August 3, 2020 | 3:32 pm EDT Update
“Zion is not on their injury report,” said Brian Windhorst on his podcast. “They are treating him as though he’s coming back from an injury, but he’s not on their injury report. I cannot make an assumption as to what’s going on there. When you watch him play, he clearly is not in condition to compete at the highest level. As I’ve watched him play two games, I don’t actually think they should have played him at all with the way he’s playing. I talked to a scout who said to me he shouldn’t be out there right now with the condition he is in. He said to me, ‘He’s moving worse than he did in Summer League last summer when he got hurt in his first or second game.’ “I don’t know if that’s because he’s out of condition, or that’s because he’s got something that they’re not discussing. This is one of the things that the Pelicans have to deal with… this is a guy who has a history of knee injuries and is not right either because of conditioning or because of something else.”
Williamson was gone from the Pelicans for over a week and then was under quarantine for a few days when he returned to Orlando. “He does not look right,” said Kirk Goldsberry. “It does not look good. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say he shouldn’t be out there because I don’t know… Something smells fishy here. I don’t know what’s going on. He does not look like the kid that was dominating the league in March.”
Now that the Wizards have lost their first two games at Disney World, that rule is coming back into the forefront. The Wizards are currently tied in the loss column with the Hornets, who aren’t in Orlando but are locked in with the eighth-best lottery odds. What that means is if the Wizards continue to lose, they can’t gain more ping-pong balls for lottery night, which is set for Aug. 25. And now there is a distinct possibility they could have worse odds than a team with a better win percentage than them.
It would be a cruel twist for the Wizards, who need as much help as they can get in this year’s draft as they hope to find another blue chip prospect to add to their burgeoning young core. Making that pick count is especially important given their salary cap situation with John Wall and Bradley Beal on the books, which has left them with fewer resources to work with. They could get another key rotation player on a rookie contract. The good news is that the lottery rules were changed more permanently before last year’s drawing in order to create more parity in the annual event. It smoothed out the odds to discourage tanking and the results in its first year were as-intended.
August 3, 2020 | 2:49 pm EDT Update
Brandon Rahbar: Dennis Schroder is officially out of the Bubble with his wife for the birth of his new baby. Terrance Ferguson is also out with a leg contusion. Good news: Schroder, assuming he comes back, will definitely be back for the playoffs.
Brandon Rahbar: Donovan on Schroder’s time being out: “It happened this morning. He’s with his family. I’ll talk to him later today or tomorrow. He’s out this game and we’ll gather more info from him when we talk to him on the phone.”
Zalgiris big man Jock Landale will be playing in a different team next season. With the request of the player, Jock Landale and Zalgiris have mutually agreed to part ways, as the Aussie continues to seek out his dream of playing in the NBA. A member of the Australian men’s national team signed a deal with Zalgiris last summer and had a running contract for next season. After the two sides reached an agreement, the 24-year-old addressed the fans and the Zalgiris organization. “I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for everything you’ve done for the past year. It was such an incredible experience coming to Lithuania and playing for such a historic club and a legendary coach. To the organization, I appreciate what you guys have done. Everyone’s got goals and ambitions, and you really helped me reach mine. You’ve got a fan in me for life.”
Brandon Rahbar: Abdel Nader on Billy Donovan winning NBCA Coach of the Year: “He’s been huge. He’s been our main leader. He’s kept us on the right path and the right mindset. He’s built an identity for us. It’s good to see him recognized for it.”
August 3, 2020 | 2:11 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: 76ers’ Kyle O’Quinn missed his coronavirus test on Sunday and is not eligible to play today vs. San Antonio, team official confirms to @The Athletic @Stadium. O’Quinn was tested today and will rejoin the team upon negative result.
Jim Eichenhofer: JJ Redick on #Pelicans: “This is a drama-free group. At no point during the season did we point fingers or place blame on anybody. This is a group that’s had each other’s back all year. That’s my expectation going forward. We’re going to make the most out of these six games.”
Duane Rankin: Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer and Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan are the 2020 recipients of the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award, the National Basketball Coaches Association announced today. pic.twitter.com/pkmUQiazWj
Josh Lewenberg: There’s only one official NBA end-of-season award that isn’t determined by media voting: Executive of the Year, which is voted on by the league’s execs. Masai Ujiri finished FOURTH last season despite acquiring Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Marc Gasol.
August 3, 2020 | 12:55 pm EDT Update
The award, named in honor of longtime NBCA executive director Michael Goldberg, is voted on by the league’s 30 head coaches, with each coach voting for a single winner. Among those who also received votes, sources said: Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins, Indiana’s Nate McMillan, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, Boston’s Brad Stevens and the Lakers’ Frank Vogel.
While watching Sunday night’s box-office affair between the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks, perhaps the saying speaks more to the mental exercise of what it takes to play defense and get stops. “Heart and will,” James Harden said. “Everybody says we’re undersized — and they got a couple of offensive rebounds on us just cause they have 7-footers and whatnot — but you gotta just keep fighting, keep fighting. Once we get that ball, we’re out, so it just takes good spirit, fighting and making sure we’re communicating defensively and in our right positions.”
Westbrook finished with 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but it’s more important to note how he kept Houston afloat while Harden sat with foul trouble. He constantly put pressure on the Bucks’ defense, forcing them to concede open shots to Green, Tucker, Ben McLemore, and others. In addition, it seemed like him and Harden struck a good balance of when to attack versus when to move the ball and look for others. When Harden struggles offensively, Westbrook is more than capable of picking up the slack. “Yeah, I think we’re comfortable now,” Harden said of the pair’s chemistry. “I think with that training camp, we’re in a good place. We found ourselves.”
“We loaded up,” House explained. “We talked. The most important thing was to stop him before he got downhill, of course. We did a good job about locating him before he could get the ball or even after he got the ball to make sure that we were on the help side and that guys were already communicating with one another. That’s been a big help and a big factor for us — communication on defense. So we don’t have those “my bad” moments.” “Very important,” Harden added on their late-game defense. “I think throughout the course of the game we played some really good defense. Obviously, they’re a really good offensive team, but throughout the course of the game we got stops when we needed to.”
Scott Agness: Malcolm Brogdon (sore neck) is questionable for today’s game against the Wizards at 4pm. Victor Oladipo (rehab) is doubtful. This is their only back-to-back in the bubble and he won’t play in both games. They face his first team, the Magic, on Tuesday.
Nate Darling: After discussing with my family, I have decided to keep my name in the 2020 NBA draft and pursue my life long dream of being a professional.
Mike Trudell: Frank Vogel said “everything” still needs to improve for the Lakers as they build towards the postseason, but he pointed out the spacing and screening as two things that need to improve offensively.
Jonathan Isaac suffered a torn ACL on Sunday night and will be out for the remainder of the season, and the injury came at a time when the Orlando Magic star was gaining tremendous popularity. Isaac’s jersey sales have skyrocketed recently, with only LeBron James having a hotter-selling jersey. The increase in sales was likely a response to Isaac refusing to kneel during the national anthem recently.
August 3, 2020 | 11:16 am EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA has adjusted its protocol for players who return inconclusive tests for the coronavirus, allowing for a quicker possible return to game action, according to a league memo shared with teams.
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA teams have been concerned that player availability could become jeopardized should an inconclusive test result fall in the middle of a playoff series and force someone to miss a game. In certain cases, this protocol change could shorten that quarantine window for players.
Marc Stein: Home-court advantage is allegedly dead at the NBA Bubble in arenas with no fans … but “home” teams have gone 9-2 the last two days and are 14-7 overall
Jonathan Isaac: IT IS WELL!!! 2 Kings 4! Thank you for all of your prayers and concerns I’m encouraged. Remember our God is not just a God of the hills but a God of the valleys! (2 Corinthians ch 4 vs 9!) MY COMEBACK WILL BE GREATER THAN MY SETBACK!!!! I STILL STAND IN JESUS NAME!!!!
Alex Kennedy: LeBron James wrote a children’s book titled “I PROMISE” that will be available on August 11, 2020. LeBron has a two-book deal with HarperCollins and he’s also writing a “middle grade novel” that will come out in 2021. Here’s the cover of “I PROMISE,” which can be pre-ordered now: pic.twitter.com/9N91HNV9RP
August 3, 2020 | 9:07 am EDT Update
Adam Zagoria: Makur Maker is withdrawing from the NBA Draft, per his guardian Ed Smith. He committed to Howard earlier this summer.
Disney World is no longer the happiest place on Earth, not for these Pelicans. Their budding-superstar of a rookie can’t stay on the floor, certainly can’t make a dent in the outcome, while the sands of time on their playoff hopes are quickly running out. “We knew these two games were our toughest two games,” a team source said. “Bad showing. Move on.”
T.J. Warren? Really nice player, an amazing acquisition from the clueless Phoenix Suns, who gave him away for “cash considerations,” but you could have gotten a trillion-to-1 odds on Warren going for 50-plus on the very first regular-season game in the bubble. Or in any game. Anywhere. “We fed the dragon,” Oladipo said, smiling. “A guy that hot, you try to get him the ball, and I thought all our guys were trying to do that,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “T.J. was as hot as I’ve ever seen him. And I thought his teammates did a good job of sacrificing, of screening and getting him the ball and giving him proper spacing. You’ve got to milk him. I thought our point guards (Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell), they combined for 18 assists, we had 44 assists in the game, so our ball movement was good, and a lot of that was ending up in T.J.’s hands.”
Even if he remained almost 1,500 miles away, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum sensed he was not too far from family. His son, Deuce, joined the virtual fan section and became giddy after seeing his dad on the screen in uniform for Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. “He’s a fan favorite,” Tatum said. “I was happy he was able to watch the game.” Deuce saw his old man help the Celtics to a 128-124 win over the Trail Blazers by scoring 34 points on 11-of-22 shooting. He also saw Tatum have a bounce-back game coincidentally after getting a haircut here on the NBA Disney campus.
Now, Redick hopes to expand his platform. In a telephone interview, he said he was set to start his podcast company, ThreeFourTwo Productions, this week with his co-host and business partner, Tommy Alter, along with a new weekly podcast, “The Old Man and the Three,” which ticks the obligatory podcast box of having a pun in its title. “It’s a little play on Hemingway,” Redick said. “I’m the old man in this scenario.”
Redick’s final podcast for The Ringer website, which had produced his namesake show since 2017, was released on July 24. But he said the idea of starting his own company had been percolating for months when he brought the idea to Alter, 29, a producer for shows like “The Shop” on HBO and “Desus & Mero” on Showtime.
August 3, 2020 | 2:32 am EDT Update
Isaac now faces an extended rehabilitation period. Magic officials did not provide an expected timeline for his recovery, but it seems likely that he’ll miss at least a significant portion of the 2020-21 season. Before Sunday’s injury, Isaac slotted as the team’s long-term answer at the power forward position — a spot Gordon currently occupies.
After Isaac’s injury in early January, Magic officials expected Isaac to miss the remainder of the season and the playoffs, but the pandemic gave him extra time to rehabilitate and strengthen his leg. When players were allowed to return to the Magic practice facility in mid-May for optional individual workouts, Isaac often worked twice a day with team performance staff and medical staff. The current Magic front office has a reputation for being ultra-cautious with the health of its players, especially its younger players. But questions now will be raised whether Isaac was allowed to return too quickly.
Isaac, a 22-year-old forward and potential franchise cornerstone, crumpled to the court and clutched his knee as Magic head athletic trainer Ernest Eugene and athletic trainer and manual therapist Aki Tajima attended to him. A pained expression crossed Evan Fournier’s face. Wes Iwundu looked to the ground, his hands cupped to his face. Fultz prayed. “That was tough, man,” said Aaron Gordon, another of Isaac’s teammates. “That one brought me to tears instantly just because I know how good of a guy J.I. is and I know how hard he works and how hard he has worked to get back.”
“It was very difficult to see him go down like that again, especially the same knee,” said Nikola Vucevic, who saw the injury occur from the Magic bench area. “He was looking great, actually. We were all very happy for him mainly just because he’s a great guy and great teammate. We all have a lot of respect for him, and so for him to go down like that was very difficult to see, especially when you know that he had just came back.”
The Dallas Mavericks weren’t in the mood to celebrate the end of the franchise’s three-year playoff drought. The Mavs officially clinched a playoff berth due to the Memphis Grizzlies’ 108-106 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon. Hours later, Dallas dropped to 0-2 in the NBA bubble with a 117-115 loss to the Phoenix Suns in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. “Our goal was to make the playoffs, and we achieved that, but for me and for us, we’re going to try to win every game now that we have left in the regular season,” said Mavs center Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 30 points in the loss. “Then, we’ll see where we end up in the playoffs and go from there. This is not a sprint. This is a marathon, and with each day, with each game, with each practice, we want to be a better team and better individually.”