Kyrie Irving

James Harden To Return On Wednesday

5:23pm: Harden has been cleared to play tonight, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. He will be on a minutes restriction, according to head coach Steve Nash (Twitter link).

10:41am: Harden plans to play on Wednesday night, assuming his pre-game warmups go smoothly, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

8:21am: Nets guard James Harden has been sidelined since April 5 due to a hamstring injury, but his return appears to be imminent. Harden is expected to be a game-time decision for Wednesday’s game vs. San Antonio, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN.

As the ESPN duo notes, Harden has expressed a desire to play in a “couple games” before the postseason gets underway. The Nets have three games left in the season, but their final two are on Saturday and Sunday — it’s unclear if the team would want the former MVP to play in a back-to-back set immediately upon returning.

The plan is for Harden to “gauge his readiness” ahead of Wednesday’s game before he and team officials make a decision on his availability, per Woj and Andrews.

Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving have played together just seven times this season, but even if Harden is cleared to return, tonight’s game may not be the eighth time the three stars are all available. Irving left Tuesday’s win over Chicago due to a facial contusion and is set to undergo further testing after an initial X-ray was inconclusive, according to Andrews.

While Irving has been cleared of a possible concussion, it would be a bit of a surprise if he’s back in action on Wednesday.

Injury Updates: Lakers, Nets, Hornets, Pelicans, Mavs, C’s

The NBA’s injury report is of particular interest this week in the regular season’s final days, as we wait to see which players may or may not be available for teams fighting for playoff positioning.

A pair of big-market superstars, LeBron James and James Harden, are said to be targeting Wednesday returns for the Lakers and Nets, respectively. James has been listed as questionable by the Lakers, while Harden is probable for Brooklyn.

Each of those teams also has another star player whose status for Wednesday’s games is up in the air. Lakers big man Anthony Davis is questionable due to left adductor tightness, while Kyrie Irving is questionable due to the facial contusion he suffered on Tuesday.

The Nets hold the No. 2 seed in the East and the Lakers are hosting a Houston team that is 5-43 since February 4, so neither club should feel a ton of urgency to push its stars back into action if they’re not quite ready.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Hornets forward Miles Bridges, out since May 2 due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, has a chance to return this weekend, head coach James Borrego said today. However, Borrego’s responses to questions about Gordon Hayward‘s foot injury made it sound as if Hayward may not be ready for the play-in tournament, says Rod Boone of (Twitter links). Hayward hasn’t played since April 2.
  • The Pelicans need a win tonight in Dallas to remain in the hunt for a play-in spot, but they’ll be missing a number of key players, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Steven Adams all remain out, and Lonzo Ball (right thumb) will join them on the sidelines.
  • Mavericks guard J.J. Redick, who left Tuesday’s game with right heel soreness, will also miss Wednesday’s game vs. New Orleans, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • The Celtics, who appear likely to finish the regular season at No. 7 in the East, will be without Kemba Walker (left knee) and Marcus Smart (right calf) on Wednesday in Cleveland, notes Tom Withers of The Associated Press. Jaylen Brown has already been ruled out for the season, and Robert Williams remains on the shelf as well.

Nets Notes: Harden, Seeding, Griffin, Sponsorships

James Harden won’t play on Tuesday but Nets coach Steve Nash is optimistic the star guard will see action in at least one regular season game heading into the postseason, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. Harden has missed 18 games due to a hamstring strain.

“He is putting in his consecutive high-intensity work modes, he has responded and so it’s all positive,” Nash said. “We can’t commit to anything right now because we’re not committed to anything … but definitely possible that he plays one or more of these next four games.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • Brooklyn will likely be either the No. 2 or 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs but its seeding is not a high priority for Nash, Dunleavy relays in a separate story“I think the No. 1 thought and priority as a staff is health over seeding,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re 1,000 percent in on health over seeding.”
  • Since joining the Nets as a buyout-market addition, Blake Griffin has settled in with the club, producing a 20-point game against Denver this weekend. Kyrie Irving believes Griffin will be a big key in the postseason, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “That’s what we need Blake to be in terms of being out there, being an option for us, being a playmaker,” Irving said. “His game has evolved. We understand that he’s going to play a different style with us out there, and that’s going to complement when he figures that role out.”
  • Owner Joe Tsai is seeking out new corporate partnerships to raise money, including a jersey patch sponsor, Lewis and Josh Kosman of the Post report. A name change for the Barclays Center could be in the works as well, as the franchise could get $15-20MM annually for the naming rights to the arena. Barclays Center owes more than $500MM in debt, the Post duo adds.

League Fines Kyrie, Nets $35K Apiece

The NBA (Twitter link) has announced that it is fining both All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and his team, the Nets, for violating league rules surrounding postgame interview availability, due to Irving’s continuing resistance against partaking in media conversations after games.

Irving and Brooklyn have each been dinged to the tune of a $35K fine.

The 43-23 Nets have clinched a playoff berth and will finish the season as one of the top seeds in the East. Irving and fellow All-Stars Kevin Durant and James Harden have only appeared together for seven games thus far this season, due to a combination of injuries, COVID-19 protocols, and several personal absences on the part of Irving.

If healthy and engaged, the star-studded (and surprisingly deep) Nets appear to be one of the favorites to win the 2021 NBA title. But it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll get healthy at the right time.

Nets Notes: Irving, Johnson, James

Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been ruled out for Thursday’s game vs. Indiana due to right groin soreness, the team announced today (via Twitter).

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Irving’s games-played total will be worth keeping an eye on down the stretch, since a couple of his contract bonuses hinge on him playing in at least 53 games — he’d have to appear in seven of Brooklyn’s nine contests after tonight in order to meet that threshold.

Irving’s contract includes eight separate bonuses, each worth $131,250. Some are out of reach, including playing 62 games and recording a defensive rating below 106 (he’s at 113.9). However, Kyrie is on track to reach some of his incentive benchmarks, including an offensive rating of 114+ (he’s at 119.9) and shooting at least 88.5% from the free throw line (he’s at 92.3%).

As Marks tweets, Irving would also receive three separate $131,250 bonuses for making at least 2.8 three-pointers per game, committing fewer than 2.4 turnovers per game (in 53+ games), and attempting at least 4.6 free throws per game (in 53+ games). His per-game averages in those categories so far are 2.7 threes, 2.5 turnovers, and 4.3 free throw attempts.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Nets forward Alize Johnson is available to play against Indiana on Thursday night, according to the team (Twitter link). Johnson missed the team’s last three games after being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
  • Mike James is making a strong initial impression in Brooklyn, racking up 11 points and eight assists in Tuesday’s win over Toronto and making a case to stick around beyond his current 10-day contract, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “He’s an athletic and skilled player. As long as he plays simple and makes good basketball plays — like he has with us those first few games — he can play a role for us,” head coach Steve Nash said. “He has a burst of pace, he can get into paint, play draw-and-kick.”
  • While James’ new coach has been impressed by him so far, it doesn’t sound like two of his old coaches miss him much. As Lewis relays in a separate New York Post story, CSKA Moscow’s Dimitris Itoidis and Olimpia Milano’s Ettore Messina both offered less-than-glowing reviews of James’ locker room presence.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along word on Wednesday that Nets star James Harden still isn’t close to returning from his hamstring injury.

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).

NBA Postpones Wolves-Nets Game From Monday To Tuesday

APRIL 13: Monday’s Timberwolves/Nets game has been rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). It will be played at 3:00pm central time without any fans in attendance, sources tell Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).

APRIL 12: The NBA is postponing the Timberwolves/Nets game that had been scheduled to take place in Minnesota on Monday night, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). The NBA has formally confirmed the postponement.

Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN first reported (via Twitter) that there were ongoing conversations about a postponement of Monday’s game due to unrest in Minneapolis in the wake of a police shooting. A 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, was fatally shot during a traffic stop on Sunday.

The MLB contest between the Red Sox and Twins that was scheduled to be played on Monday afternoon in Minnesota was also postponed.

While it won’t take place tonight, there’s still a chance that the Wolves/Nets game could be played on Tuesday, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

With just over a month left in the regular season, there won’t be a ton of opportunities to make up postponed games, and every win or loss is important for a Brooklyn team currently tied for first in the Eastern Conference. Minnesota’s final record will also be important for draft lottery reasons — the team is a half-game “ahead” of Houston for the top spot in the lottery standings.

Kyrie Irving and Karl-Anthony Towns had been ruled out for Monday due to personal reasons — it’s unclear if either one would be available by Tuesday.

Eastern Notes: Irving, Smart, Nance Jr., Turner

Nets star Kyrie Irving is set to return on Monday following a three-game absence, Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Irving had been dealing with a family matter.

Brooklyn will face the league-worst Timberwolves (11-35) at home in the outing. The losses of Irving and Kevin Durant (hamstring) have caused James Harden to see an increased workload, with the former MVP most recently recording 44 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in a win over Detroit.

The Nets started veteran forward Jeff Green in Irving’s absence, playing him alongside Harden, Bruce Brown, Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan. The team is 8-2 in its last 10 games.

Here are some other notes out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart was prepared for anything on trade deadline day last week, as relayed by A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). The team ultimately chose to keep Smart and trade for veteran Evan Fournier“Anytime you hear your name in trade talk, you prepare for the worst and pray for the best,” Smart said. “It’s nothing new. It’s a business. But you’re human. I wasn’t concerned but I was prepared.”
  • Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. is continuing to support the franchise’s decision to reject trade proposals involving him, Chris Fedor of writes. Nance finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the team’s 100-98 loss to Sacramento on Saturday. “We know what Larry is going to do. We know what he’s going to bring. He does a lot for us,” teammate Collin Sexton said. “Larry passes the ball, he rebounds, blocks shots, dunks. Larry does it all. Whenever you look at the stat sheet you always see him playing a full, complete game, touching everything. That’s Larry Nance. We can count on him anytime it’s time to put that jersey on.”
  • The Pacers are pushing for Myles Turner to receive recognition for his impressive defense this season, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star writes. “I think that’s what people don’t talk about with our team is Myles and his impact. His impact is astronomical,” Malcolm Brogdon said of Turner. “He’s the reason our defense is so good. His ability to block shots, it deters people from even driving to the rim so he’s Defensive Player of the Year.” Turner is averaging 12.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and a career-high 3.5 blocks per game this season.

Health Updates: Rose, Nets, Hunter, Embiid, Giannis

Knicks point guard Derrick Rose has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (via Twitter). However, it remains to be seen when he’ll be cleared to return to action, since he’ll have to rebuild his strength and conditioning following a bout with COVID-19, as Peter Botte of The New York Post writes.

“I was away because I actually had (the virus),” Rose told reporters, including Botte, on Monday. “I felt all of the symptoms, sick and everything.

“… It was completely different. They say everybody is different, but with me, I never felt anything like that before. I’ve had the flu. It was nothing like the flu. You’re drained and everything. It was that times 10. So like I said, slowly getting back, I’m progressing every day and just trying to get back in the swing of things.”

According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, Rose said that his kids, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s mother all contracted the coronavirus as well, though it didn’t hit his kids as hard.

Here are a few more health and injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Nets will be without Kyrie Irving and Landry Shamet as they begin their three-game road trip on Tuesday in Portland, writes Malika Andrews of ESPN. Irving isn’t traveling with the team as he attends to a family matter. Shamet sprained his right ankle on Sunday, though an MRI didn’t shown significant damage, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
  • While the Hawks‘ latest injury report lists De’Andre Hunter (right knee) as questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Clippers, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports says Hunter is expected return to action tonight after missing nearly two months. Hunter says he’ll be a game-time decision, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Within that same Yahoo Sports story, Haynes notes that Sixers center Joel Embiid is expected to have his left knee bone bruise reevaluated at the end of the week. Philadelphia will be extremely cautious with Embiid’s return, as the ultimate goal is to have him at 100% for the start of the playoffs in May, Haynes adds.
  • A left knee sprain will sideline Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo for Monday’s game vs. Indiana, per the NBA’s afternoon injury report.

New York Notes: Knicks, Ball, Rose, Kyrie, Nets

The point guard position remains a priority for the Knicks both in the short and long term, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who says that Lonzo Ball is higher on president of basketball operations Leon Rose‘s wish list than Victor Oladipo.

The odds of making a trade for Ball look slimmer now than they did a month or two ago. The former No. 2 overall pick has played well, and Will Guillory of The Athletic says he’d “really be shocked” if the 23-year-old doesn’t remain in New Orleans at least through the trade deadline. Still, Ball’s restricted free agency looms, putting the Pelicans in a tough spot.

As John Hollinger of The Athletic notes in his conversation with Guillory, New Orleans is only about $20MM away from next season’s projected tax line, so accommodating a lucrative new deal for Ball will be a challenge, especially if the team also wants to re-sign Josh Hart. According to Berman, the Knicks – who will have plenty of cap room available this summer – would be “heavily on Ball’s radar” in restricted free agency.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York-based teams:

  • The Knicks still aren’t sure exactly when Derrick Rose will clear the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to head coach Tom Thibodeau. He’s feeling a lot better,” Thibodeau said, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link). “… As soon as he can get back on the court we can let everyone know, but you just gotta follow the protocol.”
  • The Nets will be missing two of their stars for Wednesday’s game in Indianapolis, as Kyrie Irving (right groin soreness) has been ruled out (Twitter link). Kevin Durant (hamstring) also remains on the shelf, and Blake Griffin (injury management) also hasn’t been given the green light to make his Brooklyn debut.
  • As Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes, the Nets are looking forward to an emotional reunion on Wednesday with Pacers guard Caris LeVert, who has had an eventful two months since being traded to Indiana. LeVert underwent surgery to treat renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer, but is already back on the court for the Pacers. “We’re really proud that Caris is returning to play here,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “He’s incredibly well-loved in this organization, a world-class human being, a terrific basketball player. There’s no doubt everyone here is rooting for him.”