August 15, 2020 | 4:13 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Kings assistant GM Peja Stojakovic is expected to step down from his role, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Paul George said he and Kawhi Leonard worked on building chemistry together by visiting each other during the season hiatus. He added the team met up during that time. “We made up a lot of time… It kind of expedited this process right here.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver responded to President Donald Trump referring to the league’s players as “nasty” and “dumb” for holding silent protests during the playing of the National Anthem. Silver defended the league’s players in an interview Friday with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, saying league administrators support some of the players who hold the anti-police brutality protests during the National Anthem.
Silver replied that roughly 55 million Americans have watched the NBA games leading up to the playoffs so far this year, particularly the coveted demographic of men between the ages of 18 to 49 years old. “And in terms of Black Lives Matter,” Silver continued, “we support it as a national movement. Depending on estimates, roughly 25 million Americans have protested for social justice in the country — in this country.”
Silver rejected criticism from Trump and conservatives who have accused the league of cozying up to China’s Communist Party simply to do business with the country’s massive fan base. The NBA is currently making billions of dollars off of its Chinese consumers, which came to a head last year when the Houston Rockets’ general manager tweeted out in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. “As a result, we were taken off the air, Chinese Central Television, for the first time in 30 years. And our games are still not back on the air, as a result of our supporting that general manager and supporting, frankly, American values, the values of free speech,” Silver said, adding that the NBA has had ties to China since the Washington Bullets played a game there in 1979.
A mansion pool party that was planned in Calvert County, Maryland at the former home of a retired NBA star this weekend is off, according to the sheriff’s department. Authorities said they remain concerned that large gatherings, especially so-called mansion parties that are staged by entertainment promoters who sell tickets, are potential hotbeds of COVID-19 infection.
August 15, 2020 | 2:11 pm EDT Update
Jeff Zillgitt: All-bubble first team: Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, James Harden, TJ Warren. Second team: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Kristaps Porzingis, Caris LeVert, Michael Porter Jr.
Jay King: Romeo Langford has torn ligaments in his wrist, per Stevens. From what Stevens said, sounds like surgery is an option at some point, but they’re determining whether he’ll be available or not. Stevens believes it’s “questionable right now.”
Danny Leroux: I have been banging this drum for a while but it feels like this is setting up for D’Antoni coaching the Pelicans. Kurt Helin: I mentioned this on the radio in New Orleans yesterday. D’Antoni to the Pelicans (after the Rockets are eliminated) is something to watch.
Magic Johnson and his wife Cookie refuse to let that whole global pandemic thing stop them from their annual super-expensive, ballerrific Euro-Trip — because they’ve just touched down in Croatia! We’ve been covering Magic’s summer trips for years — he typically spends MILLIONS to rent fancy yachts for MONTHS to sail around the Amalfi Coast with his rich and famous friends.
August 15, 2020 | 1:34 pm EDT Update
“I’m grateful for and appreciative of Alvin’s commitment to the organization and, most importantly, the local community,” said Griffin. “The City of New Orleans is richer because of his presence here. These types of moves are often about fit and timing, and we believe now is the right time to make this change and bring in a new voice.”
“I want to thank Alvin for his contributions to the Pelicans and the New Orleans community,” said Pelicans Owner Gayle Benson. “We believe that making a head coaching change is necessary at this time. I truly appreciate Alvin’s leadership, dedication and perseverance through some challenging circumstances over the past five seasons. He will always be a part of our Pelicans family, and we wish him and his family all the best in the future. Our intention moving forward is to find the right head coach that will guide this Pelicans team to compete for championships. That is what our fans deserve.”
Scott Kushner: A lot of names will be bandied about in the next few days. The No. 1 priority is finding someone who is capable of connecting with Zion Williamson and building a trust with him to fully unleash him. I don’t think NBA HC experience matters. Personality does.
Ira Winderman: Derrick Jones Jr. on his status, “Just taking it day by day.” Said he remains hopeful of playing in the series vs. Pacers.
August 15, 2020 | 12:37 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: New Orleans has dismissed coach Alvin Gentry, sources tell @_andrew_lopez and me.
Marc Stein: Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue and Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd are expected to be prime candidates for the Pelicans’ coaching vacancy, league sources say, with Lue and Kidd also both on the Nets’ list of prospective candidates when Brooklyn’s search starts in earnest soon
Among those coaches expected to be part of the Pelicans search: Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Clippers assistant Ty Lue and former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, sources said. The Pelicans are also expected to have an interest in Brooklyn interim coach Jacque Vaughn, should the Nets decide not to retain him, sources said.
August 15, 2020 | 12:12 pm EDT Update
Justin Kubatko: Duncan Robinson destroyed the NBA record for most 3PM by a player in his second season: 270 – Robinson, 2019-20. 226 – Kyle Korver, 2004-05. 218 – Damian Lillard, 2013-14. 218 – Devonte’ Graham, 2019-20. 211 – Klay Thompson, 2012-13. 205 – Trae Young, 2019-20.
The Knicks were never in favor of a one-site bubble scrimmage situation but are hoping for some form of OTAs. The scaled-down new plan would allow for the “Delete 8’’ clubs to have group workouts at their own facilities with, as one source said, “enhanced safety protocols.’’
Knicks GM Scott Perry has been floated as a possibility for the newly opened Sacramento job following Vlade Divac’s firing Friday. Sacramento consultant Joe Dumars, Perry’s boss in Detroit, is running the GM search. According to a source, Bill Duffy, RJ Barrett’s agent, may be considered.
From early polling returns, there’s a chance Knicks prized rookie RJ Barrett won’t make any of the two All-Rookie Teams, which is surprising. Hoopshype.com did a poll of 10 ballots and Barrett did not finish high enough to make either team. Previously, celebrated journalists John Hollinger, Sam Amick and Zach Lowe revealed ballots that didn’t include Barrett.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization on Saturday allowing public use of a saliva-based test for the coronavirus developed at Yale University and funded by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. The test, known as SalivaDirect, is designed for widespread public screening. The cost per sample could be as low as about $4, though the cost to consumers will likely be higher than that — perhaps around $15 or $20 in some cases, according to expert sources.
Yale administered the saliva test to a group that included NBA players and staff in the lead-up to the league’s return to play and compared results to the nasal swab tests the same group took. The results almost universally matched, according to published research that has not yet been peer-reviewed. The leading coronavirus saliva test, developed at a Rutgers University lab and given the same permission by the FDA in mid-April, costs individual consumers up to $150 — though that can be reduced to $60 or $70 in some circumstances, said Andrew Brooks, an associate professor at Rutgers and chief operating officer of RUCDR Infinite Biologics, the lab behind the test. The Rutgers test can be taken at home and returns results in 24 to 48 hours.
August 15, 2020 | 11:34 am EDT Update
While the list of candidates may grow, several coaches and executives around the league believe there is one candidate who stands out amongst the current group – Atkinson. “I think the list will change, but out of the group mentioned, I think Kenny would be the favorite,” one general manager told HoopsHype. “Some of it depends on Arturas’ timeline, but Kenny can coach, and he can oversee player development. He will be able to compete on the court while also continuing to develop the young guys.”
“No brainer, Kenny Atkinson,” one NBA scout told HoopsHype. “It’s a young team. He will do for Chicago exactly what he did for Brooklyn. He’ll have them overachieve, outhustle and outwork teams on a nightly basis. They will be physical, smart, and tough to guard because they will share the ball. Plus, he’s a no-nonsense, direct, fair coach who relates very well to players. He’d be my pick.” In Chicago, Atkinson would be reunited with assistant coach Chris Fleming, whom he worked with for three seasons in Brooklyn.
In Lauri Markkanen, Atkinson would have the stretch-four he covets for his offensive schemes and maximum floor spacing. “Kenny is the move,” one NBA assistant coach told HoopsHype. “He’s done this job before with less talent. This is a player development job. They have talent that needs to be developed and utilized. There is more there than people think.”
Should Karnisovas consider hiring an assistant coach, Unseld Jr. is a prime candidate given their history with the Denver Nuggets. With the help of Unseld Jr., Denver’s defensive rating improved from 25th to 16th since being hired in 2015. “Kenny would be very good there,” another general manager told HoopsHype. “My gut is they go with an assistant coach that Arturas has worked with before. I think Unseld deserves a shot.”
“I think Vanterpool will be good if he gets an opportunity,” one former NBA executive told HoopsHype. “He’s a high-level player relator, which has been a piece they’re missing there.” Vanterpool was an assistant coach with the Blazers for six seasons while Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum emerged as one of the league’s premier backcourts. “Keep an eye on Ime Udoka,” an NBA scout told HoopsHype. “He’s a bright, young up and coming head coach candidate. It’s only a matter of time before he’s hired.”
Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce was recording a podcast appearance with HoopsHype as news of Boylen’s firing broke. As a fellow coach tasked with developing a young team in a rebuild, the news hit home for Pierce. “For me, it’s disturbing,” Pierce told HoopsHype. “It’s upsetting. Jim’s a great man. I know the challenges that he was facing as a coach with a team that’s similarly young to ours. You’re trying to get that thing going. It’s not always the easiest task at hand when you’re dealing with the media, social media, young players, and the expectations of everyone. Everyone wants to win, and everyone wants to win right now.
Charles Barkley vs. the Miami Heat has practically been a television miniseries. And now, the loquacious “Inside the NBA” analyst is at it again, this time with his perspective on the Heat’s impending first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. “The Miami Heat don’t scare anybody,” he said during his Thursday appearance on TNT. Barkley then noted the evolving antipathy between Heat All-Star forward Jimmy Butler and emerging Pacers scorer T.J. Warren. “And Jimmy’s going to have to control his emotions,” Barkley said. “Like, he’s the best player on that team. He’s a leader of that team. But if he’s going to spend all his energy going at T.J. Warren, that’s not going to work. Because when you’re the best player, you can’t get in foul trouble and you cannot get sidetracked. So, to me, that’s a pick ’em.”
Former Heat center Shaquille O’Neal, the show’s third analyst, also has the Heat. “I like Miami because Miami’s just known for defense,” he said. “You can’t let this T.J. Warren guy average 30 or 40. They’ll bring him back down to earth where he was; I don’t even know where he was. I’m saying 15 to 20 points a game, then they should be able to win this. “Indiana does have a chance to win a couple of games, because they do have some talented players. But you can’t let a guy like T.J. Warren average 40.”
In February of ’92, just three months after announcing his retirement, Johnson cleared a bigger physical and psychological hurdle, playing for the Western Conference in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando. That appearance was one of the first major counters to the concerns – and, frankly, the prejudices – that many people living with HIV had faced from others. There was Magic Johnson, HIV-positive, still doing what he’d done as well as anyone who’d ever played the game. But it had been a long and difficult road to get there. “There was a question if, after his announcement, forget about the All-Star Game,” Johnson’s longtime agent, Lon Rosen, said last week. “If he was going to be able to play in the Olympics, number one, was he going to be alive? Number two, was he going to be healthy? And number three, if he was healthy, would other teams play against him? If you recall, in 1991, some people didn’t want to be in the same room as him. It was COVID to another degree.”
“I’m on vacation with Earvin, we’re in Hawaii, the results come in and he’s leading,” Rosen said. “So I speak with Russ Granik. Russ says, ‘Well, David’s going to let him play, but he’s not going to let him start.’ I say, ‘Hey, Russ, I’m telling you this – if David doesn’t let him start, he ain’t playing.’ Earvin was like, ‘Hell no, I want to start.’ To be true, David had a lot to deal with. There (were) players who were uncomfortable playing against him. … And I can say this, you know, what is it, 30 years since then – they weren’t wrong. It’s unfair. Because, you know what? You didn’t know much about it. It’s a much different disease now. But it was still hurtful. And Stern called me, he called with the old, ‘you m———–.’ He m———– me. It was fine.” But, eventually, Stern relented. Not only would the NBA honor the final fan vote – Johnson’s 658,211 votes were second only to Drexler’s 759,550 among Western Conference guards – it enthusiastically backed Johnson’s appearance in the All-Star Game.
August 15, 2020 | 9:09 am EDT Update
Several candidates have emerged, including former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool, and Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas, according to multiple reports. While the list of candidates may grow, several coaches and executives around the league believe there is one candidate who stands out amongst the current group – Atkinson. “I think the list will change, but out of the group mentioned, I think Kenny would be the favorite,” one general manager told HoopsHype. “Some of it depends on Arturas’ timeline, but Kenny can coach, and he can oversee player development. He will be able to compete on the court while also continuing to develop the young guys.”
“Kenny is the move,” one NBA assistant coach told HoopsHype. “He’s done this job before with less talent. This is a player development job. They have talent that needs to be developed and utilized. There is more there than people think.”
Vanterpool and Udoka received some praise from talent evaluators. “I think Vanterpool will be good if he gets an opportunity,” one former NBA executive told HoopsHype. “He’s a high-level player relator, which has been a piece they’re missing there.”
Vanterpool was an assistant coach with the Blazers for six seasons while Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum emerged as one of the league’s premier backcourts. “Keep an eye on Ime Udoka,” an NBA scout told HoopsHype. “He’s a bright, young up and coming head coach candidate. It’s only a matter of time before he’s hired.”
Anthony Chiang: Jimmy Butler is confident the Heat can go far in the playoffs miamiherald.com/sports/nba/mia… On not being one of the title favorites, Butler said: “I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. I’m speaking for myself, I don’t give a damn what anybody says.”
Anthony Chiang: Dragic on Woj Pod: “We don’t hang out with other players. We’ve already prepared ourselves for the playoffs. If you win, you stay. If you lose, you go home. So we’re not here to hang out or to play cards with them or to talk to them. This is business.” miamiherald.com/sports/nba/mia…
ESPN Stats: James Harden has won his third consecutive scoring title. 6 of the other 7 players to win as many as three straight scoring titles have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The lone exception is Kevin Durant (2009-12) who is still active.
The Kings went #Kangz, extending their playoff drought to a humiliating 14 seasons — which is really hard to do when 16 of 30 teams make the postseason. In a vacuum — and the NBA is not a vacuum, but still, this is fun — the chances of that happening are about 1 in 40,000, our Kevin Pelton confirmed.