Rodions Kurucs

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:

Nets Notes: Graham, Russell, Kurucs, Marks

Forgotten Nets guard Treveon Graham is close to returning after missing the last two months of action, Peter Botte of the New York Post writes. 

Graham, 25, has watched 28 straight games from afar as he rehabs from a hamstring injury. He was assigned to the Long Island Nets on Saturday, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate, and practiced with the team to continue working toward a return.

“He’s practiced a little bit, but that one I don’t want to put a date on it yet,” coach Kenny Atkinson said, according to Botte. “That’s obviously good news, that he’s starting to participate in practice and in some game activities. But no timetable for him. We love him and we miss him and I think he brings a defensive piece that I think really can help us. I think he’s gonna be a good player for us.”

Graham signed a free-agent contract to join the Nets this past July, coming off a season where he played 63 games with the Hornets. He scored 4.3 points per game on 43% shooting from the floor and 41% from 3-point range last year, with the VCU product currently in his third NBA season.

There’s more out of Brooklyn today:

  • Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily ponders whether there’s any room left for D’Angelo Russell after the Nets agreed to a contract extension with Spencer Dinwiddie. Russell has started in all 30 games this season, but Dinwiddie’s stellar play off the bench has earned him early praise for a larger role.
  • Rodions Kurucs may have played his way into the Nets’ rotation after a strong game against the Wizards on Friday, Botte writes in a different story for the New York Post. Kurucs scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in his first career start, earning some respect in the process. “The big question is can you do this long term, as the league gets to know him better?” Atkinson said of Kurucs. “This is a small pocket of games, but my experience says I believe this will be a season-long thing where he’s getting minutes now.”
  • General manager Sean Marks explained his decision to ink Dinwiddie on a multi-year extension last week, as relayed by Bryan Fonseca and Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily. “You want to reward a guy who has bought in entirely,” Marks said. “Go back three years when we first signed him. I think Spencer has showed terrific ability to improve, to develop, to be part of this culture and it’s deserving of him right now.”

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Kurucs, Fultz, Ujiri

According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Sixers start to this season should be considered a minor miracle given everything they’ve dealt with in the past nine months. Windhorst details Joel Embiid and his fractured orbital bone at a time when the Sixers had just won seven games in a row. Embiid needed surgery and missed 10 games, and when he came back in the playoffs he wasn’t himself.

Then, the team had to deal with the Bryan Colangelo drama earlier this year after their former GM’s purported Twitter accounts had some not-so-nice things to say about Embiid and Ben Simmons. As Windhorst surmises, would the absence of that debacle have helped the Sixers close on Nemanja Bjelica or another free agent?

On top of all that, the Sixers’ 2018 first-round pick, Zhaire Smith, has still not played this year and probably won’t after undergoing a thoracoscopy for a severe allergic reaction to sesame. The team apparently knew he was allergic to peanuts, but not sesame.

Then, just recently, guard Markelle Fultz was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and is expected to miss three to six weeks as he rehabs his right shoulder away from the team. Time will tell what happens with Fultz, but the Sixers should be commended for how well they’ve done this season given all of the above.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets are in a bit of a lull, to say the least, but one bright spot could be the play of rookie Rodions Kurucs, writes Bryan Fonseca of NetsDaily. Kurucs, 20, scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in 14 minutes in Brooklyn’s loss to the Cavaliers on Monday.
  • For a more thorough explanation of thoracic outlet syndrome, the medical condition that Fultz is currently working through away from the Sixers, take some time to read this informative piece from Stephania Bell of ESPN.
  • In an appearance on today’s episode of The Jump on ESPN, Raptors’ president Masai Ujiri laughed off the interview Kyle Lowry gave in which he didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of Ujiri, who said, “Kyle Lowry is always mad at me, every year!” (Hat tip to Faizal Khamisa of Sportsnet).

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/3/18

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

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/2/18

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

  • The Pistons assigned third-year forward Henry Ellenson and rookie guard Khyri Thomas to the Grand Rapids Drive, the team announced in a press release. Ellenson, a first-rounder in 2016, has been buried at the end of Detroit’s bench or inactive this season. The front office decided against picking up his option for next season. Thomas, a second-round pick out of Creighton acquired from the Sixers in a draft-night deal, has not made his NBA debut.
  • The Nets recalled rookie forwards Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa from the Long Island Nets, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Kurucs, a second-round pick, has averaged 8.7 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 14.3 MPG through three NBA games. Musa, a late first-round selection, has made three short appearances this season. Kurucs was assigned to the Long Island team earlier in the day.
  • Rookie Celtics center Robert Williams has been assigned to the Maine Red Claws, the NBA team’s PR department tweets. The first-round pick has made four cameo appearances with the Celtics and knocked down his only field-goal attempt.
  • The Sixers assigned power forward Jonah Bolden to the Delaware Blue Coats, according to a team press release. Bolden, a second-round pick in 2017 who signed a four-year, partially-guaranteed contract in July, has seen action in four games this season but none of those stints were longer than seven minutes.

New York Notes: Knox, Lee, Kurucs, Dudley

The Knicks will have to adjust their lineup to compensate for the loss of first-round pick Kevin Knox, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knox went down with an ankle sprain in Saturday’s game and will miss at least two weeks. He will stay behind for rehab work as the team embarks on its upcoming road trip, and his condition will be re-evaluated in another week.

Guard Damyean Dotson took Knox’s rotation spot after the injury, but coach David Fizdale has other options. He played centers Mitchell Robinson and Enes Kanter together at one point and could also give more minutes to Mario Hezonja.

“It’s the ugly thing about the sport,” teammate Trey Burke said. “Kev is going to be a big piece of this team. I talked to him back in the locker room. I told him to keep his head up. We’re going to need him back and get that ankle well. I’m sure he’ll be back out there soon.”

There’s more this morning from New York City:

  • Courtney Lee‘s physical condition continues to be a concern, Berman adds in the same story. Tests are scheduled today to determine the cause of the neck pain he has been experiencing, which has now expanded to his chest. Lee has been dealing with the condition since getting fouled early in training camp. The Knicks reportedly would like to trade Lee, but they need him to get back on the court first.
  • The Nets have been impressed by the early performance of rookie Rodions Kurucs, but it may be difficult for him to find playing time with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returning to the lineup, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Kurucs is averaging 8.7 PPG in about 14 minutes per night while shooting 47% from the floor and 40% from 3-point range. He has put aside any thoughts of sending him to the G League. “Rodi, he plays hard,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “There’s some good and some bad. He does everything full-out and we love his energy.”
  • Jared Dudley was expected to bring a veteran presence when the Nets acquired him this summer, but he has been surprised to find himself in the starting lineup, relays Ben Stinar of AmicoHoops. Dudley didn’t play much with the Suns the past two years, but Atkinson has been using him with the starters while Hollis-Jefferson is out. “Obviously, two years with limited playing time in Phoenix, to get out there and dust the cobwebs off, and something that felt good,” he said.

New York Notes: Lee, Porzingis, RHJ, Kurucs

While Courtney Lee would prefer to have the Knicks enter the season with serious playoff – or championship – aspirations, he’s willing to play the role of the veteran mentor on a young, rebuilding club, as Howie Kussoy of The New York Post details.

“When I first came in, I had guys like Mickael Pietrus, Keith Bogans, J.J. Redick, they did what I’m doing right now, they helped me a lot, they passed the torch to me, and it’s only right for me to do the same thing,” Lee said. “If that’s what’s asked of me, I gotta do that. Would I want to win right now? Of course. Everybody wants to win, but you gotta go through something to get to something, and that’s where we’re at right now.”

Lee also acknowledged that, at 33 years old, he’s not really a part of the Knicks’ young core and won’t have a guaranteed role if the team focuses on developing its young players. However, he believes he can still make an impact by being a “vocal leader” and a “player’s coach on the court.”

Here’s more on the two New York clubs:

  • Echoing what we heard in September, Ian Begley of ESPN.com tweets that the Knicks are not expected to reach a rookie scale extension agreement with Kristaps Porzingis in advance of today’s 5:00pm CT deadline. Assuming that doesn’t change at the 11th hour, Porzingis will be eligible for restricted free agency next summer.
  • Although the Nets didn’t gain traction in Jimmy Butler talks with Minnesota, they’ve already been “active in their pursuits of trades” this fall, as Shams Charania of Stadium details (link via NetsDaily).
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s status for the Nets‘ first game of the season on Wednesday has been up in the air, but the forward is “trending in the right direction,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said on Sunday, per Greg Joyce of The New York Post. “I’ll definitely listen to the medical team and the performance team,” Atkinson said. “We can’t play him 40 minutes that first night, obviously.”
  • In a separate piece for The New York Post, Joyce takes a closer look at Nets second-rounder Rodions Kurucs, who is making a case for regular minutes to start his rookie season.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Mudiay, Hayward, Kurucs

After Kyrie Irving‘s verbal long-term commitment to the Celtics, it appears the free agent class of 2019 became a little less lucrative. Irving was reportedly one of the Knicks’ prime targets next summer and now, New York’s free agency hopes may be Kevin Durant or bust, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News opines.

Beyond Durant and Irving, the remaining top free agents do not appear to be realistic hopes for the Knicks. Kawhi Leonard reportedly prefers to play in his native Los Angeles, Jimmy Butler wants to sign a long-term extension and Kevin Love has already signed an extension with Cleveland. That leaves Durant as the biggest target and a realistic one, as we relayed earlier this week.

“The New York Knicks have a very good shot at luring KD away from the Bay Area,” Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports said during an appearance on FS1’s Undisputed (video link). “His business partner, Rich Kleiman is based in New York, huge New York Knicks fan. Their business is located and based in New York. KD’s dad is a big New York Knicks fan. The same allure that LeBron [James] had toward the Los Angeles Lakers – just the building, the culture – is the same thing, the same way, I know, that KD feels about the Knicks.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • The Knicks acquired Emmanuel Mudiay from the Nuggets last season as a former top pick who fell out of favor in Denver. Through the first two preseason games, Mudiay has not performed well for the Knicks, but head coach David Fizdale remains committed to seeing improvement from the point guard, Steve Popper of Newsday writes.
  • One of the lone bright spots for the Nets during a preseason loss to the Knicks was the performance of Latvian Rodions Kurucs, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Kurucs posted 13 points, four rebounds and four steals, all of which came in the fourth quarter of a 107-102 loss. “I was very pleased with Rodi,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I love his energy. He’s a talented guy.”
  • In a well-written, in-depth piece, Zach Lowe of ESPN chronicles the obstacles and difficulties Gordon Hayward has overcome as he completes his return from a broken ankle he suffered five minutes into his Celtics career last season.