Rodions Kurucs

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Kanter, Robinson, Musa

Sixers center Joel Embiid is joining forces with team managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer on a $1.3MM contribution to fund testing for 1,000 health care workers in the Philadelphia region, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports. The donation has been confirmed in a team press release.

Embiid said he learned that “testing for COVID-19 antibodies has the chance to let health care workers know if they are immune to the virus.” The big man notes that the workers who have immunity can work in “risky environments” and donate blood to help patients recover. Embiid’s partnership with team ownership should quell speculation that he has a fractious relationship with the organization which could eventually lead to his departure.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics center Enes Kanter remains hopeful that the remainder of the season, or at least the playoffs, can be played, The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach writes. “We are competitors man, so we want to go out there and finish the season,’‘ Kanter said on Zoom. “Especially, like, it’s crazy — we actually have a really good chance to go out there and win a championship.”
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson might have the league’s most team-friendly contract, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The big man has a $1.66MM salary for next season with a $1.8MM team option for 2021/22, Berman notes. The Knicks’ net rating improves by 5.3 points per 100 possessions with Robinson on the court, Berman adds.
  • The Nets’ European players — Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot — have been separated from their families indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. Travel restrictions prevent them from reuniting with their families. “They are coping, and their families are coping with this. But that’s really difficult,” Nets GM Sean Marks said. “Their families are completely separated. They’re not in the same time zone, they’re in completely different countries, and obviously there is a travel ban in place.”

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Kurucs, Hayward, Dinwiddie

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is doing “great” after testing positive for the coronavirus, coach Brad Stevens told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and other media members. “He’s great. Great spirits. Joking as always,” Stevens said Friday. Smart is one of 10 NBA players known to have tested positive for COVID-19. Smart revealed his diagnosis on March 19.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets’ Rodions Kurucs was due in Brooklyn court on Monday for his misdemeanor assault case but that proceeding was postponed, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reports. The case has been administratively adjourned due to the pandemic and a new date will eventually be set. Kurucs was arrested last summer on a domestic assault charge.
  • There’s a general sense that Celtics forward Gordon Hayward will opt in to his contract next season, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Hayward holds a $34MM option. “It’s too much money to pass up,” an unnamed NBA GM told Deveney. “He could get a longer deal if that is what he really wants. But I don’t think the Celtics want to give it to him. … He can opt in this year and then take a big contract next year.”
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie will be in demand on the trade market this offseason, Lewis opines in a separate story. Dinwiddie, who can opt out after next season, has posted career highs in points (20.6 PPG) and assists (6.8 APG).

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/23/20

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

  • The Bucks have assigned forward D.J. Wilson to the Wisconsin Herd, G League affiliate of the team, announcing the news in a press release. This is Wilson’s second NBAGL assignment on the season.
  • The Grizzlies have recalled guard Dusty Hannahs, the G League announced on social media (Twitter link). Hannahs, 26, was recently signed to a second 10-day contract by the team.
  • The Warriors recalled Alen Smailagic from Santa Cruz, announcing the news on social media (Twitter link). The rookie forward has appeared in 13 games with Golden State this season, averaging 4.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and ten minutes per contest.
  • The Jazz assigned Miye Oni to the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the G League. Oni, a Yale product, was drafted with the No. 58 pick last June.
  • The Nets have assigned Rodions Kurucs to their minor league affiliate in Long Island, according to the G League. Kurucs has averaged 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game this season, appearing in a total of 33 contests.

Nets Notes: LeVert, Irving, TLC, Kurucs

Having returned to the Nets‘ starting lineup last week when Kyrie Irving was sidelined, Caris LeVert is thriving. He has averaged 29.7 PPG and 6.3 APG with a .517/.688/1.000 shooting line in those three games (30.6 MPG). As Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, it may be hard for the team to send him back to the bench when Irving is ready to return.

“[LeVert’s] one of the best players in the league,” teammate Spencer Dinwiddie said. “He’s our third star, one of the best iso players in the league.”

Of course, it could also be Dinwiddie, not LeVert, who loses his starting job when Irving returns, despite averages of 21.0 PPG and 6.5 APG this season. Starting Irving, Dinwiddie, and LeVert is a possibility for the Nets, but that might not be the most optimal way to stagger the club’s rotation, given how good all three players are with the ball in their hands.

Brooklyn may have to make that lineup decision soon. Although Irving has been ruled out for Monday’s game, head coach Kenny Atkinson said there’s still a chance the star point guard could return before the All-Star break on Wednesday, when the Nets host Toronto.

“There’s a chance he could play. Knowing him, he’ll want to play if he’s cleared. We just don’t know yet,” Atkinson said, per Lewis. “We’ve got to wait until we get back (to Brooklyn) and see how it’s going.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • After starting the season on a two-way contract and then signing a pair of 10-day deals with the Nets, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot got a rest-of-season guarantee following the trade deadline and is thankful for the opportunity he has received in Brooklyn. “It’s just amazing,” Luwawu-Cabarrot told Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “When people trust you and give you that confidence, it’s amazing. That’s when you are the best version of yourself, and when you are confident. It’s great to call Brooklyn home, for sure.”
  • Luwawu-Cabarrot’s new deal isn’t guaranteed at all for 2020/21 for now, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The former first-round pick will get a $150K partial guarantee if he remains under contract through early August, and that guarantee would increase to $250K on opening night.
  • In a separate New York Post story, Lewis takes a look at how Rodions Kurucs has regained his confidence on the court and become one of the NBA’s most accurate three-point shooters this season.
  • In case you missed it, three Nets players – Irving, Kevin Durant, and Joe Harris – were among the 44 finalists announced by USA Basketball for this summer’s Olympic roster.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Gasol, Raptors, Nets, C’s

As Sixers general manager Elton Brand weighs possible trade scenarios this week, the final pre-deadline look he got at his roster came on Monday, when Philadelphia was run off the court by Miami in a 137-106 blowout. The Heat’s dominant win extended the 76ers’ losing streak to three games and drew some criticism from All-Star guard Ben Simmons.

“We were soft,” Simmons said of the Sixers, per ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “… The physicality side of things, we gotta step that up. That comes with experience, also just comes with personality. Don’t get bullied.”

While Simmons’ comments likely won’t have any direct impact on what Brand does at the deadline, Wolfe points out that the former No. 1 pick also called the Sixers “soft” last January. The club’s deal for Tobias Harris came a few weeks later.

This time around, the Sixers aren’t as well-equipped to make a blockbuster trade, so a move around the edges – possibly for a shooter – is more realistic. For the most part, it’ll be up to the current group to get out of its latest slump, which has dropped Philadelphia’s road record to 9-18 for the season.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • It sounds like Raptors center Marc Gasol, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, will likely be sidelined through the All-Star break, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Gasol’s hamstring isn’t viewed as a serious issue, but the club wants to be cautious.
  • There are several reasons why the Raptors are unlikely to make a major trade at this season’s deadline, including the way their roster is constructed and their intrigue with the pieces they already have, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.
  • The Nets also look like a long shot to make a splash on the trade market this week, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Everything that Lewis is hearing from team and league sources points toward Brooklyn doing something relatively minor if the team makes a move at all. Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa, Theo Pinson, and Wilson Chandler are among the Nets’ trade candidates, in Lewis’ view.
  • The Celtics‘ trade deadline plans could be affected to some extent by what they expect Gordon Hayward to do with his $34MM player option this summer, says Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Boston has a few different paths this offseason depending on whether Hayward opts in, leaves in free agency, or signs a new long-term deal with the C’s. As Bulpett relays, the veteran forward isn’t ready to make a decision on that option. “I haven’t thought about it at all,” Hayward said.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Atlantic is perhaps the most confounding NBA division when it comes to the trade deadline. The Raptors, Celtics, and Sixers are all potential contenders to come out of the East and may theoretically be looking to make upgrades, but their contract situations make it tricky to identify specific moves that would help.

The Nets are essentially in a holding pattern until they get their full roster healthy next season. The Knicks as sellers appeared to be the only safe bet on the board in the Atlantic, but they’ve resisted that label to some extent.

As we wait to see how the Atlantic teams approach the deadline, here are three (or four) more potential trade candidates from around the division…

Dennis Smith Jr., PG
New York Knicks

$4.5MM cap hit; $5.7MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; RFA in 2021

A report last month indicated that teams, including the Timberwolves, had expressed some interest in Smith. There are plenty of factors complicating a potential deal though. For one, he was sidelined for a month with an oblique strain before returning last night, and will probably have to show he’s fully healthy before the deadline to increase the odds of a trade. That means the Knicks will have to give him more playing time than the four minutes he received on Wednesday.

Even then, Knicks management may be reluctant to move Smith without a decent return, since doing so would represent a further admission that last year’s blockbuster with the Mavs isn’t working out. The team already failed to land a star with the 2019 cap room created in that deal, and the two future first-round picks owed to New York almost certainly won’t be as valuable as initially hoped, given Dallas’ improvement.

Considering how poorly Smith has played in limited minutes this season, it’s hard to see the Knicks netting more than a low second-round pick and salary filler in exchange for Smith. The club may decide it would rather take its chances on DSJ turning things around and recapturing some of the potential that made him a top-10 pick in 2017.

A trade before the deadline is a possibility, but I think it’d be more likely if the same executives who acquired Smith a year ago weren’t the same ones tasked to decide whether or not to move him.

Raul Neto / Trey Burke, PG
Philadelphia 76ers
$1.62MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Neither Neto nor Burke has really been involved in any rumors yet, but they’re trade candidates in a roundabout way. The Sixers have been linked to point guards who could be on the trade block, and if the team actually acquires a point guard, either Neto or Burke would become expendable.

The 76ers have gone back and forth this year between Neto and Burke as the primary backup to Ben Simmons, so it’s not entirely clear who would be the odd man out if the team makes a move to fortify its backcourt.

Both players are on minimum-salary contracts that expire at season’s end, meaning there’s no financial incentive to move one over the other. Neto is the better defender and perhaps the steadier floor general, but he doesn’t possess Burke’s play-making or scoring ability. The on/off-court numbers favor Burke — the Sixers have a +7.2 net rating when he plays, compared to +1.2 for Neto.

If the 76ers end up standing pat or focus on improving another area, both Neto and Burke could certainly finish the season in Philadelphia. But if they go out and acquire another guard, I’d expect the Sixers to try to find a trade partner interested in acquiring Neto or Burke as a third point guard.

Rodions Kurucs, F
Brooklyn Nets
$1.7MM cap hit; $1.8MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $1.9MM team option for 2021/22

After a promising rookie season, Kurucs has taken a step backward in 2019/20. Despite a series of injury creating a path to a regular role for the Latvian forward, he doesn’t seem to have fully earned Kenny Atkinson‘s trust. His minutes per game have dipped from 20.5 to 13.3 and he’s received several DNP-CDs.

There are some promising numbers in this year’s small sample, including a .439 3PT%, and teams monitoring the Nets may view Kurucs as a buy-low candidate. However, off-court concerns may scare those teams away, since the 21-year-old was arrested during the offseason on a domestic violence charge.

We heard in December that there are teams doing their homework on Kurucs to see if he makes sense as a trade target. Presumably, that research centers on the domestic violence allegation — if it’s credible, clubs will be less enthusiastic about the idea of making a deal for the former second-round pick.

Kurucs is due back in court on February 11, meaning there will be no resolution in his legal case by the February 6 trade deadline. As a result, it’s hard to see him being moved.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Knicks, DSJ, Irving, Dinwiddie

Two people in touch with the Knicks within the last few days have said that the team remains opposed to moving a future first-round pick in any trade scenario, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Begley cautions that the stance could be posturing on the Knicks’ part, but I’d personally be pretty surprised to see New York trade a first-rounder in the coming weeks. The only scenario in which it would make sense would be if the club could land a player who is under contract for multiple years and projects to be a long-term building block.

The Knicks were recently linked to Andre Drummond. Reports since then have downplayed those talks, but Begley has suggested they were more than just exploratory discussions. Even if they were serious about a Drummond scenario, it’s not clear if the Knicks would have to give up a first-round pick, given the big man’s uncertain contract status beyond this season.

Here’s more out of New York:

  • Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed his ninth straight game due to a oblique strain on Sunday and there’s still no clear timetable for his return, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. However, Smith is enthusiastic about the progress he has made. “It’s actually faster (than I expected),” Smith said. “I heard with oblique strains, it can be two months. I’m actually coming along fast. I’m going through the process. I’m feeling better.”
  • Kyrie Irving looked good on Sunday in his return for the Nets, making 10-of-11 shots from the floor in 20 minutes and helping lead the team to a blowout win. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, Irving said it was “good to be back” on the court. “It was a long road back, man,” Irving said. “A lot of questions I had to answer; just health for my shoulder, longevity, what would’ve been the best option for my health long term.”
  • Spencer Dinwiddie played a starring role for the Nets in Irving’s absence, but is happy to give up some of his scoring and play-making responsibilities now that his backcourt mate is healthy. “I’d rather average 21 and win at a high level [compared to] 25 and getting my head cracked every night,” Dinwiddie told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “I don’t view his coming back as, ‘Now I’m gonna average two points a game.’ I’ll still be productive. It gives our group a chance to win a lot more games.”
  • Nets forward Rodions Kurucs acknowledged that his legal issues have impacted his performance on the court this season, Lewis writes for The New York Post. Kurucs, who was accused of domestic assault, has had a reduced role in 2019/20 and has been up and down when he’s played.

Atlantic Notes: Portis, Celtics, Fall, Sixers, Kurucs

Knicks forward Bobby Portis was ejected from Tuesday’s game against the Lakers for a vicious swipe that knocked Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out of the game. Portis was fined $25K for “recklessly making contact” above KCP’s shoulders (he hit him in the head) and the big man has apologized for the incident.

“It wasn’t intentional at all,” Portis said (via Alex Smith of SNY.tv). “Went for the ball. Apologies to Caldwell-Pope. Happy to see him back on the court doing his thing. My intent is never to hurt anyone or anything. Just tried to make a play on the ball, missed the ball, and hit him in the head.

“Like I said, that’s not my intent to hurt anybody, but I do apologize and I am sincere for it.”

Portis, who signed a two-year deal with a team option on the 2020/21 campaign this past offseason, could be on the move in the coming weeks — at least one recent report indicated that he has drawn some trade interest.

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic:

  • A year ago, a surprisingly strong Kings’ season meant that the first-round draft pick they sent to the Celtics wasn’t as valuable as initially believed. That may happen to the C’s again in 2020 with the pick the Grizzlies owe them. Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston explores how Memphis’ recent hot streak has affected the value of that top-six-protected first-rounder.
  • In an interview with ESPN (video link), beloved Celtics rookie Tacko Fall spoke about his road to the NBA and how he has adjusted to fame.
  • Derek Bodner of Rich Hofmann of The Athletic preview the Sixers‘ trade options and examine whether Matisse Thybulle should be viewed as untouchable. Their verdict? Moving Thybulle should only be considered if the team has a chance to acquire an impact player in a major deal.
  • Prosecutors from Brooklyn’s District Attorney’s Office turned over the evidence against Nets forward Rodions Kurucs this week in his domestic violence case, writes Andrew Denney of The New York Post. Kurucs, who is facing a series of charges that include third-degree assault and second-degree harassment, is due back in court on February 11.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Nets Notes: Kurucs, Tucker, Roster, Jordan

With David Nwaba on the shelf due to a season-ending Achilles tear, second-year forward Rodions Kurucs is getting another opportunity to earn a regular role for the Nets, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. After a promising rookie season, Kurucs has been out of the rotation for most of this season, but he logged 11 minutes in Saturday’s win over Atlanta.

“The period of time when I was on the court, basically next man up. Just got David’s minutes a little bit, trying to get some organization right now,” Kurucs said. “Feels great now.”

Kurucs’ role in Brooklyn changed in part due to all the changes the roster underwent this summer, and perhaps in part due to the off-court legal issues he’s dealing with. Still, the Nets haven’t given up on him as his court case plays out, and may have to lean on him until regular contributors start to get healthy.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • The Nets were among the teams interested in signing G League standout, Rayjon Tucker, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). Tucker, who had been averaging 23.8 PPG for the Wisconsin Herd, agreed to a guaranteed deal with Utah on Monday.
  • Net Income of NetsDaily wonders if the Nets’ reported interest in Tucker suggests a roster move might be around the corner for the team. A hardship exception to add a 16th man is a possibility, but waiving a current member of the 15-man squad might make more sense, as the NetsDaily article lays out.
  • The Nets faced some criticism for handing a DeAndre Jordan a four-year, $40MM contract this past summer, but it’s hard to imagine where the team would be without him, says Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Jordan has averaged 10.0 RPG despite playing just 21.3 minutes per contest and is showing off a newfound passing ability — his 3.8 assists per 36 minutes are easily a career high.

Multiple Teams Doing Homework On Rodions Kurucs

At least two teams are devoting resources to conducting a “full background check” on Nets forward Rodions Kurucs to see if he makes sense as a trade target, sources tell ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link).

Kurucs had a promising rookie season in 2018/19, averaging 8.5 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 63 games (46 starts) and shooting 45.0% from the field. This season, the 21-year-old hasn’t been a regular part of Brooklyn’s rotation, recording just 2.3 PPG and 2.2 RPG on 39.1% shooting in 10 contests (9.9 MPG).

Additionally, Kurucs was arrested during the offseason on a domestic violence charge. The case related to those allegations is ongoing, and the background checks referred to by Marks will presumably focus on determining how credible that accusation is.

The Nets will face a roster crunch within the next few days when Wilson Chandler‘s 25-game suspension comes to an end. The team has been carrying Iman Shumpert as a 16th man, but will have to get back to down to 15 players when Chandler is eligible to be reinstated.

If Brooklyn isn’t prepared to waive a player like Shumpert, Chandler, or David Nwaba, a move involving Kurucs could be a possibility.