Kevin Durant

Nets Notes: Durant, Harden, LeVert, Irving, More

Asked today about reports that he and James Harden have talked about teaming up in Brooklyn, Nets forward Kevin Durant dismissed the idea that such a plan has been in the works, as Adam Zagoria of writes.

“I don’t know where you making these stories up that me and James talked about any of this at a workout,” Durant said on a conference call with reporters. “I don’t know where that came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff.

“I was just so focused on working out,” he continued. “I heard all the noise and I heard that James potentially wanted to come to the Nets but anybody could make up stories. Anybody can write a story and it gets some traction so nothing’s ever set in stone until it’s set in stone.”

While the Nets have been frequently linked to Harden in recent weeks, it doesn’t sound like they ever made any real progress on a trade for the Rockets star. Shams Charania of The Athletic suggested during an appearance on Complex’s Load Management podcast that Brooklyn doesn’t have the sort of young star that would appeal to Houston as the centerpiece of a package for Harden.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Charania also said on the Load Management podcast that the Nets were unwilling to include Caris LeVert in their trade offer for Jrue Holiday last month, as NetsDaily relays. According to Charania, Durant and Kyrie Irving view LeVert as “a very significant part of this team.”
  • Durant spoke to reporters today about the challenges of recovering from an Achilles tear, writes Scott Thompson of “Those milestones of learning how to walk, learning how to run, jump again and getting used to certain movements again, I think that’s underestimated,” Durant said. “People don’t realize that the Achilles ligament is one of the strongest ligaments in your body. So for that to pop, you gotta build that up and that takes a while.”
  • Asked today about whether Durant and Irving will be load-managed during the 2020/21 season, Nets head coach Steve Nash acknowledged that the two stars likely won’t play all 72 games, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. However, Nash didn’t suggest there’s any set plan in place for resting those returning All-Stars.
  • Nash said today that he plans on having Mike D’Antoni lead the Nets’ offense and Jacque Vaughn lead the team’s defense, but his entire staff of assistants will provide input on both sides of the ball (Twitter link via Ian Begley of
  • In case you missed it, Brooklyn announced its initial 20-man training camp roster earlier this afternoon.

Nets Rumors: Durant, Harden, Harris, Ibaka

The Nets aren’t hiding their optimism about Kevin Durant with the new season just weeks away, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Durant has been out of action since suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon during the 2019 NBA Finals, but his recent workouts have players and management believing he can return to an MVP level.

“I don’t think anybody is more excited than Kevin himself to get back on the court. He’s mentioned numerous times he can’t wait to be back, in Barclays, wearing the Nets jersey and being out there,” general manager Sean Marks said in an interview Thursday on the YES Network . “As it pertains to how those guys look, what we’ve seen — they’ve been back in our gym now a couple days — the feedback from the performance team on how they’ve looked is they look terrific. It’s been remarkable to watch Kevin’s development and the way he’s attacked his rehabilitation over the course of the last year. We’re all champing at the bit and excited to see him out there.”

Players who participated in pickup games with Durant during the past month in Los Angeles also had glowing reports, with Jarrett Allen telling Basketball News, “I’ll just keep it short and simple: KD is back again.”

There’s more this morning from Brooklyn:

  • Marks isn’t addressing questions about James Harden, who reportedly asked the Rockets to trade him to the Nets to reunite with Durant, Lewis tweets. Marks is limited in what he can say about a potential deal because of tampering rules. “All you can do is prepare yourself to put the best possible roster forward,” Marks said. “…We just have to be flexible for everything that happens, and put the best roster forward.”
  • Re-signing Joe Harris will be the team’s top priority when free agency officially kicks off this afternoon, Lewis notes in a separate story. One of the league’s top three-point shooters, Harris is reportedly eager for the chance to play alongside Durant and Kyrie Irving“Those are guys I’ve gotten close with now that I’ve been with them this past year,” Harris said. “They’re obviously incredible players. You see what they’re able to do when they are healthy and playing. I don’t think there’s anybody in the NBA who wouldn’t want to play with those guys.”
  • Durant has been recruiting Serge Ibaka, his former teammate in Oklahoma City, but the Nets may not be able to afford him, Lewis adds. Brooklyn is limited to the taxpayer exception of $5.7MM, while several other teams interested in Ibaka can offer the full MLE of $9.3MM.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, I. Stewart, Durant

The Raptors might be well-served to consider using either their No. 29 or No. 59 pick during the 2020 draft as a “draft-and-stash” option, selecting a player they know won’t arrive in the NBA until at least the 2021/22 season, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic.

Limited rotation space for unproven players, the expected development of current Toronto youth, and the compressed offseason are all factors that could point to the draft-and-stash route, Murphy notes. The Raptors face some interesting offseason options, with key role players Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka entering free agency.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Atlantic Division:

  • Athletic 6’9″ University of Washington big man Isaiah Stewart, a Rochester, NY native, appears to be a viable candidate for the Knicks to draft with the No. 27 pick in the 2020 draft, per Marc Berman of the New York Post“The big thing about Isaiah is he’s a culture changer — he’s all about the right stuff,’’ his Washington head coach Mike Hopkins said. New York’s roster, of course, is already loaded with an array of power forwards, though many can become free agents this fall. Hopkins compared Stewart to All-Star Heat center Bam Adebayo and Clippers power forward/center Montrezl Harrell.
  • Nets forward Kevin Durant has been practicing at the Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, CA, as he continues to rehabilitate from an Achilles tear suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals. Durant has logged court time with fellow Nets Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince and Jaylen Hands, plus other pros, and is receiving rave reviews, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
  • Legendary Hall of Fame Celtics power forward and broadcast Tommy Heinsohn passed away this week. The six-time All-Star and eight-time champ was 86.

Steve Nash Embraces Nets’ Championship Expectations

With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving due back from injuries and the Nets mulling additional roster upgrades this offseason, new head coach Steve Nash told season ticket holders during a virtual town hall on Tuesday that he’s embracing the club’s rising expectations for the 2020/21 season.

“We’re playing for a championship,” Nash said, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I don’t want to say that anything less than a championship is not a success because you never know what happens in life, you never know the way the ball bounces. Fortune is a big part of winning an NBA championship.

“But we are playing for a championship and we’re going to build accordingly. We’re going to frame everything we do in the lens of, ‘Is this a championship characteristic or is this worth championship quality?'”

Although the Nets posted a 35-37 record and were quickly swept out of the first round of the postseason in 2019/20, oddsmakers and sports bettors are bullish about the team’s outlook with Durant and Irving in the lineup. currently lists Brooklyn in a tie with Boston as the second-most likely team to come out of the East in 2021, just behind Milwaukee.

Still, it remains to be seen how Durant will look coming off his torn Achilles, and there are some questions about how the roster will mesh when everyone’s healthy, as well as Nash’s ability to steer the ship as a rookie head coach. Those questions were only exacerbated when Irving – addressing Nash’s hiring on a recent episode of Durant’s podcast – suggested that he doesn’t “really see us having a head coach.”

However, discussing his coaching plan during today’s town hall, Nash went out of his way to echo Irving’s language about collaboration, according to Bontemps.

“I definitely don’t want to come in with too many hard and fast concepts and designs,” Nash said. “I’d much rather come in with principles — with ideas that allow our players to collaborate with us and allow their personalities and the dynamic between them and the chemistry to have a role in how it evolves.

“People talk about the Phoenix teams I played on, and this sort of revolutionary tone of how it impacted the game, but the truth be told, Mike D’Antoni‘s brilliance in much of that was he allowed it to evolve instead of getting in the way.”

New York Notes: Durant, Harris, Oladipo, Knicks

Medical experts are optimistic about Kevin Durant‘s chances to bounce back from his torn Achilles tendon, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The Nets‘ star forward hasn’t played since suffering the injury in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, but he showed some signs of progress in workouts before before the hiatus.

Durant will be in the second season of a four-year, $164MM contract with Brooklyn, and the franchise is hoping that he and Kyrie Irving will turn it into an instant contender. Durant was only 30 when the injury occurred and turned 32 last month, so that gives him an advantage over players such as Patrick Ewing, Isiah Thomas and Kobe Bryant, who had similar injuries later in their careers.

“That’s better for him, so I don’t see anything holding him back,” said Dr. Laith Jazrawi, chief of the division of sports medicine at NYU Langone Sports Health. “The only thing is he hasn’t played for a year-and-a-half, so it’ll take time to get back into the rhythm. Some people are going to say ‘Oh, it’s because he had his Achilles (injury).’ That’s not true. It’s that when anyone doesn’t play for a year-and-a-half, it’s just going to take time to get back into the flow. But he should do fine.”

Durant said his love for the game has increased as he tries to work his way back. He recently appeared on the Stewie’s World podcast with Breanna Stewart of the WNBA, who was able to overcome a torn Achilles and return to stardom.

“I just appreciate being in the gym. I appreciate the workouts and the one-on-one sessions and just being in there with the other guys, just the whole routine,” Durant said. “I just have a newfound evolved level of joy for it.”

There’s more from New York City this morning:

Atlantic Notes: Nowitzki, Kanter, Irving, Durant

New Nets coach Steve Nash reached out to former teammate Dirk Nowitzki but the Hall of Fame-bound big man has no desire to be an assistant coach at the moment, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports. Nowitzki is content to spend time with his family in Dallas. “First of all, I don’t know if I could do it (coach) anywhere but here,” he said. “That’s of course first. Second, I just think the timing is not right. I love being with the family. I’m so over basketball at this point that it wasn’t even a thought for me.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s generally assumed that Celtics center Enes Kanter, who played sparingly during the postseason, will exercise his $5MM player option for next season. That’s not necessarily the case, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. It’s more likely that Kanter will test the market and seek a backup role elsewhere, Weiss says. Even if he opts in, the Celtics may use his salary for a draft-night trade, Weiss adds.
  • Former Suns GM Ryan McDonough doesn’t think Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were trying to undermine Nash when they talked about “collaborative coaching” on Durant’s podcast earlier this month, Ian Begley of relays. Speaking on The Putback, McDonough felt the star Nets duo was speaking more of the team’s leadership. “It wasn’t a critical comment toward Steve Nash like, ‘Hey, he’s not ready for this.’ It was more, ‘We have a lot of player leadership on the roster,’” he said.
  • The Knicks might shop all their picks on draft night. Get the details here.

Eastern Notes: Durant, Nets, Pistons, Rivers

Nets superstar Kevin Durant is hopeful to retire with the organization, though he cautioned it’s only his mindset in the present day, as relayed by the Players’ Tribune Text Message Talk Show with former NBA player Dorell Wright.

“As of today, this second, yes…” Durant texted when asked if Brooklyn would be his final stop.

Durant has previously hinted his willingness to step away from the game around age 35, though these comments were made over two years ago. His current contract with the Nets carries into the next two seasons with a $43.9MM player option for the 2022/23 campaign.

Brooklyn is expected to be at the forefront of title contention next season, sporting a core group of Durant, Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert and others. The team recently hired Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash as head coach, a decision approved by Durant himself.

“I’m excited about Coach Nash…I think he’s gonna build a fun culture in Brooklyn….having a former player walk the sidelines is always dope to see,” Durant texted.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Former Long Island head coach and Nets assistant Will Weaver is picking Brooklyn to come out of the East next year, praising the team’s hiring of Nash and the well-put-together roster, he said on the Wingspan Podcast (as relayed by Chris Milholen of NetsDaily). “How can you not feel like that group is the odds on favorite to win the East next year,” Weaver exclaimed as part of a larger quote. “I think the work that has been going on there for years and the building of equity, processes, and culture will allow someone like Steve [Nash] to step in and inherit a lot of that.”
  • Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press examines a number of Pistons-related topics in his latest mailbag, including the pros and cons of a potential Blake GriffinBuddy Hield trade. Detroit accrued just a 20-46 record on the season, the third-worst in the Eastern Conference and fifth-worst in the league.
  • Derek Bodner and Rich Hofmann of The Athletic discuss the Sixers’ hiring of Doc Rivers in their latest Sixers Beat podcast. Rivers has proven he can lead a locker room with star-studded players, previously coaching the likes of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and others. He’s set to inherit a roster featuring Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid next season with Philadelphia.

Atlantic Notes: DSJ, Durant, Rivers, Antetokounmpo

Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. will be headed to free agency after next season and he’s trying to make a strong impression on new head coach Tom Thibodeau. He came to New York prior to the team’s mini-camp to work with the coaching staff, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. Smith will make $5.7MM next season and the team can make him a restricted free agent next offseason if it extends a $7.7MM qualifying offer. Smith has only appeared in 87 games over the last two seasons.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Kevin Durant can opt out after the third season of his four-year contract with the Nets. However, his current plan is to finish out his career with Brooklyn, Durant indicated in a message on The Player Tribune’s “Text Message Talk Show” (hat tip to Brian Lewis of the New York Post). “As of today, this second, yes…” Durant texted during the show.
  • If Tyronn Lue doesn’t get another head coaching job soon, he could wind up on Doc Rivers’ staff again, this time with the Sixers, Derek Bodner of The Athletic speculates. Several other Clippers assistants — Sam Cassell, Armond Hill and Rex Kalamian — are also potential candidates to join Rivers in Philadelphia.
  • If Giannis Antetokounmpo signs an extension with Milwaukee, the Raptors would be wise to pursue a major player on the trade market prior to next year’s free agency period, Blake Murphy of The Athletic opines. It would also make it more viable to extend OG Anunoby and increase their comfort level of paying Fred VanVleet his asking price to re-sign.

Atlantic Notes: Kemba, Tatum, Nets, Knicks

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge doesn’t expect Kemba Walker to require offseason surgery to address his left knee issues, but said today that the point guard was “definitely not himself” during the playoffs, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. According to Ainge, the club will construct a plan for Walker going forward to try to avoid having that happen again.

“In fairness to Kemba, he doesn’t want to say (that he wasn’t himself). He doesn’t say that to our coaches. He doesn’t say that to you, the media. He doesn’t say that to me. I haven’t heard one excuse from him,” Ainge said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “But watching the games, even the games we won, even the games where he played well, I could tell he wasn’t the same physically as he was in October, November, December. So we’re going to try to get that Kemba back.”

While Walker still made some big plays for the Celtics en route to the team’s appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, his postseason numbers reflect that he wasn’t at his best. He made just 31.0% of his three-point attempts in 17 playoff contests after knocking down 38.1% during the season.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Ainge didn’t sound worried about being able to lock up Celtics forward Jayson Tatum to a long-term contract extension sooner rather than later. “Jayson knows how much we like him,” Ainge said, according to Bontemps. “We have a good relationship. Jayson likes it here, so I’m confident that we’ll be able to work something out this summer — this offseason, I should say.”
  • Appearing on Kevin Durant‘s podcast this week, Nets teammates Durant and Kyrie Irving denied playing a role in Kenny Atkinson‘s dismissal and made some unusual comments about the club’s new head coaching situation. Brian Lewis of The New York Post has the details.
  • Alex Schiffer and William Guillory of The Athletic explore whether a Jrue Holiday trade between the Pelicans and Nets might make sense, as well as what such a deal would look like. The two Athletic writers conclude that it’s probably not a great match.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a closer look at Tyrese Haliburton as a possible Knicks draft target, while Kira Lewis‘ trainer Cory Underwood talks to Ian Begley of about the Alabama guard’s potential fit with the Knicks.

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.