Jacque Vaughn

Nets Notes: Vaughn, Ollie, Marks, Bridges, Budenholzer

Speaking on Tuesday to reporters, including ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Nets general manager Sean Marks said there wasn’t a single event or game that made the team decide to fire head coach Jacque Vaughn. While some Brooklyn players expressed frustration following a December 27 loss in which the team sat several regulars, as well as after last Wednesday’s 50-point blowout loss in Boston, Marks pointed to a general lack of energy and effort when asked for specifics on what went into the decision to dismiss Vaughn.

“It’s about the level of compete,” Marks said. “We’re not going to be the most talented team in the league. I’m not an idiot. I totally understand that. But at the same time, this is a talented group of young men out there. And my expectations, and I think their expectations, should be to hold each other accountable to do the little things. The effort plays, the loose balls, the contested shots and so forth, diving on the floor.

“These are things that should be expected when you’re in a place that we’re at right now, where we’re clawing and grappling for every single thing we can. That’s what I would hope to see over these next 28 games, and that’s probably, to be quite frank, some things I haven’t seen. The level of effort and the level of compete has not always been there.”

New interim head coach Kevin Ollie made that lack of energy and hustle a focus in his first practice with the club on Tuesday, as Bontemps details. Ollie pointed out that the Nets don’t recover enough loose balls or draw enough charges, referring to the team’s poor numbers in those categories as “losing basketball.”

“I got something called EGBs, which is energy generating behaviors, and it’s 17 behaviors of those things. And we went through the list extensively today,” Ollie said on Tuesday. “(They) have nothing to do with talent but everything to do with heart and will. And I think that’s what it comes down to.

“Remember, I played 15 years professionally, 13 years in this league, and never once (had) a coach call a play for me. I had to get it with grit. I had to get it with determination. I had to get it with a mindset that we’re going to get better each and every day. That’s how I coach, that’s what I’m going to demand. I want them to demand that from me, and that’s from day one.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Marks is under contract beyond this season, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv, and the veteran Nets executive has a close relationship with team owner Joe Tsai. Marks told reporters on Tuesday that he has been given no indication Tsai won’t keep him around to run the team’s latest head coaching search this spring. “Joe and I have always been in complete partnership,” Marks said, per Bontemps. “And it doesn’t mean we always agree. I mean, you have to have good discussions and robust discussions, but Joe and I will make this decision, and he has given me no reason to believe that I won’t be able to make that decision.”
  • Still, Marks’ future with the Nets has been a subject of speculation around the NBA, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on the HoopsHype podcast with Brian Lewis of The New York Post. According to Scotto, in the event that Marks remains in Brooklyn, one possibility floated in league circles is a scenario in which the Nets promote assistant general manager Jeff Peterson to GM and give him more day-to-day responsibilities while Marks stays above him in the front office hierarchy.
  • Scotto and Lewis discussed many more Nets-related topics in the HoopsHype podcast, including the futures of players like Nic Claxton, Cam Thomas, and Ben Simmons in Brooklyn, Scotto also said there were rumblings that certain players – including Mikal Bridges and former Net Spencer Dinwiddie – weren’t thrilled by the fact that Vaughn’s offensive game plan focused so heavily on Simmons, who hasn’t been healthy for most of his time in Brooklyn.
  • Bridges said on Tuesday that he wants to remain in Brooklyn long-term, per Dan Martin of The New York Post. “I’m here now and want to stay here,” Bridges said. “And I’m going to keep grinding and getting to wherever we’ve got to get to win, and that’s why I’m here for.” The Nets turned away trade inquiries this season on Bridges and their goal is to ultimately acquire a star or two to play alongside him, per Scotto.
  • In a pair of stories for The New York Post, Mike Vaccaro wonders what it will take for the Nets to move on from Marks, while Zach Braziller identifies several potential candidates for Brooklyn’s permanent head coaching job. That list begins with Mike Budenholzer, whose name is “at the tip of everyone’s tongue” in discussing possible candidates, according to Scotto.

Nets Notes: Vaughn, Bridges, Wilson, Schröder

The Nets fired Jacque Vaughn this morning, a quick turnaround for a coach who signed a four-year contract at around $5MM per year last year, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. However, as Fischer writes, Vaughn wasn’t initially the team’s preferred candidate — that was now-Rockets coach Ime Udoka. Players losing confidence in Vaughn and the Nets losing 18 of their previous 24 games spelled the end of his tenure in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn plans to pursue stars to pair with two-way wing Mikal Bridges, for whom the franchise has repeatedly turned down trade packages of first-round picks. Fischer notes that Damian Lillard had interest in teaming with Bridges last offseason, which is as an indication that other star players could follow suit in the future. With current players upset by the structure of the offense, per Fischer, the Nets felt it was best to stay as appealing as possible to outside free agents.

According to both Fischer and SNY’s Ian Begley (Twitter video link), there’s rising speculation that general manager Sean Marks could soon be out the door. While Fischer acknowledges Marks’ high standing with Nets governors Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, both note Vaughn is the third coach hired and fired by Marks.

Even though he wasn’t their first option last year, the Nets gave Vaughn the luxury of filling out most of his staff, something that is becoming less common. Kevin Ollie will be given the chance to make an impression as the interim head coach, though Fischer names Mike Budenholzer and James Borrego as potential options for the permanent job after this season.

We have more from the Nets:

  • Vaughn issued a statement to ESPN after he was dismissed this morning, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). “To Joe Tsai, Clara Wu-Tsai, Ollie Weisberg, Sam Zussman, Sean Marks and front office, Nets coaches, staff, players, BSE family and the entire Brooklyn borough: It was a pleasure being your Head Coach,” Vaughn’s statement reads. “I hope each individual I interacted with felt respected and valued. Just know I gave you everything I had every single day. Onto the next chapter. Amor Fati.
  • Jalen Wilson, on a two-way contract with Brooklyn, made his first big in-game impression on the Nets when he recorded 21 points and 10 rebounds while getting to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo in a Dec. 27 loss to Milwaukee, The New York Post’s Andrew Crane writes. Wilson’s role has been steadily increasing as of late, and he’s played the final six minutes of the fourth quarter in each of the Nets’ past four games. Moving Royce O’Neale at the deadline opened up some minutes for the 6’8″ power forward, and he’s averaging 7.8 points in 25.8 minutes over his past five games while shooting 69.2% on his threes.
  • The Nets acquired veteran point guard Dennis Schröder at the deadline from the Raptors and he’s immediately taking on a big role for his new team. Though his scoring average is down, Schröder is playing 25.3 minutes in his first three games with the team, including one start. In a subscriber-only story, Brian Lewis of the New York Post breaks down what Brooklyn is hoping to get from the vet and what the club can do for him.

Nets Fire Jacque Vaughn

The Nets have dismissed head coach Jacque Vaughn, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The organization made a formal announcement of the move in a press release, stating that an interim coach will be appointed soon.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we feel is in the best interest of the team going forward,” general manager Sean Marks stated. “Jacque has represented this organization with exemplary character and class for the past eight years. The consistent positivity and passion he poured into our team daily will remain with the players and staff he interacted with throughout his tenure. We thank Jacque for all he has done for the Nets and the borough of Brooklyn, and wish him, Laura and their family nothing but the best in the future.” 

The move comes in the wake of a 50-point loss to Boston last Wednesday that left the team with a disappointing 21-33 record at the All-Star break. Because Brooklyn doesn’t own its first-round pick in this year’s draft, management was hoping to be more competitive, but the Nets will need a strong finish to the season just to reach the play-in tournament.

Brooklyn has dropped 18 of its last 24 games, and players lost confidence in Vaughn as the losses piled up, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY (Twitter link). Management is hoping to land a star player this summer to build around, and there were concerns that keeping Vaughn as head coach might impede that effort, according to Begley’s sources.

There’s no immediate word on who the interim coach might be, but Brian Lewis of the New York Post suggests current assistant Kevin Ollie (Twitter link). Ollie, who won an NCAA championship at Connecticut, joined Brooklyn’s staff at the start of this season after coaching two years with Overtime Elite.

Lewis notes that Marks will hire his third coach in his eight years as GM, but this will be the team’s first extensive search since 2016 (Twitter link). Vaughn was promoted after taking over for Steve Nash on an interim basis in November of 2022, and Nash was selected because of his relationship with the team’s former stars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

An assistant with the Nets dating back to the 2016/17 season, Vaughn compiled a 71-68 record as the team’s head coach, including 10 games on an interim basis during the 2019/2020 season. He also spent two-and-a-half seasons as head coach in Orlando and holds a 129-226 career record.

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.

New York Notes: Hartenstein, McBride, Nets, Claxton

Isaiah Hartenstein continues to impress as the Knicks‘ starting center in place of the injured Mitchell Robinson, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Hartenstein had a monster double-double in Wednesday’s victory over Chicago, recording 10 points, a career-high 20 rebounds, and a career-high-tying five blocks.

I’m impressed with the way he’s protecting the rim, to be honest,” Julius Randle said after Wednesday’s win. “We’re used to Mitch doing that, covering up for our mistakes when we get beat off the dribble. But he’s a monster doing that. And to go up against (Bulls center Andre) Drummond and get 20 rebounds, it’s no slight. He’s been amazing.”

An unrestricted free agent in the offseason, Katz says Hartenstein is “due for an inevitable raise” on his $9.2MM expiring contract, and it will be difficult for New York to re-sign him, given the team’s commitments to Robinson and several other players. The Knicks will hold his Early Bird rights.

Right now, I’m a New York Knick,” Hartenstein said of 2024 free agency. “That’s the biggest thing. I feel like, yeah, sometimes you have that in the back of your mind. That’s normal. At the end of the day, I wanna be in New York, but it’s a business.”

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

  • Miles McBride had a shaky first two games as the Knicks‘ new primary backup point guard, but they still view him as a long-term replacement for Immanuel Quickley, sources tell ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. McBride inked a three-year, $13MM extension with New York shortly after the team traded Quickley to Toronto. For what it’s worth, McBride has 12 points in six minutes thus far during Friday’s contest vs. Philadelphia, making all four of his three-pointers.
  • Lucas Kaplan of NetsDaily.com takes an in-depth look at Nic Claxton‘s value and future, writing that Claxton could be worth $20-25MM annually on the open market as a free agent this summer and the Nets would be wise to re-sign him to a long-term contract if that range is indeed accurate. Claxton won’t become extension-eligible prior to free agency.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post revisits the Nets‘ decision to promote Jacque Vaughn to head coach last season instead of hiring Ime Udoka, who eventually landed with Houston in the offseason after being suspended by Boston for all of 2022/23 for sexual misconduct.

New York Notes: Randle, Brunson, Vaughn, Simmons, DSJ

Two-time Knicks All-Star power forward Julius Randle continues to thrive for New York despite dealing with lingering knee soreness, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. He has played in all 19 of the team’s games thus far this season after appearing in 77 of 82 last year.

“You almost come to expect that from him. If he can go, he’s going,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And I love that about him. He wanted to get out there, and he warmed up early to see how he would feel. And then he got with the medical people. But Julius, he gives you what he has. He doesn’t take days off.”

New York even wanted Randle to rest the knee earlier this week, Bondy notes, but Randle rejected the idea. He’s averaging 20.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 5.5 APG for New York.

“[I’ll play] all the time,” Randle said. “I think it’s more we just love to play. It’s not really about load management. We just love to play basketball. Me personally, I love to play basketball, so if I can play I’m going to play.”

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

  • Knicks star point guard Jalen Brunson has developed a gift for drawing charges, writes Bondy in a separate piece. He has already drawn 30 offensive fouls thus far this season. Bondy notes that he could be en route to a new NBA record. “Obviously I’m not meeting anybody at the rim. So I know I can impact the game that way,” Brunson told Bondy. “So whatever it takes to win, honestly. I find myself in that position and if I bail out, I’m bailing out on my teammates. So I got to be willing to take the contact and pray for the best.”
  • Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn is helping a young, talented team develop at a pace that’s perhaps quicker than pundits may have anticipated, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscriber exclusive). Third-year shooting guard Cam Thomas is enjoying a breakout season and looks like a potential candidate for Most Improved Player honors if he can keep this output up. He’s currently averaging 26.1 PPG on .464/.343/.846 splits, along with 3.9 RPG and 2.3 APG.
  • Oft-injured Nets forward Ben Simmons is still weeks away from returning to the lineup for Brooklyn, but reserve point guard Dennis Smith Jr. has returned, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Simmons has missed 12 straight contests with a lower back impingement. Smith had been dealing with a strained lower back for six games.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Vaughn, Walker, Whitehead

Reestablishing the relationship between Nets guard Ben Simmons and head coach Jacque Vaughn was a priority for Brooklyn this offseason, Andscape’s Marc J. Spears writes.

The Nets allowed Simmons to spend the offseason training in Miami, where he felt most comfortable, and Vaughn made sure to visit and connect with the former No. 1 overall pick several times.

I had something to prove,” Simmons said. “So, whoever comes down, whoever doesn’t, I know who’s there for me. And he was down there. He came to check on me, which I really appreciate and that gave me more confidence. It was good to have him down there.

Simmons, who said his relationship with Vaughn was “terrible” to start out, was upset with the lack of communication between the two parties and believed the head coach was frustrated by an injury situation that limited him to 42 games last season. After working on the relationship over the offseason, Vaughn handed the keys to the starting lineup over to Simmons, who ranks toward the top of the league in rebounds and assists.

I thought it was important for me to reestablish our relationship from the way it was introduced,” Vaughn said. “[2022/23] was during a pretty tumultuous season with expectation, trauma and chaos, and we both were involved in it. And for me to hopefully let him know that [there were] no hard feelings my way. I was trying to set a standard for the program and that’s my responsibility as a coach and to let him know what my expectations were for him going forward and that I am pulling for him at the same time.

We have more from the Nets:

  • Simmons is day-to-day with a hip injury, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. He has missed two consecutive games. “He received treatment, and he’ll continue to receive treatment,” Vaughn said. “[We’re] just not in the place where all parties around feel comfortable with him playing at the levels that he’s been playing it.
  • Lonnie Walker IV is off to a career-best start after signing a minimum-salary contract with the Nets in the offseason. In eight games, Walker’s averaging 16.8 points while shooting 53.8% from the floor and 46.3% from deep in just 22.4 minutes a night. “Just genuinely understanding just the game [and] kind of slowing it down,” Walker said of the difference in his play this season (via the New York Post’s Dan Martin). “I used to always play 100 percent going too fast without really analyzing the game.” With Cam Thomas sidelined for at least two weeks, Walker could continue to see his usage and playing time increase.
  • Brooklyn first round pick and former five-star recruit Dariq Whitehead dealt with a lingering foot injury through the draft process and offseason. The youngest draft pick in Nets history made his professional on-court debut in the G League, starting for Brooklyn’s affiliate Long Island Nets on Friday, according to Nets Daily (Twitter link). He finished with five points and four rebounds in his return to the court.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Point Guards, Whitehead, Sharpe, More

Nets guard Ben Simmons is taking part in 5-on-5 workouts without any restrictions and is expected to be a full participant in training camp, head coach Jacque Vaughn and general manager Sean Marks said on Tuesday, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“Pretty simple that way which is good for me to say, and I think that fits into an exciting time for me to have this group together,” Vaughn said. “No restrictions at the beginning of the year — get to form an identity together, get to form some relationships at the beginning of the year, a style of play, so really looking forward to the challenge and getting to training camp because of that.”

In addition to discussing Simmons’ health, Vaughn confirmed something the former No. 1 overall pick said last month, telling reporters that the relationship between the two men is in a better place now than it was last season. As Bontemps details, Vaughn also agreed with Simmons’ assessment that he’s a point guard, though the head coach did offer a caveat.

“I would use the word ‘agreement’ more so than ‘commitment,'” Vaughn said when he was asked if he’s committed to playing Simmons at the point this season. “The agreement is if he’s playing at a consistent and high level, then I think our pictures look exactly the same. I think you can kind of put it in that category.”

Asked if Simmons is competing with Spencer Dinwiddie for minutes at point guard, Vaughn said the two guards will share the floor at times, with Dennis Smith Jr. also in the mix for a regular backcourt role, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • There’s no specific timeline for the return of first-round pick Dariq Whitehead, who underwent foot surgery in the spring, but the Nets certainly don’t expect him to miss his entire rookie season, per Adam Zagoria of NJ.com. “We’re definitely not going to rush him,” Marks said. “We love the grit and determination. I wouldn’t put a timeline on when he’ll be back but he will definitely be playing this year.”
  • While Vaughn still expects to use smaller lineups frequently in 2023/24, he wants to give Day’Ron Sharpe an opportunity to earn a role since he’s one of the team’s best rebounders, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter links). The head coach also said that he expects Simmons and center Nic Claxton to share the floor quite a bit, despite the spacing issues it created last season.
  • For the first time since 2018, the Nets won’t have any superstar players on their roster entering training camp. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be open to pursuing a star in the next year or two if the right opportunity arises, but it also doesn’t sound like they feel compelled to do so. “(Team owner) Joe Tsai, myself and (Vaughn) have talked openly about how this team will look in the upcoming years and when’s the right time to go back in,” Marks said, according to Bontemps. “Whether it’s facilitating another deal, whether it’s acquiring more players, whether it’s seeing what these young guys on our team right now can develop, and that’s an exciting piece too that we’re forgetting to mention. We’re certainly not in any hurry, but at the end of the day, we’re going to do our due diligence like we always have over the course of the last six years.”
  • Over at his Substack, Steve Lichtenstein explores why forward Trendon Watford has the potential to be a solid developmental piece for Brooklyn. Watford is on a non-guaranteed contract with the Nets.

Ben Simmons Eager To “Come Back And Dominate”

Nets guard Ben Simmons is feeling as good as he has in years and is “excited” about the upcoming season, he tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape. A three-time All-Star from 2019-21, Simmons has missed 122 games over the last two seasons due to mental and physical issues and didn’t look his old self when he was active, but he says he “definitely” thinks he’ll be ready for opening night.

“For me to come back and dominate people will be great,” Simmons said. “I don’t intend to come back the same player I was last [season], because that’s not even close to where I am. I get excited because I’m like, ‘Damn, I would [expletive] on the player I was last year.'”

Simmons, who was traded from Philadelphia to Brooklyn during the 2021/22 season following a lengthy holdout, was unable to play for the Nets that year due to back problems. He went under the knife in May 2022 to address a herniated disc and wasn’t fully recovered from the procedure when last season began — he played in 42 games, but was shut down in the second half and didn’t see the court after February 15.

Speaking to Spears, Simmons admitted that he was playing last season when he probably shouldn’t have been and suggested he was trying to “please people” after being sidelined for all of 2021/22. The 27-year-old managed to avoid a second back surgery and underwent an extended rehab process this offseason, which he’s feeling positive about. He said he has been doing 2-on-2 work for the last couple weeks and is progressing well.

“I don’t think people realize how bad it was in terms of physically how I was feeling and what I was able to do on the floor,” he said of his back issues. “… I remember my brother came to watch me work out one day, and he was just like, ‘You’re not OK, are you?’ I was looking at him, I was like, ‘Obviously not. This is not how I should be moving.’ But I’m happy I’m in this place now. I’m grateful I didn’t do anything to have another surgery.

“… Being able to sit down now and not have to lean or slouch one way, it’s kind of crazy for me. But I feel I’m at 100% now. Right now, I’m just building back to where I’m playing. I haven’t played in a while. Just taking hits and getting my body used to that.”

Here are a few other items of interest from Spears’ interview with Simmons:

  • Simmons says he “100%” wants to be part of Australia’s roster for the 2024 Olympics, assuming the Boomers qualify. “There hasn’t really been a time where I’ve been prepared and ready physically,” he said. “But next year, my goal is to be on the Olympic team.”
  • Asked if he felt any desire to ask out of Brooklyn last season like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving did, Simmons dismissed the idea: “I love Brooklyn. I don’t have an issue with Brooklyn. For me, I want to get healthy. The only thing I could do was get healthy. I couldn’t complain about anything. I’m in a great city, a great organization, great owners, great coach, great GM. It’s all good people around, and they want to win and do it the right way. Also, I don’t have specific teams I want to go to. This is a job. I’m not going to ask to be put somewhere specific, I just want to play.”
  • Simmons admitted that his relationship with head coach Jacque Vaughn got off to a rocky start when he was first traded to Brooklyn, but he feels as if he’s gotten closer to Vaughn, who has visited him multiple times in Miami this offseason. “We’re in a great place,” Simmons said. “I speak to him every other day. And I’m excited because I think Coach is great. Great as a person, great coach. That’s the main thing, just being a good human. He can relate to a lot of players, he’s played the game.”
  • Asked about his 2023/24 position, Simmons indicated that he doesn’t expect to be used as a power forward or center. “Point guard. That’s who I am,” he told Spears, adding that he has talked to Vaughn about his role. “As much as people say, ‘Fix this, fix that.’ No, I’m a point guard. When I was playing at that [high] level, nobody was really saying anything to me.”
  • Despite the way his tenure with the Sixers ended, Simmons will “always have love for Philly” and even left the door open for an eventual return to the city. “People always ask me like, ‘If you were to get traded again where you want it to be?'” he said. “I always say, ‘Just Philly. Philly is a second home to me.’ And in time, you learn and grow as people. I don’t really have anything bad to say about Philly. It was a crazy situation at the end, but it is what it is.”

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Porzingis, Hawks, Fernando, Sixers

Nets guard Ben Simmons will not partake in this year’s World Cup, Basketball Australia has announced in an official statement (Twitter link).

According to Basketball Australia, Brooklyn and Simmons have opted to withhold the former No. 1 overall pick so that he can continue to rehabilitate his ailing back ahead of the 2023/24 NBA season. Net Income of Nets Daily writes that the club is hopeful Simmons will be recovered by the start of September, just in time for training camp.

The former All-Star appeared in just 42 games for Brooklyn in 2022/23 after returning from back surgery, averaging 6.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.3 SPG and 0.6 BPG in 26.3 MPG.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • New Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis is excited about his new opportunity to play for a perennial Eastern Conference contender, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Porzingis explained his decision to opt into his $36MM option for next season, which helped enable his trade from the Wizards. “[It was] an opportunity to play for a really good team already and be able to add to that,” Porzingis said. “And hopefully to help these guys, make their life easier, and being on a high-level organization like Boston, historic franchise, iconic franchise, it made it extremely easy for me to make that decision.”
  • The Hawks have made some changes to their front office personnel, Atlanta has announced in a press release. Longtime league agent Chris Emens is joining the team as an executive advisor. The Hawks are also adding Blake Johnson as the club’s director of player engagement. Atlanta also revealed that a variety of executives have been promoted to new positions: vice president of player personnel Dotun Akinwale Jr.; senior vice president of salary cap administration Michelle Leftwich; vice president of basketball operations Grant Liffmann; senior vice president of team operations Dan Martinez; vice president of player personnel and basketball intelligence Tori Miller; principal advisor to the governor Nick Ressler; and vice president of cap strategy/player personnel Ryan Silverstein.
  • The Hawks have pushed back reserve center Bruno Fernando‘s salary guarantee deadline from June 29 to July 10, reports Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). Upon being shipped to Atlanta in February from Houston, the 6’9″ big man appeared in just eight contests for the team, averaging 3.4 PPG and 1.9 RPG in 5.1 MPG. Fernando will receive his full $2.58MM salary for 2023/24 if he remains under contract through July 10.
  • Assistant coaches Fabulous Flournoy and Toure’ Murry are joining new Sixers head coach Nick Nurse‘s bench, a team source has informed Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The addition of another assistant, Doug West, had previously been reported.