The Brooklyn Nets will try to leave their off-the-court drama in their rearview mirror on Friday when they open a three-game road trip against the Washington Wizards.
The Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay Thursday night after he repeatedly failed to disavow antisemitism or apologize for a social media post about a book and movie that featured antisemitic tropes, which caused a public firestorm.
Nets owner Joe Tsai and NBA commissioner Adam Silver condemned Irving’s post, and Irving later acknowledged the “negative impact” he caused in a joint statement with the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League.
However, Irving did not apologize in the statement and the ADL has since refused a $500,000 donation from him. Irving also avoided apologizing during a tense meeting with the media Thursday afternoon.
“Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team,” the Nets said in a statement. “Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets. We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct and the suspension period served is no less than five games.”
Then there’s what’s happening on the court. The Nets have been idle since dropping their fifth outing in six games with a 108-99 setback to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. That came on the heels of the team parting ways with former coach Steve Nash, and reports circulating that the team has engaged in a process to name Ime Udoka, suspended by the Boston Celtics, as a potential replacement.
Brooklyn is surrendering a generous 118.8 points per game and allowing the opposition to make 41.2 percent of its 3-point attempts.
“The message I told the guys after (was) no excuses,” interim coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Whether it’s back-to-backs, no excuses. Whether the change in scenery today, no excuses. This is what we do for a living. We signed up for it.”
Kevin Durant collected 32 points and nine rebounds on Tuesday. The 12-time All-Star and former league MVP has made 22 of 38 shots over his last two games.
“Let’s be real, we’re pros, we’re veterans. We had a tough start,” Durant said when asked about the team’s struggles and the latest coaching move. “It was a rocky year last year, rocky summer. We knew that everybody was being evaluated.”
Kristaps Porzingis followed up his 32-point, nine-rebound performance in Washington’s 118-111 loss to Philadelphia on Monday with 30 and nine, respectively, in the Wizards’ 121-111 victory over the 76ers on Wednesday. Porzingis also had three assists, three blocks and one steal in the more recent game.
Porzingis averages team-best totals in rebounds (8.5) and blocks (1.3), while Bradley Beal leads the club in points (21.8) and assists (6.0).
“Teams gotta make a choice, man,” Beal said after he scored 29 points on Wednesday to help halt Washington’s three-game losing streak.
“If a big is gonna switch out on me, I can go by the big, I can get whatever shot I want. And if a small is gonna be on him, he can literally stand over you and shoot the ball, so like Doc (Rivers, 76ers coach) said, man, we’re gonna be a duo to reckon with.”
Rui Hachimura had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the seventh double-double of his career and his first since he had 20 points and 10 boards in a 113-106 loss to Brooklyn on March 21, 2021.
–Field Level Media