern Conference finals if they able are to advance, but Woj said they “don’t have a real timetable” on a possible return.

Wojnarowski shared a few more items during the ESPN segment:

  • Nets guard James Harden may not be fully recovered from a hamstring injury, but he will definitely be in the lineup for Game 6. Harden played 46 minutes in Game 5 and should be available for the rest of the series if he doesn’t aggravate the hamstring.
  • The Clippers don’t expect to have Kawhi Leonard back for Game 6 or 7 against Utah, and his return at any time during the playoffs is uncertain. The team will learn more about Leonard’s status in “the next 24 to 48 hours,” Wojnarowski adds, saying the Clippers are hopeful that it’s not a severe injury that will impact Leonard beyond this season.
  • The Suns are optimistic that Chris Paul won’t miss significant time after being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. However, Wojnarowski adds that Phoenix is hoping the Jazz-Clippers series gets extended to a seventh game so the Suns won’t have to play again until Tuesday. He cautions that Paul and the team are “at the mercy of the testing” and have no control over what those results will show.