Joe Harris

Atlantic Rumors: Durant, Nets, Raptors, Claxton, Celtics, Sixers

Now that Kyrie Irving has been dealt, Kevin Durant find himself under the spotlight once again as league observers wait to see if the Nets forward will resubmit the trade request he made last summer.

Asked on Monday about that possibility, head coach Jacque Vaughn said that’s not something he has talked to Durant about and he doesn’t plan to do so. In Vaughn’s view, as long as the Nets can continue to show they’re capable of competing with the best teams in the East, there’s no reason for Durant to seek a change of scenery.

“At the end of the day, Kevin wants to win,” Vaughn said on Monday, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “That’s always been our goal. He wants to win at shootaround, he wants to win any game of the week. That’s why he loves to play and that’s why he wants to play 82 games. That will be our holy grail. We’ll continue to try to put a group out that wins and until there’s something for me to be concerned about, then I’ll carry on business as usual.”

While the Nets added two solid role players in their Irving trade, their championship upside probably took a hit as a result of that deal, so the team has been exploring further roster upgrades, as we detailed on Monday. According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, before trading Irving, the Nets had also remained in touch with the Hawks about John Collins and had spoken to multiple teams about Joe Harris and Patty Mills.

Although it’s possible Durant could push for a change of scenery again, most people around the NBA don’t expect that to happen this week, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said in a podcast with colleague Brian Windhorst (YouTube link), especially since the Nets’ additions of Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith signaled a desire to continue building a roster around Durant that’s capable of contending — Finney-Smith is a player KD likes and wanted Brooklyn to acquire if the team made a deal with Dallas, Lowe stated.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Following up on reports suggesting that the Nets were talking to the Raptors about Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says Toronto “covets” Brooklyn center Nic Claxton, having also attempted to acquire him at least season’s trade deadline. Ben Simmons and multiple first-round picks have also come up in the Nets’ trade discussions with the Raptors, Scotto adds.
  • The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and Jay King take a look at what could be on tap for the Celtics at the trade deadline, considering whether it’s realistic to expect them to make a play for Durant and noting that a deal for a center remains the team’s most likely move. Weiss and King also examine Grant Williams‘ up-and-down play and conclude it still doesn’t make sense for Boston to trade him, despite a report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer stating that teams are inquiring on Williams.
  • While Daryl Morey is always a good bet to make some sort of move at the trade deadline, the Sixers president of basketball operations tells Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice that he’s not expecting to make a huge splash this week. “I think it’s very unlikely we’re involved in anything big,” Morey said. “It could easily be that we continue to just develop chemistry and then have the group we have. I and (general manager) Elton (Brand) and everyone feels a responsibility in an important year like this to see if we can find anyone who can upgrade the team.”

Trade Rumors: Irving, Lakers, Walker, Rozier, Mavs, More

Many around the league believe Kyrie Irving‘s preferred landing spot is the Lakers, according to reports from Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports and Marc Stein at Substack, among others.

Count Lakers legend Magic Johnson, formerly the team’s president of basketball operations, as a supporter of acquiring Irving.

Personally, I’d love to see Kyrie in the purple and gold,” he said (via Twitter).

Irving, of course, won a championship with LeBron James while the two were on the Cavaliers in 2015/16. James also acknowledged Irving’s trade request, cryptically tweeting out an eye emoji and a crown.

However, the Nets are expected to be a buyer at the deadline, which could complicate matters, Stein notes. It’s hard to imagine getting equal value for Irving considering the market for him is reportedly pretty thin.

The Lakers do indeed have interest in Irving, sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The likely framework would be Russell Westbrook and their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in exchange for Irving and Joe Harris, per Buha’s sources.

L.A. would push to lottery-protect at least one of those picks, according to Buha, who suggests a third team might have to be involved, depending on Brooklyn’s goals. The Lakers don’t have interest in trading Austin Reaves or Max Christie in a potential Irving package, sources tell Buha.

Interestingly, Lonnie Walker and Patrick Beverley could be involved in an Irving deal or in another trade in order to upgrade the rotation, Buha reports. Beverley’s inclusion is no surprise, but this is the first time this season I’ve seen Walker’s name involved in trade rumors.

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Lakers have reportedly had preliminary talks with the Jazz regarding Westbrook, but they remain interested in Hornets guard Terry Rozier, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
  • Executives with knowledge of Dallas’ plans tell Goodwill that the Mavericks would definitely take Irving, the question is at what cost. Head coach Jason Kidd is a proponent of acquiring the star point guard, according to Fischer’s sources. Dallas has “confidence in Kidd’s coaching ability to connect with Irving,” Stein writes.
  • There isn’t universal agreement within the Mavericks‘ organization about adding Irving, however. Some front office members have concerns about Irving’s long-term fit with Luka Doncic, according to sources Tim Cato of The Athletic spoke to. The concern is centered on how they’d mesh in the locker room, as they have “drastically different off-court personas.”
  • According to Stein, the Nets are believed to be interested Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith in a potential Irving deal, but the Mavericks “would surely insist” on trying to shed the contract of either Tim Hardaway Jr. or Davis Bertans. Dinwiddie played for the Nets from 2016-2021, so they’re very familiar with him as a person and player.
  • The Mavericks are also interested in Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, as “they’re desperate and determined” to get help for Doncic, says Goodwill.

New York Notes: Nets Trade Talk, Simmons, Vaughn, Dolan, Robinson

The Nets are one of the more active teams on the trade market, sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Joe Harris, Seth Curry and/or Patty Mills could potentially be on the move due to their short-term salaries and reduced roles, O’Connor notes. Beyond that, they could only dangle young players Day’Ron Sharpe and Cam Thomas, their 2028 or 2029 first-round pick, and a future first-rounder from Philadelphia in 2027 or 2028.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • The Nets’ Ben Simmons says that coach Jacque Vaughn hasn’t really informed him why he’s often been on the bench in late-game situations, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. “I really had no message from him. I think it’s more just wherever team needs,” Simmons said. “When we’re winning I have no problem with it; if we’re losing then I got an issue.”
  • Speaking of Simmons, Vaughn says he expects him to be more consistent in the second half of the season, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN. Simmons had a 10-point third quarter against Philadelphia on Wednesday and the coach wants to see that offensive aggression more often. “That’s the goal,” Vaughn said. “That’s where we’re going to get him to, where each possession he has to be dealt with on both ends of the floor. Where you feel him on both ends of the floor and he imposes his will and has an impact on every single possession, which he has the ability to do. That’s where we’re going to get to, that’s the challenge and we’re going to continue to expect it from him.”
  • Knicks owner James Dolan figures it’ll be another month or so before center Mitchell Robinson returns to action, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays (Twitter link). In a Fox5 interview, Dolan said the Knicks will have to “make it through the next four weeks” without Robinson. Robinson underwent thumb surgery last week and is expected to be reevaluated in approximately two weeks.

Several Contenders Pursuing Malik Beasley

Malik Beasley is a popular target heading into this year’s trade deadline, with several contenders expected to make a play for the Jazz guard, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy.

The desire around the league for more shooting, combined with a shortage of sellers, could produce an “overheated” market for Beasley, an Eastern Conference executive tells Deveney. The 26-year-old is averaging 13.7 PPG for Utah while connecting at 39.9% from the field and 35.8% from three-point range. His contract is relatively affordable, with a $16.5MM team option for 2023/24.

“It is a thin market,” the executive said. “You are going to have to overpay because there are not a ton of guys you can go out and get. … A lot of playoff teams are trying to figure out what it is going to take to get him.”

The Jazz are asking for a first-round pick in return for Beasley, along with a young player and whatever it takes to match salaries, according to Deveney, who hears that Utah is willing to take on salary beyond this season if it believes the players if acquires can eventually be moved for another first-rounder.

Deveney cites the Heat as among the top contenders for Beasley, possibly as part of a larger deal that would also bring Kelly Olynyk back to Miami for a package that includes Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin along with picks and other young players. Miami prefers to hold onto 2022 first-round pick Nikola Jovic, according to Deveney, who believes that stance could change as the deadline nears.

Deveney also mentions the Cavaliers in a rumor first floated last week by Marc Stein. The proposed three-team deal would send Beasley to Cleveland, Caris LeVert‘s expiring contract to the Hawks and John Collins to Utah.

The Bucks and Nets are also interested in Beasley, Deveney adds, but both teams are limited in the draft assets they can offer. Milwaukee doesn’t have a first-round pick to trade until 2029, while Brooklyn would like to deal Seth Curry or Joe Harris for Beasley, but can’t trade a first-rounder until 2028.

The Celtics, who nearly traded for Beasley last season before acquiring Derrick White, probably won’t be involved in the pursuit this year, Deveney states. He expects them to seek a less expensive wing if they’re active in the market at all, possibly offering Danilo Gallinari and Payton Pritchard in return.

Deveney identifies the Pelicans and Warriors as “dark horses” in the Beasley chase, with New Orleans having the combination of draft capital, young players and salary fillers that Utah is seeking, and Golden State able to get involved if management decides to part with either James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody.

Nets Notes: Turnaround, Vaughn, Simmons, Harris

The drama that surrounded the Nets throughout the summer and in the early part of the season is a distant memory now that Brooklyn has reeled off 11 straight wins and is in the race for the best record in the league, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN.

The franchise was in constant turmoil last season, highlighted by Kyrie Irving‘s uncertain playing status due to his refusal to get the COVID vaccine, James Harden‘s desire to leave, and Ben Simmons‘ unavailability after being acquired. It continued after Brooklyn was swept in the first round of the playoffs, as the summer brought Kevin Durant‘s trade demand, Irving’s last-minute decision to exercise his player option and a general uncertainty heading into training camp about whether all the pieces could fit together.

“It was one of those years you reflect on and you see the turning points in the organization,” Durant said Saturday after his team ended 2022 with a victory in Charlotte. “We’ve seen different moments that brought us together as a group. You see, at this point now towards the end of the year, you start to see us come together and perform what we’ve been looking to do these last couple of years, which was a solid team that plays hard every night. So we went through a lot in this calendar year, but we’re looking for bigger and better things in 2023.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • The turnaround began with the decision to make Jacque Vaughn the new head coach after Steve Nash and the organization parted ways in early November, Friedell adds. Suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka was originally considered the favorite for the job, but Brooklyn turned to Vaughn, who has brought stability to the team and appeals to players with a relaxed style that includes less time spent on practice and shootarounds. “He gives you an ease,” Irving said. “When you come into the locker room nothing’s forced, he’s not too high or too low. He’s just holding himself to a high standard, exemplifying what a leader should look like. So as our head coach, as our leader, I’ve been able to learn some things from him.”
  • Brooklyn is also benefiting from improved play by Simmons, who says he has learned how to handle the ups and downs of NBA life, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “It’s not getting too carried away knowing we have a long year and guys understand that,” Simmons said after battling through an illness to play Saturday night. “My experiences in Philly, we had a young team and we had guys who are not used to being in the league for that long, and not knowing how to win and not knowing it’s not easy to win. We have a lot of vets on the team, Ky, Kev, guys like that and understanding it’s game-by-game and not getting too carried away with the noise, which has been great.”
  • The Nets are optimistic that Joe Harris will be able to return Monday after missing the past four games with soreness in his left knee, Lewis adds.

Injury Notes: Shamet, Caruso, Harris, Nance

Landry Shamet (right Achilles soreness) will miss a third consecutive game on Friday when the Suns visit Toronto, but it sounds like he’s closer to returning than some of his injured teammates. Shamet is aiming to make it back before Phoenix’s road trip wraps up on Wednesday, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

“Whenever they give me the green light,” Shamet said. “… There’s a reason they get paid to do what they do, the training staff. … I feel good to go right now, but I trust them to let me know when I’m ready to go.”

The Suns are also missing Devin Booker (groin strain), Cameron Johnson (meniscus tear), Cameron Payne (foot strain), and Jae Crowder (not with team), so getting Shamet back would give the rotation a lift.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso will return on Friday vs. Detroit following a three-game absence due to a sprained right shoulder and a stint in the concussion protocol, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls won two of three games without Caruso available, but will welcome him back with open arms — the club has a plus-3.7 net rating when he’s on the court this season, compared to a minus-5.3 mark when he sits.
  • Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris, who has missed the last three games due to soreness, is remaining in Brooklyn while the team travels to Charlotte for Saturday’s game, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. Harris will be reevaluated in a few days, Friedell adds.
  • Pelicans forward/center Larry Nance Jr. left Wednesday’s game early due to what the team dubbed a neck contusion/spasm (Twitter link). Nance, already bothered by a shoulder issue, was in “a lot of pain” on the bench, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN, and is considered doubtful to play on Friday vs. Philadelphia, per the official injury report.

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Harris, Grousbeck, Ainge, Achiuwa

The injury news regarding Jalen Brunson isn’t all that bad for Knicks fans who saw their point guard depart the Christmas Day loss to the Sixers during the second half. Brunson has a sore hip and is questionable to play against Dallas on Tuesday, the team tweets. Brunson has not missed a game since signing with the Knicks over the summer.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets forward Joe Harris had an MRI on his sore left knee which revealed only swelling, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets. Harris missed his second consecutive game on Monday and will also sit out the road game against Atlanta on Wednesday. The club is hopeful the injury will heal with rest.
  • Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe that he insisted to former Celtics exec and current Jazz CEO Danny Ainge during his coaching search he couldn’t hire both Will Hardy and Joe Mazzulla away from Boston. Ainge, of course, chose Hardy as head coach. Mazzulla became the Celtics’ head man when Ime Udoka was suspended. Ainge was OK with Grousbeck’s demand. “They were very generous to give us permission to talk to them,” he said.
  • Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa practiced on Monday and could return sometime this week, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Achiuwa is doubtful for Tuesday’s game against the Clippers. Achiuwa has been out since Nov. 9 with partial ligament tears in his right ankle.

Eastern Notes: Butler, Barnes, Harris, Simmons

Jimmy Butler has dealt with a variety of injuries this season. The Heat forward is frustrated that he can’t consistently stay on the court, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

“You know what I’m saying, it’s tough whenever I’m in and out of the lineup so much,” Butler said. “I don’t choose to do that, obviously. But at this point, it’s frustrating. I can only imagine how my teammates feel, how my coaches feel, (Heat president) Pat (Riley) and them feel. But I want to be out there, honestly, because I think that I can help.”

The Heat are listing Butler as questionable to play against Minnesota on Monday due to a right ankle sprain, the team tweets. He has missed 12 games so far this season.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Scottie Barnes has not progressed from his strong rookie campaign and the Raptors forward will need to work harder on his game next offseason, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. His statistics haven’t improved and he’s not having the same impact on the game as last season, in part due to a lack of enthusiasm. Barnes has the talent but may have been guilty of resting on his laurels, Smith writes.
  • Nets forward Joe Harris won’t play against Cleveland on Monday due to left knee soreness, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Harris also missed Friday’s victory over Milwaukee.
  • Ben Simmons has sparked the Nets’ defense during their current eight-game winning streak, including a workmanlike performance against Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ethan Sears of the New York Post notes. Milwaukee’s franchise player committed seven turnovers with Simmons as the primary defender. “Giannis is the most physical guy in the league, so there’s going to be some questionable (foul calls) there,” Kevin Durant said. “I think he stayed with it all game. Made life tough and I think we all did a solid job of showing him a crowd a little bit, making him kick out and forcing him to turn the ball over. Seven turnovers, so Ben was the catalyst for that.”

Charania’s Latest: Bogdanovic, Crowder, Gordon, Martin, Collins

The Lakers are seeking shooters in their trade talks with rival teams and have discussed a potential deal with the Pistons involving Bojan Bogdanovic, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Along with players to match Bogdanovic’s $19.343MM salary, the trade could include a protected first-round pick from L.A. in either 2027 or 2029, sources tell Charania.

Bogdanovic has been enjoying a career-best season since Detroit acquired him from the Jazz in September, averaging 21.0 points per game while shooting 50.8% from the field and 43.7% on three-pointers. He signed a two-year, $39.1MM extension in October that will keep him under team control through the 2024/25 season.

Charania hears there are about a dozen teams that have expressed interest in Bogdanovic, with all offering first- or second-round picks in return. Charania’s sources say the Pistons aren’t committed to moving Bogdanovic and have expressed a “significant reluctance” to some of the teams that have inquired.

The Athletic insider passes along a few more rumors:

  • The Suns were trying to work out a three-team deal to send Jae Crowder to the Bucks, multiple sources told Charania. Phoenix would have received Eric Gordon and Kenyon Martin Jr. from the Rockets in the proposed trade, while four of Milwaukee’s second-round picks would have gone to Houston, along with unidentified players. The Rockets have nixed the deal so far and are hoping to get a first-round pick for Gordon and “a very good first-rounder” if they decide to move Martin. Charania hears that Houston has gotten interest in Gordon from several contenders, but is less willing to talk about parting with Martin. The Bucks may search for another team to help complete the deal for Crowder.
  • The Hawks and Heat have also expressed interest in Crowder, Charania adds, and Miami will have more assets to offer when Dewayne Dedmon, Victor Oladipo and other players become trade-eligible on Thursday.
  • The Hawks have talked to several teams about John Collins, including the Jazz, Nets and Mavericks, according to Charania, who adds that Atlanta hasn’t shown interest in a Brooklyn deal that would include Joe Harris. The Suns also like Collins, but they aren’t willing to take on his pricey contract. The Hawks would like to acquire Kyle Kuzma from the Wizards, but Charania hears there’s not much traction on a potential deal with Washington.

Eastern Notes: Niang, Sixers, Nets, Pistons

Georges Niang was excited to get back on the court for the Sixers on Sunday after missing two games due to right foot soreness, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “I feel a lot better,” he said. “I’m excited to get there and play today. So I’m feeling good.”

Niang, an unrestricted free agent after this season, has been a key piece for the Sixers off the bench. He’s averaging 9.7 points and shooting 43.1% on 3-point attempts.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers beat the Lakers in overtime on Friday after squandering a nine-point lead in the final 34 seconds to snap a three-game losing streak. Pompey breaks down the team’s recent struggles, noting that turnovers have been a major issue. “Sloppy, but good win for us,” Tobias Harris said after the Lakers win. “So we’ll take it. Obviously, we didn’t want it to happen that way, but we’ve got to learn from it and figure it out in those moments. especially when teams are presenting that type of pressure.”
  • The Nets found a way to beat the Pacers without eight rotation players on Saturday. They’ll be close to full strength when they face the Wizards on Monday, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Kyrie Irving, Nic Claxton and T.J. Warren are all expected to be in uniform. Royce O’Neale, who missed the Indiana game for personal reasons, is still not with the team.
  • Cade Cunningham‘s shin injury has dealt the Pistons a major setback through the one-third mark this season but there are silver linings, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. Killian Hayes has begun to blossom in his third NBA season and rookies Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren have shown major talent while jumping right into the rotation.