Jared Dudley

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Nets have it all – stars, youth, picks and a chance at a title… in 2021

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Nets had nothing.

Now, they have everything.

At least on paper.

Not long ago, Brooklyn was lousy, old, deep into the luxury tax and without its own first-round pick for years to come. Several lost seasons obviously loomed.

But the Nets made the most of those losing years. They drafted well with their limited picks, acquired more where they could and identified players off the scrap heap. Importantly, they instilled a culture of hard work and development.

The rise was slow, but given the circumstances, quicker than expected. Brooklyn made the playoffs last season.

The Nets parlayed that moderate success into a monumental offseason, luring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. Those stars vault Brooklyn onto a whole new level. It’ll probably take until 2020-21 when Durant recovers from his torn Achilles, but the Nets are primed to enter the thick of the championship chase.

Most teams must strip their roster to spare parts to open the cap space for two max players. Remarkably, Brooklyn didn’t.

The Nets still have a huge chunk of the young players who helped establish the culture that attracted Durant and Irving. Caris LeVert (No. 35 on our list of 50 best players in 5 years), Jarrett Allen (No. 44 on our list of 50 best players in 5 years), Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa all return.

Yes, Brooklyn had to part with D'Angelo Russell (No. 28 on our list of 50 best players in 5 years). The Nets also had to surrender two first-rounders in their salary dump of Allen Crabbe.

But that trade with the Hawks also netted Taurean Prince, a solid young forward. Brooklyn got a protected first-rounder from the Warriors, too. With a draft-night trade of the No. 27 pick to the Clippers for an less-protected first-rounder, the Nets are +1(ish) in future first-round picks.

Those young players and picks could be helpful in building a championship-level supporting cast around Durant and Irving. That could be through the players and picks developing or via trade.

In the meantime, Brooklyn enters a limbo year with Durant sidelined. Irving is the clear top player with young teammates around him. That didn’t go so well in Boston. There is a chance the Nets fare worst next season than they did last season, and chemistry would become a huge question amid a backslide.

There are so many new faces down the roster:

Jordan (four years, nearly $40 million) is one of the summer’s worst contracts, though it’s completely justifiable as a cost of getting Durant and Irving. Chandler is already suspended.

Durant is also on the wrong side of 30 and seriously injured. There are legitimate reasons for concern.

But the Nets will gladly take these problems over the ones they were facing just a few years ago. Waiting another year for everything to come together is no problem, either. Brooklyn is still way ahead of schedule.

Offseason grade: A

Royce White questions why Lakers have Jared Dudley not ‘Melo; Dudley, others defend move

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There are a lot of people surprised that this deep into the summer, with NBA rosters largely filled out, Carmelo Anthony isn’t playing somewhere. Whether on Team USA or training with new teammates for an upcoming NBA season.

Among those confused, former NBA draft pick Royce White, who was outspoken on the issue — and called out both LeBron James and Jared Dudley — in speaking with Fanatics View.

Dudley responded to this, not directly to White but to a retweet of this rant, and did so in Dudley’s calm, rational way. His Tweet has since been taken down, but it said:

“This isn’t Melo vs myself, That man is a 1st ballot HOFer… We all want to see him back in the league… Royce seems uninformed when he speaks and this situation in calling my name out. This league is not about who’s better then who it’s what’s players make for the best Team.”

Kendrick Perkins and Jameer Nelson had Dudley’s back.

Dudley/Perkins/Nelson are spot on here. The reason Dudley is on an NBA roster and Anthony is not is all about willingness to fit in and play a role. Dudley knows exactly how to do that, accepting limited minutes off the bench, staying ready, and when he comes in playing hard, being a pest, and knocking down threes. Anthony is unquestionably still a better scorer, but he was unwilling to accept a role in both Oklahoma City and Houston (and his game now is that of a role player/sixth man). Anthony says that’s different now, but GMs are risk averse in most situations. Teams that might have interest in ‘Melo are concerned about the possible distraction and disruption, and they wonder if that risk is worth what Anthony brings to the court right now. It was the same with Team USA.

Some team should — and one likely eventually will — give Anthony another shot. He deserves it. However, teams thinking about a deep playoff run tend to like their chemistry and are wary of disruptions, so nothing has come out yet. Even if Royce White and a lot of other people think it should have.

Report: DeMarcus Cousins tears ACL

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DeMarcus Cousins‘ reported knee injury that sounded scary?

It’s as bad as feared.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

This is such devastating news for Cousins, who already worked back from two major leg injuries in the last couple years. Just before that, he was a star making his case as the NBA’s best center. This is even more reason to believe his career will never again near that track.

Maybe Cousins will return late this season – especially if the Lakers advance far enough in the playoffs. But given his size and injury history, I wouldn’t count on it.

Cousins is on just a one-year, $3.5 million contract. He’ll likely enter 2020 free agency with far more concern about his health than he faced this summer. And concern this year – about his torn Achilles with the Pelicans and quad injury with the Warriors – already limited him to this small deal.

The Lakers must probably now use their final open regular-season roster spot on a center. They’re down to just JaVale McGee and Anthony Davis, who prefers not to play the position. LeBron James or Jared Dudley could play center in ultra-small lineups, but that’s probably not sustainable.

Kenneth Faried and Nene are still free agents.

Jared Dudley: D’Angelo Russell would’ve gone to Saudi Arabia for max contract

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D'Angelo Russell‘s camp made fairly transparent attempts to drum up a market for him entering free agency. He was linked to several teams: Nets, Jazz, Magic, Timberwolves, Pacers, Suns, Lakers.

Not the Warriors.

Yet, Russell ended up in Golden State in a double sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant. That sparked numerous question about fit:

How will Russell and Stephen Curry – both point guards – coexist offensively? Curry is excellent off the ball, but both he and Draymond Green deserve time initiating the offense. How comfortable will Russell be in that equation?

How will Russell or Curry handle defensive matchups? They’re both small guards who could face major problems against shooting guards.

How will the guard rotation look when Klay Thompson returns from injury? That’s a lot to balance. Can Thompson effectively defend small forwards for long stretches in three-guards lineups?

Do the Warriors just view Russell as a trade asset? They deny it, but it’s hard not to be suspicious. He might not be long for Golden State.

Why did Russell invite all this uncertainty?

Four years and $117,325,500.

Jared Dudley, who mentored Russell in Brooklyn (and since signed with the Lakers), via Ethan Strauss of The Athletic:

D’Angelo wanted to get the max. So I’m not surprised. He would’ve gone to, you know, Saudi Arabia, if he could have gotten the max there. I’m not surprised he took that.

I don’t need to explain the main appeal of a max contract. It’s a lot of money.

But there’s also a stature that comes with being a max player. Many desire that prestige. If Russell wanted that, good for him for getting it. He earned it with a strong season last year.

Russell has said he’s not fretting the possibility of the Warriors trading him. As long as understands the situation, he’ll be fine. Besides, any team he signed with this summer could’ve eventually traded him. That was a risk anywhere.

The beauty of a max contract: It’ll travel with him.

Report: Lakers signing DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo

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Anthony Davis called the Pelicans losing DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondotough.” Maybe relatedly, Davis decided to leave New Orleans.

Now, Davis, Cousins and Rondo will reunite with the Lakers.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers’ first several free-agent agreements were with players who contribute without the ball – Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels. That’s important on a team led by LeBron James, who should have the offense run through him.

Cousins and Rondo are departures from the strategy of loading up on complementary players.

LeBron can’t do everything alone. There’s a fine line between a helpful additional creator and someone who clashes with LeBron.

Both Cousins and Rondo appear to be past their peaks. Cousins, who turns 29 this summer, has missed substantial time the last couple years with a ruptured Achilles and torn quad. It’ll take major work for him to regain his star status or anything close to it. Rondo, 33, has exited his prime.

Cousins likely came cheap, maybe even a minimum contract. The market on him had cooled. Considering his upside, this was a fine bet by the Lakers based on basketball ability. He’s so skilled for his size. Cousins could work well enough with LeBron and Davis.

Rondo, on the other hand, has already shown to be a terrible fit with LeBron. Rondo might even be the Lakers’ starting point guard. Though the fit is awful, there aren’t many capable point guards remaining in free agency. The problem was the Lakers putting themselves in position where Rondo has even a case as the best option.

Cousins and Rondo also bring a lot of, um, personality to a team that already has plenty. There is risk of increasing locker room combustibility, even at their low salaries. As everyone predicted, that became a problem last season. Apparently, the Lakers aren’t too concerned about a repeat.