Tyler Johnson

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.

New York Notes: Rivers, Burks, Chiozza, Allen, Johnson

New Knicks guard Austin Rivers drew interest from multiple suitors in free agency, including many who are closer to championship contention than New York. However, Rivers said this week that he jumped at the opportunity to play in the “mecca of basketball” and to try to build “something special” with his new club.

“It’s easy to go somewhere where everything already is set up and they’ve been to the playoffs four, five years in a row,” Rivers said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I’ve been on those teams. Those are great experiences. But I want to take those experiences and lessons and help this team and this organization as many ways as possible. That era of people not wanting to come here, our job is to change that. We have to make that attractive. And we will.”

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

  • The presence of former Jazz executive Walt Perrin and former Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant in New York helped convince Alec Burks to sign with the Knicks in free agency, as Berman details in a separate New York Post story.
  • Chris Chiozza‘s new one-year contract with the Nets is a non-guaranteed training camp contract, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. Brooklyn has 14 players on guaranteed contracts and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot on a partially guaranteed deal, so Chiozza will have an uphill battle to earn a regular season roster spot.
  • Jarrett Allen is entering a contract year and has been mentioned in trade rumors throughout the year, creating some uncertainty about his future with the Nets. The fourth-year center is trying to shut out that speculation and focus on what he can control, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “At the end of the day, I just try to put it aside,” Allen said. “I know it’s big decisions, deciding where I’m playing or deciding whatever happens at the end of the day. It’s all basketball at the end of the day, whether I’m happy about what happens or not happy. It’s all basketball and I’m here to play it.”
  • Newly re-signed Nets guard Tyler Johnson said there were “definitely other teams and other opportunities” for him in free agency, but that he has appreciated GM Sean Marks‘ transparency and wants to compete for a title in Brooklyn. Chris Milholen of NetsDaily has the story.

Contract Details: Temple, Vonleh, Sixers, T. Johnson, More

Garrett Temple‘s new one-year contract with the Bulls is worth exactly the amount of the room exception ($4.767MM), according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). However, Chicago is an over-the-cap team without the room exception available and used a portion of its mid-level exception to complete its deal with Temple.

Meanwhile, Noah Vonleh‘s one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Bulls is entirely non-guaranteed for the time being, per Smith (Twitter link). Vonleh won’t have to wait too long to find out whether or not that money will be guaranteed though — if he’s still on the roster through opening night, he’ll receive his full guarantee, Smith says.

Here are several more details on newly-signed contracts from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Justin Anderson‘s two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Sixers has a $125K partial guarantee in year one, while Ryan Broekhoff‘s one-year, minimum-salary deal with the club is non-guaranteed, according to Smith (Twitter links).
  • Tyler Johnson is already assured of his salary for 2020/21, as his one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Nets is fully guaranteed, per Smith (Twitter link).
  • Kelan Martin‘s new two-year deal with the Pacers features a $723K partial guarantee in year one and is non-guaranteed in year two, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Indiana is now over the luxury tax line by $577K, though I expect the team will look to sneak back below that line later in the season, whether or not Martin remains on the roster.
  • Oshae Brissett‘s new multiyear deal with the Raptors features a $300K guarantee for year one, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. That guarantee signals that Brissett probably has a leg up in battle for Toronto’s 15th regular season roster spot.

Nets Re-Sign Tyler Johnson

After joining the Nets for the NBA’s summer restart in Orlando, guard Tyler Johnson has signed a new contract to return to Brooklyn, the team announced today in a press release. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Johnson, 28, was sent from Miami to Phoenix at the 2019 trade deadline and appeared in 44 total games for the Suns, including 31 in 2019/20. Formerly a solid rotation player with the Heat, Johnson had a down year in Phoenix and was released following the trade deadline.

The Fresno State alum bounced back nicely as a member of the Nets, having signed as a substitute player when a number of Brooklyn players pulled out of the restart. Johnson averaged 12.0 PPG, 3.0 APG, and 3.0 RPG on .405/.389/1.000 shooting in eight seeding games (24.3 MPG), then added 13.8 PPG on .457/.393/1.000 shooting in the club’s four playoff contests.

If Johnson makes the Nets’ regular season roster as the team’s 15th man, he’ll add extra depth to an impressive group of ball-handlers that already includes point guards Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Bruce Brown, as well as Kevin Durant and Caris LeVert.

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 seeding games winding down at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Carmelo Anthony, Trail Blazers, 36, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.16MM deal in 2019
Remember when Anthony’s reps were practically begging teams to give their client one more chance to play in the league? Carmelo took advantage of his opportunity with the Trail Blazers, finally accepting his new status as a role player instead of being the No. 1 offensive option. He’s turned it up a notch in Orlando during the Blazers’ run to the play-in round. The slimmed-down Anthony has reached the 20-point mark four times in eight games and made 46.9% of his 3s, while also being a factor on the boards (6.9 RPG). He won’t have to lobby for another contract after this season, nor will he have to accept the veteran’s minimum again.

Brandon Ingram, Pelicans, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $23.8MM deal in 2016
It’s not that Ingram was terrible in Orlando. It’s just that the Pelicans stunk up the joint and the stench clung to everyone involved. Following a breakout season which earned him an All-Star selection, Ingram was unable to carry his team into the play-in round. New Orleans’ poor performances left everyone wondering whether the roster should be reshaped, especially with the front office owning a boatload of draft picks. And Zion Williamson isn’t going anywhere. So while Ingram will still get rewarded handsomely in restricted free agency, is he worth franchise-player type money? There’s no guarantee now the Pels will match if he gets a giant offer sheet.

Cameron Payne, Suns, 26, PG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2.17MM deal in 2020
Payne was on the free agent market this summer and was signed to fill an open roster spot prior to the restart. Phoenix didn’t bring him in simply for insurance. He appeared in all eight seeding games as a backup point guard, averaging 10.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 3.0 APG in 22.9 MPG. Though he signed a two-year contract, only $25K of that money for next season is guaranteed, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks recently noted. The way Payne performed in Orlando, he should have no trouble staying on the roster and earning the rest of his $1.977MM salary for 2020/21 as a second-unit player.

Tyler Johnson, Nets, 28, PG/SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $217K deal in 2020
Johnson signed a four-year, $50MM offer sheet with Brooklyn four summers ago but Miami chose to retain him. He finally wound up with the Nets in free agency and got just over $200K in a rest-of-the-season deal. No matter. Johnson was happy to get fresh start and it has shown during Brooklyn’s gritty performances in Orlando. He’s averaged 12.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 3.0 APG in 24.3 MPG and can now continue his push for another contract during the postseason. If the Nets don’t retain him, Johnson should easily find a home as a second-unit combo guard.

Jerian Grant, Wizards, 27, PG/SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $197K deal in 2020
Grant was signed as a substitute player in June after Davis Bertans opted out of the restart. Grant called it a “dream come true” to play for his hometown team, but he didn’t give the Wizards much incentive to re-sign him to an NBA contract. He appeared in six restart games, averaging 4.5 PPG and 1.5 APG in 13.3 MPG while shooting 25% from long range. Grant spent most of the season with the Wizards’ G League team and he may have to go that route again or look into overseas options.