Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving offers words of encouragement for Caris LeVert

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets are without roughly half their roster in the NBA bubble due to a combination of injuries and players opting out of play. Subsequently, those present have assumed larger workloads in head coach Jacque Vaughn’s rotation, one of them being Caris LeVert.

In the six games he has appeared in since the regular season resumed, LeVert has averaged 25.0 points, 6.7 assists and five rebounds per game while shooting 48.0 percent from the field.

Kyrie Irving is among the Nets players absent from the bubble, but the star point guard has offered LeVert words of encouragement (quotes per Marc Berman of the New York Post).

“I talked to Ky [on Friday] morning, talked about the games and playoffs coming up and giving me encouragement,’’ LeVert said on a Zoom call Saturday. “He’s watching all the games. He’s been in this position before, fighting for something.’’

The Nets took the Portland Trail Blazers, who were playing to get into the NBA playoffs, to the final buzzer of their Thursday night matchup. Despite losing 134-133, there were positives for the Nets to build on, specifically LeVert’s performance.

The homegrown first rounder finished with 37 points, nine assists and six rebounds while shooting 16-of-29 from the field. LeVert finished the 2019-20 NBA regular season averaging 18.7 points, 4.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Vaughn feels Irving reaching out to LeVert is “huge.”

“It’s huge Caris got a call from Ky — that’s a great thing this isn’t an individual sport,’’ Vaughn said. “Just because we don’t have the group with us, doesn’t mean they can’t be part of it. Caris appreciated that.’’

The Nets finished the regular season 35-37, which is good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, and 5-3 in the bubble. They’ll begin their first-round series matchup with the second-seeded and defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors on Monday. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks talks Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving’s health and input

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

Last summer, the Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year, max-level contracts. Durant has missed the entire 2019-20 season as he rehabs from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the 2019 NBA playoffs. Meanwhile, Irving has been limited to 20 games this season due to a handful of injuries.

As the NBA gears up for the resumption of the 2019-20 regular season, Nets general manager Sean Marks feels it’s important to take into account the long game with Durant and Irving regarding them playing this season (quotes by means of Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“[Irving] is doing well. But like Kevin, you have to look at the risk-reward. When you have a lot of money and your future tied to a couple guys — the whole team, but these two guys are an integral part of it — they haven’t had the appropriate buildup,” Marks said Friday on WFAN. “The last thing you want to do is put these guys out there when they haven’t had the appropriate workload and buildup.”

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, subsequently promoting Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach. Vaughn coached two games prior to the NBA season being suspended.

Marks feels that Durant and Irving should have some input on the team’s head-coaching future.

“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.”

Marks makes it clear that the two stars want to win a championship with the Nets.

“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.”

Brooklyn Nets: The COVID-19 Nightmare Continues

It was only a few months ago when a report came out that four Brooklyn Nets players, one of them being Kevin Durant, tested positive for COVID-19. Now, in the last 48 hours, two more Nets have publicly announced that they too have tested positive for the virus.

DeAndre Jordan, at 9:34pm EST on Monday night, tweeted the following about how he found out he had tested positive for COVID-19:

Several hours earlier, it was reported that Spencer Dinwiddie also had tested positive for the virus after feeling COVID-19 symptoms such as chest tightness and a fever. While Jordan has made it clear he will not be playing when the NBA season resumes, Dinwiddie has been hopeful he can recover from the virus in time to rejoin the team hopefully during the playoffs. He had this to say in response to Woj implying Dinwiddie was strongly considering not joining the team in Orlando.

It’s been a rough few months for Nets fans who hoped to see some form of the team they envisioned way back when KD and Kyrie signed in last July. Fans got their hopes up several weeks ago that the two superstars might return when basketball resumes in late July, a rumor that was shut down quickly by both players.

In the last two weeks, it was reported that two more players would not be traveling to Orlando with the team, as the young power forward Nic Claxton had season-ending should-surgery several days ago and journeyman Wilson Chandler has chosen to spend more with his family this summer. Add DeAndre Jordan and possibly Spencer Dinwiddie to the mix, and that’s 6 key contributors the Nets will be missing when play resumes in Orlando. Some fans may be optimistic about the recent signings of Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson, but at this point, fans will be watching an almost entirely different team than the one we saw for most of the year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that more than anything, we hope Spencer, DeAndre, and all the professional athletes that have tested positive for COVID-19 get well soon. This virus is terrifying for these athletes and their families to have to endure, and I wish them nothing but the best during their recovery period. For the Nets players who have chosen not to return to the bubble for reasons outside of health, such as Wilson Chandler and Kyrie Irving, I have nothing but respect for those men and their decisions. They have a right to either fight for the cause they believe in or spend time with their family during these scary times.

While the Nets will be missing a large portion of their team in Orlando, they still will have Caris LeVert, who was playing the best basketball of his career prior to the season being suspended. Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris should most likely be traveling with the team as well. They should still be competitive and put up a fight in the first round of the playoffs. But many Nets fans can rest assured that this team at full strength and health next year, will be a real title contender and quite possibly the favorite in the East.

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Brooklyn Nets: Does Culture Win Championships?

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

It wasn’t supposed to come to this, but that isn’t a bad thing. 

In a newfound problem for the Brooklyn Nets, that exclusively applies to teams with top-flight talent, a power struggle has emerged within the organization. After a 2018-2019 campaign that saw an 8-18 beginning turn on the back of D’Angelo Russell, the Brooklyn Nets established a culture that made fans forget recent years of despair that was doomed by the infamous 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics. 

Culture became a buzzword for the Nets front office and fans as their overachieving 42-40 record offered promise after entering the season with diminished expectations and a self-proclaimed “system” that had produced little in the way of results. 

Caris Levert’s gruesome injury halted his promising start to the season, leaving behind a shattered locker room looking for a leader to step up. Through the wreckage emerged D’Angelo Russell, who along with a bunch of former cast-offs, guided the team through an obstacle-filled season. For this, Russell earned a spot on the Eastern Conference all-star team. 

Developing right next to Russell was his backup, Spencer Dinwiddie, who had proven to be a mismatch nightmare, seeking out big men and delivering the highest point per possession totals in the NBA throughout the season. Also making a rise from the scrap heap was Joe Harris, who developed a well-rounded game to make him a mainstay in lineups to close out games.

This was a welcome sight for coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks, who finally saw results after two tumultuous seasons at the helm. Rather than continuing to accumulate assets in hopes of striking a diamond in the rough, the Nets were suddenly in a position of power, with high-profile stars being linked to them consistently and public perception changing in a very vocal manner around the league. 

The veterans on the team were thorough in their praise of coach Atkinson, citing the system he developed as instrumental in helping the team blend perfectly and play to their strengths at all times. 

The signings of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Deandre Jordan on June 30 changed the landscape of the league, as the cellar-dwelling Brooklyn Nets were catapulted into the top-tier of basketball as a team with the firepower to push through the Eastern conference and go toe to toe with the fearsome superstars of Los Angeles out West. 

Durant and Irving have openly discussed the allure of a solid culture in their decision to come to Brooklyn. Since their signings, however, they have been behind many decisions that indicate their desire to rid the team of their old regime and insert their power in a way that has become customary for superstars around the league. The culture-oriented Nets are now at a crossroads, with each passing decision serving as a reminder that this league is run by superstars. 

When pressured by Durant and Irving, Marks nixed the idea of bringing in Carmelo Anthony, who at the time, had been shunned by all 30 teams in his attempt to make it back onto a roster. Although Marks was able to put his foot down in this instance, the subsequent firing of Kenny Atkinson beckoned the question: does culture win championships, or it is the superstars that do? The relevance of this conflict is an indictment of where the league stands. The players hold all the power

Perhaps Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant understand after seeing Atkinson’s style that he does not possess the qualities of a championship-level coach, and to me, that’s okay. After all, when you have the opportunity to sign two superstars after being mired in mediocrity, you hand them the keys and let them drive the franchise wherever they see fit. 

 

NBA’s return will rely on complex technology along with some Disney magic

Now that the NBA has confirmed their location for when the league return’s to play in Orlando, the most important thing is the health of the players and team staff that will be part of the Disney bubble when games begin later next month.

NBA players such as Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving are going to need a little time to adjust to the “Big Brother” format the league will be using to keep tabs on everything players do while they are playing games during COVID-19 pandemic. They will be monitored from where they are eating, practicing, to even f they are around a particular person for too long of a period of time.

With the help of technological wizardry of Walt Disney World and a unique ring, the NBA believes it has a system that will keep all involved as safe as possible. Players will be receiving several different pieces of tech and safety equipment to utilize while in the Disney bubble, some of which have been used for years, others seem like out of a Marvel’s movie.

Beginning on July 7, players will begin to arrive at Disney in a staggering order. Players will have to sit in quarantine until they test negative for the coronavirus twice, at least 24 hours apart before thye can participate in any basketball activities. The players, staff and anyone else inside the bubble will continue to be tested daily.

It’s All About The Technology

The league will have all of its players wear a Disney Magic Band. It’s the same band everyone gets when staying at a Disney resort and enters a Disney park. The Disney Magic Band will need to be worn at all times and used to get through checkpoints and into rooms.

There will Social distancing alarms will go off if players are too close to each other for too long.

The newest and voluntary piece of equipment players can choose to utilize is the OURA ring.

The Oura smart ring is capable of predicting COVID-19 symptoms up to 3 days in advance with 90% accuracy. The ring can measure body
temperature, respiratory functions, and heart rate. Jordan Rose of Complex.com reported that Players will have full access to the data collected on them as well, which will be studied by scientists at the University of Michigan to monitor for symptoms.

The ring started out as a fitness tracker before its was fully utilized to help detect the Covid-19 virus and its symptoms.

A study was done by the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute in conjunction with Oura Health further elaborates on the benefits of early detection of the virus.

“The holistic and integrated neuroscience platform developed by the RNI continuously monitors the human operating system, which allows for the accurate prediction of the onset of viral infection symptoms associated with COVID-19,” Ali Rezai, M.D., executive chair of the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, said. “We feel this platform will be integral to protecting our healthcare workers, first responders, and communities as we adjust to life in the COVID-19 era. This technology can potentially critical decision-making tool to help contain the spread of the virus, safely re-open communities, strengthen the economy, and facilitate public health containment strategies.”

An immediate advantage to the use of the ring will be towards Asymptomatic diagnosis. Asymptomatic people show no signs of the disease, they have no symptoms yet the can spread the virus the same way a person that has the virus and displays symptoms. The ring can give the medical staff and the player advance warning before a spread of the virus occurs.

The Oura rings are not exclusive to sports players and the wealthy. Anyone can purchase the rings for their own use.

As much as the league follows the science and the data, the X-Factor still remains.

A positive results is bound to happen during the leagues return to playing. What will the NBA do should an outbreak of the virus attacks more then a few players?

Last week the NHL announced that they were comfortable, based on medical experts, that the games would continue even if they get “some” positive results of the virus.

The NBA is in the same situation. This could be an epic failure if players began to test positive at a high infectious rate. A positive result could absolutely influence the next World Champion or cancel the Finals all together.

The NBA is putting a lot in the line to complete their season and playoffs. They hope with the advice and their medical experts along with the players willingness to adhere to the safety standards the league and played union agree to the season will be completed in a healthy way.

So now we wait for a Mickey Mouse and his famous group of characters to do what they have done for generations. Make people smile and enjoy themselves during unusual times in the professional sports world.

Nets’ Kyrie Irving leads inspiring phone call to question NBA’s plan for return

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

On Friday evening, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving led a conference-call of 80+ NBA and WNBA players about potentially not playing again this season. These would be due to the coronavirus risks and to protest the racial injustices taking place in the United States

“I don’t support going into Orlando,” said Irving on the call. “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls**t. Something smells a little fishy.”

Sources say that other outspoken players included Carmelo Anthony of the Trailblazers and Chris Paul of the Thunder. The WNBA players in the call are reportedly willing to back the NBA players and follow suit in their league. The WNBA just submitted a return to play proposal to the players, entailing a 22-game season with full pay.

“I’m willing to give up everything I have (for social reform),” added Irving in the call.

From what sources have heard, a lot of players respect Irving for this and would potentially follow suit and sit out. One player told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that “he’s trying to give players a platform to be able to have a discussion — on the bubble, racial equality and unity…It’s a good call.”

Throughout the past week, the NBA was finalizing their plans to return to play at Disney World in Orlando. But with the racial injustices and rising coronavirus cases in Florida, players are having second thoughts. If players ultimately decide that they do not want to play the rest of the season, then the season would just be outright canceled. From there, we would likely see a somewhat normal offseason, but we aren’t to that point yet.

Brooklyn Nets: Rest of Season will not include Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Since the NBA season was suspended in mid-March, one of the hottest trending topics for NBA fans to debate has been the return of Kevin Durant. Many predicted that due to the added break in time during the suspended season, that both Durant and Kyrie would be able to finish their rehab and contribute when the season resumed. Unfortunately, this narrative was shared by the majority of #NetsTwitter, only to be let down when Anthony “Pooch” Puccio of NetsDaily when he tweeted the following:

This news was confirmed hours later by Marc J. Spears, who posted an interview with Kevin Durant that he had conducted on The Undefeated. When asked about if he would be playing for the Nets in Orlando when the season returns, Durant responded by saying “My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all. We decided last season when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season.” You can read the whole interview below:

As for Durant’s teammate Kyrie Irving, news surfaced yesterday regarding his status as well. Irving is interested in traveling with the Nets to Orlando, he just won’t be in uniform. Woj reported the following on Irving’s status:

So no Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving when the NBA resumes play in August. We will ride with our Spencer Dindwiddie & Caris Levert led team, who happened to finish the season on a hot streak with interim Head coach Jacque Vaughn.

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Brooklyn Nets: Get Bradley Beal at all Costs

New York Knicks, Marcus Morris

Flashback seven years ago, the newly located Brooklyn Nets are stuck as a second-tier team. Led by Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, the options are clear: make a push for a championship that mortgages the future or tear down the roster and rebuild with a stockpile of assets. On draft night in June 2013, the front office made their choice. In a trade that has haunted the franchise for the majority of the decade, the Nets acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, two pieces they hoped would catapult them into real contenders. 

After recent reports surfaced Thursday that the Nets have interest in adding star Bradley Beal to the fold, deja vu struck in the minds of many Nets fans. Just as the Nets quickly built a contender in 2012, they have done so again. As Williams and Lopez were exiting their primes, the team attempted to surround them with a desperate accumulation of talent. Durant and Irving may have already seen their best days, but that is where the similarities end. They represent a higher class of superstardom, one that can objectively compete against the most high-profile names in the league. Adding a superstar entering his prime would fuel a championship run without stripping the franchise of all future assets. 

When it comes to perfect additions for this complicated Nets roster, it doesn’t get more seamless than Beal. His immense versatility would allow him to fit in next to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a way that most stars would not be able to. 

“I can put him in any situation, and he understands it at a high level,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “I can use him as a decoy, and he understands why I’m using him as a decoy. I can use him in pick and rolls and pin downs and in the post.” 

Playing with two superstars who can break down any defense would offer Beal more open three-pointers than he’s seen at any other point in his career. As a 38% three-point shooter over the course of his eight-year career, he also presents a perimeter reputation that would open up lanes for Durant and Irving to get the rim without the worry of help coming off of the shooters. With Durant coming off a major Achilles injury and Irving dealing with several maladies in previous seasons, Beal would provide necessary durability to a roster lacking in it. He hasn’t missed a game in the previous three seasons, proving to be one of the most dependable stars the league has, especially in the era of player preservation. This would afford Durant and Irving the ability to play relaxed with less of an onus on scoring, which would limit the wear and tear of a grueling NBA season as they geared up toward a run at a championship. Beal’s ability to come off screens and dribble handoffs as a scoring threat would make him a perfect partner with Deandre Jordan, a big-bodied screener who excels with playmaking guards as an explosive roll man to keep the defense honest. 

The big concern out of Brooklyn is the fragility of their two superstars, who are constantly in the headlines for the wrong reasons. It would behoove Sean Marks to add a star with a stabilizing personality to the mix. 

When asked about his relationship with Beal, Wizards co-star John Wall said “We’re just building a bond. We always joke and have fun. We play cards on the plane with each other. All that stuff equaled up to us making a better bond. We never disliked each other. There are times on the court where you are going to dislike a player. You want the ball. They want the ball”

The fight Beal displays on the court indicate a level of competitiveness that carries teams to basketball glory. A desire to win games and compete as well as capable drives the great ones. As Wall stated clearly, Beal is an excellent teammate both on and off the court. 

Parting with Caris Levert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen may seem like a tough ask for the Brooklyn Nets front office, but consider this: when envisioning the Nets lineup closing out games, which of these guys do you want out on the floor? Dinwiddie struggled mightily when paired with D’Angelo Russell last season and with Kyrie Irving this season. Without the ball in his hands, he provides little in the way of positive value on the court. He isn’t a particularly strong defender or spot-up shooter, making him a less than ideal fit in a closing lineup where he won’t have the ball in his hands. Levert has flashed glimpses of greatness for the entirety of his career, but injuries and an inconsistent jump shot have hindered his development. His lack of a consistent long-range shot would allow defenses to focus on Durant and Irving driving to the hoop, clogging the lane, and leaving them little opportunity to score at the rim. Allen’s inability to develop a consistent offensive game makes him a trade piece for the Nets. His benching in early March, in the first game after Kenny Atkinson was fired, was an indication about how the coaching staff and stars on the team felt about his value. Since his rookie year he has been a rim-running center who can protect the rim on defense but does not provide much else. While he is a solid big man for any rotation, this makes him expendable. At just 26 years old and now entering his prime, Beal himself would account for the lost young talent it would take to acquire him in a deal.

With Beal added to the fold, the Brooklyn Nets would become instant title favorites. Possessing three superstars in a league that is currently controlled by duos would give the Nets a considerable edge to close out games. Putting out Irving, Beal, and Durant to pair with sharpshooter Joe Harris would give the Brooklyn Nets a fearsome foursome that would compliment each other’s skillsets perfectly. Beal would add overwhelming talent for a Nets team that is looking to win their first NBA championship while leading the franchise for years to come. If the Wizards make Bradley Beal available in trade discussions, the Nets should engage immediately, no matter the cost.

Brooklyn Nets: Sources believe Nets Internally Discussing Trade Options for Bradley Beal

For many weeks, the rumor among Brooklyn Nets fans has been the possibility of the Brooklyn franchise bringing in a 3rd star to accompany Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. On Thursday afternoon, those rumors were confirmed by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News in the following tweet/article:

Beal has proved to be one of the league’s most efficient scorers, especially in this most recent season without his usual running mate John Wall. Although he was snubbed from the all-star team this year due to the Wizards abysmal record, Beal was averaging a career-best 30.5 ppg on 52% from the field before the season was suspended. From an offensive standpoint, Beal would be an improvement over the young Caris LeVert and create a dynamic trio of professional shot makers in Brooklyn’s starting lineup. As an undersized 2 guard, the only critique on Beal has been his defense. Beal found himself having to defend his play on the defensive end this year after being called out by several in the media as one of the worst defenders in the NBA.

3 Factors to Consider in a Beal to Brooklyn Trade

Obviously there are several variables to consider during these discussions regarding how this trade can happen. For one, would the Washington Wizards be willing to part with Beal? He has said in the past that he would like to retire a Wizard and has a great relationship with the city of Washington D.C. He even gets along great with his co-star John Wall. But with the Wizards struggling mightily in recent years, it seems that this would be the perfect time for the team to acquire assets and get younger. Moving Beal makes sense from the Wizards perspective, assuming they don’t believe they can keep trying to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal to create a championship contender.

Two, how much do the Nets really want to give up for a Beal? Is Sean Marks willing to part with young talents such as Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen? Would Spencer Dinwiddie be involved? How many draft picks would Brooklyn be willing to give up? Sean Marks has to ask himself if he’s willing to mortgage the future of the franchise in order to acquire a player who he believes will get Brooklyn closer to a championship. It’s going to cost the Nets regardless since Beal will be in the 2nd year of a $72 million dollar deal. Hopefully, Marks can find a way to trade for Beal without giving away the farm.

And finally, does Bradley Beal want to play in Brooklyn? As the 1b to Wall’s 1a, Beal will have to accept the “Chris Bosh” role in this potential Big 3 with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the lineup. If Beal is willing to sacrifice some of his offensive production, be the 3rd cog in the system, and improve on defense, he will no doubt be an excellent fit on this team.

It will be extremely interesting to see how this plays out. Marks has been an aggressive GM for Brooklyn thus far and it has paid off. A deal of this magnitude could make or break the next five years for the Brooklyn Nets. Will Marks be willing to make the sacrifice to acquire Beal? Beal is no doubt a great player but does trading for him make Brooklyn a title contender? All I know is there has never been and will never be a professional sports league with more drama than the NBA. That’s why the NBA is often televised on TNT…their tagline is “We Know Drama.”

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Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Durant and Other Nets Players Welcome Sabrina Ionescu to Brooklyn

On Friday Night, the New York Liberty selected Oregon Ducks point guard Sabrina Ionescu No. 1 overall in the 2020 WNBA draft. Ionescu had a legendary career at Oregon, most notably known for registering the most triple doubles in NCAA history, finishing with a ridiculous 26. She also had an incredibly close relationship with the late great Kobe Bryant. Bryant admired Ionescu’s competitive drive and the two shared many conversations about life and basketball together. Ionescu spoke at Kobe’s public memorial in February.

As the New York Liberty plan to play in Brooklyn for the full 2020 season, a move that has been heavily backed by Liberty and Nets owner Joe Tsai, Nets players have gone out of their way to welcome Ionescu to Brooklyn.  Kevin Durant started the welcome wagon shortly after Ionescu was drafted.

The Brooklyn Nets also congratulated Ionescu on their own Twitter page last night with several tweets including a video featuring Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, and Garrett Temple, all crafting Sabrina a personalized message about their excitement for her to play in Brooklyn.

Along with Sabrina Ionescu, the New York Liberty also selected Megan Walker (UConn), Kylee Shook (Louisville), Jazmine Jones (Louisville) and Leaonna Odom (Duke).