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Kyrie Irving suffers facial fracture, listed as day-to-day for Brooklyn

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Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson was not part of the team’s media day on Tuesday because he was at the hospital with Kyrie Irving, who had taken an elbow to the face and had to be checked out. Later in the day, the reports came that Irving was “okay.”

I guess it depends on how you define okay because he did suffer a facial fracture.

Again, this doesn’t appear to be serious in a “he’s going to miss regular-season games” kind of way, but it’s also not good to have a fractured face. This early in the preseason the Nets can go easy on Irving and make sure he’s healthy before he gets back into any contact.

Irving will be the guy with the ball in his hands for the Nets, a team with some interesting players — Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie, a minutes battle at center between DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen — that don’t necessarily fit smoothly together. It’s going to take smart point guard play and strong leadership to help mold this team.

Is Irving up to that task? He’ll have to get healthy first before answering.

Kyrie Irving ‘okay’ after being elbowed in head in practice, going to hospital

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Nets’ coach Kenny Atkinson did not attend the team’s media day on Tuesday, but he had a good reason:

He had gone to the hospital with Kyrie Irving, who had taken an elbow to the head during a pickup game at the team’s facility. It was serious enough that the Nets decided to get things checked out.

However, it apparently is not that serious.

Hopefully, this really is nothing.

After a season where Irving did not connect (to put it very kindly) with a good young core of players in Boston, the pressure is on him to show something different in Brooklyn this season with Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie, and others. The Nets, a playoff team in the East a year ago, should be better this season with Irving. Should. And while the team says Kevin Durant will not play this season, if that changes some time after the All-Star break, the Nets become a potential threat to 76ers and Bucks on top of the East.

But to get there, Irving has to do more than just put up numbers. Team GM Sean Marks is confident he will.

 

Nets GM Sean Marks: ‘The expectations are that Kevin (Durant) will be out for the year’

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There’s been a growing buzz around the league Kevin Durant may push hard to be back on an NBA court before the end of this season. He’s coming off a torn Achilles suffered in the NBA Finals, and the average recovery time for that has him back just before the end of the season, so…

The Nets aren’t counting on it. They are not ruling it out, either.

The Nets, who will head to China for a preseason game, had their media day Tuesday and general manager Sean Marks was asked about Durant’s return. From Brian Lewis of the New York Post:

The Nets also understand Durant wants to play, and it’s not impossible, but they are not banking on it.

Marks also said he has not spoken to Durant about the game where he tore his Achilles.

The Nets are an interesting team with Kyrie Irving getting another shot to test his leadership skills with a talented young roster, which includes Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie, and others.

They should be a playoff team, but throw in Durant — even 85 percent of Durant — and this team becomes a potential threat to Philadelphia and Milwaukee on top of the East.

Which is why Marks tried to deflect the question of Durant’s return. He doesn’t want it hanging over the head of the team all season long, so say he is out for the season and be done with it. Except, everyone will still be watching, and waiting, because a Durant return is a game changer.

USA finishes seventh at World Cup after 87-74 win against Poland

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BEIJING (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points and handed out 10 assists, Joe Harris scored 14 and the U.S. defeated Poland 87-74 on Saturday for seventh place at the World Cup.

Khris Middleton had 13 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Americans, who will head home with a 6-2 record — yet their worst placing ever in a World Cup, world championship as it used to be known, or Olympics.

Derrick White scored 12 and Harrison Barnes added 10 for the U.S.

Mateusz Ponitka scored 18 points, Adam Waczynski had 17 and A.J. Slaughter finished with 15 for Poland (4-4), which was in the World Cup for the first time since 1967.

The Americans put together a 10-0 run in the first quarter to take a 28-14 lead. Poland started 0 for 13 from 3-point range, not getting one from beyond the arc to fall until Michal Sokolowski connected with 1:28 left in the half — and by then, the U.S. lead was 18.

There was little to play for except pride — and the Americans were playing with the realization that, for some of them, it easily could be their last time wearing the red, white and blue uniforms with “USA” across the chest. The roster for the U.S. trip to the Tokyo Olympics next summer is likely to look considerably different than this one.

It had much meaning to Poland coach Mike Taylor as well. He’s an American, who lives in Florida, and mouthed along with the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” when it played pregame.

His team wasn’t eager to quit, either.

Down 17 at the half, Poland made it a very serious game after intermission. Waczynski’s 3-pointer from the right corner late in the third got Poland within 54-47, and Lukasz Koszarek had a 3-point try that would have gotten his team within four with 8:21 remaining.

TIP-INS

U.S.: Kemba Walker (neck) didn’t play, joining Boston Celtics teammates Jayson Tatum (left ankle) and Marcus Smart (left hand) on the U.S. injured list. White started in Walker’s place at point guard. … Timing is everything — the 6-2 record for the U.S. here was better than silver-medalist Serbia (5-4) and bronze-medalist France (6-3) at the last World Cup. But losing in the quarterfinals doomed the U.S. medal hopes.

Poland: The team had three players who played at the Division I level — Slaughter was a four-year player at Western Kentucky, guard Karol Gruszecki spent two years at Texas-Arlington and center Dominik Olejniczak started his career at Drake, then played two seasons at Ole Miss and will play this year at Florida State as a graduate transfer. … Poland started 4-0 in China, then dropped its last four games.

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