July 10, 2020 | 2:02 am EDT Update
“When I got traded, I remember I felt betrayed,” Deng told Tshabalala. “Because the guy who traded me obviously ruined the team — and I don’t mind saying that now, I would never speak about him as a person — but just the decisions that he’s made. Because it changed the whole course of what we were trying to do. When Derrick got hurt, we really felt that we were going to win a championship, but when he broke up the team, you just feel hurt because we became so close as a team. But we had a mission. And that was to wait for Derrick to get healthy and go at it again, but he decided to just break up the team.”
“I gave up a lot of money to stay with the Bulls,” Deng said to Tshabalala, alluding to a past contract (presumably, a six-year, $71 million extension he inked as a 23-year-old in 2008) he said he signed with the team against the wishes of some in his camp, who wanted him to explore more lucrative options elsewhere. “So when they came back again for my next contract, the year before the contract, me and Thibs went in and we talked to Gar Forman, (who) at the time was the GM, and we said, I want to sign right now before the free agency comes up and other people offer money. And at the time, he said — I was 27? 28? — he told me to take another team discount. “And I remember saying, ‘Why would I take another team discount? Why is there a discount again?’ You know, because this is when I was an All-Star. So he said, ‘We want you to take a team discount.’ So I was like, ‘OK, what’s a team discount?’ and he didn’t discuss anything. And at the time, it didn’t make sense for where I’m at, at the best of my career.”
“Thibs was upset, and Thibs kept telling them (the front office), ‘Sign Lu, I need you to sign Lu,’” Deng told Tshabalala. “So when the [2013-14 season] started, I wasn’t signed for the Bulls, and Thibs decided he was going to make them know how important I am for the team, and ran everything through me — and this is why I love Thibs still today… I was averaging 20 (points per game) at the time when I got traded. When the front office saw that I was averaging 20, obviously now, everybody wanted to pay me more money. So they decided that it was better to trade me before they lose me for nothing.
Terrence Ross ( @TerrenceRoss ) gives us a sneak peak at the NBA players’ game room/lounge. It includes PlayStation 4’s, arcade games, ping pong tables, a pool table, and a seating area.
For Wizards point guard Ish Smith, though, it’s no big deal at all. He was asked about the food and gave the type of humble, down-to-earth answer you would expect from him. “I’m okay. I’m low maintenance and I’m thankful for anything and everything. You’re asking the wrong person. You might have to ask somebody else who lives a little bit more of a high maintenance life,” he said. “For me, I’m thankful, I’m blessed. They bring us food, we eat it. I have no problems.”
Ben Cafardo: BasketballESPN NBA reporter @Malika_Andrews displays the social distance monitor/buzzer folks in Orlando are receiving to remind each other to stay six feet apart.
Austin Kent: Dewan Hernandez is with the Raptors and expecting to play when the league resumes later this month. The rookie center suffered a severe right ankle sprain in December and missed the team’s final 37 games before the shutdown.
My thoughts on wing depth were addressed in the previous question. As for those specific prospects, Okoro’s athleticism and defensive instincts stand out the most to the scouts I’ve talked to. Both Karnisovas and Eversley said they like players with defensive versatility, a trend in today’s NBA. Okoro projects to be able to guard point guard to power forward. Questions exist about his shooting ability, but he’s also got an improve-at-all-costs mindset.
Will the Chicago Bulls front office be able to travel to Orlando to scout players? — @chisportupdates, via Twitter The last time I checked on this with the league, I was told no. It’s why this is such an unprecedented and difficult time for these eight teams. It’s such a competitive disadvantage to essentially not be part of the league as it resumes play.
Dwain Price: All @dallasmavs players will have the word “Equality” on the back of their jersey during the restart of the season. C/F Dwight Powell said Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, JJ Barea, Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic will have “Equality” on their jersey in their native language.
Dylan Mickanen: Gary Trent Jr ( @gtrentjr ) did a photoshoot in the airplane bathroom eh route to Orlando and the comments have me weak. Face with tears of joy #RipCity #LetNasPiss
Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson started the firestorm by sharing anti-Semitic quotes on Instagram he attributed to Adolf Hitler, saying Jews “will blackmail America” for their “plan for world domination.” He praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, pegged an anti-Semite by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. Durant liked a Jackson post complimenting Farrakhan after his July 4 speech, where he ripped Jews and said blacks shouldn’t take a coronavirus vaccine because Bill Gates and Dr. Anthony Fauci are trying to “depopulate the Earth.”
July 9, 2020 | 9:32 pm EDT Update
Mark Berman: Forward PJ Tucker flew with the #Rockets to Florida. He never thought for one second about opting out: “I want to play basketball. I love playing basketball. I got an eight-year-old son that loves watching me play. He’s so excited right now. He’s super-hyped for me to go play…”
Mark Berman: PJ Tucker has 1 year left on his contract & reiterates he’d like an extension: “I love Houston. I’ve said it many times. I want to retire as a Houston Rocket..The fans, the city have embraced me since day one. So fingers crossed, I hope we can strike a deal and get it done.”
Andrew Greif: Clippers forward JaMychal Green is expected to join the team in Orlando on Sunday, sources told myself and @Brad Turner. He’s tending to a family matter but will join soon.
July 9, 2020 | 8:57 pm EDT Update
Tom Thibodeau, lead candidate to coach the Knicks, had his second interview with the club via Zoom on Thursday, an NBA source confirmed. Thibodeau, a former Knicks assistant and head coach of the Bulls and Timberwolves, has the inside track on the job.
Thibodeau was represented by Creative Artist Agency when Leon Rose and William Wesley — now members of the Knicks front office — ran its basketball department and have a strong rapport. Rose is interviewing at least 11 candidates and already finished interviews with coaches in the Orlando bubble — Jason Kidd, Ime Udoka, Pat Delaney and Jamahl Mosley.
Kellan Olson: Monty Williams said he does think the bubble will work. Said he doesn’t think players are getting enough credit for how much they want to play. He has expectations but understands players will have temptations and miss their families.
Gerald Bourguet: “It’s not that bad, man.” — Monty Williams on the food situation in Orlando. “So many of us are spoiled and we’re used to eating certain foods a certain way, but it’s not bad at all.” Also admits he didn’t have high expectations
Kellan Olson: Payne said he was in the pool when Monty Williams called him. They discussed a lot of their time from OKC together. Monty emphasized consistency and maturity to Payne. Payne described their relationship in OKC as “real, real close.”
Gerald Bourguet: “I feel I can bring a good amount of consistency to the team….I’m a dog, I’m a warrior” — Cam Payne says he’s out to prove he can do whatever the coaches need him to and that he belongs in this league
July 9, 2020 | 8:19 pm EDT Update
The Denver Nuggets expect All-Star center Nikola Jokic to arrive in Orlando from his native Serbia to join the team for the NBA restart in the next couple of days, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Jokic tested positive for COVID-19 in June, but has since tested negative consecutively and is cleared to enter the campus at Walt Disney World.
Ava Wallace: Garrison Mathews, Thomas Bryant and Gary Payton did not travel with the Wizards to Orlando, per sources. Mathews for personal reasons. Bryant and Payton have tested positive for the coronavirus.
July 9, 2020 | 8:12 pm EDT Update
Eric Walden: Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert noted that “Staying in a room for 36 hours is not the best thing to do,” but said he’s appreciated the NBA’s level of caution. Said he passed that time by playing Call of Duty, reading a little bit, and sleeping.
Eric Walden: Rudy Gobert, on the wristbands everyone is required to wear, which function as a proximity alarm and provide data tracking: “It’s better to be too cautious than not enough.” Said his alarm hasn’t gone off yet; doesn’t know if it’s not activated or if he’s distancing well.
Andy Larsen: Rudy Gobert, on why he chose “Equality” to go on his jersey: “I think Equality is a powerful word… It’s something that we can strive to attain as a society… I think we’d be lying to ourselves if we thought that was the case today. We’ve got to keep pushing in that direction.”
Eric Walden: Quin Snyder said that his objective for the first practice was just to let guys go out and play, and to get reacquainted with one another on the court. Also said he was looking to get in game situation-type shooting, and to get a handle on everyone’s conditioning.
Mike Schmitz. Another impressive game for Deni Avdija of Maccabi Tel Aviv today, this time in a win over Hapoel Jerusalem: 15 PTS, 6 REBS, 4 AST and 4 STL in 30 MIN while shooting 6-of-8 from 2 and 1-of-4 from 3. Played a fair amount on the ball at 6-9. Fun to watch in grab-and-go situations.
The parents of a California man who died after a security guard allegedly put a knee on his neck filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the security company and Sacramento police. Mario Matthew, 39, was “unreasonably restrained” by private security guards and later responding officers inside of Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, on July 2, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by the man’s parents, Elizabeth Avila and Mark Matthews.
Exhibition basketball games were played inside the arena on July 1, followed by a free concert just outside Golden 1 that Matthews attended, according to the lawsuit. Then at about 3:30 a.m. on July 2, a shirtless Matthew entered the arena through a propped open door and he walked on to the basketball floor, according to the lawsuit and security footage released by Sacramento police.
July 9, 2020 | 7:52 pm EDT Update
Eric Walden: Mike Conley said that the first 10-15 minutes of today’s practice entailed “guys just hooping.” He said he was pleased to see that everyone was in shape, that there were “no hands on knees.”
Eric Walden: Utah Jazz PG Mike Conley said that once the team was cleared from quarantine, they went straight to the gym, so they haven’t really had a chance to look around yet. He said everyone is eager to get outside and explore and get some fresh air.