On Landry Shamet’s road to Brooklyn, fortuitous connections were forged on the opposite coast.
The 23-year-old guard, acquired this week, has spent the last season-and-a-half playing for the LA Clippers. It’s out in LA where NBA players have flocked during what has been, for some, a long offseason. Among the fellow pros Shamet jumped into pickup games were a pair of soon-to-be teammates, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Over his first two seasons, the sharp-shooting Shamet has teamed with two other high-end duos, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and then the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. In Durant and Irving, he’ll be lined up with two of the league’s most dynamic scorers.
“I’ve been able to play with those two guys, play against them, get to know them,” said Shamet. “I mean, I’m excited. I like how they both play. They both move, they want to set screens and play in space. They’re unselfish, willing passers. They’re smart. My wheels have been spinning on how I can get involved and how I can get those guys shots and how I’ll be able to contribute as well. I’m just really excited. Obviously, I’ve been lucky. I’m 23 years old, this is my third year in the league, and I’ve played with some really, really good players. These two just add to that list. So, I’m excited, and I really like what we have here.”
As for Shamet’s new coach, he and Steve Nash lived near each other out at the beach in Los Angeles. Shamet was out to dinner with his agent a year ago when the Hall of Fame point guard, at the time doing some player development consulting with the Warriors, stopped by the table.
“Steve's there eating with his family and he comes over with like his son and he's like, 'Hey man sorry to interrupt, really don't want to bother you but my son is a big fan, mind if he takes the picture?' And I haven't met him yet. I'm looking at him like, ‘Dude, I should be asking to take a picture with you.' It was crazy,” said Shamet. “It was really cool. That's the type of guy he is. You'd always see him walking around with his kids on his shoulders. So yeah, I met him there and we had somewhat of a relationship. Not super-close, didn't talk a ton. And then obviously talked to him when the trade went down. I'm excited. I love Steve. He's been great so far. Excited to get to know him better. Excited to play for him."
Shamet is joining the Nets as part of a three-team trade with the Clippers and Pistons that seemed to expand with every telling over the course of the week. He said he found out he was on the move during dinner on draft night Wednesday evening, a few hours before the Nets selected with the No. 19 pick that went to Detroit as part of the 14-player-and-pick deal.
The 6-foot-4 guard is heading into his third NBA season after being selected 26th overall out of Wichita State in 2018. As a rookie, he slipped right into the rotation of a 50-win Philadelphia team, but was sent to the Clippers at midseason as part of the expansive deal that moved Tobias Harris from the Clippers to the Sixers. (Also included in that trade? The Sixers’ 2020 first-round pick, which was traded to Brooklyn on draft night in 2019, and then used to select Villanova’s Saddiq Bey on Wednesday night and included in the trade for Shamet, with Bey going to Detroit).
Shamet moved into the Clippers’ starting lineup and shot 45.0 percent from 3-point range over the final 25 games while earning a spot on the 2018-19 All-Rookie Second Team. This past season, Shamet started 30 of the 53 games he played for the Clippers and averaged 9.3 points per game. Over 132 career games, he’s shooting 40.2 percent from 3-point range on 5.2 attempts per game.
Like the season to come for the Nets, last season’s Clippers faced huge expectations, and finished second in the Western Conference with a 49-23 record before losing in the second round of the playoffs to Denver on the NBA Campus in Orlando.
“For me personally, when something like that goes bad I'm not one to look outward, I don't look at my teammates, coaches, I try to look at myself first, identify what I did, my performance, what I could have done and it was frustrating,” said Shamet. “I think what I was most frustrated about with the bubble was knowing that I was kind of an X-factor and I just didn't play to the level that I know I'm capable of. I didn't shoot the ball as well as I normally do and I know there's more in the tank for me. That was my first thought. I mean I think if I make two more threes a game a lot of those games look a little bit different.”
Now comes the adjustment period. Shamet traveled to New York on Thursday and is working on fast-tracking his apartment hunt and relocation with training camp less than two weeks away. He and guard Bruce Brown, also acquired in this week’s trade, are two new faces, with several roster spots still open. Durant will be in his first Brooklyn training camp after a year of rehab and workouts, while Irving was limited to 20 games last season.
There are plenty of new pieces to fit together under a new coaching regime.
“I haven’t seen the entirety of the organization in operation in a full-day yet; I haven’t seen everybody under the same roof,” said Shamet. “But going off this offseason having them have a number of guys out in LA all playing pickup every day together I think that’s a great start. Obviously getting to know each other before push comes to shove and before things get really hard, I think that’s No. 1. You’ve got to build chemistry before things get hard, so when things do get hard you’ve got that trust and that foundation to build on. So that’s No, 1. I think they’re doing a great job they decided to make that decision to all work out together, and that’s been great. But for me what I’m going to being in that term in that sense of chemistry is just sacrifice. I’m willing to do whatever for my teammates. I’ll give up myself for our team. I’m all about winning, I want to win. So that’s what I bring to the table, and hopefully can rub off on a lot of other guys.”
While Shamet’s best known for his shooting, and the vision of him spotting up around Irving and Durant is appealing, Nets GM Sean Marks also described him as a “versatile defender” when discussing the trade on Friday morning.
“Just be a good talker, be a good communicator,” said Shamet of his defensive approach. “I know one thing: My teammates won’t ever have to question if I’m playing hard. That’s No. 1, I take a lot of pride in that. There’s never going to be a question of if I’m playing hard. They’ll know that I’ll bring that to the table every day. They know they’re going to get a lot of effort. A lot of communication. And a lot of unselfishness. I play hard and I communicate. That’s what I’m going to bring every day.”