Kyrie Irving

Nets Notes: Irving, Lineup Changes, Dinwiddie, Dudley

A year ago, Knicks fans were hoping Kyrie Irving would be part of a free agency coup that would turn the franchise around. Today marks their first chance to see him since his decision to sign with the cross-town Nets, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. Irving was sidelined with an injury during Brooklyn’s first trip to Madison Square Garden, and players expect a raucous setting for today’s game.

“The atmosphere has been crazy this whole week, so no question, it’s going to be a super-ecstatic atmosphere,” Taj Gibson said. “Hopefully we can match the same intensity and pull out a tough one.”

Even though Irving missed 27 games with a shoulder impingement, the Nets are eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff race, while the Knicks are headed for the lottery again. Irving’s 45-point outburst in last night’s win at Detroit is the latest reminder that he’s the type of impact player New York still doesn’t have.

There’s more this morning out of Brooklyn:

  • Coach Kenny Atkinson juggled his lineup against the Pistons, helping the Nets break a five-game losing streak, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Defensive specialist Garrett Temple started in the backcourt next to Irving as Spencer Dinwiddie was used off the bench for the first time in more than two months. “I always talk to the coaches about it, but it was a little bit of a hunch. I thought we needed to shuffle some things up,” Atkinson said. “It had nothing to do with Spencer’s play, absolutely nothing. It was more can we get Spencer in that ballhandling role a little bit more, because we all know that’s where he’s great.”
  • Dinwiddie tells Matt Schoch of The Detroit News that it’s no longer a big deal to play against the Pistons, who drafted him in 2014 but traded him to the Bulls after two seasons. “Honestly, I would rather see Wilson (Chandler) go out there and go get 40 because he’s from here,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s a bigger game for him than anyone else.”
  • Jared Dudley wanted to stay with the Nets, but got tired of waiting for the team to make a commitment, relays Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily. He wound up signing a one-year deal with the Lakers. “When I’m looking at how it’s going and all the guys are coming off the board, watching Jeff Green go to Utah and when I saw (Anthony) Tolliver signed with Portland, I was supposed to sign before Tolliver, there’s usually a pecking order,” Dudley recalled. “When I saw that, that’s when I started making my phone calls. Once LA offered me, Brooklyn offered, but by that time my mind was already — once LeBron (James) and (Anthony Davis) signed off on it — there was no turning back.”

New York Notes: Fizdale, Knicks, Kyrie, Nets

Appearing on ESPN’s The Jump on Monday, former Knicks head coach David Fizdale said the toughest part about being fired a year and a half after joining the franchise was fulfilling the goal of turning things around and giving fans a winner. However, Fizdale still believes that the club is well-positioned to improve going forward.

“I think that they have really good young talent and those young guys are going to keep getting better, Fizdale said of the Knicks, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “They have to continue to draft well because they have a lot of draft picks over the next few years. Then with the veterans that they did sign, they have to figure out which guys they want to retain and which guys they want to move on from. But they do have a lot of cap space there and they will have an opportunity to get back in the free-agency market this summer.

“So I really think they’re in a good position,” the ex-Knicks coach added. “I know a lot of people don’t and a lot of people are down on them. But I actually think that they’re in a good position to make some good things happen for the organization.”

Here’s more out of New York:

  • While a segment of Knicks fans may prefer to see the team’s young players get some of the minutes currently going to veterans, the team “clearly has a showcase mentality” with those vets, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman suggests there will be plenty of time for New York to increase the youngsters’ roles after the trade deadline.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic identifies a few players and potential trades that could be of interest to the Knicks at the deadline. Jerome Robinson, Kris Dunn, and Bogdan Bogdanovic are among the players Vorkunov thinks might be logical targets.
  • After Kyrie Irving was a late scratch on Monday due to a tight hamstring, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson explained that the team is just being “cautious” with the star guard, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. However, Atkinson did acknowledge that the issue had been nagging Irving for a few days.
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News says it’s ridiculous to claim the Nets are better without Irving and argues that some of the criticism Kyrie is facing for recent comments is unfair.

Atlantic Notes: DSJ, Raptors, Allen, Nets

Dennis Smith Jr., who will miss his 13th consecutive game on Monday night due to an oblique strain, is due to be re-evaluated on Tuesday, at which point the Knicks may have a clearer idea of when he might be able to return, says Greg Joyce of The New York Post.

“He is progressing well,” Knicks head coach Mike Miller said of Smith. “He has been practicing some. With games every day, we haven’t practiced anything steady. So he’s been able to get some practices in, but not a lot of contact and not much full court.”

It has been a disappointing first full season in New York for Smith, who is averaging just 5.2 PPG on .325/.293/.500 shooting in 21 games (16.1 MPG). The former lottery pick will also have to compete with fellow Knicks point guards Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina for minutes when he’s ready to return.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic:

  • The Raptors will approach the trade deadline viewing themselves as buyers, but a significant deal is unlikely, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.
  • As Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily details, Jarrett Allen isn’t holding any sort of grudge toward Kyrie Irving after the Nets‘ point guard failed to mention the big man when he listed several of the team’s core players. “What do I expect him to do, name the whole team? That’s really the only comment I have on that,” Allen said. “… We talked about it. He ended up saying everything is fine, so no bad blood.”
  • In a pair of stories for NetsDaily, Chris Milholen checks in on Nets youngsters Chris Chiozza and Jeremiah Martin. The two point guards are aiming to earn a longer look from the NBA club after recently replacing Henry Ellenson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot as Brooklyn’s two-way players.

Kyrie Irving Isn’t Demanding Changes Before Trade Deadline

Nets guard Kyrie Irving clarified comments he made earlier in the week and insisted he wasn’t pressuring the front office to make significant changes before next month’s trade deadline, Malika Andrews of ESPN reports. However, he did hint that changes need to be made in the long run in order to become a serious title contender.

Irving said on Friday that in his previous comments he was simply giving a forthright assessment of the team’s current plight. Brooklyn is four games below .500 and currently sits in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

“I think we have championship aspirations,” Irving said. “Do we want to be the eighth seed going into the playoffs? The seventh seed? But you’re able to be real with the team that you have here, and you’re able to collectively, cohesively come together as a group. That is what you figure out. But the goals are still to win a championship. I don’t come in every day to be mediocre or to be in the middle of the standings.”

Irving told the media on Wednesday after back-to-back losses that the team’s weaknesses were “glaring” and that additional pieces were needed in order to reach the next level. At the time, Irving named Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert as key pieces but left out other rotation players, including Jarrett AllenTaurean Prince, and Joe Harris.

Irving spoke with teammates about those comments and said that failing to mention certain players was just an oversight on his part. However, he does believe the roster as currently constructed won’t be enough to put the Nets over the top.

“I reached out to make sure nothing was taken out of context — making sure that the guys knew exactly what I meant,” Irving said. “And that is the only thing that matters. Everyone can say, ‘If I was in this position, I would’ve said this, I would’ve done this.’ … The most important thing is making sure these guys — they have the belief in themselves and I continue to reiterate that confidence we have as a team. It is going to come down to that in order to be at a championship level to compete against the West, we need more.”

Kyrie Irving: Nets Have “Glaring” Needs

Following the Nets‘ second loss in two nights on Wednesday, Kyrie Irving told reporters, including ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, that the team needs to do more work on its roster to become a championship contender.

“I mean, it’s transparent. It’s out there. It’s glaring, in terms of the pieces that we need in order to be at that next level,” Irving said. “I’m going to continue to reiterate it. We’re going to do the best with the guys that we have in our locker room now, and we’ll worry about all the other stuff, in terms of moving pieces and everything else, as an organization down the line in the summer.”

Of course, the Nets are currently missing their most talented player, as Kevin Durant will spend the entire 2019/20 season recovering from a torn Achilles. However, it didn’t sound as if Irving’s comments applied specifically to this season. The star point guard implied that Brooklyn would need more help even after Durant returns.

“Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces,” Irving said. “But it’s pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will complement myself, K.D. (Kevin Durant), D.J. (DeAndre Jordan), G.T. (Garrett Temple), Spence (Spencer Dinwiddie), Caris (LeVert), and we’ll see how that evolves.”

Irving’s comments are interesting for a few reasons. For one, his list of core players who need to be complemented didn’t include guys like Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, and Joe Harris. Allen is viewed as a young building block for the franchise, Prince signed a contract extension in the fall, and the Nets are expected to try to re-sign Harris later this year. It’s possible that Irving not mentioning any of those players was just an oversight, but it’s still worth noting which names he listed and which he didn’t.

Additionally, the Nets’ flexibility to make roster upgrades going forward will be limited, based on the commitments they made this past offseason to players like Durant, Jordan, and Irving himself. Brooklyn projects to be well over the cap and perhaps over the tax threshold in 2020/21, and general manager Sean Marks and team owner Joseph Tsai have both recently said that the team is prepared to go into the tax in order to build a roster capable of contending for a championship.

Still, spending at that level means the Nets would only have the taxpayer mid-level exception available to make a meaningful addition in free agency. Trading rotation players may be the club’s only other avenue to an upgrade.

With Durant out for the season, the Nets are unlikely to make major changes to their roster at this season’s deadline in an effort to push for a title immediately. But it will be interesting to see how the front office responds in the summer to Irving’s assessment of the roster.

Nets Notes: Dinwiddie, Irving, Durant, Luxury Tax

Spencer Dinwiddie was confident last season that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were coming to Brooklyn, former Nets teammate Ed Davis tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Davis, now with the Jazz, said Dinwiddie began talking about landing the star free agents before last year’s All-Star break.

“Spence knew,” Davis said. “My locker was right next to Spencer’s too so we used to talk all the time. And he was saying that early. So we knew it was a good chance.”

Bondy notes that Dinwiddie may have diminished his own role in Brooklyn by recruiting Irving. Dinwiddie was putting up All-Star numbers while Irving was sidelined with a shoulder impingement, but they will now share playmaking duties.

“We’re just going to go with the flow,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re just going to go with whoever is hot in the moment.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Echoing comments earlier this week from general manager Sean Marks, Nets owner Joe Tsai told Brian Lewis of the New York Post that he’s willing to pay the luxury tax in order to compete for a title. “I think the fans expect that we win a championship. And the good thing is I believe that we do have the pieces in place,” Tsai said in a YES Network interview. “Now we have some injuries and people are coming back. But the fundamental pieces are in place to perhaps go all the way, so I’m absolutely comfortable that if we pay the luxury tax, that’s fine.” Lewis points out that the Nets are slightly below the $143MM cap threshold for next season, but that figures to change once they re-sign Joe Harris and fill out the roster.
  • Durant answered fans’ questions on Twitter this week about his recovery from a ruptured Achilles, Lewis adds in the same story. Durant discussed the “everyday grind” of rehab and how difficult it is to be away from the game. “It gets better everyday, but (it’s) good to have patience,” he tweeted.
  • Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot returns to Philadelphia tonight in a stable situation for the first time since the Sixers traded him in 2018, observes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. Luwawu-Cabarrot is on a two-way contract with Brooklyn and has helped the team stay afloat through injuries. He has about a week left on his 45-day NBA limit, leaving the Nets with a decision about whether to give him a standard contract to keep him on the main roster.

New York Notes: Knicks, DSJ, Irving, Dinwiddie

Two people in touch with the Knicks within the last few days have said that the team remains opposed to moving a future first-round pick in any trade scenario, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Begley cautions that the stance could be posturing on the Knicks’ part, but I’d personally be pretty surprised to see New York trade a first-rounder in the coming weeks. The only scenario in which it would make sense would be if the club could land a player who is under contract for multiple years and projects to be a long-term building block.

The Knicks were recently linked to Andre Drummond. Reports since then have downplayed those talks, but Begley has suggested they were more than just exploratory discussions. Even if they were serious about a Drummond scenario, it’s not clear if the Knicks would have to give up a first-round pick, given the big man’s uncertain contract status beyond this season.

Here’s more out of New York:

  • Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed his ninth straight game due to a oblique strain on Sunday and there’s still no clear timetable for his return, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. However, Smith is enthusiastic about the progress he has made. “It’s actually faster (than I expected),” Smith said. “I heard with oblique strains, it can be two months. I’m actually coming along fast. I’m going through the process. I’m feeling better.”
  • Kyrie Irving looked good on Sunday in his return for the Nets, making 10-of-11 shots from the floor in 20 minutes and helping lead the team to a blowout win. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, Irving said it was “good to be back” on the court. “It was a long road back, man,” Irving said. “A lot of questions I had to answer; just health for my shoulder, longevity, what would’ve been the best option for my health long term.”
  • Spencer Dinwiddie played a starring role for the Nets in Irving’s absence, but is happy to give up some of his scoring and play-making responsibilities now that his backcourt mate is healthy. “I’d rather average 21 and win at a high level [compared to] 25 and getting my head cracked every night,” Dinwiddie told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “I don’t view his coming back as, ‘Now I’m gonna average two points a game.’ I’ll still be productive. It gives our group a chance to win a lot more games.”
  • Nets forward Rodions Kurucs acknowledged that his legal issues have impacted his performance on the court this season, Lewis writes for The New York Post. Kurucs, who was accused of domestic assault, has had a reduced role in 2019/20 and has been up and down when he’s played.

Kyrie Irving Eyeing Sunday Return

JAN 12: The Nets have announced that point guard Kyrie Irving will officially be available to play tonight, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).

JAN 11: Nets guard Kyrie Irving is looking to return for Sunday’s home bout against the league-worst Hawks, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). It would be Irving’s first game since injuring his right shoulder on November 14 against the Nuggets. The Hawks hold an 8-31 record this season.

After receiving a cortisone shot on Christmas Eve to treat the shoulder, Irving was able to return to 5-on-5 contact drills during a Nets team practice on Thursday. He told ESPN’s Malika Andrews then that he hoped to return to the hardwood within the week.

Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (Twitter link) that the Nets hold a 13-13 record without Irving, including going a middling 4-8 against teams with a record above .500. Spencer Dinwiddie emerged as a legitimate All-Star candidate with his play for Brooklyn during Irving’s extended absence. The Nets were 4-7 in the 11 games they played with Irving.

Kyrie Irving Feels He Will Return Within Week

Kyrie Irving has missed nearly two months with a right shoulder injury but the point guard could be close to a return. Irving practiced today and he hopes to return within the next week, Malika Andrews of ESPN.com relays.

“We just see where we end up in the next few days,” Irving said. “Realistically, we will re-evaluate tomorrow. See how I feel tomorrow. Then go Saturday — probably another practice.”

Irving participated in 5-on-5 drills and had no limitations other than his shoulder rehab.“Hopefully, I get some game reps in addition to practice probably in the next week or so, it could be less than that but I’ll give myself a week,” Irving said.

It’s not clear whether the Nets’ medical staff agrees with Irving’s projection. On Wednesday, the 27-year-old told reporters that the cortisone shot he received in his shoulder was working and called it a “great stepping stone to work my way to getting back on the floor.”

Kyrie Irving Gets Cortisone Shot, Hopes To Avoid Shoulder Surgery

Kyrie Irving is taking steps to avoid surgery on his injured right shoulder, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Talking to reporters today for the first time since Nov. 14, Irving said he got a cortisone shot on Christmas Eve and the team plans to see how he responds after about two months (Twitter link). Irving admitted he has considered an arthroscopic procedure on the shoulder, but is hesitant because it would sideline him for three to four months.

Irving consulted with a shoulder specialist in Phoenix before opting for the shot (Twitter link), adding, “There was some bursitis in there that was impacting me.” (Twitter link). He has missed 22 games since suffering the injury, which the Nets are calling a shoulder impingement, in a November 4 game against the Pelicans.

Irving believes he’s “doing a lot better” since the shot, although he is still struggling to lift his shoulder when he shoots jumpers, relays Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).

The Nets looked like huge winners on the first day of free agency when they signed Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. With Durant sidelined for the season, they were counting on Irving to emerge as the team leader. He has averaged 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists, but has been limited to 11 games.