Taurean Prince

Western Notes: Kings, Atkinson, Pelicans, Thunder

Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon reportedly informed the Kings on Wednesday that he will not be involved in their search for a new head of basketball operations.

With Langdon pulling his name out of the Kings’ search, that leaves Sachin Gupta, Adam Simon, Calvin Booth, Monte McNair, and Wes Wilcox as potential replacements for Vlade Divac. Jason Jones of The Athletic looks at each candidate’s resume, exploring why they would make sense for Sacramento.

As Jones points out, the Kings head into the offseason with four picks in the 2020 NBA draft, including the 12th overall selection, but do not have a lot of cap space. Therefore, whoever Sacramento chooses will have a tall task ahead of them to break the team’s 14-year playoff drought.

Here’s more from across the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans are one of the many teams looking for a brand new head coach after firing Alvin Gentry. One potential candidate who could be of interest to New Orleans is former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, according to William Guillory of The Athletic, who evaluates Atkinson’s fit in New Orleans. As Guillory details, Atkinson has a relationship with Langdon, who was the Nets’ assistant general manager, and could help further the development of New Orleans’ young roster like he did with Brooklyn.
  • After just missing out on the playoffs, the Pelicans hold the 13th overall selection in the 2020 NBA draft. But unlike the other teams in the lottery, New Orleans does not necessarily need its first-round pick and could use it to acquire veteran players. William Guillory of The Athletic draws up three trades that the Pelicans could execute to upgrade their roster. One trade Guillory created has the Nets giving up Taurean Prince and their 2020 first-rounder for Darius Miller, Nicolo Melli, and the No. 13 pick.
  • The Thunder will be looking for a new head coach after parting ways with Billy Donovan on Tuesday. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman takes a deep dive into potential replacements, listing 50 possible candidates for OKC’s vacancy. Outside of the known options, Mussatto mentions multiple internal candidates, including Maurice Cheeks and Mark Daigneault.

Nets Forward Taurean Prince Tests Positive, Won’t Play In Orlando

In another major blow to the depleted Nets, forward Taurean Prince has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and will not play in Orlando, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Brooklyn has been devastated by injuries, illness and defections as teams head to Orlando for the league’s restart. Earlier on Tuesday, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie revealed he wouldn’t rejoin the team after testing positive for COVID-19 a second time.

A handful of other Nets players were ruled out in earlier weeks. Superstars Kevin Durant (Achilles) and Kyrie Irving (shoulder) won’t participate. Nicolas Claxton (shoulder) is also injured, while Wilson Chandler has decided to sit out for family reasons and DeAndre Jordan opted out after contracting COVID-19.

Prince did not opt out of playing but his late positive test put his chances of recovering in time to return to action in jeopardy, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet. In his first season with the club after being traded last offseason by the Hawks, Prince averaged 12.1 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 64 games.

The Nets now have three open slots for substitute players, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes in a tweet. Brooklyn will have to rely heavily on Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen as the team tries to hold onto a playoff spot during the eight-game seeding round.

Atlantic Notes: Randle, Durant, Prince, Walker

New Knicks president Leon Rose is open to dealing Julius Randle despite Randle being a former client when Rose was a player agent, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Rose would also be willing to shed Randle’s contract after next season, even though Randle has a partial guarantee of $4MM on his $19.8MM salary for the 2021/22 season. Prior to Rose taking over, the Knicks had discussions with Charlotte before February’s trade deadline involving Randle, who reportedly upset some teammates this season with his ball-dominant style.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Members of the Knicks organization last summer expressed confidence that Kevin Durant would have signed with them if he hadn’t suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals, Ian Begley of SNY.TV reports. If that were true, Durant would have convinced Kyrie Irving to sign with New York instead of the Nets or recruited a different star to join him, Begley continues. The Knicks were not prepared last summer to offer Durant a max deal due to concerns from owner James Dolan regarding the injury. However, Durant has said publicly that he didn’t give the Knicks much consideration anyway, Begley notes.
  • Forward Taurean Prince took a step back this season and that could lead to a dilemma for the Nets, Zach Lowe of ESPN opines. Brooklyn gave Prince a two-year, $25.25MM rookie scale extension prior to the season that kicks in next season. He could have been a trade chip this summer in a package to bring in another star but it’s unclear what kind of value he has now, Lowe adds.
  • Kemba Walker would have remained with Charlotte for less than a super-max deal last summer but he knew that wouldn’t happen after meeting with Hornets owner Michael Jordan, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Walker may have stayed put if the Hornets had offered him five years and approximately $180MM. The Celtics emerged as the most likely destination because they were already a playoff team and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge had been enamored with Walker ever since the point guard’s days at the University of Connecticut, Himmelsbach adds.

O’Connor’s Latest: Capela, Covington, D-Lo, Nets, More

The Rockets, Hawks, and Timberwolves recently discussed a three-team trade that would have sent Robert Covington to Houston, Clint Capela to Atlanta, and Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round pick (from Atlanta) to Minnesota, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

As O’Connor explains, the Timberwolves’ goal would have been to use that Brooklyn first-rounder as part of a trade package for D’Angelo Russell. According to O’Connor, Minnesota was willing to include its own 2020 first-round pick in that offer too, but the Warriors turned them down, putting those three-team talks on hold.

We don’t know exactly what protections the Timberwolves might have wanted to put on their pick, or what contract(s) they wanted the Warriors to take on in that offer for Russell, but it’s still worth noting that Golden State declined an offer featuring multiple first-rounders. While the Dubs are reportedly open to listening to inquiries on D-Lo, their asking price is high, and it appears they’d be happy to wait until the offseason to revisit Russell’s trade market, if necessary.

Here’s more from O’Connor:

  • The Warriors‘ price tag on Russell is one reason the Timberwolves‘ asking price for Covington is so high, O’Connor writes. O’Connor also adds the Nuggets to the list of teams with interest in Covington, though he acknowledges that interest is “minimal,” suggesting the Rockets and Sixers are more serious suitors.
  • The Rockets and Hawks have had some discussions about Capela without the Timberwolves‘ involvement, per O’Connor.
  • The Rockets offered Capela to the Nets in a deal that would have included Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince, league sources tell O’Connor. We’ve heard Houston wants to get a wing and another big man for Capela, so the ask makes sense, but it’s not a surprise that Brooklyn turned it down.
  • The Hawks are believed to be wary about investing $20MM+ per year in John Collins on his next contract, preferring a less expensive center like Capela or Tristan Thompson, sources tell O’Connor. For what it’s worth, Hawks beat writer Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (Twitter links) suggests the recent Collins-related rumblings are coming from other teams, not Atlanta.

Kyrie Irving Isn’t Demanding Changes Before Trade Deadline

Nets guard Kyrie Irving clarified comments he made earlier in the week and insisted he wasn’t pressuring the front office to make significant changes before next month’s trade deadline, Malika Andrews of ESPN reports. However, he did hint that changes need to be made in the long run in order to become a serious title contender.

Irving said on Friday that in his previous comments he was simply giving a forthright assessment of the team’s current plight. Brooklyn is four games below .500 and currently sits in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

“I think we have championship aspirations,” Irving said. “Do we want to be the eighth seed going into the playoffs? The seventh seed? But you’re able to be real with the team that you have here, and you’re able to collectively, cohesively come together as a group. That is what you figure out. But the goals are still to win a championship. I don’t come in every day to be mediocre or to be in the middle of the standings.”

Irving told the media on Wednesday after back-to-back losses that the team’s weaknesses were “glaring” and that additional pieces were needed in order to reach the next level. At the time, Irving named Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert as key pieces but left out other rotation players, including Jarrett AllenTaurean Prince, and Joe Harris.

Irving spoke with teammates about those comments and said that failing to mention certain players was just an oversight on his part. However, he does believe the roster as currently constructed won’t be enough to put the Nets over the top.

“I reached out to make sure nothing was taken out of context — making sure that the guys knew exactly what I meant,” Irving said. “And that is the only thing that matters. Everyone can say, ‘If I was in this position, I would’ve said this, I would’ve done this.’ … The most important thing is making sure these guys — they have the belief in themselves and I continue to reiterate that confidence we have as a team. It is going to come down to that in order to be at a championship level to compete against the West, we need more.”

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Brown, Miller, Prince

Long-tenured Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry is averaging 20.8 PPG, 7.6 APG, and 5.0 RPG during Toronto’s excellent 22-10 start to the season. That win percentage would translate to 56 regular season victories if Toronto sustained its pace, just a two-game depreciation since losing their 2019 Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, to the Clippers in the offseason. Lowry and breakout star forward Pascal Siakam have picked up the slack in Leonard’s absence.

The 33 year-old, a five-time All-Star for the Raptors, credits retired point guard Jameer Nelson with helping him navigate the NBA to reach his current position, as one of the most important leaders for one of the league’s best teams.

“Nobody knows this, but to this day, I thank Jameer for helping me get to where I am,” Lowry told The Athletic’s Michael Lee. “Whenever he text[s] me, I text him, I tell him, ‘You’re the reason I even understand how to work.'” In the summer of 2005, following his rookie season for the Magic, Nelson began mentoring Lowry, then coming off his freshman season for Villanova. Lowry has been with the Raptors since the 2012/13 season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Wing Jaylen Brown, currently enjoying a breakout year for the ascendent Celtics, has a chance to make his first All-Star squad during his fourth season, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg. However, that is hardly Brown’s focus. “I’m not really paying attention to [the All-Star buzz],” Brown claimed after a post-practice workout. “It would be extremely dope to even be mentioned in the conversation. To be honest, I still think I can be a lot better. I think the best is yet to come for me this season.”
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post tracks how new Knicks head coach Mike Miller’s success with the team makes David Fizdale defenders look bad. Berman specifically cites Fizdale’s defensive planning, his unnecessarily rankling players, and not involving all his assistant coaches equally for in-game strategizing. Steve Popper of Newsday concurs that the Knicks’ play has improved under Miller. New York is 5-6 under its new coach; the team was 4-18 under Fizdale this season.
  • Nets forward Taurean Prince is currently shooting a career-worst 37.3% from the field. His shooting struggles have taken their toll on Brooklyn, according to the New York Post’s Mollie Walker. “I think he’s going through a cold spell,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson reflected in post-practice comments on Friday. “I told him today, he’s a 40 percent career 3-point shooter, he’s got to keep shooting.”

Nets Notes: Prince, Atkinson, Chandler, Temple

Taurean Prince was happy to deliver one of his best games of the year against the Hawks, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Prince had 23 points, seven rebounds and hit 5 of 7 shots from beyond the arc Wednesday as the short-handed Nets defeated his former team.

“I was 100 percent motivated, especially being the team that traded me away. That was part of it,” Prince said. “… There’s just a lot more trust given to me, a lot more situations I’m put in to be great. Just credit to the Brooklyn Nets for allowing me to be myself.”

The Nets acquired Prince in a summer trade, sending Allen Crabbe to Atlanta in a salary dump. Coach Kenny Atkinson served as an assistant with the Hawks until just before they drafted Prince and thought he would fit in well. Brooklyn quickly rewarded Prince with a two-year extension worth $29MM.

“I loved his toughness, I loved his shooting,” Atkinson said. “[General manager] Sean [Marks] and I were on the same page, and the staff was on the same page in terms of, ‘Man, we got a good player.’ And obviously re-signing him to the deal we did we’re ecstatic we got that done.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Atkinson is in his fourth season with the Nets, but he’s already the longest-tenured active coach in New York professional sports, Lewis notes in a separate story. Atkinson inherited that title Tuesday when the NHL’s New Jersey Devils fired John Hynes. “I think it shows coaching is a tough business,” Atkinson said. “I really don’t know what to say. I don’t know if it makes me proud or sad for the other guys. I know this is a tough business, tough to survive in, especially in New York.”
  • With just 10 days before Wilson Chandler returns from suspension, Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News examines who might be waived to make room. Brooklyn became eligible to carry a 16th player once Chandler served the first five games, and signed Iman Shumpert, who has been a valuable contributor. Winfield speculates Rodions Kurucs, who has only played in three of the past 13 games, could be released. The Nets may also cut one of their two-way players, Henry Ellenson or Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and then waive either Theo Pinson or Dzanan Musa and hope to re-sign them to a two-way deal.
  • Kyrie Irving gave the Nets a valuable piece of advice when he urged them to sign veteran free agent Garrett Temple, relays Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily. Temple’s signing was barely noticed because it came on the same day that Brooklyn landed Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan, but he has been an important addition.

Nets Notes: Irving, Prince, Cordinier

The Nets are a far more high-profile team this season than they were a year ago, thanks to the offseason additions of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press writes, this year’s team still appears to be on a similar level as last year’s, which finished with a modest 42-40 record.

While Brooklyn once again looks good enough to be competitive in just about every game, that doesn’t necessarily mean the team win a ton of those games. Still, as Mahoney relays, head coach Kenny Atkinson is optimistic that there’s room for the Nets to improve.

“We have three new starters and we’re still working through getting on the same page,” Atkinson said. “You say well, that’s your job, to get it done. And we’re working towards that. We’re not there yet.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, sources close to Kyrie Irving expressed frustration with an ESPN report claiming that the point guard’s “mood swings” were a cause for concern among Nets officials. As Vardon writes, Irving wants the focus this season to be what he does on the court, rather than anything he says or does off of it.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post takes an in-depth look at why Taurean Prince may appreciate his new two-year, $29MM contract extension with the Nets more than an average NBA player would.
  • The Nets have six draft-and-stash players under team control, and while many of them likely won’t ever play in the NBA, Net Income of NetsDaily is keeping an eye on the group, just in case it features any gems. NetsDaily’s latest check-in includes a look at 22-year-old Isaia Cordinier, who is playing for a new club in France after joining Brooklyn’s Summer League team in July.

Hollinger’s Latest: Aldridge, Murray, Prince

Former Grizzlies executive John Hollinger is now working for The Athletic, where he’ll have the opportunity to pass along under-the-radar cap- and contract-related notes from around the league. He did just that in a “Cap Geekery” column today, so let’s round up a few of the highlights…

  • Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Spurs have guaranteed LaMarcus Aldridge‘s full $24MM salary for the 2020/21 season, but Hollinger says the team has actually just moved up his guarantee date to January 1, 2020. Assuming Hollinger’s info is accurate, that means Aldridge’s ’20/21 salary won’t officially become guaranteed for a couple more months, which should effectively have the same result — it’s not as if San Antonio will release him before then.
  • According to Hollinger, Dejounte Murray‘s new extension with the Spurs includes three separate annual incentives worth a total of $1.5MM. Murray can earn those three bonuses if he posts a true shooting percentage of 58 or higher ($500K), makes at least 125 three-pointers in a season ($500K), and makes an All-Defense team ($500K). Those first two incentives would require him to become a significantly more effective shooter, but the All-Defense bonus may be more realistic — he has already made the team once.
  • Taurean Prince can earn a $334,375 annual bonus on his new contract with the Nets if the team posts a defensive rating of 105 or better in his minutes, per Hollinger. Prince can also receive another $334,375 annually if he attempts at least 7.6 three-pointers per 36 minutes and makes at least 41.5% of those tries, Hollinger adds. Prince’s extension reportedly maxes out at $29MM over two years.

Nets Sign Taurean Prince To Two-Year Extension

Before even playing a regular season game for the Nets, Taurean Prince has been locked up for an additional two years by the club.

Prince’s agent, Steve Heumann of CAA Sports, tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) that the forward has agreed to a two-year, $29MM extension with Brooklyn. The Nets have put out a press release confirming that the move is official.

The acquisition of Prince was somewhat overlooked during a busy Nets offseason — he was part of the return in a trade that sent Allen Crabbe and two first-round picks to Atlanta. In addition to clearing the cap space necessary to land both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, that deal netted Prince, who’s coming off a couple solid seasons with the Hawks.

Since the start of the 2017/18 campaign, Prince has averaged 13.9 PPG and 4.3 RPG with a .431/.387/.834 shooting line in 137 regular season games (29.3 MPG). The 25-year-old was Brooklyn’s leading scorer in the preseason, knocking down 16-of-23 attempts from beyond the arc. While he won’t match that 69.6% rate in the regular season, the Nets will count on him to space the floor on offense.

Although he hasn’t been with the franchise for long, Prince already appears to be sold on Brooklyn. He told Brian Lewis of The New York Post last week that he was hoping to sign a rookie scale extension.

I want to be here as long as I can. And whatever happens, happens, but I’m just happy to play good basketball,” Prince said. “One hundred percent, yeah. For sure. This is the best organization I’ve been in.”

With Prince on the books for 2020/21, the Nets now project to have at least $135MM in team salary next year, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.com. That doesn’t take into account team options for Garrett Temple and others, or cap holds for possible first-round picks and free agents like Joe Harris, so Brooklyn’s roster could get quite expensive if the team wants to keep it together.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.