The Brooklyn Nets began this NBA season ushering in a new era — and while this year was always expected to be a transition period, the franchise hoped to at least build the foundation of a potential dynasty.
Eight months later, little has gone according to plan.
With about a month to go before the NBA is expected to restart its season at Walt Disney World, the Nets have little more than a skeleton crew to send to play in Florida. Because of injuries, coronavirus infections or concerns over the outbreak, several of the team’s top players have been ruled out of the restart, raising questions about how competitive the team can be when the league returns.
On Monday night, center DeAndre Jordan posted on Twitter that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and would not play in Florida, and guard Spencer Dinwiddie told The Athletic that he had also tested positive for the virus — though Dinwiddie said it was “unclear” whether he would be able to go to Disney World. Wilson Chandler, a reserve forward, told the team he was opting to skip the rest of the season because of virus concerns.
Without Chandler, Jordan, and Dinwiddie, who helped provide a spark after the Nets lost Kyrie Irving to a shoulder injury, the club will be left with a roster that includes talented but developing players like Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris, and a handful of minimally established players.
Irving and Kevin Durant, the Nets’ two marquee free agent signings from last summer, are not expected to play, either. In February, the Nets announced that Irving would miss the rest of the season because of an ailing right shoulder that needed surgery. Durant, who tore his Achilles’ tendon just over a year ago, told The Undefeated in June that his comeback would wait until next season.
Nicolas Claxton, a rookie power forward who played sparingly, will not be in Florida, either, after undergoing arthroscopic labrum repair surgery, the Nets announced last week. And, finally, the team announced last week that it had waived reserve guard Theo Pinson.
The team has moved swiftly to fill some of the holes in the roster, including adding guard Tyler Johnson, who gave the Heat some scoring punch off the bench in his first four seasons but struggled to fit with the Suns since being traded to Phoenix.
Three Pelicans receive positive tests
General manager David Griffin said three New Orleans players have tested positive for COVID-19 and will be in self-isolation until testing shows they can return to team activities without infecting others. Griffin declined to identify the players, citing medical privacy laws.
The positive tests occurred June 23, the first day all members of the team were tested as part of the NBA’s plan to restart the season, which was suspended in mid-March. Griffin said the Pelicans have had no players test positive since.
Nuggets close doors
The Denver Nuggets say they’ve closed their facilities after two members of the team’s traveling party tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend. A third tested positive this week. All three are asymptomatic, the Nuggets said Tuesday in confirming a report by ESPN. The 35-member traveling party includes players, coaches, and staff . . . Joe Borgia, who spent 32 years in the NBA as a referee and executive, announced his retirement Tuesday. Borgia’s father was Sid Borgia, who worked in the NBA from 1946 through 1966 as a referee and then the league’s supervisor of officials. Among the highlights of Borgia’s tenure with the league is the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J., which opened for the 2014-15 season and has become a fixture as part of both in-game reviews and analysis of the league’s referees. Borgia was hired to the NBA referee staff in 1988. He officiated 10 seasons before an injury forced him to stop in 1998. He joined the basketball and referee operations department in 1999 and retired Tuesday with the title of senior vice president for referee operations. Borgia’s officiating career included two of the most famous games in NBA history — the highest-scoring game, a 186-184 win by Detroit over Denver on on Dec. 13, 1983 and a quintuple-overtime game between Seattle and Milwaukee on Nov. 9, 1989.