Patty Mills

And-Ones: Mills, Presti, Cunningham, Jaquez

Nets guard Patty Mills has won this season’s Sportsmanship Award, according to a league press release. The annual award is designed to honor a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.

Each NBA team nominated one of its players for the award and current players selected the winner from the list of six finalists. Bam Adebayo, Mikal Bridges, Darius Garland, Jeff Green and Jaren Jackson Jr. were the other finalists.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Thunder general manager Sam Presti is a proponent of an in-season tournament, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman notes, saying it shows the league is “thinking big picture.” Presti called an in-season tournament “necessary to have a better business and a better game in the future.” He feels that it would appeal to a non-traditional or younger fan base as well as improve competitive parity.
  • Overtime Elite has landed the top recruit in ESPN’s Class of 2024. Naasir Cunningham told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony about his reasons for joining Overtime Elite, which was confirmed in a press release. “This is best place for me to develop as a player, while getting the right education to fall back on at the same time,” the 6’7” Cunningham said. “Overtime built a relationship with my family and I, which was a big factor in trusting them with my future.” Cunningham will be the first player to decline a salary by OTE, which should preserve his eligibility to play college basketball after graduating from high school.
  • While many players are testing the draft waters, some prominent prospects have chosen to return to college. Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Wood looks at five such players, including UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez and UConn’s Jordan Hawkins.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Mills, Durant, Curry, Nash

The Nets don’t know when Ben Simmons will be available, but Patty Mills expects him to make an immediate impact whenever he does come back, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Simmons hasn’t played yet this season due to a standoff with Sixers management, mental health issues and soreness in his back, but Mills believes he’ll be a difference maker.

“He’s going to be a threat either way,” Mills said. “On ball, off ball — whether he’s handling the ball, whether he’s off the ball as a screener, I think he’s such a threat that he’s going to draw a lot of attention. So I think given his IQ and the way he can pass the ball and handle the ball, that makes us better at his bare minimum. So, obviously, where he’s the biggest threat is in an open-court situation with people, especially shooters around him. But, like I said, a bare-minimum Ben Simmons makes this team a whole lot better as well.”

General manager Sean Marks said this week there’s “no real timetable” for Simmons to resume playing, although it will likely be two more weeks at minimum. Simmons hasn’t participated in a full practice since the February 10 trade that brought him from Philadelphia, but Mills said he has been able to learn from his new teammates while sidelined.

“We’re doing a lot of talking,” Mills said. “A lot of conversations, meaning the group, a lot of film, a lot of walk-through stuff. So he’s there for all of it; he’s there for the entire practice. And then he’s doing his part with his shooting coach and physio and whatever that looks like. But as far as every team thing goes, he’s at everything.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Even though the Nets lost Thursday in Kevin Durant‘s first game back after being injured, he offered some hope with a 31-point performance, per Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. Durant said a total team effort will be needed to turn around the season, adding, “I don’t look at myself as that — as a savior.” 
  • Nets guard Seth Curry shares his memories of playing for retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in a lengthy interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post. Curry also touches on a few NBA topics, such as the difficulty he had breaking into the league, what it’s like to play alongside Durant and Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn’s playoff prospects after a second-half slide. “We put ourself in a tough situation with the play-in game, but we still like our chances against anybody in the league,” Curry said. “… Our sense of urgency is trying to fit together and figure out the way we’re gonna play when we do get in that play-in game and then hopefully into the playoffs.”
  • Steve Nash will be available to coach Sunday against the Celtics after clearing the health and safety protocols, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Poll: Who Will Win The 2022 Three-Point Contest?

The 2022 NBA Three-Point Contest takes place Saturday night and features eight participants (betting odds via Chad Smith of Basketball Insiders):

There are two rounds in the competition; the three highest scores from the first round advance to the championship round, and the highest scoring competitor in the championship round will become the victor. A first-time winner will be crowned this year, as only Young and LaVine have made prior appearances in the event, this being Young’s second attempt and LaVine’s third.

Each participant gets 70 seconds to attempt a total of 27 shots — five from each of the traditional racks located at the corners, wings, and top-of-the-key, and two “Dew Zone” locations six feet behind the arc. The deep racks feature just one ball each, but they’re worth three points apiece.

Young, VanVleet, Lavine and Towns are all pulling double-duty, as the four players were all selected to the All-Star game. Bane is as well, as he’s a member of Team Isiah for the Rising Stars event.

Going purely by three-point percentage this season, Kennard leads the group at 44.8%, followed by Mills and Bane (41.9%), Towns (40.9%), VanVleet (40.1%), LaVine (39.9%), McCollum (38.9%), and finally Young (38.3%).

However, VanVleet leads all competitors in makes (4.0) and attempts (10.0) per game by a considerable margin — McCollum is second with 3.1 makes and 8.0 attempts.

What do you think? Who will win this year’s Three-Point Contest? Will Towns defy the betting odds and take home the crown? Will LaVine triumph in his third attempt?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Nets Notes: Durant, Harris, Adams, Irving, Mills, Simmons

The Nets will face the Celtics next Thursday in their first game after the All-Star break. Don’t expect Kevin Durant to be in uniform for that game, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Coach Steve Nash said Durant will be eased back into action from his knee injury.

“I’m not like, ‘He’s going to play right when the break ends.’ There’s obviously a small chance, but we want to be really careful because a setback would be tough when there are 20 or so games left,” Nash said. “We don’t want to jeopardize there and have a setback where he misses another six to 12 games, so I think we’ll be cautious coming out of the break. There’s a chance he could play, but I think it’s more likely that we don’t get our hopes that he’s going to play the first game out of the break.”

Durant hasn’t played since January 15.

We have more on the Nets:

  • It’s been two weeks since reports revealed that Joe Harris was mulling a second ankle surgery. Nothing has changed in that regard, Lewis notes in the same story. “I think everything’s on the table at this point,” Nash said. “We hope that he comes back, but we have no idea where this is going to go at this point.”
  • New New York City mayor Eric Adams agrees with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that current city rules barring Kyrie Irving from playing home games, while opposing players don’t face the same sanctions, are unjust, Sam Raskin of the New York Post writes. “First of all, I think the rule’s unfair. I believe that we are saying to out-of-town athletes that they can come in and not be vaccinated, yet New York athletes do have to be vaccinated,” Adams said. However, Adams is concerned about “sending the wrong message” by lifting the sanctions altogether for fear of another outbreak.
  • Veteran point guard Patty Mills hasn’t been teammates with Ben Simmons for very long but senses that his fellow Australian is hungry to reestablish himself, Nick Friedell of ESPN relays. “His demeanor and his desire not only to get back on the floor but make a significant impact — he’s got a lot of, I believe, fire built up underneath him that has a desire to get back and be the player that he is, and even get better, and even grow and even develop,” Mills said. “And that’s one thing that I’m excited to be in the same room and locker room as him to do my part to help him develop and help him grow and help in any way possible there.”

Nets Notes: Marks, Harden, Simmons, Irving, Mills, Nash

Nets general manager Sean Marks said the decision to move on from James Harden was a difficult one, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Make no bones about it: We went all-in on getting James Harden and inviting him to the group,” Marks said during a video conference call discussing the trade deadline Friday afternoon. “And these decisions to move on from a player like that, of that caliber, are never easy ones. I just want to be clear that this is not something that you think, great, let’s just make a split decision and move on from that. I give James a lot of credit for having open dialogue, open discussions with me and with the group, [Nets coach Steve Nash] and [owner] Joe Tsai and everybody over the last 24, 48 hours.

Again, I said they’re not easy, but I think that’s something we pride ourselves on is being open and honest. James was honest with us and we were honest with him. I think it’s a move that enables him to have a fresh start, enables this team to have a fresh start, without trying to push things to make things work. If we realize this is not going to work, short-term or long-term, then it’s time to say for both parties involved, this is better off.”

Marks went on to say that trading Harden wasn’t about the team’s 10-game losing streak, it was based on his entire tenure in Brooklyn, and the newly-acquired players help the Nets in ways that Harden couldn’t.

It’s not just eight or nine games,” he said. “The things that we’ve had to deal with over the course of the last year since James has been here is, to be quite frank, the Big Three, quote unquote, haven’t had significant time to play together for a variety of different circumstances. So, I think the frustration is more in that than in eight or nine games. Obviously it was not, and it currently isn’t, trending in the right direction, but we’re not going to make a decision off of one, two, five games, whatever it may be. The sample size has to be bigger. And at that point, we’re sitting here saying, ‘Yeah. We’ve seen enough.’ On both sides.

We obviously thank James immensely for everything he’s done. Let’s be honest, he’s come in here and set all kinds of Brooklyn Nets records in such a short time. He’s a hell of a player, without a doubt. Again, these are not easy decisions, but we’re very grateful for what James has done over his short time here, but at the same time, adding these three players — Seth [Curry], Andre [Drummond] and Ben [Simmons] — help us in needs James doesn’t fulfill.”

When asked if the Sixers tampered by talking to Harden, Marks said that was for the league to decide.

Unfortunately, the world we live in right now, so much of this is being played out in the media,” Marks said, per Bontemps. “So much of this is, whether it’s scuttlebutt, hearsay, and so forth, it’s just the nature of the beast. It’s just the nature of the world we’re in. I’m not going to start making accusations at everybody else. Again, this particular set of circumstances was played out in the media far earlier than any conversations were ever had. I don’t know and again if this is where it ends up, that will be completely up to the league to look into these set of circumstances.”

There are several more interesting quotes from Marks in Bontemps’ article. I recommend checking it out.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Kyrie Irving said there were hints that Harden was unhappy in Brooklyn, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays. “I can’t really say that you feel that [unhappiness] in the locker room, but we get hints,” Irving said. “So we just wish him well. We want him to be ultimately successful. Now we move forward with the guys that are coming in. We’re excited. I just want everyone to be happy and do things they love to do, and be a part of things they can see themselves being successful at. It probably wasn’t here with us and he made a choice and we respect him for it. No love lost.”
  • Nets guard Patty Mills said that his fellow Australian Simmons is in a good place at the moment, Lewis writes in a separate article for the Post. “He’s in a really good place right now, speaking to him a fair bit lately and seeing what he’s been up to in terms of staying ready and getting his body right and getting game ready,” Mills said. “So it was good and pleasing for me to see and feel where he’s at. From that standpoint, you get a really hungry person who’s looking forward to playing basketball again, and especially with our group.”
  • Nash was reflective on what could have been with the “Big Three” era, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “You’re up 2-0 against the NBA champs, and then to not have James in the first games and then Kyrie in the last games, James being on one leg, Jeff Green being out of the lineup, all sorts of things that hampered our opportunity to win,” Nash said. “To take them to overtime in Game 7, you definitely think there are some what-ifs, but that’s life. You can’t look back. You’ve got to look forward.”

NBA Announces Slam Dunk, Three-Point, Skills Challenge Contestants

The NBA has announced a full list of the participants for its three-point, slam dunk and skills challenge competitions ahead of the upcoming 2022 All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.

Per the NBA (Twitter link), the following players will partake in the Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest, which appears to have outpaced the dunk contest as the premiere event for established stars at All-Star Weekend. Four 2022 All-Stars will compete:

According to the league (via Twitter), these are the contestants in the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest:

Below are the NBA’s announced players for the newly revamped Taco Bell Skills Challenge (Twitter link). This year, the Skills Challenge will be divvied up into three teams: Antetokounmpo brothers (“Antetokounmpos”), Cavaliers players (“Cavs”), and rookies (“Rooks”).

These three events will take place on All-Star Saturday on February 19.

Southwest Notes: Morant, Mills, Jones, Williamson

Grizzlies star Ja Morant is seeing his brand elevate to new heights, something that could be important for the Grizzlies and the city of Memphis, Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes.

Morant has led his team to a 32-16 record on the season, averaging a career-high 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. His shooting numbers have also increased from last season (48.7% from the floor and 35% on threes, up from 44.9% and 30.3%, respectively). As Giannotto notes, Morant already has agreements with companies such as Nike and BodyArmor.

“It could be one of those things similar to when LeBron (James) was in Cleveland, and the opportunities that came with the Cavaliers because of that,” said Alex Hanono, a senior manager of the Celebrity and Influencer department at international marketing agency The Marketing Arm.

“Obviously that’s a long ways ahead, and a lot of winning and success, but if you want to take that long view at it, that’s probably something in Morant’s sights and in the team’s sights.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Nets guard Patty Mills discussed a variety of topics with Michael Wright of, including how difficult it was to leave the Spurs last offseason. Prior to signing with Brooklyn, Mills spent 10 straight seasons with San Antonio. “I think why it was hard was because I was leaving a place, and more importantly, people, that have helped me grow up in a way,” Mills explained as part of a larger quote.
  • Pelicans forward Herbert Jones is gaining confidence in his three-point shot, Christian Clark of writes. Jones has been working closely with assistant coach Fred Vinson on his mechanics. In 42 games this season, he’s shot 50.2% from the floor and 40% from three, scoring 9.1 points per game.
  • In a separate story for, Clark examines the strength coach that Zion Williamson is working with. The strength coach, Jasper Bibbs, does not work for the Pelicans, who haven’t seen Williamson play since last May. Williamson suffered a setback in his rehab from foot surgery roughly six weeks ago, but no timetable was issued for a return.

New York Notes: Harden, Irving, Burks, Quickley, Claxton, Sharpe, Mills, Aldridge

The Nets’ two healthy stars had a “breakthrough” performance on Friday, James Harden told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and other media members. Harden and Kyrie Irving combined for 26 fourth-quarter points against San Antonio. Harden finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

“For sure, it was a breakthrough,” Harden said. “(Kyrie)’s capable of doing that at any moment and any point in the game. That’s one of the reasons why we need him every single game, because he’s able to do that, especially with everything that’s going on with our team. But he’s able and more than capable of doing things like that whenever he wants. I think he just tries to get us involved a little bit more, but he’s a special talent.”

Of course, Irving can only play half the time due his unvaccinated status. Kevin Durant is sidelined by a knee injury and there’s no timetable for his return.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • There are all kinds of issues with the Knicks these days, including the lack of production from guards Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley, Marc Berman of the New York Post notes. Burks signed a three-year, $30MM contract during the offseason and Quickley is on his rookie deal. They’ve tanked during the current three-game losing streak, shooting 22-for-77 (30.6%) from the field.
  • The Nets are reportedly looking for a way to deal Paul Millsap, who hasn’t been able to crack the rotation. That’s due to the increase in minutes for young players Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. That has made it difficult for coach Steve Nash to fit in the numerous frontcourt veterans dotting the roster. “Just a difficult situation that we didn’t necessarily foresee, but here we are,” Nash said. “And Day’Ron and Nic have emerged.”
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich offered high praise for two of his former players, the Nets’ Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News relays (Twitter links). Of Mills, Popovich said, “he’s always positive, a consummate pro in preparing for his job, gives everything he has in every practice and every game, supports everybody on the team and in the organization.” Regarding Aldridge, Popovich said, “LA did all the community things Patty did….He just did it quietly. … He was a great teammate with everybody, a heck of a player.”

Nets Notes: Harris, Irving, Durant, Lineup, Bembry

The Nets could soon have one of their top perimeter shooters back in the lineup. Joe Harris is expected to return to practice soon and could be back in action “in the next couple weeks,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on SportsCenter (hat tip to Adam Zagoria of Forbes).

Harris, who is in the second year of a four-year, $75MM contract, was averaging 11.3 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 14 starts before he underwent ankle surgery on November 29. At that time, he was given a four-to-eight week timetable for his return. Harris is a 43.9% career 3-point shooter and would be a huge boost for a club currently ranked No. 16 in 3-point shooting.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Kyrie Irving would be more than just a part-time player if he got vaccinated. However, Kevin Durant said he won’t pressure the enigmatic point guard to get the shots, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. “I told him how important he is, how much I want him to play — play every game. But I’m not about to force somebody to get a vaccine, like that’s not my thing. So he can play basketball? Nah, I’m not about to do that,” Durant said. “We’ve had conversations about wanting him to be a part of the team and conversations about him being here full-time, but that’s on his time.”
  • Brooklyn’s lineup won’t have any stability due to Irving’s status, but coach Steve Nash will try to keep it as simple as possible, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Patty Mills started on Friday when the team lost at home to Milwaukee. “I think it’s to be simple,” Nash said. “Two things. One, keeping it simple is best for everyone. Two, something is always going on with our squad and availability, so we’re mixing-and-matching often. So keeping it simple in this case is probably the best way, and the way that makes the most sense. “
  • DeAndre’ Bembry got his salary guaranteed for the rest of the season on Friday but he’s not content with signing one-year, non-guaranteed deals every season, as he told Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News“I’m not the one to just sit there and think about the contract. I’m thankful for these opportunities as always,” Bembry said. “But like I said, (I’m) looking forward to the next opportunity. I want more and feel like I deserve more, and I’m definitely going to go out there and take it.”

Nets Notes: Millsap, Durant, Mills, Claxton

Free agent addition Paul Millsap turned in his best game since joining the Nets in Saturday’s loss to the Bulls, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. The veteran power forward is only averaging 11.3 minutes of playing time in 18 games, but he got an expanded opportunity with James Johnson sidelined by a shoulder injury and delivered 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

“He was great. He did a little bit of everything,” coach Steve Nash said. “He scored the ball. He was able to initiate some offense. He got some rebounds, offensive rebounds. Got some steals. Just did a bit of everything. His intensity was great and I thought his impact on the game was really good.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Kevin Durant played 38 minutes in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, and Nash hasn’t given any thought to cutting his playing time, Botte adds. Durant has only missed one game this season and welcomes the heavy workload. “Kevin’s mentality is a huge reason why he’s one of the best players of all-time,” Nash said. “He loves the game. He comes in every day and has a laser focus on his routine, he finds the most happiness when he’s on the basketball court. The success he has is really the mentality as much as it is the gifts. The joy that the game gives him makes him sacrifice every day. So to tell him, ‘Hey, we’re going to limit your minutes on a back-to-back’ is not going to get over very well.”
  • Patty Mills wasn’t expecting to be a starter when he signed with the Nets over the summer, but that has changed because of Kyrie Irving‘s absence and an injury to Joe Harris, Botte notes in a separate story. Mills made his ninth straight start Saturday and may be in that role for a while. “Patty has been great, and we’re asking for a lot from him now with guys being injured,” Durant said. “But he’s taken on that challenge, and we’re going to need a lot more from him going forward.”
  • Nash was excited to welcome back center Nicolas Claxton, who returned Friday after missing 17 games with a non-COVID illness, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “He’s an athletic, active big that can guard multiple positions, protect the rim, roll on offense and just be disruptive with his energy, length and athleticism,” Nash said. “That’s a unique profile for our team. If we can get him back to where he’s confident and comfortable physically, mentally and emotionally and adapting to our play, there’s no reason he can’t regain that.”