Kevin Durant

Nets Notes: James, Durant, Aldridge

Mike James, the latest addition to the Nets‘ backcourt, would still be playing for CSKA Moscow if not for an altercation last month with coach Dimitris Itoudis. After posting eight points and two steals in his debut with Brooklyn Friday night, James talked about the incident in Russia, as Peter Botte of The New York Post details.

“Some things happened in my personal life and I felt like stuff didn’t go how I thought somebody should handle my situations,” said James, who was also suspended in January. “We had a little clash there. Not really as a basketball player did I have a clash with Itoudis, more as an individual. As two men we had clashes, not really on the basketball court.”

The 30-year-old guard, who signed a 10-day contract on Friday, should get plenty of opportunity in Brooklyn with James Harden, Tyler Johnson and Chris Chiozza all injured. James is looking forward to playing a complementary role, rather than having to carry the offense like he did in Moscow.

“I liked playing a lot and having a star role. Just as you get older, I just don’t want to have that much responsibility on my shoulders every night,” he said. “Playing 21 minutes a night is better for me and just not being as much of a focal point and just trying to help out. I feel like I can shine in that if I got the opportunity.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Kevin Durant expects to play this afternoon against the Suns, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Durant sat out the past three games after suffering a left leg contusion last Sunday.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post looks at Durant’s success off the court, which includes a possible Oscar win tonight for the live action short film “Two Distant Strangers.” Durant’s ultimate goal is to someday become an NBA owner. “We definitely have always been interested clearly in being involved in team sports, and learning the ownership business and being able to at one point have Kevin, and this organization, own and operate an NBA team,” said his business manager, Rich Kleiman. “The thought is so far down the line, not only because Kevin’s still playing, but the amount of money to get into it is a different level of money.”
  • The Nets are paying a price for chasing a star when LaMarcus Aldridge became available rather than addressing more significant needs, writes Kristian Winfield of Yahoo Sports. Brooklyn could have opted for Jeff Teague to provide backcourt depth or Khem Birch to help with rim protection, but chose to go after the bigger name. Aldridge was recently forced to retire because of an irregular heartbeat.

Atlantic Notes: Rose, Thibodeau, Johnson, Injuries, Fournier

Tom Thibodeau joined the Knicks this past offseason with a strong reputation despite unceremonious exits during his last two stops with the Bulls and Timberwolves, and has helped New York exceed expectations, putting the club on the cusp of a postseason appearance.

One player who has been with Thibodeau for a while is Derrick Rose, who enjoyed his best years with Thibs in Chicago, joined him briefly in Minnesota, and is now a key depth piece for the Knicks. In Rose’s view, Thibodeau, a top contender for Coach of the Year, has only improved, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes.

“It shows that he’s improved as a coach. He’s already a great coach, but every year he’s improving and adjusting,” Rose said. “That’s the big difference that I see with him this year. He’s giving guys more freedom to go out there and play the way they want. He’s being positive on the court.”

The Knicks own a record of 33-27 record entering play Saturday, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • Year after year, the Knicks seemingly found new ways to become a laughingstock of the NBA through poor hires, questionable signings and head-scratching trades. This season, however, the club has played well behind some shrewd acquisitions and the hiring of a good coach, and is trending in the right direction, Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill writes.
  • The Nets believe Kevin Durant is close to returning but it’s unclear when that will happen, according to head coach Steve Nash. “I think he’s close, but I don’t think he’s there,” Nash said, per NetsDaily. “We’ll see tomorrow and Sunday if that’s a possibility. But it may not. It may bleed back into this road trip.” Nash added that guard Tyler Johnson, who has missed 10 straight games, is close to a return too.
  • The Nets are also currently without recent signee Alize Johnson as he is sidelined due to health and safety protocols, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews (Twitter link). Brooklyn recently inked Johnson to a multiyear deal after he signed a pair of 10-day deals.
  • Celtics trade deadline acquisition Evan Fournier returned to the court on Friday in Brooklyn after missing nine games due to COVID-19. Fournier detailed his symptoms and noted he needs time to ramp up back into shape, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps writes. “My experience — where do I start? The first two days I was doing great, no symptoms at all, and then flu-like symptoms, high fever, really tired, fatigue, all that,” Fournier said. “I honestly stayed in bed and slept for four or five days. The roughest part was ramping up the activity. The last two days of practice was really hard. I had moments where I was doing good and moments where I was exhausted.”

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Durant, Dinwiddie, Green, Pelle

Coming off a nice win over Phoenix on Thursday, the Celtics are set to play the Nets in Brooklyn on Friday, and both teams are a little banged up.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said during a radio appearance on Toucher and Rich on Thursday that Jaylen Brown, who is dealing with shoulder bursitis, is sore, but should be good to go “in the next few days” (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

Meanwhile, Evan Fournier (health and safety protocols) is going through a ramping-up process and could return to game action as soon as this weekend, per Ainge. The Celtics’ president also said that Robert Williams (knee) is “not too far away.”

Nets star Kevin Durant, who has missed two games with a left thigh contusion, is listed as questionable on the club’s latest injury report and could be available to play on Friday vs. the Celtics, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. If not tonight, Durant looks like a good bet to be back on Sunday against Phoenix.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who suffered a partially torn ACL early in the 2020/21 season, continues to say that he has a realistic chance of returning during the postseason, as Diamond Leung of The Athletic tweets. While that seemed unlikely at one point, there’s an increasing feeling among league sources that Dinwiddie could return before Brooklyn’s season is over, Lewis writes for The New York Post.
  • Danny Green‘s inclusion in a potential deal for Kyle Lowry at last month’s trade deadline didn’t make or break those talks, but the Sixers value Green as far more than just an expiring contract and were only willing to attach so many additional assets to him in their offer for Lowry, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes in a look at what Green brings to Philadelphia.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN has the details on Norvel Pelle‘s new three-year contract with the Knicks, tweeting that Pelle received $500K this season (about double his minimum). The second and third years are non-guaranteed, with a team option on that third year. That option would allow the Knicks to make Pelle a restricted free agent in the summer of 2022 if they so choose.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a handful of Raptors-related notes on Thursday evening.

Injury Notes: Lillard, Durant, Fox, Hornets

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who has missed the team’s last three games due to right hamstring tendiopathy, intends to return on Wednesday night vs. Denver, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The Trail Blazers will welcome Lillard’s return — after squeaking out a one-point win in San Antonio, the club lost its next two games without him. Portland remains in the No. 6 seed in the West, but now has just a 1.5-game cushion over the seventh-place Mavs.

Here are a few more injury-related notes and updates:

  • A pair of sources confirmed to Brian Lewis of The New York Post that Kevin Durant‘s thigh injury is considered minor. Durant remains with the Nets on their current road trip rather than having returned to Brooklyn, and head coach Steve Nash said the star forward is “day-to-day.” The latest update from the team on James Harden wasn’t quite so positive, as we relayed last night.
  • Kings head coach Luke Walton said after Tuesday’s game that point guard De’Aaron Fox tweaked his ankle on Sunday, per Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento (Twitter link). It doesn’t appear the injury will sideline Fox for now, but it explains why he was limited to 28 minutes in the club’s loss last night — those 28 minutes were the fewest he has played in a game since January 15.
  • There’s still no set timetable for LaMelo Ball, Malik Monk, or Gordon Hayward to return to the Hornets, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Although Monk’s return isn’t imminent, he’s believed to be closer than Hayward, says Bonnell. As for Ball, while a Monday report suggested he could be back as soon as early next week, head coach James Borrego wouldn’t confirm that, but he did say it seems that Ball wouldn’t be at risk of worsening his wrist injury if he returns this season, which is good news for Charlotte.

Nets Notes: Shamet, T. Johnson, Durant, James

Landry Shamet‘s recent scoring outburst is what the Nets were expecting when they acquired him from the Clippers in an offseason trade, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Shamet’s 30-point game Sunday at Miami continued a hot streak that has lasted throughout April. He is averaging 17.0 PPG this month while shooting 51.9% from three-point range and has taken on some of the point guard duties with James Harden injured.

“The NBA’s all about opportunity and been thrown into having to play some point guard minutes following up Kyrie (Irving) and alongside Kyrie,” Shamet said. “Ky’s been great. He’s taken me under his wing. Talks to me every day, believes in me. That goes a long way, knowing your teammates believe in you.

“I’m chopping wood and carrying water every day. It gets tedious having to do the little things every day that you might not want to, but it adds up. I trust in that. When you keep doing that — working on off days, watching film, asking questions and believing in myself — whatever comes from that I’m living with, because I’m doing everything in my power to put myself in the best position.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Injured guard Tyler Johnson has started running and doing shooting drills as he tries to work his way back from a sore knee, Lewis adds. Johnson has been sidelined since April 4 and hopes to return soon to help with Brooklyn’s push for the top seed in the East. “He has not played yet, so I’m not sure if that’s coming this week or not,” coach Steve Nash said. “It depends on literally every day, how he responds to his rehab and heightening his amount of mobility and activity. So we’ll see; but hopefully he’ll be back soon as well.”
  • Kevin Durant remains with the Nets on their road trip, which is a sign that his left thigh contusion isn’t overly serious, Lewis notes in a separate story. Durant was knocked out of Sunday’s game early, but team officials decided he didn’t need to go through any medical imaging or be sent back to Brooklyn.
  • Free agent guard Mike James is going through testing to satisfy the NBA’s health and safety protocols before he can sign with the Nets, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. James, who is expected to join the team this week, spent most of this season with CSKA Moscow.

Injury Notes: Durant, Harden, Davis, Hornets

Nets forward Kevin Durant had his bad injury luck continue on Sunday, as he left the team’s loss to Miami after just four minutes due to a left thigh contusion, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn is expected to assess the injury further today to determine whether Durant will miss some time.

“He’s sore, but we don’t know how severe. We’ll see (Monday) how he wakes up and go from there. But right now nothing’s been determined,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “Honestly, I don’t know (if he’ll undergo an MRI or other testing) … I haven’t heard, but I imagine they’re going to assess him in the morning and see if a scan is necessary.”

Given the initial diagnosis, it seems unlikely that Durant’s injury is serious, but even so, it’s the latest setback in a season full of health issues for both the star forward and the Nets as a whole, and another hurdle in the team’s efforts to establish chemistry, writes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. The former MVP has appeared in just 24 of Brooklyn’s 57 games.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA, including a note on another Brooklyn star:

  • While James Harden is accompanying the Nets on their current three-game road trip, it sounds like that’s more about making sure he’s working out around the time, as Nash explained on Saturday (link via Petter Botte of The New York Post). Harden won’t necessarily be ready to return to action during the road trip, which concludes on Wednesday in Tampa.
  • Lakers star Anthony Davis is expected to be back on the court soon, but it won’t happen on Monday, as the team has officially ruled him out for today’s game vs. Utah, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • The Hornets have been hit hard by the injury bug this month, but got a key player back on Sunday, when PJ Washington (right ankle sprain) returned and played 34 minutes in a win over Portland. As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes, Devonte’ Graham (left quad contusion) didn’t play, but had been listed as questionable for that game, suggesting his return is close.

Nets Notes: Harden, Dinwiddie, Bigs, Jordan, Durant, Irving

James Harden has missed five games due to a hamstring strain, but Nets general manager Sean Marks said the All-Star guard should be back soon, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “James is progressing well,” Marks said. “He’s looking forward to having at least one or two more play days, which means he’ll play 4-on-4, 5-on-5 with the group in practice. And then hopefully if things go smoothly, he’ll be out and joining the guys in a game.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • While it seems doubtful Spencer Dinwiddie could return from a partially torn ACL for the playoffs, Marks would not rule it out, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. “I would never bet against Spencer Dinwiddie,” he said. “We saw four years ago with him. He has a chip on his shoulder. He loves to prove people wrong.”
  • Coach Steve Nash plans to mix and match DeAndre Jordan, Nicolas Claxton, Blake Griffin and Jeff Green at center in the aftermath of LaMarcus Aldridge‘s retirement, Lewis relays in a separate story. “I don’t think it makes sense to just pencil something in if the matchups aren’t more favorable for us,” he said. “They all bring something different. They all have a different profile.”
  • Jordan’s role was reduced dramatically prior to Aldridge’s departure. He’s back in that mix now but he was never going to be a distraction, Lewis tweets. “Selfishly, individually, it’s obviously not ideal for me,” Jordan said. “But being on a team, you have to be able to sacrifice and put the team first, and I’ve done that night-in, night-out. And I’ll continue to do that.”
  • Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving started in the 130-115 win over Charlotte on Friday and Marks is confident his big three will be ready to go for the postseason, he said in a Sirius XM NBA Radio interview (Twitter link).

Chris Chiozza Undergoes Right Hand Surgery

Point guard Chris Chiozza, who is on a two-way contract with the Nets, underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a fractured third metacarpal of his right hand, the team announced in a press release.

Brooklyn didn’t set a specific timeline for Chiozza’s recovery, stating that more information on his status will be provided as it becomes available. However, it sounds like he’ll probably miss an extended period due to the hand injury.

Chiozza has appeared in 22 games this season, averaging 4.0 PPG and 3.0 APG in 10.5 minutes per contest as a depth piece for the Nets. He has seen most of his minutes either during garbage time or when Brooklyn’s backcourt has been hit particularly hard by injuries.

Chiozza is one of seven Nets players who has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. the Sixers. Kevin Durant (left hamstring injury management), James Harden (right hamstring strain), LaMarcus Aldridge (illness), Blake Griffin (left knee injury management), Tyler Johnson (right knee soreness), and Spencer Dinwiddie (partial right ACL tear) are also unavailable for the showdown between the East’s top two teams.

Nets Notes: Jordan, Griffin, Durant, Big Three

Two big-name additions on the buyout market have cut into DeAndre Jordan‘s playing time, but the Nets aren’t considering buyout talks with the veteran center, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Jordan has played just 12 minutes in each of the last two games, with much of his time going to Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. Even though Jordan has fallen down the rotation, Brooklyn appears content to keep him on the roster.

“It’s never been discussed,” one source told Lewis about the possibility of a buyout. “Nothing going on there,” another source added.

The 32-year-old center was part of the Nets’ 2019 free agent bonanza, joining the organization at the same time as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. He averaged 8.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game during his first season and was putting up similar numbers this year before Brooklyn added Griffin and Aldridge. Today marks the deadline that players must be waived to preserve their playoff eligibility with a new team.

“(Jordan’s) got to stay ready. Who knows when it might be? It might be Sunday. It might be in two weeks. But everyone’s got to continue to prepare and stay ready and see what happens,” coach Steve Nash said. “We’ve got a lot of centers. We’re going to work through it and see what our rotation is going to be come playoff time.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Griffin believes he benefited physically from the time he spent preparing to return to the court after signing with Brooklyn, Lewis adds in the same story. The Nets had him work his way back into condition before he began playing again, and he has looked more like his old self, with five dunks in his seven games with the team. “From top to bottom this organization does an unbelievable job of taking care of their guys and thinking of everything,” Griffin said. “Just being able to come here and take a couple of weeks and get with the performance staff and work on the things they wanted me to work on was huge.”
  • Durant was in top form Wednesday as he returned after a 23-game absence with a strained hamstring, notes Nick Friedell of ESPN. In 19 minutes, Durant made all five of his shots from the field and posted 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot. “I expected to come out here and play the way I played,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to ease into the game. I just wanted to go out there and dive right into the action.”
  • Injuries to Durant, Irving and James Harden have limited their time playing together, which Nash admits is “not ideal” heading into the postseason, Lewis writes in a separate story. The three stars have only been available at the same time for seven games since Harden was acquired in January.

Harden Out At Least 10 Days, Durant To Return Wednesday

APRIL 7: Durant will be available to play on Wednesday night, the Nets have confirmed (Twitter link).

APRIL 6: After nagging hamstring discomfort limited James Harden to just four minutes of action in yesterday’s defeat of the Knicks, a subsequent MRI has indicated that the All-Star Nets guard has a strained right hamstring, the team tweets. The club will reassess the injury in 10 days.

Before his attempted return to the floor Monday, Harden previously missed two games with what was initially diagnosed as hamstring tightness. Harden had edged his way into the league MVP conversation with his stellar play of late, but any extended absence could derail his chances. With Brooklyn, Harden is averaging a sparkling 25.4 PPG, 11.0 APG, 8.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and 0.7 BPG, with a solid shooting line of .467/.361/.867 on high volume.

Harden’s comportment in forcing his way off the Rockets likely poisoned the well somewhat among the league journalists who vote for year-end award honors, so earning a second such career honor this season would’ve been an uphill battle even before the injury. Harden’s subsequent play for his new team, however, had made him somewhat undeniable as one of the league’s best players.

Meanwhile, Harden’s fellow Nets All-Star Kevin Durant could rejoin the club from his own strained left hamstring injury as soon as Wednesday against the Pelicans, per Malika Andrews of ESPN. The team officially lists him as probable (via Twitter), but Andrews notes that internally the team anticipates that the forward will play. Durant has been inactive for Brooklyn since February 13.

Since the Nets traded for Harden in mid-January, the team’s three All-Stars (Harden, Durant and Kyrie Irving) have only played together in seven games. Despite this, the club has an Eastern Conference-best 35-16 record.

Harden joins a crowded backcourt injury tally. Head coach Steve Nash suggested on Monday that reserve guard Tyler Johnson could miss two-to-three weeks as he recovers from right knee soreness. Backup guard Landry Shamet has been unavailable since last week with a right ankle sprain. Spencer Dinwiddie continues to rehabilitate from a partially torn ACL and the team expects him to miss the rest of the 2020/21 season.