Kyrie Irving

Nets Notes: Irving, Edwards, Trade Deadline

While the Nets would surely prefer to have Kevin Durant on the court, the timing of his knee injury may have been fortuitous for the team. Durant should be back in action well before the playoffs, and in the short term, the team is playing 11 of 14 games on the road, allowing Kyrie Irving to be available most of the time. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes, Irving is welcoming the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities until Durant returns.

“I like the pressure,” Irving said after Wednesday’s win over Washington. “I love pressure. It brings out the best in me personally. And then also I’m able to carry that energy with the team whether it be communicating with guys in short conversations on the floor or off the floor.

“Just trying to demand a responsibility from all of us, from myself first, but from all of us, that this isn’t going to be perfect. It’s not going to ever look perfect. This is just what we have, and we can’t replace anybody that’s out. But what we can do is fill up the stat sheet with the little things that may show up and things that may not show up. We’ll see where we are at the end of the game when we leave it all out there playing hard.”

The first two games on Brooklyn’s current road trip have been Irving’s best of the season so far. Without Durant available, the veteran point guard averaged 28.5 PPG, 8.0 APG, and 5.0 RPG in 37.8 MPG in Cleveland and Washington.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • After playing just 12 total minutes in the Nets’ first 27 games this season, rookie Kessler Edwards has become a regular part of the rotation recently, starting the last five games and averaging 32.7 MPG during that stretch. Brian Lewis of The New York Post explores how Edwards is making the most of his opportunity. Since he’s on a two-way contract, Edwards won’t be eligible to play for Brooklyn during the postseason unless he’s promoted to the 15-man roster at some point.
  • In a story for The Athletic, Alex Schiffer and John Hollinger weighed the Nets’ trade options, considered some potential targets on the buyout market, and took an early look at the team’s free agency situation. The Athletic’s duo believes it could be a pretty quiet deadline for Brooklyn, since the team doesn’t have many expendable trade chips that could be move without sacrificing depth.
  • In case you missed it, the NBA announced earlier today that Irving has been fined $25K for an incident that occurred during Monday’s game in Cleveland. We have the full story here.

Kyrie Irving Fined $25K For Interaction With Fan

Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $25K by the NBA for directing obscene language toward a fan, the league announced today (via Twitter).

The incident took place during Monday’s game in Cleveland. Irving responded to a Cavaliers fan who was heckling him by saying, Got y’all a championship and motherf—–s still ungrateful” (video link).

A $25K fine is a drop in the bucket for a maximum-salary player like Irving. Still, Kyrie won’t come close to earning his full $35MM base salary this season, since he’s also being fined 1/91.6th of his salary for each game he misses due to a local vaccine mandate. Today’s $25K penalty will be tacked onto the $380K+ he’s losing for each Brooklyn home game (and a select few road games).

Irving is the second Nets star to be disciplined within the last week for his choice of words. The league hit Kevin Durant with a $15K fine last Friday for using profane language during a media interview and failing to comply with an NBA Security interview as part of the review process.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Brown, Tatum, Walker, Reddish

Kevin Durant‘s knee injury, which is expected to keep him out four-to-six weeks, won’t change Kyrie Irving‘s mind about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Adam Zagoria of writes.

“Kev’s gonna heal, Kev’s gonna be OK,” Irving said on Monday after the Nets lost in Cleveland. “And we’re going to have to deal with that as his teammates, but in terms of where I am with my life outside of this, I stay rooted in my decision and that’s just what it is.”

Irving will continue to be limited to road games unless he gets vaccinated. He suggests that will remain the case the rest of the way.

“I’ve made my decision and I’m standing by it…I stay rooted in what I believe in,” Irving said.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics will approach the trade deadline with the intent of building around their two best players, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link). He said Marcus Smart, Dennis Schröder and some young players are available and Boston would like to find another play-maker or wing player. “(The Celtics’ approach) is to build around Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, not to break those two up,” Wojnarowski said. “The hard part for Boston is what are the other tradeable assets they want to move on from? They don’t want to trade Robert Williams, their young center. That’s a player they see at the center of what they’re doing moving forward.”
  • Kemba Walker missed his ninth straight game Monday due to a sore knee. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t want him back until Walker is confident he can play on a regular basis. “The big thing regarding Kemba is I want him to feel as good as possible and a player like him in the situation he is in, I want him to trust where he is with his body,’ Thibodeau said. “When he’s ready, he’s ready. He’ll let us know. We trust him. What I don’t want [is] to get into a situation where it’s on-off, on-off.”
  • Cam Reddish has yet to make his Knicks debut due to a sprained ankle, but the newly-acquired forward believes he can blossom in New York, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I feel like I can be a star,” Reddish said. “I feel like I could be a legit star. That’s what I’m working to be. It’s pretty simple.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Milton, Reddish, Irving

The Sixers have been hounded by trade rumors all season due to the uncertain status of Ben Simmons. They’re also reportedly interested in moving Tobias Harris‘ contract in a Simmons deal.

However, the team’s biggest star Joel Embiid doesn’t see any urgency to make a big trade, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. He notes that the team is doing just fine without Simmons.

“When I look at where we are when we got most of the team in the lineup, especially me in the lineup, then we are 21-9. That’s not bad,” Embiid said. “That’s up there with the best records in the NBA. So, all that tells me is that we just got to stay healthy, keep doing what we’ve been doing. I feel pretty good, and I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball yet. We still got a long way to go. We’re missing guys here and there that could really help us. There’s really no urgency to change anything. I think we got everything we need.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • One of the “missing” players that Embiid was referring to, guard Shake Milton, won’t be back in the near future, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Coach Doc Rivers said that Milton is still in pain due to a back contusion. “He’s still really struggling. I don’t foresee him back anytime soon,” Rivers said. “The fact that I probably could beat him in a race today would tell me he’s a long way away.” Milton hasn’t played since January 3.
  • Cam Reddish won’t play for the Knicks right away. The forward, who was acquired from Atlanta this week, is dealing with an ankle sprain and will be out “for a while,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau told the New York Post’s Greg Joyce (Twitter link) and other media members. Thibodeau is eager to see what Reddish can do once he’s healthy. “It gives us an opportunity to look at Cam. … Size, athleticism, wing position,” he said. “Sometimes a change of scenery is good for people. So we’ll see how it unfolds.”
  • The Nets have played much better on the road than at home and they’ll have Kyrie Irving available for most of their upcoming games, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes. Brooklyn is entering a stretch where it plays nine of its next 11 on the road and Irving is eligible to participate in those games. Brooklyn is 15-4 on the road and 11-11 at home. “I think it’s going around the league a little bit where teams — good teams, in particular — are having less impressive records at home than on the road,” coach Steve Nash said. “I don’t really know why that is.”

Nets Notes: Big Three, Irving, Duke, Mills

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the trade that brought James Harden to Brooklyn and gave the Nets an imposing Big Three of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. That trio hasn’t been on the court together very often, but on Wednesday they provided a reminder of how dominant they can be, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

With all three players in the lineup for only the second time this season, Brooklyn broke open a close game in the third quarter and smashed the East-leading Bulls by 26 points. Harden scored 25 points and handed out 16 assists, while Durant put up 27 points and nine assists. Irving, playing his third game of the season, had just nine points but created plenty of scoring opportunities for his teammates.

“Since I’ve been here it’s been crazy, lots of ups and downs,” Harden said. “Nah. Like, we’re that good. We just haven’t had enough of it. Last we had 15 games maybe together, and this year only two. We haven’t had a real season to where y’all can consistently see how great we can be. And we’re working on that. We need to get to that point.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • During a SportsCenter appearance Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski cited “real optimism within the organization” that Irving will be a full-time player by the end of the season (Twitter link from Anthony Puccio). Irving isn’t permitted to play home games because he hasn’t complied with New York City’s vaccine mandate, but Woj suggests that either the mandate could be relaxed by spring or the Nets may be willing to pay a fine for each home game that Irving appears in.
    [Note: Wojnarowski later clarified that paying fines for Irving to play home games likely wouldn’t be a viable option.]
  • After being passed over in the July draft, David Duke Jr. worked his way into Brooklyn’s starting lineup, notes an article on NetsDaily. A defensive specialist with three-point range, Duke started five straight games before Wednesday. “When it got to the mid-second round, I got a call from my agent who gave me some scenarios with multiple teams and it was up to me to decide. Having faith in God, and truly believing in myself, I felt the situation with Brooklyn was the best for me based on my pre-draft experience with them,” Duke said. “Although I felt overlooked going undrafted, I knew wherever I ended up I would show what I bring to the table and would be just fine.”
  • Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been in the headlines for his standoff with the Australian government over the COVID-19 vaccine. Nets guard Patty Mills, who has experienced the effects of the regulations in his home country, said he understands and supports those rules, Lewis writes in a separate story. “I won an Olympic medal and quarantined in a hotel by myself for two weeks,” Mills said. “As much as a buzzkill as it was to (not) go home and celebrate with family and friends, I’ve done it.”

Nets Notes: Harris, Irving, Durant, Lineup, Bembry

The Nets could soon have one of their top perimeter shooters back in the lineup. Joe Harris is expected to return to practice soon and could be back in action “in the next couple weeks,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on SportsCenter (hat tip to Adam Zagoria of Forbes).

Harris, who is in the second year of a four-year, $75MM contract, was averaging 11.3 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 14 starts before he underwent ankle surgery on November 29. At that time, he was given a four-to-eight week timetable for his return. Harris is a 43.9% career 3-point shooter and would be a huge boost for a club currently ranked No. 16 in 3-point shooting.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Kyrie Irving would be more than just a part-time player if he got vaccinated. However, Kevin Durant said he won’t pressure the enigmatic point guard to get the shots, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. “I told him how important he is, how much I want him to play — play every game. But I’m not about to force somebody to get a vaccine, like that’s not my thing. So he can play basketball? Nah, I’m not about to do that,” Durant said. “We’ve had conversations about wanting him to be a part of the team and conversations about him being here full-time, but that’s on his time.”
  • Brooklyn’s lineup won’t have any stability due to Irving’s status, but coach Steve Nash will try to keep it as simple as possible, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Patty Mills started on Friday when the team lost at home to Milwaukee. “I think it’s to be simple,” Nash said. “Two things. One, keeping it simple is best for everyone. Two, something is always going on with our squad and availability, so we’re mixing-and-matching often. So keeping it simple in this case is probably the best way, and the way that makes the most sense. “
  • DeAndre’ Bembry got his salary guaranteed for the rest of the season on Friday but he’s not content with signing one-year, non-guaranteed deals every season, as he told Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News“I’m not the one to just sit there and think about the contract. I’m thankful for these opportunities as always,” Bembry said. “But like I said, (I’m) looking forward to the next opportunity. I want more and feel like I deserve more, and I’m definitely going to go out there and take it.”

Nets Notes: Bembry, Irving, Aldridge

The Nets intend to keep DeAndre’ Bembry on their roster, fully guaranteeing his minimum-salary contract for 2021/22, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Bembry’s salary was already partially guaranteed for $1,250,000 and his overall cap hit is just $1,669,178, so the cost of guaranteeing the remainder of his salary is modest, making it a relatively easy decision for the Nets. The swingman’s performance this season helped seal the deal — he has averaged 6.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 1.0 SPG with a .599 FG% and .462 3PT% in a part-time role (20.3 MPG) across 32 games.

Here’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • After scoring 22 points in his season debut on Wednesday, Kyrie Irving sidestepped questions about whether he might get the COVID-19 vaccine and said he was just happy to be back on the court, as Nick Friedell of ESPN relays. Irving’s teammates were also thrilled to have him back. “I just missed his presence around the locker room, his energy, his vibe around the team,” Kevin Durant said. “And then his game is just so beautiful. It makes the game so much easier for everybody out there. It was amazing to see him out on the floor again.”
  • With a two-game home stand on tap this weekend, the Nets won’t have Irving on the floor again until Monday, when they travel to Portland to make up one of the games that was postponed in December. James Harden said the team is still adjusting to the on-again, off-again nature of Irving’s availability. “It’s going to take some time [to get used to],” Harden said, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “… But we’ve been a resilient group all year and [we’ll] eventually figure it out. Hopefully he’s able to play every single game. Home games and away games. But until then we’ll figure it out, we’ll keep pushing and find ways to come up with wins.”
  • LaMarcus Aldridge has played in three games since exiting the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but he admitted this week that he’s still dealing with the aftereffects of his case of COVID-19. “It was my first time getting it, so I think it definitely hit me harder than most,” Aldridge said, adding that he experienced “all the symptoms,” as Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. “I’m still trying to get my legs back, get my wind back, and just feel normal again.” Aldridge acknowledged that his history of cardiac issues put him at greater risk when he contracted the virus.

Kyrie Irving Expected To Return On Wednesday

JANUARY 4: Irving isn’t listed on the Nets’ injury report for Wednesday’s game in Indiana, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. That means the plan is for him to be available for the first time this season.

JANUARY 3: Nets point guard Kyrie Irving is expected to make his season debut on Wednesday vs. the Pacers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Irving has targeted the game in Indiana for his return.

Irving has been held out of action for most of the first half because he’s ineligible to play games in New York due to the city’s COVID-19 vaccinate mandate and the Nets initially didn’t want him to be a part-time player only active for road games. However, after being hit by a flurry of injuries and COVID-related absences in December, the team reversed course on that stance.

Irving was immediately placed in the health and safety protocols due to a positive COVID-19 test when he reported to the team last month, which may have further delayed his debut. Still, he would have required a week or two of ramp-up work to get back in game shape.

The Nets, who are hosting Memphis tonight, will play just two road games in the next couple weeks — Wednesday in Indiana and January 12 in Chicago. However, the team will begin a four-game road trip on January 17, which should give Irving an opportunity to be a regular part of the lineup for a little while.

With no indication that Irving plans to get vaccinated or that New York City plans to change its vaccination guidelines any time soon, it’s unclear how long the new arrangement may continue for Kyrie and the Nets.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Nets, Celtics, Bonga

Nets coach Steve Nash said Kyrie Irving “looks great, considering” and is “getting close” to making his season debut, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post. Irving, who can only play in road games because he hasn’t complied with New York City’s vaccination requirement, could return Wednesday at Indiana, although Nash hasn’t committed to that date.

“He was in isolation for however many days, 10-plus days, I think. For him to come out of that and look as good as he has playing with the stay ready group and getting his rhythm back has been exciting,” Nash said. “We have to give him time to really get his feet under him, but as far as how he looks, he looks very gifted.”

Irving rejoined the team for practice last week after clearing health and safety protocols. If he doesn’t play Wednesday, the next opportunity will be January 12 at Chicago.

“I think he’s on his way. It’s getting close,” Nash added. “We’ve just got to make sure we don’t make a hasty decision, but it’s coming.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nash experimented Thursday by starting LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Claxton on the front line alongside Kevin Durant and he may use that super-sized lineup again, Botte adds in a separate story. “That was really my first time being out there with L.A. (Aldridge). We’ll definitely adjust to it once we get more reps in. Hopefully, we go to it a lot in the near future,” Claxton said. “The biggest adjustment is just having another big on the court.”
  • The Celtics will have to decide soon whether to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and the team isn’t making the decision easy for president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. After going 6-9 in December, Boston closed out the month by routing the Suns, who have the second-best record in the league. The Celtics are currently in ninth place, part of a logjam of teams between fifth and 12th that are just three and a half games apart.
  • With Isaac Bonga clearing protocols, the Raptors aren’t currently eligible for any more 10-day hardship contracts, tweets Blake Murphy of The team’s latest injury report lists Bonga as out for today’s game due to conditioning, rather than the health and safety protocols. Today marks the end of Daniel Oturu‘s 10-day deal.

Nets Don’t Expect Kyrie’s Part-Time Availability To Disrupt Continuity

When Kyrie Irving returns to the court for the Nets in January, he’ll only be eligible to play in certain games since he remains unvaccinated for COVID-19. New York City’s vaccine mandate will prevent him from playing in Brooklyn or in games at Madison Square Garden. International travel restrictions will also keep him out of road games in Toronto.

However, the Nets don’t expect Irving’s part-time availability to disrupt the team’s continuity, as multiple players and head coach Steve Nash said on Thursday.

“I may be a little naive but I think I just keep it really simple,” Nash said, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. “Kyrie plays on the road and we figure out how he rejoins the group, finds his rhythm, and his place in the team and when we come home we’re back to normal, the way we’ve been all year. So I’m just trying to keep it really simple.”

“He’s a high IQ player,” Kevin Durant said of his All-Star teammate. “It’s just a matter of him getting his legs up under him and his wind up under him. And then for us we’re going to run plays for him, we’ll try to look for him. We play team basketball — but he can adapt and do anything out there so we’re not worried about him.”

It remains unclear when Irving will be ready to make his season debut. He has exited the health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, but continues to work on ramping up his conditioning in advance of his return. The Nets’ next two road games are on January 5 in Indiana and January 12 in Chicago, so those are the most realistic target dates for Kyrie for now.

Here’s more on Irving and his impending return:

  • In his first comments to reporters this week, Irving said that he “knew the consequences” of remaining unvaccinated, but “wasn’t prepared for them,” as Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post writes. Still, Kyrie recognized why the Nets decided to have him remain away from the team for the first couple months of the season. “I understood their decision and respected it,” Irving told reporters, including Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, on Wednesday. “I really had to sit back and think and try not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do. I had to really evaluate things and see it from their perspective, meaning the organization, my teammates. I really empathized and I understood their choice to say, ‘If you are not going to be fully vaccinated, then you can’t be a full [participant].'”
  • Nash said on Thursday that he hasn’t talked to Irving about vaccines since the point guard returned to the team, Sanchez writes for The New York Post. “Not since we had those conversations in the preseason,” Nash said. While it would certainly make life easier for the Nets if Irving decides to get vaccinated, it doesn’t sound like the team is pressuring him to do so.
  • In another article for The New York Post, Sanchez explores how Irving’s return will give the Nets two distinct squads depending on whether or not Kyrie is available.