Should the Brooklyn Nets consider trading DeAndre Jordan as the trade deadline approaches?

Brooklyn Nets, DeAndre Jordan

The Brooklyn Nets are on fire right now. Currently coming off an eight-game winning streak, the Nets are playing at an extraordinarily dominant level that has led them all the way to second place in the East with a mere .5 game back from first (ESPN).

This success has been predicated on their offensive production, led by Brooklyn’s elite big three in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Leading the NBA in points with 120.7 per game, the Nets have founded their success by overwhelming their opponents with offensive fortitude and finesse (ESPN). Just to give you an idea, Durant, Irving, and Joe Harris are all shooting over 50% on the season, producing a level of consistency that is hard to come by in the NBA (ESPN).

However, the Nets have 13 losses for a reason, and at the heart of that blemish is their defense. Defensively, the Nets rank 27th in the league in points per game and have allowed their opponents to shoot 46.9% from the field (ESPN). Their small ball approach is certainly to blame for this to an extent, but the core issue for the Nets defensively is their inability to produce any sort of interior defense and prevent teams from carving them up inside. Although Durant minimizes that when he’s on the floor, it still remains to be the greatest thorn in the side of this Nets team. And the biggest cause for this dilemma, is an out-of-his-prime DeAndre Jordan.

In all fairness, there’s only so much you can pin on Jordan, especially when he has stretch, power forwards in Durant, and Jeff Green alongside him who don’t dwell in the paint. But at the end of the day, Jordan is turning 33 this summer and is simply not the menacing center he used to be 7 years ago (ESPN). In addition, it appears that head coach Steve Nash will stick with this small ball approach, and as a result, Jordan would have to continue to handle most of the heavy lifting inside, which he’s struggled with throughout this season. And no matter how well the Nets are playing right now, they will need a much stronger interior presence in the paint if they want to reach the NBA Finals.

Essentially, this is why the Nets should look to trade Jordan and a couple of other players from their roster for another premier big man who could fulfill the role the Nets need so desperately inside. The trade deadline is on March 25th, so the Nets do have some time to work with. However, despite such, the Nets don’t have a vast variety of options to choose from and shouldn’t take too long to make their decision. And with the month of March just a few days away, it is of the utmost importance that the Nets target and trade for the best rebounding center in the NBA, in Andre Drummond.

Is this bold, far-fetched, and probably unrealistic, absolutely. But trading for Drummond would not only make for a near-perfect fit for this starting five but, above all, is a trade that could actually come to fruition; it’s just a matter of how forthcoming the Nets will choose to be when making the necessary sacrifices to execute it. You see, Drummond is in his prime, but at the same time, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the midst of a full-on rebuild project and will want a substantial amount of compensation in return. And since draft picks from the Nets won’t hold that much value, Brooklyn will need to offer a convincing trade package instead. Although they have a handful of different players to choose from, the best trade offer the Nets can pitch to the Cavaliers consists of the following:

 

Brooklyn Nets Send:

  1. DeAndre Jordan
  2. Spencer Dinwiddie
  3. Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot

 

Cleveland Cavaliers Send:

  1. Andre Drummond

 

After already giving up Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and Taurean Prince, it might be difficult for some Nets fans to accept another major overhaul that would send three of their best role players to the Cavaliers. But believe it or not, this trade works out really well for both teams.

For starters, the Cavaliers already have two centers in Allen and JaVale McGee, so Jordan would potentially be passed along to another team the Cavaliers could trade him to. But outside of that, Cleveland would receive two good, young guards that would help reinforce a backcourt that doesn’t have a whole lot of depth behind Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Dinwiddie is most likely out for the remainder of the season but is still in his prime and would uplift the Cavaliers backcourt significantly when healthy. On top of that, he has fantastic chemistry with Allen from their days together in Brooklyn, so bringing him to Cleveland would really improve their offensive cohesion. Luwawu-Cabarrot, on the other hand, is healthy and a rising talent the Cavaliers could benefit from having. Providing scrappy perimeter defense, solid rebounding, and a natural ability to score, Luwawu-Cabarrot is a bright, young prospect that the Cavaliers could really use off the bench.

In regards to the Nets side of the deal (outside of receiving Drummond), sending these three players is also quite helpful for the development and progress of this team and for the following reasons. First and foremost, after Harden arrived earlier this year, there’s just no room for the kind of role and minutes Dinwiddie would want and requires. At age 26, Dinwiddie is entering his prime, and there’s just no way he’s going to accept 20 minutes off the bench. Moreover, the Nets also have a lot of guards on their team, and although someone like Luwawu-Cabarrot brings great depth, there’s just no need to hold onto him when you have Bruce Brown, Landry Shamet, and Tyler Johnson already handling a large load of the guard duties off the bench. Although removing Jordan from their starting lineup might be a bit disruptive, bringing in the best rebounder in the league eradicates that void almost immediately.

At the end of it all, the Nets have done a lot to get their team on track, so it’s hard to predict if they will actually go forward with this trade proposal. But if they want to give this franchise a real chance at winning their first championship title, it’s in their best interest to trade for Andre Drummond.

Brooklyn Nets: Key observations after 3 games

Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant

The Brooklyn Nets may not be undefeated, but after going 2-1 in their first three regular-season games, Nets fans should be extremely excited about what they’ve seen thus far.  The first two games were a breeze. Their game on Sunday night against the Charlotte Hornets? Not so much. Let’s take a closer look at how the Brooklyn Nets have performed this early in the season and what they will need to do moving forward in order to win the East and potentially an NBA title.

The Good

In their first two games against Golden State and Boston, the Nets averaged 124 points while limiting their opponents to less than 100.  We can get into the offense in a minute, but their smothering defense allowed them to pull away in both games. Against Golden State, they held Steph to 7/21 from the field and held the Golden State Warriors to 30% from 3pt land and 37% from the field. The Nets shot 32 free throws compared to the Warriors 23, and the game was over by halftime. All 5 starters were a +20 or more, and the Kyrie (26 points) and KD (22 points) tandem on offense were virtually unstoppable. Caris came in and poured 20 off the bench, and every single player that saw the floor scored, with the exception of Tyler Johnson.

Against Boston, the story was much of the same. While the 1st half was much closer than the Golden State game, the Nets held Boston to just 23 points in the 3rd and 18 points in the 4th before pulling away in the 4th quarter. The Nets’ length on defense made life miserable for Jayson Tatum, who finished 9-22 from the field with 20 points. The only other two Celtics players in double figures were Jaylen Brown with 27 and Marcus Smart with 13. The Nets held the Celtics to 29% from three-point range. On offense, Kyrie and KD continued their dominance, scoring respectively 37 and 29. LeVert was the only other Net in double figures with 10, and Joe Harris finished with 9. The intensity and execution the Nets demonstrated from start to finish prompted an extremely complimentary quote from Marcus Smart, who said:

The Bad

Obviously, as talented as this Nets team is, nobody believed they would go 72-0. It was only a matter of time before they lost a game and truly showed us some of their flaws. Many just didn’t think it would come against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night. From the jump, the Nets looked a step behind and lacked the intensity they played within the first two games. The Nets had 19 turnovers compared to the Hornets 12, lost in the rebounding category by 6, and failed to score more than 30 points in any quarter. The Hornets not only out-played the Nets, but they also out-hustled them, too, getting to almost every loose ball and grabbing 13 offensive boards. The Nets were unable to slow down Hayward, who led the Hornets with 28 points going 12-30 from the field, and P.J. Washington was a nightmare on the glass, grabbing 12 rebounds to go along with 14 points. Even Kyrie’s former teammate in Boston, Terry Rozier, finished with 19 points and a highlight-reel slam dunk over Kevin Durant.

Down 16 points in the 4th quarter, Brooklyn showed their resilience by cutting the deficit to just two points with less than 20 seconds remaining. Durant, who finished with 29 points, had a chance to tie the game off a baseline mid-range jumper over Biyombo, but much like the rest of the game, it didn’t go the Nets’ way and rimmed out. Kyrie poured in 25 points and 6 assists but had 4 turnovers as well. Joe Harris, who the Nets have gotten involved in the offense very early on in their first three games, finished with 13 points going 5-12 from the field and 3-7 from the three-point range. Brooklyn’s 2nd unit, led by Caris LeVert, who was a -12 on the court, was extremely disappointing in this one and let the Hornets take a commanding lead early in the 4th. To sum it up nicely, the Nets didn’t show up for this one.

The Unexpected

No professional sports season goes the exact way a team plans it will. Unforeseen events occur, and the coaches/GM/players make adjustments throughout a season. Heck, if you want a good example of this, just look at the NFC East in the NFL! The Brooklyn Nets are no different and are in the midst of seeing several unexpected events play out.

Easily the worst post-game news to come from their game against Charlotte was the loss of Spencer Dinwiddie. After going down in the 3rd quarter, it was announced shortly after the game that Dinwiddie had suffered a partially torn ACL in his right knee, requiring surgery, and he would be out the rest of the season. This is a huge blow for the Nets, as Dinwiddie had started each game this season as the #2 guard next to Kyrie, and it seemed as though he was started to play better in his new role.

With Dinwiddie getting hurt, that led to an opportunity for a Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot or “TLC,” who had been buried on the depth chart and hadn’t even received much time with the second unit. TLC got Dinwiddie’s minutes in the 4th quarter and was fantastic, playing great defense and going 4-4 from the field (3-3 from three-point range) and finishing with 11 points. If anything good could come out of this awful news regarding Dinwiddie’s knee, it is that TLC might be a guy Nash will want to give more minutes to, especially since Taurean Prince and Landry Shamet have both struggled mightily in the first three games.

Overall Summary

What we have learned so far:

-KD and Kyrie are BACK. There is not a better duo in the East than those two. They can each get to wherever they want on the court and complement each other’s games very nicely. On the last play of the Charlotte game, fans saw a Kyrie/KD pick and roll, resulting in KD’s miss to tie the game. That play may become deadly as the two become more familiar playing with one another.

-The Nets 2nd unit isn’t as dominant as we assumed it would be. LeVert has had 2 back-to-back mediocre games and needs to do a better job of leading the team when KD/Kyrie is not on the floor. Taurean Prince has been flat out awful, and Shamet has been disappointing. Jarrett Allen has been the most consistent player in the 2nd unit.

-When the Nets don’t play with urgency and focus on defense, they could be beaten by any team in this league.

-Head Coach Steve Nash has not quite mastered these rotations just yet

What we still don’t know:

-Who will start in Dinwiddie’s place; will it be Caris LeVert? Landry Shamet? Or did TLC earn the chance to start?

-Are the Nets still interested in trading for James Harden?

-Will Deandre Jordan eventually get demoted to the 2nd unit so Jarrett Allen can start?

-Will the Nets begin to rest KD and Kyrie soon to manage their playing time?

The Nets (2-1) play the Memphis Grizzlies (0-2) at home tonight at 7:30 pm EST. Kevin Durant will be sitting out this game.

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Brooklyn Nets: Breaking down the Nets Final Preseason Win against the Celtics

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

If you’re a follower of Brooklyn Nets news, then you have probably seen the video of Kyrie Irving burning sage prior to the Nets’ final preseason game against the Celtics last night. Irving explained after the game, his “smudging” was meant to cleanse the energy in the arena but to0 many Nets fans, it may have had a slightly different meaning; a fresh start. Not since the early 2000s have Nets, fans had a team with this much hype and excitement around them. With a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, returning key contributors in Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen, and adding Landry Shamet and Jeff Green in the offseason to round out this roster, stakes could not be higher for the Brooklyn Nets as we approach the regular season.

Breaking Down the Nets Final Preseason Game

Kevin Durant Shows Out

While the first preseason game belonged to Kyrie, Durant stole the show against the Celtics last night, scoring 25 points on 9-16 from the field in 27 minutes of action. Whether it was the pull-up three, blowing by his defender for the dunk at the rim, or the un-guardable mid-range shot, Durant showed to everyone last night that he hasn’t lost a step. But elite offense wasn’t the only feature Durant showcased last night; he also led the Nets with 3 blocks, several of them coming at the rim. If this is the Kevin Durant Nets fans will get this season, barring any health setbacks, then there aren’t many teams in the East who can claim their #1 is better than Brooklyn’s.

Kyrie Continues to Lead

There have been several instances throughout the first two pre-season games where Kyrie Irving has shown his leadership among teammates. Yesterday, there were two specific scenarios. One came shortly after a Spencer Dinwiddie drive to the basket, of which there was contact with his defender but no call. This became a reoccurring theme for Dinwiddie throughout the night, as there were not many fouls called on his behalf. After a particularly physical drive, Dinwiddie was visually frustrated on the ground after not receiving the call, and an encouraging Kyrie Irving came over to him to pick him up. Seems subtle and small, but those are the types of actions that good teammates and leaders exhibit on a nightly basis.

The second moment came from Irving leading by example. After the Celtics went on a mini-run midway through the game, Tatum had just finished a sequence in which he had scored 5 straight points and rejected Spencer Dinwiddie on his drive to the rim. With the Nets only leading by 9, the smallest lead since the beginning of the game, Irving demanded the ball with Tatum covering him, immediately took him to the lane, and scored on a beautiful floater. You could feel the Celtics’ momentum vanish as the Nets would go on a scoring run of their own after that moment. These are the types of momentum swings that leaders like Kyrie and KD have to execute in order for the Nets to be dominant. Kyrie finished with 17 pts, 5 assists, and 7 rebs in 28 minutes.

Role Players who Impressed

There were several Nets outside of KD and Kyrie who performed exceptionally last night. Joe Harris had a huge “remember me guys?” moment early on in the game and finished with 14 points. Dinwiddie looked efficient with the starters, despite a 1-7 shooting night, picking his spots on when he should attack and when he should defer to the two stars on the team. And Jarrett Allen continued his excellent play in backing up Deandre Jordan (will return to shortly) with a stat line of 9 pts and 11 rebs. As for the two newcomers in Jeff Green and Landry Shamet, they have given Steve Nash some excellent minutes thus far. Shamet has looked sharp with the 2nd unit and moves well without the ball. Green, playing at the 5, has given the Nets a small-ball lineup with all 5 players on the court capable of hitting a three. TLC gave the Nets 11 solid minutes off the bench and has fought hard this preseason to crack this Nets rotation.

Preseason Summary & Remaining Roster questions

Obviously, the biggest story out of the Nets’ two preseason games has been how great Kyrie and KD have both looked. There needs to be something said about the fact that these guys complement each other’s games very nicely. KD can play with anybody, and Kyrie now feels he has an equal scoring counterpart on his team (sorry, Lebron). The supporting cast has looked exceptional, and Nash has done a great job of mixing and matching rotations in hopes of generating an optimal five players throughout the game. The Nets have dominated their opponents in both preseason games, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t questions about this team headed into the regular season.

For example, who will start at the center position, Deandre Jordan or Jarrett Allen? In two preseason games, Coach Nash has yet to insert Jarrett Allen into the starting lineup. Now, this is where many Nets fans have disagreed with Nash; anyone with eyes can see Allen has the ability to contribute much more than Jordan, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, the narrative is that because Jordan has a close-knit friendship with KD and Kyrie, he will continue to start over Allen. This is something that may change if the Nets go on a losing skid early on in the season.

Another question Nash will have to answer is who will start alongside Kyrie, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Caris LeVert? Yesterday, we saw Dinwiddie get the start, who seemed to mesh well with Kyrie and KD despite the off shooting night.  LeVert led the 2nd unit and eventually would get some time with KD and Kyrie in the 3rd. While it seemed as though Nash’s strategy worked as LeVert managed to score 18 points in 21 minutes, the Nets are still unsure on who will start and who will come off the bench between the two.

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Brooklyn Nets: Projecting Steve Nash’s starting 5 for the 2021 season

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

This next season for the Brooklyn Nets marks a very special, inaugural chapter for this franchise.  With their last NBA Finals appearance dating all the way back to the 2002-03 season, the Nets have been longing not only for a chance to reach the NBA Finals once again but to finally get the chance to win their very first NBA title. Since 2003, the Nets have embarked on an up and down, rollercoaster ride of success, clinching a playoff berth in 9 of their last 17 seasons but repeatedly coming up short, be it in the semifinals or in the 1st round.  As was expected at some point in time, desperation and hunger reached its climaxing point and the Nets, in a blink of an eye, sealed two of the biggest superstars this game has seen in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

After being a mere 8th or 7th seeded team at best, the Nets all of a sudden have transformed into a title contender in the Eastern Conference along with the Bucks, the Celtics, the Heat, and the Raptors.  With tough injuries causing a season-long setback for their newly acquired superstars, the time has finally come on December 22nd for Durant and Irving to combine their talents and prove to Nets fans why the wait and investment was well worth it.

But on top of all of this, the Nets also chose to hire a new head coach to guide this new superstar team, selecting none other than the former MVP point guard Steve Nash.  His impact and influence will certainly make for an intriguing sight to behold, considering how wise and knowledgeable he is.  But with no experience as a head coach and joining a brand-new team of players he’s yet to work with, presents a challenge that bears a lot of uncertainty.  At the root of this insecurity lies one major factor: It’s easy enough to insert Durant and Irving into your starting lineup and call it a day.  But the ultimate test for Nash is who he decides to start around these two superstars that will complement their style of play in order for this team to succeed.  And with less than a week away before the season starts, Nash will have to decide which starting five grants the Nets the best chance to go the distance.  Without further ado, here’s the best starting five the Brooklyn Nets should stick with this season:

Point GuardKyrie Irving: Although Spencer Dinwiddie really highlighted just how special and good of a fit he is for this team, you’re simply not going to drop over $30 million on a player just to have him come off the bench. In other words, Kyrie was brought in for a reason as he is one of the most gifted offensive talents in this league and brings an array of invaluable skills that are hard to come by. The only concern for Kyrie really comes down to his ability to spread the wealth and orient his decision making around winning games, not dropping 50 points in each of them. Essentially, Kyrie needs to prove that he can be unselfish and realize that in order to run the best version of this offense, he needs to embrace the talent he has around him and execute the best plays the team needs to make in order to win games. Besides that, Irving is most certainly a lock for the starting point guard position and deservedly so.

Shooting Guard Joe Harris: ESPN has Joe Harris starting at the three for their depth chart, presenting a small ball lineup that, frankly, is not designed to succeed down the stretch.  If you want to win, it’s wise to start Harris at shooting guard, and for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, Harris is a remarkable three-point shooter and a strong perimeter defender, a role that fits best for the guard position.  Secondly, with two monstrous scorers in the starting lineup already, there’s no need to cause ball sharing problems by inserting another scoring oriented player in Caris LeVert.  In any sport, it’s vital that you cater players to their strengths, not to their weaknesses.  And asking LeVert to limit his scoring and essentially his best skill by having him start is unwise.  Ultimately, the difference between starting Harris over LeVert, is that Harris compliments the superstar players he has around him very well, whereas LeVert does not.  Finding the right mold and balance for a team is a must when aiming for a Finals appearance, and Harris brings just that at the shooting guard position.

Small Forward – Kevin Durant: This is pretty straightforward and clear cut. He’s the best scorer, can virtually attack a defense from anywhere on the floor, and is a very strong defender both inside and out.  ESPN has him starting at the four, which can work for some teams the Nets face this year.  But it’s best if Durant starts at the position he’s owned since day one.  Although they’re very different players, starting Kevin Durant at the four is kind of like starting LeBron James at the four. You can do it, but considering what kind of players these superstars are, they need the full range of the floor and complete access of their skillset to be able to dictate the pace and win games.  It’s of vital importance to refrain from stifling Durant’s play, and the best way to do that is to play a bigger lineup and have him start at the three.

Power Forward – Reggie Perry: As crazy as it sounds, Reggie Perry is the best fit for the starting power forward role on this team. This rookie out of Mississippi State was not only made for his position but, simply put, was built for the NBA. To give you an idea of how dominant he was in college, Perry averaged a double-double and then some in his final season with Mississippi State. Putting up 17.4 ppg, along with 10.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, and over a block per game, Perry also shot 50% from the field and over 32% from the 3-point line. The Nets needed another big man to not only help Jarrett Allen in the paint with rebounding and interior defense but also desperately required a boost of inside scoring as well, and Perry fills both of those voids.  Even if Nash only chooses to play him for 20-25 minutes per game, his style of play really complements his new teammates and if you need more convincing, just take a look at his first preseason game against the Wizards; Perry had 5 points, 7 rebounds and a block in only 16 minutes (ESPN).  The only concern with Perry is lack of experience.  But even then, for someone as athletically versatile as he is, Perry should be the Nets’ starting power forward.

Center – Jarrett Allen: For those of you thinking it should be DeAndre Jordan, please think again. The Fro Show is entering his fourth season with the Nets and, at the age of 22, is just beginning to enter his prime (ESPN). Along with the fact that he’s been the anchor of their interior defense and rebounding over the last two seasons, Allen’s chemistry, growth, and role with this team is simply irreplaceable. Think about it this way: Considering the Nets operated a small ball lineup where Allen was frequently isolated in the paint, taking all the big man attention whilst doing so, he somehow still managed to get better at rebounding and scoring. Posting his best numbers to date last season, Allen averaged 11.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, and shot a stellar 65% from the field (ESPN).  And now, with the arrival of Perry and Durant, Allen is only going to get more space down below, which will enable him to come into his own and seize his full potential.  At the end of it all, Allen does all the little things you need from a big man.  And for a team that’s filled with scorers and guards, he makes for a near-perfect fit as the Nets’ starting center.

Brooklyn Nets: Diving into what led the Nets to hire Steve Nash as new HC

Brooklyn Nets, Steve Nash

You can’t bring up the best point guards of all time and not mention the name, Steve Nash. His brilliant 18-year career in the NBA made him stand out as one of the fiercest competitors and greatest play-makers in the history of the game. Nash went from being an undersized backup point guard as a rookie on the Suns to a two-time MVP, 8-time NBA All-Star, and 7-time 1st team all-NBA. He most recently served as a player development consultant on the Golden State Warriors. Earlier today, Nash was named the 27th coach in the history of the Nets franchise and was signed to a 4-year contract (Full Nets Press Release HERE). Let’s dive into why the Nets made this hire and how they will fare moving forward with Nash at the helm.

MY REACTION TO THE NASH HIRE:

What made the Nets decide to go in this direction?

According to NetsDaily beat reporter Anthony “Pooch” Puccio, this decision was made way before the Orlando bubble even started.

If the Nets chose to hire Nash in May, did interim coach Jacque Vaughn ever have a fighting chance for this job? What would Vaughn have had to do in the bubble to win the job over Nash? While the Nets seem to value their former interim head coach enough to keep him on the staff as an assistant, clearly they felt Nash (even with no NBA head coaching experience) would be better suited to lead this superstar built team.

Let’s start by taking a look at Nash’s prior relationship with Kevin Durant. Nash was a player development consultant on the Golden State Warriors during Durant’s tenure in the Bay Area, and the two seemed to get along well during their time together. Check out this video of Nash and Durant practicing together, tweeted by NetsDaily reporter Matt Brooks:

Obviously, Durant and Kyrie would have to sign off on whichever coach Marks decided to choose. From an outside perspective, it appears that Durant was 100% on board with this hire. For Kyrie Irving, Nash is a coach that views the game through the same lens as he does. My assumption would be it didn’t take too much convincing for Kyrie to be buy into one of the greatest point guards of all time becoming his new head coach, especially since Kyrie still considers himself a student of the game.

The Nets star of the bubble, Caris LeVert, also had a positive experience with Nash when he trained with the former MVP and Kevin Durant in California four years ago. In a 2016 article written by Pooch, LeVert described his experience with Nash as “great” and was extremely happy about the trip. Fast forward three years later, KD is now his teammate (and was one of his biggest fans this year), and Steve Nash is now his head coach.

How will the Nets Fare with Nash at the Helm?

In today’s modern NBA, you don’t need a ton of head coaching experience to be a successful coach. Look at the last several coaches to win NBA championships: Steve Kerr, Tyronn Lue, Nick Nurse. All were first-time NBA head coaches. In Kerr’s case, similar to Nash, he didn’t even have experience as an assistant coach. What makes a great coach in today’s NBA is how he communicates and gets along with his players. Nash has been known as one of the nicest guys in the league. Marks referred to Nash as a leader, communicator, and mentor in his statement on the signing. With the Nash + Vaughn combination, I don’t think the players on the Nets will have any problem buying into their new coaching staff.

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Brooklyn Nets to ‘explore’ bringing in Gregg Popovich

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

The first order of business for the Brooklyn Nets this offseason is hiring a full-time head coach. The team fired head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, promoting Jacque Vaughn under the interim tag.

Despite mentioning the low likelihood that it comes to fruition, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Nets are expected to “explore” acquiring San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

“The lovable underdog days of the Nets are numbered, with league sources, including those familiar with the Nets and the Spurs, expecting Brooklyn to explore bringing the NBA’s biggest coaching name — Gregg Popovich — to the Nets’ sidelines.

Brooklyn, according to sources, almost certainly will be unsuccessful because the Spurs coach’s legacy is so closely tied to San Antonio, where he’s built a life and a legacy over the past two decades. Plus he’s under contract. There’s a “never say never” element according to one NBA executive, but it’ll probably never happen.”

Popovich signed a three-year extension with the Spurs last year. San Antonio was eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference on Thursday, marking the first time since 1997 that they’ve missed the playoffs under Popovich.

Popovich was an assistant for the Spurs from 1988-94. He has been the team’s head coach since the 1996-97 NBA season and has won five NBA championships, the last coming in the 2013-14 season.

Last week it was reported that the Nets will meet with Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

The Nets are 7-3 under Vaughn. They finished the 2019-20 regular season 35-37, good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn will face off with the two-seeded and defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, which begins on Monday.

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 confident they can hang with Toronto Raptors

Brooklyn Nets, Caris Levert

The Brooklyn Nets, 34-36, recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re currently slated to face off with the defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite going 1-3 against their divisional rival this season, the Nets feel they have a chance to knock out the Raptors.

Caris LeVert says if the Nets “move the ball well” and “play good defense” they can win the series (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“We know they’re a really good team. Obviously they’re playing good basketball, they move the ball really well, they’re a great defensive team, as well,” Caris LeVert said. “But for us, we feel like it’s about us. If we move the ball well, if we play good defense, if we’re locked into the game plan, we can win that series. We truly believe that. So we’re gonna go into that playoff matchup all the way locked in.”

The Nets are without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the NBA bubble. Despite the aforementioned absences, the Nets have pulled off a handful of impressive victories which include beating the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

One of the new faces for the Nets is guard Tyler Johnson. Johnson says that if the Nets play their “style of basketball” they can beat anybody.

“As far as going into Toronto, you know what to expect. Then again, there’s no homecourt advantage. You’re playing a basketball team in the same spot for however many games it takes to advance,” Johnson said. “For us, it’s continue to play our style of basketball. At this point, we understand that, if we do that, we’re capable of beating anybody, and we showed it.”

Garrett Temple says if the Nets, who are 4-2 in the bubble, continue to “share the ball” and “get stops” they can win some games.

“To clinch seventh was big for us, obviously. We wanted to play whoever was going to be in that second spot, obviously it’s Toronto. We feel confident,” Garrett Temple said. “We’re confident. If we play the right way, if we play like we’ve been playing the last 2 or 3 games, share the ball, get stops, even though they turn people over, if we’re able to take care of it and do what we’ve been doing, we have a chance to win some games.”

Jacque Vaughn is 6-2 since taking over as interim head coach in March.

Brooklyn Nets coaching candidates revealed

New York Knicks, Ime Udoka

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy are candidates to become the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Charania says that Nets owner Joe Tsai wants a “full-scale head coaching process to identify the best partner for team ownership, the front office, coaching staff and players.” The process will begin after the Nets’ season concludes.

Kidd played seven and a half seasons with the New Jersey Nets and coached the Brooklyn Nets in the 2013-14 NBA season. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks after one year, where he coached for three and a half seasons. Kidd is in his first season as an assistant with the Lakers.

Udoka was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-19. He joined Philadelphia’s coaching staff in 2019.

Lue was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics from 2011-13, the Clippers in the 2013-14 season and the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2015-16 before being promoted to head coach in January 2016. Lue’s Cavs won the 2016 NBA championship. The head coach was fired six games into the 2018-19 season and rejoined the Clippers coaching staff in 2019.

Van Gundy last coached in the NBA in 2007. He was the head coach of the Houston Rockets from 2003-07. Beforehand, he was an assistant for the New York Knicks from 1989-96. He then became the team’s head coach in 1996, a position he’d hold until 2002.

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson and promoted assistant Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach in March.

The Nets, 34-36, are 6-2 under Vaughn and 4-2 in the NBA bubble. They recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re playing without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Walt Disney World.

Brooklyn Nets: Evaluating this Team through 3 games

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

The date is March 10th, 2020. Spencer Dinwiddie hits the go-ahead jumper against the Lakers to put the Nets up 2. Anthony Davis misses a wide-open three to win the game, and the Brooklyn Nets hold on to upset the Lakers 104-102, which ends up being their last game together before the season is suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Nets were playing their best basketball of the season at that point under interim coach Jacque Vaughn.

Let’s fast forward a few months (with no basketball) to present day. The Brooklyn Nets have now played three games since the NBA season resumed and are a shell of what the team looked like in March, due to a large portion of the roster either choosing to opt-out or being forced to opt-out due to health/injury reasons. The team still has Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Chris Chiozza, Garrett Temple, and Joe Harris,  players who have all been essential pieces for Brooklyn all year. New faces, including Lance Thomas, Justin Anderson, Tyler Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and Donta Hall, have been thrust into the rotation as they work on developing chemistry and finding their role on this team.

Let’s break down the Nets performances game by game, starting with their first match-up with Orlando.

Orlando: 128  vs. Brooklyn: 118 – Full box score

Remember how Nets fans were excited to play this Orlando Magic team twice in the bubble? Well, it turns out that excitement was extremely misguided because the Magic destroyed the Nets in every aspect of this basketball game. This was a rough game for the two leaders on this team, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen. LeVert finished with 17 off of 7-17 from the field and 0-4 from three but, most importantly, was a -26 while on the floor. Jarrett Allen scored 14 points and grabbed 5 boards. The Nets started the game off well, scoring 39 in the first quarter and grabbing a 3 point lead, but fell apart in the 2nd and the 3rd quarter, being outscored by Orlando by 32 points. 

The only bright spot for the Nets was Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who got out of the #NETSTwitter doghouse after his awful play in the scrimmages. TLC finished with 24 points off 8-12 from the field and 5-8 from three. It was great to see TLC get in a rhythm and get some shots to fall. Outside of LeVert/Allen playing poorly, Chris Chiozza (2 points on 1-6) and Garrett Temple (3 points on 1-5) were extremely underwhelming in this game. The Nets, as a team, failed to stop Orlando on the break and had no answer for Evan Fournier (24 points), Nikola Vucevic (22 points), Johnathon Issac (16 points), and Aaron Gordon (10 points & 11 rebounds).

Brooklyn: 118 vs. Washington: 110 – Full Box Score

Things went much differently for Brooklyn in Game #2. While they were unable to stop Thomas Bryant of the Wizards the entire game, who went for 30 points and 13 rebounds, everyone on the floor played significantly better for Brooklyn and were able to win a close contest in the 4th, outscoring the Wizards 35 to 25 in the final quarter.

Caris LeVert (34 points), Joe Harris (27 points & 6 made threes), and Jarrett Allen (22 points & 15 rebounds) rebounded well from their subpar performances in the Orlando game, and all played up to their potential. Chris Chiozza finally decided to show up, dropping 14 points and dishing out 6 dimes off the bench. No other player was in double figures for Brooklyn, but they were able to pull out a much-needed win against Washington, who might win the title for “worst team left in the NBA restart.”

Brooklyn: 119 vs. Milwaukee: 116 – Full Box Score

Even though the Brooklyn Nets won a much-needed contest against the Wizards, many doubted their chances against Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon. Jacque Vaughn even decided this game would be a great time to rest his most important three starters; Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris. The spread was as high as -18 before the game began. But never forget that old adage, that’s why you play the game.

The Nets stunned Giannis and the Bucks in the first half, hitting 14 shots from three-point land, a season-high for Brooklyn. TLC finished the game with 26 points on 8-12 from the field and 5-7 from the three-point line. Garrett Temple chipped in with 19 points and had his best game of the season as well.

The Nets led the Bucks 73 – 65 after the 1st half, and that was a half in which Giannis and Middleton each played a significant amount of minutes. Those two players were on the bench for the remainder of the game after halftime, a strategy most would assume was the Bucks plan prior to tip-off. While the Bucks clawed their way back into the game by outscoring the Nets in the final two quarters, Brooklyn was able to show toughness and resolve we hadn’t seen from them since March in the final few minutes of the game. Whether it was a clutch TLC three or a gritty Tyler Johnson rebound and put back, the Nets made all the plays they needed to make down the stretch to win the game.

Some other guys who gave the Nets great minutes: Donta Hall, who only scored 4 points and grabbed 9 boards, had an epic dust-up with Giannis after the two were wrestling for a rebound and Giannis ended up on the ground. Hall also had a highlight-reel block on Sterling Brown later in the game as well. Justin Anderson gave the Nets 11 off the bench, hitting 3 three-pointers in the process. Chiozza had a nice 10 point 10 assist game and has proven to be an excellent decision-maker in these last few games.

The Bad News: Jamal Crawford made his highly anticipated Nets debut, only to leave the game after a few minutes with some type of hamstring injury. His return to the court this season is now questionable.

Biggest Takeaway from first 3 Games & What’s Next?

Three games in, if anything about this team, it’s that they are extremely tough, and it will take a lot to break this team’s will. Many fans assumed the team would try and tank after their embarrassing loss to Orlando. The Nets followed that game up with two close wire to wire wins against Washington and Milwaukee. In that Milwaukee game, 8 of the 11 active players on the roster were G-League players at some point this season. The Nets will not shoot this well from three every game, and TLC/Garrett Temple most likely will not combine for 45 points on a nightly basis, but you have to like what you’re seeing from this Nets team through three games. Jacque Vaughn has done an outstanding coaching job with the Net’s gameplan these last two games, especially for Milwaukee, in which the team primarily ran a 2-3 zone on defense, and really seems to be coming into his own as Head Coach of this team.

Next Up: The Brooklyn Nets will go for their 3rd straight win when they face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday (8/5/20) night at 9:00 pm EST.

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