July 6, 2020 | 11:14 pm EDT Update
Dave McMenamin: Dwight Howard on @donlemon Monday night: “I feel like we have a great opportinuty, the Lakers do, for winning the title this year … Yes, I will be joining my team in Orlando.” He says he will donate the salary he earns in the bubble to the charity Breathe Again.
Kyle Goon: The Lakers submitted Dwight Howard on July 1 as a member of their roster for the restart, which prevented them from getting a replacement player on the free agent market. His commitment to play is a huge return on that confidence.
Antetokounmpo will be a free agent in 2021. When Kidd joined the Lakers as assistant, the scuttlebutt was he would succeed Frank Vogel when “The Greek Freak’’ became free. Antetokounmpo was said to be “devastated’’ when the Bucks fired Kidd. “LeBron loves Kidd,’’ one team executive told The Post. “But Giannis swears by him.’’
“He’s a Hall of Fame player and young innovative coach who learned from his past mistakes,’’ said one personnel man familiar with the Knicks’ interest. “I think the Knicks’ young players would relate to him. Whether a factor for Giannis, wherever [Kidd] goes to coach, that team most definitely will have a seat at that dinner table when the time comes.”
Nick DePaula: In a video to fans in China, Klay Thompson says, “My mind and body are 100% ready to get back on the court.” His new Anta KT5 sneaker launch is inspired by his trip last summer to a 400 year-old Chinese medical center in Shanghai and the treatment he received there.
And for people as weirdly fixated on this as I am, it turns out it gets even more interesting, because apparently Magic isn’t even the one sending his own tweets. As he revealed to Rob Lowe in a truly bizarre exchange during his appearance on the Rob Pelinka lookalike’s podcast, Johnson has a person send his tweets for him
Rob Lowe: Of all the things that you could ask one of the greatest men, players, but that’s what they wanted to ask, so here I am, I’m asking: Why are they obsessed with your tweets? Magic Johnson: I don’t know. No, I have somebody write them out. I tell them what I want to say and they write them.
July 6, 2020 | 7:59 pm EDT Update
The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that forward Darius Miller, who is recovering from right Achilles surgery, will not accompany the team to Orlando for the 2019-20 NBA restart. Miller will remain in New Orleans to continue his rehabilitation process.
“We are extremely encouraged with the progress Darius has made in his recovery process,” Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said. “The work he has put in both prior to and during these limited mandatory workouts has been remarkable. We look forward to seeing him back at full strength heading into the 2020-21 campaign.” The Pelicans will not be granted an additional roster spot pursuant to the rules the NBA has set forth for signing replacement players for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
Former No. 2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet has re-entered unrestricted free agency after a teammate in The Basketball Tournament tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of the month. Thabeet, 33, was set to compete with the “Playing for Jimmy V” team during the annual tournament, but event rules mandate that any team who receives a positive test be disqualified from competing in the bracket any further. Thabeet tested negative for the coronavirus, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
“What I can bring to a team right now is a defensive aspect in the paint,” Thabeet told Hoops Rumors. “You have to know your role. I believe I can bring in defensive plays at a high level. “I’m ready to control the paint and get back to playing at a high level of basketball. I really believe I can still play at a high level once I get that one chance, then we’ll go from there.”
Alykhan Bijani: Austin Rivers would like to have ‘Trayvon’ on the back of his jersey, in honor of Trayvon Martin. #Rockets
Spectators are not allowed at the American Century Championship tournament, which begins Friday at Edgewood Tahoe. The 31st ACC will be televised by NBC Sports all three days and the entire purse of $600,000 will be donated to COVID-19 relief and social justice organizations, as well as Tahoe-based nonprofits. Basketball Hall-of-Famer turned pop-culture icon and television analyst Charles Barkley is known for his erratic golf swing, which he says he has been working to improve. He found a bright spot in this year’s tournament. “At least I won’t hit anybody, so that’s always a welcome relief” he said on a recent conference call.
Barkley said America needs police, but also needs police reform. “Because the bad cops are giving the good cops a bad name,” he said. “Anybody who thinks we can have a civilized society without cops, they’re being disingenuous, and they’re not being honest and fair.” He continued, saying, “I don’t want any unarmed black man killed. I don’t want any unarmed white man killed, but we do need police reform.”
July 6, 2020 | 6:12 pm EDT Update
Ingram could have decided to sit out the resumption of the season at Walt Disney World, which is optional for players if they’re OK with a few checks being a little lighter. He likely still would have commanded nine-figure offers. But Ingram said the thought never crossed his mind. “I didn’t look at it like I had a choice of going or not,” Ingram said. “My teammates knew I didn’t question it or anything. I just wanted to play basketball at the end of the day. I always go back to me being hurt. It made me want to come out and play basketball all the time. When I got the chance to do it, I was going to go do it and be full force in it. I know my teammates know I’m there 100%, 110%. I’ve got to be there. It wasn’t a question.”
Right now, Ingram’s focus is on making the playoffs for the first time in his career. Once the Pelicans are finished in Florida, he’ll turn his attention toward free agency. “I think that’s more for after the season,” Ingram said. “This season, I was just so focused being with my teammates and playing basketball. With how last year went, with how I couldn’t finish the season, this year was just about going out where I belong and that I could excel in this new space. I think playing in this, it could help me out.”
The expectation is that the Pelicans will have most or all of their key rotation players on the trip. Darius Miller, who has been sidelined for the entire season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, will not travel to Florida, a source said. So far, no other Pelicans have been ruled out.
Marc Stein: Houston is thought to be one of those teams given Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s recent lament on Reddit: “Sadly we cannot sign Gerald back this year by NBA rule” The Rockets traded Green to Denver in February and thus couldn’t re-sign him this season even after Denver waived Green
On July 30, the league’s season will resume in Orlando, FL and despite the long layoff, San Antonio Spurs’ Rudy Gay says he is ready to get back on the court. In fact, it has not been too tough for Gay to get his conditioning back with the practice facility re-opened. “It hasn’t been that challenging for me, to be honest with you,” Gay said to reporters during a video conference. “I’m into fitness and staying healthy and my diet and stuff like that.”
Without LaMarcus Aldridge (season-ending shoulder surgery) in Orlando, it will be an “all hands on deck” situation for the Spurs. Losing an All-Star will mean everyone will have to up their game. Currently, the Spurs are 12th in the West with Memphis sitting in the 8th spot. The Spurs will have to either win out or force a play-in tournament for the final spot in the West. “We’re competitive,” he said. “We’re going out there to be competitive. We’re going out there to fight as a team.” Said Gay: “It give us the chance to go out there. It’s just give it your all for eight games.”
July 6, 2020 | 5:16 pm EDT Update
The NBA shutdown provided a silver lining for new dad Oshae Brissett. The 22-year-old from Toronto might have been in the thick of another long Raptors playoff run had COVID-19 not shut down sports around the world in mid-March. Instead, he was home to support his pregnant partner Ieesha Callum, there for the birth of their daughter Ellai Aria on May 28, and has watched her grow in the weeks since. “Especially at that time (in May), we would have been deep in the playoffs or somewhere on the road, so it’s a blessing in disguise,” Brissett said. “I was able to spend some good time with her and be with her, and kind of learn the beginning stages of her life. So it’s great.”
While Brissett is happy to be back on the basketball court, the Raptors could be centralized in Florida — one of the world’s hotspots for the novel coronavirus — for the next three months, with no chance of seeing family until the second round of the playoffs tip off on Sept. 1. “I knew that the opportunity that we had to get back here together as a team, I was going to jump on it right away, no matter what the circumstances were,” Brissett said. “Obviously it’s tough leaving my daughter, but FaceTime and all those things that are available now, I call her all the time and I’m on the phone with her, just talking to her. It wasn’t a tough decision to leave, but getting on that plane and saying bye, that was the toughest part.”
Bill Russell: In December of 1956, already two months into the season because I was competing in the Olympics, I began my career as a Boston Celtic. The team had had a Black player before me, Chuck Cooper, but when I arrived, I was the only Black person on a team of white guys. The Boston Celtics proved to be an organization of good people––from Walter Brown to Red Auerbach, to most of my teammates. I cannot say the same about the fans or the city. During games people yelled hateful, indecent things: “Go back to Africa,” “Baboon,” “Coon,” “Nigger.” I used their unkindness as energy to fuel me, to work myself into a rage, a rage I used to win.
Bill Russell: The Celtics also ran a poll asking fans how they could increase attendance. More than 50 percent of the fans polled answered, “Have fewer Black guys on the team.” I refused to let the “fans’” bigotry, evidence of their lack of character, harm me. As far as I was concerned, I played for the Boston Celtics, the institution, and the Boston Celtics, my teammates. I did not play for the city or for the fans.
Bill Russell: In the 1960s, I tried to move to Wilmington, MA, but nobody would sell me a house. So, I moved my family to Reading, a predominantly white town 16 miles north of Boston. Bigots broke into the house, spray-painted “Nigga” on the walls, shit in our bed. Police cars followed me often. I looked into buying a different house in a different neighborhood, but people in that neighborhood started a petition to persuade the seller not to sell to me. Around this same time Medgar Evars was murdered by the KKK. His brother, Charlie, asked me if I would do a series of integrated basketball clinics for children, which I did. I marched in Washington, supported Ali. After that, the death threats started coming. I said then that I wasn’t scared of the kind of men who come in the dark of night. The fact is, I’ve never found fear to be useful.
July 6, 2020 | 5:06 pm EDT Update
Marc Stein: One free agent who drew interest from multiple teams before the NBA’s transaction window shut June 30, league sources say, was veteran swingman Gerald Green Sources say Green elected not to play in the Fla. restart for family reasons, among them an expected childbirth in August
Lillard welcomes the chance to resume playing after a difficult few months. He admittedly had no idea how serious the virus was when the league closed down. He went to Phoenix with his family, intent on finding a gym to stay in shape during the layoff. But the NBA said players couldn’t go to third-party facilities or trainers because of health concerns.
While grateful that he had his fiance and son with him, Lillard essentially sheltered in place once he got back to Portland. He didn’t see his mom for more than a month. And then his cousin and personal chef, Brandon Johnson, suddenly passed away. “It was tough, man. I think that was when I got to the point where I was like, if I was waking up and it wasn’t a sunny day, it was messing with my mood. It was just tough,” Lillard said. “I got through it, just from having a lot of my family around. That really helped. So I can see why somebody who is with one person or by themselves would have a really hard time. Definitely a tough few months.”
One thing that’s not a concern for the Blazers is fitness. “They’ve been very diligent about taking care of themselves, both in the weight room and on the court, and treatment. So I’ve been very impressed with all of their conditioning,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “They’re not an NBA game shape yet, but I think with a month to go, with the practices that we’re going to have, and the way they’ve taken care of themselves so far, I don’t think it’s a stretch that they’ll be more than ready.”
Speaking to reporters in a Zoom conference call on Monday, Musa was asked for his view of the Black Lives Matter movement that was sparked by the police killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis. “It’s just terrible from my perspective,” Musa said. “First of all, I’m not from America, and to see that brutality happen, it hurts my heart a lot. I’m with Black Lives Matter all day. I think I’m going to change [the name] on my jersey to ‘Equality and Peace.’ It will be some kind of message.”
Musa hails from a part of the world that once was torn by war between different ethnic groups. Yet, Musa, who identifies as Croatian, said he never has witnessed the sort of police brutality in his country that he has seen in America. “Never, never,” Musa said. “Especially in Croatia, I was playing, and every season, we had five or six American [Black players]. We respected them more than we respected each other because we didn’t want them to feel different from us. It’s just sad.”
During the NBA stoppage, the Nets have shared their feelings about social issues on group telephone and video chats. “I learned a lot, especially from Garrett Temple and Joe Harris, who were talking a lot about the situation and how it was before,” Musa said. “I’ve been here for two years, and I don’t know what the States were like before. They were kind of navigating me through the situation, and I’m just terrified. My heart hurts when I hear those things. It’s really crazy.”
July 6, 2020 | 4:57 pm EDT Update
At first, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum voted not to play as the NBA pushed for a season restart in Orlando, Florida. McCollum had concerns about how the players would be kept safe from the coronavirus pandemic. “At the time, based on what I had been given, I didn’t feel comfortable playing,” McCollum said Monday during a conference call with reporters.
As he learned more about the NBA’s restart plan and safety protocols, McCollum said he began to feel better about playing, and his opinion started to shift. He asked his family if they wanted him to play. Had they said no, he wouldn’t have chosen to go. “From the standpoint of understanding what I can accomplish while playing in front of all those fans, especially to help the movement,” McCollum said. “I feel like it was in my better interest personally to play.”
It took a lot of time and information to persuade McCollum to play, and it still wasn’t an easy decision. Much more than getting into the playoffs, he’s worried about his health and that of his teammates. “I don’t know how much interactive fun I’ll have from a safety standpoint,” McCollum said. “I think it’s best to stick to yourself if I’m being honest. Stay in my room, FaceTime, talk to my family, read some books, play some video games, drink some McCollum Heritage 91 and keep it moving. I don’t really plan on mingling too much, especially to start, because one false negative could be the end.”
The Nets head to Orlando on Tuesday and enter quarantine in Disney. Dinwiddie would be required by the NBA to have two negative tests before he could even travel. His hope is to be able to fly with the team to Florida, because traveling separately will complicate matters. “Protocol only calls for 7 days and negative tests not the 14 day standard,” Dinwiddie tweeted of the shorter one-week quarantine. “Yep, the plan would be to fly to Orlando after workout. For players that show up late, it might make it difficult to resume season at all due to more rigorous testing requirements.”
Dinwiddie is averaging career-highs of 20.6 points and 6.8 assists, and would be a huge loss should he be unable to play. More playmaking burden would fall on two-way player Chris Chiozza. “With Spencer, I hope he can play. I hope he feels better,” Chiozza said. “But if not, I’ll be ready to take on those extra minutes.”
Eric Walden: Emmanuel Mudiay said that every Jazz player got a chance to voice their concerns about Orlando. “Everybody’s comfort level was pretty different.” Noted that it was natural that players like Mike Conley, Joe Ingles would have different perspectives than a single guy like him.
July 6, 2020 | 4:45 pm EDT Update
Eric Walden: Jazz guard Emmanuel Mudiay recalled some of the craziness the night of March 11/morning of March 12 in OKC. Mentioned how “uneducated” players were then vs. now. Recalled being shocked when Donovan Mitchell tested positive. Said he figured NBA would shut down for 2-3 weeks.
“I know he’s really looking forward to this year because he’s had a chance to play and practice and really concentrate,” Dell Curry said in a conference call. “He’s been able to unwind, as opposed to finishing the finals and a week later he’s in Tahoe without a chance to unwind and rest up. He has a real good short game. He’s definitely thinking that maybe it’s his year.”