Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Nicolas Claxton all had pre-existing injuries and were never expected to play in the NBA’s restart in Orlando. Wilson Chandler opted out of the restart to spend time with his family. DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie both tested positive for the coronavirus and did not join the team headed to Orlando on Tuesday. That’s six players from the Nets roster not playing in the restart.
Make that seven — forward Taurean Prince tested positive for coronavirus and will sit out restart as well. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.
Prince started at the four for the Nets and averaged 12.1 points and six rebounds a game.
The Nets are free to sign a substitute player to fill in for Prince, however, that player must have fewer than three years of NBA experience. Whoever the Nets line up, it will be a drop off in quality from what Prince brought to the table.
Expect the Nets to look at big men for substitute players because they need size. Jarrett Allen is the only true center on the roster, and there are only two other players — Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa — are taller than 6’9″. Amir Johnson is one Nets’ big man target, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.
Brooklyn enters the restart as the seven seed in the East, but just half a game up on eight seed Orlando, a team that is largely healthy and bringing its full roster. It’s likely the Nets slide back to the eight seed, but likely make the playoffs (Washington, playing without Bradley Beal or Davis Bertans, would have to make up two games on the Nets during the eight seeding games, then beat Brooklyn in a two straight play-in series games, a tall order). The Nets reward for making the playoffs? Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee.
No Kevin Durant. No Kyrie Irving. No DeAndre Jordan. No Wilson Chandler. No Nicolas Claxton.
And now the Nets will be without Spencer Dinwiddie, who has been battling a symptomatic case of coronavirus.
The Eastern Conference playoff race is shaping up to be ugly. The Nets are decimated. The Wizards won’t have their best and second-best players, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans. The Magic will probably be without Jonathan Isaac (who looked so promising) and Al-Farouq Aminu.
I don’t know how Brooklyn will proceed. Tanking raises ethical questions in normal times. When sending players to an uncomfortable bubble in the midst of a pandemic, it’s especially troublesome.
But the Nets have a clear incentive: They’ll keep their first-round pick only if they miss the playoffs. Otherwise, it goes to the Timberwolves (via the Hawks from the Taurean Prince trade).
Presumably, Brooklyn – with a healthy Durant and Irving and maybe a third star – would convey a much later pick next season (when the pick is still lottery protected).
In the meantime, Caris LeVert can step up as lead guard with Irving and Dinwiddie sidelined. Chris Chiozza should get an opportunity at point guard. Garrett Temple can play a larger role. Tyler Johnson adds backcourt depth.
Jordan’s and Claxton’s absences leave Jarrett Allen as the Nets’ only option at center (which could be freeing after a season of having to look over his shoulder). But he could use a backup. Maybe Amir Johnson.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Johnson, 33, hasn’t played in the NBA this season. He spent the last couple seasons with the 76ers, becoming gradually less effective. But he’s a savvy veteran who should fit in quickly.
It’s been one of the lingering questions of the NBA restart, something not covered in the NBA’s 113-page handbook: What happens if one team loses a lot of key players to the disease?
Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have long been out due to injuries. Same with reserve center Nicholas Claxton, who had shoulder surgery. Wilson Chandler opted out of the restart to spend time with family. Spencer Dinwiddie tested positive for the coronavirus and is unsure if he will play at the restart in Orlando.
The latest Brooklyn player out for the restart: center DeAndre Jordan. He tested positive for the coronavirus and ruled himself out.
On the court that will mean more run for Jarrett Allen, who is better than Jordan at this point in their careers (Kenny Atkinson wanted to play Allen over Jordan, and notice Atkinson is not the coach anymore, which speaks to the power of Durant and Irving). The Nets don’t have another traditional center on the roster with Jordan and Claxton out.
The Nets are not in danger of running out of rotations players, they signed Tyler Johnson, and they can sign a player to fill in for Jordan. And Dinwiddie, if needed.
But the players the Nets sign will not be as good as the ones they replace (players available as free agents right now were free agents for a reason). The Nets enter the restart the seven seed in the East, but just half-a-game ahead of fully-healthy Orlando in the final playoff slot. Brooklyn should still make the playoffs, Washington is six games back and shorthanded themselves.
But the Nets are shorthanded, and they may not be the only team dealing with that in Orlando.
Jacque Vaughn will be coaching the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA playoffs down in Orlando.
He will do so while wearing the “interim coach” tag. Vaughn took over the Nets when Kenny Atkinson and Brooklyn parted ways mid-season and he’s going to keep that job through the end of Brooklyn’s playoff run.
From there, he has a “legitimate opportunity” to keep the job, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on Complex’s Load Management podcast.
“This is a guy that comes from the Spurs background, has the same pedigree as [Nets general manager] Sean Marks. As far as I know, he does a good job at working with players, building that relationship.
Vaughn will get his chance. However, much like with the exit of Atkinson, who gets the job will depend heavily on what Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving want. They were not fans of Atkinson’s offense, that he didn’t start their friend DeAndre Jordan (even though Jarrett Allen should start, he’s better), and in general the direction the team was headed at that point.
Rumors are that Irving wants to reunite with Tyron Lue, who is currently the lead assistant to Doc Rivers with the Clippers (a team expected to make a deep playoff run). Big names such as Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy also have been linked to the Nets.
First, Vaughn gets to coach this team through a restart training camp, eight seeding games, and then the playoffs to show what he can do. He has a chance to win players and management over. The Nets enter the playoffs as the seven seed but only half a game ahead of the eighth seed Magic. Make a solid showing in Orlando and it help’s Vaughn’s case.
Vaughn will get his chance, which is all any coach can ask.
Despite the Wizards being clear they have no plans to trade Bradley Beal — and Beal saying he doesn’t want to be traded — other teams continue to hover around, waiting for things to change.
The most recent of those is the Brooklyn Nets, who had internal discussions about chasing Beal as a third star to pair with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The Nets could try to put together a trade centered around some combination of Spencer Dinwiddie ($11.5 million), Caris LeVert ($16.2 million), and Jarrett Allen ($3.9 million).
That led Beal’s agent to reiterate Beal does not want to be traded and isn’t going anywhere. Via Adam Zagoria at Forbes.
“There are no Beal Sweepstakes and that’s why he re-signed with the Wizards,” agent Mark Bartelstein said Friday by phone. “Brad re-signed with the Wizards because he wanted to stay in Washington and the Wizards wanted to keep him there.”
Beal signed a two-year, $72 million extension with the Wizards last season that has him under contract through 2022 with a player option for 2023 (the same length of contract as John Wall). Washington’s front office has been clear, the plan is to bring back Beal and Wall, re-sign Davis Bertans, and play out next season. Rebuilding is not exactly owner Ted Leonsis’ style.
If that doesn’t plan out, then next offseason things could be different, but in the short term don’t expect a Beal trade.