Rodions Kurucs

Nets Notes: Offseason, FAs, Kurucs, Riccardi

The Nets were among the summer’s big winners two months ago, having secured free agent commitments from stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving while adding complementary roster pieces like DeAndre Jordan and Garrett Temple.

However, as Frank Isola of The Athletic details, that “once-in-a-lifetime” offseason has hit a bit of a rough patch in recent weeks. Wilson Chandler was hit with a 25-game PED suspension and Rodions Kurucs was arrested for an alleged domestic incident.

Throw in the fact that Durant is expected to miss most of the season and the knowledge that Irving contributed to disharmony in the Celtics’ locker room last year and there are plenty of uncertainties and question marks in Brooklyn heading into ’19/20.

As the Nets look to minimize the drama in Brooklyn, here are a few more notes related to the franchise:

  • Isola suggests the Nets will “likely” make a roster move at some point with Durant out and Chandler suspended for the season’s first 25 games. As NetsDaily observes, there has been plenty of chatter lately linking Brooklyn to veteran free agents Carmelo Anthony and Joe Johnson.
  • Kurucs’ attorney Alex Spiro tells legal expert Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated that the allegations against his client are “bogus” and claims they’re the result of a bad breakup. Still, as McCann outlines, Kurucs may face a suspension from the NBA depending on how the case plays out. Because he’s facing misdemeanor – rather than felony – charges, the Latvian forward shouldn’t have any issues related to his immigration status or work visa.
  • The Long Island Nets – Brooklyn’s G League affiliate – announced on Thursday that they’ve named Matt Riccardi as their general manager and Shaun Fein as their head coach. Riccardi drew interest from Memphis earlier this offseason, but opted to stick with the Nets.

Nets’ Rodions Kurucs Arrested In Brooklyn

Nets forward Rodions Kurucs was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly choking his now ex-girlfriend, sources tell Trevor Boyer and Graham Rayman of the New York Daily News.

Police sources told the Daily News that a verbal argument back on June 27 spiraled out of control and the 6’9″ forward allegedly choked and pushed his then-girlfriend among other actions that included slapping her, biting her, and tossing her onto a bed hard enough to cause injuries. Boyer and Rayman relay that the woman suffered bruising to her ribs and face, though at this time there’s no photographic evidence of those injuries, Kurucs’ lawyer notes.

The couple’s relationship lasted nine months. According to prosecutor Wilfredo Cotto, Kurucs and his then-girlfriend went on a scheduled trip to Las Vegas the following day (June 28). The Latvian native played for Brooklyn’s Summer League team in Vegas in early July.

Kurucs, who will make slightly under $1.7MM this upcoming season, was released with no bail. He was charged with obstructing the woman’s breathing and Judge Gina Abadi issued an order of protection for his ex-girlfriend while giving Rodions orders to stay away from her.

The NBA has a domestic violence policy, which was integrated into the league’s latest CBA. It’s likely that Kurucs, who appeared in 63 games for the Nets last season, will face a suspension.

The Nets have issued a statement confirming that they’re investigating the allegations, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News relays (via Twitter).

Nets Notes: Kurucs, Prince, LeVert, Luxury Tax

Finding a power forward who can score from the perimeter won’t be a concern for the Nets during the 2020/21 season, but they’ll need someone to contribute until Kevin Durant recovers from an Achilles injury. Jason Max Rose of NetsDaily examines Brooklyn’s options, with the focus on Rodions Kurucs and Taurean Prince.

Kurucs, 21, is a holdover at the position after starting 46 games last year. He averaged 8.5 PPG and put up shooting numbers of 45/31/78 in what was essentially his first full professional season. He excels at passing and cutting, Rose observes, and works hard on defense. The biggest concern about his game has been rebounding, but reporters who saw him at Summer League said he has added weight and looks stronger.

Acquired in a July trade with the Hawks, Prince’s rebounding numbers last season were even worse than Kurucs, but he makes up for it with a better offensive game. He shot a career-best 39% from 3-point range and should get more opportunities to score from long distance under Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.

There’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • This week’s rookie scale extension for Caris LeVert is more evidence that the Nets are willing to spend big to build a winner, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Ownership gave LeVert $52.5MM over the next three years and pushed its summer spending past $400MM after landing Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan in free agency.
  • LeVert’s extension almost guarantees that the Nets will be a taxpaying team in 2020/21, salary cap expert Albert Nahmad writes for SNY.tv. Brooklyn already has $122MM in salary committed to nine players for that season, and Nahmad estimates the team will be about $15MM below the tax line when deciding whether to re-sign Prince and Joe Harris. He adds that Nets are unlikely to pay the tax this season, meaning a repeater tax won’t be a concern until 2023/24. They will probably exceed the apron in 2021/22 when an expected extension for Jarrett Allen would take effect.
  • Stefan Weissenboeck, who serves as Brooklyn’s unofficial shooting coach, will be back for another season, according to Yanir A. Rubenstein of NetsDaily. Weissenboeck is an assistant coach in the German league, but provides tips to the Nets through videos and occasional trips to the United States. “I’m happy about the trust they put in me, and I love the job,” he said.

Atlantic Notes: Howard, Celtics, Kurucs, Knicks

Former Lakers center Dwight Howard was asked this week about whether impending free agent Kawhi Leonard should consider the team in free agency, with Howard quickly shutting down the idea in favor of Leonard’s current situation in Toronto.

“I don’t know if [the Lakers] are the draw anymore,” Howard said Thursday on ‘First Things First’ on Fox Sports 1, as relayed by Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I think now guys understand that in the era that we live in, the social media age, you can play anywhere and get attention.”

Howard, who was traded to the Lakers in the summer of 2012, spent just one tumultuous season in Los Angeles and quickly became disliked by many fans of the organization. He believes that Leonard should prioritize re-signing with the Raptors when free agency opens on June 30.

“To me, I think he should stay in Toronto,” Howard said. “Because he took the team to the Finals. If he wins, why would he go anywhere else?”

Along with Leonard, the Raptors also have the situations of Danny Green (unrestricted) and Marc Gasol ($25.6MM player option) to address this summer. Leonard has long been linked to the Clippers as a free-agent target, but Toronto may have the slight advantage coming off their first NBA championship.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • The Celtics’ plans have been altered in the wake of the Lakers-Pelicans trade for Anthony Davis, Jay King of The Athletic writes. Boston suddenly has an unclear future, dominated by the fact that star guard Kyrie Irving could leave the team in free agency and sign elsewhere. The team is also awaiting a decision from Al Horford, who must inform the franchise of whether he plans to exercise his $30.1MM player option for the 2019/20 season.
  • Nets forward Rodions Kurucs is planning on playing summer league with the team, he told Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “My focus this summer is just working on my game, my all-around game, my handle, my shot, defense, rebounding, physicality for sure,” Kurucs said. “Everything, basically, because I will need them next season.” Kurucs is coming off a rookie season where he averaged 8.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 20.5 minutes in 63 games.
  • Aside from the Warriors themselves, the Knicks are one of the biggest losers from Golden State’s strange NBA Finals run, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Major injuries to potential targets Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant have hurt the potential of the 2019 free agent class, leaving some to wonder what kind of contracts teams will offer the two All-Star players on the open market. New York still hasn’t backed away from the idea of signing Durant to a four-year, $141MM deal if he opts out from his final season in Golden State, according to Berman.

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Embiid, Kurucs, Ntilikina

Higher expectations may put Sixers coach Brett Brown’s job in jeopardy if the team suffers an early playoff exit, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Brown has amassed a 168-308 record in his six years on Philadelphia’s bench, but much of that came as the franchise was trying to rebuild through the draft. With a pair of stars in place in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and two more acquired in trade in Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, the pressure to win right away has become intense.

Brown refused to comment on the situation after Friday’s loss, which was the Sixers’ third in their last four games. However, the mini-slump is understandable, given the 76ers’ tough schedule and the absence of their top two centers, Embiid, who has tendinitis in his left knee, and Boban Marjanovic, who’s dealing with a right knee bone bruise and a mild sprain.

Still, Brown has to be feeling the heat, especially in light of a recent quote from co-managing partner Josh Harris, who indicated a first-round loss wouldn’t be acceptable. “We’re going to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Harris told ESPN. “We have enough talent on our roster that if we play the way we’re capable of playing, we can beat any team in the East.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • After missing eight games, Embiid is expected to return for this afternoon’s showdown with the Pacers, according to an ESPN report. Embiid, who hasn’t played since the All-Star break, approached the team about taking a few games off to make sure he’s rested and healthy for the playoffs.
  • Rodions Kurucs may have solved the Nets‘ search for a stretch four, suggests Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The rookie has started the past three games, helping Brooklyn to wins in all of them. He posted 16 points and six rebounds in Saturday’s victory at Atlanta. “I don’t know what neighborhood he grew up in in Latvia, but that’s a tough neighborhood. That’s a tough dude,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He might not look the part, looks like a good-looking choirboy; but him and [John] Collins were going at it the whole game, and he doesn’t back down from anybody. That’s Rodi from Day 1: No fear.”
  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina was re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff yesterday, but it still isn’t clear when he might return from a groin injury, relays Peter Botte of The New York Post. Ntilikina, who has missed 18 straight games, said he hopes to receive clearance “to do more” this week.

Nets Notes: Rotation, Kurucs, LeVert, Davis

Now that the Nets have a healthy lineup again, it’s up to coach Kenny Atkinson to find the right combinations to break them out of a slump, writes Greg Joyce of The New York PostCaris LeVert, Allen Crabbe and Jared Dudley recently returned from injuries, leaving Spencer Dinwiddie, who had thumb surgery in late January, as the only player still sidelined. However, Brooklyn has lost six of its last eight games and has fallen back to .500.

“I think part of getting healthy again is just getting that chemistry and getting our lineups right,” Atkinson said. “That’s where we’re a little — confused is the wrong word, but we’re trying to figure it out what the best thing is and who’s getting the minutes and all that. It’s almost like another new season for us with all our returning players.”

LeVert was off to a sizzling start before suffering a dislocated foot in November, and backcourt partner D’Angelo Russell didn’t begin to excel until LeVert got injured. Atkinson has to find a way for them to be effective together, while also working out a logjam at power forward, where Treveon GrahamRondae Hollis-Jefferson and Dudley are all battling for playing time.

There’s more today out of Brooklyn:

  • Also competing for minutes at forward will be rookie forward Rodions Kurucs, even though he was held out of the lineup Thursday, Joyce adds in a separate story. Atkinson said the 21-year-old, who was part of the Rising Stars Challenge, will remain in the mix for a spot in the rotation.
  • LeVert expected to be out for the season when he first suffered his injury, relays Bryan Fonseca of NetsDaily“I looked down and I was like, ‘Man, this is bad,’” LeVert said in an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “But I think, probably 15-20 minutes after it happened, they kind of told me that it may have only been a dislocation. And that was the best case scenario in that situation.”
  • Ed Davis was happy to get a one-year, $4.4MM offer from the Nets last summer, but he wasn’t sure he would be joining a contender, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “When I signed here in July, I didn’t think this was a playoff team, honestly,” Davis said. “But when I got here and started to see players and how good guys were — and see coach, his philosophies and his schemes — my mindset changed.”

Nets Notes: Russell, Kurucs, Musa, Marks

As Brian Lewis points out for The New York Post, Nets GM Sean Marks didn’t offer D’Angelo Russell a contract extension in October mainly because he wanted to see if the young point guard could prove himself to be a go-to option and leader. So far, so good on that end as Russell has stayed healthy this season and is averaging career highs of 20.3 points and 6.6 assists per game going into his first All-Star game appearance.

Russell has been the leading force on a Nets team that is surpassing expectations, having already won more games (30) than they did all of last season (28). Russell’s improvements have coincided with steady improvement from Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, and Spencer Dinwiddie, with veterans and rookies contributing in other spots as well.

The Nets will now look to build on their strong record and claim their first playoff spot since 2015, as Russell will look to lead the way and play his way into a big contract this summer.

There’s more on the Nets:

Nets Notes: Allen, Russell, Trades

There aren’t many “untouchables” in the NBA when it comes to trade talks, though most teams have a few players that it would take a king’s ransom to part with. Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and D’Angelo Russell have earned their place in the Nets‘ long-term outlook and barring an overwhelming return, Michael Scotto of The Athletic doesn’t envision any of the three going anywhere anytime soon.

Before the season, Russell’s inclusion on the list may have seemed silly, but the former No. 2 overall pick is having his best season as a pro and he’s become a key part of the team’s success.

“Everything that we do offensively, he is sort of the lifeblood of us,”  Joe Harris said after a recent Nets win. “Everything flows through him. He does a really good job of dictating the pace, getting guys in rhythm, and just doing a really good job on every level. He does a really good job facilitating for others and for himself. Obviously, we’re really lucky to have a player of his caliber on our team.”

Russell will be a restricted free agent after the season. GM Sean Marks has a history of going after other team’s RFAs and this offseason, he’ll likely get a taste of his own medicine with rival teams looking at Russell.

Scotto offers more in his piece for The Athletic. Here are the highlights:

  • Ed Davis, who signed a one-year deal last summer, hopes to remain with the Nets long-term, as he tells Scotto. “I’m at a point in my career where I don’t want to keep bouncing around,” Davis said. “This is my fifth team. I’ve got a wife and kids. They like it here. It’s close to home, so hopefully, when the season is over, we can figure something out and make something work.
  • The Nets love Allen’s ability to pick up schemes quickly and his coachability, Scotto adds in the same piece. Allen has made highlight reels with his ability to make monstrous blocks but he’s actively working on his offense, including a corner 3-point shot.
  • Harris and Rodions Kurucs are unlikely to be traded but if either player was put on the trade block, the Nets would likely garner a first-round pick in return, Scotto speculates. The scribe adds that if there were a re-draft of this year’s rookie class, Kurucs, who was selected with the No. 40 overall pick, would be a first-rounder.

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Kurucs, McCaw, Tsai

Kristaps Porzingis has missed nearly an entire calendar year since he suffered a torn ACL but his recovery is going well, Newsday’s Steve Popper writes. The Latvian is expected to miss the Knicks‘ four-day trip to London next week when the team faces the Wizards, but Porzingis’ recent practices have been encouraging.

“I don’t see a drop,” head coach David Fizdale said. “That I don’t see. I haven’t seen him move in a way that makes me go “uh-oh.” I think we’re going about it the right way. His body looks great. He looks strong, he’s defined. It’s just a matter of time, and when we get him, we’ll be happy.”

As we relayed on Friday, Porzingis has passed the point of meeting the starter criteria for restricted free agency this summer. Thus, the Knicks’ qualifying offer drops from $7.5MM to $4.5MM. His cap hold will be $17.1MM and he will qualify for a $158MM contract over five years with a starting salary set at $27.25MM.

The Knicks, currently 10-32 in the Eastern Conference, are setting themselves up for a top-five draft pick this summer. A healthy Porzingis would go a long way to helping New York compete next season.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • Fellow Latvian Rodions Kurucs has fared well for the Nets after being selected 40th overall in the second round this past summer. Kurucs has been solid on both sides of the ball and eclipsed both his and the team’s expectations, Chris Milholen and Net Income of NetsDaily write.
  • Patrick McCaw‘s first few months of the season have been eventful. He sat out the start of the year as he looked to maximize his earnings from the Warriors as an RFA, then signed an offer sheet with Cleveland. However, days later, the Cavaliers waived him. After signing with the Raptors, he’s thrilled with the new opportunity, Laura Armstrong of The Toronto Star writes.
  • Nets minority owner Joseph Tsai is reportedly close to acquiring the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the AP’s Doug Fienberg reports. Tsai purchased 49% of the Nets in April 2018 and the James Dolan-owned Liberty — which were placed for sale in November 2017 — are close to being added to his portfolio.

Atlantic Notes: Kurucs, Celtics, Bolden, Ntilikina

As the Nets have played well in recent weeks, one of the bright spots has been the play and development of Rodions Kurucs, the 20-year-old rookie selected in the second round of the 2018 draft. As Greg Joyce writes for The New York Post, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson believes that there is more to come for Kurucs.

Kurucs is coming off a career-high 24 points against the Pacers, a game in which he often spent his time on the floor guarding Victor Oladipo. As Joyce points out, Atkinson thinks that his recent play isn’t a flash in the pan situation, as he has been impressed with the rookie’s awareness on the floor.

Kurucs received his opportunity to start when Allen Crabbe went down with an injury, but with the way Kurucs is playing, it will be tough for the Nets, winners of eight of the past nine games, to take Kurucs out of the starting lineup.

There’s more from the Atlantic division: