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.

Highlights From Adam Silver’s Presser On NBA Restart

Speaking to reporters today on a virtual news conference, NBA commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the league’s level of concern about the coronavirus situation in Florida has increased along with the number of cases in the area. However, Silver said that the NBA’s campus plan is designed to be isolated from cases in the surrounding community (Twitter link via Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel).

Of course, the NBA’s “campus environment” in Walt Disney World won’t be a true bubble, since Disney staffers will be permitted to come and go and could bring the virus in with them. According to Silver, the NBA is considering extra precautions to protect its players and staffers, including increased COVID-19 testing for those Disney employees who are in the same room as players (Twitter link via Winderman).

Here are a few more highlights from Silver’s conference call today:

  • The NBA will proceed with its season even if some individual players test positive for the coronavirus, and the league doesn’t have a formal policy in place for how it would handle a major outbreak of COVID-19 within its Disney campus. However, Silver said today, “If we were to have significant spread of coronavirus through our community, that ultimately might lead us to stopping (the season) (Twitter links via Mike Singer of the Denver Post and Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports).
  • Along similar lines, Silver said that an individual coronavirus case will essentially be treated like an injury, but acknowledged that a severe outbreak within a single team could force the league to change that approach (Twitter links via Winderman).
  • Responding to an ESPN report that said the NBA will use local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to secure its Disney campus, Silver stressed that those agencies won’t be present within the campus (Twitter link via David Aldridge of The Athletic). That doesn’t contradict the ESPN report, which noted that those law enforcement agencies would only be used outside of the campus to keep it secure.
  • According to Silver, it wasn’t the NBA’s first choice to resume its season on a “closed campus,” but data on the spread of the coronavirus forced the league’s hand (Twitter link via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press).
  • Silver confirmed there will be daily COVID-19 testing on the Orlando campus, “at least to start” (Twitter link via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez).
  • Addressing the 16 positive tests among players this week, Silver said that none of those players is seriously ill (Twitter link via Rod Beard of The Detroit News).

Seeking Writers For Pro Hockey Rumors

As our sister site Pro Hockey Rumors celebrates its four-year anniversary, we’re looking to add to the writing staff!  In particular, we’re seeking someone with strong daytime availability Monday through Friday.  The position pays hourly.  The criteria:

  • Exceptional knowledge of all 31 NHL teams, no discernible bias.
  • Knowledge of the salary cap, CBA and transaction-related concepts.
  • At least some college education.
  • Extensive writing experience, with professional experience and a background in journalism both strongly preferred.
  • Keen understanding of journalistic principles, ethics and procedures. Completion of basic college-level journalism classes is strongly preferred.
  • Attention to detail — absolutely no spelling errors, especially for player and journalist names.
  • Ability to follow the site’s style and tone.
  • Ability to analyze articles and craft intelligent, well-written posts summing up the news in a few paragraphs. We need someone who can balance creating quick copy with thoughtful analysis. You must be able to add value to breaking news with your own insight, numbers or links to other relevant articles.
  • Ability to use Twitter and Tweetdeck.
  • Multi-tasking is crucial.
  • If you’re interested, email prohockeyrumorshelp@gmail.com and explain how you stand out and qualify in a couple of short paragraphs.  Please attach your resume to the email.  Unfortunately we may not be able to reply to every applicant.

Pistons Notes: GM Search, Kennard, Bone

The Pistons will focus on external candidates in their search for a new general manager, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The new GM will work alongside senior advisor Ed Stefanski to chart a course for the future of the franchise, while Malik Rose and Pat Garrity will be retained as assistant GMs.

Edwards identifies several potential candidates for the position: Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, who was considered for the GM job in Chicago, and Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver. Edwards also suggests that University of Memphis assistant coach Mike Miller, who had Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem as an agent during his playing career, could be brought in as another assistant GM.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News agrees on Hughes and Weaver and offers a few other candidates who might be in play. Shane Battier grew up in the Detroit area and serves as VP of basketball development and analytics with the Heat, but Beard believes it would be difficult to talk him into leaving Miami. Chauncey Billups is a Pistons hero from his playing days and has been considered for other front office openings. Tayshaun Prince, who teamed with Billups on the 2004 championship team, became VP of basketball operations for the Grizzlies last year. Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren has spent 14 years with the organization and has turned down other opportunities, but Beard believes the Pistons should contact him.
  • Working Luke Kennard back into the rotation would have been a priority if the season had continued, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Kennard, who had been battling tendinitis in both knees since December, was set to return in the Pistons’ next game when the hiatus was imposed. With Kennard about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, Detroit will have to decide soon whether to make a long-term commitment or try to trade him, and Langlois sees his shooting skills as an important element for a rebuilding team.
  • The Pistons may have other priorities at point guard that will prevent Jordan Bone from earning a roster spot next season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Derrick Rose has another year on his contract, and Langlois expects the team to find a veteran to complement him. Also, there will also be plenty of opportunity to fill the position in a draft that’s heavy on point guards. Bone saw limited time in 10 NBA games as a two-way player this season, but averaged 19.9 points per 36 minutes and shot 38% from 3-point range in the G League.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Perry, Atkinson, Anthony

Tom Thibodeau should have plenty of opportunities to return to the NBA next season, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Thibodeau, who was fired by the Timberwolves in the middle of the 2018/19 season, is frequently mentioned among the candidates to take over the Knicks. However, the Nets and Rockets are two other teams that might be interested, Bondy notes, while the Pelicans, Bulls and Hawks may also be in the market for a new coach, along with the Spurs if Gregg Popovich retires.

Sources tell Bondy that Thibodeau is confident he will be a head coach somewhere next season and has been getting advice around the league on the best opportunity. Bondy argues that Thibodeau doesn’t deserve all the blame for all that went wrong in Minnesota, suggesting that he had a good relationship with Andrew Wiggins, but couldn’t find a way to motivate Karl-Anthony Towns.

Bondy adds that interim coach Mike Miller remains a candidate to get the job on a full-time basis as new team president Leon Rose is impressed with his performance since taking over, while Kentucky coach John Calipari shouldn’t be counted out because of his close ties to Rose.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • The NBA shutdown has increased the chances that general manager Scott Perry will remain with the team, Bondy adds in the same column. The Knicks aren’t making personnel moves during the hiatus and are preparing for the draft with the current front office, which includes Gerald Madkins, Michael Arcieri and Harold Ellis, who all came to New York with Perry in 2017.
  • Kenny Atkinson isn’t the best choice for the Knicks despite his previous ties to the organization, contends Marc Berman of The New York Post. The former Nets coach hails from Long Island and served as an assistant with the Knicks under Mike D’Antoni, but a source tells Berman that Atkinson’s management late in games is considered questionable and he wasn’t able to win the respect of Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. Berman expects Rose to seek a more experienced coach with a better track record.
  • Zach Braziller of The New York Post examines the divided opinions on North Carolina’s Cole Anthony, whom the Knicks may consider drafting, given their need for a point guard.

Five Key Stories: 3/8/20 – 3/14/20

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

An unprecedented week for the NBA saw the league suspend operations indefinitely due to the spread of the coronavirus. The league is preparing for the shutdown to last at least 30 days as health officials discourage large gatherings in an effort to get the virus under control. Commissioner Adam Silver admitted it’s possible that the current season will not be finished.

The G League also suspended its season this week, while the NBA 2K League season was canceled. The NCAA decided to call off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments after giving consideration to a 16-team field.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus shortly before Wednesday’s scheduled game between the Jazz and Thunder, forcing it to be postponed. Teammate Donovan Mitchell also contracted the virus.

Silver penned a letter to NBA fans to explain the situation. He explained that tickets to all games will be honored once the season begins, and refunds will be issued if they have to be canceled or played in an empty arena.

Many teams around the league announced that arena staff will continue to be paid during the shutdown. Several players have contributed money to make sure that workers can survive financially until the games resume.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from around the basketball world this week:

  • Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff has a new contract that runs through the end of the 2023/24 season. He took over when John Beilein stepped down as head coach last month.
  • Veteran center Joakim Noah signed a 10-day contract with the Clippers. Both sides were planning to test out the arrangement before working out a deal for the rest of the season.
  • The Warriors signed rookie guard Mychal Mulder to a multi-year deal. He impressed the coaching staff with his performance on a 10-day contract that expired last Saturday.
  • Sheldon Mac returned to the NBA after a three-year absence, signing a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers. He had been with the team’s G League affiliate in Canton.
  • Jontay Porter agreed to a multi-year contract with the Grizzlies. He is still recovering after a pair of knee injuries and is expected to be ready for training camp in September.
  • The Suns released two-way player Jared Harper. He got into just three NBA games and played eight total minutes during his time with the organization.
  • Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison opted for shoulder surgery, which will sideline him for 12 to 16 weeks. Injuries have limited him to a combined 72 games in his first two NBA seasons.
  • Vince Carter addressed the possibility that his long NBA career might be over if the season doesn’t resume.
  • Before the season was suspended, Lance Stephenson talked to the Pacers about possibly returning to the team. He is currently under contract with the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association.
  • Disabled Player Exceptions expired this week across the league. Six teams were granted DPEs that weren’t used.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On The Dunk Contest Controversy

The judges at Saturday’s dunk contest intended for the event to end in a tie, but their plan failed when three of them awarded nines on Aaron Gordon‘s final jam, according to Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

After Derrick Jones Jr. and Gordon both received 50s on their first dunks in the dunk-off, Jones finished his night with a running slam from just inside the foul line that received a 48. Gordon sought to clinch the trophy in dramatic fashion by jumping over 7’5″ Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, but after a long wait the judges awarded him three nines and two 10s for a final score of 47.

“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” said hip-hop artist Common, who served as one of the judges. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”

A second judge, Candace Parker, confirmed Common’s comments, saying the intent was for the dunk-off to end in a tie, which would have meant a poll of the judges to determine a winner.

“I really felt it was an even battle, and we, as judges, felt the scores should be even and they should just have a judge-off,” Common said after a breath-taking series of dunks from both competitors. “We had the cards. Put your card up for who had the best dunks.”

Gordon started the event with perfect scores on his first five dunks. He expected a sixth after dunking over Fall, and he and the crowd at the United Center in Chicago were visibly dismayed when the final results left him a point behind Jones. It was a familiar experience for Gordon, who also lost the 2016 dunk contest to Zach LaVine in a controversial decision.

“We’re here to do four dunks,” Gordon told reporters afterward. “It should be the best of four dunks. I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s. That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA dunk contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?”

There’s more on the wild finish to All-Star Saturday Night:

  • Despite the controversy, Jones believes he was the rightful winner and was unhappy with the score he received on his final dunk, relays Andre Fernandez of The Athletic“When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school,” Jones said. “I know that’s 50-worthy. There’s no way I should have gotten a 48.”
  • Jones also said he could have kept dunking as long as the contest remained tied (video link from Ben Golliver of The Washington Post). “I just turned 23,” said Jones, who had a birthday cake wheeled onto the court before his first dunk. “I’ve got legs for days, bro.”
  • Fall tells Shelburne that his role in Gordon’s final dunk wasn’t pre-arranged (Twitter link). After a night that saw several dunks over other people, Gordon picked out the tallest man in the building. “I was scared for my life,” Fall admitted.
  • Dwyane Wade, one of the three judges who gave Gordon a nine on his final attempt, denied that the score was a favor to Jones, his former Heat teammate. “I wasn’t the only one who gave him a 9, let’s talk about that!” Wade said in a video tweeted by Complex Sports.
  • Several commentators suggested that the controversy may affect the league’s ability to get elite dunkers in future competitions. After watching the event, Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, who many wanted to see participate this year, tweeted, “Y’all just made my decision easier,” then later sent out a video of American Idol judge Randy Jackson saying, “Yeah, it’s a no from me dawg.”
  • Dwight Howard offered a tribute to Kobe Bryant with his second dunk, taking off his shirt to reveal a Superman jersey underneath, then taking away the S logo to to show a number 24. He told Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that Bryant had agreed to be part of the dunk before his tragic death last month (Twitter link).

Five Key Stories: 2/2/20 – 2/8/20

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

The Grizzlies finally found a taker for Andre Iguodala as the NBA’s trade deadline arrived this week. The veteran forward, who hasn’t played since the Warriors sent him to Memphis over the summer in a cost-cutting move, was shipped to Miami for Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson, but not the first-round pick the Grizzlies had been insisting they wanted in return.

The Rockets, Timberwolves, Hawks and Nuggets put together this season’s largest trade, with 12 players changing teams. The biggest names involved were Robert Covington, who went from Minnesota to Houston, and Clint Capela, whom the Rockets sent to Atlanta.

The Wolves added a player they’ve been chasing since the offseason by trading Andrew Wiggins to the Warriors for D’Angelo Russell. In addition to providing a long-term solution at point guard, Russell is a close friend of franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns, who expressed frustration this week with the team’s frequent losing.

The Clippers added an important piece for the postseason by acquiring veteran forward Marcus Morris from the Knicks in a three-team deal. The Clippers outbid their cross-town rivals, as the Lakers refused to include Kyle Kuzma in their final offer.

The Cavaliers picked up Andre Drummond from the Pistons in exchange for a pair of expiring contracts and a second-round pick. Drummond has indicated that he will opt in to his $28.75MM salary for next season, giving Cleveland a potential All-Star in the middle.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from around the basketball world this week:

  • The Knicks fired team president Steve Mills and hired player agent Leon Rose as head of basketball operations. Despite rumors that the franchise was expected to pursue Raptors executive Masai Ujiri, there was pessimism that the move was possible without a huge price tag.
  • Owner James Dolan issued a statement that he won’t sell the Knicks. Dolan has become unpopular with fans during a string of losing seasons, and there was a loud “Sell the team!” chant at the end of a recent loss.
  • Dillon Brooks received a contract extension from the Grizzlies. The move wraps up Brooks, who would have been a restricted free agent this summer, for the next three seasons.
  • Former Pacers guard Darren Collison is nearing a decision on whether to return to the NBA. The Lakers and Clippers are considered to be the favorites to sign him.
  • The Suns listened to offers for Kelly Oubre before the deadline. Although no deal was made, it’s surprising that Oubre’s name was leaked as a potential trade target.
  • As the top vote-getters, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo held their draft for the All-Star Game. Lakers teammate Anthony Davis was James’ first pick, and Antetokounmpo followed by taking Joel Embiid.
  • Participants were also announced for the 3-point and slam dunk contests, along with the skills challenge.
  • The Wizards don’t expect John Wall to play this season, general manager Tommy Sheppard confirmed.
  • The Hawks waived Chandler Parsons, who suffered serious injuries in a car accident last month.
  • RJ Hampton left his Australian team and returned to the United States to get ready for the draft.

Lakers Recruiting Darren Collison?

A familiar face was in attendance at Staples Center on Thursday night, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who writes that veteran point guard Darren Collison watched the Lakers host the Rockets in a second-row seat near team owner Jeanie Buss.

Collison, who was said last month to be mulling an NBA return, would reportedly prefer to stay on the West Coast and play for the Lakers or Clippers if he makes a comeback. A source tells ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the Lakers were “recruiting” Collison, who plans to discuss his next step over the next week with his agent and family. A decision appears likely to come after All-Star weekend.

For his part, Collison was unwilling to give any hints about whether his presence at Staples Center on Thursday night suggests he’s leaning toward joining the Lakers.

“Just watching the game, ain’t nothing to it,” Collison told ESPN. “Got the best seats in the house.”

Of the two Los Angeles teams, the Lakers – who could use one more play-maker in their backcourt – may have a greater need for Collison, but they currently have a full 15-man roster so they’d need to waive someone to open up a spot. The Clippers, on the other hand, are expected to have two openings once they officially waive Isaiah Thomas. For what it’s worth, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweeted on Thursday that league sources have “long believed” Collison would prefer the Lakers.

Of course, before Collison picks a team, he’ll have to decide whether or not he actually wants to return to the NBA after his surprise retirement last summer. ESPN analyst Matt Barnes said on Thursday that Collison told him he’s still “50/50” on whether to play.

Knicks Notes: Morris, Perry, Schroder, Robinson

Marcus Morris is confident that he’ll sign a multi-year contract with the Knicks if he remains with the organization past the trade deadline, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. This comes after a report earlier this week that he and the team have “strong mutual interest” in reaching a new deal this summer. Morris likes playing in New York and enjoys being so close to his family in Philadelphia.

Morris risked some security last year when he reneged on a two-year offer with the Spurs to accept a one-year arrangement with the Knicks. He recently hired a new agent in Raymond Brothers, who has a close relationship with New York general manager Scott Perry.

While it’s not a sure thing that Perry will remain with the organization after another disappointing season, some sources believe owner James Dolan’s desire to have Masai Ujiri run the team could work in Perry’s favor. Dolan may not be able to land Ujiri while he’s still under contract with the Raptors, so Mills may be able to convince Dolan to give him another season while he waits. Thunder president Sam Presti could be another target, Bondy adds.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • A source tells Bondy the Knicks are in the market for a point guard and have interest in acquiring Dennis Schroder from the Thunder. Schroder is making $15.5MM this year and is signed for the same amount for next season.
  • The Clippers are believed to be interested in Morris, and a source suggests to Steve Popper of Newsday that the Knicks might accept Maurice Harkless in return, along with a first-round pick, Landry Shamet or possibly both. Harkless has an $11MM expiring contract. Popper also states that New York may be willing to trade for Pistons center Andre Drummond as a way to unload Julius Randle, who will make $18.9MM next season. Drummond is expected to opt out of his $28MM salary, which would provide a huge amount of cap room. The Knicks have also received calls about Kevin Knox, Popper adds.
  • The Knicks are surprised that Mitchell Robinson was passed over for the Rising Stars Challenge, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. The second-year center has been one of the bright spots of the team, averaging 9.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. “It’s not something that’s going to hurt my feelings,’’ Robinson said. “I’m still going to come out here and play. I’m still going to move on and continue to play ball. I’m still in the NBA, so I really don’t care.”