Alexey Shved received offers from four NBA teams in the…

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Those numbers correlate with the NBA hosting more competitive events while honoring Kobe Bryant, who died three weeks ago along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash. Although average viewership across ABC, ESPN and TNT have suffered a 13-percent decrease this season, the NBA experienced other relative improvements in recent months. Average viewership on ESPN and TNT increased by a combined six percent in December. Those viewers then increased by an average of 27 percent on ESPN, TNT and NBA TV in January.
Those numbers have not entirely offset the NBA’s declining television rating stemminged from either cord-cutting, downgraded cable packages and extensive injuries to the league’s star players. But those numbers left the NBA feeling validated on downplaying the league’s early-season bumps. “We may be affected by it a little bit more on properties because we have such a young fanbase,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a press conference during All-Star weekend. “But I am very confident we can work through it.”
Storyline: TV Ratings

February 17, 2020 | 4:36 pm EST Update

Kris Dunn done for the season?

The Bulls haven’t officially updated Dunn’s status since Feb. 4 when they said the guard’s sprained right MCL would be re-examined in two weeks. But sources said there’s growing belief that Dunn will miss the remainder of the season with the injury, which occurred when Thaddeus Young took a charge and inadvertently crashed into Dunn’s knee on the first possession of a Jan. 31 road game against the Nets.
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His most defining characteristic, though, is forever as a blood-thirsty competitor. If you were a screaming teenager wearing a blue Team LeBron T-shirt throughout the game, Paul is the one player you wanted in your corner. He was in his element, licking his lips when he had to switch onto Giannis Antetokounmpo late in the game, drilling several kick-out threes that helped his team mount their comeback. “Chris Paul is a big reason for the win,” Frank Vogel said after the game. “He told me early in the day that he wasn’t one of those vets that just likes to take a rest in a game like this, that he wants to come in and win a game and help our guys win a game. All the young guys throughout the course of the game, every time they made a mistake or didn’t play defense, he was yelling at them. So he got us — not only got us to the finish line but also provided great leadership and some big plays in that fourth quarter down the stretch.”
In case you missed it, Paul is 34. He also crammed home a lob. This isn’t supposed to happen, but a vegan diet and relatively new off-season training regimen has granted sips from the fountain of youth. “I think I’m my hardest critic,” Paul said afterwards. “I push myself more than anybody in here could ever do. So for me, it’s always about the journey. It’s about working hard, and it’s the analytics and the statistics that say at this age you can do this or you can do that. Look at my brother Bron. Every year they say he’s going to slow down, right? And then what?”

Derrick Jones signs deal with Puma

With nearly 6.5 million viewers tuned in to an epic dunk-off between Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr., the 2020 slam dunk contest helped launch each player not only to new heights on the hardwood, but also in the marketing world. In the aftermath of his narrowly claimed slam dunk contest win, Jones signed a multiyear footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Puma, adding the 6-foot-6 high-flyer to a select group of NBA and WNBA athlete partners with the company.
Jones wore a white and pink Puma Clyde Hardwood sneaker to sync with the Heat’s colorful “Vice Nights” jerseys in the contest, while showcasing a variety of between-the-legs and windmill dunks. The brand offered him the endorsement deal shortly after he carried home the trophy on All-Star Saturday Night, which coincided with his 23rd birthday. “This is a day that I’m going to tell my kids [about],” he said.
February 17, 2020 | 3:43 pm EST Update
Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets was elected a Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) at today’s annual winter meeting of the Board of NBPA Player Representatives. A 9-year veteran of the NBA, 6-time NBA All-Star and 2016 NBA Champion, Irving will replace Pau Gasol who has served on the Executive Committee since February 2017. Irving served as the NBPA Player Representative for the Brooklyn Nets for the 2019-2020 season and his 3-year term as Vice President will begin effective immediately. “This was the right time for me to run for a leadership position in the NBPA,” said Irving. “I have been an observer and a participant in union affairs for a while, but for the most part, I was off on the sidelines, supporting our Executive Committee as they made important decisions. At this point in my career, I wanted to join forces with those guys and take a bigger role outside of the basketball court and within our union. I want to help move the union forward with innovative ideas, not only on social issues but also with business ventures into a new space. I am honored to be elected by my peers and I cannot wait to work with everybody to make an impact.”
7 hours ago via NBPA
Following earning the 2020 All-Star Game MVP award, Leonard shared the best piece of advice Bryant gave him that came in the most Kobe-like fashion. “Just stay in it. Enjoy the challenge. Don’t get done and just compete. I think my first All-Star Game we were talking and he was competitive. He was like ‘how many shots have you shot in a game?’ I was like ‘Whatcha mean?’ He was like “how many shot attempts have you shot?” I was like ‘My highest? I probably shot like 19 times.’ He was like “Guess how many times I shot it? I shot it 47 times.” I was like ‘Alright.’”
Serbia coach Igor Kokoskov talked about Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone potentially joining the national team’s staff in the future. Kokoskov said that it was Malone who offered to become a part of the team during a congratulatory phone call after he was named the new head coach of the “Orlovi.” “What I can say is that from our side, we did everything to be professional and transparent,” Kokoskov said in the press conference ahead of the EuroBasket Qualifiers games of Serbia vs. Finland and Georgia. “When that idea came up, we were there to welcome him. After my appointment, I got a call with his [Malone’s] congratulations and his proposal to join us. That was one very nice [form of] congratulations to me. If not recognition.”
Malone denied that any official agreement is in place. He later mentioned that there are ongoing conversations and he’s “definitely” interested in becoming a part of the team. “The desire to cooperate still exits,” Kokoskov said. “He’s a prominent NBA coach. If he’s willing to be here, that’s fine. The team won’t be based on Igor or Mike Malone but on the players and, most importantly, on them being here.”
February 17, 2020 | 1:56 pm EST Update
Before his death, Bryant was in serious talks about creating an animation studio. Bruce W. Smith, creator of the Disney animated show “The Proud Family,” said in an interview with Double Toasted that he and the creator of the “Despicable Me” franchise, Sergio Pablos, sat down with Bryant over dinner to go over future animation projects. “[Bryant] was heavily invested in starting an animation studio. So for the past six months or so Kobe and I have been in deep talks about making that happen,” Smith said. “So we’re together finding artists to galvanize his dream and Kobe was, like they were saying, Kobe was beginning his second act and animation was going to play a huge part in that.”
February 17, 2020 | 12:34 pm EST Update
While the extended break was supposed to bring clarity about his immediate future, Beilein hasn’t made a firm decision yet. Numerous members of the Cavaliers’ front office and coaching staff are away from Cleveland, on planned vacations, trying to regroup before the final stretch. The plan, as of now, is to reconvene on Wednesday, but primary decision-makers have been in touch with Beilein and are working through options. If Beilein remains through the 2019-20 season, which is looking unlikely, he is expected to be one-and-done in the NBA, sources say.
Storyline: John Beilein Hot Seat
The Portland Trail Blazers have completed the two-way transfers of center Moses Brown and forward Jaylen Hoard to the Texas Legends of the NBA G League, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. Brown, 20, has played in nine games for the Trail Blazers this season, averaging 1.2 points (40.0% FG, 37.5% FT) and 1.6 rebounds. In 22 games with the Legends, Brown (7-1, 245) has averaged 14.9 points (63.8% FG, 49.2% FT), 7.6 rebounds and 1.41 blocks.
Despite putting up potent and efficient offensive numbers, Booker was not originally voted in as an All-Star reserve by the NBA’s coaches. But Damian Lillard injured his groin last Wednesday night, hours before Booker was scheduled to go “off the grid” on vacation. He received a wake-up call from commissioner Adam Silver early Thursday that he was the injury-replacement choice and, after briefly going back to sleep, celebrated with his family in his Phoenix home. The family affair continued throughout a weekend during which Booker, by design, did not partake in many public appearances beyond the league-mandated requirements for every All-Star participant.
Storyline: All-Star Selections
Parents Veronica and Melvin and younger sister Mya flew with Devin to Chicago on a private jet. They shared low-key dinners together. Melvin wore a replica All-Star jersey in the hotel room Sunday, marveling that “it’s crazy to see that ‘Booker’ on the back.” When Devin spotted Veronica and Mya in the United Center stands just after halftime Sunday night, Mya expressed her adoration by drawing hearts with fingers. “We all have been together,” Melvin told The Athletic while standing in the tunnel between sections 112 and 113 as Devin went through pregame warmups. “We’ve just been taking it all in as a family, because this is what we worked so hard for. …
Bryant is not the sole source of motivation for NBA players. Consider what happened in the All-Star Game that featured Team LeBron finishing with a 157-155 win over Team Giannis. Though LeBron James admitted “you definitely feel his presence” amid all of the Bryant tributes, it would be inaccurate to say both teams talked externally about winning on Bryant’s behalf. “There was no discussion because we’re all competitors,” James said. “We wouldn’t be All-Stars if we weren’t competitors. We all compete at the highest level, try to put our respective teams in position to win every night. So guys definitely just had their sense of pride, that sense of competitiveness throughout the season and throughout the All-Star Game.”
In their first home game since his passing, the Lakers held countless video tributes before James addressed fans with a passionate impromptu speech. Though the Lakers lost that game to Portland, they played with the kind of passion they have sought to replicate all season. Other NBA stars and young players credited Bryant for playing through a tough stretch, knowing that he consistently excelled even when he faced injuries or personal strife. Before Sunday’s game, Chris Paul recalled talking to Russell Westbrook about how Bryant still maintained his intensity in All-Star Games, which resulted in tying Bob Pettit for a league-record four All-Star MVP awards. “We definitely felt his presence,” Celtics guard Kemba Walker said. “Growing up, watching Kobe in those games, I felt like he was always competitive. He was kind of the one who got the game going. I think we kept that going tonight. I think he definitely would have loved to watch the way we went out there and competed tonight.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more small lineups. It’s just the trend now,” Harris told The Post. “Even now I’m setting screens in big actions. I never would’ve thought I’d be a screener either, but that’s just like how it is. I’m like picking and popping all the time.” Irving has sat the past five games with a knee sprain. After a week off for the All-Star break, the Nets resume play Thursday in Philadelphia. While Irving’s status for Thursday is up in the air, he is expected back eventually. And the aforementioned quintet has produced the best Net (plus-16.7) and Offensive (133.3) Ratings of any Irving-led lineups that have logged 15 minutes.
Storyline: Kyrie Irving Injury
Nets owner Joe Tsai spoke with Bloomberg Businessweek, and essentially said that he and Levy, the former president of Turner Broadcasting, had different expectations for the job. Tsai, who closed his record purchase of the Nets in September, also made Levy the president of J Tsai Sports. Through the holding company for his sports portfolio, Tsai owns not only the Nets, but the WNBA’s New York Liberty, a lacrosse team in San Diego, and stakes in MLS side LAFC and in the Premier Lacrosse League. “He was already looking ahead at how to grow the J Tsai sports portfolio, but we also needed someone to do the nuts and bolts,” Tsai told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Maybe he thought that he wanted to do something that’s bigger and he could just bring in other people to do it, and I’m of a view that before you outsource something you should do it yourself.”
Tsai wooed Levy, a 33-year veteran of Turner Sports, with a heavy portfolio. He was named CEO of the Nets, Barclays and J Tsai Sports, Tsai’s holding company that also controls the New York Liberty and his other sports investments in lacrosse, soccer and esports. Levy was also named an “alternate governor” of the Nets and a “venture partner” in Tsai’s family investment vehicle. Still, one team insider told NetsDaily that Levy was surprised to be managing something as small as the Nets after running Turner Media. And in fact, Levy told Bloomberg last month, “It wasn’t the job I signed up for and we agreed to part ways.” Both Tsai and Levy told Boudway they remain friends.
February 17, 2020 | 9:17 am EST Update

Knicks to hire Jay Wright?

League sources say Villanova coach Jay Wright could become the next head coach of the Knicks. “There is a strong possibility that Jay Wright in New York could happen,” one league source said. With his Hall of Fame coaching résumé, charismatic personality and easygoing manner with fans and the press, Wright has always seemed like a potential strong fit for the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
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So for a player who has redefined load management and would typically ration energy in the All-Star Game — last season Leonard played just 18 minutes in Charlotte, the fewest of any All-Star starter — Sunday was his own way of making a tribute. “I came in, and I made my first two shots. … That’s when I told myself, ‘I’m going to go try to get [MVP],'” Leonard said. “It’s very special. I had a relationship with him. Words can’t explain how happy I am for it. Able to put that trophy in my room, my trophy room, and just be able to see Kobe’s name on there, it just means a lot to me. He’s a big inspiration in my life.”
It was one of the more entertaining and competitive All-Star Games in the past decade. Players cared, wanted to win, complained about referees’ calls and no-calls and played a brand of defense usually not observed in this game. “The good thing about our league is we’re always adding things and trying new things and trying to figure out from my fans what they like,” Paul said. “This was an idea I brought to Adam. Thankfully, we tried it out.”

Changes coming in Chicago?

According to several NBA executives, the Bulls are in the early stages of adding a new face to the front office, with the position defined as a general manager “with a louder voice.’’ One executive said the talks with candidates have been through back channels, with no formal interviews taking place, but the search is believed to be widespread.
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