Kevin Durant denies recruiting James Harden to Brooklyn Nets

The NBA training camp has begun, and James Harden is still in Houston. Still the franchise cornerstone of the Rockets.

The blockbuster trade that was supposed to bring Harden to the Brooklyn Nets got stalled with the Rockets wanting to get a king’s ransom in return. Something that the Nets wouldn’t want to do — mortgage their future.

And at the center of the storm that threatened to tilt the balance of power in the NBA is Kevin Durant, who, reportedly, had a conversation with Harden in forming a super team with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

Durant vehemently denied such conversations between him and Harden on the first day of the Nets’ training camp.

“I don’t know where you’re making these stories up, that me and James talked about any of this at a workout,” Durant told reporters via zoom on Tuesday. “I don’t know where that came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff. I was just so focused on working out.

But Durant, who will make his much-anticipated return from an Achilles injury more than a week from now, has acknowledged that he’s heard all the trade chatter.

“I heard all the noise that James potentially wanted to come to the Nets, but anyone can make up stories, anyone can write a story, and it gets some traction,” Durant said.

“Nothing’s ever set in stone until it’s set in stone. So I’ve never thought too much about it, just focused on myself and my teammates probably did the same thing, and we just move forward.”

Nets re-sign Tyler Johnson, Chris Chiozza

Moving forward is what the Nets have done as they traded for gunner Landry Shamet and re-signed guards Tyler Johnson and Chris Chiozza.

Even without Harden, the Nets are installed as one of the favorites in the East. All eyes will be on the new-look Nets with Durant and Irving and first-time head coach Steve Nash when they host the Washington Wizards for their first preseason game on Dec. 13 to be aired live on YES Network.

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Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks keeps promise, signs Joe Harris to massive deal

Brooklyn Nets, Joe Harris

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks made true to his promise that Joe Harris is their number one priority.

The Nets re-signed Harris to a lucrative four-year, $75 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Harris’ rise from a castoff to one of the league’s finest shooters has been one of the biggest reasons the Nets were able to lure superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to sign in 2019.

Harris, the 2019 NBA three-point contest champion, is coming off a career season where he averaged 14.5 points while shooting 42.4 percent beyond the arc.

Harris’ massive deal has pushed the Nets’ luxury tax bill to $47.5 million.

The Nets now have 13 players under contract, including new acquisitions Landry Shamet (from Los Angeles Clippers) and Bruce Brown (from Detroit Pistons).

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Brooklyn Nets add Landry Shamet, decline Garrett Temple’s team option

The Brooklyn Nets made a couple of moves that saved them roughly $9 million in luxury tax while injecting more shooting to surround Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

The Nets have landed Landry Shamet in a three-way Draft Day trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Detroit Pistons. The Nets then waived veteran Garrett Temple on Thursday, first reported by Ian Begley of SNY.

Luke Kennard will go to the Clippers, while the Nets’ 19th pick (Villanova’s Saddiq Bey) will begin his NBA career as a Piston.

The 23-year old Shamet will add shooting to the Nets, the sixth-worst in three-point accuracy last season. Shamet is a 40.2 percent career three-point shooter and is much younger than Temple.

The Nets were able to lower down their luxury tax bill by not picking up the $5 million team option of Temple, who is expected to sign with another contender.

Shamet appeared to be excited with the trade as he posted a video of him enjoying steak and wine with Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind playing in the background shortly after the deal was announced on Wednesday night.

Shamet will also serve as insurance if Joe Harris leaves. But multiple reports have indicated that the sharpshooting Harris will return to the Nets.

The Nets general manager Sean Marks has indicated that Harris is a priority. The Nets hope to re-sign him when the free agency begins Friday.

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Report: Nets, Rockets verbally agree on James Harden blockbuster trade

The Brooklyn Nets and the Houston Rockets are nearing completion of a blockbuster deal that will send James Harden to Brooklyn, according to Anthony Puccio of Front Office Sports.

Multiple sources have told Puccio that there’s a deal in place, and both teams already have a verbal agreement.

Shortly after the news broke out, Farbod Esnaashari of Sports Illustrated put out more details on the imminent trade.

The Rockets are seeking a massive haul in return for Harden, who has been the face of the franchise since 2012. The 2018 MVP earned his third scoring title last season after averaging 34.3 points. In addition to his dynamic scoring, Harden also averaged 7.6 assists, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.8 steals, becoming just the third player to lead the NBA in total points and steals to join Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson in the exclusive group.

Harden, 31, earlier rejected a two-year, $103-million extension offer putting more pressure on the Rockets to trade him to his preferred destination.

The Nets rose on top of Harden’s wish list after conversations with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the West Coast, and with former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni joining the Nets in an assistant role to first-time head coach Steve Nash.

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Report: James Harden badly wants Nets trade, rejects Rockets’ massive extension offer

James Harden is pulling an Anthony Davis act as the Houston Rockets superstar is ‘singularly focused on a trade to the Brooklyn Nets‘, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Harden is taking a page from Davis and Klutch Sports’ playbook, which forced the New Orleans Pelicans to trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019. One year later, Davis won a championship.

Harden reportedly made his intentions clear to the Rockets’ new management, led by first-time general manager Rafael Stone, when he rejected a two-year, $103 million extension that could have locked him in Houston for the next five years.

Harden believes his window to win a title with the Rockets ended when they parted ways with long-time general manager Daryl Morey and coach Mike D’Antoni.

The idea of forming a super team in Brooklyn came to shape in recent weeks. Harden had conversations with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving that ramped up his decision. The Rockets, however, made it known to the Nets and the rest of the league that they expect a massive haul in return for their franchise player.

“That means young players, draft picks and salary-cap relief,” Wojnarowski said on Monday night’s edition of ESPN’s Sports Center.

With three years left in Harden’s contract, including a player option on the third year, the Rockets plan to play this out and create a bidding war if the situation is no longer salvageable.

It appears Harden has already made up his mind.

The 31-year old superstar hopes to have his next two years contending for the title with the Nets before he can opt-out and decide what to do next with his career.

His contract fits the timeline of Durant and Irving with the Nets. Durant and Irving have three years left, a player option in the third year, in their respective contracts.

Harden played with Durant in Oklahoma City before he got traded to the Rockets in 2012. On the other hand, he played with Irving at Team USA.

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Patrick Ewing fan Isaiah Stewart’s toughness is made for New York Knicks

Nba draft prospect Isaiah Stewart’s game evokes a throwback feel. He plays a lot like former New York Knicks‘ franchise big man Patrick Ewing at the post.

In Stewart’s lone season with the Washington Huskies, the 6-foot-9 forward/center from upstate Rochester routinely beats his man with fundamentally sound footwork that usually ends up with a monster slam, a leaner on the glass, a baby hook, or a smooth turnaround jumper.

Shades of Ewing, right?

Because Stewart grew up idolizing the Knicks Hall of Fame center.

“The reason why I wear 33 is because of Patrick Ewing. Growing up, he’s the player I used to watch a lot. I was always on youtube, arguing with other people about Patrick Ewing,” Stewart said on a zoom call with reporters.

His Jamaican heritage is the ties that bind him with Ewing. He’s heard Ewing’s exploits from his father, Dela Stewart, a Jamaican who emigrated to the United States in the 1970s originally in Florida for farm work and later on moved to Rochester, New York, for construction work.

Stewart’s affinity to Ewing grew even bigger when a family friend and area youth coach in Rochester, Dr. Michael Maloney, a Georgetown graduate, introduced him to the Knicks legend.

Although Stewart ultimately decided to take his talents to the Huskies because of his close relationship with coach Mike Hopkins, who’s been scouting him since his freshman year at McQuaid Jesuit High School, he said it was a tough decision.

“It was hard for me to say no to Georgetown, especially with Patrick Ewing recruiting me. Him having that Jamaican background, and my dad is Jamaican, they connected pretty easily. That was a great visit, and he was recruiting me hard,” Stewart recalled. “I definitely considered Georgetown.”

He made waves as a 6-foot-7 freshman in Rochester that registered back-to-back 40-point games. That put him on the scouts’ radar ever since.

After two seasons at McQuaid, Stewart transferred to La Lumiere School in Indiana, where he blossomed into a consensus five-star recruit and a top-five player in the 2019 class.

As La Lumiere’s double-double machine (18.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks) that powered the prestigious prep program to a 30-1 record, Stewart won the Naismith Prep Player of the Year, Mr. USA Basketball awards. He played in all top high school camps (McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic, and Nike Hoop Summit).

Even as a college freshman, Stewart’s 7-foot-4 wingspan and his 250-lb frame was an imposing presence under Hopkins’ zone. He averaged 17.0 points on 57 percent field goal shooting, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks to earn All-Pac-12 selection.

If this was the late 80s or 90s, Stewart should be a surefire lottery pick.

But times have changed. The NBA game has evolved.

And Stewart, just a 19-year old kid with a grown man’s body, found the global pandemic an opportunity to expand his game and hopefully rise in the NBA teams’ boards as the Draft Day approaches.

“Shooting has been one of my main focuses. I’ve come a long way to that,” said Stewart, who shot 25 percent from deep in college.

Stewart played a traditional big man role under Hopkins and only attempted 20 triples in 32 games, making five of them.

Ewing may have strongly influenced his game, but Stewart said he’s been watching a lot of today’s NBA big men too as he prepares for the next level.

“With today’s generation of people at my position, some of the guys I’ve been watching a lot are Bam Adebayo, Montrezl Harrell, guys that feel like the same mold as me,” Stewart said.

If he can combine Adebayo’s playmaking skills with Harrell’s brute power, Stewart can thrive in the modern NBA.

“People know I bring, at the end of the day, my motor — hard work, run the floor, rebounding, and just doing the little things that may not show up in the stats sheet. To put my game in a nutshell, I’m the person who just does anything it takes to win. But the one thing that I think I’ll show you is my shooting ability,” Stewart said. “That will surprise a lot of people.”

Mostly mocked from mid to late first round, Stewart has both interviewed with the New York teams — the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets though he declined to reveal which teams he had an in-personal workout with.

Stewart is an option and could be a steal at No. 27 if he’s still available and if the Knicks decide to use their eighth pick at drafting a point guard.

“I think that will be great—definitely a lot of Knicks fans from Rochester. With New York not being that far away from Rochester, I’m sure if the Knicks draft me at [No.] 27, I’ll have a lot of fans come up here and support me. That will be great,” Stewart said.

He sees no problem playing alongside Knicks’ current big man Mitchell Robinson, claiming his toughness is tailor-made for New York.

“[I can fit] easily [with] my physicality right away. In order for you to play in New York, you have to be tough. That’s who I am,” Stewart said. “I feel like I can play next to a big with me getting to shoot the ball and stretch the floor.”

But regardless of who picks him, he said they would get an NBA-ready player.

“I expect to be impactful and be able to go from Day One,” Stewart said.

Like Ewing did in New York.

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Report: Brooklyn on top of James Harden’s wishlist but Nets divided on the idea

The Brooklyn Nets have emerged as the preferred top destination for Houston Rockets’ superstar James Harden, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne, and Zach Lowe.

However, the Nets and the Rockets have yet to engage in a trade discussion as everything has been player-driven so far.

Harden and Durant reportedly have talked about a possible reunion as the Rockets’ superstar is mulling over his future in Houston. But Ian Begley of SNY also reported that not all the Nets players contacted are receptive to the idea of trading for Harden.

Harden’s future with the Rockets alongside Russell Westbrook came into question earlier this week on the heels of the sweeping changes in the organization.

Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey, the two architects of the small-ball Rockets featuring Harden, have left the team following their Western Conference semifinals defeat at the hands of the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Morey has since joined the Philadelphia 76ers as team president while D’Antoni accepted an assistant coaching role under his former player and first-time coach Steve Nash, in Brooklyn.

The Rockets have maintained that they intend to contend with Harden. But things could quickly escalate if Harden would demand a trade.

The 31-year old Harden has led the Rockets to the active longest playoff streak — eight seasons in a row — since he was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he was the third star to the Durant-Westbrook tandem.

The Nets have the ability trade for Harden with a chest of young assets (Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jarrett Allen) and draft capital (they own all their first-round picks starting next season). Harden is owed $131.5 million over the next three seasons, including a $46.9 million player option in 2022-23.

Westbrook, meanwhile, has been linked to several trade rumors, including the Nets’ crosstown rival New York Knicks, but nothing is imminent at this point.

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Nets Rumor: James Harden names Brooklyn as one of 3 potential destinations if Rockets blow it up

Could James Harden be the third star that the Brooklyn Nets covet?

With all the unrest in Houston brought by the sweeping changes in the coaching staff and front office, Rockets’ superstars Harden and Russell Westbrook have reportedly expressed concern about the franchise’s direction, per ESPN.

Adding more fuel to the fire, Kendrick Perkins said on The Jump on Wednesday that Harden isn’t picking up the phone calls of the members of the Rockets’ organization.

Five Reasons Sports Network’s Clutch NBA reported shortly after that Harden already has a list in mind on where he wants to go next if the Rockets decide to go in another direction.

The 31-year old Harden has $131.5 million left in his contract, including a $46.9 million player option in 2022-23.

Nets’ possible package for Harden

ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks also named the Nets as one of the five teams who have the combination of draft capital and tradeable contracts that can satisfy Rockets’ possible asking price. The four other teams are Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, and the 76ers where Daryl Morey, the former Rockets general manager, has indicated that he will trade for Harden if he is made available.

The Nets, according to Marks, can dangle a package composed of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince, and future draft picks.

The Nets have internally discussed last season on how to acquire a third star, acknowledging that their championship window has arrived with the acquisition of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

They were previously linked to Bradley Beal and Jrue Holiday, but nothing concrete came out of it.

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Bobby Marks: Brooklyn Nets’ big man Jarrett Allen looking for Clint Capela-type of extension

Brooklyn Nets, Jarrett Allen

Will the Brooklyn Nets extend or cash in Jarret Allen?

This is one of the biggest questions that Net’s general manager Sean Marks would have to address aside from re-signing Joe Harris and finding the third star to complement the returning Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Allen’s contract extension talks could be tied with the last one as his name constantly pops up in trade rumors.

Conventional wisdom says the Nets would likely play out Allen’s rookie deal and have him as a restricted free agent next year. But that would be tempting Allen to walk away after this season without getting anything in return.

Former Nets’ assistant general manager and now ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks recently weighed in on Allen’s contract situation.

“He’s looking for a Clint Capela-type of money,” Marks said on Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective Podcast.

Capela signed a five-year, $90-million extension deal with the Houston Rockets in 2018 before he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks last season. Capela was 24 at the time of the deal.

“I would think it’s hard for me to extend him to that type of number and the other thing is if you extend these guys, you’re basically off the board for a year because of the poison pill restriction in your contract. So it’s not like he’s tradeable so I think if I’m Brooklyn and if I can get him in that $12-14 million range, I’m looking for a below-market type of deal here,” Marks added.

But would Allen agree to a discount in a reduced role for the next three to four years?

 

Marks and Windhorst’s ESPN colleague Tim MacMahon chimed in, suggesting that it’s more complicated than it seems.

“The other thing is the strange dynamic with KD and Kyrie’s guy, DeAndre Jordan, as $10-million a year dude, paying him that much to play 18-20 minutes a game. Do they want DeAndre in the starting lineup? You can’t ignore that whole dynamic when you’re making these decisions and obviously, the Nets’ front office isn’t ignoring anything that KD and Kyrie have to say when it comes to making major decisions,” MacMahon said.

The 22-year old Allen was one of the homegrown Nets but could see himself as another casualty of the new order with the team’s championship window arriving.

The markings were on the wall when Irving left him out of their core during a controversial post-game talk early this year.

“Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces, but it’s pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will complement myself, [Kevin Durant], DJ, GT, Spence [Dinwiddie], Caris [LeVert], and we’ll see how that evolves,” Irving said after losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in January.

Allen subsequently lost the starting job to Jordan after Kenny Atkinson, his biggest backer, left the team. While Allen has said all the right things since the demotion, it’s still a bitter pill to swallow after showing he’s a capable starter on a playoff team before last season.

Would he want to play as a backup in a championship contender or secure the bag and play as a starter with another team?

Nets owner and Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai has no qualms about paying the luxury tax. Still, Bobby Marks, speaking from his experience with former Nets’ owner Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, warned that Sean Marks and the Nets’ front office could be courting trouble if they flame out while being the league’s top taxpayer.

“Here’s the deal with these guys (rich owners). They may be making 20 billion dollars a year and I’ve said this all along. When you’ve got to write a luxury tax cheque, or wire money for $40 or $50 million and you lose in the second round or conference finals, it’s not a pleasant meeting with the ownership. So I don’t care what they’re worth. Nobody wants to spend $50 million on tax,” Marks said.

Earlier, Marks told Empire Sports Media that a Harris deal worth $12 million annually would net the Nets a $50-million tax bill. A lucrative Allen extension would push Tsai to dig deeper into his pocket.

Even with a healthy Durant and Irving, the Nets are not a surefire favorite. They would have to contend in a crowded East with at least five more solid contenders in Miami, Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Boston.

Sean Marks showed his chops as an executive pulling the Nets out of the rabbit hole by extracting value out of nothing.

Now that he’s got something, will he keep it or flip it?

Marks has his work cut out for him.

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Brooklyn Nets: Ranking Steve Nash’s assistant coaches

Brooklyn Nets, Steve Nash

In what is already turning into another wild offseason for the Brooklyn Nets, it was announced that the Nets will be finalizing terms with Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka to become assistant coaches under new Head Coach Steve Nash.

Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to break the news via Twitter. D’Antoni joins two of his former players in Nash and Stoudemire, both of whom helped D’Antoni gain notoriety as one of the most brilliant offensive minds in basketball during the mid to late 2000s. The real question is, in terms of importance to the team, where do these assistant coaches rank amongst each other?

Ranking Brooklyn’s Assistant Coaches from Most Important to Least

#1 – Mike D’Antoni is coming off a 4-year run in Houston that included 4 straight Conference Semifinals berths, no easy feat in the daunting Western Conference. He is still respected around the league as a brilliant offensive mind and was able to manage personalities such as James Harden, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook. Marks is hoping that D’Antoni will be able to not only support Nash but also figure out the best way for two ball-dominant superstars in Kyrie and KD to maximize their effectiveness together. Perhaps, Nash and D’Antoni will implement a more fast-paced, high-scoring offense as they executed to perfection during their tenure together in Phoenix. Because of his pedigree, I think D’Antoni should be ranked #1.

#2 – Jacque Vaughn is STILL the top assistant to Nash and has the most familiarity with the young players on this team. Vaughn proved he isn’t afraid of the spotlight during his run in the Orlando bubble as interim Head Coach. The Nets played hard and fought for Vaughn down the stretch, and while he was swept in the playoffs by Toronto, Marks felt it was important to keep Vaughn on the staff even with the hire of Nash. Because of these reasons, JV is my #2 most important assistant coach on this staff.

#3 Ime Udoka, a name many may be slightly less familiar with, Udoka spent last season in Philadelphia and received several interviews for Head Coaching positions, one interview being with the New York Knicks, but ultimately agreed to join Brooklyn’s coaching staff as an assistant. Udoka served under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio for seven years before Philadelphia and won a ring with Sean Marks in 2014 when the two were on the same coaching staff together. A 7 year NBA veteran and a longtime assistant to Pop, Udoka the #3 assistant coach rank. FUN FACT: Udoka has been dating the beautiful actress, Nia Long, since 2010 (according to Wikipedia).

#4 Adam Harrington has been with the Nets organization since 2016 as an assistant and is definitely one of the more popular names amongst present and past players. Harrington can be seen on Twitter tweeting out videos of ball handling drills with his children or playfully responding to a picture of Joe Harris’s family as they engage in Halloween activities. A former NBA player himself, Adam has done a great job of engaging with players on this roster since he’s been here, most notably developing a fantastic relationship with Spencer Dinwiddie during Spence’s growth as a player. Harrington is my #4 selection

#5 Amare Stoudemire’s basketball accomplishments, both in the NBA and abroad, speak for themselves. As someone who has worked with Nash and D’Antoni in the past, he should be an easy fit with this new Brooklyn Nets culture. But don’t get it twisted; Stoudemire has one job and one job only. And that’s to continue to develop Jarrett Allen and Nic Claxton. Hopefully, with Stoudemire’s guidance, Allen will be able to improve his overall offensive game, and Claxton will be able to find his offensive game. Even though he is coming off a championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv, his lack of coaching experience puts him #5 on my list.

Hope you enjoyed my ranking of Steve Nash’s assistant coaches, be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your latest Brooklyn Nets news and listen to the Fireside Nets w/ Spen & Nick podcast!