Nicolas Claxton

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.

Health Updates: Leonard, Trent, Okoro, Claxton, Gallinari

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will return to the lineup tonight, five days after being struck in the face by an accidental elbow from teammate Serge Ibaka, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Coach Tyronn Lue made the announcement in a pre-game session with the media.

Leonard missed two games with the injury, which caused him to bleed profusely from his mouth and required eight stitches. L.A. split the games, defeating the Timberwolves Tuesday night and losing by 51 points to the Mavericks on Sunday.

A second-team All-NBA selection last season, Leonard is off to another strong start, averaging 23.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals in his first two games.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • The Trail Blazers will face the Clippers tonight without guard Gary Trent Jr., Portland coach Terry Stotts told reporters (Twitter link from Vardon). Trent suffered a strained calf in Monday’s game with the Lakers.
  • Rookie swingman Isaac Okoro didn’t travel with the Cavaliers as they start a six-game road trip, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The fifth pick in this year’s draft suffered a sprained left foot in Saturday’s game and was recently placed into the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol. The league announced today that there have been no new positive tests since December 24, so Fedor believes Okoro likely came in contact with someone who tested positive, which limits his ability to travel. The Cavs hope he can join them before the trip ends January 9.
  • Nets coach Steve Nash said Nicolas Claxton is “steadily improving,” but remains “weeks away” from playing, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. The second-year center is dealing with tendinopathy in his right knee and hasn’t played yet this season.
  • Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari had to leave tonight’s game with a sprained ankle, according to Andrews (Twitter link). It was his first game since suffering a contusion in his left foot in last week’s season opener.

Health Updates: Zion, Ross, Claxton, Warriors

Zion Williamson‘s NBA debut last season was delayed by knee surgery and he dealt with minutes limitations upon returning, but the Pelicans forward said he has “no restrictions” for the 2020/21 season, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Williamson’s comments came shortly after new head coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters that the former No. 1 pick easily passed his conditioning test and had “no limitations” in practice.

“Me and Coach Van Gundy have talked and from what I know now, there are no restrictions,” Williamson said. “None.”

As a rookie, Williamson was often limited to four- or five-minute “bursts” and found himself being subbed out of games at key moments. He’s looking forward to playing for longer stretches and hopes to look more like his old self this season, as Lopez details.

“I want to show that I’m a basketball player. I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do on offense or defense no matter what it is to win. I’m just a competitor,” Williamson said. “When I’m healthy and competing, I’m just a different kind of player. I think that’s the player everyone fell in love with.”

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

  • Having undergone an MRI, Magic swingman Terrence Ross has been diagnosed with a minor, non-displaced hairline fracture in his left big toe, the team announced today in a press release. Ross is continuing to participate in non-contact work during practices. According to the team, his return to full contact will depend on how his toe responds to treatment.
  • After the Nets announced over the weekend that Nicolas Claxton is dealing with right knee tendinopathy, head coach Steve Nash said today that he expects the second-year big man to be out for “weeks,” tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
  • The two Warriors players who tested positive for the coronavirus aren’t expected to be able to participate in group practices until next week at the earliest, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The identities of those two players are still unknown.

Nets Notes: Dinwiddie, LeVert, Claxton, Irving

Having a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will mean major changes for Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Both players had the ball in their hands a lot last season, but they will have to adjust to complementary roles as the Nets‘ offense focuses on the two stars.

“One is the greatest scorer of all time,” Dinwiddie said. “You’ve got to really recognize that, and get the ball where it needs to go. So you know everybody else needs to process and act accordingly, and then do what’s best to help the team win. There hasn’t been any explicit conversations, but to think that you’re going to be trying to take the ball out of KD’s hands probably isn’t the smartest thing.”

LeVert ranked fourth in the league in isolation attempts last season and had a 29.5% usage rate, which was the highest of his career. He spent the offseason working on his catch-and-shoot game to try to capitalize on the open opportunities that Durant and Irving will provide.

“I haven’t really been asked to do that stuff in the NBA,” he said. “So I love playing off the ball. It’s fun for me. I can’t wait to do that this season; it’s going to be very beneficial for all of us.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Power forward/center Nicolas Claxton has been diagnosed with right knee tendinopathy and may miss the rest of training camp, Lewis tweets. Claxton felt discomfort in the knee while working out this week, according to the team. He will begin a rehabilitation and strengthening program, and any updates on his status “will be issued as appropriate.” It’s the latest injury concern for Claxton, who wasn’t able to participate in the NBA’s restart after having shoulder surgery in June.
  • Head coach Steve Nash understands that improvement on defense will be necessary to compete for a title, Lewis adds in a separate story. That part of the game will be entrusted to former interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who is now Nash’s lead assistant. “Jacque started to put his imprints and adjustments into the defense in the bubble,” Nash said. “I think that many of them were similarly aligned with the way I see things, so we’ve had a really enjoyable process going through the film and looking around the league and figuring out what suits our team and the game the way it’s played nowadays.”
  • The written statement that Irving gave to reporters this week in lieu of interviews doesn’t mean he plans to bypass traditional media all season, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Nicolas Claxton Has Shoulder Surgery, Out For Season

Nets reserve rookie big man Nicolas Claxton has undergone arthroscopic labrum repair surgery on his left shoulder, per a team statement captured by Ian Begley of SNY (Twitter link). Claxton is expected to miss the entire Orlando 2019/20 season resumption, but will return for training camp ahead of the ’20/21 season.

The No. 31 overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Georgia, Claxton played sparingly for the Nets during his debut season. The 6’11”, 215-pound 21-year-old holds averages of 4.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 1.1 APG in 12.5 MPG across 15 games.

Claxton joins his starrier All-NBA teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in sitting out for the Orlando restart. The Nets will have just 14 healthy players in Orlando, and two of those healthy players are on two-way contracts, per Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/19/20

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Also on the transactions log: