LEAGUE ANNOUNCES HISTORIC EXPANSION: Prior to Thursday night’s contest between Dallas and Detroit, Adam Silver announced that the G League would be adding a 29th team, and that it would be based in Mexico City. The team in question is called the Capitanes (the Captains in Spanish), and they currently play in the top pro league in Mexico. Starting in 2020-21, however, they’ll be moving to the NBA’s minor league for at least five seasons.
This announcement is historic for a variety of reasons. For starters, it’s the league’s first true foray in trying to break into the Latin American market. Basketball is growing in Central and South America, but it’s still nowhere near as popular as it could be. By having a pro basketball team based in what is by far the biggest Latin market, Mexico City, the NBA could make ground in developing what could be a huge new fan base.
Additionally, as Silver mentioned in his press conference, an enormous number of Americans either identify as full or partial Mexican descendants (over 11 percent of the American population, in fact, as of July 2018), so for the NBA to find a way into that market would be huge for the league. Even in the States, the ratings garnered when the biggest Mexican soccer clubs play each other are massive, so clearly the Association sees the value in developing a foothold in our southern neighbor.
We’ll see where this goes, but the NBA should be commended for their strong foresight in trying to make basketball more popular, both in new, unique markets and with those who immigrated to the United States from those markets.
LAST NIGHT IN THE ASSOCIATION: One superstar responded to tough love from two legends while a burgeoning superstar put on a show in another country.
💪 Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid exploded for 38 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in a 115-109 win over Boston. The performance was especially noteworthy because it came on the heels of Embiid receiving harsh-but-fair criticism from Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, who said the big man could be playing harder. Good on Embiid for responding with his best performance of the season, and not by moping. The Sixers center even thanked Chuck and Shaq after the game while being interviewed.
🔥 Luka Doncic was phenomenal yet again, scoring 41 points on 24 field-goal attempts while chipping in 12 rebounds and 11 assists. The masterful performance came in Mexico City, giving Doncic the highest-scoring performance outside of the U.S./Canada in league history. He is also now tied with Kevin Durant for second-most 40-plus point performances by a player prior to turning 21 with four. LeBron owns the record at eight. Dallas won the game against the Pistons 122-111.
FORMER COMMISH HOSPITALIZED: The league announced last night that David Stern underwent emergency surgery after suffering a sudden brain hemorrhage on Thursday. Our thoughts are with the former NBA commissioner.
MORE LOVE TRADE SCUTTLE: Apparently, it might not be that easy for the Cavs to move Kevin Love due to the enormity of his contract, which is worth four years and $120.4 million.
🤔 According to The Athletic, Cleveland expects a first-round pick in exchange for Love, while opposing teams expect the Cavaliers to give them a first-rounder for taking on that huge deal. That could change, however, as long as Cleveland takes back some bad salary in a potential Love deal; if they’re willing to do that, the Cavs might be able to nab themselves that coveted first-round pick.
SHUMP WAIVED: With Wilson Chandler set to return from suspension this weekend, the Nets were forced to waive Iman Shumpert yesterday. Shumpert averaged just 4.2 points and hit under 25 percent of his threes for Brooklyn, but did provide them with solid defense.
T-REX ARMS: We ranked active NBA players by the worst wingspan-to-height ratios. Most of those players having something in common, but we’ll let you guys figure out what it is.
BERTANS GETTING PAID: Wizards forward Davis Bertans is hitting free agency this summer, and it couldn’t come at a better time, as the Latvian sharpshooter is playing the best ball of his career, averaging 15.7 points and hitting an insane 46.5 percent of his threes.
💰 According to David Aldridge, one former league exec thinks Bertans could get a deal ranging between $15 million and $20 million annually this summer. That would be a huge leap for Bertans, who is making $7 million this season and ranks as the league’s 171st highest-paid player.
MORRIS HAPPY IN NY: Because of how poorly the Knicks are doing this year juxtaposed by how well Marcus Morris is playing (19 ppg/48.9 3P%), Morris is considered a potential trade candidate ahead of February’s deadline. However, the eight-year veteran claims to be happy in New York and is totally against a move.
IGGY ON THE MOVE? Shams listed the Nuggets, Mavericks, Rockets and Clippers as the main teams interested in an Andre Iguodala trade. What’s more, he also reported that the Grizzlies are confident they’ll be able to trade the 2015 Finals MVP, and won’t be forced to negotiate a costly buyout with him.
VETERAN BIG UNHAPPY: Bulls big man Thaddeus Young is reportedly unhappy with his usage this season, and could request a trade if things don’t change.
🤦 Young is currently playing the fewest nightly minutes he has since his rookie season (21.6). At the same time, he did sign for a lot of money with a team that has multiple high-level young frontcourt prospects (like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., just to name a couple), so we’re not really sure what he expected to happen there.
KNICKS COACHING SEARCH: The Athletic reports that the Knicks are likely to keep interim coach Mike Miller in that role for the rest of the season, but that if they do make an in-season hire, they’re looking at Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau and Mark Jackson as the main candidates.
HEAT LOVE: Jimmy Butler says Bam Adebayo, a strong Most Improved Player candidate this year, is better than him at every aspect of basketball. That’s probably not true, but it’s high praise for Miami’s third-year big man.
A GOOD CAUSE: The Kings and Bucks are going to participate in basketball games at correctional facilities. It’s part of a pretty cool initiative organized by the Represent Justice Campaign.