Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.
1) Drama has Nets falling, how far will it go?
Ben Simmons is out at least two more games with a sore knee, not that it is a huge loss the way he has been playing to start the season (6.2 points a game on a 45.6 true shooting percentage, with a G-League level 9.6 PER). His name is already popping up in trade rumors.
Brooklyn has already parted ways with its coach, Steve Nash, and appears willing to suffer another massive PR hit in a desperation move hiring Ime Udoka to replace him — the coach suspended for the season by the Celtics following his actions surrounding an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer.
All that on a 2-6 team with the worst defense in the NBA.
Whether it’s Udoka or someone else, no coach is suddenly going to turn Simmons back into an elite perimeter defender (he has not been that this season) or find enough rim protection on this roster.
Things are bad in Brooklyn. Really bad. Remember after last season when Nets’ general manager Sean Marks said he needed to focus on re-establishing the selfless, hard-working team culture Brooklyn had a few years ago? “The culture isn’t what it quite was. It’s going to be our job to pick that up.” How’s that going so far? Is hiring Udoka in the wake of the allegations against him picking the culture back up?
There’s a sense in some quarters that this is still a team with Durant — and he has played at an elite level this season — so how far can they really fall?
But in other quarters, front offices are watching and wondering if the Nets will again explore a Durant trade — but unlike this past summer, this time be serious about it. (This summer, the Nets’ plan was never to trade Durant or Irving, but to get the band back together and hope that winning would change everything. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way.)
To be clear, there are no reports the Nets or GM Marks are even considering this path. Nothing is on the table. And before anyone starts to think “blow it up and rebuild,” remember the Nets traded their picks and ability to do that to the Houston Rockets for James Harden (who saw the writing on the wall and forced his way to Philly). Tanking is out for Brooklyn because it would only enrich Houston.
However, if the house keeps burning in Brooklyn, a re-evaluation of where this roster is headed must be part of the process.
If the Nets want to rebuild this roster, trading Durant for real talent and restocking draft picks may be the best path (something Vincent Goodwill discussed on Peacock’s Brother From Another today). Irving is a free agent this summer and is virtually untradeable right now — he very well may walk (what the market for him will be this summer should be interesting). Simmons’ value couldn’t be lower. While some of the Nets’ quality role players could bring back other role players or some picks, those are not game-changers.
Trading Durant would return a massive haul that could set the Nets on whatever their next path will be.
The Nets are not there, yet. There is zero talk of the Nets exploring a Durant trade right now. We are just eight games into a new season, there is time to turn this ship around in Brooklyn, even if from the outside that seems a futile task. Even if the Nets reach the point they would consider a Durant trade, that is more of an offseason move than a February deadline move.
But if the question is how far the Nets can fall this season, a Durant trade is the bottom. And it’s not out of the question.
2) Warriors once again can’t get stops, drop another on the road to fall to 3-6
Nobody is hitting the panic button around the Warriors. Their starting five — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney — remains one of the best lineups in the league (a +24.1 net rating this season) and nobody is questioning Jordan Poole as a sixth man.
But red flags are popping up — the latest is the team’s fourth straight loss (all on the road), this one to Orlando 130-129 on Thursday night. Jalen Suggs put up 26 and was clutch late, Paolo Banchero had 22, and the Orlando bench of Chuma Okeke, Kevon Harris and R.J. Hampton outplayed the Golden State bench.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) November 4, 2022
This was the season Golden State talked about starting its transition to its youth, but that has gone poorly through the opening weeks of the season. Jonathan Kuminga is out of the rotation right now and didn’t play against the Magic. James Wiseman and Moses Moody combined to play a total of 21 minutes, Steve Kerr is not trusting them, and with that the Warriors bench has struggled all season.
This may mean heavier minutes for veterans — Curry played 38 in this game. Draymond Green didn’t throw the youngsters completely under the bus after this loss, but he wasn’t throwing them flowers, either, via NBC Sports Bay Area:
“I’m not gonna sit up here and point fingers or point to our young guys. It’s not how we roll,” Green said. “They gotta learn, they gotta figure it out. So yes, in fact, it is some of their fault. It is definitely some of our young guys’ fault. But it’s also some of my fault, and some of Steph’s fault and some of Klay’s fault. It’s all of our fault.
“We’re not playing at the level that it takes to win games. … I changed the tune of my answer. Yes, it is the young guys’ fault. But it is not more their fault than it is our fault.”
On the defensive end, the Warriors can’t stop fouling — Orlando took 46 free throw attempts to the Warriors’ 15. That’s not the officials, that’s all on the Warriors and it is a season-long pattern that is costing them games.
The Warriors have a lot of work to do to turn it around, but unlike the team in Brooklyn, or the more famous team in Los Angeles, the path back to contention is clear and reachable. It’s way, way too early to panic about the Warriors.
But Golden State is not playing good basketball right now and is digging itself a hole (the Warriors are already four games back of the Suns).
3) Nikola Jokic racks up historic triple-double in win
Nikola Jokic finished Thursday night with 15 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds, and he helped spark a fourth-quarter rally to give the Nuggets a 122-110 win against the Thunder.
With that, Jokic became the all-time leader in triple-doubles among centers, passing Wilt Chamberlain.
— NBA (@NBA) November 4, 2022
Jokic is averaging 20.3 points, 11.4 rebounds and 9.1 assists a game this season — he may end up in the MVP conversation again with his play (he is going for a third straight).
However, the highlight of the night went to Jamal Murray.
💥 JAMAL MURRAY RIPS DOWN A REVERSE IN TRAFFIC
— NBA (@NBA) November 4, 2022
— NBA (@NBA) November 4, 2022
Murray had 14 in the fourth quarter to spark the Denver win. Murray is back and he makes the Nuggets a threat in the West.