Rodions Kurucs

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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

Brooklyn’s Rodions Kurucs arrested for allegedly choking girlfriend

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For a Nets team that has worked hard to build a culture of accountability, this could become a challenge to deal with, if it is true.

Nets small forward Rodions Kurucs has been arrested and gone through arraignment in Brooklyn for a case where he allegedly choked her while they were in his apartment. He has been charged with “obstructing the woman’s breathing.” New York Daily News reporters broke the story and were at the arraignment.

Rodions Kurucs, 21, was busted for attacking his then-girlfriend on June 27 just before 8 p.m. in his apartment on Bond St. near First St. in Carroll Gardens…

Kurucs allegedly screamed, “I am going to kill myself!” He allegedly put his hand around the woman’s throat and choked her, then forced her to march to his bed.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward allegedly pushed her on the bed, slapped her in the face twice, bit her lip and then picked her up and tossed her on the bed hard enough to hurt her ribs, the sources said.

The couple reportedly dated for nine months — including after this incident, they reportedly went to Las Vegas the next day — but have since broken up. None of that would or should excuse his behavior if this did happen as prosecutors allege, nor is it uncommon for victims of domestic abuse to remain with their abusive partner.

Kurucs did not speak in court, nor has he spoken to the media about the charge. He is due back in court Oct. 21.

If he pleads guilty or is convicted, in addition to any criminal penalties he would face a suspension from the NBA. The league has come down harder on domestic violence cases in recent years.

Kurucs, from Latvia, averaged 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds a game as a rookie small forward for the Nets last season at age 21. He showed promise for a rookie and is seen as someone who could develop into a rotation player for the Nets as they add stars such as Kyrie Irving this season and Kevin Durant when he returns from his torn Achilles.

Nets’ Wilson Chandler suspended 25 games for performance-enhancing drug

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The Nets will have maybe the NBA’s best forward – in 2020. But Brooklyn doesn’t want to wait to compete until Kevin Durant returns from a ruptured Achilles.

So, the Nets signed Wilson Chandler to a one-year minimum contract this summer.

But it appears the veteran combo forward will be unavailable for a while.

NBA:

Wilson Chandler of the Brooklyn Nets has been suspended without pay for 25 games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for Ipamorelin, it was announced today by the NBA.

Chandler’s suspension will begin with the next NBA regular-season game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

Injury and aging have taken a toll on the 32-year-old Chandler in the last few years. We might never learn why Chandler used performance-enhancing drugs, but it’s easy to imagine him doing whatever it takes just trying to hang on. His NBA career appeared to be slipping away.

That Brooklyn was positioned to rely on Chandler says something about the team’s depth. Expect Rodions Kurucs and Taurean Prince to be the main options at power forward now. The issues trickle up the positional chart. Shooting guard and small forward are mostly interchangeable for wings like Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Garrett Temple. But this limits the Nets’ ability to use a bigger small forward, and it makes them a little thinner at shooting guard.

After five regular-season games, Brooklyn can move Chandler to the suspended list and open a roster spot. There might be consideration to waiving him now and just opening that roster spot before training camp.

This suspension would cost Chandler $582,898 of his $2,564,753 minimum salary if he remains on the team.

First five picks of 2018 NBA draft make All-Rookie first team

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Remember the first five picks of last year’s draft?

1. Suns: Deandre Ayton

2. Kings: Marvin Bagley

3. Hawks (to Mavericks): Luka Doncic

4. Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr.

5. Mavericks (to Hawks): Trae Young

A year later, and those same five players comprise the All-Rookie first team.

Here’s the full voting (first-place votes, second-place votes and voting points in parentheses):

First team

Luka Doncic, DAL (100-0-200)

Trae Young, ATL (100-0-200)

Deandre Ayton, PHO (95-5-195)

Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM (60-39-159)

Marvin Bagley III, SAC (56-44-156)

Second team

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LAC (40-58-138)

Collin Sexton, CLE (39-54-132)

Landry Shamet, LAC (3-79-85)

Mitchell Robinson, NYK (3-71-77)

Kevin Huerter, ATL (1-43-45)

Also receiving votes: Mikal Bridges, PHO (1-29-31); Kevin Knox, NYK (0-22-22); Josh Okogie, MIN (1-10-12); Jalen Brunson, DAL (0-10-10); Allonzo Trier, NYK (0-10-10); Rodions Kurucs, BRK (0-9-9); Wendell Carter Jr., CHI (0-7-7); Miles Bridges, CHA (1-4-6); Bruce Brown, DET (0-2-2); Harry Giles III, SAC (0-2-2); Mo Bamba, ORL (0-1-1); Aaron Holiday, IND (0-1-1)

This is only the second time the top five picks all made the ensuing All-Rookie first team. The other: 1984-85, when the top five picks were:

1. Rockets: Hakeem Olajuwon

2. Trail Blazers: Sam Bowie

3. Bulls: Michael Jordan

4. Mavericks: Sam Perkins

5. 76ers: Charles Barkley

I don’t think voters erred by favoring bigger-name players this year. I had the same first-team picks.

My only quibble: I would’ve put Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson on the second team over Kevin Huerter and Collin Sexton. Sexton made incredible strides during the season, but focusing on that obscures his awful start in what I think should be a full-season assessment. His box plus-minus (-5.2) is the worst ever for an All-Rookie teamer since Adam Morrison in 2007 (-5.5).

But if Sexton continues on the track he showed within the season, nobody will view him as another bust.

This is an impressive rookie class, led by Doncic. This will be the first of many honors for several of these players.

Joel Embiid picks up flagrant foul for nasty elbow to Jarrett Allen’s jaw (VIDEO)

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There are a lot of games, a lot of referee crews, who would have called this a Flagrant 2 and ejected Joel Embiid.

The Philadelphia center was frustrated — he’d been called for foul on the other end at the rim he thought was a clean block — plus Embiid had blown shots at the rim and was just not getting the lift he’s used to off his sore knee. So when he got the chance to bully Brooklyn center Jarrett Allen in the paint he took it — then Embiid swung an elbow that caught Allen clean in the jaw. You can see the video above.

I’ve seen MMA fighters stay down after lesser blows. Impressive of Allen to pop back up.

The next play down the court, Brooklyn rookie Rodions Kurucs picked up a flagrant for an elbow to Ben Simmons neck.

The game was close at halftime, but Philadelphia took control of it in the third.