Kevin Durant

Atlantic Notes: Gasol, Lowry, Durant, Paul

The Raptors might offer Marc Gasol a one-year deal, but he’ll likely have more pursuers, according to The Toronto Star’s Doug Smith. Although Gasol didn’t have a notable impact in the postseason, the Raptors can re-sign the veteran center to a short-team deal and preserve cap space for next summer. However, he might get a multi-year offer elsewhere or play overseas.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry will become an unrestricted free agent after next season and it’s quite possible he could finish his career elsewhere, Smith writes in a separate story. It’s unlikely the Raptors will offer him an extension beforehand, since they’re hoping to keep their options open in 2021 free agency. Lowry, who will make $30.5MM next season, has shown he has plenty left in the tank. But his long run with the team could eventually end if Fred VanVleet is re-signed this summer.
  • Kevin Durant has been working out and playing full court with Nets teammates in Los Angeles, Net Income of NetsDaily relays. Durant, who sat out this season rehabbing his ruptured Achilles, says he feels “like myself” but still has a long way to go to reach his previous level. “I’m in a stage now where we’re just hooping every day,” Durant said on Joe Budden’s podcast. “I feel good waiting for next season to get back.”
  • How could Chris Paul land in Philadelphia? A number of Athletic writers explore various trade possibilities with either Paul or fellow Thunder guard Dennis Schroder – or even both – winding up with the Sixers.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Sixers, VanVleet, Anunoby

New Nets coach Steve Nash envisions a versatile role for Kevin Durant that would have him see time at all five positions, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Nash discussed Durant during an appearance this week on J.J. Redick‘s podcast, saying Durant has the skills to succeed anywhere on the court.

“Kevin, with his length, is a matchup problem for everyone,” Nash said. “(Kyrie Irving’s) excellent off the ball. Kevin can play all five positions, and I plan to use him in all five positions. I get excited to use some of the guys on the roster: Caris (LeVert), (DeAndre Jordan), Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris.”

Scouts and other league personnel who spoke to Lewis believe Brooklyn could have some devastating lineups with Durant at center, especially in a conference where the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Raptors’ Pascal Siakam have succeeded in that role.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers are considering a front office shakeup that would include the addition of a president of basketball operations, sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. One source indicated that Trail Blazers executive Neil Olshey may be interested, but only if he has complete control over basketball decisions as both president and general manager. Rumors have surrounded former Hawks executive Danny Ferry, but the Sixers are denying that he’s a potential candidate. A source says the team plans to ask about Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Pacers president Kevin Pritchard, but the source doesn’t expect either to wind up in Philadelphia.
  • Fred VanVleet will be the Raptors‘ priority in free agency and they’ll find it expensive to keep him, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Smith estimates that Toronto could could give VanVleet a new deal starting at around $20MM per season while still retaining a maximum salary slot for the summer of 2021. He adds that the team may have to sacrifice Norman Powell or convince him to rework his contract to make that happen.
  • Raptors small forward OG Anunoby has signed with Klutch Sports Group, the agency announced on Twitter.

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Sixers, Nets, Leonard, VanVleet

The Celtics announced on Wednesday that forward Gordon Hayward is listed as doubtful for Thursday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Bontemps points out, this is the first time Hayward has been upgraded from “out” since he suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Celtics replaced Hayward in the starting lineup with Marcus Smart, who is averaging 15.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 4.2 APG.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • After losing the development rights to Penn’s Landing to a rival bidder last week, the Sixers have signaled their dissatisfaction with playing at the Wells Fargo Center, writes Jacob Adelman of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers want their own arena for a variety of reasons, including the ability to gain schedule flexibility, which they currently do not have. Philadelphia’s lease at the Wells Fargo Center reportedly runs out in 2031. The Inquirer goes on to lists various locations within Philadelphia that the Sixers could use to build their new arena.
  • Long Island Nets guard Devin Cannady spoke with Alex Schiffer of The Athletic about working out with Nets superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Los Angeles. The NBA G League guard recalled a game of 2-on-2 where he had trouble defending Irving. Durant stopped the game and instead gave tips Cannady to help him. “If I got the confidence from KD,” Cannady said to Schiffer. “Then I don’t need to hold back anymore at all.” The former Princeton standout also said that Durant looks good and healthy in the workouts.
  • One of the reasons why Kawhi Leonard wanted to go to the Clippers is because he felt the Raptors weren’t good enough to repeat, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link). The Finals MVP reportedly said this last summer in his meeting with Toronto’s front office. Leonard ultimately ended up signing a three-year deal with Los Angeles and teaming up with Paul George. However, his old team didn’t experience a significant drop-off, finishing with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Semifinals.
  • With the Raptors’ season coming to an end last week, Blake Murphy of The Athletic explains what it would take to re-sign Fred VanVleet while also maintaining max cap space for the 2021 offseason. VanVleet is set to be an unrestricted free agent and is reportedly expected to receive interest from the Knicks, Pistons, and Suns. Murphy details various scenarios involving OG Anunoby‘s rookie-scale extension, which he is eligible for this offseason, the 2021 free-agent class, and Norman Powell‘s player option.

Knicks Notes: Durant, Rose, Paul, Workouts

Kevin Durant said again this week that he had no intention of joining the Knicks as a free agent last summer, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Appearing on J.J. Redick‘s podcast, Durant said he welcomed a more comfortable situation with the Nets rather than trying to turn around a downtrodden franchise.

“Around February (2019) I was thinking I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks or New York,’’ Durant said. “That never really moved me. I didn’t care about being on Broadway. I just want to play ball and go to the crib and chill. So I felt like that’s what Brooklyn embodied. And I wanted to live in New York. And I felt like Brooklyn is everything I’m about — chill, on the low, all-black everything, we’re quiet. Just focus on basketball. There’s no show when you come to our games. No Madison Square, no mecca. … We’re just going to hoop and build something new in Brooklyn.”

Durant noticed the hype about him coming to the Knicks, especially after New York traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas in a deal that cleared enough cap space for two maximum contracts. Sources say Rich Kleiman, who serves as Durant’s manager and agent, supported the idea of Durant joining the Knicks but wasn’t able to convince him.

“I never planned on going to the Knicks,’’ Durant said. “That was just the media putting that out there, especially when I didn’t sign a three-year deal (as a free agent in 2018). Once I signed a (one-year deal), just the noise got louder about me going to the Knicks for some reason. Knicks being the savior, you know how that goes. Every time a big free agent is up, the Knicks are going to get him. So it just took off.”

There’s more from New York:

  • The Knicks are in a better position to build for the future this offseason, notes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Former team president Steve Mills focused on landing big-name free agents, which led to his dismissal when the strategy failed. Leon Rose and his new management team can afford to build through the draft, where the Knicks have seven first-rounders in the next four years, or they can use some of those picks to facilitate trades.
  • New York could make a bold move by dealing for Thunder point guard Chris Paul, suggests Steve Popper of Newsday. Even though the 35-year-old doesn’t fit in with the current youth movement, Popper states that he would instantly become the best player on the team and could help new coach Tom Thibodeau develop the younger talent. Paul remains close to Rose, his former agent, and the Knicks could create enough cap room to avoid having to match his $41.3MM salary for next season in a trade. Popper speculates that Paul and Rose could be enough to attract free agent Carmelo Anthony back to New York.
  • The eight teams not invited to Orlando can begin workouts Monday, and Popper writes in the same story that the Knicks expect to have almost all their players attending — even the potential free agents.

Nets Notes: Coaching Staff, KG, Durant, Harris

New Nets head coach Steve Nash and the team’s front office are seeking out assistants to join the former two-time MVP’s coaching staff, including Lakers assistant Phil Handy, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

2019/20 interim Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn will stay on staff as the team’s lead assistant during the 2020/21 season. Nash, an eight-time All-Star, joined the Nets staff last week in a surprising hire.

Here are more notes out of Brooklyn:

  • Former Nets forward (and Hall of Famer) Kevin Garnett, a 15-time All-Star, has said that he believes Brooklyn should look to trade for a high-level scoring wing like Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine or Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal to join current Brooklyn All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, according to Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.
  • Kevin Durant expressed his enthusiasm for new coach Steve Nash‘s addition to the Brooklyn sideline, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “His insight for the game, his communication, how he communicates the game of basketball is definitely going to help me as a player develop and it’s going to help the rest of the team,” Durant said in a new episode of Pelicans swingman J.J. Redick‘s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast.
  • The addition of Nash may help convince Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris to stick around as he enters unrestricted free agency this summer, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “I met with him the other day, grabbed a coffee with him and [team president] Sean [Marks],” Harris said during a recent conversation with “The JWilly Show” podcast. “And he just talked about how he felt about me as a player and wanted me to come back and be in Brooklyn.”

Reactions, Notes On Nets’ Hiring Of Steve Nash

The Nets shocked the basketball world on Thursday morning when they announced that Steve Nash would become the team’s new head coach. Nash, who hadn’t been cited as a potential candidate during Brooklyn’s search process, wasn’t even known to be seeking a head coaching job.

However, according to Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily, Nash’s name came up “very early” in the process, perhaps even as early as March, shortly after Jacque Vaughn took over for Kenny Atkinson on an interim basis. As Puccio explains, Nash was emerging as the team’s top choice by May. General manager Sean Marks has a history with Nash, having played with him in Phoenix from 2006-08, and star forward Kevin Durant among those pushing for the former star point guard.

That connection with Durant, forged during Nash’s stint as a consultant for the Warriors, will be crucial for the first-time head coach, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, who suggests that Nash’s potential as the Nets’ head coach is tied to the respect he can command from Durant and Kyrie Irving. As long as those star players are happy, the risk of Nash’s inexperience is mitigated, Bondy opines.

Here’s more on the Nets’ surprising hire:

  • Nash reached out to longtime friend Dirk Nowitzki to gauge his interest in joining the Nets as an assistant coach, but Nowitzki isn’t looking for a full-time basketball job so soon after retiring, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).
  • Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Nash explained why the Nets’ job appealed to him, admitting that he has always known in the back of his mind that he’d like to try coaching. The former two-time MVP also addressed his relationship with Durant. “I think that there is a trust, a commonality and a language between us when it comes to the game that has developed over time,” Nash said of his bond with KD. “That definitely is important. He’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen and to have his confidence is really important.”
  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic explores what Nash brought to the Warriors and what – in turn – he’ll bring to the Nets, noting that Steve Kerr is confident in the Hall-of-Famer’s ability to make the transition to coaching. “Yeah, he’ll be fine,” Kerr said. “He knows the drill. He’s been in the league forever and he knows the game as well as anybody and he understands people. And I think he’s very wise, so he’ll hire a good staff. And everything that he needs to learn, he’ll learn quickly.”
  • ESPN insiders Bobby Marks, Tim MacMahon, Kirk Goldsberry, Tim Bontemps, and Brian Windhorst share their reactions to the news of the Nets hiring Nash, and explore best- and worst-case scenarios for the union.
  • It may be an unconventional hire, but the Nets are getting a great teacher in Nash, says Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

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.

Nets Rumors: Popovich, KD, Kyrie, Vaughn, TLC

Now that the Nets‘ season is over, the team’s long-anticipated search for a permanent new head coach can get underway. And as we learned earlier this month, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is expected to be atop Brooklyn’s wish list.

Popovich has given no indication that he wants to continue his career anywhere besides San Antonio, but the Nets will explore the possibility of luring the Spurs legend to Brooklyn, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As Charania details, the Nets have a number of connections to Popovich and the Spurs, with general manager Sean Marks, assistant GM Andy Birdsong, and assistant coach Tiago Splitter among those who previously worked with or played for Popovich. Additionally, sources tell The Athletic that Popovich has long been a favorite of Kevin Durant, dating back to Oklahoma City’s 2015 head coaching search.

According to Charania, the Nets’ interest in Popovich is widely considered a pipe dream, but the team will still exhaust the possibility. They’d need to be granted permission to speak to him and would almost certainly need to send the Spurs some sort of compensation if talks became serious.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • While Jacque Vaughn continues to receive consideration for the Nets’ permanent head coaching position, Durant and Kyrie Irving are interested in a “higher profile head coach,” according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, who cites Popovich and Tyronn Lue as possibilities in that vein.
  • Vaughn expressed confidence following the end of the Nets’ season that he’s the right person for the club’s permanent head coaching role, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “What I am confident in is my skill set as a coach, my ability to communicate and have relationship with guys, my ability to adjust on the fly, adjust with individuals,” Vaughn said. “Those things I’m very comfortable with, comfortable at this stage of my career of having a voice and choice with my players.”
  • Veteran swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who emerged as one of the Nets’ more reliable contributors during the summer restart, told a French outlet that he enjoys playing in Brooklyn and wants to remain with the team, as NetsDaily relays. The former first-round pick has a non-guaranteed $1.82MM salary for 2020/21, which looks like a pretty solid value based on TLC’s play this summer.
  • In an Insider-only ESPN.com article, Bobby Marks previews the Nets’ offseason, exploring Joe Harris‘ potential cost in free agency, what it would take to trade for a third star, and much more.

Nets Notes: Harris, Crawford, Durant, Dinwiddie

The Nets will have plenty of key decisions to make this fall, including who will become their permanent head coach and whether they should package some of their talent in an effort to trade for another impact player. However, GM Sean Marks isn’t underestimating the importance of re-signing veteran sharpshooter Joe Harris.

“Priority No. 1,” Marks said of locking up Harris, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “It’s that simple, yeah. … Signing him and seeing him with this group will certainly be a priority for us.”

Harris, who signed a two-year, $16MM contract with Brooklyn in 2018, figures to be in line for a raise this offseason and it could be a substantial one. He has become one of the NBA’s most consistent outside shooters, knocking down 44.8% of his three-point attempts over the last two seasons, and will be one of the top UFAs in a somewhat weak market.

The Nets already have about $133MM in guaranteed money on their books for next season, per Basketball Insiders, which will almost certainly make them a taxpayer. They’ll have to weigh how much more they’re willing to pay to retain Harris.

Here’s more on Brooklyn:

  • The Nets have been so impressed by Jamal Crawford‘s leadership skills this summer – as well as the offensive ability he has shown in limited practices – that they’re seriously considering adding him to their roster for the 2020/21 season, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
  • Kevin Durant (Achilles rehab) and Spencer Dinwiddie (contracted COVID-19 in June) aren’t participating in the restart this summer, but they’re among the Nets players working out and playing pickup ball in Los Angeles. Chris Milholen of NetsDaily has the details and the video.
  • If the Nets go star-hunting this offseason, Caris LeVert is one player whose name could come up in trade rumors. However, LeVert has shown with his play this summer that he may be capable of complementing Durant and Kyrie Irving himself. After scoring 37 points on Thursday, LeVert earned praise from Damian Lillard and was referred to as “the best kept secret in the NBA” by Crawford (via Twitter).

New York Notes: Nets Guards, KD, DSJ, K. Payne

Both Tyler Johnson and Chris Chiozza will be free agents at the end of the 2019/20 season, as Johnson signed a one-year contract in June and Chiozza’s two-way deal is expiring as well. However, the two guards are making a strong case to be considered for next season’s Nets roster, as Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com writes.

The Nets’ rotation has been in a state of flux this summer due to injuries, opt-outs, COVID-19 cases, and some lineup experimentation. However, Johnson and Chiozza have often shared the backcourt as part of the club’s second unit, and the pairing has worked. Entering today’s game, Chiozza is averaging 9.2 PPG and 5.0 APG in six games during the restart, while Johnson has contributed 11.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 2.8 APG.

“I think it’s a great combination; two guards that can pass and shoot pretty well,” Chiozza said, per Dowd. “He’s a smart player so it’s easy to play with him. He knows how to move when I’ve got the ball and I feel like we get each other a lot if open shots.”

Meanwhile, veteran guard Jamal Crawford was supposed to be a backcourt contributor for the Nets this summer after signing as a substitute player, but has been limited to just six minutes due to a hamstring injury.

Despite not playing much, Crawford has provided great leadership for the Nets, including Caris LeVert, head coach Jacque Vaughn said this week (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post). According to Vaughn, Crawford may not return before the seeding schedule ends, but the team remains confident he can contribute this summer.

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

  • When the Nets clinched a playoff spot, it assured injured star Kevin Durant of a $1MM bonus, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter). Because the bonus had been considered “likely” rather than “unlikely,” earning it this season won’t impact Durant’s cap hit for 2020/21.
  • Former lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr. finds himself at a crossroads as he enters a contract year under new Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. One scout who spoke to Berman is curious to see how the team handles Smith in ’20/21. “He’s certainly not a Thibs kind of player, but let’s see how committed they are to getting him right,” the scout said. “You don’t want to force it because they traded (Kristaps) Porzingis for him. Knowing when to cut bait is important. There may be too many things to fix with him.”
  • New Knicks assistant coach Kenny Payne is primarily known for three things, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News: recruiting, relationships, and developing frontcourt players. As Bondy writes, the Knicks will hope that Payne can assist in their efforts to attract stars to New York.