Cameron Johnson

New York Notes: DiVincenzo, Knicks’ Roster, Johnson, Bridges

Knicks swingman Donte DiVincenzo would like to represent Italy in this year’s Summer Olympics but it apparently won’t happen.

“Ideally, I would love to,” DiVincenzo told Stefan Bondy of the New York Post. “Logistically and how everything plays out, I don’t know if it’s possible. But if everything works out perfectly, I would love to.”

However, in a follow-up story, Bondy said he received an email from a representative from the Italian Basketball Federation stating that DiVincenzo couldn’t be added to the team.

“For the next Olympic Games there would not be the time to complete the procedures to provide him with an Italian passport,” Francesco D’Aniello wrote.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • The Knicks only have 13 players on standard contracts and need to add at least one more. According to Ian Begley of SNY TV, signing one – or more — of their G League players to a standard contract is a possibility. Charlie Brown Jr., Jacob Toppin and Duane Washington are currently on two-way deals and may be candidates for a promotion, while Taj Gibson, who is currently on a 10-day deal, could receive a rest-of-the-season contract, Begley adds.
  • Nets forward Cameron Johnson returned to action on Wednesday after missing four games with a left adductor strain. He came off the bench and played 18 minutes, contributed four points, three rebounds and two assists. Johnson started in all 40 of his previous appearances but Dorian Finney-Smith got the starting nod with Johnson on a minutes restriction. Coach Jacque Vaughn will have to choose between the two of them going forward, unless he wants to put Cam Thomas in a sixth man role again, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post,
  • The Nets’ last game before the All-Star break was a disaster, as they lost by 50 to the first-place Celtics. Forward Mikal Bridges told Lewis that the team shouldn’t forget about the loss. “Yeah, I mean you gotta learn and fix the issue; that’s pretty much what it is. You can’t just let this one go and think like, ‘Oh, like, let it drop.’ No,” he said. “Yeah, maybe if you lost towards the end, but you got beat by 50. It’s not just, ‘Let it go.’ A lot of (bleep) is not right, and you’ve got to fix it.”

New York Notes: Sharpe, Johnson, Simmons, Knicks Injuries, Bogdanovic

Nets big man Day’Ron Sharpe will return to action on Tuesday night against the Celtics, according to Lucas Kaplan of Sharpe has missed the last 15 games due to a left knee hyperextension.

“I ain’t think I would be out this long,” Sharpe said. “But you know, it could have been worse.”

Cameron Johnson, who has missed the last three games due to an adductor issue, won’t play the first of two consecutive games against Boston. He participated in full-court five-on-five at practice on Monday but may be held out until after the All-Star break.

We have more from the New York teams:

  • Nets guard Ben Simmons scored a season-high 13 points against San Antonio on Saturday, missing just one field goal attempt. Simmons is gaining more confidence in his body after missing a good chunk of the season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post . “Feeling better. It takes time. It’s one of those things where it’s just up and down each day. But I’m just staying with it. The storm doesn’t last forever,” Simmons said. “You know, I’m gonna get back to where I was. So just staying on it. And you know, each day is a day to get better.”
  • Frontcourt injuries have sapped some of the Knicks’ greatest strengths — notably, strength, size and rim protection, Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post writes. That was evident in a loss to Indiana on Saturday. The Knicks will have to make do with a depleted frontcourt once again when they play Houston and Orlando prior to the All-Star break. “It’s always tough when you’re small,” Donte DiVincenzo said, “but I think over these next two games, we’ve just got to find a way to win. Hopefully, we get guys back, but if you don’t, you’ve gotta be ready, gotta be scrappy, and collectively we have to hit the boards a little bit better.”
  • Bojan Bogdanovic got a taste of what it’s like playing for the home team in Madison Square Garden on Saturday, producing 11 points in 33 minutes during his Knicks’ debut. He was acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline and was blown away by the atmosphere at the Knicks’ home arena, Sanchez writes in separate story. “It’s crazy. I think that we all European players dream to play in the Garden,” he said. “So being able to be part of the Knicks, it’s really special for me. The building was on fire the whole game. So I really appreciate the support and love that they showed me (Saturday).”

Nets Notes: Vaughn, Trade Rumors, Simmons, Johnson

Moving forward, the Nets should be concerned about head coach Jacque Vaughn‘s long-term fit, says Lucas Kaplan of Nets Daily.

Kaplan notes that Brooklyn’s offense has been fairly limited, in part due to personnel, but also because it has appeared at a loss for how to attack defenses that rely on switching. Kaplan adds that Brooklyn has struggled to score late in games recently, which has cost the team dearly.

At 18-27, the Nets are currently the No. 10 seed in the East, but are also in danger of falling out of the play-in race entirely.

There’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • Although the Nets have been the subject of frequent trade speculation leading up to the February 8 deadline, Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscriber link) writes that Brooklyn’s players are striving to remain focused on the games in front of them. Lewis wonders whether the club will make only minor moves at the deadline or whether more significant changes could be in store. Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, and Spencer Dinwiddie are among the team’s potential trade candidates, and it’s fair to question Vaughn’s job security as well, Lewis writes.
  • Vaughn has verified that – as previously reported – oft-injured guard Ben Simmons, one of the Nets’ priciest players, remains on track to return to action this week, per Bridget Reilly of The New York Post. A nerve impingement in his back has kept Simmons on the shelf since November 6. “Yeah, all signs pointing towards the likelihood of him playing next week,” Vaughn said. Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets that the three-time All-Star has been listed as probable to be available Monday against the Jazz. Across his six healthy games this year, Simmons has averaged 6.5 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 6.7 APG, and 0.8 BPG
  • Nets forward Cameron Johnson missed Brooklyn’s 106-104 Saturday win over the Rockets, Reilly writes in another article for The Post. He missed the contest due to undivulged personal reasons. “That’s the thing about life is, it’s beyond basketball,” Vaughn said pregame. “So, nothing that is going to be a detriment to him returning or anything of that nature.” The Nets could use all the help they can get, having dropped 12 of their past 16 contests. The 6’8″ wing is averaging 13.8 PPG on .452/.398/.714 shooting this season, along with 4.6 RPG, 2.6 APG and 0.7 SPG.

Team USA Announces 41-Player Pool For 2024 Olympics

USA Basketball has officially announced a pool of 41 players who are in the mix for the 12 spots on the 2024 Olympic men’s basketball team.

While the pool is subject to change, Team USA’s 12-man roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics will, in all likelihood, be made up of players from this group.

The list figures to shrink as the summer nears due to players suffering injuries or opting not to participate for other reasons, but at some point prior to the July event the U.S. decision-makers will have to choose a final roster from the remaining candidates.

Here’s the full list of 41 players, 28 of whom have represented Team USA in a previous World Cup or Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  3. Paolo Banchero (Magic)
  4. Desmond Bane (Grizzlies)
  5. Scottie Barnes (Raptors)
  6. Devin Booker (Suns)
  7. Mikal Bridges (Nets)
  8. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  9. Jalen Brunson (Knicks)
  10. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  11. Alex Caruso (Bulls)
  12. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  13. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Suns)
  15. Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves)
  16. Joel Embiid (Sixers)
  17. De’Aaron Fox (Kings)
  18. Paul George (Clippers)
  19. Aaron Gordon (Nuggets)
  20. Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers)
  21. James Harden (Clippers)
  22. Josh Hart (Knicks)
  23. Tyler Herro (Heat)
  24. Jrue Holiday (Celtics)
  25. Chet Holmgren (Thunder)
  26. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  27. Kyrie Irving (Mavericks)
  28. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies)
  29. LeBron James (Lakers)
  30. Cameron Johnson (Nets)
  31. Walker Kessler (Jazz)
  32. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  33. Damian Lillard (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers)
  35. Chris Paul (Warriors)
  36. Bobby Portis (Bucks)
  37. Austin Reaves (Lakers)
  38. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Derrick White (Celtics)
  41. Trae Young (Hawks)

Adebayo, Booker, Durant, Holiday, Lillard, and Tatum were part of the Olympic team that won gold in Tokyo in 2021. Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Keldon Johnson, Zach LaVine, JaVale McGee, and Khris Middleton were also on that roster, but aren’t part of the preliminary pool this time around. It’s possible some of them turned down invitations.

“The United States boasts unbelievable basketball talent and I am thrilled that many of the game’s superstars have expressed interest in representing our country at the 2024 Olympic Summer Games,” national team managing director Grant Hill said in a statement. “It is a privilege to select the team that will help us toward the goal of once again standing atop the Olympic podium. This challenging process will unfold over the next several months as we eagerly anticipate the start of national team activity.”

USA Basketball also announced today that Team USA will face Team Canada in Las Vegas on July 10 in an exhibition game. It sounds like that contest will take place during the NBA’s 2024 Summer League.

Seventeen More Players Become Trade-Eligible

Today is Monday, January 15, which means that a total of 17 players who signed free agent contracts meeting specific criteria this past offseason are now eligible to be traded.

Most offseason signees became trade-eligible on December 15, but players who met the following criteria were ineligible to be moved for an extra month:

  1. The player re-signed with his previous team.
  2. He got a raise of at least 20%.
  3. His salary is worth more than the minimum.
  4. His team was over the cap and used Bird or Early Bird rights to sign him.

The following players met that criteria and are eligible to be traded as of Monday:

(* Players marked with an asterisk have the ability to veto trades.)

Most of the players on NBA rosters are now eligible to be moved, though a small handful still can’t be dealt. That group includes Heat guard Dru Smith, who becomes trade-eligible on Monday, Hornets guard Ish Smith (trade-eligible on January 24), Lakers star Anthony Davis (trade-eligible on February 6), and Pistons forward Kevin Knox (trade-eligible on Feb. 8).

There are also several players who won’t become trade-eligible prior to this season’s February 8 deadline, including stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Jaylen Brown. Players on 10-day contracts are also ineligible to be dealt.

Nets Notes: Walker, Lineup, Bridges, Thomas

The Nets will be shorthanded on Wednesday against Milwaukee, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Three starters — Cameron Johnson (right knee sprain — injury maintenance), Nic Claxton (left ankle sprain — injury maintenance) and Spencer Dinwiddie (rest) — will be out, while key reserve Dorian Finney-Smith is questionable with left knee soreness.

Brooklyn just defeated Detroit on Tuesday, so it’s the second end of a back-to-back set for the Nets, who will also be without Ben Simmons (nerve impingement in lower back) and Lonnie Walker (left hamstring strain).

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • While he’s officially listed as out due to the hamstring injury, Walker’s return to action has been delayed by an illness, Lewis writes for The New York Post. “Yeah, Lonnie didn’t join us here in Detroit. The thought was he was going to travel with us. Had a little setback because of a virus,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said before Tuesday’s win. “So he’s been sick. And so really the last, I’m going to say three days, he hasn’t been able to be on court. And so again, he was supposed to be with us on this trip to get a workout in, wasn’t able to do that. So we’ve kind of pushed his availability back. We’ll check on him when (the team) gets home and hopefully he can continue towards working back on the court. But you won’t see him this week.” As Lewis notes, that means Walker will be sidelined on Friday as well, which will mark his 14th straight missed game.
  • Finney-Smith played the entire fourth quarter on Tuesday in place of Cam Thomas, and Vaughn suggested the veteran forward might return to the starting lineup soon, according to Lewis. “When I reflected back on that, I said I’ll continue to gather the data and the data would speak for itself,” Vaughn said. “I’m more analytically based than I ever have been in my career. So you take this group (with Thomas) that’s started recently, the numbers haven’t been efficient or sufficient enough for us, so there probably will be a change at some point. What that change is, I’ll continue to see what they need and what’s best for the group.
  • In another article for The New York Post, Lewis says the Nets need Thomas and Mikal Bridges to get on the same page, as the team hasn’t played well while its top two scorers are on the court together. Brooklyn is just 3-5 when both players score 20-plus points, and the Nets have been outscored by a significant margin when Thomas and Bridges are paired.

Nets Notes: Starting Five, Bridges, DSJ, Sharpe

Prior to Friday’s game vs. Denver, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn indicated that he was considering making a change to his starting lineup in order to try to address the team’s recent habit of starting games slowly, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post.

“It is really on me to take a closer look if there is a lineup change that needs to be had to get our group going,” Vaughn said. “Like I told you, I’ve been taking data of this group, how we can get out to better starts.

“… When we dig ourselves a hole, it’s a deep hole, and the mentality of starting the game has to hit first. It’s tough for us to play from behind.”

Vaughn ultimately ended up rolling out his usual five-man group of Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Nic Claxton, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Cam Thomas on Friday.

As Botte notes, in Brooklyn’s previous four losses, the team was outscored 121-95 in first quarters, whereas the Nets played Denver to a 28-28 tie on Friday. However, the starting lineup didn’t contribute much to that outcome — the Nets were trailing 18-7 when Vaughn made his first substitution.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Bridges’ recent offensive slump has been a significant factor in Brooklyn’s struggles, Botte writes in another Post story. During the club’s current five-game losing streak, Bridges has averaged just 13.8 points per game and has shot 30.8% from the floor. “It’s just the way the ebbs and flow of the season go. At the end of this thing, I’m quite sure his averages will be where they’re supposed to be, and he’ll be an impactful player like he’s been the majority of this season,” Vaughn said, adding that Bridges has been strong defensively. “You just go through little patches where the ball isn’t going in for you.”
  • Dennis Smith Jr. had an immediate impact in his return from a lower back injury that cost him seven games, Botte writes. Smith scored seven points, handed out five assists, and was a plus-nine in 19 minutes during Friday’s loss. “I think his energy and effort are contagious,” teammate Spencer Dinwiddie said. “What he brings on the defensive end is unique to anybody on this roster. He’s an impact player.”
  • Examining the Nets’ goals for the rest of the season, Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscription required) says the team needs to establish some consistency and get some clarity on which players are keepers and which ones could be trade chips.
  • After another strong showing against Denver on Friday (13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks), Day’Ron Sharpe is looking more and more like a player becoming a reliable NBA center, writes Collin Helwig of NetsDaily. Sharpe’s development remains a work in progress, but ideally, Helwig writes, it would follow the template laid out by past and current Nets centers Brook Lopez, Jarrett Allen, and Nic Claxton.

Atlantic Notes: Bridges, Johnson, Grimes, Quickley, Winslow

Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, two of the players the Nets acquired in the Kevin Durant blockbuster with the Suns last season, will play in Phoenix against their former team on Wednesday.

Bridges is looking forward to it.

Yeah, excited. Just a lot of years there, a lot of friends there. A lot of fans through the whole journey. It’s going to be exciting,” Bridges told Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “Obviously I’m not excited right now to talk about it, but when it comes, I will. But just get ready, main focus is to go out there and get a win.”

Johnson echoed those comments.

“I’m excited. It’s appreciation you gain for a city and for the fans when you play there for a while,” he said. “And as crazy as it is, you don’t know. That last game I played there, I didn’t know it’d be my last game in a Suns uniform. So it’ll be fun.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks guard Quentin Grimes was moved to the second unit and he’s thriving off the bench. In the last two games, he has averaged 16 points on 10.5 shot attempts. “I’m just out there playing free, really,” he told Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “Everybody sees it, just from me going out there, playing with guys trying to get me open shots. It’s easy and fun playing out with the second unit for sure.”
  • Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley is listed as questionable with knee inflammation for Wednesday’s game vs. Utah, Stefan Bondy of the New York Post tweets. He didn’t play against Toronto on Monday.
  • Justise Winslow, who is trying to work his way back into the league, debuted for the Raptors’ G League affiliate, Raptors 905, on Tuesday, NBA G League tweets. He scored 13 points in 16 minutes. Winslow was waived by Toronto during training camp.

Nets Notes: Bridges, LaVine, Thomas, Johnson, Simmons

Mikal Bridges has individual handshakes and greetings with people throughout the Nets‘ organization. He hopes that positive energy will help build the team’s culture.

I think it’s just being who I am, that’s how culture starts,” Bridges told Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. “Bringing in good people. I think there’s nothing else to it. Just bringing energy, being who I am and just be nice. Basically be myself and hopefully people will follow.”

As Fischer writes, the 27-year-old wing is friendly with many players around the league, including stars. Brooklyn hopes Bridges’ personality and “malleable” game will make the Nets an attractive option for a star player in the future.

I’m friends with a lot of people. I think friendships help. Obviously, if I think it’s a good option, then yeah.” said Bridges, adding that he’s not proactively recruiting players around the league. “I’m just trying to win now and do what it takes. You can talk about all the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybe this,’ but you can’t control that. Other than that just trying to win now. I’m more locked in on the guys here.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • If Zach LaVine is traded, he’s unlikely to land with Brooklyn, sources tell Fischer. Based on Fischer’s wording, it’s unclear if LaVine is uninterested in the Nets or they’re uninterested in him (or both).
  • Guard Cam Thomas will be reevaluated next week after spraining his left ankle. While he’s in “good spirits” and is making progress, he says sustaining the injury was discouraging, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “Of course it’s frustrating. I was playing real well, helping the team, we were competing. What was I, number six or seven in scoring at the time? So obviously it’s frustrating,” said Thomas, who is averaging 26.9 points in eight games. “But at the end of day, everything happens for a reason. So I’m going to just try to rehab as best I can, just so I can get back to that level of play I was at, that’s the only thing I’m looking forward to.”
  • Forward Cameron Johnson scored a season-high 20 points (on 7-of-11 shooting) in Tuesday’s victory over Orlando, also contributing five rebounds and three steals. It was a much-needed boost to a Nets team playing without Thomas and Ben Simmons (back), writes Bridget Reilly of The New York Post. Johnson missed seven consecutive games after getting injured in the season opener, but he seems to be rounding into form, says Reilly.
  • The Nets can no longer rely on Simmons as a focal point after his latest injury, a nerve impingement in his lower left back that will sideline him for at least another week, Lucas Kaplan of opines. Assuming Simmons is fully healthy when he returns, Kaplan thinks he’ll return to the starting lineup because he’s the highest-paid player on the team. But that would be a mistake, in Kaplan’s view, because Simmons negatively impacts the half-court offense, which has looked better without him. Kaplan believes Simmons should be a “low-minute, spark-plug point-center that pushes the pace relentlessly” off the bench.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Claxton, Giles, Johnson

The Nets have the best fast break in the league, but only when Ben Simmons is part of it, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Simmons is expected to miss his third straight game today with a hip contusion, which slows down the Brooklyn attack considerably.

“There’s no secret: Ben gives us an energy, a pace,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Like it, love it. We miss it, we need it, it’s a part of who we are, it’s the way our team is built. We’ll try to have to figure out who can aid in pushing the pace for us. But the realization for us is that’s how we need to play.”

In the six games that Simmons has played this season, the Nets are averaging 22.8 fast break points, the top figure in the league by a wide margin. That number falls to 11.3 in the three games he’s missed, which only ranks 27th. Even with the hip issue, Simmons is enjoying his most productive season in three years and he gives the team a chance to score a lot of easy baskets.

“Ben does such a terrific job at when he’s in transition, two, three guys are coming in and he’s such a great passer it makes the game a lot easier,” Lonnie Walker said. “But when he’s out, we’ve got to understand with a great player out we’ve got to step it up and take part in that role.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets expect Nic Claxton to return today after being sidelined since the season opener, Lewis states in another Post story. Claxton suffered a high ankle sprain on opening night and has missed the past eight games. Vaughn has been using an undersized lineup in Claxton’s absence, with 6’7″ Dorian Finney-Smith starting at center.
  • Harry Giles played his first NBA game since the 2020/21 season Friday night, scoring seven points in five minutes of action, Lewis adds. “It felt great, man. It felt great,” said Giles, who earned a roster spot after joining the Nets on a non-guaranteed Exhibit 9 contract. “Just got to be ready anytime. You never know. It felt good to get up and down and get my first run in a Brooklyn Nets jersey and my first run of the season. It felt good and I’m thankful.”
  • Cameron Johnson was happy to be back on the court Friday after missing seven games with a strained left calf, Lewis notes in a separate piece. Johnson also sat out the preseason, so he has to get back into the habit of playing regularly. “It’s a process. But I feel real good about it,” he said. “One thing you always have to do is respect the game, respect basketball, respect the NBA level. Rhythm is a big thing in this league, and my goal is to come back and establish that as quickly as possible.”