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We're in the middle of the NBA's dog days of summer when nothing is really happening on the court. But it's 2022 and the news cycle never ends, especially when Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets are around. Here's a news roundup of some of the big stories that have happened over the past week in case you've been slacking on your offseason blurb reading.
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Kevin Durant doubles down on Joe Tsai
In a nutshell: 34-year-old Kevin Durant shocks the world and asks for a trade on June 30. The Nets' reported asking price is, like, two superstars and four No. 1 picks, which cracks up the entire internet. The Celtics are rumored to be interested but the Nets balked at something like Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and a bunch of picks. Radio silence & crickets for a few weeks. Then KD doubles down and tells Nets governor Joe Tsai last weekend that he doesn't like the direction the Nets are headed in and that he will only play for them if coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks are fired. Oh, and KD's under contract for four more years, leaving him with almost no leverage, which was backed up by the Athletic's John Hollinger. Joe Tsai tweets later on Monday that “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.” He didn't address KD in the tweet, but he may as well have. And then on Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported that KD is prepared to possibly hold out if his demands (trade me or fire them) are not met. You're all caught up now! Oh, wait…
Kyrie Irving is also not a fan of Nets' leadership?
A report broke Tuesday morning that suggested Kyrie Irving is not a fan of Nash and Marks, either. “Kyrie Irving hates these guys. He feels that Nash is terrible and Marks is bad,” an unnamed source told the New York Post. Side note: that quote cracked me up and reminds me of a scene by the penguins in Madagascar 2 as their plane was in the process of crashing. “Sir, we may be out of fuel,” Kowalski says. “What makes you think that?” asks Skipper. “We've lost engine one, and engine two is no longer on fire.” Of course, hours later Irving's agent (and stepmother), Shetallia Riley Irving, refuted the report. “I am not sure where this narrative is coming from but Kyrie does not hate Steve nor Sean,” she said. Ok, I get it. When I used the word ‘hate' as a kid my mom would yell at me and tell me I shouldn't hate anyone. And she was right. So, this is clearly a case of semantics. Had the source said something like ‘Kyrie is not a fan of Nash or Marks,' it probably would not have been refuted and is likely pretty accurate. “He's about peace, love and acceptance,” Irving went on to say about Kyrie.
So, to sum all of this up, KD only wants to play for the Nets if Nash and Marks are fired, and is now looking at a potential hold out if he doesn't get them fired or himself traded. and Kyrie apparently does not enjoy playing for either one of them. Got it. This story may not end any time soon, but my gut says the Nets are going to give up and start moving guys, even if they can't get all they want in return. These relationships appear to be broken. I recently wrote up the Draft Guide Player Outlooks for the Nets and my guess is that I will be rewriting almost all of them at least one or two more times. But before we're done in Brooklyn…
Ben Simmons is looking good
Shams Charania said Tuesday that the story of Ben Simmons leaving the Nets' group chat after being asked to play in Game 4 is not true. Shams also said that Simmons has been looking good lately and appears to be on track to play at the start of the season. We haven't seen him on the court since he refused to dunk or shoot in a Game 7 playoff loss to the Hawks way back in June of 2021. Simmons' lack of basketball activity over the last year, along with his bad back and well-publicized mental state makes me scared to draft him. I don't care how late he's sitting there, I'm not doing it. On top of everything else, his shot is broken, he can't make a free throw and he refuses to shoot 3-pointers, meaning he's a fantasy liability, even when things are going well. And with all this KD & Kyrie stuff going on, it makes the water even murkier. And can you imagine if Simmons is the lone Net standing and expected to be the alpha dog this season? Watching the Nets this offseason is like watching a bad season of Big Brother or Survivor at this point.
Lakers offense to run through AD
Lakers coach Darvin Ham reportedly said in a meeting with LeBron James, Rich Paul (Bron's agent) and President Rob Pelinka that the offense will run through Anthony Davis. LeBron supposedly concurred with that idea and Chris Haynes suggested that AD will be in “optimum shape” and will be able to “avoid serious injuries and carry a heavier load.” OK, now that you're done snickering, Davis is now 29 years old and has nicknames like “Street Clothes” and “Locker room,” and has played in 40, 36, 62 and 56 games in each of the last four seasons. This sounds more like wishful thinking than some sort of medical evidence and I would put the over/under on games played by AD this season at 45. And that's not good. But the fact that the Lakers are publicly saying that he's going to be healthy all season and the offense will run through him is worth remembering. AD will probably be a boom or bust fantasy player and if he can actually stay healthy for most of the season, he will win you a fantasy championship. But as soon as he takes that first trip to the locker room in Game 2 of the regular season, all bets are off. My guess is I'll be letting someone else draft Davis this season. In 10 seasons he's played at least 70 games just twice, and fewer than 65 games six times.
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Kevin Huerter says he's going to help the Kings
Kevin Huerter said in a recent interview that his experience with the Hawks has prepared him to make an impact in Sacramento. “I feel like I've been through a lot there, having that playoff experience,” he said of his time in Atlanta. “It's really the first thing I heard about when I got traded here is how long it's been since they made the playoffs and how hungry everyone is to make it.” Huerter's 3-point shooting will help the Kings, as they were 25th in the league last year, but he'll also have to battle with guys like De'Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, Malik Monk, Harrison Barnes, Keegan Murray, Domantas Sabonis and Richaun Holmes for touches and shots. If Huerter's starting for the Kings, I'll take a late flier on him but Red Velvet is not a guy I'll be reaching for in drafts.
Myles Turner says he's healthy
Myles Turner told Marc Spears he's “in great shape” and has “worked his way back from injuries.” He also said he's ‘numb' to the constant trade rumors. “The [left foot stress reaction] injury … took me out for nearly half of last season,” said Turner. “Whether that's in [Pacers] training camp or whether that's a training camp somewhere else, I'm going to go and be myself.” Turner's ability to hit 3-pointers and block shots leave him as an underrated fantasy player and if he can stay healthy this season, regardless of where he is, he could be setting up for a bounce-back season.
Kyle Lowry is still dealing with a personal issue
Kyle Lowry says he's still dealing with the personal issue that caused him to miss 13 games down the stretch last season. “It's definitely something that kind of derailed my whole season and kept me derailed for a long time,” he said. “Still to this day, it's still something I deal with every single day.” Lowry should be a fine late pick when you need an extra point guard but he's 36 years old and he's played in 65 or fewer games in four straight seasons.
Luka Dončić getting serious about conditioning
Luka Dončić started working on his fitness at the end of last season and appears to be serious about coming into this season in better shape. “Shortly after the end of the season, he contacted me and said that he wanted to start fitness training immediately. Together with Goran Dragić, they worked for three weeks,” Anze Macek, his kinesiologist told SportKlub Slovenija. “The national team action followed. When he went on vacation, he asked me for a work plan.” This is pretty exciting news for yours truly as I will continue to draft Luka wherever I can get him and he's already listed as the favorite to win the MVP Award this season. He'll also be wearing Luka 1's this season – his signature Jordan shoe and running pick-and-rolls with Christian Wood. I can't wait.
Unvaccinated players still can't play in Toronto
The key here is that they can play everywhere else. And as far as I know, this won't impact any Raptors this season.
Training camps should run from late September through Oct. 1, the NBA Preseason will start on Sep. 30 and the NBA regular season kicks off on Oct. 18.