Nets sign free-agent forward T.J. Warren
Seek versatility up front as Durant drama continues
The Brooklyn Nets aren’t waiting for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to find new homes.
Instead, they’re welcoming new additions to the Barclays Center in anticipation of reshaping their ever-morphing roster.
An ESPN report indicated Tuesday that the Nets have agreed on a one-year contract with free-agent forward T.J. Warren, who has barely played the past two seasons but was a force to be reckoned with prior to his back luck with foot injuries.
Warren, who has averaged 15.5 points and 4.1 rebounds over 332 career games with Phoenix and Indiana, missed all but four contests due to a stress fracture in his left foot in 2020-21 and wasn’t available to play at all last season due to yet another fracture.
The former first-round pick (14th overall) by the Suns in 2014 averaged a career-best 19.8 points per game for the Pacers in 2019-20 before putting up 20.0 per contest during Indiana’s first-round playoff series at the NBA’s bubble site in Florida to conclude the campaign.
Nets general manager Sean Marks, who also reportedly picked up Indiana guard Edmond Sumner on Tuesday, may be planning for Durant’s exit from Brooklyn, be it soon or as expediently as the team can get a digestible deal for one of the best players of his generation.
Durant demanded to be traded last week just three days after fellow superstar Irving opted in to his $36.5 million contract for next season.
The Lakers and Nets have been rumored to be in talks to swap Irving for veteran guard Russell Westbrook, but that deal has not gained traction, according to multiple reports.
Durant has been mentioned to be headed to Phoenix, Miami or back to Golden State, where he was a two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player before signing to come here in the summer of 2019 alongside Irving.
With four years left on his current contract, Durant has already indicated an unwillingness to suit up for Brooklyn again. But the Nets hold the cards in whether or not he is dealt.
That leaves them in a precarious position as free agency continues, but Marks hasn’t blinked.
He’s already re-signed sharpshooter Patty Mills and budding center Nic Claxton.
Adding Warren and Sumner to the roster might make Nets fans harken back to another pair of reclamation projects due to injury.
Former Nets Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie were both undervalued by most of the teams in the league due to injury concerns before flourishing here.
Also, Brooklyn’s Joe Harris, who only played in 14 games last season due to an ankle injury, came to the Nets in 2016 after having surgery the previous year to remove an extra bone in his right foot.
He has led the league in 3-point shooting percentage twice since settling in on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.
Sumner is recovering from a torn left Achilles that forced him to miss all of last season after he averaged a career-best 7.5 points per game for the Pacers in 2020-21.
In other Brooklyn pro hoops news, the WNBA announced Tuesday that Liberty point guard Sabrina Ionescu has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for the first time in her career.
Ionescu led New York (8-12) to a 7-4 record in June, averaging 19.5 points, 7.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per contest.
She also shot 43 percent from the floor, including 34 percent from 3-point range, while picking up 1.3 steals per game.
Ionescu, who is the fourth player in franchise history to capture the honor, knocked down all but one of her 43 free-throw attempts last month, helping the resurgent Liberty rebound from a dismal 1-7 start to the campaign.
Tina Charles, Cappie Pondexter and Epiphanny Prince were the only previous Liberty stars to win the award.
New York was scheduled to visit the Las Vegas Aces on Wednesday night.
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