Tyler Johnson views the Brooklyn Nets as a chance at ‘redemption’

Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Tyler Johnson will be one of the handful of new faces suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA restart later this month.

Ironically, Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Nets in 2016, but the Miami Heat matched the contract, as the guard was a restricted free agent.

Johnson is “ecstatic” to finally be playing for the Nets (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“My mom still says Sean is one of her favorite people of all time. We’re very fortunate to be in this position. I signed that offer sheet four years ago, so I was ready at that time to become a Net,” Johnson said, referring to a restricted free agent offer sheet.

“Obviously we know the story, Miami matched it. But … we were very interested in what was being built here. So we actually did sign that offer sheet and I was ecstatic when we got that call to come back over here.”

Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn says Johnson “fit into the description of what a Net is.”

“I did meet Tyler and overall impression was this was a guy we’d love to have with us in our organization, a guy that understands what it means to play and consider more than just himself when he’s on the floor. So he fit into the description of what a Net is,” Vaughn said.”

“Part of life’s twists and turns. We get him a little later, and fortunate to have him on the team now.”

The Heat traded Johnson to the Phoenix Suns two and a half seasons into his four-year deal. The Suns released Johnson in February.

Johnson ponders whether he was “100 percent” in Phoenix.

“Maybe I wasn’t at 100 percent. I was working through it, trying to get right. But I didn’t have that pop, that bounce I used to have where I’d try to go up over the top of people. Who knows if that played a role in anything,” said Johnson, adding his knee is OK now. “I don’t put any blame anywhere but myself. At the end of the day I can only control myself.”

Johnson views being with the Nets as a chance at “redemption.”

“Obviously it didn’t work out the way I would’ve wanted. There was a handful of things that could’ve gone better, not necessarily being anybody’s fault. Coming in and having the quick change, it took a long time for everyone to get on the same page. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But fortunately, I’m here. I find myself in a position where I can have a little bit of redemption.”

Johnson averaged 5.7 points and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 38.0 percent from the field across 31 games with the Suns this season.

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: 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. 

 

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks…Do Your Job!

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

Now, this title isn’t to say by any means that Sean Marks hasn’t done a stellar job since taking on the mantle of the GM of the Brooklyn Nets. From bringing in D’Angelo Russell to his draft choices over the years to being able to attract marquee free agents this summer, Marks has had plenty of room for error yet made very few.

He’s been applauded for what he’s been able to do in one of the toughest positions in the league, if not the toughest, and he’s been applauded for the culture that he was able to build.

That culture was not easy to establish. It was not easy to build. It took a lot of time and effort and dark times to create. Today that culture takes another hit this off-season. First with a new member of the Brooklyn Nets, Wilson Chandler, who was handed a hefty 25 game suspension from the NBA for indulging in PEDs. Let me say that Chandler does claim that he and his doctor did not know the substance was an illegal one.

Now we hear the news that Rodions Kurucs was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. The news was broke from the New York Daily News.

Kurucs allegedly screamed, “I am going to kill myself!” He allegedly put his hand around the woman’s throat and choked her, then forced her to march to his bed.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward allegedly pushed her on the bed, slapped her in the face twice, bit her lip and then picked her up and tossed her on the bed hard enough to hurt her ribs, the sources said.

She also suffered bruising to her ribs and face, according to prosecutor Wilfredo Cotto during the arraignment. Cotto said there are no pictures of her injuries, and noted the then-couple went to Las Vegas the next day.

Now let me say outright, as the details are laid out, this situation is horrific, disgusting, and completely UNACCEPTABLE! Every story has 3 sides. Kurucs’, his girlfriend’s, and the truth, but it’s hard if not impossible to think of any story that can excuse or condone these actions.

What is noteworthy and what I think has been glanced over in all this is what Rodions Kurucs yelled. “I am going to kill myself!” Those are not words without significant weight. That is something serious within itself. I don’t know what caused the argument or what led to the altercation between the two parties, but could Kurucs be suffering from some kind of mental illness or troubles? Could he possibly be suicidal? And possibly how could he have been provoked.

Via Stefan Bondy, the Nets made the following statement concerning Kurucs Saga:

After learning of the allegations against Rodions Kurucs, we notified and are assisting the League Office as they begin the process of gathering more information. The Nets organization takes allegations of this nature with extreme seriousness. While the investigation is underway and as we continue to learn more, we will refrain from commenting further.

Now, on one hand, it is always good not to overreact and be at the mercy of the mob. It’s better to get things right vs to appease the mob for its desire for a public execution.

On the other hand, the lack of response to the Chandler situation may give fans and eyes across the league the wrong idea. Either way, these allegations are BIG. Especially towards a young player who was a fan favorite and had a bright future ahead of him.

I hope the legal system gets things right. I hope the young lady involved is ok, even if it turns out she was the one to ignite this whole thing. Even if she was, doesn’t mean she needs to be harmed physically, just needs to face the law as justice demands. I hope Kurucs gets the help he potentially needs if he is indeed mentally ill. This is a reminder to Nets fans everywhere on humility.

Lastly, Sean Marks, you have tough decisions ahead. I hope you make the right one. It’s hard to imagine him cutting a player so beloved by the fans and his teammates, a player who was such a big part of our success last year, but no amount of talent excuses you from wrongdoing.

So Marks, do your job. Uphold the Culture!

UPDATE:

Via The Glue Guys:

Spoke to NYPD, they say Kurucs turned himself into police this morning. Kurds had an attorney with him. Police say Kurucs allegedly choked a 32 year old woman (that the Daily News says was his girlfriend)