Yuta Watanabe

Ben Simmons Out At Least Three Games With Calf Strain

Ben Simmons has been diagnosed with a left lateral upper calf strain and will miss at least three games for the Nets, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Simmons will be reassessed after the third game, which is Sunday against the Celtics. Brooklyn has two days off following the matchup with Boston, so the earliest Simmons could return will be next Wednesday against the Hornets.

The 26-year-old left Monday’s win over Orlando in the second quarter with what was called left knee soreness. Evidently further testing revealed that the injury was actually located in his calf. With Simmons out, the Nets relied more on Joe Harris and Seth Curry, and that will likely continue for the next few games.

The Nets also announced that forward Yuta Watanabe, the NBA’s leader in 3PT% (.571), underwent a second MRI on his right hamstring strain and the results were unchanged — he’s still dealing with the injury. He’ll continue to receive treatment and will be reevaluated in one week. Watanabe has already missed five consecutive games with the hamstring strain and will miss at least three more.

The good news is that forward T.J. Warren is targeting a Friday return, so his presence should help make up for the size lost from Simmons and Watanabe being sidelined. The Nets are currently 11-11, the No. 9 seed in the East.

Injury Updates: Tatum, Herro, Barnes, Langford, More

The Celtics will have star forward Jayson Tatum on the court for tonight’s showdown with the Mavericks, according to Souichi Terada of MassLive.

Tatum was listed as questionable after hurting his left ankle in Monday’s game at Chicago, but coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters that he’ll be able to play without any limitations. Tatum appeared to be moving normally during shootaround, Terada observes.

Tatum is among the early favorites in the MVP race, averaging 30.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists while playing 37.2 minutes per game, the most in his career. He has led Boston to the best start in the league at 13-4.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • Tyler Herro will return for the Heat tonight after missing eight games with a sprained left ankle, the team announced (via Twitter). Max Strus was downgraded to out due to a shoulder injury, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).
  • Raptors forward Scottie Barnes will miss tonight’s game with a sprained left knee, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Fred VanVleet is sidelined with an illness, so Toronto is down to 10 available players.
  • Spurs guard Romeo Langford has been cleared to return tonight after missing five games while in the health and safety protocols. Josh Richardson will miss the game after suffering a sprained ankle in Tuesday’s practice (Twitter link), and Zach Collins has been downgraded from probable to out as he recovers from a non-displaced fracture of his fibula (Twitter link). Coach Gregg Popovich sounded optimistic when asked if Collins is close to returning. “Yes, I guess is the answer,” he replied. “He’s just not ready yet. We thought he might be, but he’s not.” Popovich also refused to provide any details about the illness that forced him to miss Sunday’s game, telling reporters, “I’m fine,” Orsborn tweets.
  • Dean Wade, who missed the past six games with knee soreness, will come off the Cavaliers‘ bench tonight and will be on a minutes restriction, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link).
  • Nets forward Yuta Watanabe will be sidelined through at least Friday with a hamstring issue, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. An MRI taken Tuesday night confirmed the injury (Twitter link), but Watanabe doesn’t seem concerned. “It’s not that serious,” he said. “… It’s day to day. We’ll see how long it takes.” (Twitter link)
  • Mavericks coach Jason Kidd is optimistic that Maxi Kleber, who’s dealing with a lower back contusion, will be available Saturday or Sunday, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Curry, Watanabe, Warren

Ben Simmons, who sat out all of the 2021/22 season in large part due to mental health issues, is still working with a therapist on how best to handle challenges like his return to Philadelphia on Tuesday night as a member of the Nets, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

As Shelburne details, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn referred to the road game against the Sixers as “the most hostile environment he’s probably ever going to be in” and said it would be a “monumental” hurdle for Simmons to clear.

While Brooklyn didn’t end up winning the game, it’s safe to say Simmons cleared the hurdle — he played 32 minutes and filled up the box score with 11 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds, three steals, and three blocks. After the game, he said with a smile that he thought the boos and the “F–k Ben Simmons” chants were “going to be louder,” according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“I feel like I’m in a good place,” Simmons said. “I’m happy, I’m doing what I love. So to be out there and have that experience was amazing. Obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted. It’s frustrating to lose a game like that, but I think it’s a good step forward.”

Here’s more on Simmons and the Nets:

  • Within her aforementioned story, Shelburne says that a meeting between Simmons and Vaughn last Tuesday in Sacramento helped clear the air and put the three-time All-Star on the right track. “Sometimes I think guys just want to be heard,” Vaughn said. “And so for me to listen to him, about where he wants to get his game to, that he believes he’s going to get it back to an All-Defensive level. To hear those words means that we’re going to work on it together.” Since that meeting, the former No. 1 overall pick has averaged 14.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, and 6.5 APG on 78.8% shooting in four games (29.9 MPG).
  • Seth Curry has played in eight of Brooklyn’s last nine games, but the team is still being cautious with him as he comes off ankle surgery. Curry has been ruled out for Wednesday’s contest in Toronto due to left ankle injury management, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Yuta Watanabe, who leads the NBA with a .571 3PT%, has also been ruled out for a second straight game — he won’t suit up against his former team due to right hamstring soreness.
  • Vaughn provided a minor update on T.J. Warren on Tuesday, telling reporters that the veteran forward is now practicing against players and not just coaches, per Mark W. Sanchez of The New Post. However, it remains unclear when Warren will make his Nets debut. “No setbacks, so overall T.J.’s been getting a good body of work in,” Vaughn said.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Claxton, Irving, Watanabe

Ben Simmons turned in his best game since joining the Nets, just in time for a trip to Philadelphia, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. That matchup, in what will surely be a hostile atmosphere Tuesday night, will mark Simmons’ first time playing in front of Sixers fans since his bitter breakup with the team.

“I know what’s coming. That’s part of the game,” Simmons said. “Philly fans, one thing about Philly fans is they are incredible. They are die-hard Philly and they are everything Philly, whatever it is. I respect that about the city. It’s a sports town. I was talking to I think Yuta (Watanabe) before the game about what it’s like to play in Philly, and it’s an incredible opportunity to put on whatever jersey it is. That’s Philly, and it’s a unique experience.”

Simmons has prepared for the encounter by putting together his best week of basketball since physical and mental issues, as well as a clash with Sixers management, led to a 16-month layoff. He made 11-of-13 shots Sunday night with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a win over the Grizzlies. Simmons said he’s focused on the task at hand and not worrying about things he can’t control, like the reception he’ll likely get Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

“Me personally, if I start reading everything that’s going on and getting psyched out, that’s not good for me,” Simmons said. “So for me, I just want to stay focused, take it day by day, and I keep saying it but that’s what it is for me. Just keep building on good days and staying locked in.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Simmons started at center because Nic Claxton missed the game for personal reasons. Coach Jacque Vaughn said Claxton is expected to return Tuesday, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
  • Kyrie Irving played 26 minutes Sunday after returning from an eight-game suspension, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. Irving indicated that he’s thinking about filing a grievance over the suspension, but otherwise deflected questions about it and tried to focus on basketball. “I missed my teammates, missed the coaching staff,” he said. “… It felt good to get this game out of the way. Now we can move forward with the rest of the season.”
  • Watanabe, playing on a non-guaranteed contract, continues to look like a keeper, according to Alex Schiffer and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. The league’s leader in three-point percentage made four of six attempts Sunday night, all in the fourth quarter. “He’s playing great. We love his energy,” Kevin Durant said. “He’s hitting big shots for us, so you always get excited for your teammates, especially guys who come in and don’t necessarily have a guaranteed spot on the team but work their way into the rotation and put their imprint on the game from day one.”

Nets Notes: Durant, Simmons, Watanabe, Warren

Sean Deveney of Heavy.com recently spoke to a couple of NBA executives, one from each conference, about hypothetical trades involving Nets star Kevin Durant.

As Deveney notes, there’s no indication that Brooklyn is looking to move its best player, but perhaps that could change depending on how the team performs over the next couple months. After starting the season 1-5, the Nets have won four of their past six games, currently sitting with a 5-7 record.

Would the Celtics entertain offering Jaylen Brown for Durant, as was rumored over the summer when Durant requested a trade?

Oh, it would be zero interest from the Celtics, that would be a non-starter,” the East exec said. “Brown’s an All-Star and he’s eight years younger than KD (who is 34). The team’s playing well, they’re not going to touch that. I am sure it will be talked about again, and maybe the Celtics will struggle and things can change. But that would be shocking.”

What about Suns package centered around Deandre Ayton? Phoenix was reportedly one of Durant’s desired landing spots in the offseason, along with Miami. Ayton cannot be traded until January 15 and has a full no-trade clause for one year after he signed a maximum-salary offer sheet with the Pacers as a restricted free agent (the Suns quickly matched), but as Deveney writes, he could waive it if he wants a fresh start.

Ayton always made the most sense as a return piece for (the Nets),” the West exec said, per Deveney. “There might have been more to the talks between those teams in the summer if his contract situation wasn’t what it was. But, what else would Phoenix give up?”

Deveney believes the Nets would want Mikal Bridges in addition to Ayton, but speculates that a package of Ayton, Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder might be enough to get a deal done.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Ben Simmons will come off the bench against the Clippers on Saturday for the third straight game, writes Chris Milholen of Inside The Nets. Simmons has been on a minutes restriction after returning from a four-game absence due to knee soreness and swelling, but head coach Jacque Vaughn said he’s hopeful he’ll gradually be able to increase Simmons’ minutes, per Milholen.
  • Forward Yuta Watanabe is currently dealing with a sprained ankle, which has caused him to miss Brooklyn’s blowout victory over the Knicks on Wednesday. Vaughn told reporters, including ESPN’s Nick Friedell (Twitter link), that Watanabe is unlikely to play in the Nets’ upcoming road games this weekend in Los Angeles, a back-to-back set against the Clippers and Lakers.
  • The Nets announced on Friday that forward T.J. Warren, who has yet to make his debut in 2022/23, has begun taking contact with coaches in practices recently. The team is hopeful he’ll participate in contact practices with teammates within the next couple weeks, and Brooklyn will provide another update on his status in two weeks (Twitter link via Friedell). Warren signed a minimum-salary deal as a free agent with the Nets and has appeared in just four games since ’20/21 after undergoing consecutive foot surgeries.

Nets Notes: Irving, Simmons, Curry, Watanabe

Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who tweeted a link last Thursday to a film widely viewed as antisemitic, deleted that tweet on Sunday night after a combative exchange with reporters on Saturday, then didn’t speak to the media before or after Monday’s win over Indiana. Head coach Steve Nash said prior to Monday’s game that he views the controversy surrounding Irving as “an opportunity for us to grow and understand new perspectives,” according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“I think the organization is trying to take that stance where we can communicate through this,” Nash said. “And try to all come out in a better position and (have) both more understanding and more empathy for every side of this debate and situation.”

As Friedell writes, Nash declined to say whether the Nets considered any disciplinary action for Irving, telling reporters that he wasn’t involved in internal conversations about the issue, since he’s been focused on coaching the team.

While the Nets may want to simply move on from the situation, eight fans who sat courtside on Monday wore shirts that read “Fight Antisemitism” and directed comments at Irving during the game, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. One season-ticket holder, Aaron Jungreis, told Friedell that he thought the team should suspend Irving.

“I hope he realizes how much antisemitism he is stoking by putting out (a link to) a film like this,” Jungreis said. “Which is extremely anti-Jewish. And I hope he comes to his senses. … I think he should be suspended and he should understand what he did, but I don’t know if they will.”

Here’s more on Irving and the Nets:

  • Irving’s behavior, which could once be considered quirky or eccentric, has crossed the line to dangerous, argues Jesse Washington of Andscape, writing that the NBA and/or the Nets should seriously consider consequences to hold Irving accountable. Dan Wolken of USA Today and Eric Koreen of The Athletic make similar cases in columns of their own, while Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post goes a step further, opining that Brooklyn should part ways with the standout guard. Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, meanwhile, contends that Irving wants the influence of leadership, but none of the responsibility that comes along with it.
  • The Nets held a players-only meeting following Saturday’s loss to Indiana and followed that up with a win on Monday over the Pacers, snapping a four-game losing streak. “Honestly, talk is cheap. Everybody in the organization, we’ve just been pissed off,” starting center Nic Claxton said after Monday’s victory, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. “We want to be better. So I don’t know (if the meeting had an impact). But everybody being on the same page today, that’s what matters.”
  • Within the same SNY.tv story, Begley says the Nets have had some “cursory” trade talks with at least one Western Conference team since the regular season began, underscoring the sense of urgency the team was feeling to start winning games following a slow start.
  • In a detailed story for ESPN, Friedell takes a look at how the Nets have yo-yo’d back and forth from a tumultuous offseason to an optimistic preseason to a bumpy, drama-filled regular season.
  • Ben Simmons will miss a second consecutive game for Brooklyn on Tuesday vs. Chicago due to left knee soreness, the team announced today (Twitter link via Marc J. Spears of Andscape). Seth Curry (left ankle injury management) also remains sidelined.
  • Yuta Watanabe‘s full-season salary is still non-guaranteed, but he’s seeing an increased role as of late off the bench for the Nets, knocking down 5-of-7 three-pointers in his last four games. “We’ve always really liked him,” Nash said of Watanabe, who played 22 minutes in Monday’s win (link via Alex Schiffer of The Athletic). “He’s a basketball player. The way he handles the pass, makes shots and he’s a smart defender. I thought he did a good job with the scouting report. You could see him use that to his advantage in one-on-one situations, and he adds dimension to our team as we’re trying to get bodies back in the lineup. It’s really important to have players like that who step in and do multiple things.”

Nets Notes: Nash, Durant, Morris, Watanabe

Asked on Monday about Kevin Durant‘s reported offseason ultimatum to the Nets to either trade him or fire GM Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, Nash downplayed the issue, likening it to a family squabble. The two-time NBA MVP offered a more in-depth answer on Tuesday when asked again about his relationship with Durant, as Nick Friedell of ESPN details.

“We’re good,” Nash said. “Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.”

Nash, who said he wasn’t “overly surprised” or “overly concerned” about the way the Durant saga played out, also pushed back on the idea that the star forward really wanted him fired.

“I never thought that was 100 percent,” Nash said, per Friedell. “There was a lot of things. It’s not black and white like that, so there was a lot of factors. A lot of things behind the scenes. A lot of things reported are not accurate. A lot of things that are reported are not 100 percent accurate. So you get fragmented bits of truth. You get things that are flat out not true. It happens. … So I never really get caught up in all that stuff.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • New Nets forward Markieff Morris said the perception around the NBA is that last year’s Brooklyn team was “soft,” per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Morris is hoping to bring grit and toughness to this year’s roster, and Nash believes the veteran will have an important voice in the locker room. “Markieff is a need for us, his presence, his personality,” Nash said. “He has a voice, he has an experience, he has an understanding of the game. That’s a need. We need guys that can speak to the group.”
  • Camp invitee Yuta Watanabe told Japanese reporters this week that he hopes to be able to play a three-and-D role for the Nets this season, as Jordan Greene of NetsDaily writes. Watanabe, who is on non-guaranteed contract, isn’t a lock to make Brooklyn’s regular season roster — assuming the team retains its 12 players on guaranteed salaries and Morris, Watanabe would have to either beat out Edmond Sumner for the 14th spot or hope the club carries a 15th man despite the additional luxury tax penalty.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along several of the most notable quotes from the Nets’ Media Day earlier this week.

Contract Details: Koloko, Caboclo, Silva, Tillman, Watanabe, Spurs

As initially reported by Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca, the Raptors used exactly $1.5MM of their mid-level exception to sign rookie big man Christian Koloko to a three-year contract on Friday. With the second and third years worth the minimum, Koloko’s deal has a total three-year value of $5,239,563.

The first two years of that contract are fully guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned, with the third year non-guaranteed. Koloko’s salary for 2024/25 would become fully guaranteed if he hasn’t been waived within 48 hours of the 2024 NBA draft.

Here are a few more details on newly-signed contracts from around the NBA:

  • The new one-year, non-guaranteed contracts for Bruno Caboclo (Celtics), Chris Silva (Hawks), and Justin Tillman (Nuggets) all include Exhibit 10 language. Silva’s and Tillman’s deals could be converted into two-way contracts, but Caboclo’s can’t, since he has too many years of NBA service to be two-way eligible.
  • Yuta Watanabe‘s one-year, non-guaranteed contract with the Nets includes an Exhibit 9 clause, but not an Exhibit 10. That essentially means that Watanabe is only in the mix to compete for a regular season roster spot and probably won’t be joining Brooklyn’s G League affiliate if he’s cut (he’s ineligible for a two-way deal).
  • Alize Johnson‘s non-guaranteed contract with the Spurs is an Exhibit 9, but not an Exhibit 10. Tommy Kuhse‘s deal is an Exhibit 10, so he could have it converted into a two-way deal or could become an affiliate player for the Austin Spurs.

Nets Sign Yuta Watanabe

The Nets have signed free agent Yuta Watanabe, the team announced in a press release. The terms of the agreement weren’t revealed, but Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports (via Twitter) that Brooklyn signed Watanabe to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract.

A 6’8″ forward, Watanabe has played in 121 NBA games across four seasons with the Grizzlies and Raptors. He appeared in 38 contests with Toronto last season, averaging 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per outing. He also shot 41% from the floor and 34% from three-point range.

Brooklyn has 15 players on its 20-man offseason roster. One of those players (Alondes Williams) is on a two-way deal, while the other 14 are on standard contracts — in addition to the 12 with fully guaranteed salaries, Watanabe is now on a non-guaranteed deal and Edmond Sumner has a partial guarantee. Watanabe will presumably join the team for training camp with a chance to earn a roster spot this fall.

The Nets are coming off a tumultuous summer headlined by Kevin Durant‘s trade request. With Durant and the team recently agreeing to move forward with their partnership, the club is now focused on competing for a championship.

Atlantic Notes: Rose, Reddish, Raptors, Watanabe, Schröder

Derrick Rose is traveling with the Knicks on their three-game road trip and there’s optimism that he will be able to resume playing next month, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Rose had surgery on his right ankle on December 22 and was projected to be sidelined about eight weeks, which would have him returning right after the All-Star break.

“I hate to speculate,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I know he’s doing everything according to plan and there hasn’t been any setback. The swelling’s all gone and he’s feeling a lot better. That’s the important thing.”

Thibodeau added that Rose hasn’t been cleared to run or jump yet, but he is doing workouts in a pool. The loss of Rose, combined with knee issues for Kemba Walker, have left the Knicks short-handed at point guard, although Walker returned to the starting lineup Monday night.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • After playing five minutes Sunday in his Knicks debut, Cam Reddish didn’t get off the bench at all Monday, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. There’s no obvious candidate to be removed from the rotation to give Reddish more minutes, so Begley wonders if a trade is in the works, noting that it wouldn’t make sense for the Knicks to give up a first-round pick for Reddish if they didn’t intend to use him.
  • The Raptors aren’t interested in trading core players Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Instead, Toronto will focus on acquiring other pieces who can complement that group going forward. One obvious move involves finding a taker for Goran Dragic‘s $19.4MM expiring contract. Dragic was acquired from the Heat in the Kyle Lowry deal, but hasn’t played since early November while tending to personal matters, which Grange said the Raptors didn’t expect.
  • The Raptors have assigned Yuta Watanabe to their G League team, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. As a fourth-year player, Watanabe would have needed to give his approval to the move. He has played in just 19 games this season.
  • The Cavaliers may be the Celtics‘ best option in working out a deal for Dennis Schröder, John Hollinger of the Athletic says in a discussion with Jay King about Boston’s trade prospects. Hollinger proposes sending Schröder to Cleveland for Kevin Pangos, Ed Davis and a 2023 second-round pick in a trade that would leave both teams under the luxury tax.