KD among four Nets to test positive for COVID-19

Kevin Durant reportedly tests positive for coronavirus: ‘We’re going to get through this’

Cassandra Negley | Yahoo Sports

Kevin Durant tested positive for the coronavirus COVID-19, he told The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

“Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine,” he said, per Charania. “We’re going to get through this.”

The Brooklyn Nets superstar and two-time NBA Finals MVP has not played this season after suffering an Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals while with the Golden State Warriors. Charania tweeted that Durant did not exhibit symptoms.

Nets announce 4 players tested positive

The Nets announced Tuesday that four players had tested positive for the virus, though they did not identify any by name. Three of the four Nets players who tested positive are asymptomatic, the team said. They are each in isolation and under the care of physicians.

The players were tested when the team returned home from San Francisco, where they were scheduled to play the Warriors when the NBA suspended play. The team reportedly paid out of pocket to conduct tests.

The team is reaching out to those who have been in contact with the players. Brooklyn faced the Boston CelticsMemphis GrizzliesSan Antonio SpursChicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers in March. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic he’s not sure if his players had contact with Durant or any Nets players the night before the game.

More NBA players test positive for coronavirus

The NBA season was suspended within an hour of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus. He was the league’s “Patient Zero.” Teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive after the entire team and staff were tested that night.

Gobert has since urged people to take the issue seriously. A Detroit Pistons player has also tested positive.

Nets claim to ‘mutually part ways’ with head coach Kenny Atkinson

Liz Roscher | Yahoo Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have made an unexpected move. On Saturday morning, they announced that they were “mutually parting ways” with head coach Kenny Atkinson.

Assistant Jacque Vaughn will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the Nets’ season.

Nets general manager Sean Marks released a statement about Atkinson’s ostensible firing.

“After discussions with Kenny about the progress of the season, we mutually agreed that a coaching change would be in the best interest of the team. This was an extremely difficult decision, however the organization believes it is one that is necessary at this time.

“Kenny was instrumental in developing our players and building the identity and culture we have become known for over these past four seasons. The foundation he helped put into place here is one that we will continue to build on in the coming seasons. We are forever grateful for all of Kenny’s hard work and dedication to the Nets and the Brooklyn community. Kenny, Laura and the Atkinson family will always remain a part of our Nets family and we wish them nothing but the best in the future.”

Atkinson, a former college and international professional player, was hired by the Nets in 2016 after spending almost a decade on the coaching staffs of the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks. He has a 118-190 overall record with the Nets. Despite significant injuries to their roster this season, Atkinson has coached the team to seventh place in the East with a 28-34 record.

So why was Atkinson fired? It’s not clear, but there are reports that players weren’t happy with him.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are the Nets’ biggest stars. If they’re not happy, you can bet that things will change.

See also: Kenny Atkinson’s tenure with Nets comes to surprising end, as sources say Kyrie Irving prefers Tyronn Lue to take over

Kyrie Irving to have season-ending shoulder surgery; Nets ‘looking at big picture’

Tim Bontemps | ESPN

PHILADELPHIA — Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, general manager Sean Marks announced Thursday night.

Marks said the decision was made after Irving had visited with a specialist the past few days.

“He’s obviously upset about this, and we are here to support him, support the process moving forward with him and the rehabilitation,” Marks said before the Nets’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. “He saw specialists including our people at [New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery] and it has been a group consensus that at this point in time, and this juncture, this is the best course of action.”

Irving, who joined the Nets as a free agent last summer alongside Kevin Durant, played in just 20 games in his first season in Brooklyn. He missed 26 games over the span of nearly two months with a right shoulder impingement, before eventually returning in mid-January following a cortisone shot.

But after missing the final five games before the All-Star Break with a knee sprain he suffered in a nasty-looking fall in a loss to the Washington Wizards on Feb. 1, it was determined that it wasn’t worth Irving playing through pain in the shoulder any longer, and that surgery was the right course of action.

What wasn’t on the table, Marks said, was Irving getting another cortisone shot.

“I think we look at our players long-term health as the number one priority,” Marks said. “Kyrie has been adamant like the rest of us that he would take one cortisone shot and see how it goes.

“We are looking at the big picture here. We are not looking at the next 2-3 months. We are looking at the next 2-3 years.”

The possibility for surgery had been on the table during Irving’s initial absence. At the time, it was decided that the better path was for Irving to get the cortisone shot and see how his shoulder responded, in the hopes of avoiding surgery altogether.

“A cortisone shot lasts as long as it can,” Irving told reporters back on Jan. 4. “You either continue to get cortisone shots, which is obviously detrimental to your health and your muscles, or you go get arthroscopic surgery,” Irving said. “For me, it’s just about being able to go back out there after the right amount of rehab, the right amount of rest and recovery and see what we can do for the rest of the season and then reevaluate after a few months.”

It turned out, however, that it would be another six weeks before he would be shut down for the rest of the way.

Thursday’s announcement closes the door on a disappointing first season for Irving in Brooklyn. He played extraordinarily well at times, including scoring 55 points in his first-ever game for the Nets in a season-opening overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but also spent the vast majority of the season watching in street clothes alongside Durant, who is out with a torn Achilles tendon and officially ruled out a return this season in an interview earlier this week with Bleacher Report.

Rather than figuring out how Irving fits next to Spencer DinwiddieCaris LeVert and Joe Harris ahead of Durant’s return next season, the Nets only saw them together for 19 games this season. Now, they’ll have to try to make the playoffs without Irving. The Nets entered Thursday seventh in the East, two games ahead of the eight-place Orlando Magic and five games ahead of the ninth-place Wizards.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson admitted Irving being ruled out will force the Nets to start from square one in terms of piecing together their roster when their two stars return next season.

“I think that’s the big thing,” Atkinson said. “You wanted some time to work things out, work on our continuity and obviously work on the chemistry of the team and how we’re going to use him. That’s the disappointing part. We’re not going to have that opportunity. We’ll have to start fresh next season and figure it out quickly. But that is the disappointing part. “I don’t know if there’s enough, especially when you throw Kevin into the mix. I think it’s going to be a different structure, a different chemistry, different rotations.”

That said, Atkinson was excited by the brief glimpses of what he saw from Irving, who averaged 27.4 points and 6.4 assists, on the court this season, and is looking forward to seeing more next year.

“I’ve said this before: He was better than I even thought, a better player than I thought, and I had tremendous respect for him in Cleveland and Boston,” Atkinson said. “Faster than I thought, more skilled than I thought, a higher level competitor than I thought, much more physical than I thought. I don’t think people give him enough credit for how physical he is on both ends, how active he is defensively and what an attacker he is. That bodes really well for the future.

“I really love the player, and I feel like we have a really good relationship. So, we’re in a good place there. Obviously, you want more reps, more time with him, but we’ll have time with him in the offseason, too, to connect and, when he gets healthy, to work with him a little bit.”

Marks said Irving is still evaluating his options and didn’t say when he would have the surgery. But Marks did indicate that the rehabilitation process would allow Irving to be back before the start of next season.

“I think that is something that will have to be determined,” Marks said of Irving’s rehab timeline. “With all surgeries once somebody goes in there and takes a look at it then you evaluate how long the rehab is.

“This is something that he should be back in plenty of time to be working out this summer and obviously be ready for next season.”

Like Atkinson, Marks was looking forward to having this season as an evaluation period for his newly built roster. The Nets signed LeVert and Taurean Prince to extensions before the start of this season, have to decide whether to do the same with Jarrett Allen before next season and have to deal with the free agency of Harris — one of the NBA’s best 3-point shooters — this summer.

Marks will have to go into the summer, and make those decisions, without the benefit of seeing his roster have much time together on the court this season.

“I’d be lying if I said I wish all our guys weren’t healthy for the whole time. It’s been kind of a roller coaster year,” Marks said. “We’ve had Caris out as well. So we’ve had multiple guys who’ve had these strange, unforeseen injuries.

“But I have the utmost confidence in our performance staff, our doctors, all the specialists we’ve used as well. And also the guys. The guys have fought hard with their rehab and obviously that’s led by Kevin over the course of the last four or five months while he’s been a Net.”

Kevin Durant is finally running 8 months after his Achilles injury

Andrew Joseph | USA TODAY SPORTS

It’s been just a few days shy of eight months since Kevin Durant went down with an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals with Golden State.

And while the Nets have essentially ruled Durant out for this entire season as he continues to recover, the two-time NBA Finals MVP seems to be ramping up the intensity in his current rehab progress.

During Tuesday’s practice in Brooklyn, reporters got a glimpse of Durant running at near-full speed and then trying to throw a football for good measure. The running part was great to see. The throw … uh … could use some more work.

An Achilles injury typically requires at least six months of recovery time — and in basketball where an Achilles tear can cause a major performance drop-off, it’s often longer.

But at the very least, Durant looks to be on schedule with his rehab and moving well. Nets fans will like to see that.

Kyrie Irving might need to have shoulder surgery; will be out another two months

Holding off on shoulder surgery for now

Mike D. Sykes, II | USA TODAY SPORTS

Kyrie Irving’s stint with the Brooklyn Nets is off to a terrible start. He hasn’t played basketball for them since November 14 and has missed 23 straight games due to a shoulder impingement.

Irving wasn’t expected to be out for this long, but it turns out his injury is worse than originally anticipated. The Nets guard says he’s doing “a lot better” than he was, but he’s still unable to lift his shoulder when taking jump shots.

The Nets’ point guard isn’t ruling out surgery at some point down the line, but he’s been putting it off so far by taking cortisone shots.

“I am in a better place now that it has been a significant amount of time. The next step in any progression was to either get a cortisone shot or to get surgery. That was the ultimatum I was fixed with. Now, I’m just doing the best I can to live off this cortisone and move forward if I need surgery in the future.”

Irving should take his time getting back. The Nets are currently 7th in the Eastern Conference and are in position to make the playoffs and there’s plenty of time between now and the end of the season.

Surgery seems like a viable option and it’s something Irving has clearly thought hard about. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for him to just have the surgery and shut things down for a while.

The Nets are fine — they’ve gone 12-10 since Irving went down with his shoulder injury and have managed to stay afloat. Spencer Dinwiddie also looks like he could be an All-Star this season. What they don’t need is a less-than-100% Irving coming back and jacking up shots — they’re 4-7 with him in the lineup this year.

If Irving takes the rest of this season off, he’ll be primed and ready to go once things start back up next season. Plus, he’ll have a healthy Kevin Durant by his side getting back into the swing of things too. Patience might be the best option for the Nets and their point guard here.

WATCH: Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie snubs Kevin Durant, leaves him hanging for the high-five

Ralph Orense | CLUTCH POINTS

The Brooklyn Nets earned an impressive win against one of the West’s powerhouse teams, beating the Denver Nuggets 105-102 to improve to 13-10 for the season.

Kevin Durant is happy to see his teammates playing well, especially Spencer Dinwiddie who finished with 24 points, four rebounds and eight assists.

Durant tried to high-five the young fella during the final seconds of the game, but Dinwiddie snubbed him.

FLASHBACK…

Durant isn’t expected to play this season as he continues to recover from the Achilles injury he suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. However, he has been present during all the Nets’ home games to show support for his teammates.

Absent Kyrie Irving taunted in Boston, then speaks out on social media

Malika Andrews | ESPN

BOSTON — No time was wasted. As the lights dimmed and the player introduction video began to roll on the giant screen in TD Garden, the heckling began. The chants were loud, the booing was relentless, and signs denouncing the Boston Celtics‘ former star were abundant.

“Where is Kyrie?” Celtics fans chanted.

“Kyrie sucks!” they screeched nearly every time Jarrett Allen went to the free throw line.

The target of the taunting, Kyrie Irving, was hundreds of miles away. Irving has missed the past seven games because of a right shoulder impingement and did not make the trip with his Brooklyn Nets teammates to face his former team. He did, however, respond after the game in a lengthy social media post.

“It happens all the time and Tonight just shows how Sports/Entertainment will always be ignorant and obtrusive,” Irving said at the start of a lengthy post via an Instagram story. “It’s one big SHOW that means Very VERY little in the real world that most people live in because there are Actually things that matter going on within it.”

While Irving didn’t receive the jeering in person, the remaining Nets players served as his proxies.

“It was better than I thought,” Allen said. “They could’ve booed us every time we touched the ball. If Kyrie was here, it probably would’ve been 10 times worse.”

Added Nets coach Kenny Atkinson: “I didn’t give a second thought” to the chants.

In the fall of 2018, Irving told an arena full of Celtics fans that he intended to re-sign with Boston during his 2019 free agency. Instead, he chose the Nets alongside Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. On media day in Brooklyn, New York, Irving said he meant it when he told fans he would re-sign. But then his grandfather died, basketball became less important to him, and over time, the Celtics’ locker room grew fractured and chilly.

“I failed those guys,” Irving said in September. “In terms of me being a leader in that environment and bringing everyone together, I failed.”

It seems that the Celtics organization has largely forgiven Irving. The franchise has stuck to diplomatic talking points when speaking about his tumultuous Celtics tenure. If the team had retained Irving, Boston would not have signed Kemba Walker, who has quickly become a fan favorite and has presided over the Celtics’ 13-4 start to the season, including Wednesday’s 121-110 victory over the Nets. Walker scored a season-high 39 points on 13-of-24 shooting, including 6-of-10 on 3-pointers.

“I’ve said many times that I really enjoy Kyrie and wish him nothing but the best,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before the game.

That nuance was unimportant on Wednesday. Outside the arena, fliers with the word “coward” stamped across Irving’s face were plastered on telephone poles. Another leaflet depicted Irving as the cowardly lion from “The Wizard of Oz.”

In the arena, fans held up signs that said “Kemba > Kyrie.” Another poster had Irving’s face superimposed over a photo of Waldo from “Where’s Waldo?” Other fans had “Kanter” painted over where Irving’s name had been on a No. 11 jersey.

By the fourth quarter, “Kyrie sucks” chants were not reserved for the Nets. It became a rally cry when the Celtics shot free throws and during dead balls as well.

“I had no preconceived notions,” Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie said about the crowd reception in Boston. “Whatever they had to say, he heard it through the TV I am sure, but … he’s not even here.”

KYRIE IRVING

Kendrick Perkins says Kyrie Irving is faking injury to avoid return trip to Boston

Ryan Young | Yahoo Sports

Kyrie Irving will miss the Brooklyn Nets’ next three games with a lingering shoulder injury, including a highly anticipated matchup against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Wednesday — which would have been his first game back in Boston against his former team.

At least one former NBA star, however, thinks that Irving is faking in order to get out of the trip that was sure to draw a lot of hate from Celtics fans. 

ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins — who spent 14 seasons in the league with the Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Pelicans — broke out an extremely hot take via Twitter on the news about Irving’s injury on Friday night.

Given Irving’s history with the Celtics, it’s easy to see why this take would come up. 

Irving spent the past two seasons in Boston after he was traded to the Celtics from the Cavaliers, and publicly told Celtics fans that he was going to sign with the team again in free agency this past summer. He eventually reneged on that promise, however, and signed a four-year, $136 million deal with the Nets instead.

The 27-year-old was sure to be met with a loud chorus of boos at TD Garden on Wednesday, if nothing more, and understandably so. 

Perkins’ take, though, seems to lack any substance whatsoever. 

Irving has missed the last four games with a right shoulder impingement that he first suffered against the Utah Jazz earlier this month, and hasn’t practiced all week. He’s undergoing daily treatment, too, and Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said on Thursday that both Irving and their training staff doesn’t feel like he’s at the point where he can play yet. 

Missing seven games in total while faking a shoulder injury seems like a lot of work to get out of a single game, especially when Irving is averaging an impressive 28.5 points and 7.2 assists per contest so far this year. If he actually did want to get out of it, there are surely easier ways out there to go about it.

Irving doesn’t have a history of skipping games against his former teams, either. He played in the Celtics’ season-opener against the Cavaliers in 2017, his first game with Boston after being traded away by Cleveland.

So unless Perkins knows something we don’t, his take simply reads like it’s coming from a bitter Boston fan still upset about losing Irving this past summer. 

Stephen A. Smith says he’s hearing troubling reports about Kyrie Irving’s attitude

Nick Schwartz | USA TODAY SPORTS

Kyrie Irving’s temperament has been an ongoing storyline early in the NBA season, and according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Irving’s attitude could be an issue in Brooklyn, where the Nets have gotten off to a 6-8 start.

On October 28th, Jackie MacMullan published an extensive piece on the Nets that included a controversial tidbit from Nets team sources. According to that source, Irving is prone to mood swings, and can “shut down” on the team.

Via ESPN:

“When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and, sometimes, even his teammates. Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn’s trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it.”

Irving responded to the report by noting that he’s a human being, and that everyone goes through mood changes. Kevin Durant defended his teammate during an appearance on First Take, and said that the Nets have had no problems at all with Irving as a teammate.

On Thursday, though, Smith said on First Take that he’s continuing to hear negative things about Kyrie Irving’s attitude from sources.

“I am not hearing good things about Kyrie in Brooklyn. I’m talking about you’re hearing [things]… you’re just hearing about the mood. People are putting stuff out there. I don’t think it’s fair, I don’t know how accurate it is. But I am telling, if Kyrie’s listening, I’m telling you there is stuff circulating out there about him from an attitude perspective.”