A Month Before the N.B.A.’s Restart, the Nets Keep Losing Players

The Nets began this N.B.A. 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 N.B.A. 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.

The team declined to comment on Tuesday as to whether it would reconsider its plans to participate in the restart. General Manager Sean Marks and the Nets’ interim coach, Jacque Vaughn, are scheduled to speak to reporters on Wednesday.

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 the 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 Miami Heat some scoring punch off the bench in his first four seasons but struggled to fit with the Suns since being traded to Phoenix.

The Nets also re-signed Justin Anderson, another reserve forward, who had a 10-day contract with the team in January. The team has until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to sign any more replacement players, but it currently has a full roster, including players with two-way contracts whom the team was not expecting to have to rely on this late in the season.

Even before the pandemic upended the N.B.A. in mid-March, the Nets’ season was a tumultuous one. On opening night, Irving dazzled by scoring 50 points in an overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

  • Updated June 30, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

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      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

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      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

But after the team stumbled to a 4-7 start, the injury bug hit: Irving’s shoulder caused him to miss 26 games, and then after a short-lived return, he was ruled out for the season. LeVert, the 25-year-old guard thought to be a foundational piece of the Nets’ future, missed several weeks because of a right thumb injury. And when he played, he didn’t show the growth that many expected from him.

There was Irving-related drama as well. After a January loss to the Sixers, Irving told reporters that the talent deficiency on the roster was “glaring” and that the team needed more pieces.

The most shocking story of the season came in March, when Coach Kenny Atkinson and the team “mutually agreed to part ways” and Vaughn was named interim coach.

Atkinson had been in his fourth year as the Nets’ coach and had a strong reputation around the league for getting the most out of players on his team. In the first three years of his coaching tenure, the Nets’ win total rose each season.

Four days after Atkinson stepped down, the N.B.A. season was postponed. The Nets last played on March 10 against the Los Angeles Lakers: Chandler, Jordan and Dinwiddie all started that game.

Marc Stein contributed reporting.

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