Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot

Nets Notes: Free Agency, James, Fans, Tsai

Nets GM Sean Marks said the team’s success or failure in the playoffs will impact how he handles free agent decisions, Joe Makar of Nets Republic tweets.

“We need to be focused on the task at hand,” Marks said. “If the team lives up to expectations, we might have some easy decisions. If not, we might have to refocus elsewhere.”

Bruce Brown can be a restricted free agent this offseason, while Blake Griffin, Jeff Green, Tyler Johnson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are among the group of players who will be unrestricted free agents.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Mike James can also become a restricted free agent, though he’d have to work out an agreement with CSKA Moscow to remain in the NBA. Brooklyn would like to hold onto the point guard, who averaged 7.7 PPG and 4.2 APG in 13 games after he was added on two 10-day contracts, then a rest-of-the-season deal, NetsDaily.com relays. “I will tell you that I really like Mike and I would like to have him with us in the years to come,” director of player personnel J.R. Holden said to Greece’s Gazzetta.
  • More fans will be allowed into Barclays Center for the postseason and there will be vaccinated and unvaccinated sections, Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Fans will have to pay more for tickets in the unvaccinated sections, according to team CEO John Abbamondi. “We are not neutral, we want people to get vaccinated,” he said.
  • Owner Joe Tsai was pleasantly surprised how the team transformed from an also-ran to an up-and-coming team to the Eastern Conference favorites in a short period of time, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “In hindsight this ‘process’ was brilliant, but I certainly didn’t see it coming at the time,” he said.

Nets Notes: Durant, Roberson, Second Unit, Harris

Kevin Durant will miss his fourth straight game on Sunday due to a left hamstring strain, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN. Durant, who missed all of last season while rehabbing a ruptured Achilles, did strengthening exercises on Saturday. “I don’t think this is a long-term thing,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “But there is elements of maybe it being, taking a few more days than we thought or just being cautious.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • Andre Roberson is relieved to get another NBA opportunity, as he told Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com. The former Thunder wing signed with the club on Tuesday. “I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream,” Roberson said. “I knew at some point, a door, an opportunity would open, whether it be this season or next season, so I was just gonna stay in shape as best I can. … I had some traction with other teams, but nothing really stuck, but the Nets called.”
  • Nash is happy to see reserves like Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Landry Shamet and Tyler Johnson make a greater impact, Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes. “They’ve all really played well. It makes our depth look a lot better,” Nash said. “The second unit’s been producing, holding or extending leads.”
  • Joe Harris, who re-signed on a four-year, $75MM contract over the offseason, is benefiting from being surrounding by stars, Joyce notes in another piece. Harris is taking more 3-pointers than he ever (6.6 per game) and is making a league-best 50.7%. Harris has knocked down 43 3-pointers in the last 11 games.

New York Notes: Randle, Rivers, Luwawu-Cabarrot, Crawford

Julius Randle became the symbol of free agency disappointment for Knicks fans last season, but he has shown signs of a turnaround this year, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Randle was among several veteran free agents brought in on short-term deals after New York missed out on its primary targets during the summer of 2019. Bondy notes that Randle has lost weight and looks like a different player so far.

“I ran pretty much every day during the offseason. Like I said, that was just a challenge for me to get in extreme condition or whatever it is,” Randle said. “That’s just what I challenged myself to do every day. Yeah, I dropped a little bit of weight but the biggest thing was just pushing myself just to run every day and just challenging myself in that way.”

New coach Tom Thibodeau said he noticed the difference in Randle when he reported for the team’s voluntary training camp in September. Thibodeau has given Randle control of the offense, and he’s averaging 24.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists through the first four games.

There’s more from New York:

  • The Knicks are encouraged by the progress of free agent addition Austin Rivers, who has been sidelined by a groin injury but went through he first contact drills Monday, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. “There’s a progression to coming back,’’ Thibodeau explained. “He was doing condition without contact. Then it goes to one-on-one controlled movements. Then progressed to two-on-two. And then three-on-three. We’re on the three-on-three phase right now. It’s day-to-day on how he feels and whether we get to the next step. There’s more steps to take. He has to play five-on-five and practice with the team. He’s still a couple of steps away.’’
  • Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is making a bid for more playing time following the season-ending injury to Spencer Dinwiddie, writes Mollie Walker of The New York Post. Luwawu-Cabarrot was used as a starter Monday and responded with 21 points, six rebounds and two steals in 40 minutes. “TLC has just been really steady,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “Very trustworthy defensively. Knows the system. Is very attentive to his responsibilities, and he’s been shooting the ball. He’s played within himself. He’s doing very well.”
  • The Nets have remained in contact with veteran guard Jamal Crawford and may consider him as a replacement for Dinwiddie, states Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Crawford signed with the Nets for last season’s restart, but appeared in just one game before getting injured.

Atlantic Notes: Rivers, Westbrook, TLC, Celtics

The Sixers are counting on new coach Doc Rivers to deliver more than just a better performance on the court, writes Jabari Young of CNBC. The organization’s ultimate goal is to build a new arena when its lease at the Wells Fargo Center expires in 2031. A proposal to build a new complex in the Penns Landing area of Philadelphia was rejected last month, so the team has begun exploring other sites.

Young notes that it takes about seven years to build a new facility, so the Sixers need to start thinking about funding, which could include tax money. Former NBA executive Andy Dolich told Young that everything gets easier if the team can win a title in the next few years, which would increase support in the community.

“And if you don’t have that going in, that’s dangerous,” Dolich said. “If you have that unity, now Doc and (general manager Elton Brand), more than (chief executive officer Scott O’Neil), they’ve got to deal with the chief product officer because what is most important is those feet on the court. The unity of those three has to translate to winning.”

Rivers’ mission is to create a culture that’s more conducive to success. A staff member from a rival team told Young that the Sixers lacked focus in road games and had a traveling party that was too large. He also called the front office “unorganized,” saying that there were too many executives without clearly defined roles.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks should avoid any temptation to bring in Russell Westbrook and his sizable contract, argues Tommy Beer of Forbes. A report this week stated that New York might have interest if the Rockets look to trade Westbrook, but Beer believes it would be foolish to acquire a 31-year-old who will make $41.4MM, $44.2MM and $47.1MM over the next three years.
  • Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson is a believer in Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, according to a story from NetsDaily. Luwawu-Cabarrot began as a two-way player, but his role grew throughout the season. He started five of Brooklyn’s 12 games in Orlando and averaged 15.1 points while shooting 39.5% from 3-point range. “He’s got a great future and it’s really fun to watch a struggling guy end up winning in the NBA and securing a stable role, and making his mark in the league,” Atkinson said. “That’s what he did and I’m sure he’s going to have another great season next year and have a long career in this league.”
  • Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston ranks the five Celtics players most likely to not return next season, with Semi Ojeleye topping the list.

Nets Rumors: Popovich, KD, Kyrie, Vaughn, TLC

Now that the Nets‘ season is over, the team’s long-anticipated search for a permanent new head coach can get underway. And as we learned earlier this month, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is expected to be atop Brooklyn’s wish list.

Popovich has given no indication that he wants to continue his career anywhere besides San Antonio, but the Nets will explore the possibility of luring the Spurs legend to Brooklyn, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As Charania details, the Nets have a number of connections to Popovich and the Spurs, with general manager Sean Marks, assistant GM Andy Birdsong, and assistant coach Tiago Splitter among those who previously worked with or played for Popovich. Additionally, sources tell The Athletic that Popovich has long been a favorite of Kevin Durant, dating back to Oklahoma City’s 2015 head coaching search.

According to Charania, the Nets’ interest in Popovich is widely considered a pipe dream, but the team will still exhaust the possibility. They’d need to be granted permission to speak to him and would almost certainly need to send the Spurs some sort of compensation if talks became serious.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • While Jacque Vaughn continues to receive consideration for the Nets’ permanent head coaching position, Durant and Kyrie Irving are interested in a “higher profile head coach,” according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, who cites Popovich and Tyronn Lue as possibilities in that vein.
  • Vaughn expressed confidence following the end of the Nets’ season that he’s the right person for the club’s permanent head coaching role, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “What I am confident in is my skill set as a coach, my ability to communicate and have relationship with guys, my ability to adjust on the fly, adjust with individuals,” Vaughn said. “Those things I’m very comfortable with, comfortable at this stage of my career of having a voice and choice with my players.”
  • Veteran swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who emerged as one of the Nets’ more reliable contributors during the summer restart, told a French outlet that he enjoys playing in Brooklyn and wants to remain with the team, as NetsDaily relays. The former first-round pick has a non-guaranteed $1.82MM salary for 2020/21, which looks like a pretty solid value based on TLC’s play this summer.
  • In an Insider-only ESPN.com article, Bobby Marks previews the Nets’ offseason, exploring Joe Harris‘ potential cost in free agency, what it would take to trade for a third star, and much more.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Restart Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the first round of the playoffs ongoing at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Jordan Clarkson, Jazz, 27, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $50MM deal in 2016
The late-December deal with the Cavaliers that sent Clarkson to Utah was one of the most impactful trades this season. Clarkson filled a much-needed role as a scorer off the bench for the Jazz. He has reinforced his value during the restart, particularly during the first-round series with Mike Conley leaving Orlando for the birth of a child. Clarkson averaged 22.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 3.0 APG in the first two playoff games against Denver and was a team-best +33 in Friday’s Game 3 win. Utah will certainly try to retain Clarkson but the Jazz will have competition for one of the league’s top reserves in the prime of his career.

Paul Millsap, Nuggets, 35, PF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $90MM deal in 2017
Michael Porter Jr. has been playing some small forward for Denver during the restart due to injuries but his future in the current NBA is at the four, the spot Millsap has occupied when healthy. Millsap’s performances in the restart have been rather forgettable – 10 points or less in five of seven seeding games, along with 21 total points and seven rebounds in 65 minutes during the first three games of the Utah series. Perhaps the Nuggets will bring back Millsap if he’s willing to accept a modest contract and a bench role. It’s hard to see any other team viewing the big man as a starter at this stage of his career, so interest in him may be limited.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Nets, 25, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2.48MM deal in 2019
Luwawu-Cabarrot has been one of the big surprises in Orlando. The Nets staggered into Orlando with a depleted roster, but the performances of Luwawu-Cabarrot and other unsung players allowed them to win five seeding games. He scored 24 or more points in three seeding games and has been a major factor off the bench against Toronto in the Nets’ first-round playoff series, averaging 21.5 PPG in the first two games while making 47.4% of his 3-point attempts before the Raptors slowed him down on Friday. His $1.8MM salary for next season is not guaranteed, but he has forced Brooklyn’s hand to retain him beyond this season.

Trey Burke, Mavericks, 27, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $229K deal in 2020
Burke filled a roster spot this summer with Willie Cauley-Stein opting out of the restart. Though the Mavs still had other guard options, Burke has played steady minutes off the bench, averaging 12.0 PPG and 3.8 APG in the eight seeding games. He impacted Game 2 of the playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, scoring 16 points in 18 minutes. If nothing else, the 6-foot point man who has played for five organizations proved this summer he belongs on an NBA roster as a second-unit floor leader.

Jeff Green, Rockets, 33, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $696K deal in 2020
Raise your hand if you thought Green would be an impact player this postseason after the Jazz lopped him off the roster to add a G League standout. The Rockets rescued him off the scrap heap and he’s been a marvelous fit in Mike D’Antoni’s small ball system. Green scored in double digits in all but one of the seeding games and he’s been a huge factor against Oklahoma City in the playoffs, averaging 18.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 35.0 MPG through two games. If D’Antoni remains in Houston beyond this season, Green will likely re-sign there. If not, the journeyman has earned another opportunity to wear an NBA uniform.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets Notes: LeVert, Crawford, Beasley, Chiozza

The absence of so many key players means Caris LeVert will have to take on a larger role for the Nets in Orlando, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. The 25-year-old guard has always been a reliable scorer, but he will need to serve as a play-maker and team leader with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler and Nicolas Claxton all unavailable.

“I think for me it’s just taking on that challenge of being a leader, being the leader of that group,” LeVert said. “Going down there with some of the most experience on the team, playoff experience. I feel like I relish these types of opportunities and situations. Everything aside, I’m looking forward to going down there and seeing what we can do.”

The restart will give LeVert a chance to prove he can be a third star in Brooklyn and show management it doesn’t have to pursue someone else to team with Irving and Durant. A strong performance could also raise his trade value if the Nets decide to go that route. He agreed to a three-year, $52.5MM extension last summer.

“I feel good right now,” said LeVert, who missed 24 games earlier this season after thumb surgery. “I haven’t played in games since March so that’s the question I really don’t know. I feel good in my workouts though. And if I didn’t, I honestly wouldn’t be going down there to play. So I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Adding Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley shows that Brooklyn intends to be competitive in Orlando despite its depleted roster, observes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. Schiffer looks at what the veteran duo can provide the Nets along with scoring punch.
  • Even with the additions, Brooklyn will need increased contributions from players such as Chris Chiozza and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, according to a NetsDaily article. Both could be competing for a chance to be on the roster next season. “I feel like it’s a big opportunity for me,” Chiozza said recently. “It’s something I’m looking forward to. I hope Spencer feels better, but if not, I’ll be ready to take on those extra minutes.”
  • The Nets’ misfortune could wind up costing the Timberwolves a first-round pick this fall, writes Michael Rand of The Star-Tribune. Minnesota will receive Brooklyn’s first-rounder as long as the Nets reach the playoffs, which no longer seems certain with the number of players sitting out.

Nets Notes: Durant, Irving, LeVert, Luwawu-Cabarrot

Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have been “brutally honest” with their input into the team’s coaching situation, but neither will be in Orlando to watch interim coach Jacque Vaughn in action, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. General manager Sean Marks discussed their input during a Friday interview with WFAN.

“It would not be smart of us if we were not to involve some of these key players in this decision,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie, we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they need. They’ve been brutally honest so far. I’m not going to be asking Kevin to come down to Orlando to evaluate anybody. When you get to the level of those elite players, they have ultimate goals in mind. They want to be held accountable. Kevin and Kyrie have told me they want to win a championship in Brooklyn.”

Marks noted that Irving is “doing well” in his recovery from shoulder surgery in March, but implied that the team never gave serious consideration to having Irving or Durant play in Orlando, citing the “risk-reward” factor and how it could affect the franchise in the long run.

There’s more Nets news this morning:

  • With a severely short-handed team headed for the NBA’s restart, Brooklyn’s next decision will be how much to use Caris LeVert, Lewis adds in the same piece. LeVert has a history of being injured and is considered the team’s best trade asset if it decides to pursue a third star. “I don’t make those decisions; I feel like that’s outside of me. That’s Sean and ownership. That’s not really my job to think of those things,” LeVert said.
  • The Nets’ roster woes will provide an opportunity for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to prove he deserves a larger role, Lewis states in a separate story. After being waived in a preseason, then working his way onto the roster through a two-way contract and a pair of 10-day deals, Luwawu-Cabarrot should see plenty of playing time in Orlando. “It’s huge for us, huge for me,” he said. “Obviously, we’re going to miss them. But as we say this year and as it’s always been, it’s next man up. You have to stay ready and be ready to play … I’m sure they’ll support us and we’ll try and do the best job we can.”
  • Matt Brooks and Chris Milholen of NetsDaily discuss potential replacements for DeAndre Jordan, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

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.”

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Johnson, TLC, Bacon

It remains unclear how long Ben Simmons‘ back injury will sideline him but it’s not a day-to-day thing, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Sixers star departed early in the team’s matchup with Milwaukee on Saturday when his back flared up.

Simmons is still undergoing treatment and evaluation and a course of action will be decided upon soon, Wojnarowski adds. Sixers head coach Brett Brown will use a committee approach at point guard in Simmons’ absence, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Cavaliers were interested in former NBA coach Avery Johnson prior to hiring John Beilein last spring, Chris Crouse of Heavy.com reports. Johnson, the former head coach of the Mavericks and Nets, most recently coached the University of Alabama. Cleveland’s interest in Johnson dated back to the 2018 offseason but the Cavs are now committed to J.B. Bickerstaff, who replaced Beilein after the All-Star break.
  • Swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot could be the Nets’ latest reclamation project, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris blossomed in the organization and Luwawu-Cabarrot could join that list. After signing him to a multi-year contract, they’re looking for him to be a sparkplug off the bench. “They gave me that role and I embrace it: I love it,” Luwawu-Cabarrot told Lewis. “I love. to go out there and compete and play super-hard.”
  • Dwayne Bacon may be shuttling between the Hornets and their Greensboro G League affiliate quite a bit, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. The club wants him to get more reps but will need him at times for depth at the NBA level, according to coach James Borrego. Bacon, a third-year guard, is averaging 5.7 PPG in 17.6 MPG over 39 games with Charlotte this season, including 11 starts.