LaMarcus Aldridge

Kemba Walker, Celtics Appear Headed Toward Breakup

Kemba Walker and the Celtics are both looking to end their relationship this summer, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (video link).

Former president of basketball operations Danny Ainge began shopping Walker after the team was eliminated from the playoffs last summer, Mannix states. He says Ainge and the front office were skeptical about Walker’s future after a knee injury he suffered in January 2020 lingered into the summer restart.

According to Mannix, the Celtics talked to “multiple teams” about a deal involving Walker, including a potential swap with the Spurs for LaMarcus Aldridge. The incentive for Boston was that Aldridge, now retired, had an expiring contract, while Walker is owed close to $74MM over the next two seasons.

Walker places a high priority on loyalty, Mannix adds, and was “frustrated” to learn that he was involved in trade talks after choosing the Celtics in free agency in 2019.

The report from Mannix coincides with a story by Farbod Esnaashari of Bleacher Report that claims there’s a “mutual agreement” between Walker and the Celtics to seek an offseason trade. Esnaashari mentions the Knicks and Mavericks as teams with the potential cap flexibility to assimilate Walker’s $36MM salary for next year.

Walker, 31, is a four-time All-Star, but his production has declined during two injury-plagued seasons in Boston. He went from scoring 25.6 PPG in his final year in Charlotte to 20.4 last season and 19.3 this year. He shot 42% from the field and 36% from three-point range, which were his worst numbers in six years.

A sore knee forced him to miss the start of the season, and he didn’t play his first game until mid-January. Walker missed 29 games this season and appeared in just 56 last year.

LaMarcus Aldridge Discusses Health Scare, Decision To Retire

In a wide-ranging interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic, LaMarcus Aldridge looked back on his stints with the Trail Blazers, Spurs, and Nets, and went into detail on why he abruptly decided to retire as a player this spring following a heart-related health scare.

Aldridge spoke about wishing he had made more of an effort to build a relationship with Damian Lillard when both players were in Portland, and said that joining the Spurs was like being part of a “family.” However, his most eye-opening comments were about the last NBA game he played, on April 10 vs. the Lakers.

Aldridge, who has dealt with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome throughout his career, told Charania that he felt his heart race in an irregular manner on the morning of April 10 and believed it would return to normal once he got out on the court.

“I had a weird game against the Lakers, my heart was just beating weird and out of rhythm. I had irregular rhythm the whole game, and I hadn’t experienced that before,” Aldridge said. “Normally when I get on the court, my case study is that I would go into regular rhythm as I got my heart rate up. It had never been out of rhythm in a game and then it was out of rhythm for the Lakers game and I was just off and couldn’t get no energy. I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

“… It was still off after the game, but at like two, three in the morning, it got really, really crazy. My heart was beating really crazy, and that’s when it got really bad for me. From two to five in the morning, I was just trying to evoke some breathing and then around 5:30 or so, I texted the team doctor and I went to the hospital. It was probably the scariest night ever.”

Here are a few more highlights from Aldridge’s conversation with Charania, which is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber:

On making the decision to call it a career following that April 10 health scare:

“It was very tough. I definitely wasn’t ready to hang it up and I still felt like I had more to give to a team and I feel I had a lot to give to the Nets. … Basically, that night being so freaked out — and knowing I have kids, my mom, a lot of people depending on me and a lot of people that I want to see going forward — I just felt like I was blessed by God to play 15 years with this condition, and I didn’t want to push it anymore.”

On informing his teammates of his decision to retire:

“It was tough, man. I talked to Kevin (Durant) right away, I wanted to give him the respect because when I hit the waiver market when I got my buyout, he was the first guy to hit me. So I felt like I wanted to hit him first, because he was owed that. And I think he was more in shock in the beginning because he didn’t really believe or understand what I was saying. And then we talked again. I felt like those guys were really excited to have me. So I didn’t get emotional on the phone, but afterwards I was a little emotional.”

On why he joined the Nets after being bought out by the Spurs:

“I didn’t choose Brooklyn because I was trying to get there and make a super team. I chose them because if you look at what they need, what they needed and what they were trying to do, I fit exactly what they wanted. The only thing they wanted to get better was having a big that could score, and that’s what I do. And they wanted a shooter at the end of the games, but also a big that could guard bigger players. That’s who I am.

“… I know everyone’s gonna say it’s a super team, but I think it’s funny how I was sitting at home in San Antonio because the Spurs were younger, which I totally get. And Blake (Griffin) wasn’t playing for Detroit, because they wanted to go younger. So it was like I was washed up, he was washed up. But then when we get on the same team, the (discussion was) was they were cheating. … It was just funny to me to watch this whole narrative play out.”

On adjusting to no longer playing basketball and not getting a chance to compete for his first title:

“I’ve been depressed, and I’m trying to figure out how to navigate through not competing on the floor, learning not to be depressed. I still love basketball. I still feel like I have a lot to give. But even now, I’m still trying to find myself. When you go from doing something you love for so long and you lose it overnight, it’s a shock.”

Nets Officially Sign Mike James To 10-Day Contract

APRIL 24: Not that there was any doubt, but’s official transactions log confirms it was Aldridge waived to make room for James.

APRIL 23: The Nets have officially signed Mike James to a 10-day contract, the team announced in a press release. The move had been expected once James cleared the league’s coronavirus testing protocols.

James, who averaged 9.3 points and 3.5 assists in 36 total games for Phoenix and New Orleans during the NBA’s 2017/18 season, has been playing in Europe since then. He was having a big year for CSKA Moscow this season, racking up 19.3 PPG and 5.7 APG in 27 EuroLeague contests (31.2 MPG), but was suspended indefinitely by the club following an altercation with head coach Dimitris Itoudis in late March.

Although CSKA Moscow’s contract with James runs through 2023, the team announced this week that it had reached an agreement to allow him to become a free agent until the end of the 2020/21 season, clearing the way for him to sign with an NBA team.

While the Nets’ official release confirms that James’ 10-day deal has been finalized, it doesn’t mention who was released to make room for him on the 15-man roster. It seems safe to assume that LaMarcus Aldridge was the player waived — he announced his retirement as a player last week.

It’s also still not entirely clear how James’ agreement with CSKA Moscow will work. The team’s statement didn’t give any indication that his multiyear contract has been terminated, but a EuroLeague club loaning a player to an NBA team isn’t exactly a common occurrence. We should get more clarity soon on James’ situation.

Nets Expected To Sign Mike James To 10-Day Deal

APRIL 21, 2:39pm: Stein has now confirmed (via Twitter) that it’ll be a 10-day contract for James. As such, the expectation is that Brooklyn will simply release Aldridge to create a roster spot.

APRIL 21, 12:47pm: There are conflicting reports on the terms of James’ deal with the Nets. Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) suggests it’ll be a two-way contract, while Shams Charania of The Athletic says (via Twitter) it’ll be a 10-day pact.

Signing James to a 10-day contract would simply require waiving Aldridge. Chris Chiozza and Reggie Perry currently occupy Brooklyn’s two-way slots, so one of the two would have to be waived or promoted to the 15-man roster (taking Aldridge’s spot) if the team wants to do a two-way deal with James.

APRIL 21, 11:44am: James will sign with the Nets on Friday, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who confirms (via Twitter) that the veteran guard is still going through the COVID-19 testing protocols.

CSKA Moscow announced (via Twitter) it has reached an agreement with James that will allow him to become a free agent “until the end of the 2020/21 season,” and that he’ll sign with an NBA team soon.

The wording of CSKA’s statement suggests that James’ contract hasn’t been terminated, so it sounds like he’ll be required to report back to the Russian club for 2021/22 after finishing this season with Brooklyn. Andrew Bogut did this a couple years back, joining Golden State in the middle of a two-year contract with the NBL’s Sydney Kings before returning to Australia for the second year.

APRIL 19, 4:00pm: The Nets are in advanced talks with veteran guard Mike James, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who tweets that a deal between the two sides could be completed as soon as Tuesday.

Antonis Stroggylakis and Dionysis Aravantinos of Eurohoops initially reported that the Nets were eyeing James, who has also drawn interest from the Knicks. Chema de Lucas subsequently reported (via Twitter) that the 30-year-old was expected to sign a rest-of-season contract with Brooklyn, though Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link) heard that James was one of a couple players the team was interested in.

James, who averaged 9.3 points and 3.5 assists in 36 total games for Phoenix and New Orleans during the NBA’s 2017/18 season, has been playing in Europe since then. He was having a big year for CSKA Moscow this season, racking up 19.3 PPG and 5.7 APG in 27 EuroLeague contests (31.2 MPG), but was suspended indefinitely by the club following an altercation with head coach Dimitris Itoudis in late March.

James is under contract with CSKA Moscow through 2023, but Eurohoops’ report indicates that the club is willing to accommodate him if he finds an NBA opportunity, while Stein suggests that James has already been released from his contract overseas.

Further clarity on James’ situation should come soon. Assuming he does officially complete a deal with the Nets, he’ll take the roster spot previously held by LaMarcus Aldridge. While Aldridge technically remains under contract with Brooklyn for the time being, he announced his retirement last week and is expected to be waived in a procedural move.

New York Notes: Burks, Brunson, James, Nets Roster

Knicks guard Alec Burks has been placed on the league’s health and safety protocols list, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Burks is coming off a 21-point outing against New Orleans on Wednesday.

Burks has exceeded all expectations since the Knicks signed him to a one-year, $6MM contract, having averaged 12.6 PPG on 40.8% shooting beyond the arc in 25.8 minutes per contest. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent once again this summer, but the club has plenty of cap room and will try to retain him, Berman writes in a separate story.

We have more on the Knicks and Nets:

  • The Knicks have their eyes on Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, according to Berman, though he won’t hit free agency until after next season. Dallas needs only to guarantee his contract this summer, a modest $1.8MM, to hold onto him for one more year.
  • Brunson’s father, Rick Brunson, is under consideration as a possible Knicks assistant, Berman writes in the same story. The elder Brunson served under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago and Minnesota but left the Timberwolves amid allegations of workplace misconduct. He’s currently coaching Camden HS in New Jersey.
  • After allowing big man John Henson‘s 10-day deal to expire, the Knicks might add to their backcourt instead of pursuing another center, according to Berman. Euro standout and former NBA point man Mike James is one of the players the team is considering. James was recently suspended by CSKA Moscow after an altercation with his coach and returned to the U.S., though he’s still technically under contract with the Russian team.
  • With the abrupt retirement of LaMarcus Aldridge due to a heart condition, Nets GM Sean Marks is mulling all options regarding a roster move, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. The team is “doing due diligence” and hasn’t decided whether to bring in another big man or add depth elsewhere.

LaMarcus Aldridge Announces Retirement Following Health Scare

Nets big man LaMarcus Aldridge has retired as an NBA player, announcing his decision in a statement on Twitter. As Aldridge explains, he made the decision after experiencing an irregular heartbeat during his most recent game.

“Though I’m better now, what I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest things I’ve experienced,” Aldridge said in his statement. “With that being said, I’ve made the difficult decision to retire from the NBA. For 15 years, I’ve put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my health and family first.”

Aldridge’s irregular heartbeat last Saturday wasn’t the first time he has dealt with a heart-related health issue. He was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome as a rookie in 2007 and missed time in 2017 due to a hearth arrhythmia. Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News wrote more in ’17 about Aldridge’s heart history.

Aldridge, who gave up a significant chunk of his remaining 2020/21 salary in a buyout agreement with the Spurs last month, joined the Nets as a free agent in the hopes of earning his first championship ring. However, the 35-year-old was only able to appear in five games for Brooklyn before making the decision to call it a career.

Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement of his own today that the franchise fully supports Aldridge’s decision, as Ian Begley of relays (via Twitter).

“While we value what he has brought to our team during his short time in Brooklyn, his health and well-being are far more important than the game of basketball,” Marks said. “We know this was not an easy decision for him, but after careful consideration and consultation with numerous medical experts, he made the best decision for him, his family, and his life after basketball.”

Aldridge, the second overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Texas, averaged 19.4 points and 8.2 rebounds in 1,029 career NBA regular season games for the Trail Blazers, Spurs, and Nets. He contributed 20.8 PPG and 8.5 RPG in another 72 postseason contests.

Aldridge was named to the NBA All-Star team seven times over the course of his 15-year career, earning All-NBA honors five times — twice as a member of the Second Team and three times as part of the Third Team.

While Aldridge’s health is the Nets’ primary concern for now, it’s worth noting that his retirement will have a significant impact on Brooklyn’s frontcourt rotation as the team pursues a title. Aldridge had started all five games he played for the club. Nicolas Claxton and DeAndre Jordan will handle the majority of the minutes at center with Aldridge no longer in the mix.

Whether or not Aldridge remains on Brooklyn’s roster for the rest of the season, he’ll earn his remaining salary, so the team will likely release him in a procedural move in order to sign a 15th man for the postseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chris Chiozza Undergoes Right Hand Surgery

Point guard Chris Chiozza, who is on a two-way contract with the Nets, underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a fractured third metacarpal of his right hand, the team announced in a press release.

Brooklyn didn’t set a specific timeline for Chiozza’s recovery, stating that more information on his status will be provided as it becomes available. However, it sounds like he’ll probably miss an extended period due to the hand injury.

Chiozza has appeared in 22 games this season, averaging 4.0 PPG and 3.0 APG in 10.5 minutes per contest as a depth piece for the Nets. He has seen most of his minutes either during garbage time or when Brooklyn’s backcourt has been hit particularly hard by injuries.

Chiozza is one of seven Nets players who has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. the Sixers. Kevin Durant (left hamstring injury management), James Harden (right hamstring strain), LaMarcus Aldridge (illness), Blake Griffin (left knee injury management), Tyler Johnson (right knee soreness), and Spencer Dinwiddie (partial right ACL tear) are also unavailable for the showdown between the East’s top two teams.

Nets Notes: Aldridge, Harden, Durant, Johnson

LaMarcus Aldridge described his debut with the Nets as “perfect,” and Brooklyn fans would probably agree. Playing for the first time in a month, Aldridge started at center Thursday night and posted 11 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals in a win over the Hornets, writes Matt Eppers of USA Today.

“I’ve been working. I wasn’t just sitting on my couch,” Aldridge said after logging 30 minutes. “I’m an older guy, so I know how to stay ready. I was surprised how good my wind was because I thought I would definitely be more tired, but I felt great.”

There was a huge demand for Aldridge once he cleared waivers last week, even though San Antonio couldn’t work out a trade after deciding to shut him down early last month. He chose the Nets because he saw them as his best chance to compete for a title. Brooklyn played last night without Kevin Durant and James Harden, and Aldridge knows his role will eventually be to complement his All-Star teammates.

“Just try to find my spots to help these guys be better, try to open up the floor for Kyrie (Irving), James, KD,” Aldridge said. “And when teams switch, just go down low. So I thought tonight was perfect. We had a good balance of inside, outside. They doubled me tonight, so I was just trying to find the open guy.”

There’s more this morning from Brooklyn:

  • Coach Steve Nash doesn’t believe Harden’s hamstring injury will be a long-term concern, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Harden had to leave Wednesday’s game and sat out Thursday, but it’s considered to be just a Grade 1 strain and he’s expected back soon. “He’s doing pretty good. He had a scan and it was clear, so he’s day-to-day. So, we’re excited that it wasn’t worse,” Nash said. “So, big sigh of relief and you know, day-to-day means we will see him probably in the next few games for sure.”
  • Durant’s return could happen next week, Nash tells Tom Dowd of Nash doesn’t expect Durant to be ready Sunday or Monday, but he said the former MVP is “progressing in the right manner and we’re hopeful it wont be too long.” Durant has missed 21 games with a hamstring strain and hasn’t played since February 13.
  • In case you missed it, the Nets signed forward Alize Johnson to a second 10-day contract Thursday.

Atlantic Notes: Aldridge, Celtics, Thibs, Raptors

Speaking to reporters for the first time since signing with the Nets, big man LaMarcus Aldridge discussed his willingness to fulfill whatever role Brooklyn has in mind for him, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. Aldridge started at center in his Nets debut tonight, a 111-89 victory over the Hornets. He scored 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field, pulled down nine rebounds, and dished out six dimes.

“I’m just trying to bring value, try to bring the things I’m good at, and trying to help this team win,” Aldridge said to reporters following a Nets practice Tuesday. “I’m not worried about being an All-Star anymore.

“If you could start, you’re always going to want to start,” Aldridge added of his potential role with the Nets. “As far as minutes, I think if you go out and you compete and you do everything you can, everything is going to be fine. And we’re all here to win, so it’s not about that.”

Aldridge did draw the start tonight. Nicolas Claxton earned the lion’s share of bench minutes at center, and DeAndre Jordan was a healthy scratch. The team rested oft-injured veteran power forward Blake Griffin given that the game took place on the second night of a back-to-back.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics did not acquire their top trade or buyout targets, and rival front office executives believe their days as a top East threat may be over for now, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report. Boston had to settle for the third-most coveted Orlando trade target in shooting guard Evan Fournier, and was unable to lure big men Andre Drummond or LaMarcus Aldridge on the buyout market. That doesn’t mean the team won’t continue trying to build around All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in the months ahead, however. “I would be very surprised if [Celtics team president Danny Ainge] doesn’t make a big, bold move this summer,” an Eastern Conference executive opined.
  • Steve Popper of Newsday discusses how Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau used his ill-fated tenure with the Timberwolves to improve his methodology, New York’s recent 102-101 loss to Minnesota notwithstanding. “For me, I loved having the opportunity to step away [after being let go in Minnesota],” Thibodeau had commented during his first press conference as Knicks head coach. “Part of it was just to recharge and get away and relax, and the other part was to learn. Whatever your circumstances are at that particular time, you try to make of those.”
  • Several big Raptors contributors, including Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, are struggling with the aftereffects of COVID-19 as they try to work themselves back into NBA condition, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “There’s spurts where we play high-level basketball and spurts where we suck, and it’s just fighting uphill,” VanVleet said after the Raptors’ 113-103 loss to the rebuilding Thunder Wednesday night. The club posted a 1-13 record in March, but are currently just two games behind the Bulls for the No. 10 seed and a play-in berth in the East.

Health Updates: Harden, Durant, Drummond, More

The Nets announced today that James Harden, who left Wednesday’s game with hamstring tightness, has also been ruled out for Thursday’s contest vs. Charlotte. However, according to Shams Charania of Stadium (video link), the injury isn’t considered to be serious, and Harden will be day-to-day going forward.

Harden’s teammate, Kevin Durant, has been dealing with a more serious hamstring issue, having not played at all since February 13. But Charania says Durant is “closing in” on a return to action, adding that if this were the postseason, the star forward would already be playing. Durant still isn’t expected back until possibly sometime next week.

Meanwhile, Blake Griffin will rest on the second night of a back-to-back for injury management purposes, but the Nets will have their other buyout-market addition, LaMarcus Aldridge, available on Thursday for the first time, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

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

  • Andre Drummond‘s debut with the Lakers didn’t exactly go as planned. The veteran center left the game with a right toe bruise, a diagnosis that understated how painful the injury was, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “I didn’t really think anything of it,” Drummond said, referring to a play where Brook Lopez stepped on his foot. “I came back in the second quarter and it was hurting a little bit more. And then after halftime, I finally took my sock off to look and my whole toenail was gone. So, it was just all bad from there. I couldn’t walk or run. So I just told Coach (Frank Vogel) to take me out.” Drummond is considered day-to-day.
  • Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova has yet to appear in a game this season due to a concussion and an appendectomy, but that may change on Thursday. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said on Wednesday that Dellavedova is close to being ready, and that he’s hopeful of a “Delly sighting” against Philadelphia, tweets Chris Fedor of
  • Suns big man Frank Kaminsky isn’t injured, but he’s on the shelf for now after being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.
  • As we relayed earlier today, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will remain sidelined through at least mid-April.