Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving To Miss Game Due To Shoulder Injury

After losing Caris LeVert for several weeks, the Nets are now dealing with injury issues to their lone healthy superstar. Kyrie Irving will miss Saturday’s contest against the Bulls with a right shoulder impingement, the team announced.

Irving has been a force this season, averaging 28.5 PPG and 7.2 APG across 11 games, both career-highs. However, the Nets have struggled out of the gate and Irving’s right shoulder impingement further complicates matters.

A specialist who recently spoke to Brian Lewis of the New York Post regarding Irving’s ailment recommended that the star point guard be treated carefully with time off rather than pushed.

“The only question here is there’s advanced imaging done to make sure there is no further damage to the rotator cuff or bursa,” Dr. Stephen Hunt said. “If not, it can be anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Usually it’s something that responds well to non-operative management.”

Brooklyn is currently 4-7, good for ninth in the Eastern Conference. It remains to be seen how Irving’s injury is handled, but given the team’s struggles and already depleted backcourt, it’s fair to wonder whether or not Kyrie should get more than just one night off.

Nets Notes: Irving, Prince, Cordinier

The Nets are a far more high-profile team this season than they were a year ago, thanks to the offseason additions of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press writes, this year’s team still appears to be on a similar level as last year’s, which finished with a modest 42-40 record.

While Brooklyn once again looks good enough to be competitive in just about every game, that doesn’t necessarily mean the team win a ton of those games. Still, as Mahoney relays, head coach Kenny Atkinson is optimistic that there’s room for the Nets to improve.

“We have three new starters and we’re still working through getting on the same page,” Atkinson said. “You say well, that’s your job, to get it done. And we’re working towards that. We’re not there yet.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, sources close to Kyrie Irving expressed frustration with an ESPN report claiming that the point guard’s “mood swings” were a cause for concern among Nets officials. As Vardon writes, Irving wants the focus this season to be what he does on the court, rather than anything he says or does off of it.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post takes an in-depth look at why Taurean Prince may appreciate his new two-year, $29MM contract extension with the Nets more than an average NBA player would.
  • The Nets have six draft-and-stash players under team control, and while many of them likely won’t ever play in the NBA, Net Income of NetsDaily is keeping an eye on the group, just in case it features any gems. NetsDaily’s latest check-in includes a look at 22-year-old Isaia Cordinier, who is playing for a new club in France after joining Brooklyn’s Summer League team in July.

Atlantic Notes: Barrett, Siakam, Celtics, Lowry

Following the team’s 104-102 loss to Boston on Friday, Knicks coach David Fizdale praised rookie forward RJ Barrett and the durability he has shown, comparing his attitude to 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“He’s really put together. There’s times he’s not sweating and I’m like, ‘Are you going hard?’” Fizdale said, “But he is. He’s playing really hard. The only other guy I saw who I’ve coached against that doesn’t look like is breaking a sweat is Kawhi. Kawhi doesn’t look like he’s breathing (hard). RJ has that same act where he’s out there, his face doesn’t change and he’s going about his business.’’

Barrett, who was selected by the Knicks third overall in June’s NBA Draft, has averaged 17.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 36.5 minutes through the team’s first six games.

New York sports an intriguing young mix headlined by Barrett and center Mitchell Robinson, though the team’s just 1-6 on the campaign. The Knicks have upcoming games scheduled against Sacramento (2-5), Detroit (3-4) and Dallas (4-2) this week.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Raptors star Pascal Siakam is proving his worth in a leadership role with the team, Matt John of Basketball Insiders writes. Siakam, who signed a four-year, $130MM extension with the team last month, has averaged 26 points and 8.5 rebounds through six games. Toronto is seeking its seventh straight playoff appearance behind Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and others, sporting a competitive group despite losing Leonard in free agency last summer.
  • The Raptors need to find a way to reduce Kyle Lowry‘s workload this season, Laura Armstrong of The Toronto Star writes. Lowry, who turns 34 in March, is in his 14th NBA season and is coming off a campaign in which he averaged 34 minutes per contest.
  • Former Celtics star Paul Pierce believes a weight has been lifted in the absence of Kyrie Irving this season, as relayed by Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I mean, everybody knows that,” Pierce said. “I’m not even in the building yet, and I’m hearing every day that everybody feels like a weight’s been lifted off of them. Just walking around, you can tell. Or just seeing it on the court. It’s different.”

Irving On Reports Of Nets Issues: “I Don’t Have To Be Perfect”

A recent ESPN profile on Nets point guard Kyrie Irving suggested that the point guard’s “mood swings” have already been a cause for internal concern in Brooklyn.

After unceremonious exits from Cleveland and Boston, any chatter about Irving being frustrated adds to the narrative of his mercurial nature. However, Irving’s teammates and coaches were quick to dismiss ESPN’s report, and Irving himself addressed it after a recent Nets loss.

“I don’t have to be perfect for anyone here, nor do I have to be perfect for the public,” Irving said (via ESPN). “I am not here to dispel any perception, I am here to be myself.”

While the Nets’ up-and-down start has raised a lot of questions, Irving’s performance has been stellar. The NBA champion is averaging 32.6 PPG, 7.0 APG and 5.6 RPG for Brooklyn. As the team tries to establish its identity, especially with fellow free agent signee Kevin Durant not expected to play this season, Irving is focused on being himself.

“Who cares what ESPN or anyone says?” Irving said. “I love myself. I love my family. I love my friends. I love playing basketball.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, D-Lo, Kyrie, Barrett

Having already extended Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry this month, the Raptors completed a third important contract extension today, according to a press release from the team. This deal wasn’t for a player, but rather for Alex McKechnie, who had been the team’s director of sports science and assistant coach.

McKechnie was widely credited for developing the load-management program that helped Kawhi Leonard stay healthy for the 2018/19 season, which paid off in a major way when the Raptors won their first championship in June. While it wasn’t enough to convince Leonard to stick around, McKechnie’s work – and reputation – could be an asset for the team in future free agent pitches, notes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

A former Lakers athletic performance coordinator, McKechnie received a promotion along with his extension, according to the Raptors. His new title is VP of player health and performance.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Speaking to Justin Termine of SiriusXM Radio (video link), D’Angelo Russell admitted that he got the sense early in the free agent process that he wouldn’t be returning to the Nets. “I never knew exactly,” Russell said (hat tip to NetsDaily). “[But] you work with these guys every day. You see the same players, you see the same coaching staff, you see the same trainers every day. So when they start to act a little different, you recognize it.”
  • Responding to an ESPN report that some Nets officials are concerned about Kyrie Irving‘s “mood swings,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said that – from his perspective – that notion is totally false (Twitter link via Ian Begley of SNY.tv).
  • It looks like it might be another long season for the Knicks, but rookie RJ Barrett at least provides some hope for the future, writes Frank Isola of The Athletic.
  • Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders explores whether the Celtics‘ four-year, $103MM+ investment in Jaylen Brown was worth the gamble.

Nets Notes: Irving, Durant, Jordan

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan first began talking about the possibility of playing on the same NBA team during the 2016 Rio Olympics, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. The USA Basketball teammates didn’t get the chance to become NBA teammates until the 2019 offseason, but agreed when they all hit free agency this offseason that now was the time to make that plan a reality.

As MacMullan details, Irving told Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge during his exit interview this spring that he planned to move on, and he had already decided at that point that he’d head to Brooklyn. Durant spent hours researching Nets general manager Sean Marks, while Jordan talked to veterans like Jared Dudley about their experiences in Brooklyn. Ultimately, all three players decided it was the right landing spot for them.

Here’s more on the Nets, including several more tidbits from MacMullan’s deep dive:

  • Durant recognizes that the Nets aren’t the immediate championship favorite that the Warriors were during his years in Golden State, but he wants to help lead his new team to a title. “Obviously leaving Golden State, I’m not expecting anything better than that,” he said, per MacMullan. “I see this situation as, ‘All right, I’m coming to a young organization that has championship aspirations but doesn’t quite know what that feels like.'”
  • As Marks tells McMullan, there’s plenty of excitement within the organization about eventually being able to add Durant to Nets’ lineup. “He goes out and takes a couple of set shots — not jumpers — and the whole gym stops,” Marks said. “You can hear a pin drop. That’s great for our guys, because they sense this guy is waiting in the wings. We’re not waiting for him, but man, it’s kind of a cool feeling to know he’s coming.”
  • Irving, who has spent nine years working with his own performance specialist, has been somewhat resistant to the Nets’ player-performance program, according to MacMullan. However, Marks insists that Irving’s pushback on that issue has been “neither unexpected nor disruptive.”
  • There’s some concern among Nets officials about Irving’s mood swings — MacMullan suggests that he can become unwilling to communicate with coaches and even teammates in down moments. Sources tell ESPN that one such funk happened during Brooklyn’s trip to China, but the team is hopeful that having a good friend like Durant around will help.
  • As Bleacher Report relays (video link), Durant said in an appearance on Serge Ibaka‘s YouTube cooking show that the idea of finishing his playing career by spending a season on a EuroLeague team like Barcelona appeals to him.

Kyrie Irving: Nets Will Take Over New York City

Kyrie Irving‘s first two games have been nothing short of spectacular. After dropping 50 points in his debut on Wednesday in a loss to the Timberwolves, Irving followed that with a 26-point effort along with the game-winner over New York.

After choosing the Nets over the Knicks in free agency, Irving has been vocal about how happy he is to be back home in the tri-state area. As Brooklyn seeks a playoff spot and a possible championship, Irving sees the Nets overtaking the Knicks for New York City supremacy.

“We’re dressed in that all-black all year. We got a lot, a lot of goals to accomplish this season,” Irving told fans at a promotional event Thursday, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “The team is excited. Obviously we know in the months to follow, we got a sleeping, sleeping monster that’s on our team right there.”

The Nets won’t be at full strength until next year when Kevin Durant, who is recovering from a torn Achilles, is expected to suit up, While it’s possible Durant plays later this year, the Nets are focused on this season and being successful without KD in the lineup.

 “…But for the time being, we’re going to take over the whole entire city. It’s about us,” Irving said.

Knicks Notes: Popovich, Morris, Irving, Rotation, Payton

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn’t just upset at Marcus Morris. He was also ticked off at the Knicks organization concerning Morris’ free agent odyssey, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports. Morris backed out of a verbal agreement with San Antonio and inked a one-year, $15MM contract with New York. “Who signed him? I thought it was the Knicks that signed him,” Popovich said. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

However, Popovich has made peace with Morris, as the two embraced after the teams played each other on Wednesday. “That meant a lot. I didn’t know how he felt,” Morris said. “I spoke to him after I made my decision. So it was good to clear the air.”

We have more on the Knicks:

  • While the organization may have been disheartened by Kyrie Irving‘s decision to join the Nets, coach David Fizdale wasn’t caught off-guard by the All-Star point guard’s decision, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. “Nothing surprises me anymore,” Fizdale said. “Guys are going to go where they feel is best for them,” he said. “He felt that that was best for him. I’m happy with the guys that we got.”
  • Fizdale admits he’s still a long way from settling on a rotation, Begley notes in the same story. “I’m sure it’s tough for them (not) being set in a rotation. At the same time, we’re not there yet,” he said. “Some teams have the luxury to know here’s my starting five, here’s my backups. Everybody can just dial into when they’re going to play every single night. But right now we don’t have that luxury.”
  • Elfrid Payton has apparently taken the lead in the starting point guard race after the opener, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Payton posted 11 points, eight assists and five steals with no turnovers as Dennis Smith and Frank Ntilikina struggled. Rookie RJ Barrett got the start in game one, but that experiment may be over, Berman writes. “By no means is this an indictment on anybody or stuck in stone,” Fizdale said. “I still want these guys to be fighting for that top spot.”

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Raptors, Dinwiddie, Kyrie

The Celtics‘ backcourt has undergone some major changes in recent years, from Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley to Kyrie Irving to Kemba Walker. Through it all, Marcus Smart has been the one constant, having averaged 27 or more minutes per game for Boston for each of the last five seasons.

According to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe, Smart said he sometimes thinks about the possibility of spending his entire career with the Celtics, which is something he’d love to do. As Himmelsbach relays, Smart recognizes that player movement is a big part of today’s NBA, but would like to “be a part of something special” in Boston.

“I’m six years in now, and it feels like yesterday I was drafted,” the Celtics’ guard said. “It is funny to see all the faces I’ve seen come through the organization. But it’s a blessing and I’m blessed to be here still, and that’s rare. Usually guys are gone by now. I’m blessed to still be here.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • While the loss of Kawhi Leonard represented the Raptors‘ most significant roster shakeup this summer, the departure of starting shooting guard Danny Green shouldn’t be overlooked, as Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun writes. “He’s not flashy, his game isn’t very sexy, but I don’t know what he shot, 45% from three? Something crazy like that, at a high clip, played 80 games, played every night, guarded the best players on the other teams and he’s just solid every night,” Fred VanVleet said of Green. “… He didn’t do a lot of preaching and teaching, he just was here and (led) by example and we’ll miss that.”
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has another meeting scheduled with the NBA today to discuss his plan to “tokenize” his contract, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The league previously said Dinwiddie’s plan violates the CBA but he views the new meeting as a “good faith” gesture and is hopeful an agreement can be reached, as he tweeted this morning. Meanwhile, Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com offers an interesting look at the specifics of Dinwiddie’s proposal.
  • Kyrie Irving wasn’t thrilled that details of the Nets‘ and Lakers‘ Shanghai meeting with commissioner Adam Silver earlier this month leaked to the press, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “You want to keep those meetings private,” Irving said. “I don’t know how it necessarily materialized into a big story. I don’t know whose notes or who was in there that we can’t depend on to keep a conversation like that in-house.”
  • Speaking of Irving, his former teammate Marcus Morris believes the Knicks‘ locker room will be healthier this season than the Celtics‘ was last season in part because New York doesn’t have a superstar player to cater to. “No knock on Ky, but obviously he’s a superstar, he’s first,” Morris said, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “Sometimes his emotions were put in front of the team.”

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Sabonis, Hachimura, Johnson, Henson

Knicks management was “stunned and depressed” that marquee free agents Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant chose the Nets, a team source told Frank Isola of The Athletic. The Knicks have tried to convince outsiders they didn’t want meetings with them or another top free agent, Kawhi Leonard, but in actuality they desperately wanted those big-ticket free agents, Isola continues. However, it may work out for them in the long run considering Durant’s Achilles injury and Irving’s injury history, Isola adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • It makes sense for the Pacers to move Domantas Sabonis if he doesn’t mesh well with Myles Turner in the Pacers’ starting lineup, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic opines. Indiana is reportedly shopping Sabonis because extension talks have gone nowhere. The team should see if they can play together but if it doesn’t work, there’s no need to tie up a chunk of the team’s cap space on two centers, Vecenie continues, especially since it drafted another center in June.
  • Sabonis expressed his disappointment about the extension negotiations and subsequent trade rumors on Saturday, Forbes’ Tony East tweets. “Theres not really much to talk about. I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now,” Sabonis said. “They know how I feel about that. There’s not much more to say. I’ll let my agents do the rest of it, we’ll see what happens.”
  • Wizards first-round selection Rui Hachimura is likely to be in the starting lineup for the season opener, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets. Coach Scott Brooks said he was “leaning the way.” Hachimura averaged 10.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 21.9 MPG during the preseason.
  • Heat forward James Johnson believes he’ll suit up for the opener, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Johnson has returned for workouts after a team-imposed suspension when he failed to meet their conditioning standards. Johnson said he just needs to get his body fat percentage down a little more. “You know, body fat takes a long time to drop. So I’m just waiting for that to get down,” he said. “I know my numbers. My weight is good, my conditioning is good, I’m just waiting for my numbers to drop.”
  • Center John Henson‘s injury woes have continually frustrated the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Henson has been sidelined most of the preseason with groin and ankle injuries. A wrist injury that required surgery made last season a virtual washout for the former Bucks big man. Coach John Beilein was hoping Henson could challenge for a rotation or even starting spot. ““I’ve seen him so limited this year because he’s basically been injured almost every day that I’ve known him,” Beilein said.