Tyler Lydon: Basketball is the game I love. Now I get t…

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August 9, 2020 | 2:55 pm EDT Update

Michele Roberts: Can't rule out NBA bubble in 2021

No fans, no home-court advantage, but safety was the main priority when deciding to resume the 2019-20 season that had been on hold since March 11. The NBA has achieved that so far, but would the league be willing to start next season in a bubble environment? “I don’t think you can discount nor will I say we have discounted the possibility of continuing this protocol for the next season,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts in an Friday interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio.
“Now no one wants to be in the bubble for six straight months, that’s insane. So it may be multiple bubbles, it may be multiple bubbles with a period of time away from the bubble and maybe we won’t have a bubble at all, but for sure, that is the scenario or those are scenarios that are being considered because, again, the virus does dictate what our restrictions will and will not be.”
Suns general manager James Jones told The Arizona Republic he “trust(s) the judgement and decision of the NBA/NBPA’s leadership” when asked about the possibility of playing next season in a bubble. “They’ve done such a good job with giving us protocols and ways to stay safe,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “Nobody’s gotten the virus. So it’s one that I think every sport can duplicate. As it relates to doing it again, I’d be all for it, but I think we got to figure out a way to involve our families.”
Storyline: Bubble Next Season?
And then, a couple hours later in the same Disney gym, the Lakers lost for the fourth time in six tries down here, this one to the Pacers. They are out of sync, lacking a rotation, and can’t get LeBron James and Anthony Davis playing well together. They are vulnerable to a Blazers’ blitz, but Portland has to get to the playoffs first. “Nobody is safe in this environment, period,” one Western Conference executive said. “Everyone can be beaten.”
August 9, 2020 | 1:08 pm EDT Update

Draymond Green fined for tampering comments on Devin Booker

The NBA fined Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green $50,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule after his comments about Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker. Appearing as an analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA on Friday, Green commented about Booker’s stellar play inside the bubble.
“It’s great to see Book playing well and Phoenix playing well, but get my man out of Phoenix,” Green said. “It’s not good for him. It’s not good for his career. Sorry Chuck (Barkley), but they’ve got to get Book out of Phoenix. I need my man to go somewhere that he can play great basketball all of the time and win because he’s that kind of player.” In a news release, the NBA said, “As announced prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, the NBA has adopted a stricter enforcement approach for conduct relating to tampering, salary cap circumvention, and free agency timing rules, including with respect to the rule prohibiting player-to-player tampering.”
August 9, 2020 | 10:42 am EDT Update
“I am getting more and more used to being out there. It’s a very weird dynamic. I haven’t played in an empty gym in a very, very long time,” James said following the Lakers’ 116-111 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. “It’s been a very long time since no one has been watching me play the game. I’m just trying to find that rhythm and lock in.” So long that the 35-year-old James believes he has not played in an empty gym since before starring his freshman year at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 1999-2000. James soon then became a prep phenom before jumping straight to the NBA when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him No. 1 in the 2003 draft. Therefore, James recalled, “I don’t think I played in an empty gym for a game that really counted.”
“I definitely love playing in front of the fans. The fans are what make the game,” James said. “Without the fans, I wouldn’t be who I am today. To all the fans out there that come watch me play, I miss you guys and hopefully someday I can get back to that interaction.” That partly explains why James initially scoffed at the NBA considering to host games behind closed doors when the coronavirus outbreak emerged in the United States. He maintained “I ain’t playing” any games behind closed doors. Four days later, James clarified his stance after saying he became more aware the NBA had seriously considered this idea out of safety concerns regarding COVID-19.
Still, James admitted he feels uncomfortable with the deafening silence. “I’m getting more and more comfortable playing in an empty gym,” James said. “Just having the backdrop here is a lot different from playing in a high school gym or a college arena where you’re playing in the summer time, whatever the case may be. It’s very dark, extremely dark. You can literally hear a feather hit the ground. I’m just getting more and more comfortable playing with my game here in the bubble.”
August 9, 2020 | 9:21 am EDT Update
For Booker, the winning has been even sweeter, given some of the criticism he’s dealt with over the past few years because of all the losing. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green said on Friday’s edition of “Inside the NBA” that “it’s not good for [Booker’s] career” to stay in Phoenix. “I feel like that’s important for this organization, for the fans that have stuck by us for this long and still do so,” Booker said when asked about Green’s comments. “Since I’ve been in Phoenix, we haven’t had the win success that we had, but the support’s been there. And this is what we owe to the fans, we owe to the organization. It’s been a long time for us and I think this bubble opportunity was big for us, and we’re taking advantage of it.”
Storyline: Devin Booker Trade?
August 9, 2020 | 7:44 am EDT Update
Suns coach Monty Williams had to chuckle when asked why his young team’s focus has been so good since the season restarted at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, last month. “You’re really giving me a lot of credit, man,” Willams said. “I don’t really know. I could give you some coach-speak, but I don’t know. I just think we have a group that wanted to come here and prove to the world that they were worthy of being here. They heard a lot of the stuff being said. I think when people say stuff about you, you want to prove them wrong. If I had to guess that would be it, but this is who we are. “We’ve been competitive all year; we’ve been a scrappy team. We play teams hard, we share the ball, we try to make the right plays. We’ve tried to stick to our DNA and not get outside of that.”
General manager Rob Pelinka started the year swinging one of the biggest trades of the offseason for Anthony Davis and signing contracts for a team that would go on to be the West’s No. 1 seed. In the bubble, he’s a rebounder and occasionally a waterboy. His employees have watched him mop up sweat on the court at practices. “There’s no task that’s too low that we can’t come in and help,” Pelinka said. “Especially when it comes to our players and their safety and servicing their needs.” It’s who the Lakers believe they are. But in the bubble, it’s also an absolute necessity. “We’re all now essentially a man-and-a-half,” Hsieh said. “Everybody’s gotta pick up that extra half a person here, half a person there that’s missing.”
Storyline: Lakers Front Office
August 9, 2020 | 2:46 am EDT Update

Cavs like their chances in eventual Ben Simmons sweepstakes

The Cavs, of course, would have interest in Simmons. He possesses the talent and versatility to immediately alter the team’s future. The Sixers would want a haul for the 2016 No. 1 pick who is locked up through 2023-24 and will probably be named to the All-Defense First Team. But the Cavs believe they have enough to assemble an enticing package, especially with recent first-rounders littering the roster, a top six pick coming in October and a future first from the Milwaukee Bucks.
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The play was the last of Doncic’s career-high 19 assists, to go along with 36 points, 14 rebounds and just 2 turnovers in 42 minutes as the Mavericks beat the Bucks 136-132 in overtime inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort. “I clapped,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “I applauded. I thought it was phenomenal. The sign of a great player, a truly great player, is the ability to pull off something like that against a team like Milwaukee, that gives up virtually nothing in the paint. “We’re seeing more things all the time. Luka is not only a great basketball player, he’s a great performer. “I’d pay money to watch him play. I don’t say that about a lot of players, but he’s really special.”
By the time it was over, Doncic had unleashed a couple of step-back 3s, orchestrated a beautiful two-man game with Kristaps Porzingis, and perhaps most jaw-dropping of all, dropped a between-the-legs pass to Max Kleber in traffic for an easy slam and one before polishing off the game with a contested runner in the lane. He finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds and 19 assists (a career-high), with only two turnovers. “He’s one of the most talented guys I’ve ever played against,” Antetokpounmpo said after the game. “He’s making the whole team better, and he’s going to keep getting better.”
Still only 21, Doncic shares some commonalities with Antetokounmpo, though he’s more naturally gregarious. Doncic’s brand of stardom is likely to be less about the commercial (though he is a committed sneakerhead) or off-court visibility. What drives Doncic toward stardom, say those in Dallas, is his insatiable love of basketball theatrics. When Doncic thinks about stardom, he doesn’t imagine a signature shoe or holding court surrounded by NBA peers. It’s strictly about hitting the biggest shot with the most dramatic flair. It will be about the showmanship on the floor, not the salesmanship off it.
With 39 more points on 15-of-22 shooting in a 116-111 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, it’s Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Warren, who bumped his average to 34.8 points on a scalding 60.5% shooting, including 55.6% from 3. Pacers star Victor Oladipo said his teammate is “on a different planet right now,” but Warren has a much more grounded explanation for his recent success. “It’s me just putting in the time and work in the offseason,” Warren said. “During the time off just staying locked, staying in love with the game and just being myself when I’m out there. I’ve got a good supporting cast, good family and friends, so that helps a lot. And the organization, the Pacers welcomed me in with open arms and brought me in, so I’m just grateful for everything right now.”
Clearly no decisions have been made yet, and once Brooklyn’s season eventually ends Vaughn will face stiff competition for what will be a plum position. But expected Nets candidates Ty Lue and Jason Kidd could both be pursued by New Orleans, according to ESPN. And everything Vaughn has done in the restart will only strengthen his résumé. “He’s done an amazing job,” Caris LeVert said. “Everybody trusts Jacque in the organization, everyone trusts his decision-making. He’s made several switches with the lineup, how we’re playing offensively, defensively. He’s been great with adjustment and things like that. “It’s definitely been tough with the lineup we had, with the roster we had, and he’s done a great job of adjusting and being adaptable. The guards really feed off of what he brings to the table. He’s a competitive guard, a competitive coach. He’s played in the league for a while and everyone follows his lead.”
Storyline: Nets Coaching Job
The Toronto Raptors paid homage to Hall of Famer and the team’s senior adviser Wayne Embry on Friday. The players arrived at the arena in T-shirts bearing Embry’s likeness and the words “Because of You” ahead of the Raptors’ game versus the Boston Celtics. Coach Nick Nurse, who wore the shirt in his pre-game Zoom video availability, explained the phrase “because of you” comes from words U.S. President Barack Obama wrote to late civil rights leader John Lewis, who died on July 17.
While all 22 NBA teams have at least one videographer onsite, the Washington Wizards aren’t just interested in capturing video content. Led in Orlando by Zach Rosen, senior manager of digital content, the Wizards are the only NBA team to have their own dedicated bubble blog: Wizney World. When Rosen attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his personal sports blog wound up becoming Sconnie Sports Talk, an official student organization for student journalists to cover every Badgers team. It became not only a living document of his experience covering the Badgers, but also a way for his family to follow Wisconsin athletics.
August 8, 2020 | 10:29 pm EDT Update