T.J. Warren

Nets Notes: Warren, Sumner, Vaughn, Brown

Nets forward T.J. Warren played in an NBA game on Friday for the first time in nearly two years, making his Brooklyn debut after having been sidelined since December 2020 due to a series of foot issues. Warren couldn’t have asked for a much better return — he scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench as the Nets extended their winning streak to four games with a victory over Toronto.

“Man it was super, super, super … just a lot of nerves, excitement, a lot of emotions into it. Just definitely super excited just to be out there with a win,” Warren said, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “Teammates did a great job making the game easy, not so complicated for me. I’ve been out for a while, so it just kept me confident, kept me locked-in, excited on both ends of the floor. So definitely something to build on.

“I was telling somebody in the back it almost felt like a dream. Just like as soon as I checked in it kind of hit me, like, ‘This is real.’ Like I said, once I got up and down it was just like ‘All right, this is basketball.’ So it was just super fun to be out there competing with the guys.”

Warren figures to provide some scoring punch to a team that has leaned heavily on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for its offense so far this season. Besides Durant and Irving, only Nic Claxton (11.9 PPG) and now Warren have averaged double-digit points per game for Brooklyn in 2022/23.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Reserve guard Edmond Sumner left Friday’s win due to a right glute contusion, according to Lewis. “We’ll look at it (on Saturday),” head coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Hopefully it’s nothing serious and we can look on.”
  • In a subscriber-only story for The New York Post, Lewis checks in on Vaughn’s performance in his first month as Steve Nash‘s replacement and finds that the new Brooklyn head coach is earning strong reviews from his own players and opponents alike. Nets forward Joe Harris lauded Vaughn for holding everyone accountable, while Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said the team seems to have “more buy-in” under Vaughn. “They’ve done a terrific job; top 10 since Nov. 1 on both sides of the ball,” Unseld said. “Got to give Jacque and his staff a lot of credit. It shifted. They’re a different team.”
  • Bruce Brown, now a Nugget, was upset that he didn’t receive any attention from the Nets in free agency despite his old team initially telling him it wanted to re-sign him, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscription required). “I was (hurt), but once I’d seen the Royce O’Neale trade, I was like, ‘I’m off their books, for sure,'” Brown said. “Because at first, they were talking about, they didn’t want to go into the tax or whatever, but then they said that I was a priority. … They wanted me back. They came down to see me in Miami when I was working out. And when I didn’t receive a phone call, I was like, ‘All right.'”

Atlantic Notes: KD, Warren, Barnes, Embiid, Harden

Kevin Durant only played 90 of 154 regular season games from 2020-22, but he h as appeared in all 23 so far this season. He currently leads the league in total minutes played and field goals made, while ranking sixth in the league in minutes per game (36.7). Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn is keenly aware of his superstar forward’s heavy workload, writes Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post.

It’s not ideal,” Vaughn conceded on Wednesday after the Nets rode Durant to their first winning record (12-11) of the season. “While we’re in the win-now mode, win today’s game, we are behind the scenes talking about what the stretch looks like beyond tomorrow, beyond the next day. So it is on our minds.”

The problem, of course, is that the Nets have dealt with injuries and absences to key players, and they simply haven’t been good enough to reduce Durant’s minutes given their place in the standings. Brooklyn is currently the No. 8 seed in the East.

We’ll map out some time where we’ll save a shootaround and maybe not have it, so be strategic that way,” Vaughn added, per Sanchez. “But ideally, he wouldn’t be playing this amount of minutes this early, for sure.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • As expected, Nets forward T.J. Warren is available to make his season debut Friday after last playing in late December 2020, Sanchez relays in another article for The New York Post. Vaughn will be closely watching his minutes, tweets ESPN’s Nick Friedell. Warren is ecstatic to be able to play again. It’s a surreal moment. It’s been a long process – a very long run – and to be able to get to today, it means a lot. So I’m just super, super excited to beat all the obstacles all the uncertainty and unknowns,” Warren said, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link).
  • Raptors forward Scottie Barnes has had an up-and-down sophomore season after winning Rookie of the Year in ’21/22. He says he knows he’s capable of more. “I feel like I can do way better than what I’m doing,” Barnes told Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “I can contribute better in different ways. We’re trying to get more Ws in the win column and focus on team success, we’re trying to win basketball games, but of course I feel like I can be way better, yeah.”
  • Sixers star Joel Embiid is excited for James Harden‘s upcoming return, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.”Like I said, [Harden’s return is] all going to be fun. … We need a lot of help. You know, he’s one of our best players. And he’s so freaking good. So anything we can get at this point, we will get it,” Embiid said. Harden is reportedly targeting a Monday return at Houston, his former team.

T.J. Warren Nearing Nets Debut

Nets forward T.J. Warren is targeting a December 2 return vs. Toronto, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Instagram video link). That would mean Warren would remain sidelined for three more games before making his season debut at home on Friday.

Warren, who signed with Brooklyn as a free agent during the offseason, has been on the shelf since December 29, 2020 due to foot problems, so if he can make it back this week, it would be his first NBA game action in nearly two years.

Although the Nets haven’t confirmed Charania’s report, the team has been sharing positive updates on Warren’s rehab process. Most recently, head coach Jacque Vaughn said on Friday that the veteran had progressed to a “mix of five-on-five with coaches and players,” per Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post.

Warren was one of the NBA’s most impressive players during the 2020 bubble in Orlando, averaging 31.0 PPG in six games to increase his season-long scoring average for 2019/20 to a career-high 19.8 PPG on .536/.403/.819 shooting.

The Nets presumably aren’t expecting to see that version of Warren right out of the gate following such a lengthy absence. But even if he’s not quite his old self, the 29-year-old is capable of providing a boost to the club’s offense, and he has the size and athleticism necessary to guard multiple positions on defense.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Curry, Watanabe, Warren

Ben Simmons, who sat out all of the 2021/22 season in large part due to mental health issues, is still working with a therapist on how best to handle challenges like his return to Philadelphia on Tuesday night as a member of the Nets, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

As Shelburne details, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn referred to the road game against the Sixers as “the most hostile environment he’s probably ever going to be in” and said it would be a “monumental” hurdle for Simmons to clear.

While Brooklyn didn’t end up winning the game, it’s safe to say Simmons cleared the hurdle — he played 32 minutes and filled up the box score with 11 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds, three steals, and three blocks. After the game, he said with a smile that he thought the boos and the “F–k Ben Simmons” chants were “going to be louder,” according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“I feel like I’m in a good place,” Simmons said. “I’m happy, I’m doing what I love. So to be out there and have that experience was amazing. Obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted. It’s frustrating to lose a game like that, but I think it’s a good step forward.”

Here’s more on Simmons and the Nets:

  • Within her aforementioned story, Shelburne says that a meeting between Simmons and Vaughn last Tuesday in Sacramento helped clear the air and put the three-time All-Star on the right track. “Sometimes I think guys just want to be heard,” Vaughn said. “And so for me to listen to him, about where he wants to get his game to, that he believes he’s going to get it back to an All-Defensive level. To hear those words means that we’re going to work on it together.” Since that meeting, the former No. 1 overall pick has averaged 14.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, and 6.5 APG on 78.8% shooting in four games (29.9 MPG).
  • Seth Curry has played in eight of Brooklyn’s last nine games, but the team is still being cautious with him as he comes off ankle surgery. Curry has been ruled out for Wednesday’s contest in Toronto due to left ankle injury management, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Yuta Watanabe, who leads the NBA with a .571 3PT%, has also been ruled out for a second straight game — he won’t suit up against his former team due to right hamstring soreness.
  • Vaughn provided a minor update on T.J. Warren on Tuesday, telling reporters that the veteran forward is now practicing against players and not just coaches, per Mark W. Sanchez of The New Post. However, it remains unclear when Warren will make his Nets debut. “No setbacks, so overall T.J.’s been getting a good body of work in,” Vaughn said.

Nets Notes: Durant, Simmons, Watanabe, Warren

Sean Deveney of Heavy.com recently spoke to a couple of NBA executives, one from each conference, about hypothetical trades involving Nets star Kevin Durant.

As Deveney notes, there’s no indication that Brooklyn is looking to move its best player, but perhaps that could change depending on how the team performs over the next couple months. After starting the season 1-5, the Nets have won four of their past six games, currently sitting with a 5-7 record.

Would the Celtics entertain offering Jaylen Brown for Durant, as was rumored over the summer when Durant requested a trade?

Oh, it would be zero interest from the Celtics, that would be a non-starter,” the East exec said. “Brown’s an All-Star and he’s eight years younger than KD (who is 34). The team’s playing well, they’re not going to touch that. I am sure it will be talked about again, and maybe the Celtics will struggle and things can change. But that would be shocking.”

What about Suns package centered around Deandre Ayton? Phoenix was reportedly one of Durant’s desired landing spots in the offseason, along with Miami. Ayton cannot be traded until January 15 and has a full no-trade clause for one year after he signed a maximum-salary offer sheet with the Pacers as a restricted free agent (the Suns quickly matched), but as Deveney writes, he could waive it if he wants a fresh start.

Ayton always made the most sense as a return piece for (the Nets),” the West exec said, per Deveney. “There might have been more to the talks between those teams in the summer if his contract situation wasn’t what it was. But, what else would Phoenix give up?”

Deveney believes the Nets would want Mikal Bridges in addition to Ayton, but speculates that a package of Ayton, Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder might be enough to get a deal done.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Ben Simmons will come off the bench against the Clippers on Saturday for the third straight game, writes Chris Milholen of Inside The Nets. Simmons has been on a minutes restriction after returning from a four-game absence due to knee soreness and swelling, but head coach Jacque Vaughn said he’s hopeful he’ll gradually be able to increase Simmons’ minutes, per Milholen.
  • Forward Yuta Watanabe is currently dealing with a sprained ankle, which has caused him to miss Brooklyn’s blowout victory over the Knicks on Wednesday. Vaughn told reporters, including ESPN’s Nick Friedell (Twitter link), that Watanabe is unlikely to play in the Nets’ upcoming road games this weekend in Los Angeles, a back-to-back set against the Clippers and Lakers.
  • The Nets announced on Friday that forward T.J. Warren, who has yet to make his debut in 2022/23, has begun taking contact with coaches in practices recently. The team is hopeful he’ll participate in contact practices with teammates within the next couple weeks, and Brooklyn will provide another update on his status in two weeks (Twitter link via Friedell). Warren signed a minimum-salary deal as a free agent with the Nets and has appeared in just four games since ’20/21 after undergoing consecutive foot surgeries.

Ben Simmons Out At Least Two More Games With Knee Issue

Nets guard Ben Simmons continues to deal with left knee soreness and swelling, and he won’t travel with the team for its next two road games, acting head coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters (Twitter link via ESPN’s Nick Friedell). The Nets face the Wizards on Friday followed by the Hornets on Saturday.

Simmons will have missed four consecutive games with the knee issue after Saturday’s contest. He has struggled to regain his prior form early on this season after missing the entire 2021/22 campaign for various reasons, including a lengthy holdout with Philadelphia, mental health issues, and a herniated disc in his back, which later required surgery.

Vaughn said that guard Seth Curry, who has been limited to one regular season game in ’22/23 after offseason ankle surgery, will play one of the two road games. Vaughn also provided an update on forward T.J. Warren, who is making progress but has yet to scrimmage with the team, as Alex Schiffer of The Athletic tweets.

Warren has appeared in just four games since 2020 after sustaining consecutive stress fractures in his left foot. It was anticipated that he wouldn’t return until November at earliest, so it’s hard to read too much into Vaughn’s statement beyond the fact that Warren almost certainly won’t play before practicing at least a couple times first.

New York Notes: Rose, Quickley, Simmons, Warren

Knicks guard Derrick Rose hasn’t been happy with his performance to start the season, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Playing for the first time since December because of multiple ankle surgeries, Rose scored just four points in the season opener, but followed that with 13 points and six assists in Friday’s win over the Pistons.

“This too shall pass. This is probably the worst you see me play,” Rose said. “I don’t play pickup. I’m feeling out the games, trying not to mess up the game by being out there and being too aggressive. Just feeling out who’s out there and who is with me.” 

Before the ankle issues, Rose was the team’s most reliable point guard, even though he was used primarily as a reserve. Free agent addition Jalen Brunson has solidified that position, so Rose has averaged just 14 minutes per night in his first two games.

“I’m letting (coach Tom Thibodeau) dictate that. I didn’t talk to him at all about it,” Rose said when asked about his playing time. “My job is to just be vocal and try to express what I see on the court. As far as minutes, I don’t worry about it because of the saying, ‘If you stay ready, you don’t got to get ready.’ That’s my mindset.” 

There’s more NBA news from New York:

  • Immanuel Quickley provided some scoring punch off the bench Friday with a team-high 20 points, Botte notes in a separate story. The Knicks‘ third-year guard remained aggressive after going scoreless in Wednesday’s opener. “It was great to see him play like that. I thought he and the rest of the bench did a terrific job. They gave us a big, big lift,” Thibodeau said. “I love when he shoots. I feel every time he shoots, particularly his threes, I think they’re all going in. He puts a lot of pressure on the defense.” 
  • Nets coach Steve Nash admits that Ben Simmons has been “rusty” after not playing for 16 months, but he believes patience is the best approach, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Simmons hasn’t been looking for his shot so far and has just 10 total points in the first two games.
  • T.J. Warren has a medical connection with the Nets that influenced his decision in free agency, Lewis tweets. The team’s orthopedist, Dr. Martin O’Malley, performed the surgery on Warren’s foot. “There’s definitely a comfort level O’Malley being team doctor here; he’s seen everything since Day 1,” Warren said. “So it gave me a peace of mind that he’s in my corner here.”

Nets Notes: Mills, Warren, Claxton, Simmons

As the Nets try to move past a season of distractions and a summer filled with chaos, Patty Mills already senses a “night and day different feeling,” according to Peter Botte of The New York Post. The 14-year veteran won a title with the Spurs early in his career and understands the importance of a strong team culture.

“Look, I believe in all of that stuff,” Mills said. “I think that it’s always been a part of who I am and just enjoying being around teammates and getting to know them a lot more. Maybe that comes from my Australian background on the Australian teams, but then to see it at a professional, elite level in San Antonio kind of took that to a whole other level. But trying to get to be the last team standing or just trying to do everything possible to do that, it starts with those relationships.”

Mills was a free agent over the summer and could have moved on, but he opted to re-sign with Brooklyn for two more years. In addition to his role in shaping the culture, Mills is an accomplished shooter off the bench who can play either guard position.

“He’s a successful piece, he knows what it takes to be in an organization, he knows what it’s like to build trust and also do it at the highest level,” Kyrie Irving said. “You need a guy like Patty Mills just simply to have the locker room synergized, but he also can give you minutes and quality play and can think out there for the young guys, as well as give us some veteran leadership.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • T.J. Warren is slowly making progress as he attempts to return from foot issues that caused him to miss almost two full seasons, Botte adds. The Nets don’t expect him to start playing before November. Coach Steve Nash said Warren is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior.”
  • The departure of veteran big men has given Nic Claxton a chance to move into a starting role, Botte writes in a separate story. Claxton tried to learn something from each of his former All-Star teammates, a list that includes Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap. “I just took bits and pieces from everybody’s game,” Claxton said. “Especially the veterans, I listened to them, and now I’m ready to just show my own self and do my own thing. I feel a lot better, just mentally and physically. I feel a lot more confident now going into the preseason and just ready to get everything started.”
  • Ben Simmons‘ treatments for his back problems included cryotherapy sessions last season, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Cryogenic therapy exposes the body to extreme cold for a short time to relieve pain and inflammation.

Nets’ T.J. Warren Not Expected To Return Before November

New Nets forward T.J. Warren, who continues to work his way back to full health after missing most of the last two seasons due to foot problems, won’t be available when the regular season begins next month, head coach Steve Nash said today (link via Nick Friedell of ESPN).

According to Nash, it didn’t come as a surprise to the Nets that Warren’s recovery timeline will extend into the season, and they’re encouraged by the progress he has made. The 29-year-old is expected to be out at least through October.

“I think we’re going to assess again in November, but he’s doing great,” Nash said. “He’s building up. We knew this going in. And we also don’t want to take big risks with T.J. because he’s been out for two years. So it’s a process that we want to be very confident in and make a firm organization not to rush him.”

Warren appeared in just four games in 2020/21 and didn’t play at all in ’21/22 due to consecutive stress fractures in his left foot. He said on Media Day that his foot has fully healed, but that he still needs to do more rehab work to receive full clearance from team doctors.

Once Warren is ready to go, he’ll provide the Nets with another dynamic scorer in the frontcourt. In three seasons from 2017-20, Warren averaged 19.3 PPG on .509/.379/.791 shooting in 175 games (32.6 MPG) for the Suns and Pacers.

While the Nets are prepared not to have Warren in their opening night lineup, Nash shared a more positive update on Seth Curry, who is making his way back from ankle surgery. According to Friedell, Nash told reporters on Wednesday that Curry is expected to be ready for the regular season and might be able to suit up for the team’s final preseason contest.

Nets Notes: Durant, Nash, Irving, Curry, Warren, Simmons

Addressing reporters at the Nets‘ media day on Monday, Kevin Durant explained that he requested a trade this offseason because he had some “doubts” about whether the Nets were building a legitimate championship culture (Twitter link via Tania Ganguli of The New York Times).

“I wanted everybody to be held accountable for their habits as a basketball player,” Durant said, per Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. “I think a lot of stuff was getting swept under the rug because we’re injured or this guy’s not around or just the circumstances. I thought we could have fought through that a little bit more and focused on the guys that were here a little bit more.

“When I went out with the injury, we lost 10 in a row. And I’m like, ‘We shouldn’t be losing some of these games that we lost, regardless of who’s on the floor.’ So I was more so worried about how we’re approaching every day as a basketball team. And I felt like we could have fought through a lot of the stuff that I felt that held us back.”

Durant said he wasn’t disappointed not to be dealt and that he’s committed to the Nets going forward (Twitter links via Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic and Adam Zagoria of NJ.com). He also admitted that he wasn’t surprised to remain a Net, since general manager Sean Marks and the team’s front office set a sky-high asking price.

“I know I’m that good, that you’re just not going to give me away,” Durant said.

In his own media session, Marks said that he feels good about where things stand with Durant, adding that if the star forward “still wanted out, he wouldn’t be here” (Twitter link via Vorkunov). He also said the Nets made a legitimate effort to trade Durant, though he admitted he was fielding outside inquiries more than he was instigating discussions.

“Yeah, absolutely we made those calls and we at least picked up the phone when teams called us,” Marks told YES Network (Twitter link via Zagoria). “I gotta be honest, I wasn’t making a whole lot of outgoing calls, I mean why would you do that?”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Steve Nash downplayed the fact that Durant reportedly called for the head coach’s job as part of his ultimatum to the Nets, likening it to a family squabble and telling reporters that he and KD got together to talk it out (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post).
  • Kyrie Irving, who referred to Brooklyn’s summer as a “clusterf–k,” said he came close to leaving the Nets before picking up his player option, adding that he had some other options, but “not many,” Sanchez writes for The Post. Irving admitted that potential suitors had concerns about his availability and his commitment.
  • Interestingly, Irving stated that his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 cost him a lucrative long-term extension offer from the Nets during the 2021 offseason. “I gave up four years, $100-something million deciding to be unvaccinated, and that was the decision,” Irving said, per Sanchez.
  • A pair of Nets wings are still awaiting full clearance following injuries, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter links). Seth Curry, who underwent ankle surgery in May, said today that he’s at “85-90 percent” and isn’t fully cleared to participate in camp. Meanwhile, T.J. Warren said the foot injury that cost him all of the 2021/22 season is fully healed, but he still needs to do more rehab work to get cleared by team doctors.
  • Ben Simmons is “ready to go” and will be a full participant in training camp, he said today (Twitter link via Friedell). As long as he remains healthy through the preseason, the plan is for the former No. 1 overall pick to be on the floor when the Nets’ season begins, tweets Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Simmons also said he’s willing to play center for his new team (Twitter link via Zagoria).