Three things to know: Drama has Nets falling, how far will it go?


Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out 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?

Kyrie Irving will miss at least five games after being suspended by the Nets for a Tweet promoting an antisemitic movie. That seemed to prompt an apology.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury, MRI Sunday

Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Warriors fans everywhere — not to mention coaching staff and players — are holding their breath.

Stephen Curry left the game against the Mavericks in the third quarter when he was defending Danny Green and the two collided, knocking knees. On the replay, Curry’s knee seems to bend slightly at an awkward angle.

Curry went to the Warriors’ bench, was looked at by the team medical staff, and soon went back to the locker room and did not return. X-rays taken of his knee were negative, but the MRI expected Sunday will be more telling.

Of extra concern is that this is the second injury to that leg in as many games, Curry was able to play through the first one.

Curry is averaging 27.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists a game. Of larger concern, the Warriors outscore opponents by 5 points per 100 possessions when Curry is on the court and 5.4 when he is off. At 27-26 the Warriors sit seventh in the West.

The defending champs have not lived up to that billing this season, never putting together a consistent run of high-level basketball to show us what we believe they are capable of. If Curry misses significant time (and potentially the All-Star Game) it will be longer before we get to see if these Warriors can pull it together.

Bamba suspended four games, Rivers three for fight Friday night


The NBA came down hard on Mo Bamba and Austin Rivers (in a way they didn’t with Dillon Brooks).

The Magic’s Bamba was suspended four-game and the Timberwolves’ Rivers got a three-game suspension — both without pay — for their part in a fight between the teams Friday night.

In addition, Magic guard Jalen Suggs was suspended one game for “escalating the altercation by aggressively grabbing Rivers around the neck and pulling him to the floor.” The Timberwolves’ Jaden McDaniels was fined $20,000 for running into the scrum and pushing Bamba in the back.

As for why the relatively stiff penalties in this case, the NBA said: “Following the incident, Bamba attempted to continue to engage with Rivers in a hostile manner in the corridor outside the locker rooms where he also aggressively shoved a security representative. Both Bamba and Rivers continued the escalation on social media following the game.”

Friction between Bomba and Rivers started a few plays earlier when Rivers — who was in the game — missed a corner 3 in front of the Magic bench, and there was jawing from Bamba and others. Rivers came over and confronted and the fight started soon after, with Bamba coming off the bench. After an official review, five players were ejected: Rivers, McDaniels and Taurean Prince from the Timberwolves; Bamba and Suggs from the Magic.

Banba and Rivers did continue the fight on social media, which added to their time off.

The suspensions will all start on Sunday, Feb. 5.

Kyrie Irving trade request update: Clippers make offer, LeBron says “duh” Irving helps Lakers


Nets fans booed Kyrie Irving when he was put up on the jumbotron at Barclays Center before the game Friday night (Irving was out vs. the Wizards).

Irving requested a trade out of Brooklyn before the Feb. 9 trade deadline, and the Nets are talking to several teams about a potential deal, with the Lakers, Suns and Mavericks at the front of the line. This trade could come together in the next few days, allowing the teams involved to make other moves before next Thursday’s deadline.

Here are the latest Kyrie Irving trade rumors:

• The Los Angeles Clippers have thrown their hat in the ring and made an offer for Irving, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and confirmed by Law Murray of The Athletic.

There is pressure from ownership on down for the Clippers to win big this season — the team’s fourth with Kwahi Leonard and Paul George — and they need help at the point guard spot (they are interested in the Raptors’ Fred VanVleet if he becomes available as well). The Clippers have a lot of salaries between $10 million and $20 million — Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, Luke Kennard, Robert Covington, Reggie Jackson, Nicholas Batum — who can be packaged in different configurations, plus they have young talent that can be added in Terance Mann and Brandon Boston Jr.

Bringing in Irving would be a massive gamble by the Clippers — do they need another mercurial star prone to missing games? — but the Clippers want to win and will push all their chips into the middle.

LeBron James was asked after the Lakers’ loss Saturday night if Irving is the kind of player that can get the Lakers to the finish line and have them thinking championship.

“Obviously that’s, the word you use, ‘duh’ question when talking about a player like that.”

• Whatever you think of Irving the person, his trade demand is a smart business move — the Nets were not going to give him the max contract extension he wants, so he is trying to force his way to his next team, one that will pay up. And by pay up, that’s a four-year, $198.5 million contract. Wojnarowski of ESPN said this on NBA Countdown Saturday.

“Irving, who is in the final year of a deal that pays him $36.9 million, has been seeking in the neighborhood of a four-year, $198.5 million maximum extension available to him until June 30, sources said. If Irving is traded, he is eligible to sign a two-year, $78.6 million extension with his new team until June 30.”

Any team that trades for Irving will have to pay up this summer when he is a free agent — he’s too expensive to be a rental. There are reports the Lakers and Mavericks are hesitant to give Irving that kind of long-term deal.

• If Irving doesn’t get traded before the deadline, he could hold out for the rest of the season, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN reports.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,352

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks
Feb. 11 at Warriors
Feb. 13 at Trail Blazers

When is LeBron projected to break the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 9 at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, although a hot game on Feb. 7 against the Thunder could make that game a possibility.

How long has Kareem held the scoring record?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set the all-time scoring record — too less fanfare than is happening with LeBron (although Wilt Chamberlain was unhappy with all the attention KAJ was receiving) — on April 5, 1984, when he scored his 31,420th point, breaking the record which had been held by Chamberlain. This was the height of the Showtime Lakers era and the team made the Finals that season but lost in seven games to Larry Bird and the Celtics. The Lakers would win the NBA title three of the next four years and Kareem would keep adding to that point total and his legacy until he retired after the 1989 season.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron tuned out the Lakers’ Kyrie Irving trade speculationat least until after the game — and dropped 27 points on the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday night, shooting 10-of-22 overall but 1-of-7 beyond the arc. It wasn’t enough as the Pelicans snapped their 10-game losing streak, 131-126, behind 35 points from former Laker Brandon Ingram. This was a tough loss for a Lakers team trying to climb up in the West standings, but it puts LeBron within striking distance of the record next game.

• LeBron scored 26 points and added seven rebounds and seven assists on Thursday night. He also gave the Lakers their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer with 2:35 left, and the Lakers held on to beat the Pacers 112-111. LeBron shot 11-of-19 from the floor and 2-of-5 from 3 for the game.

• LeBron had his first triple-double of the season — and became the first player ever with one in his 20th season — scoring 28 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists — to help lead the Lakers past the Knicks in overtime on Tuesday night. With those 11 assits LeBron moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash to be fourth on the NBA’s all-time assists list.

• LeBron James did suit up to play Tuesday night against the Knicks (in Madison Square Garden on national television, that shouldn’t have been a surprise). Anthony Davis was cleared to play as well.

• After sitting out against the Nets on Monday, LeBron is officially questionable to play Tuesday in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks and will be a game-time decision. Lakers coach Darvin Ham said LeBron has “really significant soreness” in his left foot (after playing 44 minutes against Boston). LeBron and the medical staff will speak after LeBron starts to warm up Tuesday to determine if LeBron can play in Madison Square Garden, a game he hates to miss because he loves playing in that venue.

• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Arena.

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”