May 26, 2020 | 5:47 pm EDT Update
Brandon Rahbar: “I think it’s much more likely that Chris Paul plays next season in Oklahoma City than he doesn’t. I would guess Chris Paul plays next year in OKC.” -Royce Young on the Daily Thunder Podcast
George Karl: Continuing to hear about the NBA’s plan to restart ‘19-20 leads me back to this thought – don’t make a bad decision that hurts the game’s future. There is too much uncertainty. Making bold decisions to extend this year with this much risk probably isn’t a recipe for success.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone, some much more than others, and John Wall is ready to help. The Wizards point guard has set up a charity initiative called ‘202 Assist’ which will provide rent money to people living in the Ward 8 section of Washington, D.C. Ward 8 is where the Wizards’ practice facility is located.
Wall understands how the staggering economy has affected those who were already less fortunate and is hoping to raise $300,000 by June 22 to provide help. “I know Ward 8 is the most devastated place in D.C. They are going through tough times as a less fortunate area,” Wall said. “I want to make sure they can pay their rent for the next month or two, or for however long we can make it can happen.”
Cuban considers it a must for all 30 teams to participate in the resumption of the NBA season, tentatively planned to take place at Walt Disney World in Orlando, due to the financial impact of fulfilling local television contracts.
In Cuban’s proposal, the top 10 teams from both conferences would qualify for the postseason and be re-seeded based on record. There would be two play-in matchups — either single games or a best-of-three series — pitting seeds 17 vs. 20 and 18 vs. 19. The winners would advance to play the 15th and 16th seeds for the final spots in the playoff bracket. The playoffs would then proceed with best-of-seven series.
A point Cuban emphasizes is that all but two teams — the exceptions being the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors — would have a mathematical possibility of qualifying for the postseason under his proposal. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks, the teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, are four games behind the 10th-place Charlotte Hornets. “It’s fair. It’s entertaining,” Cuban told ESPN.
May 26, 2020 | 3:25 pm EDT Update
That all changed in 2006. A couple of days before Bryant would score 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, Colangelo invited him to his office in Phoenix. The Lakers were in town to face the Suns, but Colangelo had something else on his mind: He wanted Bryant to represent the United States at the 2008 Olympics. “I knew in advance that he really wanted to be a part of U.S.A. Basketball,” said Colangelo, who had taken over as managing director of the men’s national team after its disastrous third-place finish at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens — a far cry from the standard of excellence set by Michael Jordan and the so-called Dream Team that won gold in 1992. “It was on his list of things that he wanted to accomplish, because he had never played for U.S.A. Basketball. No junior teams or anything like that. So it was important to him, and his commitment was huge.”
“I think Kobe challenged everybody,” said Jim Boeheim, one of the team’s assistants and the head coach of men’s basketball at Syracuse. “He was like, ‘I’m going to defend the toughest guy on every team, I’m going to push everyone, so just come along with me.’ And he did that from Day 1.” For Colangelo, it was a window into greatness. The foundation for all of Bryant’s feats — the 81-point game, the scoring titles, the series-clinching jump shots, the three championships he had already won with the Lakers — was his work ethic and desire. The spectacular was rooted in the mundane, in the monotony of hard labor.
At the Olympics, Bryant helped lead the way in the gold-medal final against Spain — and did it with flair. With just over three minutes remaining in a tight game, Bryant effectively sealed the win with a 4-point play. He raised an index finger to his lips to silence the Spanish fans in the crowd. A few minutes later, as the Americans celebrated on the court, Colangelo embraced the player he had once dreamed of drafting. The wait, in some ways, was worth it. “How often does someone have an objective, a goal, and have it perfectly executed?” Colangelo asked. “It was just so special.”
We spoke with Ken Goldin who tells us the previous record for the most expensive MJ game-used threads was $173k for Michael’s 1984 Team USA jersey. The uniform is pretty sick … a size 46 jersey made by Champion, with a black base and red pinstripes. It’s pretty sweet. And, get this … Goldin Auctions also tells TMZ Sports a game-used Lebron James jersey also sold recently … for $371,200!!!
During our conversation, I asked Wilt, “Since we’re in Cleveland, would you mind if I asked you a few questions about the time you almost became a Cavalier?” The 7-foot-1 Chamberlain paused, then let out a huge laugh and said, “You remember that, huh?” Wilt didn’t want to talk specifics, but confirmed the team did indeed want him to come out of retirement and play for it in November 1979. “The Cavs did want me (to return to the NBA), but they weren’t the only ones,” he said. “They weren’t the first team, nor the last, to talk to me (about playing again).” “Bulls, Cavaliers, Nets, Knicks twice, Sixers twice, Mavericks, Suns, Clippers — those are all the teams who tried to get me in the last decade,” Chamberlain said before accepting the Living Legend Award from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association at its annual dinner in 1991.
While his contractual obligations with the Lakers prevented Chamberlain from playing for the Conquistadors in the ABA in 1974, they were no longer a roadblock to him returning to the NBA with the Cavaliers in 1979. Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss said his team would not ask Cleveland for compensation for signing Chamberlain, should it take place. “I think it would be great for the NBA if Wilt were to play and I do not want to put anything in the way of this happening,” Buss told the Associated Press on Nov. 20, 1979. “I would enjoy seeing him play again, so I am sure would thousands of basketball fans.”
“Cavs GM Ron Hrovat, a basketball neophyte, was entrusted with the responsibility of hand-delivering the contract to Chamberlain’s palatial home in Bel Air,” the Hall of Famer wrote. “Nobody was there when Hrovat arrived, so he stuck the contract in the gate. By the time Chamberlain showed up, the papers were strewn around his yard.” Which did not sit well with Wilt. “Chamberlain immediately got Albeck on the phone,” Vecsey wrote. “‘Forget it, Little Man,’ he said, using his endearing nickname for Albeck. “I can’t play for a team that handles its business like that.” Albeck lamented how the Cavaliers’ pursuit of Chamberlain concluded. “He was this close to coming back,” he told Vecsey, holding his thumb and index finger an inch apart.
May 26, 2020 | 3:13 pm EDT Update
Fred Katz: John Wall: “I’m 110 percent. I’m healthy.” I will answer the follow-up, since he and the organization have said it 392 times: No, he does not plan on playing this season, even if there are more Wizards regular-season games to be played.
Marc Stein: Amid so much chatter about the dizzying number of schedule/playoff structure formats flying around the NBA this week: Some teams expect the NBA Draft to now land in September … with forecasts of free agency starting as late as Oct. 1 The line, of course, may keep moving
“Our guys are excited about the opportunity to get back to it,” Travis Schlenk, the Hawks’ president of basketball operations and general manager, told ESPN. “It has importance for us. We’re a young team, and because of injuries and some other things this season, we didn’t get to see them all together. “Clint says he’s feeling better, and there’s a possibility that we can get him back on the court. Practicing and playing five games would be valuable to us.”
Based on the final standings within each group, eight teams would advance out of pool play into a bracket meant to mimic the league’s normal postseason structure, sources told ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Several current postseason teams were not initially enthusiastic about that proposal, sources told Lowe. A slump in group play could result in what is currently a solid playoff team — even one slated for home-court advantage in the first round of a normal postseason — failing to advance into the eight-team tournament, while a present-day lottery team might get hot and make the final eight.
Another factor in the wishy-washy nature of how unconvinced players on non-playoff teams could react to getting called back for a resumption: “It isn’t like guys can run off to Vegas or Europe on vacation if we don’t play,” one Eastern Conference GM said. “There’s a level of boredom that makes guys more willing to play right now too.”
Nets center Jarrett Allen returned to the team’s recently reopened practice facility in Brooklyn on Tuesday wearing a face mask. The team opened its facility for voluntary workouts followingGov. Andrew Cuomo’s Sunday announcement that said New York sports teams can hold in-state training camps. “I believe sports that can come back without people in the stadium, without having people in the arena, do it. Do it,” Cuomo said. “Work out the economics if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports to the extent people are still staying home. It gives people something to do.”
Fred Katz: Wall on the possibility of the NBA continuing the season: “Whatever they come up with, they’re gonna do a great job of dealing with safety first.”
Fred Katz: Wall on if he’d go to the bubble if there is actually a bubble: “I can’t think that far ahead to be honest with you, because we don’t know if the season’s gonna get there and if it does, I don’t know the protocols our organization would (want).”
ESPN’s recently aired documentary series “The Last Dance,” chronicling Michael Jordan’s final championship season with the Chicago Bulls, rekindled interest in Jordan’s long-running feud with Isiah Thomas, including how the Pistons’ star was left off the 1992 Dream Team that won Olympic gold in Barcelona. Author Jack McCallum addressed the controversy in the most recent episode of his “The Dream Team Tapes” podcast series. McCallum said Jordan brought up the issue of Thomas himself in a 2011 interview. “When they called me and asked me to play — Rod Thorn called me. I said ‘Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.’ He assured me. He said, ‘Chuck doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team,’” Jordan said on the recording that McCallum played during the podcast.
May 26, 2020 | 12:13 pm EDT Update
Daniel Greenberg: @ChiSportUpdates “Behind the scenes they are ready to move on from Jim Boylen. The thing about this is timing and how they want to do this. The decision is all but made.” – @JCowleyHoops on the Chicago Bulls (Via Dan Bernstein Show on 670 The Score)
During the years of basketball supplier talks, during which Spalding for a time was for sale, the NBA even considered buying a stake in the company. “Anything and everything was on the table. We talked about all of those things. Joint ventures, different models. Throughout the span of the last few years, we just couldn’t agree on what they looked like,” LaRocca said. There’s no bad blood, he added. “We had been exploring all of those and exploring different ways our partnership could be structured, to help grow sports,” LaRocca said. “It was never any animosity. We just had a difference of opinion.”
Wilson also will supply balls for the WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and Basketball Africa League. The NBA and Wilson haven’t disclosed the terms of the deal other than to say it’s multiyear, but it’s believed to be 10 years. The NBA’s relationship with Wilson isn’t a new one. The company provided NBA game balls from 1946, when the NBA launched as the Basketball Association of America, until Spalding took over the contract in 1983. “We didn’t spend a lot of time having to get to know them or know what they’ve done throughout the course of this history and brand,” LaRocca said.
ShotTracker and other companies are trying to land an eventual deal to have the NBA and NCAA and other leagues use their motion-tracking technology in balls and to put such sensors on players. The goal is to create customized next-gen metrics for coaching, players, medical staff, media, fans and gamblers. “Over the last several years we have worked with both Wilson and Spalding chipped balls. Wilson makes an incredible and imperceptible chipped basketball. At this time, I don’t know how this switch impacts the process for the NBA,” Ross said via email.
May 26, 2020 | 11:59 am EDT Update
Andrew Lopez: Sense I’ve always gotten from talking to folks around the Pelicans organization was that the players wanted to play… but they also wanted a path to the playoffs. Dame’s comments this morning are what a lot of players feel I think: Give us a path to the playoffs or go with 16.
Groups could then be randomly drawn, with one team from each tier going into each group. The NBA is working on approaches to fairly balance the groupings, such as limiting each group to only three Western Conference teams, according to multiple front office sources. Drawings for the group stage could be televised, league sources say. The NBA draft lottery has yielded between 2.4 million and 4.4 million viewers the past 10 years on ESPN; a live drawing of the groups, even with Silver and a representative from every team broadcasting from their own homes, would do major numbers. Here’s one draw of the groups based on a random number generator:
One concern raised by team executives is the possibility of a “group of death”—a term used by soccer fans to describe groups that are far stronger than others, making it unfair for the top contenders. For example, if groups are randomly drawn, there is an unlikely-but-possible scenario that the Bucks could end up in a group with the Celtics, Rockets, Mavericks, and Pelicans—arguably the four best teams in Tiers 2 through 5. As an alternative to having groups randomly selected, multiple league sources say the league has considered allowing Tier 1 teams—the Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers—to draft their own groups. Now that would make for some drama during a selection show.
But Eastern Conference teams have already pushed back at the league for the group stage suggestion, according to league sources. The East is weaker than the West, and teams wouldn’t want to give up leverage in future discussions to reseed the postseason or remove conferences entirely. It’s a fair point, but conferences aren’t going away any time soon due to challenges and concerns with coast-to-coast travel, even under normal circumstances. In my opinion, the groups are balanced almost every single way you distribute teams from each tier. All teams in Tier 2 and 3 are relatively even, and with the exception of the Mavericks, the same can be said for Tiers 4 and 5. Any minor kinks could be ironed out if the league and the NBPA agree to fully explore this scenario.
It’s unclear how these games would count toward existing contracts with regional sports networks (RSN) and national television stations (ESPN, TNT, and ABC). NBA teams have deals with RSNs for regular-season games; once teams hit roughly 70 games aired on their RSN, the league retains 100 percent of the revenue from those contracts. The NBA also has national deals to air a decided number of games on each network. So it’s unknown how group stage games would financially fulfill either of those contracts. But conversations with sources on both the league side and television side believe an agreement can easily be reached because of the potentially massive ratings that could follow. Group-stage games could realistically air “side by side” on both a team’s regional sports network and on national television, just like most first-round games already do.
Vincent Goodwill: Ed Stefanski will remain at the top of basketball operations for the Pistons, if they hire a GM, a source tells Yahoo Sports. Pistons have been quietly vetting candidates since before the league shutdown, according to sources. @Adrian Wojnarowski first on official news of search
May 26, 2020 | 11:46 am EDT Update
If the NBA resumes the 2019-20 season by electing to play a handful of games with all teams just to reach 70 games to fulfill regional television deals, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard knows his next move. “If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team. But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that [expletive] in there,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday morning via phone.
“If we come back and I don’t have an opportunity to make the playoffs, I will show up to work, I’ll be at practice and I’ll be with my team. I’m going to do all that [expletive] and then I’m going to be sitting right on that bench during the games,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “If they come back and say it’s something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No. 7 and No. 12 seeds, if we’re playing for playoff spots, then I think that’s perfect.”
A potential Los Angeles Lakers-Trail Blazers matchup likely would be the most anticipated series of the first round. “I just feel like that would be the matchup people want to see,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “And not to say nobody wants to see Memphis, because they’re in the eighth and they’ve been in the eighth spot for a while. They’ve earned that. You can’t take anything away from Memphis. They play hard, they’re exciting and they’ve got a lot of young talent. The Lakers would have their hands full playing against them. Memphis beat the Lakers this year. Memphis would have nothing to lose. I feel like both series could be a little bit hectic for the Lakers, but I think more so us, because of the experience and where we are in our careers. Not too long ago, we played them in L.A. and obviously I had a great game and we won a close one, and in the playoffs, I’m sure they would come up with some type of game plan to not allow that to happen. But I want to compete. That’s what we want.”
Rod Beard: A league source confirms the #Pistons are opening a search for a general manager, but there is no timeline to complete the process.
May 26, 2020 | 10:53 am EDT Update
The Detroit Pistons are opening a search to hire a general manager to work with senior adviser Ed Stefanski, sources told ESPN. Detroit plans to begin contacting potential candidates to start an interview process this week, sources said.
Stefanski will be working with Pistons and Palace Sports vice chairman Arn Tellem on the process to hire a GM, sources said. The new GM will work closely with Stefanski and coach Dwane Casey on personnel matters. Stefanski and Casey were hired in 2018.
Mixed into the congratulatory comments — “nice kill brother” and “glad to see some hunting content back on your page” — are people calling him “cruel,” “disgusting” and telling him to “shoot baskets not animals.” “I don’t really pay that no attention,” Hill says. “Most people that always have something against hunting are the same ones that go out to a restaurant to eat a steak or order a burger. So I always say, if you really see all those animals [get] to your plate, you’d probably think differently about hunters. “If you’re hunting just to kill s—, you have a problem.”
Hill, 34 and envisioning life after basketball, is pouring his time away from the court into learning more about animal care, overseeing projects — expanding a lake and building a “barndominium” are currently underway — and watching over his vast, 850-acre ranch and its exotic residents. In August 2017, he purchased the massive plot of land here in Texas Hill Country, a 35-minute drive north of his family’s offseason home in San Antonio. Over time, the property has been bulldozed, sculpted and preened into a sprawling ranch.
Hill says he purchases his animals from Texas-based licensed specialty breeders. According to Lonesome Bull Ranch — an exotic wildlife breeder in Corpus Christi — zebras run anywhere from $3,950 to $5,750. The most expensive animals on Hill’s property are the female sable antelope and kudu, which cost $20,000 to $25,000 apiece. He only keeps herbivores that can nibble on the grass, roots and shrubs. Just a few have names. A baby zebra born last summer is named Suki after the Bucks’ strength and conditioning coach, Suki Hobson, who visited the ranch days after it was born. Zayden named one of the kangaroos “Hoppy.”
In Texas, owning exotic animals such as zebras and kangaroos is legal. Texas residents, according to the state health and safety codes, need a permit for “dangerous wild animals,” such as lions, tigers, cougars, leopards and cheetahs, among others. The Texas Animal Health Commission, in an email to ESPN, explained that there are only regulations for moving zebras into Texas from another state, requiring the zebras to have a certificate of veterinary inspection and a permit.
Nic credits everything his dad taught him for his ability to navigate his first NBA season, which was postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nic agreed that with his father’s experiences to learn from, he has approached his career in the NBA differently than he might have otherwise. “He just told me, ‘It’s just a business and you need to be ready for whatever,’ ” Nic said. “People aren’t going to just hand you anything, that’s just life, sports, basketball.”
May 26, 2020 | 8:26 am EDT Update
In team-by-team virtual calls with players this week, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said the “overwhelming” sentiment has been that “they really want to play” and resume the 2019-20 NBA season, most likely in late July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. “It’s time. It’s time,” Roberts told ESPN. “It’s been two and a half months of, ‘What if?’ My players need some level of certainty. I think everybody does.”
Donatas Urbonas: Jock Landale is less likely to leave Zalgiris unless the NBA offer comes, according to sources. He also has a solid buyout and more team-friendly contract for Zalgiris to keep him away from the other Euroleague teams.