Nicolas Claxton

Eastern Notes: Embiid, Ball, Claxton, Nets

If Sixers center Joel Embiid were to win the 2020/21 MVP award, it’d provide a sense of achievement for the team as a whole, head coach Doc Rivers opined, as relayed by Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I think any individual award, no one does anything by themselves, right?” Rivers said. “So I think it would be a feel-good thing for the entire locker room. You know, obviously for Joel, because it is a hell of an accomplishment.”

Embiid is a strong candidate for the award, averaging a career-high 29.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 49 games this season. In addition to Embiid’s impressive averages, Philadelphia holds the best record in the Eastern Conference at 47-21. However, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who has put up huge numbers and has played over 800 more minutes than Embiid, is widely considered to be the MVP frontrunner.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes that Hornets guard LaMelo Ball has been grabbing at his wrist in recent games, and explores whether it should be a concern for the team. Ball recently missed 21 games after fracturing the same wrist, returning to action on May 1.
  • Nets center Nicolas Claxton tested positive for COVID-19 but wasn’t hit hard by the virus, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Claxton entered the league’s health and safety protocols on April 19. “I was testing positive for COVID,” Claxton said of his recent absence. “But I didn’t have any symptoms. I was just stuck in Miami, just there quarantining for about 10 days so I wasn’t really able to do much. I did a few quarantine workouts, but it’s just tough having to sit like that and then coming out here having to play. It’s just another obstacle. It’s nothing that I can’t conquer. This last week, it’s been a challenge, but it hasn’t been too tough … I’m just trying to get my rhythm back, get my wind back right before the playoffs so we’ll be able to make that push.”
  • Speaking of the Nets, the team will be focused on its health and continuity as the playoffs near, Peter Botte of the New York Post writes. Brooklyn has dealt with significant injuries throughout the season, failing to sport a consistent starting lineup and effectively build chemistry. The team still has one of the most talented rosters in history, particularly on offense, making its future playoff journey intriguing.

New York Notes: Gibson, Johnson, Cordinier, Claxton

Veteran big man Taj Gibson appreciates the impact that Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has had on his lengthy NBA career, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Gibson has been coached by Thibodeau during portions of three of his four NBA stops, with the Bulls, Timberwolves and Knicks.

“Well, my whole career with him has been great,” the 12-year Knicks veteran said of Thibodeau. “He’s just been a great coach in how to be ready in all facets — to be a sixth man, starting, not playing, I’m just always ready.”

There’s more out of the City That Never Sleeps:

  • Nets reserve power forward Alize Johnson had a huge game against his old team, the Pacers, grabbing 20 points and 21 rebounds off the bench (the first time a backup had notched such numbers in three years). Armed with a fresh multiyear deal from his new franchise, Johnson was a man on a mission, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post“I didn’t play much when I was here (in Indiana),” Johnson noted. “I was ready to go out there and prove to everybody that I belong in the NBA and want to stay here for a long time.”
  • There are whispers that newly-minted First Team All-EuroCup guard Isaia Cordinier may join the Nets next season, tweets international reporter Chema de Lucas (h/t Net Income of Nets Daily). The Nets acquired Cordinier’s draft rights in a 2018 trade.
  • Athletic Nets center Nicolas Claxton has returned to the gym to rehabilitate, and head coach Steve Nash anticipates he could return for Brooklyn in a week, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. With former starting center LaMarcus Aldridge now retired, Claxton should be a major part of Brooklyn’s frontcourt rotation in the postseason.

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).

New York Notes: Oladipo, Rozier, Ball, Rose, Claxton

As the surging Knicks near the trade deadline, Rockets’ forward Victor Oladipo remains a target for the team, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. It was reported back in early February that New York was eyeing the 28-year-old ahead of free agency.

Oladipo has already been traded once the season, having been involved in the four-team deal that sent James Harden to Brooklyn. Set for free agency at the end of the year, Oladipo has put up his best numbers since the 2018/19 season in his time between the Pacers and Rockets. In 24 games, Oladipo is averaging 20.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 4.5 APG.

Berman notes that some people are wary of Oladipo’s physical condition, even though he is two years removed from a season-ending ruptured quad tendon back in January 2019. But, paired with first-time All-Star Julius Randle, Oladipo could give the Knicks an offensive jolt as they contend for a postseason spot.

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

  • In the same piece, Berman notes that people within the Knicks organization fear the team does not have a definitive option at point guard. Elfrid Payton has been injured and inconsistent when healthy, exciting rookie Immanuel Quickley is seen more like a sixth man, Derrick Rose has also been coming off the bench, and Frank Ntilikina only recently reentered the rotation. The Knicks have reportedly kept tabs on Hornets’ Terry Rozier and Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball.
  • Despite flying back with the team after registering multiple negative COVID-19 tests following an inconclusive result, Rose sat out the Knicks‘ last game before the All-Star break on Thursday due to the health and safety protocols, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. It remains to be seen when Rose can rejoin the Knicks on the court.
  • Amid his solid display in the Nets‘ last few games, NetsDaily examines whether Nicolas Claxton can help offset the loss of Jarrett Allen, who the team traded as part of the Harden deal.

Nets Notes: Harden, Claxton, Draft Picks

James Harden‘s time in Houston may have ended badly, but his adjustment to Brooklyn has been nearly perfect, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. The Nets have climbed to second place in the East behind a string of dominant performances from Harden, who posted his seventh triple-double since the trade in Tuesday’s win at San Antonio.

Injuries have prevented Brooklyn from fully unveiling its Big Three, but Medina points out that Harden has taken on a larger workload whenever Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving hasn’t been available. He averages 20.4 points per game when all three stars play together. That number rises to 25.5 PPG with Irving but not Durant, and 33.0 with Durant but not Irving. Harden scored 31.0 PPG in the three games that his fellow stars both sat out.

“He literally can do almost everything there is to do out there, and he’s been a great leader for us,” coach Steve Nash said. “He can control the game. He is a very smart defender. I think he’s been outstanding as far as keeping his team on track — leading, talking things out, communicating. His passion for the game and willingness and want to win have been fantastic.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Wednesday will mark Harden’s first return to Houston since the trade, notes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Even though he forced the Rockets to deal him after they ignored his off-season trade request, Harden says the fans showed him “mad love” and he’s looking forward to playing in front of them again. “It’s always home and I feel like I’m still a part of everything and the struggles and everything they go through,” Harden said. “I’m excited to go back there and see the familiar faces, see my family and play a game.”
  • Since returning from injury last week, Nicolas Claxton has developed into an effective lob partner for Harden, writes Tom Dowd of NBA.com. The second-year center, who missed 32 games with right knee tendinopathy, had a career-high 17 points Tuesday, many of them coming on assists from Harden. “Slowly but surely I’m figuring out the spots that James wants me to be in. It’s only the fourth game,” Claxton said. “I’ve still got a long way to go and just figuring out where I need to be. I’m just running. I’m just playing hard. When you play hard, the game is gonna reward you, and I feel like that’s what happened tonight.”
  • Even though they parted with a ton of future picks to acquire Harden, this year’s draft doesn’t look bad for the Nets, according to a NetsDaily story. In addition to its first-round selection, Brooklyn has second-rounders from the Suns and Hawks and could also receive the Pacers’ second-rounder (45-60 protected).

New York Notes: Claxton, Ntilikina, Buyouts, Nash

Nicolas Claxton is providing a new element to the Nets, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. In his second game after recovering from a string of injuries, Claxton delivered 10 points,  four steals, three rebounds, and a block in 15 minutes against Orlando Thursday. He fills a role as an athletic, energetic big man.

“He’s somebody we believe in and think he’s got a lot of upside, continue to grow and just take it step-by-step,” Nets coach Steve Nash said  of Claxton.

We have more news on the New York City teams:

  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina looked surprisingly spry in his first appearance in nearly two months on Thursday, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Ntilikina had been buried on the bench, along with rehabbing a sprained knee and, more recently, being quarantined under COVID-19 contact tracing. Ntilikina received 17 minutes of action against Sacramento and delivered seven points, three steals and two assists in 23 minutes. “His defense was fantastic,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. Ntilikina is likely to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
  • Nash indicated the Nets will be active shoppers in the buyout market, Lewis tweets. A capped-out team, the Nets have been shuttling bodies in and out on non-guaranteed and 10-day contracts in order to fulfill NBA roster requirements. Brooklyn will likely seek to add depth at center.
  • Nash has gotten tougher on his team and that approach has helped the Nets reel off eight straight victories, Lewis writes in a separate piece. The coaching staff has doled out more constructive criticism and held players accountable for lapses. “I don’t know if we’re coaching them any harder, but we’re definitely trying to cut to the chase and make sure we are pointing out and improving and addressing issues,” he said.

Nicolas Claxton Set To Return For Nets

Nets center Nicolas Claxton is being listed as available to play Sunday against the Clippers for the first time in nearly a year, the team announced.

Claxton, who was selected by Brooklyn with the No. 31 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, has been dealing with various injuries since entering the league. He only appeared in 15 games last season, averaging 4.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 12.5 minutes per contest.

It remains unlikely that Claxton sees time on Sunday, head coach Steve Nash said, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link). Nevertheless, the 21-year-old could be used in the team’s backup center role at some point this year.

Claxton underwent arthroscopic labrum repair surgery last June and was ruled out for the NBA’s summer restart. His return from rehab comes as Brooklyn has won five straight contests and holds the second-best record in the East at 19-12.

The Nets will be playing without Kevin Durant (left hamstring strain), Iman Shumpert (left hamstring strain) and Tyler Johnson (left adductor tightness).

Nets Notes: Shamet, Roberson, Claxton, Cousins

Playing against a former team isn’t a new experience for Nets guard Landry Shamet, who has already been traded twice in his brief NBA career, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. What’s odd for Shamet in his return to Los Angeles this week has been confinement to his hotel room because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“It is weird not going from the airport and taking the regular route that I would take to get back home,” he said. “But nonetheless, I’m here and I’m glad to be back here and kind of relive some of the memories, I guess.”

Shamet averaged 9.3 PPG as a part-time starter for the Clippers last season before being shipped to Brooklyn in a three-team deal in November. His experiences in Philadelphia and Los Angeles helped prepare him for a role on teams dominated by star players.

“Any team that’s ever been put together with that much talent isn’t going to just happen overnight and be perfect,” Shamet said. “I think that’s the biggest thing — time and patience and accountability. And if you have those things, over time you’re going to grow and you’re going to develop and turn it, hopefully, into what you wanted it to turn into. I think that’s what I’ve learned.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Andre Roberson tells Chris Milholen of NetsDaily that the number of familiar faces in Brooklyn has made his transition to the team much smoother. Roberson, who signed with the Nets on Tuesday, joins a squad with former Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Royal Ivey, who is now an assistant coach. Spencer Dinwiddie was a college teammate at Colorado. “It just shows you what kind of people and character you are walking into,” Roberson said. “I think it’s dope and kind of gives me a head start because I know what to expect. So far, so great, so I can’t complain.”
  • Center Nicolas Claxton is getting closer to returning from the knee tedinopathy that has sidelined him all season, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. Claxton is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, marking the first time all season he has appeared on the injury report.
  • Harden’s presence on the Nets might work against DeMarcus Cousins‘ chances of winding up in Brooklyn, notes Erik Bacharach of Heavy. Cousins was among the most outspoken players when Harden was trying to force a trade out of Houston, calling some of Harden’s comments “disrespectful.”

Nets Notes: Pelle, Shumpert, Claxton, Big Three

Norvel Pelle could make his debut with the Nets in tonight’s game against the Raptors, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Pelle signed with the team last week to add size in the middle, where Brooklyn has been short-handed since parting with Jarrett Allen in the James Harden trade.

“My career is based off of defense,” Pelle said. “I’m a big rim protector my whole life, so just coming in and filling a role.”

Pelle was preparing to head to Orlando for the G League bubble when his agents told him the Nets were interested, Botte adds. The 28-year-old had to quarantine for a week, but he participated in his first practice Thursday and may see some playing time tonight as a backup to DeAndre Jordan. Pelle played 24 games for the Sixers last season, but he admits feeling “a little nervous” being in the same locker room with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Harden.

“It’s hard to explain, you have all these great individuals that are all on one team and sometimes you’re just in awe of the things that they do,” Pelle said. “Sometimes you have to realize you’re playing, too.”

There’s more Nets news to pass along:

  • Iman Shumpert, who signed with Brooklyn on Sunday, is “completely available” for tonight’s game, coach Steve Nash told Botte for the same story. The Nets concentrated on defense with both free agent additions, hoping to improve a unit that is currently ranked 27th in defensive efficiency. Second-year center Nicolas Claxton, who hasn’t played this season because of a knee injury, is “still a few weeks away,” Nash added. “Nothing imminent with him. … I don’t want to put a timeline on it because he’s not that close,” Nash said. “He’s getting there. He’s definitely improving. Hopefully he can start playing with the guys next week.”
  • Sam Amick of The Athletic talks to three NBA scouts about the Big Three experiment in Brooklyn. While they’re impressed by the Nets’ talent level, they raise concerns about the on-court fit, overall defense and the lack of size.
  • A NetsDaily story examines the trade assets the team has left after giving up so much to acquire Harden.

Nets Notes: Harden, Irving, Claxton, Roster Spot

The four-team deal that brought James Harden to Brooklyn is now official, and Nets coach Steve Nash put him in the starting lineup right away, writes Malika Andrews of ESPN. Harden hasn’t been able to practice with his new team, but he was on the court for today’s game against the Magic.

“I think everyone’s excited,” Nash said. “We welcome one of the best players in the game to our team, so the mood is great. This is a moving target that we have to try to incorporate him as we go here and learn on the fly, adapt and try to jell.”

Nash doesn’t expect much of a learning curve for Harden, who is among the most gifted offensive players in the league. Harden won’t be on a minutes restriction, but Nash plans a “see as we go” philosophy on how much to play him.

“(He is) more or less a full go,” Nash added. “But we don’t want to run the batteries down on our new Christmas present this early.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Completion of the deal means the Nets’ new Big Three is almost together. Kyrie Irving is missing another game today due to health and safety protocols, Andrews tweets, and his return may be a few days away. Nash wants Irving to go through a few workouts before returning to the lineup (Twitter link).
  • Nicolas Claxton could be ready next month, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The second-year center has been sidelined with tendinopathy in his right knee. “I think Nic is probably closer to the midseason break than he is to now,” Nash said. “Sometime in February for sure. But no setbacks, just working through it.” (Twitter link)
  • An article on NetsDaily examines some of the options for filling the team’s three open roster spots. The Nets expect to have point guards Jeremiah Martin and Elie Okobo on the roster of their G League affiliate in Long Island, and both have NBA experience. Shooting guard Kaiser Gates and center Tariq Owens, a pair of G League veterans, are two other possibilities. Some other names to consider are Michael Beasley and Jamal Crawford, who both signed with Brooklyn before the summer restart, along with Andre RobersonRondae Hollis-Jefferson and Dewayne Dedmon.