Kevin Durant

Nets Notes: LeVert, Durant, Irving, Vezenkov

The Nets need to determine whether Caris LeVert can be the third star alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on a championship team or a trade piece to acquire one, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.

LeVert was on a tear prior to the suspension of play and figures to be in high demand on the trade market, Lewis continues. LeVert is entering the first season of a three-year, $52.5MM extension. The Nets have several trade assets, including Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen, but LeVert might be their best chip, Lewis adds.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Longtime NBA guard Jamal Crawford believes Irving and Durant will go through an adjustment period, Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News relays. Crawford made his comments in a Scoop B Radio interview with Brandon Robinson. “They’ll have moments where they have to figure it out and work their way through,” he said. “Those moments may come more in the closer games because they’re both used to having the ball and making plays and making decisions and certain ways they may go about things in the closer games. So maybe more presence there, but I’m sure it will happen during the course of the season.”
  • The Nets hold the rights to four European draft-and-slash players but none are potential difference-makesr, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. The most recent of those picks, 2017 second-rounder Sasha Vezenkov, isn’t an NBA-caliber athlete, Hollinger continues. The combo forward doesn’t move his feet well and is a poor rebounder, Hollinger adds.
  • All four of the team’s players, including Durant, who tested positive for COVID-19 are now symptom-free. Get the details here.

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.

NBA Plans To Launch Players-Only 2K Tournament

12:07pm: The Boardroom has provided a full list of the 16 participants in the tournament, along with the first-round matchups (Twitter link). Devin Booker (Suns), Trae Young (Hawks), and Zach LaVine (Bulls) are among the other stars set to take part in the event.

11:19am: With no NBA games expected to happen on the court anytime soon, the league is setting up a virtual tournament in an attempt to sate fans’ appetite for basketball, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

According to Haynes, the league intends to launch an NBA 2K tournament that will feature NBA players competing against one another. The goal is to begin the 10-day event this Friday, though the league is still working out and finalizing the details, sources tell Haynes. The tournament would be broadcast on ESPN.

Nets star Kevin Durant, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, and free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins are among the 16 players expected to participate, per Haynes.

Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel had previously tweeted that Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside and Heat swingman Derrick Jones were among the players set to play in an NBA 2K20 Players Tournament in April. That info appears to be based on an announcement from the NBPA, which was quickly deleted. Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone (via Twitter) shares the full list of participants the NBPA identified in that premature release.

According to Winderman, the tournament is expected to have a $100K prize for charity.

Nets Rumors: Third Star, Dinwiddie, Coach, Kyrie

In the latest edition of his Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said he believes the Nets have signaled they’ll try to use some of their young talent to trade for a third star this offseason to complement Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“We could enter a healthy debate here about whether Caris LeVert is that third star, and they may make the decision that he is,” Windhorst said. “But my feel (from) reading the tea leaves, paying attention to what (general manager) Sean Marks has said, and also being aware of some conversations that they had at the trade deadline – which was some sticking the toe in the water on some things – I think that they are going to swing for the fences whenever the offseason comes.”

As Windhorst and guests Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton note, it’s not clear which stars on other rosters would even available via trade and whether the Nets would be willing to package players like LeVert or Spencer Dinwiddie. Marks and Pelton point out that moving a point guard like Dinwiddie could be somewhat risky, given all the games Irving has missed due to injuries in recent years.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Windhorst also suggested in today’s podcast that the Nets figure to seek an established head coach who would be comfortable leading a veteran team going all-in on contending. “One of the things that has been expressed sort of through the grapevine – that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators – is that Durant and Irving would like a blue chip coach,” Windhorst said. “I don’t know what this says about the way they felt about (Kenny) Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”
  • In a subsequent discussion on potential head coaching options for Brooklyn, Windhorst speculates that Tom Thibodeau will receive consideration from both the Nets and Knicks. As Windhorst observes, Thibodeau’s experience as an assistant for Team USA gives him a connection to Durant and Irving.
  • In the latest installment of his player-by-player look at the Nets’ roster, Brian Lewis of The New York Post focuses on Irving, writing that it’s hard to imagine Kyrie’s second year in Brooklyn being as “tumultuous” as year one was. Lewis also doesn’t close the door on the possibility of Irving returning to action in 2019/20 if the season resumes in two or three months.

Nets Notes: Head Coach, Allen, Kyrie, Durant

Asked today during an ESPN Radio appearance about the two NBA head coaching jobs in New York, former coach and current analyst Stan Van Gundy said there’s “no question” that the Nets‘ position is more favorable than the Knicks‘ opening, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes.

“Of the two, the Nets are the better job. There’s no question about that right now,” Van Gundy said. “The organization has been more stable. They’ve won more games. They have more talent.”

While the Knicks project to have a good deal of cap flexibility going forward and have some promising young players like RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, the Nets should have stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving healthy for the start of next season, with a talented supporting cast that includes Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Joe Harris.

Both teams will be in the market for new head coaches after the season, with Mike Miller and Jacque Vaughn holding the jobs in the interim after having replaced David Fizdale and Kenny Atkinson, respectively.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • In the wake of Atkinson’s departure and DeAndre Jordan‘s ascension to the starting lineup, Jarrett Allen‘s long-term outlook in Brooklyn has never been cloudier, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The Nets’ handling of Allen raises the question of whether the young center could become an offseason trade piece, Lewis writes.
  • Kyrie Irving announced today on Instagram that he’s donating $323K to Feeding America amidst the COVID-19 crisis and is working to distribute 250,000 meals across the New York area. As Howard Beck of Bleacher Report tweets, Irving chose that specific donation amount of $323K to reflect his birthday (March 23) and as a nod to Kobe Bryant (the sum of the digits is 8).
  • Appearing on Friday on NBC Sports Washington’s Wizards Talk podcast, Kevin Durant‘s good friend Quinn Cook provided a positive update on Durant, who tested positive for the coronavirus last week. “He’s just encouraging social distancing, staying inside and don’t expose others,” Cook said. “For him to step up to the plate and use his platform to spread awareness, it’s brave. That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s fine. He’s doing great.”

Kevin Durant Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Kevin Durant is one of four Nets players that have tested positive for the coronavirus, he tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Durant said he is feeling alright.

“Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We’re going to get through this,” he said.

It was announced earlier today that four Brooklyn players had tested positive for the virus. The Nets paid out of pocket to a private company to conduct the testing, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

The team elected to protect the identity of those players, but Durant was willing to go public with his diagnosis. Brooklyn said that all four affected players are isolated and under the care of team doctors, as our own Luke Adams relayed. Three of the four players aren’t exhibiting symptoms, according to the club — it sounds like KD falls into that group.

The latest news means that the total number of NBA players diagnosed with COVID-19 is up to seven, as the four affected Nets join a list that already included Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and Pistons big man Christian Wood.

Kleiman: “Not Very Realistic” To Expect Durant To Play In Summer

Nets star Kevin Durant is one of a number of players around the NBA who was ruled out for the 2019/20 season due to an injury prior to the hiatus. Now that there’s a possibility the end of the season could be played in June, July, and/or August, projected return dates will be re-evaluated, since many injuries may not ultimately be season-ending after all.

However, appearing today on Golic & Wingo, Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman downplayed the idea of KD returning to play in the summer (link via ESPN).

“Honestly, not very realistic from my standpoint, and (we have) not even spoken about,” Kleiman said.

Durant tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals last June, so if the NBA season were to return in mid-June, it would give him a full 12 months to recover. Although Kleiman didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of the forward making his Brooklyn debut prior to opening night in 2020/21, he clearly wanted to keep expectations in check, given the serious nature of Durant’s injury.

“It feels like (Durant playing in 2019/20) clearly was not something that was in the cards prior to all this,” Kleiman said. “And now, I think just like the rest of the world, it’s hard to take anything more than day by day.

“I think that Kevin is going to figure out the space that he needs to be in to continue to rehab during this time. But even that is hard to answer at this point, with the new kind of rules that were put in place last night.”

The “new kind of rules” reference by Kleiman presumably refer to the NBA indefinitely extending its ban on team practices and limiting contact between players at team facilities.

The idea of the Nets getting back Durant and possibly Kyrie Irving for a summer postseason run is intriguing and would certainly make things more interesting in the East, but for now it feels like a long shot. We’ll see if that outlook changes in the coming months.

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.”

The Latest On Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Atkinson‘s surprising departure as coach of the Nets on Saturday may have been instigated by his players, but it was a mutual decision, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Sources tell Lewis that Kyrie Irving bears much of the responsibility for the move, but Atkinson has understood for months that a change might be necessary.

“Kenny and I had these pretty frank conversations. And it wasn’t last night, 24 hours; there wasn’t one game,” general manager Sean Marks said. “This was a culmination of events over the course of the year. Kenny’s brutally honest, and the humility he showed to admit ‘My voice is not what it once was here. It’s time.’ This is a compromise that Kenny and I and ownership came up with; it was time. Kenny grinded and did everything he could, but it was time for another voice in that locker room, and it’s our job to find it.”

Marks and owner Joe Tsai gave Atkinson credit for helping to turn around a franchise that was among the league’s worst when he took over in 2016. He has the Nets on track for their second straight playoff appearance, but what the organization wants in a coach apparently shifted after last summer’s free agency bonanza that brought in Irving and Kevin Durant. Neither of them offered comment on Atkinson’s departure, but the players who did insist that they weren’t involved in the decision.

“I absolutely [had] no ‘Fire Kenny’ conversations with Sean, so I don’t know, not a part of that,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “It’s not like I called Joe on the phone and was like, ‘Hey you making any moves?’ I like to think we’re cool, but not that cool.”

Lewis adds that one of the first actions from interim coach Jacque Vaughn was to talk to Irving and other players about what changes they would like to see.

“It’s a service business. I’m serving these guys. I’m just a vessel,” Vaughn said. “It’s today’s game and being able to adjust to that, getting the most out of talent on your roster, but also listening and hearing the voices of the No. 1, 2, 3, 4 guys on your roster. It’s crucial, and having that relationship is a must in today’s game.”

There’s more fallout from this season’s most surprising coaching change:

  • Irving would like to see the Nets hire Tyronn Lue, his former head coach in Cleveland, reports Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Currently an assistant with the Clippers, Lue took the Cavaliers to three straight NBA Finals, including two with Irving as his point guard. Irving didn’t like Atkinson’s “rigid” coaching methods and clashed with him almost immediately, sources tell Goodwill. Multiple sources also say Atkinson didn’t mesh with his two new stars and wasn’t looking forward to coaching them next season when both will presumably be healthy. “Oh, it was definitely mutual,” a league source said.
  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic talked to sources around the league and compiled a list of candidates to potentially become the Nets’ next head coach. Vaughn’s name is on the list along with some familiar candidates such as Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and former Nets star Jason Kidd. A few possibilities without head coaching experience are Darvin Ham, Ime Udoka, Brian Keefe and Adam Harrington.
  • Atkinson may be the perfect choice to take over the cross-town Knicks, suggests Greg Joyce of The New York Post. New York is trying to rebuild with a collection of unproven young talent, much like Brooklyn was when Atkinson was hired there, and he is represented by Creative Artists Agency, which was run by new Knicks president Leon Rose“It seems like he’s very well respected within players, within the league — players he coached and players he didn’t coach,” said Knicks forward Julius Randle. “I know I respected him.”

New York Notes: Durant, Nets Backcourt, Knicks Fans, Rose

Kevin Durant provided a medical update during the Nets‘ broadcast Wednesday night on the YES Network, relays Peter Botte of The New York Post. Durant said he continues to make progress in his recovery from Achilles surgery and confirmed that he recently started playing three-on-three games with teammates.

“I feel all right. It’s been fun, playing three-on-three with the guys every day,” Durant said. “I miss the routine. I’ve missed getting up every day and being one of the guys, going to practice, going to shootarounds. It’s been difficult, being away from the scene. But I’m about nine months out (from surgery), so I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.”

There’s more NBA news from New York City:

  • Because of injuries to Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson still doesn’t know if they can form an effective backcourt rotation with Spencer Dinwiddie, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Irving will miss the rest of the season after shoulder surgery and played just 20 games in his first year in Brooklyn. LeVert was injured early in the season and has been available for only 36 games. “That would be the piece we still have to figure out,” Atkinson said. “You have a lot of ball dominant guards. That being said, Caris and Spencer, with D’Angelo [Russell], they played a lot without the ball. I think D’Angelo’s usage rate was higher than Kyrie’s. We can definitely do it.”
  • Four fans tell Marc Berman of The New York Post they were ejected from Madison Square Garden after starting a “sell the team” chant directed at owner James Dolan late in Wednesday’s loss to Utah. The Knicks are denying the claim, stating that no one was ejected or escorted out of the building. Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press notes that years of losing may be catching up with the organization as last night’s crowd was the smallest since 2006 and overall attendance is likely to drop for the fourth straight season.
  • Jazz star Donovan Mitchell believes hiring Leon Rose as president of basketball operations will help turn the Knicks around, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. A CAA client, Mitchell talked about Rose when he was asked about the team’s dispute with Spike Lee. “I think with Leon — who I know personally — things are going to trend upward. I love Leon to death,” Mitchell said. “He’s a great dude, great person and a really good businessman. So I think they’re going to start going in the right direction when he gets in there.”