Kyrie Irving

Nets Notes: Prince, LeVert, Green, Irving

There are questions about how Nets forward Taurean Prince fits into a 3-and-D role on a team featuring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Despite that, Brooklyn’s front office is not inclined to pursue a salary-dump trade involving Prince, let alone attaching a pick to make it happen, sources told ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Prince is due to make approximately $12.6MM during the upcoming season and another guaranteed $13.3MM in the 2021/22 season before his contract expires. Prince averaged 12.1 PPG and 6.0 RPG during last season but shot just 33.9% from long range.

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  • Caris LeVert is well aware that his name has been bandied about in trade rumors, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. LeVert, whose three-year, $52.5MM extension kicks in this season, is often mentioned in rumors involving a third star to join forces with Durant and Irving. “I try not to pay attention to it, but it’s hard when you turn on TV and see certain things, when you turn on your social media and see certain things,” he said. “I just worry about the team, myself, putting in work every day.”
  • Veteran forward Jeff Green has known Durant since childhood and he’s thrilled they’re rejoining forces with the Nets, Lewis writes in a separate story. They played together in Seattle and Oklahoma City. “That’s where the friendship started to build, and then it just continued to build over the years and grow stronger,” said Green. “So I’m excited for this opportunity to play alongside him.”
  • Irving seems to be planning a media blackout this season, as Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Rather than doing a press conference heading into camp, Irving issued a statement. He wrote in part, “My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself.”

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 Forbes.com 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.

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  • 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 SNY.tv. “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 SNY.tv).
  • In case you missed it, Brooklyn announced its initial 20-man training camp roster earlier this afternoon.

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. BetOnline.ag 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.”

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.”

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  • 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 SNY.tv 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.

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.

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  • 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 SNY.tv about the Alabama guard’s potential fit with the Knicks.

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.

Atlantic Notes: Nash, Sixers, Lue, Raptors, Tatum

Having poached Kevin Durant from Golden State a year ago, the Nets have now hired away Steve Nash – a former Warriors player development consultant – to be their new head coach.

However, Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers respects Nets GM Sean Marks professionally and personally and sees no reason to treat Brooklyn “like some kind of pillager,” writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Myers also understands why the Nets would target someone like Nash to coach Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“Steve Nash has the ability to walk out onto the court and earn the immediate respect of Kevin Durant or Steph Curry or Klay Thompson — and there aren’t too many people in the world who can do that,” Myers told Wojnarowski. “More than that, though, he can communicate with them effectively and efficiently.

“… There’s not a lot of teaching left for the most accomplished players in the world. Steph is not going to listen to many people about his jump shot. Steve might be one of the only people in the world outside of Dell (Curry) that he’d give an audience on that conversation.”

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  • After the Nets hired Nash and Villanova’s Jay Wright withdrew from consideration for the Sixers‘ head coaching job, Philadelphia appears likely to aggressively pursue Tyronn Lue for their head coaching position, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com (via Twitter). Mannix reiterates that there’s strong mutual interest between Lue and the 76ers, as we’ve heard before.
  • The Raptors had a better regular season record this year than they did in 2018/19, but without Kawhi Leonard to bail them out on offense, they’ll need scorers to step up in order to make another deep playoff run, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Celtics forward Jayson Tatum tells Shams Charania of The Athletic that he remains close with former teammate Kyrie Irving. “Ky is like my big brother,” Tatum said. “We still talk to this day, and we’ve talked a few times this playoffs. He always encourages me to be special. Having that relationship with him and having somebody like him in my ear at a young age, it means a lot.”

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.

New York Notes: LeVert, Crawford, Pinckney, Knicks

Kyrie Irving isn’t playing for the Nets this summer, but he’s staying connected with the team, having called Caris LeVert to talk to his teammate after the end of the seeding games last week.

“I talked to Ky (on Friday) morning, talked about the games and playoffs coming up and giving me encouragement,” LeVert told reporters, including Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “He’s watching all the games. He’s been in this position before, fighting for something.”

LeVert, who was named to the NBA’s All-Seeding Games Second Team over the weekend, has been the Nets’ leading scorer and primary play-maker during the restart. Assuming he’s still on the roster next season, he’ll share those duties with Irving and star forward Kevin Durant.

Here’s more on the Nets and New York’s other NBA team:

  • Nets guard Jamal Crawford still isn’t ready to return from his hamstring strain. According to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link), head coach Jacque Vaughn said today that Crawford will miss the “first few games” of the series vs. Toronto before being re-evaluated.
  • Veteran assistant coach Ed Pinckney, who was on Tom Thibodeau‘s staffs in Chicago and Minnesota, isn’t a candidate to join Thibodeau with the Knicks, a source tells Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link). As we’ve heard throughout the month, Mike Miller and Mike Woodson remain good bets to join the Knicks as assistants.
  • The Knicks have hired Kelsey Roberts as a database/basketball analyst, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Roberts previously interned for Indiana and Miami.
  • In case you missed it, we previewed the Knicks‘ 2020 offseason earlier this afternoon.