It’s as big a reason as any for the Nets success last season ... and for their recruiting pitch this summer. But a lot of those guys are gone now. So can the Nets retain their identity with super stars and nine new bodies on the roster? Caris LeVert says they can.
In an interview on ESPN’s “The Jump,” the Nets longest-serving player (at 24 years old), was asked by Malika Andrews how Brooklyn could integrate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving into its culture. It’ll work, responded LeVert.
“it’s kind of who we are,” said LeVert. “That’s the easy part for us. That’s who we are as players, as a team. I feel everyone has a chip on their shoulders from 1 to 15 before those guys and I know those guys do too. I feel everyone at this level, that’s kind of what you have to have to be one of the top players. That’s our identity. Going forward, I know we won’t lose that.”
When Ramona Shelburne asked about expectations for this year —with Irving, but perhaps without Durant, LeVert suggested that there were other additions that have flown under the media radar.
“We’ve got a lot of good pieces that a lot of people aren’t talking about that are going to help us this year,” he replied. “So, we’re definitely looking forward to maximizing our potential, wherever that goes. We don’t know yet, but obviously, we have a lot of fire power.”
When Shelburne followed up by asking who people aren’t talking about, LeVert referenced an ESPN graphic of the Nets roster and said “anyone on the right side,” which was basically the Nets new bench and included Spencer Dinwiddie, Garrett Temple, Taurean Prince, Rodions Kurucs and DeAndre Jordan.
“Obviously, Rodi had a great rookie season last year. You know Taurean is a really good player in this league and a lot people kind of overlooked him, just being in Atlanta and not really seeing him a lot on TV. Garrett Temple, a proven vet and you know, Spencer should’ve been in the Sixth Man conversation again this year.”
LeVert spoke as well about how he recovered from his foot dislocation last November that cost him two and a half months but didn’t stop him from averaging 21 points in the playoffs while shooting 49 percent overall and 46 percent from deep.
The Michigan product praised the Nets performance team for helping him recover and said he didn’t surprise himself by how well he played in the post-season. He said that while KD has had foot injuries in the past and knows how to deal recovery, the two (who share the same surgeon) do talk about getting back on the court.
“He obviously has a good perspective about how to go about things, but he’s kind of like a big brother to me and so we’re kind of bouncing things off of each other with ideas and things like that,”
LeVert admitted he was somewhat surprised by the Nets success in free agency and said he was home when word came that both KD and Kyrie would join the Nets. He also disclosed that one of the first things he and his teammates, old and new, did on hearing the news was organize a group text to share each other’s contact information.
“Obviously, we were all very excited and can’t wait to get going.”
Kyrie Irving was also highly visible on Tuesday, playing the role of fan at the Dyckman Basketball Tournament.
Meanwhile, Wilson Chandler, who started his career with the Knicks, said he’s happy to be back in New York and is even renting a brownstone in Brooklyn...