Tyler Johnson

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie
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Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie done for season after coronavirus diagnosis

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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.

Spencer Dinwiddie:

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.

DeAndre Jordan tests positive for coronavirus, latest Net out of restart

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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.

Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie says he tested positive for coronavirus

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Spencer Dinwiddie, the point guard who was the Brooklyn Nets’ leading scorer heading to the NBA’s restart in Orlando, said he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms that could keep him from joining his teammates at the restart.

Dinwiddie made the announcement through Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Over the past few months, I have been diligent about protecting myself and others from COVID-19 by following all designated protocol and quarantining,” Dinwiddie told The Athletic. “I was ready and prepared to rejoin my teammates as we were to be an early entry team in the resumed season. I flew private to return to New York, passed multiple COVID-19 tests over my first several days in New York and was able to participate in a couple practices within the first week.

“Originally, we were supposed to be one of the teams to enter into the Orlando bubble early, but training camp got switched back to New York and unfortunately I am now positive. Given that I have experienced symptoms, including fever and chest tightness, it is unclear on whether or not I’ll be able to participate in Orlando.

“Hindsight is 20/20.”

Dinwiddie said he will self-quarantine for 14 days, then see how he is feeling and re-evaluate whether he should join his teammates in Orlando. Dinwiddie had been working out in preparation for the restart and had even planned out the social justice message he wanted on the back of his No. 26 jersey — a reference to the current national debt.

Dinwiddie had pushed Brooklyn back into the playoffs this season, averaging 20.6 points, 6.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds a game. With Kyrie Irving missing much of the season (and Kevin Durant not playing at all), Dinwiddie had served as the team’s primary playmaker and an anchor of consistency as lineups kept changing due to injuries.

The Nets will be without Durant, Irving, Wilson Chandler (who bowed out over the weekend), and now possibly Dinwiddie. If Dinwiddie cannot play, it likely forces Garrett Temple into a much larger role, and leaves Tyler Johnson (just signed as a free agent) and Chris Chiozza as the other guys at the point.

Brooklyn is just half a game ahead of the largely-healthy Orlando Magic for the seven seed in the East. If the Magic pass the Nets, it puts Brooklyn at risk of Washington forcing play-in games after the eight “seeding games” and before the start of the playoffs.

 

 

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

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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.

Seven NBA free agents to watch as transaction window opens

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The wheeling and dealing of the NBA is back.

Not exactly on the franchise-changing level we’ve come to expect from a league that loves its deals, but starting at noon Eastern on Tuesday NBA teams can sign free agents, waive players, sign their two-way players, or in other ways round out their rosters for the restart.

Here are seven players to watch, NBA free agents who could get signed in the next week.

Don’t overthink this — if a player was a free agent come the middle of March, it was for a reason. These are role players for a team, but that role can impact winning.

Note: For this story we have not included players set to sign with teams — making them unavailable in reality — such as Joakim Noah (Clippers), or Corey Brewer with the Kings.

1. Tyler Johnson

A solid rotation player up until the last year, Johnson’s shot deserted him in Phoenix (48.1 true shooting percentage, 28.9% from three). That led to him being buried on the bench behind Ricky Rubio and Jevon Carter, and once the Suns couldn’t use him in a trade at the deadline they bought him out.

If Johnson is fully healthy and can find his shot again he could help a team looking for guard depth — he shot 37% from three when the Heat matched a four-year, $50 million contract offer four years ago. He’s just 28 and in his prime, his shot and production should still be there.

The Rockets reportedly have interest, but expect a few suitors to call.

2. Gerald Green

If healthy, he may be the most sought after player on this list. Green is a veteran wing who shot 35.4% from three last season. Green was thought to be lost for the season with a foot injury, but he has had time to heal and is joking around like a player expecting to be in Orlando.

The Rockets had his rights but cannot re-sign him because they traded him at the deadline (as part of the four-team Clint Capela deal). Denver then quickly waived him. For teams looking for depth on the wing — a spot of need for a lot of teams — Green could be a quality pick up.

3. Jamal Crawford

He’s 40 years old — which is one reason no team has signed him this season — but, in the right situation, he could help a team get buckets off the bench. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year is showing his age and has lost a step in recent years — and his horrific defense is a bigger concern to front offices — but he can still score. Crawford averaged 7.9 points per game last season off the bench and lit it up for the depleted Suns at the end of last season. Some team should give him a chance, but I’m not sure any well.

4. Trey Burke

Burke is available because he has limitations: He needs the ball in his hand to run a lot of pick-an-rolls, he’s not terribly efficient and doesn’t make the best decisions, plus he’s undersized and that hurts him on the defensive end. That said, he played solidly off the bench in Philly this season until let go, as he had in New York and Dallas before. For a team looking for a third point guard in Orlando they can turn to because of injury/sickness, Burke is a solid pick up.

5. DeMarcus Cousins

The biggest name on the NBA free agents board, but he is coming off back-to-back career-threatening injuries between his torn Achilles then a torn ACL. He wasn’t moving very well for the Warriors in the Finals last June, and that was before the ACL. The question for teams looking at Cousins is “does he fit with us?” He is not a big who can just set a pick then pop/rim run; he’s more effective getting the ball at the elbow or on the block and making plays. That’s not the direction the game is trending, but it might help a team in Orlando in the short term if Cousins is healthy enough to play.

UPDATE: Cousins has told suitors he is not playing in Orlando to focus on next season.

6. Iman Shumpert

Shumpert played well for the Nets earlier this season. He averaged 18.5 minutes a game, and while he wasn’t racking up counting stats (4.2 points and 2.6 rebounds a game on average) he played solid defense and the Nets were winning with him in the rotation. For teams looking for veteran wing depth heading into Orlando, Shumpert could be a solid pickup.

7. Dragan Bender

We know what you’re saying, “why would anyone sign that bust?” Because he’s just 22 and is a 7-footer who can hit threes. He’s not exactly a unicorn, but players that size who can shoot get extra chances. He played respectably for the Warriors on a couple of 10-day contracts this season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear a team signed him, not looking so much at the restart in Orlando but down the line, rolling the dice on him for next season with a team-friendly contract.