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Kyrie Irving will miss a ninth straight game on Sunday when his Brooklyn Nets take on the Miami Heat, but the All-Star point guard is close to returning to game action.

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On Friday, head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media, including SNY’s Colin Martin, that Irving is making nice progress in his return from a right shoulder impingement, even joining the team for “on-court work.”

“First thing about Kyrie, he started on-court work, which is a real positive sign for us,” Atkinson said. “He will be out for Miami. And then we’ll see how it progresses. The fact that he started the on-court work is good news for us. Out for Miami and then we’ll see going forward.”

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Irving has been out since the Nets’ Nov. 14 loss to the Denver Nuggets. He was listed as questionable heading into the contest, and although he played through the end of the game, it has been enough to keep him out the last several weeks.

The 27-year-old may be closer than ever to playing, but the team still doesn’t have a timetable for his return.

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Brooklyn stumbled out to a 4-7 start with Irving, but the good news is that the Nets have managed to win six of eight games without him. Guard Spencer Dinwiddie has been particularly effective in Irving’s absence with 24.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in the last eight games.

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That’s not to say that the Nets are better without Irving, but the team’s strong play without him makes it easier to ease him back into action. That sense of urgency may pick up soon though, as six of Brooklyn’s next seven games are against teams currently on pace to make the playoffs.

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Postgame handshakes following NBA games aren’t an uncommon practice, but the pleasantries at Barclays Center on Friday got some added attention. Following the Brooklyn Nets’ victory over the Boston Celtics on Black Friday, now-Nets guard Kyrie Irving (who has been out with an injury), exchanged handshakes and hugs with his former Celtics teammates. Despite the messy ending to his run in Boston, current Celtics have made clear they don’t have any issues with Irving. Marcus Smart indicated that he wants to move on from the story, a sentiment that one must think is shared by his teammates.

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Following Friday’s game, Robert Williams did reveal what his quick conversation with Irving was centered around. “I look at him as like one of my old heads, like a big brother to me,” Williams said, via MassLive. “He just asked about my daughter. Asked how she’s been. I appreciate that about Ky, just staying in touch. It’s always things about basketball, and things about life, so I appreciate that all the time. “He does that a lot. Ky shows love. He’s a big brother to me.” The Nets and Celtics will see each other next March 3 at TD Garden.

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The Miami Heat are on the road for a matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. The Heat are (13-5), coming off a 122-105 win over the Golden State Warriors. The Nets are (10-9), after winning 112-107 over the Boston Celtics.

In the Heat win over the Warriors, Miami was led on offense by Goran Dragic. Dragic connected on 9 of 13 from the floor, totaling 21 points. The Heat shot 53% from the floor and 52% from 3-point range. The Heat dominated the boards, out rebounding Golden State, 58 to 39. The Heat controlled the paint, out scoring the Warriors, 54 to 34. Miami saw their biggest lead at 29 points.

In the Nets win over the Celtics, Brooklyn was guided on offense by Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie connected on 10 of his 19 from the floor, making all 6 free throws, registering 32 points. Dinwiddie also had 11 assists, which gave him a double-double for the game. The Nets shot 46% from the floor and 41% from 3-point range. The Nets out rebounded the Celtics, 58 to 53. The Nets led by as many as 15 points.

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Recent Betting Trends:

Heat are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games overall.

Heat are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs the Atlantic.

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The under is 4-1 in Heat last 5 road games.

Nets are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games.

Nets are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS win.

The under is 5-2 in Nets last 7 overall.

The rad team is 10-4 ATS in the last 15 matchups. The Heat have split their last 4 games overall, while the Nets have caught fire of late. The Nets have won 5 of their last 6 games, with Kyrie Irving still out. It looks like the Nets have finally started to put together a run that fans knew the team was capable of, going into this season. However, I’m going to side with Miami in this one. The Heat have been to good against the spread this year and are also giving up 8 less points per defensively. Final prediction, Heat get a win on the road.

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People tend to forget that on the night of June 30, the night of the “Clean Sweep,” the Nets reached agreements with FOUR free agents: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan … and Garrett Temple. While the first three got a lot of attention, Temple was not an add-on. Irving wanted him on the Nets.

As James Herbert of CBS Sports reports in his profile of Temple…

Irving wanted Temple to know that he respects his game, and that when the star point guard committed to the Nets, he gave management a list of targets he’d like them to pursue. Temple’s name was on it.

The Nets gave Temple the room exception, $10 million over two years, with the second year a team option. Temple is the 33-year-old journeyman it seems every contender needs, the guy who everyone on the bench respects, a self-described “chill guy.” So much so that he’s likely to be the next president of the players’ union, the NBPA.

Joe Harris said that his teammate is easily qualified to run … for President of the United States … as Herbert notes.

“I guess you have to be 35 years old, right?” Harris said, showing a more than cursory knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. “A couple years, if he wants to retire, get into politics. That’s Garrett Temple, right there.”

“First of all,” Dzanan Musa said, overhearing the conversation, “Garrett, as Joe said, can run for President right now.”

Caris LeVert said that after he signed his $52.5 million extension, Temple provided him with investment advice on real estate.

But no NBA player has been as effusive in his praise as Bradley Beal, every ESPN pundits’ choice for the Nets third superstar.

“I always tell everybody he’s the best teammate I’ve ever had,” Beal told Herbert. “For sure. Everything he stood for, and just the way he carried himself — I don’t want to gas him up, but just the way he carried himself was perfect. I almost wanted to mimic that in a way and carry myself the same way.”

Beal said in fact that when he was rookie and Temple a member of the Wizards, the two ate together every day, got shots up together. Beal counted on him as his best friend.

The love for Temple extends to Michele Roberts, the dynamic executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, who calls him the model union member and player rep, saying, “If we here at the PA could create the prototype member, it would be him.”

”Garrett is perfect,” Roberts added, and Beal called him a “humble, God-fearing, perfect guy you want to be around.”

Temple didn’t have it easy early on. As Herbert writes…

He is known as a solid, reliable role player now, but he spent a year in Italy, signed nine 10-day contracts and suited up for six NBA teams and three G League teams before he started a season on a fully guaranteed deal.

The Nets are now his ninth team. How long with his play. He’s taken the NBPA’s leadership program, four times. He has also taken the coaches program, and has received votes for the active player who will make the best coach in three straight GM surveys, Herbert notes.

For now, of course, he’s a player with the Nets, one revered by Musa to Irving. Plenty to time to think about the future.

How Garrett Temple figured out life in the NBA – James Herbert – CBS Sports

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A un peu plus de 48h de la reprise officielle de la saison NBA, quelques vrais joueurs restent à quai et attendent qu’un train les fasse grimper à bord. Parmi eux Iman Shumpert, 29 ans seulement, vrai background et vrai flow mais santé fragile, ceci expliquant peut-être cela. Selon quelques sources de la Ligue les Bulls et les Grizzlies seraient prêts à donner une chance au NBAer/rappeur, et Iman, lui, attend toujours qu’on l’appelle…

Remarquer le 20 octobre que votre cousin Jean-Claude n’a toujours pas trouvé preneur pour la reprise reste un constat plutôt logique, mais se faire la même remarque concernant Iman Shumpert l’est beaucoup moins. A 29 ans l’ancien arrière des Knicks, des Cavs, des Kings et très rapidement des Rockets a évidemment encore son lot de skills en magasin mais il semblerait que les deux dernières saisons du garçon n’attirent pas vraiment le chaland. Signataire d’un joli contrat de 40 patates sur quatre ans il y a… quatre ans à Cleveland, Iman avait ensuite connu la plus belle période de sa vie en devenant entre autres champion NBA en 2016 avec un rôle prépondérant en Playoffs. La suite ? Une sacrée descente… Une saison solide en 2017 avec quelques titularisations aux côtés de LeBron, puis un départ à Sacramento et finalement Houston, là où il ne s’imposera jamais car quand on est un 3&D qui défend de moins en moins et qui galère de plus en plus à rentrer un tir… beh ça sent pas bon. Iman restera pourtant à disposition des Rockets tout au long de l’été mais… refusera finalement une offre de Daryl Morey il y a un mois environ, préférant sonder le marché un mois avant la reprise. Mauvaise idée. Mauvaise idée car aujourd’hui pas grand monde ne semble s’être manifesté, et la montre joue donc de moins en moins en faveur du joueur alors que la saison régulière arrive à grands pas.

Selon Sham’s Charania de The Athletic, deux franchises auraient néanmoins finalement décidé de prendre le téléphone, et cette fois-ci – en cas d’offre – il ne faudra pas faire la fine bouche sous peine d’aller expérimenter le championnat chilien ou quelque chose dans le genre. Selon l’insider toujours, les Bulls pourraient être tentés d’ajouter un peu d’expérience sur leurs postes 2 et 3 au relai des titulaires Zach LaVine et Porter Jr., alors que les Grizzlies sont un peu juste sur le poste 2 avec uniquement Dillon Brooks et Grayson Allen sur la ligne de départ. Deux destinations plutôt cohérentes, mais surtout deux franchises à qui il reste un peu de place dans le roster, et à deux jours de la reprise elles ne sont plus tellement nombreuses dans ce cas. Très dommage d’en arriver là en tout cas pour un joueur qui, en dépit d’une santé fragile et d’un petit coup de mou depuis un an, reste l’un des combos les plus stylés de la Ligue, capable aussi bien de se fondre dans un effectif afin d’en exécuter les basses tâches que d’en être l’un des catalyseurs offensifs et défensifs.

Triste histoire que celle d’Iman Shumpert, qui a donc tout intérêt d’accepter l’offre qui lui sera faite, si offre il y a, car passé le cut de l’opening night les franchises auront pour la plupart d’entre elles d’autres chats à fouetter que de chercher un quinzième homme. Allez Iman, nous on a vraiment envie de te voir remettre le short cette saison alors ferme les yeux, prend un stylo et signe en bas de la feuille.

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The Salvation Army provided shelter for the 12-year-old boy and his father. The almost-barren room offered two beds and a pair of lamps. There was a communal bathroom down the hall, shared with over 15 people. As for the food, he’d pick at his mundane meal and drink water to curb his hunger.

The doors closed at 10 o’clock. On the nights the boy would return late from playing with his friends, his father would step out to wait for him. Sometimes the staff let them back in. On other occasions, they could not re-enter and had to find someone to stay with for the evening. Then, there were nights they couldn’t secure anywhere to go.

The father and son slept outside, sitting up with their backs against the wall.

For months, this was the life of Taurean Prince. It was less than 10 years ago. Now the 6-foot-8, 21-year-old small forward is pondering where he will land in the NBA, and he’ll find out Thursday night during the draft.

Prince’s parents divorced when he was young. For the early parts of his childhood, he lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment with his mother and younger sister in San Antonio. Tamiyko Prince worked as an aging and disability officer, but the money was tight for a single parent with two young children.

Prince grew up fast. He didn’t receive all the new toys his friends did. There were no family vacations. Most of the time he and his younger Catina sister played inside. Prince thought with an adult perspective early on and even learned how to drive by the time he was 12.

“We had to sacrifice more than the average child would,” Prince told CSNPhilly.com two weeks after his workout with the Sixers, who hold the first, 24th and 26th picks. “Sometimes you’d have to cut up a potato and make fries out of that and just eat a plateful of fries just to get a meal. It was making ends meat anyway possible.”

By the time Prince was approaching middle school, his father Anthony was getting things back on track. He had been in and out of jail. During middle school Prince moved from his mother’s in San Antonio to live with his dad in San Angelo.

They stayed with his paternal grandmother, a strong family figure who kept the household in order. That stable home, though, was rocked when she succumbed to breast cancer.

“My father was kind of lost in what to do, just like how anybody would be when they lost their mother,” Prince said. “We went to go live with my aunt. She had to move and we moved in with one of my dad’s girlfriends. They got into an argument and we had to move out of that situation. But we had nowhere to go, so we just resorted to the Salvation Army.”

Once again, Prince packed his bags. He had been accustomed to bouncing from home to home, but nothing could prepare him for his magnitude of change. While he processed his new environment, he was comforted by believing in his father’s decisions.

“(I felt) kind of lost, not knowing exactly why I was there,” Prince said of his first night. “But I just trusted everything my dad said. I never really questioned what he did because I knew everything was for a reason.”

Prince didn’t know how long he would be without a consistent place to live. What he was sure of was that he was going to stick by his father regardless of where they were staying. Prince was so committed to his father that he did not reveal to his mother they were homeless. He feared that she would remove him from the situation, and he couldn’t imagine leaving his father by himself.

“I never told my mom, not once,” he said. “I knew she would have tried to take me away from my dad and I didn’t want to leave my dad alone. I didn’t want him to be lonely, so I stuck by his side.”

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Theo Pinson may be most known around the NBA for his sideline dancing with the Nets bench last season, or the inventor of “The Swim” …

Other than his dancing … and swimming, Pinson has proven to be the Nets best two-way player since the NBA instituted the roster addition in 2017. And his experience bodes well for the Nets and their lone two-way so far, Henry Ellenson.

Long Island, he said, did a “great job” getting him “ready to play” in the NBA whenever he got the chance.

The Nets wanted Pinson so bad a year ago June that before the second round of the draft ended, they contacted his agent and told him they wanted the North Carolina product on their summer league team and maybe their G League roster.

Pinson thrived last season with the Long Island Nets playing in and starting a total of 34 games averaging 35.6 minutes, 20.7 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game. His play earned him second-team all NBA G League and NBA G League All-Rookie First Team honors. He shot 38.9 percent from deep, hitting eight in one game. More importantly was that Pinson, once seen as the 10th best player in the loaded high school class of 24, had developed confidence.

He was called on in late January when the Nets were down Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie. Against the Knicks, he scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds, shooting 5-of-11 overall and 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

Now signed on a standard deal … and penciled in as the Nets third point guard, Pinson praised Long Island for helping him develop and making the transition to play for Brooklyn ‘a lot easier.’ In addition, Pinson stated that the Nets organization knows how to deal with players under two-way contracts.

“[Long Island Nets] are definitely in good hands,” Pinson said, referring to the turnover in the head coaching and GM jobs. “The coaching staff are pretty much the same we had last year so they know what the deal is. They want to finish the job that we couldn’t do last year.”

He was referring to Long Island’s surprise appearance in the G League Finals. Pinson hit the dagger in the conference championship game to get them there.

“The whole experience was good. Brooklyn and Long Island did a great job involving the two ways as far as being ready to play if we needed to if we had to come up for a game with Brooklyn and when we were in Long Island, we would do the same stuff they did in Brooklyn so it made the transition a lot easier.”

Pinson was asked about his continuing connection to new Long Island head coach Shaun Fein and new GM Matt Riccardi. Both were promoted from assistant jobs. Pinson said he talks to them frequently, He is particularly close with Fein and plans to be “forever” close with him.

“Yeah, I see them all the time,” Pinson said. “They would come around in the gym and I’d talk to them, tell them thank you for everything they have done and me and Shaun will forever be close because that was my guy last year and you never forget the ones that were there for you since Day 1.”

Pinson’s personal expectations heading into year two are similar to last year in that he wants to contribute anyway he can this time in Brooklyn rather than Uniondale. With the Nets guard corps well established, how many minutes can Pinson rack up next season? He doesn’t know how many or at what position, but he’s ready to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. The 6’7” sniper said he’s willing to play multiple positions.

”I think the beauty of my game is that I can play multiple positions, guard multiple positions, and contribute, Pinson said. “I do not want to say ‘hey, you are a point guard’ oh you are a shooting guard.’ I think that helps me on the floor.”

At his press conference before Media Day Friday. Kenny Atkinson singled out Pinson as a surprise during player-organized workouts in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

“I do what I am told to do but at the same time I am going to do what I can to get on the floor. I mean everybody wants to play so you just have to wait on your opportunity and that is what helped me to where I am today. I took advantage of my opportunities that were given to me.”

Beyond his play on the hardwood, there’s a question whether Pinson can once again energize Nets bench, with all its new players, to do their now notorious bench celebrations. Pinson says he will miss those guys who joined in on the bench fun last year —he and Dzanan Musa are the survivors— and so will have to see which teammates will follow in their footsteps.

“I mean, we’ll see we’ll see,” Pinson jokes. “Last year it was a fun year. I am going to miss those guys but at the same time, they are all out there doing their own thing.”

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David Nwaba is giving Kenny Atkinson no choice.

When he plays — infrequently and inconsistently as that may be — he produces. Just look at his past two games — 10 points apiece against the Eastern Conference-contending Celtics and Heat in limited action while playing his trademark physical defense.

“He’s earning himself more playing time,” said Atkinson, the Nets’ coach.

Oddly, after scoring 10 points in 19 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Celtics, Nwaba didn’t get off the bench in Friday’s rematch. But against the Heat on Sunday, he was part of Atkinson’s rotation and was productive again — Nwaba had a plus-two rating — with the coach later raving about his physicality and defensive acumen.

It has, unfortunately, followed a familiar pattern for the 26-year-old guard. On Nov. 10, in a blowout loss to the Suns, Nwaba had six points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in 16 minutes, but found himself buried until this past week.

“Just stay ready. That’s the biggest thing no matter what happens,” said Nwaba, who is with his fourth organization in as many years after going undrafted out of Cal Poly. “I just got to be ready and stay positive about the whole process. … It’s an opportunity every time I’m on the court, just to play hard. I think they see it. I just got to continue to be aggressive every opportunity I have and just play my game.”

These performances have come at the right time for Nwaba, who has appeared in only 12 of the Nets’ 20 games. The team will have to make a roster decision on Dec. 15, when Wilson Chandler’s 25-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs ends. It could come down to Nwaba and new addition Iman Shumpert. But he’s not focused on the near future, because he has to continue to prove he belongs in the present.

“I know what I bring to this team. Whatever happens, happens,” Nwaba said. “I’m not worried about that. I just play my game and worry about contributing.

“I’m just out there showing I deserve to be out there on the floor. I’m trying to help this team as much as I can.”

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Dzanan Musa essentially spent his rookie season in the G-League, chafing and champing at the bit to get to Brooklyn.

Now backcourt injuries over the past week have finally given him his chance. And the Nets’ youngest player hasn’t been shy about taking it.

“These are opportunities for these guys. Players are born out of situations like this. I thought he was really good,” Kenny Atkinson said.

“Musa is not afraid. You can say a lot of things about Musa, but he’s not afraid of the moment. He relishes it quite honestly. I love his spirit, how he gets after it.”

Musa, 20, has a chance to get after it with Caris LeVert expected to miss five weeks and Kyrie Irving’s status up in the air. After totaling just 39 minutes his rookie season, he logged 29 on Saturday and could figure prominently Monday versus Indiana if Irving is still sidelined.

“I’m not afraid of the moment. I’m built for this. I’m only afraid of God, so it’s my time. … I take advantage of my opportunity every time I step on the court,” said Musa, who has spent extra time before practice working with player development coach Tiago Splitter and recognizes the need to prove to the coaches what he can provide.

“To do the right things, coming into practice before time, getting shots up, be focused all the time. … Of course I know what I can do, but they don’t know yet, and from the day-to-day, I’m trying to gain their trust.”

Long term that means defending and learning how to play off the ball in catch-and-shoot situations. That’s how he’ll fit into a team with Irving, LeVert and Kevin Durant.

But for the moment, with that entire group sidelined, the Nets have required something else from Musa, the No. 29 overall pick in 2018. They’ve needed him to step up as a second scoring option and floor spacer on the second unit, taking some of the burden off Spencer Dinwiddie.

“Spencer is a fast player, a player who can get buckets for us, so I want to give him space. I will do anything to help my team win,” said Musa, who had five points, seven rebounds and five assists in the win over Chicago.

“We need his scoring on that second unit now, with no Caris,” Atkinson added. “You can’t just have Spencer out there taking every possession.” We’re going to need Musa to play well.”

Musa averaged nine points and 3.8 rebounds in 21 minutes over his past four games after scoring just 19 total as a rookie. He credits his offseason work — essentially staying stateside rather than going home to Bosnia and Herzegovina — for his improvement.

“I’m living 16, 17 hours flight from here, and I was home for 14 days,” Musa said. “I came in here and put in a lot of work, the weight room, I was in [L.A.] with the team, a lot of work in the offseason. That helped me a lot.”

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Alors que c’est plutôt morne plaine sur la NBA du côté des Français en ce début de saison, c’est peut-être à l’étage inférieur qu’il faudra regarder pour voir des tricolores haut en couleur. Jaylen Hoard (14 points, 9 rebonds) et Sekou Doumbouya (12 points en 19 minutes) ont montré la voie avec des débuts réussis en G-League, et Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot pourrait bien être un de ceux qui pourraient s’engouffrer dans la brèche, même s’il n’est pas entré en jeu la nuit dernière face aux Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Son coach en G-League ? Shaun Fein, un ancien coéquipier à Antibes

L’ailier, qui a débuté la saison du côté de Cleveland, n’a finalement pas passé le cut du mois d’octobre. Il est cependant retombé sur ses pattes assez rapidement. Du côté de Brooklyn. Entre Brooklyn et Long Island à vrai dire, avec un « two-way contract » chez les Nets.

Mais, malgré des températures opposées, il semblerait qu’il y ait un petit air de Côte d’Azur à l’embouchure de l’Hudson River cette année. En effet, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot n’est pas complètement en terre inconnue à Long Island car il y retrouve Shaun Fein, son ancien coéquipier à Antibes et désormais « head coach » de l’équipe de G-League des Nets – depuis cet été après trois saisons en tant qu’assistant.

« Ça comptait clairement pour une part importante dans ma décision finale », a déclaré TLC lors du media day des Long Island Nets. « On est amis depuis longtemps et on a toujours gardé le contact. J’ai fait trois saisons dans la ligue et à chaque fois que je venais à Brooklyn, je venais le voir parce qu’on a une très bonne relation. »

Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot trouve donc non seulement des oreilles réceptives à son arrivée à Brooklyn mais aussi un coach qui connait son nouveau joueur sur le bout des doigts. Et qui y voit un potentiel certain.

« Je suis sûr que c’est bien pour lui d’avoir un visage familier pour l’aider à s’adapter ici et s’améliorer et l’accompagner dans ses objectifs. Je suis content pour lui, c’est une belle opportunité à Brooklyn », assure Shaun Fein au Nets Daily. « Nous avons prouvé par le passé qu’on faisait progresser nos joueurs. C’est un ancien premier tour de draft et il a le talent. On va pouvoir faire de belles choses avec lui à Long Island et Brooklyn. »

Pourtant bien lancé lors de sa campagne rookie à Philadelphie, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot a un peu calé dans sa deuxième année avec les Sixers, et il a ensuite enchaîné les franchises d’OKC, de Chicago et de Cleveland sans convaincre, ni rencontrer vraiment de situations favorables à sa progression, notamment au Thunder. À Brooklyn, les planètes semblent enfin vouloir s’aligner. À TLC de saisir la balle au bond…

« Je veux encore garder un pied en NBA. Les Nets donnent toujours leur chance aux joueurs qu’ils ont en two-way contract et c’est l’objectif. J’essaie de m’améliorer sur mon jeu et les missions qu’on me donne. En G-League, je dois être un leader de l’équipe et faire les petits trucs qui font gagner l’équipe. »
Son coach en NBA ? Kenny Atkinson, le francophile

Pour son coach, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot n’a pas encore optimisé son potentiel défensif. C’est son talon d’Achille alors même que ce devrait être un point fort. TLC doit donc progresser en défense, et continuer à travailler son jeu sur le pick & roll. Selon Shaun Fein, son profil d’ailier polyvalent est idéal sur ces situations car il peut jouer le porteur de balle ou le poseur d’écran.

« C’est un ailier habile qui peut jouer sur plusieurs postes. Il a un bon dribble aussi. Il faut le faire jouer en pick & roll et qu’il fasse les bonnes lectures. Le plus important pour lui, c’est de progresser en défense. Il a la taille, la force et la vitesse pour défendre sur plusieurs postes. S’il se concentre là-dessus, il pourrait atteindre son objectif. »

Pour son autre head coach, Kenny Atkinson, l’arrivée de l’ailier tricolore est en tout cas une bonne nouvelle. Ancien joueur et entraîneur en France, le technicien a également une histoire familiale qui le lie à l’Hexagone et il accueille donc TLC à bras ouverts.

« J’aime le fait qu’il soit Français tout d’abord », nous a confié Kenny Atkinson. « Tout le monde sait que je suis francophile, on en a déjà parlé. J’aime qu’il soit Français même si pour le coup je suis un peu fâché parce qu’il ne me parle pas assez français. »

Blague à part, Kenny Atkinson nous a livré la réponse habituelle sur un joueur en « two-way contract ». Mais si le joueur comme les coachs savent bien qu’il n’y a au fond que peu de chances de le voir intégrer l’effectif NBA à temps complet, il faut également entretenir cette flamme. Dans le sport, tout peut arriver. Et très vite, comme le démontre la situation compliquée des Warriors…

« On a toujours aimé son talent, on le suit depuis longtemps », reprend Kenny Atkinson. « On aime sa formation internationale, la progression qu’il a eue à Antibes dans son club formateur. Avec lui, on a un joueur de 24 ans qui est encore jeune, qui est encore en train de grandir. On est très content de l’avoir avec nous et de pouvoir continuer à le faire progresser. »

Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot part de loin, c’est une évidence, mais sa nouvelle situation chez les Nets est intéressante. À lui de montrer ses progrès au fur et à mesure de la saison : au tir extérieur, sur ses finitions près du cercle, sur sa défense, sur son leadership. Le parcours s’annonce ardu mais pas impossible.

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Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert had surgery to repair ligaments in his right thumb and will be out indefinitely, the team announced Thursday.

LeVert is the Nets’ third-leading scorer (16.8 ppg) and has started nine games this season, shooting 42.1% overall and 36.1% on 3-pointers. Last season, LeVert missed three months with a dislocated right foot, returning to the lineup just in time for Brooklyn’s playoff push.

The Nets entered the season without offseason addition Kevin Durant as he heals from his ruptured Achilles tendon.

On Wednesday, the Nets signed veteran swingman Iman Shumpert to fill out their roster.

Shumpert split last season between the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets and was a valued part of Houston’s playoff rotation. Overall, he averaged 7.5 points, 3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and shot 34.8% on 3-pointers. Shumpert is known for his defensive acumen and was a vital part of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Finals teams from 2014-18.

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The version of Rodions Kurucs the Nets are getting right now isn’t the same one who looked like a second-round steal and a surefire starter. Faced with the challenge of an upgraded roster, he has found himself slumping on the court and struggling for minutes.

“He’s trying to find himself with this new team,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told The Post. “I think that’s a [situation which] last year we could throw him in, run him out there, ‘Hey, you’re playing 25, 30 minutes whether you make a mistake or not.’

“Now I think there’s a different role for him. He’s struggling. But we don’t want to [overreact]. He’s going to play for us. He’s going to help us. Right now he’s just struggling to figure out his role a little bit.”

Those struggles have been pretty glaring.

After being the lowest-drafted player named to play in last season’s Rising Stars Challenge and exceeding all expectations, Kurucs gave the Nets a huge lift. They were 28-18 in games he started, and he finished his rookie campaign averaging 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 20.5 minutes.

But both his play and his playing time have nosedived this season. He’ll head into Friday’s game at Portland having mustered just 2.3 points and 2.7 boards in 11.8 minutes per game, his 1.3 turnovers more than he averaged last season in roughly half the playing time.

That playing time, more so than last season, is going to be dependent on Kurucs getting his game back in gear. While the likes of Jared Dudley, Treveon Graham and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson weren’t viable 30-minute options for Atkinson last season, Taurean Prince has been a revelation, leaving Kurucs only sporadic playing time.

The 21-year-old forward has to start making it count. At least, more than he did in his scoreless, two-turnover, seven-minute stint Monday.

“I mean, that’s what Kenny said to me: ‘You just have to adjust it, and just do everything right. Not turning the ball over, rebounding the ball and play great defense,’ ” Kurucs told The Post. “That’s what is going to keep me on the court and out on the floor.

“So I turned the ball over [Monday] twice. Like, that was my mistake. So I just have to do what Kenny wants from me now, because he said, ‘You have a role this year. So you have to stick with your role and do the things that coaches need you to.’ ”

The upside is that’s more a matter of adjustment than anything physical.

After adding Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, what the coaches need from Kurucs is hustle and energy. He envisions himself being a playmaker like Draymond Green, and that made sense in Las Vegas during summer league play. In Brooklyn, he has to be a role player.

Kurucs is shooting 35.3 percent overall and has gone just 2-for-6 from the free-throw line. He has seen his net rating drop from last season’s -0.4 to -5.3, and his player impact estimate has gone from 6.9 as a rookie to -0.6, the worst in the Nets’ rotation.

Still, with the issues not appearing to be physical, it raises the question whether they’re mental.

Kurucs was arrested on Sept. 3 for domestic abuse, with his next hearing in the case slated for Nov. 19. (Under New York state law, prosecutors have a 90-day deadline for handing over evidence to defendants.)

His lawyer has denied any wrongdoing by his client. Kurucs allegedly threatened to kill himself during the June 27 incident with his girlfriend. But when asked if he felt the case was weighing on the young forward’s psyche and hindering his performance, Atkinson said no.
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“I don’t think so,” Atkinson told The Post. “It’s not part of the conversation. I think his sanctuary right now is the basketball court. He’s practiced well, he’s engaged with his teammates; I see it. It’s more about the change in role and a young player having to deal with the different role.”

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Don’t expect to see Brooklyn Nets center DeAndre Jordan on the perimeter when the regular season begins.

Asked by Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News if he has tried to add new wrinkles to his game, Jordan responded with a resounding no.

“Hell no,” he said. “No. No way. If I come out here and start shooting threes and s–t, then ya’ll gonna be like, DeAndre, we shouldn’t have signed that guy.”

Jordan is one of the few traditional centers still playing significant minutes in the modern NBA. Teams are more frequently looking to space the floor with shooters who can play at the three-point line and create their own shot.

Brook Lopez is one example of an old-school center who added new wrinkles to his game that fit this era of basketball. After attempting just 31 three-pointers in his first eight seasons, the California native has shot at least 325 in each of the past three seasons and made a career-high 36.5 percent with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018-19.

Jordan has only taken 11 three-pointers in 11 seasons and zero since 2017-18. The 31-year-old is still effective near the basket and sported averages of 11.0 points and 13.1 rebounds in 69 games last season with the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks.

The Nets are entering the 2019-20 campaign with high expectations, even with Kevin Durant expected to miss the season while recovering from a ruptured Achilles.

Along with Kyrie Irving, Jordan will be a critical piece for the Nets as they attempt to improve on last season’s 42-40 record and win a playoff series for the first time since 2013-14.