Despite virus cases, Nets say no thought to skipping NBA restart
NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving aren’t coming back. DeAndre Jordan and Wilson Chandler aren’t, either.
Spencer Dinwiddie is a maybe, with his status unclear after both he and Jordan tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Brooklyn Nets don’t look ready for a restart, but general manager Sean Marks said Wednesday there was no discussion of the team not traveling to Florida for the resumption of the NBA season.
“Look, we have a job to do,” Marks said. “Again, we have to bring a team to Orlando. We will bring a team to Orlando. We will go down there and we will compete. That’s our jobs here.”
It’s not an easy one for interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who took over when the Nets surprisingly parted ways with Kenny Atkinson on March 7. He won his first two games, capped by an impressive victory over the West-leading Lakers in Los Angeles.
Then the season stopped and his challenges really began.
Vaughn had moved Jordan into the starting lineup, but now the job apparently goes back to Jarrett Allen. If Dinwiddie can’t play — he is currently on the travel list but is experiencing symptoms — Vaughn might need a new point guard, too. And NBA rules haven’t been allowing teams to practice together, so it may take almost until the July 31 resumption before Vaughn knows who he’s sending out on the court for the (re)opening tip.
“Just like we drew it up,” Vaughn joked.
The Nets had higher hopes when the season was suspended. Not only were they playing well, but a long break presented the possibility that both Durant and Irving might be recovered from surgeries, turning Brooklyn into much more than the average No. 7 seed.
But neither player plans to join the Nets at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Marks thought it best for rehabbing players to remain where they were, particularly after Durant’s recovery was affected when he was among four Nets to test positive for the virus in March.
Some Nets players left New York then and the team had discussions with the league about whether it should go directly to Florida when it was time to return. They eventually decided it was best to first come back to Brooklyn, and both Dinwiddie and Jordan tested positive after returning.
“Hindsight, we can all say things would have went differently had we gone down to Orlando early or gone somewhere else, but at the end of the day this is a pandemic that I don’t think anyone could quite put their fingers on with how it’s being spread and so forth,” Marks said. “We have a lot of questions.”
It’s not as if the team hasn’t been careful: Vaughn was wearing gloves while conducting a Zoom interview Tuesday. He sent his family to Phoenix when the virus struck New York, only to find that Arizona’s cases are now rising.
Marks said he will support any player who chooses not to play, which Chandler did for family reasons. The Nets have been adjusting their roster, signing Tyler Johnson and waiving Theo Pinson, among their changes.
The Nets have a half-game lead over Orlando for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and are set to face the Magic on July 31 in their first game back.
Holding onto a playoff spot might help Vaughn keep the coaching job next season. But like everything else about this season, nothing can be certain.
“There’s no playbook, no handbook for this scenario,” Vaughn said.
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