(SNY Illustration)
(SNY Illustration)

Yes, July 1 is still more than five months away. Hell, we haven't even hit the All-Star break yet. But it's never too early to start thinking about free agency. Here in New York City, the Mecca of Basketball (that's right), this summer is crucial for the local teams.

This year projects to have arguably the best NBA free agent class ever with players like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, and Klay Thompson all -- in one way or another -- able to hit the open market. With hundreds of other players available this offseason and a league salary cap set to rise to $109 million for the 2019-20 season, even in the dead of winter all eyes are on summer '19.

New York's teams are expected to be big players in free agency, with both the Knicks and Nets possessing ample salary cap space and the ambition to exponentially improve. But which NYC franchise has the advantage when it comes to attracting the best talent? Quintessential New York or the "Coolest City in America?" (At least according to GQ, never mind that Brooklyn is actually a borough). Do players want to restore a storied franchise or be the face of a new movement? Midtown steakhouse or Smorgasburg?

Let's take a look at some of the major factors that will either attract or deter free agents and, thus, determine the future of hoops in the Big Apple.



OWNERSHIP AND FRONT OFFICE

For better or worse, the ownership group and front office can set the culture for the entire organization. We've seen examples throughout the NBA of what good, stable ownership and front office management looks like (the San Antonio Spurs). We've also seen what dysfunctional ownership and poor management looks like (the Los Angeles Clippers during the Donald Sterling era). Having the right people in place at the top creates an environment where success is possible. It matters, and players around the league talk.

To say Knicks ownership and management has been dysfunctional is an understatement (Charles Oakley situation, anyone?). Since James Dolan assumed control of the Knicks in 1999, the team has experienced five winning seasons. That's awful. The general manager and president roles have been a revolving door, with eight different executives holding various titles over that same time period. That screams instability.

Current team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are the new "brain trust" Dolan has "empowered" to turn the franchise around. It's too early to fully evaluate them, but they hired a good coach (David Fizdale) and seemingly identified solid talent in the 2018 draft (Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson). We will wait and see what they do at the trade deadline.

For what it's worth, Dolan will likely remain the team's owner for the foreseeable future, unless that $5 billion deal he mentioned in an interview with ESPN comes along. That's some form of stability.

The Nets ownership structure is a bit more complex and unclear. Mikhail Prokhorov -- worth an estimated $10.1 billion, according to Forbes -- is the controlling owner with a 51 percent stake in the franchise, including ownership of the team's arena, Barclays Center. Joseph Tsai (net worth about $9 billion) is the minority owner controlling the remaining 49 percent, but he has the option to buy enough shares to assume total control in 2021.

Prokhorov wanted to make a splash when he first acquired the franchise and "urged" then-GM Billy King to trade for star power. Brooklyn acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston in 2013, sending back its first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Those picks turned into James Young, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. This is definitely a black mark on Prokhorov, and the team has spent the last five years trying to dig out of that mess.

But, even after what some consider the worst trade in NBA history, there is hope.

The Nets now appear committed to building a true contending franchise. When Prokhorov and his team hired Sean Marks as their general manager in 2016 from the vaunted Spurs organization, it showed their interest in creating a proper culture, and adding someone from a winning organization was smart.

Marks signed a four-year contract when he was brought on, so this summer will be a big indicator whether or not he can take great leaps to go along with his current steady progress.

Both owners have shown a willingness to spend money, but until more recently, Dolan was known for reportedly meddling in the team's affairs. Brooklyn's majority owner seems more willing to bring in the right basketball people and let them do their job, seemingly having learned from the ill-fated trade that once mortgaged away the Nets' future.

Advantage: Nets



COACHING

A common misconception is that NBA players don't like coaching or don't respect coaches. There are approximately 450 players in the NBA, so you have to be exceptional to make this league. Players want coaches to be exceptional as well.

In David Fizdale, the Knicks have a coach who is generally well respected by players and was co-signed by LeBron James. When Fizdale was hired in May, James told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "I think he's a good coach, a good communicator. He's never going to shy away from whatever he feels is right."

Players also value honesty: They want to be told when they're not doing what is needed and how they can perform better. Fizdale talked about how he was able to coach James, saying, "Respect through telling the truth to each other, being honest, telling each other what we don't want to hear. Being there for each other when we hit low moments."

Even Fizdale's former player in Memphis, Marc Gasol -- who was largely responsible for Fizdale's firing -- had good things to say about him prior to a Knicks-Grizzlies game earlier this season.

"I'm a better player because of David; I can say that 100 percent," Gasol said. "Even though last year was really tough for everyone, I'm a better player this year than I was last year and a lot had to do with him."

Although lately, Enes Kanter seems less than pleased with how his playing time (or lack thereof) has been handled.

The Knicks are 10-36 entering Friday night's game at Barclays Center and playing without their best player, Kristaps Porzingis. It's not particularly fair to grade Fizdale when the team is not trying to win, as they are clearly in rebuild mode. But Fizdale does have the team playing hard while keeping things competitive on most nights.

Their problem is the roster is devoid of the experienced top-end talent necessary to compete at a high level.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson has a similar issue to Fizdale, although Brooklyn's roster is not as poor as the one in Manhattan. The Nets are also without their best player, Caris LeVert, but they do have a healthy mix of young players with upside and veterans who know how to play.

Even though they've been an sub-.500 club during much of Atkinson's first two-plus seasons, they're currently 26-23, in sixth place in the East, and turning into one of the NBA's better stories. 

The NBA's golden boy of coaching, Brad Stevens, sung Atkinson's praises before a recent game.

"We know how good they are. We know how well-coached they are," he said. "I said last week I don't see how they don't make the playoffs. They're an excellent offensive team. I think they have a lot of versatility defensively. I think they're superbly coached and they all know what they do and they do it every single night."

Atkinson cut his teeth as a player-development coach, and you can see it in the work he's done with Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and D'Angelo Russell. His offensive system borrows from Mike Budenholzer, Gregg Popovich, Rick Carlisle and Terry Stotts; some of the best in the business.

Again, it's hard to grade accurately as Atkinson has an advantage over Fizdale since he's been with his franchise longer, but both coaches have their teams competing hard, despite the roster limitations.  

Advantage: Nets (slightly)



HOME ARENA AND FANS

Don't get it mixed up - atmosphere and fans matter. 

The Knicks have the World's Most Famous Arena that's hosted some of the greatest events in history, from "The Fight of the Century" to WrestleMania. Everything about Madison Square Garden says NYC: The bright lights, Seventh Avenue, Broadway.

Despite the team's record, Knicks games are a headline event with an A-list celebrity row that includes the likes of Spike Lee, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Dustin Hoffman and John McEnroe. But you could wind up seeing any star like Michael B. Jordan, Priyanka Chopra, and Sophie Turner, just to name a few.

The non-celebrity Knicks fans provide the Garden with a raucous atmosphere and, as the more storied franchise, they have more generational fans. They are also the more likely of the two franchises to have more bandwagoners once they start winning. Poor product or good product, the Garden is always a tough ticket and they have a group of loyal supporters.

Barclays Center is the newer arena, with a theatre-like atmosphere. The building does not have the history of MSG, but has slowly been building its own. Former minority owner Jay-Z and Beyonce used to grace Barclays with their presence, but now Nets celebrity row includes the likes of Steve Madden, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy. Brooklyn locals like Fabolous and Rosie Perez are often in attendance.

The Nets are a "newer" franchise, having joined the league as part of the ABA/NBA merger. Their NBA history, save the two NBA Finals runs with Jason Kidd, is not decorated with success and they have less of a New York tie (though the ABA franchise dates back to Long Island and won two titles with some guy named Julius Erving).

Still, the ABA days, time spent in the swamplands of New Jersey, and recent ineptitude have stunted the growth of their fan base.

But this one is no contest. The Garden is the Garden. They don't call it the World's Most Famous Arena for nothing.

Advantage: Knicks



CAP SPACE AND CURRENT ROSTERS

Neither franchise has been very successful on the court as of late, both reeling from the mistakes of general managers' past. However, there is light at the end of their proverbial dark tunnels.

The Knicks have made little secret they hope to land Kevin Durant and pair him with Porzingis as the foundation of a new contender. They waived Joakim Noah and can clear space for one max player in 2019. The question is, will they be able to clear space for two max players?

That will be more challenging and they would need to find takers for both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee without taking much salary back in return, whom they've reportedly made available ahead of the trade deadline.

But allow yourself to dream for a moment: KD, KP, Kevin Knox, and their 2019 draft pick (you know who) sounds pretty good.

The Nets had cap space for two max slots in 2019 before they decided to extend Spencer Dinwiddie, which essentially kept an All-Star level player on their roster. They still have space for a single max player and Sean Marks could clear a lot more room by not making qualifying offers to D'Angelo Russell ($21.1 million cap hold) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($7.4 million cap hold).

With Dinwiddie, promising big man Jarrett Allen, rookie sensation Rodions Kurucs, and pre-injury Most Improved Player candidate Caris LeVert (No. 50 on the Simmons' trade value list) as a core, that roster is appealing.

Both squads have young talent and most would argue that KP is better than LeVert, but nothing is guaranteed after an injury with someone Porzingis' size. Knox looks like he could grow into something special, but as it stands right now, the talent tilts more in the Nets' favor.

Advantage: Nets


 


2019 DRAFT

The 2019 draft class doesn't appear to be very deep, but there is a lot of hype around the top with Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Jarrett Culver, Ja Morant, and Bol Bol (though he's out the rest of the season with a foot injury).

The Knicks seem to be headed for the lottery, and if they pick in the Top 3 or 5, they could be adding a future All-Star. The Knicks' recent draft history -- despite the doom and gloom of many fans -- has actually been pretty good. They may have whiffed on Frank Ntilikina, but Porzingis, Knox, Allonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson have all shown promise.

The Nets have their own first-round pick for the first time in years, but it looks like they are going to hover around a lower playoff seed all year and find themselves outside of the Draft Lottery. But Sean Marks and his scouting and player development staff found LeVert, Dinwiddie, Allen and Kurucs all late in the first or second rounds. They don't seem bothered where they pick.

The draft has some real gems near the top, and the Knicks look likely to be picking in the top 4.

Advantage: Knicks


WHO WINS?

The Nets come up winners in three of five categories, and while they're not running away with this head-to-head, they hold advantages in the categories that matter. Brooklyn looks to have the better front office, slightly better coaching, and a better roster to build upon.

Yes, the Knicks are the storied franchise and have the pedigree, but the Nets are built to win right now.

If you're a big-time free agent and you could make the same money with either franchise -- wouldn't winning trump all?

Tags: Allonzo Trier, Courtney Lee, Frank Ntilikina, Jarrett Allen, Joakim Noah, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Tim Hardaway Jr.
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Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving reacts during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving reacts during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

The Nets have been considered the favorites to add Kyrie Irving this summer, but could there be a change of plans?

According to a report from Brian Lewis of the New York Post, the Nets may now be unsure of adding Irving if he can't bring Kevin Durant with him.

The Nets' preferred scenario, according to Lewis, is to pair the two superstars together in Brooklyn.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) reacts during the first half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)
May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) reacts during the first half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)

It has been known for awhile now that the Nets may benefit from one Celtics departure in Kyrie Irving this summer. But will he be joined by another? 

Al Horford, the five-time All-Star center, is reportedly no longer discussing an extension with Boston and will hit the market looking for another team. According to the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett, Horford is expecting to sign a four-year deal elsewhere. 

And as for potential landing spots for the veteran, NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely says to look out for the Nets. 

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May 8, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during game five of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)
May 8, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during game five of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)

Al Horford is reportedly set to hit the free agent market.

The five-time All-Star will decline his $30 million option with the Celtics, and though there had previously been a thought that Horford would return to the Celtics on a more team-friendly deal, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald is now reporting that Horford will look elsewhere, likely for a four-year contract.

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Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson arrives before the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center. (Nicole Sweet/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson arrives before the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center. (Nicole Sweet/USA TODAY Sports)

The Nets non-tendered forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, making him an unrestricted free agent and clearing more cap space ahead of free agency, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Brooklyn did not give the 24-year-old Hollis-Jefferson a qualifying offer, which according to Yahoo! Sports' Keith Smith gives the Nets approximately $47.4 million in salary cap space.

That number, according to Smith, would increase to $67.5 million if they don't retain restricted free agent D'Angelo Russell.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
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Mar 19, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) slaps his chest during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Szczepanski)
Mar 19, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) slaps his chest during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Szczepanski)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

As of late this week, teams interested in pursuing Kyrie Irving remained under the impression that the Nets were the odds-on favorite to land the point guard, per sources. But no team interested in Irving, including the Knicks and Lakers, had been led to believe that they are out of the running to sign him, those sources say.

If Irving ends up signing in Brooklyn, it may have an interesting ripple effect on the roster, particularly D'Angelo Russell.

Russell, a restricted free agent, will likely draw significant interest on the open market. The 23year-old is coming off of an All-Star season in which he helped lead Brooklyn to the playoffs. Members of the Pacers organization are high on Russell, SNY sources confirm.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in Game 1 of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in Game 1 of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

Now that the Toronto Raptors have been crowned the 2019 NBA Finals champions after defeating the Golden State Warriors in six games, it is time to shift gears toward the 2019-20 season. Which means looking at the early odds for next year's champion. 

For the Nets, they appear to be in pretty good position before entering free agency. 

Per the latest from Odds Shark, the Nets are slated at 20-to-1 odds to win the NBA Finals next year. 

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

Kyrie Irving may have already decided on his next destination.

A report from Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald states that sources associated with Roc Nation, whom Irving is expected to choose as his representation after letting go of longtime agent Jeff Wechsler, have said that Irving is prepared to sign with the Nets this summer.

The Nets share a couple of notable connections with Roc Nation, most notably that Roc Nation president Michael Yormark is the twin brother of Nets CEO Brett Yormark. Nets guard Caris LeVert is also a Roc Nation client.

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May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during the second half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)
May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during the second half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)

It looks like Kyrie Irving has made his decision. 

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Irving is not opting into his $21.3 million deal for next season, opening the door to him becoming a free agent this summer. This was an expected move by the All-Star point guard, who had an option date on Thursday. 

SNY's Ian Begley is hearing from sources that teams monitoring Irving's situation remain under the impression that, if he chooses to leave Boston, the Nets are currently the most likely destination for him. 

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May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Nets are going to be heavily active in the free agent market this summer, and it looks like another top-of-the-list player wants Brooklyn to extend an offer. 

Tobias Harris and the Nets reportedly have mutual interest in each other, per The Athletic's Michael Scotto.

Harris has bounced around the NBA during his eight-year career thus far. His most recent squad was the Sixers, who traded for him with the Clippers as they made a playoff run. Harris was solid in Philadelphia, averaging 18.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field. Overall last season, he averaged 20 points over 34.7 minutes per game...

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What the Nets trade means for KD 00:00:48
Ian Begley breaks down what the Nets trade means for Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and the New York Knicks. Who can the Nets sign now?

The Nets' trade on Thursday puts them in a stronger position to battle with the Knicks for top free agents this summer.

Brooklyn dealt Allen Crabbe, the No. 17 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and a lottery-protected first round pick in 2020 for SF Taurean Prince and a 2021 second-round pick, SNY sources confirmed.

The deal, which was first reported by ESPN, leaves the Nets with enough cap space to sign one max free agent -- and a clear path to create enough money to sign a second max star. The Nets will have $46 million in cap space and can create enough space to sign two max free agents if they rescind their rights to point guard D'Angelo Russell and make a few other minor moves...

Tags: Allen Crabbe
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Is Kyrie Irving New York-bound? 00:00:50
SNY NBA Insider Ian Begley reports the latest on Kyrie Irving, and talks about the chances of him landing with the Knicks, Nets, or Celtics.

Let's start here with Kyrie Irving, the Knicks and the Nets: free agency is still more than three weeks away.

So there's plenty of time for players -- and teams -- to change their mind about their preferences for this summer.

That applies to Irving as well. His plans/desires today may not be the same as they are on June 30. With that said, in recent days, people around Irving have described the probability of him returning to Boston as a free agent as low. Those around Irving also said recently that he hasn't ruled out teams -- including the Knicks -- as possible destinations for him this summer, per SNY sources.

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Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon during the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon during the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)

The Nets have been closely connected to pending free agent Kyrie Irving lately, but don't be surprised if they're also in play for Kawhi Leonard.

According to the latest odds released by Odds Shark, the Nets have the third-best chances to land Kawhi.

The odds:

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Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Potential suitors are lining up for D'Angelo Russell.

The Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Indiana Pacers are among the teams expected to show interest in the restricted free agent this summer, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Russell, 23, enjoyed his best season as a pro in 2018-19, averaging a career-best 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game. The Ohio State product also earned his first All-Star selection of his young career.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)
November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)

If Charles Barkley was a free agent this summer and both the Knicks and Nets were pursuing him, he says he'd choose to sign with the Nets. 

Here's why: "I'd probably take the Nets because I think they're more stable," Barkley said on a conference call to promote the American Century Championship golf tournament. "I think they've got the better supporting cast. I think (Nets GM) Sean Marks has done a fabulous job and Coach (Kenny) Atkinson has done a fabulous job. Nobody thought that team would make the playoffs and they did a fabulous job. They play hard every night. They're just more stable than the Knicks. Obviously, the Knicks are the Knicks. But from a strictly basketball standpoint, the Nets are clearly a more stable organization."


 

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Mar 9, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) reacts after their win against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports (Jason Getz)
Mar 9, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) reacts after their win against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports (Jason Getz)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

For the first time since the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade, the Brooklyn Nets own their own first-round pick. They have a second first-round pick in 2019 thanks to last summer's trade with the Nuggets and a second-round pick.

Media projections for picks near the Nets' selections (Nos. 17, 27, 31) have been all over map. Draft analysts have said there is more variance after the top 10 in this year's draft than in years past.

So it's impossible to even speculate which players may be available for Brooklyn on June 20. But there is one priority for the Nets on draft night: Per SNY sources, the Nets are targeting a big to complement/ back up starting center Jarrett Allen with one of their pick.

Tags: Jarrett Allen
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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant celebrates against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter in Game 2 of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant celebrates against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter in Game 2 of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

While Kevin Durant remains mostly idle as the Warriors prepare for the start of the NBA Finals against the Raptors, new odds on where the pending free agent will sign have come out.

According to Odds Shark, the Nets' odds are getting better.

The list:

Knicks -175
Warriors +210
Clippers +500
Nets +700
Lakers +750
Mavericks +2599

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Nov 21, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the team logo on the shorts of Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) as he warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports (Jerome Miron)
Nov 21, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the team logo on the shorts of Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) as he warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports (Jerome Miron)

The Nets announced on Saturday they've hired Hawks assistant general manager Jeff Peterson to the same position.

Peterson replaces Trajan Langdon, who recently left to become the new Pelicans general manager

"We are thrilled to welcome Jeff and his wife, Lauren, to Brooklyn," Nets GM Sean Marks said in a release. "Jeff is an innovative basketball executive who shares our strategic team building vision and will fit seamlessly within our culture. His extensive scouting and front office experience will be tremendous assets to our group as we continue to move forward."

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May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during the second half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)
May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during the second half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)

With free agency starting in a little over a month, the Brooklyn Nets find themselves in the conversation for some of the top-tier free agents, namely Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris.

Sources tell SNY that Kyrie Irving and his camp are strongly considering Brooklyn if he decides to leave Boston. Irving's camp has kept a close eye on the Nets as the season progressed and the team got better, with the playoffs only helping their case.

SNY also learned recently that the Nets would not shy away from signing Irving even if they re-sign point guard D'Angelo Russell. The ideal scenario would be to pair two max free agents, such as Kevin Durant and Irving, but sources say the Nets would be open to pairing Irving and Russell in the backcourt together.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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May 6, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after a play during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)
May 6, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after a play during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)

The NBA free agency period will begin even earlier this summer. 

The league officially announced on Friday that it has reached an agreement with the NBA Players' Association to move the free agent negotiation period up six hours to 6 p.m. ET June 30 from the previous start time of 12:01 a.m. ET July 1. 

The change also means, by league rules, that teams will be allowed to communicate with free agents or their representatives beginning at 6 p.m. ET on June 29 solely to schedule meetings at or after 6 p.m. on June 30. 

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May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The hype around the Nets being a serious consideration for free agents this summer continues to grow.

According to multiple reports, including from the New York Post and Philly.com, Brooklyn will be one of the suitors for Philadelphia's Tobias Harris. Sources told SNY Insider Ian Begley that throughout the regular season, some people close to Harris viewed the Nets as a strong destination for Harris.

Harris, the 26-year-old Long Island native, averaged 20 points and 7.9 rebounds a game in 2018-19. The 76ers acquired Harris from the Clippers in February a year after the Clippers got Harris from Detroit.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Nov 21, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the team logo on the shorts of Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) as he warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports (Jerome Miron)
Nov 21, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the team logo on the shorts of Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) as he warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports (Jerome Miron)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

New Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon believes his former team - the Brooklyn Nets - are in position to land star players.

Langdon noted that in a conference call on Tuesday to announce his hiring in New Orleans.

He called his time in Brooklyn, where he served as an assistant GM, 'fantastic.'

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Nov 21, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the team logo on the shorts of Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) as he warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports (Jerome Miron)
Nov 21, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the team logo on the shorts of Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) as he warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports (Jerome Miron)

One of the key architects behind the Nets' rebuild has left the building. 

Former Brooklyn assistant general manager Trajan Langdon was hired Sunday by the Pelicans to serve as the team's general manager. In New Orleans, he will work alongside president of basketball operations David Griffin

Throughout the offseason, he was seen as a fit in several front office openings, and ultimately landed with the Pelicans. Langdon is one of the Nets' brain trust who was lauded this past year for constructing a roster that went through a relatively quick rebuild and earned the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference this year. 

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May 12, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) dribbles the ball against Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) in game seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)
May 12, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) dribbles the ball against Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) in game seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)

The Nets are going to be "aggressive" this summer, as Sean Marks stated. If they can't land one of the top prizes like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, it appears they'll have a good shot at someone in the next tier.

According to the New York Post, Brooklyn has a "very real chance" to sign Jimmy Butler away from the 76ers.

The report says it's believed Butler likes the culture that is being built in Brooklyn.

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May 12, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) watches his game winning basket go in against the Philadelphia 76ers during game seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Toronto defeated Philadelphia. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)
May 12, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) watches his game winning basket go in against the Philadelphia 76ers during game seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Toronto defeated Philadelphia. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)

Things can change quickly in the NBA, but the general consensus around the league at the moment is that neither the Knicks nor the Nets have a strong chance to sign Kawhi Leonard in free agency.

As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has reported, the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors are seen as the strongest suitors for Leonard.

But it seems logical that both New York teams could at least get a meeting with Leonard in early July. Before Leonard's trade demand from San Antonio became public last June, people around Leonard had talked about New York as an attractive destination for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.

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Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The Knicks aren't the only team in town with designs on a big offseason. As Brooklyn GM Sean Marks said last month, the Nets will be "aggressive" this summer to improve the roster after their rebuild took a big step forward in 2018-19 by making the playoffs. And sources told SNY contributor Anthony Puccio that marquee free agents like Kevin Durant will at least consider the Nets as a possible new home.

But as noted by The Athletic's Michael Scotto, a wrench could be thrown into the Nets' plans if a team in need of a point guard signs restricted free agent D'Angelo Russell to an offer sheet early in free agency.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Indiana Pacers
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Brooklyn Nets forward Allen Crabbe shoots for a basket over Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard in the second half at Scotiabank Arena. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets forward Allen Crabbe shoots for a basket over Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard in the second half at Scotiabank Arena. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

Nets guard Allen Crabbe will exercise his $18.5 million player option for the 2019-20 season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Crabbe, 27, averaged 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 43 games with Brooklyn last season, missing the final month of the regular season and its postseason series with the 76ers due to arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

With Crabbe opting in, the Nets will have approximately $54.6 million in potential cap space this offseason, according to Spotrac.

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Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) against the Philadelphia 76ers in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) against the Philadelphia 76ers in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

With the Nets season over, players normally return to their families or hometowns to take a break from the grind. But PG D'Angelo Russell found himself in a predicament trying to do so. 

Russell was detained at LaGuardia Airport when a luggage search on his checked bag showed he was in possession of a "small amount of marijuana," per USA TODAY's A.J. Perez.

The 23-year-old was questioned by police after they had found an Arizona Iced Tea can that had a secret compartment holding the marijuana. He was released on Wednesday night following the incident, but received a summons to appear in court for marijuana possession. Russell still flew to his hometown Louisville, Kentucky that night. 

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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant reacts after making a basket against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant reacts after making a basket against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)

Entering the summer of 2019, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks has every reason to say "checkmate" to those who doubted his vision for the organization when he took over in 2016. He refused to skip steps or make a splash move to accelerate the rebuild. He was going for "singles" and "doubles" as opposed to swinging for the fences when he didn't have enough juice to hit one.

But now, following a playoff tussle in Year Three of the rebuild, Marks has put himself in a position where free agents might approach the Kiwi GM with their own way of saying, "Check, mate?"

Several league sources have told SNY that top-tier free agents, including Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Tobias Harris, will at least consider Brooklyn this upcoming July when it's time to find their next home - if they decide to leave.

Tags: Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll
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All the talk about this summer's NBA free agency has been centered around the Knicks and their ability to add two max free agents. But how might the Nets impact their plans?

Brooklyn GM Sean Marks said in a letter Thursday, shared by NetsDaily, that the Nets will be "active and aggressive" this offseason in an effort to improve the roster after a surprising season in which they finished 42-40 to earn the Eastern Conference's No. 6 seed in the playoffs, seemingly accelerating their rebuild.

Tags: Allen Crabbe, D'Angelo Russell
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Feb 13, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) celebrates with forward Joe Harris (12) snf forward DeMarre Carroll (9) in the third overtime against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)
Feb 13, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) celebrates with forward Joe Harris (12) snf forward DeMarre Carroll (9) in the third overtime against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)

Coming off of a 28-win campaign last season, the Brooklyn Nets had low expectations. The steady development of young players in Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen seemed more important than wins.

The season seemed to head that way on Dec. 5. After a game-winning three pointer by Oklahoma City's Paul George knocked off Brooklyn, the Nets fell to 8-18. Mired in an eight-game losing streak, Brooklyn found themselves with the fourth worst record in the East - behind the New York Knicks.

But Brooklyn instantly turned their season around, winning nine of their next 10 games. From that point, the Nets were one of the better teams in the East, ending up with a 34-22 record in their final 56 games. Even with LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie out for lengthy periods with injury, the Nets finished sixth in the East with a 42-40 record.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Sean Marks spoke to reporters at his summer press conference where he tempered expectations but coined a phrase that would stick throughout the season.

"We have [this] year to prepare for summer of 2019."

The conference was Marks extolling expectations for the season in an optimistic way. Everybody knew the Nets could potentially clear enough cap space for two max players -- depending on the moves they make. But nobody expected the team to make the playoffs this season. 

Something the Knicks can't say.

Tags: Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) shoots over Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) shoots over Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

The Nets couldn't mount a comeback in this First Round series, as the 76ers blew them out off in Philadelphia, 122-100, in Game 5 on Tuesday night. >> Box score

Seven things to know about Tuesday's game...

1) Joel Embiid was once again the Sixers' leading scorer and he only saw 20 minutes of work in the game. He had 23 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double, and collected two assists and one steal as well. He was 9-for-18 shooting as he continued to stay efficient.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Scott Thompson
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Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) loses the ball against Philadelphia 76ers defender during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) loses the ball against Philadelphia 76ers defender during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Joel Embiid's left knee will be a question for the Philadelphia 76ers for the duration of their playoff run, but when he is on the floor, things go extremely well.

Embiid's presence is among the reasons why the 76ers are on the verge of advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals. And they have a shot to do just that Tuesday night when they host the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round series.

Philadelphia is attempting to reach the semifinals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-2001 during the peak years of coach Larry Brown and Allen Iverson, a stretch that culminated in getting to the NBA Finals in 2001.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Nets focus on Game 5 00:01:28
The Nets comment on staving off playoff elimination in tomorrow's Game 5 vs the 76ers

The Nets trail the 76ers 3-1 in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals heading into Game 5 on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

And they know what they need to do to stave off elimination.

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Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen loses the ball against Philadelphia 76ers defender during the second half at Barclays Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen loses the ball against Philadelphia 76ers defender during the second half at Barclays Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA admitted it missed a foul call on Nets forward Jarrett Allen late in Brooklyn's Game 4 loss to the 76ers on Saturday.

Allen lost control of the ball and turned it over with under 10 seconds to play and the Nets only down 110-108.

However, in the league's last two minute report, the NBA said it should have called a foul on 76ers forward Tobias Harris when he wrapped his around Allen, restricting his freedom of movement, as Allen drove into three Philadelphia players with 12 seconds remaining.

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That's one costly entrance for Sean Marks.  

The Brooklyn general manager was suspended one game without pay and fined $25,000 for entering the referees' locker room after Game 4, a 112-108 loss for the Nets. 

Marks is expected to serve the suspension Tuesday during Game 5. The series between the Nets and Sixers is currently tied at 2-2, with the action heading back to Philadelphia. 

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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Many expected tensions to flare up in Game 3 of the Nets-Sixers series in Brooklyn, but Game 4 was went the trash talk from both sides boiled over. 

Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler were ejected from the contest after a skirmmish in the third quarter that saw both benches clear to break it up. But the scuffle didn't end the feud. 

Embiid commented on what happened after the Sixers picked up the win, and made sure to answer the question first by calling Dudley "a nobody."

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76ers fight past Nets in Game 4 00:01:59
In a heated affair, the 76ers got 31 points from Joel Embiid and took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Nets with a 112-108 victory

Tensions were high in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon, but the heat of the moment didn't work in the home team's favor. The Nets were up for most of the second half, but they couldn't close out the 76ers in a 112-108 loss in Game 4 of this First Round matchup. >> Box score

Five things to know about Saturday's game...

1) There was a point in the second half when the Nets were leading for 23 straight minutes. However, the Sixers eventually took the lead with a Joel Embiid layup with 2:54 remaining. From there, the Nets and 76ers traded buckets with D'Angelo Russell draining a three with 1:26 remaining to regain the lead. But Mike Scott hit the eventual game-winner, a dagger three in the corner. On the ensuing possession, Russell found Jarrett Allen on the pick-and-roll, and he would've had a clear lane to the rim if he caught the pass cleanly. Instead, the ball was fumbled and Allen was swarmed by Sixers, who took it away. 

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell
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Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) glances in the direction of the Brooklyn Nets bench during a break in the third quarter in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) glances in the direction of the Brooklyn Nets bench during a break in the third quarter in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The 76ers are listing All-Star Joel Embiid as doubtful for Saturday's Game 4 against the Nets because of a lingering left knee issue, according to reports. 

Embiid played in the first two games of the series but sat out Game 3 Thursday night in Brooklyn. It didn't hurt the Sixers as Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris dominated in Philadelphia's 131-115 victory as the Sixers took a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.

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76ers overpower Nets 00:02:07
Playing without Joel Embiid, the 76ers got a combined 86 points from Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and J.J. Redick to take a 2-1 series lead

Even though the 76ers didn't have Joel Embiid for Game 3 because of a left knee injury, the Nets couldn't keep pace with the 76ers in a 131-115 Game 3 loss in Brooklyn Thursday night. The Nets now trail the first-round series, 2-1. >> Box score

Five things to know about Thursday's game

1) After trailing by six at halftime, the 76ers opened up an 18-point lead in the third quarter before the Nets closed the third on a 14-3 run. They got to within six in the fourth but the Sixers took control down the stretch.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell
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Apr 15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) rest on the scorers table during the second quarter in game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) rest on the scorers table during the second quarter in game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

76ers star Joel Embiid, who isn't playing in Game 3 Thursday night against the Nets because of his lingering left knee issue, said before the game that he apoogized to Jarrett Allen for elbowing him in the face and think the elbow could've warranted a Flagrant 2.

"I probably should've been ejected," Embiid said.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Jarrett Allen
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Apr 15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) shoots a foul shot against the Brooklyn Nets during the second quarter in game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) shoots a foul shot against the Brooklyn Nets during the second quarter in game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Nets and 76ers have developed a budding rivalry in this first round of the NBA Playoffs.

It started with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons laughing about the former's flagrant elbow to Nets center Jarrett Allen, and Jared Dudley followed up by saying Simmons is "average." And Simmons continued the feud by answering Dudley's comments this morning, saying "That's coming from Jared Dudley, cmon man."

All of this trash talk has come in only two days since both teams have touched the court. And now it looks like Nets fans will have the last laugh before Game 3...

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Apr 15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) drives past Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) during the second quarter in game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) drives past Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) during the second quarter in game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Nets will play their first home playoff game in four years. Not much went right for Brooklyn in Game 2 except Spencer Dinwiddie's 19-point effort.

But the Nets took back homecourt advantage with the split. In the playoffs, that's a huge achievement.

"We go back to Brooklyn," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "The old story, if you would have told us before we're splitting here in Philly, I think we'd be happy. But I'm not pleased with the way we presented ourselves. We were below average, quite honestly."

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons dribbles against Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley during the second quarter in Game 1 of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons dribbles against Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley during the second quarter in Game 1 of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

76ers forward Ben Simmons fired back at the Nets' Jared Dudley after Brooklyn's forward criticized him.

"Ben Simmons is a great player in transition," Dudley said of Simmons. "And once you get him into half court, he's average."

Simmons' response, via the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey: "That's coming from Jared Dudley, come on."

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Nets ready for Game 3 at home 00:01:08
New York Nets center Jarrett Allen was elbowed by Joel Embiid in Game 2, Nets players express their opinions on the matter.

In Game 2 of this First Round matchup between the Nets and 76ers, Joel Embiid hit Jarrett Allen with a nasty elbow that was deemed a flagrant one. But when asked about it post game, Embiid and Ben Simmons chuckled as the big man tried to answer the question. 

As one would expect, the Nets didn't think highly of that reaction. 

Veteran forward Jared Dudley was the most outspoken of the Nets, and he didn't hold back during media availability at practice on Wednesday.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Scott Thompson
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Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to his bench during a break in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to his bench during a break in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Nets' 145-123 Game 2 loss against the 76ers on Monday night may not have been pretty, but they head back home to Brooklyn with a split series and a chance to capitalize on home-court advantage. 

It is the first playoff basketball game in Brooklyn in four years, except this time there is a different look surrounding the team with young stars such as D'Angelo Russell at the helm. 

"We're very excited," he said, per Greg Logan of Newsday. "I know the Barclays Center is going to be jumping. We're excited about getting back home and taking care of home court. The buzz around the city is what we need. We need that atmosphere. We need that intensity to be up like that."

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Sixers rout Nets, tie series 00:01:31
The 76ers responded to their Game 1 loss with by blowing out the Nets, 145-123, to even their series at 1-1

The Nets allowed 51 points in the third quarter en route to a 145-123 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Monday at Wells Fargo Center. >> Box score

Five things to know about Monday's game

1) Despite trailing 65-64 at halftime, the 76ers started the third on a 21-2 run capped by a Ben Simmons basket that put Philadelphia up 86-66. Overall, the 76ers outscored Brooklyn 51-23, scoring the most points in a quarter in NBA playoff history.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley dribbles past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid during the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley dribbles past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid during the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

Nets forward Jared Dudley will not play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the 76ers on Monday due to right calf tightness, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Dudley scored four points and recorded four assists in Saturday's 111-102 win, as Brooklyn outscored Philadelphia by 16 points when he was on the floor.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers
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Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

Back in the postseason for the first time since 2015, the Brooklyn Nets defended well, produced plenty of offense and flustered the Philadelphia 76ers at times in Game 1.

On Monday night in Philadelphia, the sixth-seeded Nets look to follow up a strong performance while the third-seeded Sixers hope to bounce back and level the Eastern Conference first-round series.

A Nets win would mark the first time they went up 2-0 in a series since sweeping the New York Knicks in the opening round of the 2004 postseason.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell
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