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NOT SO FAST: Though it looked like the NBA was full-speed ahead on a potential return in late July, we’ve had a bit of a speedbump – a Kyrie Irving-shaped one at that. That’s because Irving is reportedly making it clear that he’s against the NBA’s plan to return in Orlando, though not exactly for reasons that we may have expected. Rather than being worried about colleagues getting sick or the mental health toll fellow players will undergo being stuck in this so-called bubble, Irving is leading this charge because, in his opinion, the optics of a sports league made up of predominantly African-American players coming back now, in the middle of this national call for social reform, are bad. Irving didn’t say ‘bad’ himself, though, he used a different b-letter word with eight letters in it.
Irving did say that if other players still want to return, he would be all right with that, but he wants them to be united in whatever it is that they decide to do. Part of that unity began last night when Irving reportedly led a call with 80-plus players where they were allowed to voice concerns, talk things out and raise questions they may have. No matter what you may think of Irving’s motives, there’s no denying him hosting that call was a bold thing to do, as it gave players a voice they might not have had when the NBPA was asked to vote on the league’s return plan.
Among the players who spoke out during the meeting were Donovan Mitchell, who was concerned about the injury risk following such a long layoff, Carmelo Anthony, who made it clear he wants young players to have a voice in this, and CJ McCollum, who wanted his fellow players to realize the financial risks of the NBA not completing this season. (Spoiler alert: It could spell disaster for the players, owners and Association as a whole financially.)
Now, we wait and see what comes of the Irving-led meeting from Friday evening, but one thing is for sure: Adam Silver is going to have a pretty busy weekend ahead.
FEELING BETTER: Hawks center Clint Capela says his injured heel feels much better. He could be huge for Atlanta’s future.
EXTENSION TALKS: One of the most interesting candidates for an extension this summer is John Collins, who says he’s hopeful he and the Hawks will get one done.
MAJOR REVELATION: Spurs guard Lonnie Walker dropped a bomb on us recently, revealing he had been sexually assaulted as a child. Extremely brave and commendable action by the young guard.
IMPENDING FREE AGENT: Jazz beat writer Tony Jones thinks the Jazz have a good shot at re-signing explosive guard Jordan Clarkson, who will be one of the top players available this offseason.
EYES ON HIM: He may not want to leave Washington, but that hasn’t stopped the Heat, Lakers and Pelicans from showing interest in All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
MAX DEAL COMING? League execs shared their thoughts with Alex Kennedy on why they believe Jayson Tatum will get a max extension this summer.
THERE TO STAY? Tristan Thompson will be one of the top bigs available in free agency this summer. Despite the Cavs acquiring Andre Drummond, could Thompson re-sign with Cleveland anyway?
FRESH INTERVIEW: Suns swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. joined our Bryan Kalbrosky to discuss various topics, including his philanthropic efforts and his excitement for Phoenix being able to continue their season.
LATEST POD: Meanwhile, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck joined Alex Kennedy to talk about the NBA’s return plan, as well as give us his Finals prediction and pick for MVP.
BLING: We posted a gallery with the majority of the NBA’s championship rings ever, which you can check out here. Some of the super old ones look awesome.