Rodions Kurucs

Brooklyn Nets
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Nets fined $25K for injury-reporting violation

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Earlier this season, Kyrie Irving missed several weeks with a shoulder injury. Throughout the absence, the Nets provided few details and no clear timeline. Eventually, a report said Irving could miss 2-3 additional weeks with bursitis. The Nets denied it. Later, Irving confirmed he had bursitis then returned nearly three weeks after the report.

Finally, Brooklyn caught the league’s ire.

NBA release:

The NBA today announced that the Brooklyn Nets have been fined $25,000 for failing to comply with league policies governing injury reporting.

It’s unclear what specifically caused this violation. Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, Jamal Crawford and Rodions Kurucs have all appeared on the Nets’ injury report during the resumption. As 19-point underdog, Brooklyn pulled a historic upset of the Bucks. Remember, public injury disclosures are primarily about preserving gambling integrity.

For the NBA not to reveal even basic details while fining the Nets for their lack of transparency is ironic. It’s also ironic this fine comes amid a restart that featured the NBA being highly secretive about player heath.

The Clippers got fined $50,000 earlier this season for saying Kawhi Leonard was healthy. What did Brooklyn do that was less egregious but still worth of a fine?

Nets’ Taurean Prince tests positive for coronavirus, will sit out restart

Taurean Prince Nets
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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.

Report: Wilson Chandler informs Brooklyn he will not play in restart

Wilson Chandler Brooklyn
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The Brooklyn Nets head to Orlando for the restart without Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving… and now Wilson Chandler has opted out as well.

The veteran and free agent to be this offseason chose not to go citing family considerations, reports Malika Andrews of ESPN.

“As difficult as it will be to not be with my teammates, the health and well-being of my family has to come first.”

Nobody should question a player putting his family and health first, especially going into an untested scenario like the NBA’s bubble/campus in Orlando. Chandler also said he agreed with Kyrie Irving, who has questioned the NBA’s return to play and the impact that would have on the Black Live Matters and social justice movements. Chandler will not be paid for the restart games now.

On the court, this hurts the Nets’ depth. Chandler was playing 21 minutes a night coming off the bench at the four behind Taurean Prince, with Rodions Kurucs the only other guy getting quality minutes there. Chandler had become very important to the Nets defense, and it’s that end of the floor where he will be missed the most.

Chandler’s decision seems to have caught the Nets’ front office by surprise. They recently signed Tyler Johnson for the restart and had to let Theo Pinson go to create the roster spot; had the Nets known of Chandler’s plans they could have signed Johnson without releasing Pinson. Brooklyn reportedly is signing Justin Anderson to fill Chandler’s roster spot.

Off the court, Chandler is a free agent to be and the buzz around the league is he is likely to move on from Brooklyn this offseason.

Mock NBA expansion draft: Celtics, Nets, Knicks, 76ers, Raptors

Mock NBA expansion draft
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The NBA season is on hiatus. NBC Sports is not – even if we have to venture into fantasy.

We’re holding a mock NBA expansion draft. Keith Smith is setting protected lists for existing teams. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman will run two new teams as this project culminates in an expansion draft.

Current teams can protect up to eight players. Each team must make at least one player available. If selected, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents. Pending options can be decided before or after the expansion draft at the discretion of the option-holder. Anyone selected in the expansion draft can’t return to his prior team for one year. Players entering unrestricted free agency and players on two-way contracts are essentially ignored.

We’re unveiling protected/unprotected lists by division. Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Atlantic:

Boston Celtics

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 7

Ineligible – 0

Analysis: Boston’s decisions are fairly cut and dry. Jayson Tatum, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Robert Williams are all on their rookie-scale contracts. Jaylen Brown will be starting a four-year contract extension. Kemba Walker was just signed to a max contract. Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are good values and key rotation players.

The toughest decision was on Gordon Hayward. Carrying a salary over $34 million, the Celtics are betting he’ll go undrafted and will return to the team. Everyone else was a fairly easy decision to leave unprotected.

Brooklyn Nets

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 5

Ineligible – 2

Analysis: The Nets are keeping their big four in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. Jarrett Allen is still on his rookie-scale contract, so that’s an easy decision. With over $101 million on the books for just Durant, Irving, Dinwiddie and LeVert, Nicolas Claxton and Rodions Kurucs help bring some low-cost upside to the back-end of the roster.

DeAndre Jordan will likely go unselected, given his age and $30 million-plus owed through 2022-23. If Jordan is selected, Brooklyn can bank some potential luxury tax savings down the line. Taurean Prince was on the fence, but given his disappointing play this season, and lack of fit in a lineup featuring Durant, the Nets will take their chances he’ll be selected.

New York Knicks

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 6

Ineligible – 1

  • Maurice Harkless

Analysis: The Knicks are clearing the decks for a run at free agency this summer. The expansion draft could only help along that way. New York is protecting their young players with upside, as well as Julius Randle, last year’s big free agent addition. The Knicks are also protecting Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier. Not out of fear of losing them, but in hopes that either of the expansion teams will select a bigger salary and take it off the New York cap sheet.

Dennis Smith Jr. was the only questionable player to leave unprotected, but $5.7 million is simply too much for a player out of the rotation. The other five players aren’t part of the future in New York, so that decision was easy.

Philadelphia 76ers

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: Philadelphia’s decisions make themselves. The highly paid players are key rotation players. Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton are steals on minimum contracts. Matisse Thybulle is only entering year two of his rookie scale deal. Zhaire Smith was on the bubble, but he’s young enough, and under team control, that he’s worth protecting.

Al Horford is very unprotected. His signing simply hasn’t worked out for the Sixers. He’s a player Philadelphia is open to talking about a trade with either of the expansion teams. With an extra first-round pick, the 76ers hope to dangle it to entice a team to select Horford.

Toronto Raptors

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: The Raptors don’t have to expose any of their core rotation players in the expansion draft. Up front, Pascal Siakam just inked his contract extension, and OG Anunoby is still on his rookie scale deal. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are all free agents. In the backcourt, Toronto can protect Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, along with undrafted find Terence Davis. And Fred VanVleet is a free agent.

The leaves just a handful of players who don’t have a role for the Raptors. Toronto could even entertain offering a second-round pick to entice either expansion team to select Stanley Johnson and take his $3.8 million off the cap/tax.

Watch Caris LeVert drop 51, Nets come from 17 down in fourth stun Celtics in OT

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BOSTON — Caris LeVert scored 37 of his career-high 51 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to help the Brooklyn Nets erase a 21-point, second-half deficit and beat the Boston Celtics 129-120 on Tuesday night.

It was a stunning end to a four-game losing streak for Brooklyn, which is trying to hold onto the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston has lost two straight.

LeVert had all of Brooklyn’s 11 points in the extra period, finishing just three points shy of the Nets’ season high for a player. Kyrie Irving scored 54 points against Chicago on Jan. 31.

LeVert also sent the game to extra frame, getting fouled on a 3-point attempt by Marcus Smart and connecting on all of his free throws with 0.2 seconds left.

That capped a 51-point fourth quarter by the Nets, a franchise record for most points in any period.

Jaylen Brown led Boston with 22 points. Kemba Walker returned to action following a five-game absence with left knee soreness and had 21 points. Smart added 14 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in overtime.

Boston went just 1 for 6 from the field in overtime.

The Celtics played without Jayson Tatum, who sat out with an illness. They also lost Gordon Hayward, who left the game at halftime with a bruised right knee. Boston scored 23 points off 21 Brooklyn turnovers and was in control before the Nets rallied behind LeVert and their bench.

Irving, who left the Celtics in free agency this past summer, was sidelined for the Nets’ second visit of the season to Boston after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday to relieve a right shoulder impingement. Irving was ruled out for the season in February because of the injury.

His absence didn’t stop fans from taunting him with chants of “Where is Kyrie? Where is Kyrie” in the fourth quarter.

The Nets trailed by 17 entering the fourth quarter, but rallied to 106-103 with 2:28 to play on a 3-pointer by by Chris Chiozza. Walker responded on the Celtics’ next trip with a 3 of his own. LeVert then connected on a jumper on Brooklyn’s ensuing trip to make it 109-105.

It was 110-105 when LeVert made another 3. But Walker found Robert Williams under the basket, who was fouled on his dunk and completed the three-point play.

The Nets got it back to 116-112 with less than a minute to play when Brown came up empty on a jumper. LeVert was fouled on Brooklyn’s next trip down the floor, but made just one of his two free throws.

Brooklyn got the rebound and LeVert had a great look at a 3, but his shot rattled in an out. Boston’s Daniel Theis got the rebound, was fouled and hit both of his free throws.

DeAndre Jordan got a dunk with 6.7 seconds left to make it 118-115. The Celtics had trouble getting the ball in bounds and Rodions Kurucs forced a tie up with Walker with 3.6 seconds left. He won the ensuing tip-off and called timeout with 1.4 seconds left.

Brooklyn got the ball into LeVert, who was fouled and calmly sank his three free throws to send it to overtime.