April 7, 2020 | 4:32 pm EDT Update
Maury Hanks’ lengthy ordeal with COVID-19 stretches back a month but he’s back in his Knoxville-area home, though he’s still in recovery mode. He has lost 20 pounds and is trying to regain his strength. He is still experiencing issues with his balance. He is taking afternoon naps. He looks and feels like Tom Hanks’ character in “Castaway.”
For a scout used to being on the road 25 days a month, that’s a shock to his system in itself. He is not fully recovered yet, though. “I’m to assume that I still have it,” for at least 12 more days, Hanks said on Tuesday. But he’s not complaining. “It’s a lot better than the alternative,” Hanks said Tuesday morning. “A week ago, they gave me a 12% chance of walking out of the hospital. I’ve always been a glass half-full guy. And I still am. But now, if the glass is a quarter full, I’m happy with that.”
What he’s sure of is that the coronavirus is nothing like the flu. He sees his experience as a cautionary tale for everyone. “It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on politically, people have got to take this thing seriously,” he said. “I really believe the next 60 days will be worse than the last 30. People have got to stay home and stay 10 feet apart, or whatever it is the doctors say we need to do. I can tell you first-hand, this is no joke. I don’t want anybody to go through what I went through.”
One good thing to come out of the stay-at-home order by Governor Steve Bullock has been increased family time, and one big sports family in Bozeman is making the most of it. What began as basketball game in the Embry house in Bozeman turned into an entire NBA All-Star Weekend. Parents Kade and Chelsea Embry and kids Ayla, Kash and Marlee competed in a 3-point shooting contest, a skills challenge and, of course, a dunk competition.
The Embry family posted the video on Facebook and got a huge response back from friends, who then started making their own versions of NBA All-Star Weekend in their homes. And it fuels a healthy family rivalry. Now the Embry’s are challenging families from all over to make their own NBA All-Star videos and post them online with the hashtag #NBAFamilyChallenge.
April 7, 2020 | 4:15 pm EDT Update
Adam Zagoria: Villanova’s Saddiq Bey, who won the Julius Erving Award, says he’ll test the NBA Draft process. “I will be definitely testing the waters and going through that process whenever I’ll be able to, and keeping my options open.”
Speaking on the NBA’s Instagram feed with Heat television host Jason Jackson, Adebayo spoke of itching to return from this NBA shutdown amid the new coronavirus pandemic. “It just makes you realize how fast something you work so hard on can be taken from you,” he said. “Because all you’re doing is sitting in the house and reflecting. You’re sitting here like, ‘Man, I want to go play basketball, but I can’t.’ “
Last summer, Adebayo was cut from the USA Basketball tryouts for the World Cup. That only added fuel to his fire. “For me, it’s just going out there and proving people wrong,” he said. “I took that to the chin, and it gave me a bigger chip on my shoulder for the season.” It is why he is hopeful that this is not all there will be for the 2019-20 season. “I’m thinking bigger picture; I want a championship,” he said. “I feel like we can make a run and make noise and do a lot of things that people said we couldn’t.”
The coincidence in the Bulls’ search for a new head of basketball operations isn’t as much that Zanik interviewed Monday and is considered a finalist for the job. It’s that Josh Paxson and Kevin O’Connor enjoy a respectful professional relationship, and the family ownership structures and philosophies of the Jazz and Bulls are similar. The Reinsdorfs, like the leaguewide perception of Jazz ownership, are known for running the business side and letting basketball operations do their jobs.
The Reinsdorfs are known for their loyalty and Paxson, along with Gar Forman, who has held the general manager title since 2009, has headed basketball operations for 17 years. But the perception that Paxson will be some hovering presence, going kicking and screaming into the night, is simply wrong. Early this season, Paxson communicated his vision to ownership for a new-look, more modern front office. He initiated some of this need for change.
NBA player Isaiah Thomas, a Tacoma native and former Washington Huskies star, is donating more than 1,000 meals to those in the UW Medical Center community impacted by COVID-19. The two-time NBA All Star will be donating the meals on April 7 and 14 at three main UW Medical Center locations.
April 7, 2020 | 4:02 pm EDT Update
Stefan Bondy: In a conference call just now with NBA agents, the players union reiterated there have been no decisions about the resumption of the season and there’s no consensus on a cutoff date for a decision.
Stefan Bondy: Also discussed was the force majeure provision, which would allow NBA owners to withhold approximately 25% of players salary if the season does not resume. The union clarified that this will not apply to waived players w/ guaranteed contracts or players on two-way contracts.
Families who live paycheck to paycheck are now scrambling to pay bills with no idea when they’ll be able to work again. It’s also impacting the finances of professional athletes at all levels. For those at the lower salary level, it is making a larger impact. And many are living close to a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum told former NBA player Jay Williams on “The Boardroom.” “I would say out of 450 players … 150 probably are living paycheck to paycheck,” McCollum said.
CJ McCollum: “I think a lot of guys are going to be hurting especially people on minimums or people that didn’t just budget correctly and didn’t expect this to happen,” McCollum said, via The Boardroom. “Maybe they loaned money or paid money to family. Maybe they’re taking care of multiple people and now there’s a work stoppage for us and for a lot of people in America.”
Abdul-Jabbar and his longtime manager, Deborah Morales, will be involved in similar donations at other hospitals in Southern California, according to the news release. Abdul-Jabbar’s most well-known charitable works are connected to his Skyhook Foundation, which, according to the NBA.com, “sends children from economically challenged backgrounds to summer camps focusing on science, technology and engineering.”
April 7, 2020 | 3:58 pm EDT Update
Cuban said Tuesday morning he has more than a sliver of hope the NBA will resume games this season, including playoffs. “It may look totally different than it has in the past, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “This reset gives every business a chance to do something differently, and the NBA can try some new things.”
When the league does come back, it will be safety first, he said. There’s no way it would put any players, employees or fans at risk, he said. “We saw what happened with Rudy and Donovan, and it wasn’t pleasant for them and we don’t need anybody else going through that experience,” Cuban said.
Mark Cuban sees the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity for entrepreneurs and businesses to try something new, including the NBA when and if the league picks up its suspended season. “Rather than looking at this as an ‘oh, no’ it is really an opportunity for entrepreneurs to say, ‘Why not or why not this or I have a vision. Let’s give it a try,’” he said Tuesday on KSL Newsradio’s “Dave and Dujanovic.”
On an Instagram Live with his Banana Boat buddy Chris Paul, Melo was asked how he is staying mentally prepared for the rest of the current season: “First of all, it’s very hard…due to the unknown. We don’t know if what’s going to happen. We don’t know when it’s going to happen. We don’t know how it’s going to happen. So that’s the hard part is dealing with the unknown. You don’t know how hard to go. You don’t know how many days a week to go, it’s just different things and different ways that you got to play with. But you also got to stay on point, you got to stay sharp.”
Illinois freshman Kofi Cockburn announced his intent Tuesday afternoon to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft. The 7-foot center earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in his debut season with the Illini.
Evan Daniels: Utah sophomore guard Both Gach is declaring for the NBA Draft, he tells @247Sports. Gach plans to test the waters and maintain his college eligibility during the process. Averaged 10.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 2.9 APG.
April 7, 2020 | 3:29 pm EDT Update
Dane Moore: Gersson Rosas shared on a conference call with Minnesota media that there is no update on Karl-Anthony Towns’ wrist injury. The more pressing issues in Karl’s life are being prioritized.
April 7, 2020 | 3:06 pm EDT Update
The NBA would suspend its season indefinitely a month later, but the local playground courts remained, the city parks that promised another game. “It gave you a toughness,” Crawford says. “You learn so much shooting on double rims or shooting on courts that are uneven. I actually had an outdoor court named after me in Seattle because I was going there so much.”
Though this season was the first time he was not on an NBA roster, Crawford could be found in gyms around his hometown, playing in tournaments he organized or dominating an open run much like he has throughout his career. “For a lot of guys, I know for me especially, that’s where I honed my skill,” he says.
PARKS AND BASKETBALL courts are being closed in major cities across the country. Rims are being disabled — chained shut, boarded up or removed altogether. It’s happening at city parks in Fort Worth, San Diego, Memphis, New Orleans and Louisville. “I hate to say it. I’m sorry about it,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said at a press briefing on March 26. “But your life’s more important than the next pickup game.” It’s happening in basketball-crazed Indiana. “The patterns of use we are seeing in our parks concerns me greatly,” said Linda Broadfoot, the director of Indy Parks and Recreation, in a news release announcing the closures.
“It’s definitely crazy,” said Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, who grew up just outside of Houston, in Katy, Texas. As someone who loves the game, he is heartened by the fact that people still want to play. But he also realizes the severity of the moment. “It wouldn’t have stopped if they didn’t take the rims down,” Fox said. “People want to continue to play, but you have to think about the safety of others, the safety of people’s kids and the elderly. I don’t think it’s a bad idea. It shows how important the game of basketball is to people that they’re still trying to find a way to play. But it should always be safety first.”
Also, social media allows sneakerheads to be more informed than ever. Not only can fans follow their favorite brands and players, top NBA reporters treat sneaker-deal terms as breaking news and it’s in their feed alongside other scoops (like trades and free-agent signings). Most people initially learned of Zion Williamson’s record-breaking rookie deal with Jordan Brand when Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted it to his four million followers. However, there are still quite a few misconceptions about sneaker deals and the industry as a whole, according to various NBA agents and shoe-company executives who spoke to HoopsHype.
“Fans think that every player is making millions of dollars and that every superstar player is making crazy money from their sneaker deal and that’s not the case,” one NBA agent said. “A lot of guys are in six-figure-and-below deals and when you’re looking at what a typical NBA player makes, that’s not anything to them. The guys who are in the millions are in a very rare class. There are the guys who have signature shoes, but the number of guys who make royalties or have minimum-guaranteed royalties from their signature shoe is even smaller. “There aren’t many guys who make $10 million per year or more from their sneaker deal and that’s around the average NBA salary now, so the impact that the sneaker deals have on these guys and how they operate isn’t as significant as people think. It’s good money, but it’s not crazy (in most cases).”
But it’s not just the fans who do this. Sometimes, players believe they’re going to get a ton of money from their sneaker contract only to be disappointed when that’s not the case. “I think there’s this expectation that everybody gets a big shoe deal, but not everybody can get that kind of contract,” NBA agent Roger Montgomery said. “I think that misconception hurts agents sometimes because every player thinks they can get a huge sneaker deal because they’ve heard about some of these big deals that other players got. They may just get a merch deal that only gives them free product. It’s still a shoe deal, but it’s not the piece of the pie that they expected.”
April 7, 2020 | 2:29 pm EDT Update
John Paxson isn’t just trying to play good soldier and say the right thing. The Bulls vice president of basketball operations isn’t wired that way. The Sun-Times was told by a source on Tuesday that not only is Paxson all for stepping aside from his position and acting more as an adviser to the Reinsdorf family when the front-office restructure is finalized, but would even completely step down from the organization if the Reinsdorfs and the new-look executive group deemed it better for the rebuild to continue.
The source insisted that Paxson was ready for either scenario, wanting what was best for the franchise. And not in a martyr way, just saying what he feels everyone wants to hear. Paxson’s patience has been pushed to the limit the last few seasons, especially when it comes to the perception by outsiders of the job he’s done.
So folks have been enjoying your stuff man. It looks like you’re having fun in your apartment, but there’s a whole lot of time to kill. What’s the vibe right now? Matisse Thybulle: My whole mentality with all of this has been that I try to take it in all in stride, and make the most of every situation. Obviously I don’t want to be sitting in my apartment making TikToks, but given the circumstances, it’s my best option of things to do. I think there’s so much unknown, in basketball and just what our country is looking like that it’s hard to try to make plans or have an idea what you’re going to be doing like a week from now, so…
And stuff like this really distracts people and entertains people. At our company, to be honest, there’s a similarity. We’re trying to still tell stories and offer something different and remind people that it won’t always be like this. Not to be too deep, but was that part of your mindset at all? Mattise Thybulle: It was moreso just as a distraction. As it was for me, a distraction that gave me something to do and to occupy my time, and the videos also serve as a distraction and entertainment for people who are also at home. I mean, you could even relate it – and this could be a stretch – but to basketball in general. It’s something that we love as basketball players to do, and we pour all of our time into, and at the end of the day it’s also serving the purpose of entertaining people at home and giving them something to look up to or cheer for or put passion behind. So not to say that TikTok is like basketball, but in the sense of how I deal with it mentally, it kind of serves the same purpose.
Shams Charania: In being fiscally responsible during coronavirus pandemic, the Lakers are planning to ask a small group of senior level staff to voluntarily defer 20 percent of their salary, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.