Tyler Johnson

Nets Notes: Harden, Griffin, T. Johnson

Even though they recovered to beat the Bucks in the first game of their playoff series, the Nets were shocked and disappointed by the hamstring injury that sidelined James Harden in the first minute Saturday night, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Harden felt pain in his hamstring on a drive to the basket and left the game for an MRI. The results of that test will determine his availability for the rest of the series.

“You never want to see that for someone like James, who is such an important player and such an incredible player and cares so much,” coach Steve Nash said. “I’m heartbroken for him. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if he’s playing the next game, if he’s out. I have no idea. But I’m heartbroken for him that he had to miss tonight.”

Harden missed more than 20 games late in the season with a strain of the same hamstring. He was able to return during the final week and played all five games of the first-round series against the Celtics without any issues. The Nets have a quick turnaround for Monday’s Game 2 and they’re awaiting word on when Harden will be able to play again.

“I know how much he cares. I know how much he wants to be in this moment,” Kevin Durant said. “… Wishing him a speedy recovery. Keep him involved as much as possible. It’s just a bad break.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets won’t risk a long-term injury to Harden by trying to play him before he’s fully recovered, sources tell Jordan Schultz of ESPN (Twitter link). Schultz adds that it’s a sensitive issue right now after the Lakers permitted Anthony Davis to play in their final game despite a groin injury.
  • Blake Griffin helped the Nets survive the loss of Harden by posting 18 points and 14 rebounds for his best rebounding performance and second double-double since joining the Nets, notes Ryan Dunleavy of The New York Post. He’s happy to be part of the playoffs after being benched in Detroit before a buyout in March. “For two years, I didn’t hear much positivity,” Griffin said. “Probably rightfully so. But it’s pretty crazy how quickly it happens, so I’m just thankful for this opportunity.”
  • Jonathan Lehman of The New York Post looks at the path Tyler Johnson traveled to get to Brooklyn after getting a massive offer from the organization as a restricted free agent in 2016. The Heat matched that offer, but Johnson eventually became a salary dump in Phoenix before joining the Nets last summer in advance of the restart.

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.

Atlantic Notes: Rose, Thibodeau, Johnson, Injuries, Fournier

Tom Thibodeau joined the Knicks this past offseason with a strong reputation despite unceremonious exits during his last two stops with the Bulls and Timberwolves, and has helped New York exceed expectations, putting the club on the cusp of a postseason appearance.

One player who has been with Thibodeau for a while is Derrick Rose, who enjoyed his best years with Thibs in Chicago, joined him briefly in Minnesota, and is now a key depth piece for the Knicks. In Rose’s view, Thibodeau, a top contender for Coach of the Year, has only improved, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes.

“It shows that he’s improved as a coach. He’s already a great coach, but every year he’s improving and adjusting,” Rose said. “That’s the big difference that I see with him this year. He’s giving guys more freedom to go out there and play the way they want. He’s being positive on the court.”

The Knicks own a record of 33-27 record entering play Saturday, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • Year after year, the Knicks seemingly found new ways to become a laughingstock of the NBA through poor hires, questionable signings and head-scratching trades. This season, however, the club has played well behind some shrewd acquisitions and the hiring of a good coach, and is trending in the right direction, Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill writes.
  • The Nets believe Kevin Durant is close to returning but it’s unclear when that will happen, according to head coach Steve Nash. “I think he’s close, but I don’t think he’s there,” Nash said, per NetsDaily. “We’ll see tomorrow and Sunday if that’s a possibility. But it may not. It may bleed back into this road trip.” Nash added that guard Tyler Johnson, who has missed 10 straight games, is close to a return too.
  • The Nets are also currently without recent signee Alize Johnson as he is sidelined due to health and safety protocols, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews (Twitter link). Brooklyn recently inked Johnson to a multiyear deal after he signed a pair of 10-day deals.
  • Celtics trade deadline acquisition Evan Fournier returned to the court on Friday in Brooklyn after missing nine games due to COVID-19. Fournier detailed his symptoms and noted he needs time to ramp up back into shape, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps writes. “My experience — where do I start? The first two days I was doing great, no symptoms at all, and then flu-like symptoms, high fever, really tired, fatigue, all that,” Fournier said. “I honestly stayed in bed and slept for four or five days. The roughest part was ramping up the activity. The last two days of practice was really hard. I had moments where I was doing good and moments where I was exhausted.”

Nets Notes: Shamet, T. Johnson, Durant, James

Landry Shamet‘s recent scoring outburst is what the Nets were expecting when they acquired him from the Clippers in an offseason trade, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Shamet’s 30-point game Sunday at Miami continued a hot streak that has lasted throughout April. He is averaging 17.0 PPG this month while shooting 51.9% from three-point range and has taken on some of the point guard duties with James Harden injured.

“The NBA’s all about opportunity and been thrown into having to play some point guard minutes following up Kyrie (Irving) and alongside Kyrie,” Shamet said. “Ky’s been great. He’s taken me under his wing. Talks to me every day, believes in me. That goes a long way, knowing your teammates believe in you.

“I’m chopping wood and carrying water every day. It gets tedious having to do the little things every day that you might not want to, but it adds up. I trust in that. When you keep doing that — working on off days, watching film, asking questions and believing in myself — whatever comes from that I’m living with, because I’m doing everything in my power to put myself in the best position.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Injured guard Tyler Johnson has started running and doing shooting drills as he tries to work his way back from a sore knee, Lewis adds. Johnson has been sidelined since April 4 and hopes to return soon to help with Brooklyn’s push for the top seed in the East. “He has not played yet, so I’m not sure if that’s coming this week or not,” coach Steve Nash said. “It depends on literally every day, how he responds to his rehab and heightening his amount of mobility and activity. So we’ll see; but hopefully he’ll be back soon as well.”
  • Kevin Durant remains with the Nets on their road trip, which is a sign that his left thigh contusion isn’t overly serious, Lewis notes in a separate story. Durant was knocked out of Sunday’s game early, but team officials decided he didn’t need to go through any medical imaging or be sent back to Brooklyn.
  • Free agent guard Mike James is going through testing to satisfy the NBA’s health and safety protocols before he can sign with the Nets, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. James, who is expected to join the team this week, spent most of this season with CSKA Moscow.

Nets’ Johnson Likely Out 2-3 Weeks, Harden Still Bothered By Hamstring

Prior to Monday’s game vs. the Knicks, the Nets announced that guard Tyler Johnson will require a “period of rehabilitation and strengthening” to address the soreness in his right knee, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays (via Twitter).

The club didn’t offer a specific timeline for Johnson’s recovery, indicating in its announcement that updates on his status would be provided as appropriate. However, speaking later to reporters, head coach Steve Nash suggested that it would likely be a “two-or-three week thing” (Twitter link via Lewis).

Johnson has been a reliable rotation player for Brooklyn this season, averaging 16.8 minutes per contest in 31 games. However, he’s obviously not nearly as crucial to the team’s ongoing success as James Harden, who is dealing with a leg injury of his own.

After missing two games due to right hamstring tightness, Harden returned to action on Monday night, but only played four minutes before experiencing discomfort in the same hamstring and leaving the game, per Malika Andrews of ESPN.

As Lewis writes for The New York Post, Nash said that a pregame scan on Harden’s hamstring was clean and that his strength tests were normal, so there’s no indication that there’s any structural damage. For now, Harden is considered day-to-day — after the game, Nash expressed uncertainty about whether the former MVP would have to miss much time.

“This may linger. It may be all behind us like we thought it was before the game,” Nash said. “But it’s just one of those things where the scan is clean, the strength tests are clean, but he feels something, so we’re going to err on the side of caution.”

The banged-up Nets are also missing guards Landry Shamet, who is day-to-day with an ankle injury, and Spencer Dinwiddie, who is expected to be sidelined for the rest of the season while recovering from ACL surgery.

On the plus side, star forward Kevin Durant, who has been out since February 13 with a hamstring injury of his own, is reportedly close to a return. And even while battling the injury bug, Brooklyn keeps winning. The team is currently 35-16, a half-game ahead of Philadelphia for the top seed in the East.

New York Notes: Nash, Marks, Toppin, Johnson, Pelle

Nets head coach Steve Nash recently praised general manager Sean Marks for constructing an impressive culture and roster, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. While both areas were strong before the season began, the recent signings of veterans Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge only helped strength Brooklyn’s culture – and roster – as the team continues its quest of winning a championship.

“Sean deserves the credit for pushing these things over the line and for having a vision to execute,” Nash said. “It may look straightforward and simple from the outside, but a lot goes into all these decisions, and Sean is very thorough in his approach, with the whole front office and then opinions from all the other departments as well.

“He’s done an unbelievable job, not just this year but in building the prior culture that was here before this team was here, building that position of strength and leverage for the roster over the course of the year. So I hope everyone understands what a great job he’s done and what a thorough and well-thought-out process he has. It’s been outstanding.”

Here are some other notes out of the Atlantic:

  • Knicks rookie Obi Toppin is gaining confidence as he continues to play with aggression, Barbara Barker of Newsday writes. Toppin scored eight points in 15 minutes off the bench against the Pistons on Friday. “I really like the way he’s been playing,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He played extremely well in the first half.” On the season, Toppin is averaging just 4.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per game.
  • Nets guard Tyler Johnson will receive a scan on Monday after sustaining a knee injury against Chicago, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link). The team called the injury a right knee strain before ruling the 28-year-old out for the rest of the game, Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Johnson had to be helped off the court and was unable to put any weight on his leg.
  • Knicks 10-day player Norvel Pelle showed toughness after suffering a finger injury in his first game with the team on Saturday, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Pelle dislocated his finger, received treatment, and continued to play on despite suffering the injury. “Seeing a player like that that just joined us to go down with an injury and be able to wrap it right back up and make big blocks showed his energy,” Reggie Bullock said. “He’s a Knick type of player with the grit to continue to play in the game. We love that fight from him.’’ Pelle is currently listed a probable to play against Brooklyn on Monday, Berman tweets.

Nets Notes: Durant, Irving, Griffin, Johnson

The Nets will remain careful with Kevin Durant, who isn’t expected to return for another week or two, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Durant has already been sidelined for more than a month with a strained hamstring and Brooklyn doesn’t want to take any chances, considering that he recently returned from an 18-month absence caused by a ruptured Achilles.

Durant, who has missed 14 straight games, hasn’t played since February 13, and that appearance came after he sat out the previous week due to contact tracing. Lewis talked to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Laith Jazrawi, who said six weeks should be considered the minimum time needed to recover from a hamstring strain.

“It’s almost involved in every movement, every sort of twisting and cutting,” Jazrawi said. “So, it’s so hard to manage these patients, rest it or even rehab it because it’s just such a big muscle unit that resting it is almost impossible. It’s very difficult. Anytime you engage, do a sprint or cut quickly, the hamstrings fire.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Kyrie Irving is excited about what the Nets can be with the eventual return of Durant and the addition of Blake Griffin, writes Ryan Dunleavy of The New York Post. Griffin is listed as probable to make his debut with Brooklyn today and will be on a minutes restriction, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. “It’s just high-level talent out there,” Irving said. “So, when you can just prepare for the game and go over the X’s and O’s, you can look to your left and right and know the guys next to you have your back and you’re able to play at a high level offensively and defensively and make an impact. I look forward to it, for sure. As a competitor wanting to be on the main stage, we want all our guys healthy.”
  • After bouncing around the league for a couple of seasons, Tyler Johnson seems to have found a home as a three-point specialist in Brooklyn, writes Chris Milholen of NetsDaily. Johnson only plays about 15 minutes per night, but he’s connecting on a career-best 41.8% beyond the arc. “The shooting is the cherry on top but the rest of the stuff is what we love about Tyler,” coach Steve Nash said. “Just the competition, fight and energy.”
  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic doesn’t expect general manager Sean Marks to be busy leading up to the trade deadline because the Nets don’t have many draft picks or young players left to offer. Schiffer believes the team will concentrate more on the buyout market and sees JaVale McGee as a better addition than Andre Drummond if both are bought out by the Cavaliers.

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.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Anunoby, Knicks, Pelle, T. Johnson

Failing to retain at least one of Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol during the 2020 offseason is turning out to be a “rare misplay” by the Raptors‘ front office, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. As Grange points out, Toronto has been one of the NBA’s worst defensive rebounding teams, and the overall team defense has slipped to the middle of the pack after ranking within the top five in each of the last two years.

League sources tell Grange that the Raptors don’t actually have much interest in pursuing Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, but he acknowledges that it makes sense that Drummond was linked to Toronto, given the team’s deficiencies in the middle and on the glass.

As Grange writes, the Raptors will face some tough decisions in the coming weeks and months as they try to determine how to address the center position and figure out whether Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, who are both eligible for free agency at season’s end, will be a part of their future.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Raptors forward OG Anunoby, who returned on Tuesday after missing 10 games with a calf strain, showed why the team was willing to lock him up to a lucrative long-term extension prior to the season, making an impact on both ends of the court in the team’s win over Milwaukee, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Interestingly, Anunoby replaced Aron Baynes – not Powell – in the starting lineup as Toronto opted for a small starting lineup with Anunoby and Pascal Siakam at the four and five.
  • With center Mitchell Robinson on the shelf, the Knicks have had internal talks about big man Norvel Pelle, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. However, New York has a full roster and would have to waive a player to make room for someone like Pelle, who will be a free agent on Thursday if he clears waivers after being cut by Brooklyn.
  • Tyler Johnson appeared in only seven of the Nets‘ first 24 games, logging over seven minutes in just one of them. However, he has reclaimed a rotation role in the team’s star-studded backcourt as of late, averaging 8.3 PPG on .486/.480/1.000 shooting in Brooklyn’s last six games (19.3 MPG). “I just love him as a person and a player, his competitive spirit is outstanding,” head coach Steve Nash said of Johnson, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “He’s been making some shots as well, and he’s very capable offensively, of course. But just that competitive nature I think is really important for our group.”

New York Notes: T. Johnson, Durant, Randle, Gibson

Nets guard Tyler Johnson missed Thursday’s game against Philadelphia due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. According to Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter links), head coach Steve Nash said Johnson hasn’t tested positive for COVID-19 but is out due to contact tracing. In the early going of the 2020/21 season, contact tracing protocols have typically sidelined players for seven days, though Johnson’s exact timeline has yet to be confirmed.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York-based teams:

  • Nash told reporters on Thursday night that he thinks Nets star Kevin Durant (also out for contact tracing purposes) should be available to return on Sunday as long as he continues to test negative for the coronavirus (Twitter link via Andrews). Can’t wait for Sunday to come,” Nash said.
  • Entering the season, veteran Knicks big man Julius Randle looked like a prime candidate to be moved at the trade deadline. However, Randle’s All-Star caliber play so far (23.1 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 7.4 APG) may force the team to reevaluate its plans for him, says Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype makes the case for why the Knicks signing Taj Gibson is a smart move. While Gibson will reportedly sign with the team, he’s still going through COVID-19 protocols and may not be on the roster in time to be activated for Friday night’s game vs. Oklahoma City, tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post.
  • In case you missed it last night, Kyrie Irving missed Thursday’s game for personal reasons and didn’t travel with the Nets to Memphis for Friday’s game.