NBA

Irving's absence to continue as Nets and NBA investigate videos

By Sports Desk January 12, 2021

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will remain absent and there is no timeline for a return as the team and NBA review videos circulating on social media.

Irving will sit out his fourth consecutive game on Tuesday due to personal reasons amid the emergence of videos that appeared to show the six-time All-Star without a mask at a family birthday party.

The NBA's coronavirus protocols ban players from entering clubs, bars and lounges, while they are also forbidden from attending social gatherings of more than 15 people.

Nets general manager Sean Marks addressed the situation in a statement on Tuesday, prior to Brooklyn's matchup against the Denver Nuggets.

"We are aware of a video on social media featuring Kyrie Irving at a family gathering," Marks said.

"We are reviewing the circumstances with both Kyrie and the NBA in order to determine compliance with health and safety protocols.

"Kyrie remains away from the team due to personal reasons. A date of his return has yet to be finalised. In the meantime, we will continue to stay focused on our organisational goals.

"Kyrie will have the opportunity to address his absence when he is ready to do so."

Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Nets (5-6) this season.

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    Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid made an impassioned plea for fans to support team-mate Ben Simmons amid his continued absence.

    Simmons is yet to feature for the 76ers this NBA season, sitting out Friday's clash with Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets, having been suspended for Wednesday's opener against the New Orleans Pelicans due to "conduct detrimental to the team".

    The three-time All-Star has sought a trade away from the 76ers following last season's shock playoff exit to the Atlanta Hawks, while he was reportedly ejected from Tuesday's practice as head coach Doc Rivers grew frustrated with his lack of engagement.

    After a meeting between Simmons, Embiid and the rest of the team, last season's MVP runner-up threw his support behind the former number one pick prior to tip-off against the Nets in Philadelphia.

    "I urge you guys to continue to support us and our team-mate Ben, because he's still our brother," Embiid said as he grabbed the microphone on court.

    Following the meeting, ESPN reported Simmons notified the 76ers he was not mentally ready to play and needed time to step away.

    "I felt good up and down throughout and I kept saying that, things do change," Rivers told reporters pre-game.

    "That still doesn't mean it's gonna work out perfect or it could, but I always believed that. I've never wavered from that. I've said that 100 times and I still stick with it."

    Rivers added: "It was a productive day, but it's a start. That's the only way you can get going, you gotta start, and today was a start."

    Simmons – an elite defender who signed a five-year, $177.2million contract extension in 2019 – and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers, who were eliminated in the semi-finals.

    The 25-year-old had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs against the Hawks last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star, according to Stats Perform.

    Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It was the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career-worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

    Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

    "He is part of the team," he continued. "We have certain rules, obviously, the other day, that didn't happen, but today was a good day.

    "Most people, we look at problems instead of the possibilities and I think if we focus on the possibilities, just in life in general, you have a pretty good chance of going to a good place. If you focus on the problems, you're probably gonna continue to have problems."

  • Simmons out of Nets clash but 76ers coach Rivers positive after 'productive' meeting Simmons out of Nets clash but 76ers coach Rivers positive after 'productive' meeting

    Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said while disgruntled All-Star Ben Simmons remains away from the team, he took positives from Friday's meeting.

    Simmons – who has demanded a trade – was suspended for Wednesday's NBA season-opening win over the New Orleans Pelicans due to "conduct detrimental to the team" following reports he was ejected from practice after Rivers grew frustrated with his lack of engagement.

    The Australian has also been ruled out of Friday's showdown with star-studded Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets at Wells Fargo Center.

    Reports of a meeting between Simmons, Rivers and his team-mates emerged on Friday, with ESPN claiming the former number one pick was not mentally ready to play and needed time to step away.

    Speaking afterwards and prior to tip-off against the Nets, Rivers told reporters: "I felt good up and down throughout and I kept saying that, things do change.

    "That still doesn't mean it's gonna work out perfect or it could, but I always believed that. I've never wavered from that. I've said that 100 times and I still stick with it."

    Rivers added: "It was a productive day, but it's a start. That's the only way you can get going, you gotta start, and today was a start."

    Simmons – an elite defender who signed a five-year, $177.2million contract extension in 2019 – and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers, who were eliminated in the semi-finals.

    The 25-year-old had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs against the Hawks last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star, according to Stats Perform.

     

    Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It was the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career-worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

    Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

    "He is part of the team," he continued. "We have certain rules, obviously, the other day, that didn't happen, but today was a good day.

    "Most people, we look at problems instead of the possibilities and I think if we focus on the possibilities, just in life in general, you have a pretty good chance of going to a good place. If you focus on the problems, you're probably gonna continue to have problems."

    Including the playoffs, Philadelphia are 9-2 in their last 11 games against the Nets. Additionally, the 76ers have six straight home wins in the series, starting with Game 2 of the first round of the 2019 postseason.

    Four Philadelphia players scored 20-plus points against New Orleans, with Joel Embiid and Furkan Korkmaz each having 22 and Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey finishing with 20. The 76ers had zero games last season with four 20-plus point scorers, according to Stats Perform.

  • COVID-hit Bayern boss Nagelsmann reveals kitchen 'data centre' COVID-hit Bayern boss Nagelsmann reveals kitchen 'data centre'

    Julian Nagelsmann has set up a kitchen control room to guide Bayern Munich while he remains away from the team after a COVID-19 positive test.

    Assistant head coach Dino Toppmoller will lead from the touchline when Bayern host Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday, having also stood in for the 4-0 win at Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday.

    Despite being fully vaccinated, Nagelsmann learned that the flu-like symptoms he was experiencing in Portugal were caused by coronavirus.

    He said he feels "a bit weak" and is wary of getting in the way of the work being carried out by Toppmoller and fellow assistant Xaver Zembrod.

    "Still, I am trying to take control if possible," said head coach Nagelsmann.

    "In isolation, I have built myself a little analysis centre with a big screen, iPad and laptop. I have different technical abilities now, also when it comes to the scouting feed for the game.

    "It looks like a big data centre, right in my kitchen so that I have a short way to the tea kettle. I am positive that we will have a good impact. For training rhythm, this is not so bad because we don't really have training right now."

    With such a heavy game schedule, Bayern's players are only ticking over between matches, rather than going through major sessions on the training pitch.

    Nagelsmann is optimistic of being back at his Bayern desk in a matter of days, and says his positive test came as a jolt, insisting he had been trying to stay out of danger.

    "I think we are all being cautious basically. This is hard, you cannot always say 100 per cent where you get the infection from," Nagelsmann said.

    "I haven't done anything illegal or been at this party in Berlin where you had 22 people positive. I wasn't there, as an example. Basically, you never know. I was also a bit shocked.

    "I just thought that I had a flu like many people at that time. For vaccinated people like me, things get less restricted and then you can also get infected easier.

    "Of course, I went to a restaurant last week but I don't know... I couldn't find out where I got it from. I don't think you can, this is really hard. The virus you have in your body doesn't come with a number that makes it trackable. That's just how it is."

    Bayern head into the weekend with a one-point advantage over Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga, winning six and losing just one of their first eight games as they seek a 10th consecutive league title.

    Nagelsmann is in his first season with the club, having left RB Leipzig at the end of last season to take over from Hansi Flick, who left Bayern to become head coach of Germany.

    Before Leipzig, Nagelsmann cut his teeth with Hoffenheim, so he misses out on a reunion on Saturday.

    Between 2016 and 2019, Nagelsmann managed Hoffenheim in 116 Bundesliga games, achieving a points-per-game average of 1.65, comfortably the best record of any coach of the club to have taken charge of at least five top-flight games.

    On Saturday, Bayern will be looking to avoid a second successive home defeat in the Bundesliga, having been beaten 2-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt in their previous game at the Allianz Arena. The last time they lost consecutive league home games was in 2001 under Ottmar Hitzfeld.

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