SCHEDULE CHANGE SUGGESTIONS: The NBA finally made official the schedule changes they’re proposing, and they’re pretty interesting. For starters, the regular-season schedule would get cut from 82 games to 78, which would allow for an in-season tournament. As a reward for winning the in-season tournament, aside from a trophy, players on the championship team would earn $1 million while coaches would get $1.5 million. Aside from that, the NBA is also proposing a play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference, as well as for the four last teams remaining in the playoffs to reseed in the playoffs based on their regular-season records.
Of all these suggested changes, the play-in tournament is the most appealing, because we saw what a play-in game looked like just a few years ago, when the Nuggets and Timberwolves faced off on the last day of the season for a shot at the playoffs. The game went to overtime and had playoff intensity throughout. Considering the end of the regular season is usually pretty boring, a play-in tournament could be a good way to spice things up.
TRADE SCUTTLE: The Hawks need to find Trae Young some help, particularly in the frontcourt. John Collins’ return from suspension will help, but Atlanta will need more if they want to make a playoff push. Well, according to reports, the Hawks are trying to do just that; Atlanta is being associated with Thunder big man Steven Adams as someone the team is targeting for a potential trade. Adams is averaging 11.1 points and 9.6 rebounds this season.
LEBRON GOES DOWN: For the first time this season, LeBron James missed a game due to injury when the Lakers faced off with the Nuggets last night. Though some thought this could be a case of subtle load management by L.A. prior to the team’s Christmas-Day game against the Clippers, Brian Windhorst said James’ pulled rib muscle is a “significant issue”, and that the four-time league MVP is also dealing with a nagging groin injury.
😨 Let’s not forget: A groin injury is what forced James to miss over a month of action last season, so the Lakers would be wise to act cautiously with LeBron’s return from this current injury.
IT SUSPENDED: The craziest story of the weekend came when Isaiah Thomas thought it prudent to walk into the stands during a Wizards game at Philadelphia to tell a fan to cool it with the vitriol. Here’s footage of the interaction between Thomas and the fan, and though the former All-Star should be commended for keeping his calm, he just can’t walk into the stands, pretty much under any circumstances. The funniest part of this whole saga was that the fan explained the reason for his anger towards Thomas, and it was because the point guard made a free throw that had he missed it, would have given Sixers fans free Wendy’s Frostys. No, seriously.
💰 The fan was banned from the Wells Fargo Center for a year while Thomas was suspended for two games, which will cost him $32,000.
WIZARDS MAKE SIGNING: Washington is reportedly close to signing Gary Payton II over the weekend, who has been lighting it up for the Lakers’ G League team. Payton averaged 21.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists over 16 games in the NBA’s minor league.
FORMER FIRST-ROUNDER INJURED: The Sixers might actually be cursed when it comes to their top draft picks getting injured as rookies. The latest piece of evidence we have is Matisse Thybulle suffering a knee sprain, which will keep him out for at least two weeks of action.
AIR DONCIC? After what was a heated recruiting battle, Luka Doncic is reportedly ready to choose his exclusive sneaker brand, and it’ll be Jordan Brand. Doncic will sign a five-year deal with the sneaker giant, and though he won’t get a signature shoe right away, he could if and when he wins MVP or Finals MVP. Doncic joins Zion Williamson as Jordan Brand’s two latest signings… that’s a decent duo to build around.
SPECTACULAR HARDEN: James Harden is starting to make the extraordinary look ordinary. His latest 40-plus point game against Phoenix on Saturday was the 89th of his career, which put him in sole possession of fourth place among all players, trailing just Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
UNBOTHERED: Kawhi Leonard played a game in San Antonio on Saturday, and though he was showered with boos throughout the contest, the reigning Finals MVP didn’t give that reaction a second though, stating that the boos are fans really showing him love.
BROTHERLY LOVE: ESPN goes in-depth on the Lopez twins, interviewing the duo on a variety of topics, including their love of Star Wars, as well as their love of trolling each other. Fun read.
SOME FROM THE PORTERS TOO: Michael Porter Jr. talks about living with his siblings, including NBA prospect Jontay Porter, and how they help keep him grounded through the ups-and-downs of the NBA season.
DRAFT WATCH: Once LaMelo Ball went down with a foot injury, many thought his time in the NBL (Australian basketball league) was over, since he has probably done enough to warrant getting drafted highly in 2020. However, LaVar Ball says if his son is healthy and feeling 100 percent, he will return to action later this season.
🤔 We’ll see if the Balls actually go through with that, but as of now, our aggregate mock draft has LaMelo as the projected No. 2 pick of the 2020 draft.
DIFFICULT TO FORECAST: Speaking of Ball, between him going down, James Wiseman leaving Memphis and injuries to Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton, the 2020 NBA Draft is becoming awfully difficult to predict. As of now, four out of the projected Top 10 picks are inactive, while a fifth, Deni Avdija, isn’t getting much playing time at his top club in Europe.
HOLIDAY MOVES: There was a slew of news over the weekend regarding real estate moves made by current or former NBA players/executives, including Kawhi Leonard purchasing a new penthouse, Russell Westbrook putting a home up for sale and Chandler Parsons purchasing a pricey new place.
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