August 4, 2020 | 8:50 am EDT Update
Some of these games feel like they are dragging a bit in terms of pacing. The unfamiliarity of the environment makes it hard to tell for certain, but according to Mike Beuoy of Inpredict, games are taking longer to complete in the bubble than they had been in home arenas.
Spoelstra has improved his style game over two decades on Miami’s bench, but he didn’t have to bring any suits to the NBA’s campus at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The National Basketball Coaches Association polled its members and found heavy support for a more casual look in Orlando: polo shirts, slacks, and sneakers. The association took its findings to the league office, which approved the casual style for the NBA’s restart, said Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, president of the NBCA.
Spoelstra is almost afraid to say it out loud, but he prefers the polo look. “Pat would be shocked,” Spoelstra said. “There is so much less to think about. I feel more mobile. The thing I hate most about suits is wearing dress shoes.” Several head coaches echoed Spoelstra’s remark about how the casual look simplifies sartorial decision-making — and packing, a constant headache during normal times.
Frank Vogel, head coach of the Lakers, followed the same path out of the video room as Spoelstra. Before his first game as a graduate assistant under Rick Pitino at the University of Kentucky, Vogel was scribbling scouting tips on the white board when Pitino approached. “You’re not wearing that, are you?” Pitino asked him. Vogel was wearing his only suit — a graduation gift from his parents. He told Pitino he was going to wear it for each game, and change out shirts and ties to avoid detection. Pitino would not have it. He invited Vogel to his house that night, and gave him 15 suits — Armanis and Brionis — plus the number for his tailor, Vogel recalled.
The coaches’ association has taken periodic polls, mostly recently two seasons ago, and found “overwhelming support” for suits over polos, Carlisle said. Carlisle spent two years as an assistant with the New Jersey Nets under Chuck Daly, perhaps the most fashion-forward head coach in NBA history. Daly had a sponsorship deal with Hugo Boss. On one road trip, he invited Carlisle to a Hugo Boss outlet for a shopping spree. “It was the nicest stuff I had ever had to that point,” Carlisle said.
Other notable backers of the polo look: Boston’s Brad Stevens, Denver’s Michael Malone, Orlando’s Steve Clifford, Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, Charlotte’s James Borrego, Sacramento’s Luke Walton, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, and Washington’s Scott Brooks. (Kerr was so passionate, he requested his name appear on this list in larger font — John Hancock-style.) “I was against [polos], but now that I’m down to my summer weight, I love them,” Brooks said. Most of the above coaches said they would support carrying over the look to the normal NBA environment.
While not typically a critique levied on the New Orleans Pelicans, a recent story from The Athletic’s Seth Partnow revealed a potential glaring weakness for the franchise. After The Athletic did similar reports for NHL and NFL franchises, Partnow took a look at the size of the analytics departments for each NBA franchise. While Partnow admitted to it likely being an incomplete sample size, the Pelicans not only had the smallest analytics department, they had just one full-time staffer in the department.
August 4, 2020 | 3:02 am EDT Update
Mark Haynes: Darren Collison on the “Minute til 6” podcast says he never thought about coming out of retirement to join Lakers or Clippers. The veteran guard called it “overhyped” as he opens up about that period and his future.
He did show off more of a willingness to shoot in the scrimmage games as he was able to knock one down in their scrimmage opener against the Memphis Grizzlies. In fact, he took two 3-pointers in that game. The thing is, he hasn’t taken any shots from deep since then. “I went back and studied the game (against the Indiana Pacers),” said coach Brett Brown. “There was one time where I thought ‘Yep, you could’ve fired a perimeter shot’ and it wasn’t even really a three as I remember it. It’s not on my mind like it is everybody else’s. I think he has chewed up space when people sag in. He’s chewed up space and driven in.”
“I do concede when it’s blatantly obvious and he’s spaced out, for instance, we’re posting Joel or Al Horford as an example, and Jo ends up down in that low zone, we can’t have four people on the perimeter,” said Brown. “So there are times where he could grab a corner, sometimes no, sometimes he can be behind a backboard and playing in that dunker spot as I call it, but it’s old news to me, to be truthful. I feel like his head is in a good place to shoot it and produce, but I don’t see it as trepidation or lack of confidence. I don’t see it like that.”
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, those close to the situation believe the Duke product is clearly not in the right state to play in the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season: “When you watch him play, he clearly is not in condition to compete at the highest level,” said Windhorst on The Hoop Collective podcast. “As I watched him play two games, I don’t actually think they should have played him at all the way he’s playing. In fact, I talked to a scout who said to me he shouldn’t be out there right in the condition he’s 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.
One said that the compact comeback could be a true equalizer. Example: Some league insiders see Portland as a threat to upset the Lakers in a first-round series after welcoming back its previously ailing frontcourt pair of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. The other executive, by contrast, described the eight seeding games all teams must play before the postseason as a lengthy runway that will afford the Lakers, the Bucks and the Clippers time to regain their March form.
The Pac-12 Conference’s most improved player could become its most valuable. Chris Smith is returning to UCLA for his senior season, putting off the NBA for one more chance to continue his dramatic upward college trajectory. Sean Smith, Chris’ father, made the announcement Monday. “Chris is returning to school due to too much uncertainty on both sides of the coin,” said Sean Smith, alluding to the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the cancellation of workouts for NBA prospects and a delayed draft. “He’ll finish his degree and work to improve in the areas he needs to improve on.”
Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert is withdrawing his name from the NBA draft and will return to the Bulldogs for his senior season, putting them in contention to be the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Kispert was a potential second-round pick, ranking No. 47 overall and No. 6 among small forwards in ESPN’s NBA draft rankings. But he, like teammate Joel Ayayi last week, is heading back to Spokane, Washington, to compete for a national championship.
The NBA on Monday announced the launch of an alternate telecast centered on sports betting for select games, the latest broadcast enhancement for the NBA restart. NBABet Stream will feature overlays displaying point spreads and odds, as well as betting analysis, beginning with the Oklahoma City Thunder-Denver Nuggets game Monday. The NBABet Stream broadcast is available on NBA League Pass, NBA TV via the NBA App and NBA.com through the league’s direct-to-consumer subscription product.
As much as he wanted to be with his New Orleans Pelicans teammates, was going back to basketball worth it under those circumstances? Was it wise to spend months away from his family — Lauren pregnant with their second child — during a worsening pandemic? His actions in the past proved that basketball isn’t everything to him, his family is. One night the answer came to them. When it did, it felt so simple. He would play and donate the remainder of his salary this season, about $5 million, to businesses, nonprofits and higher learning institutions that serve the Black community and communities of color.
“There needed to be a reason why I felt it was worth leaving my family and my pregnant wife to go into this bubble,” Jrue said. “I think that gave me a great reason to go back and play, to feel like I’m doing something for my people and this culture. Donating the rest of my contract was kind of the ultimate decision for why I was going.” The newly created Jrue and Lauren Holiday Fund has committed to donate $1.5 million to organizations and businesses in New Orleans, $1 million in Indianapolis where Lauren is from, and $1.5 million in Los Angeles and Compton. An additional $1 million will be given to Black-owned small businesses in 10 U.S. cities and $500,000 will go to historically Black colleges and universities.
Michael Pina: A quick announcement: In addition to covering the NBA for GQ, I’ll be contributing a little bit to @FiveThirtyEight . My first piece is about Donovan Mitchell, and how—inside the bubble—what’s good for him is best for the Utah Jazz:
August 3, 2020 | 9:38 pm EDT Update
Jason Anderson: The Grizzlies might not even get to the play-in games. They’re 0-3 in the NBA bubble now. Remaining games: Jazz, Thunder, Raptors, Celtics, Bucks. Blazers and Pelicans have inside track right now, but Portland’s schedule is brutal, too.
August 3, 2020 | 9:15 pm EDT Update
Will Guillory: Final: Pelicans 109, Grizzlies 99 Biggest win of the season for the Pels after phenomenal effort on both ends. This also helps: Zion Williamson: 23 pts, 7 rebs & 5 assts. Brandon Ingram: 24 pts, 7 rebs & 5 assts.
August 3, 2020 | 8:13 pm EDT Update
“So on that play, at replay, Olynyk, we judged that he took an aggressive swipe and he made some contact into the facial area of Kyle Lowry,” Guthrie said in the pool report. “At replay, in my judgement, I felt like that did meet the criteria for a flagrant foul. After reviewing that more postgame, and thinking about it a little bit more, to me, it now is more of a natural basketball play going for the ball and that the contact really did not rise to the criteria of a flagrant foul. In both of these instances and cases, though, as always, I know that the league office will review them as they always do all flagrant fouls and they’ll make their determinations at the end of the day on what they think they ended up, in their judgement, that it was. But we had our judgments in the live game.”
Brandon Rahbar: Chris Paul on missing Dennis Schroder: “If I make that free throw with 2.9 seconds left, I think we win that game. We missed them. But we could’ve won. Should’ve won.” CP3 is personally shouldering the blame for this one.
Keith Pompey: #Sixers Brett Brown on Ben Simmons not shooting a 3 since 1st scrimmage: “I feel like his head is in a good place to shoot it. It didn’t produce statistically that opinion that last game [where he was hesitant on a play]. But I don’t see it as trepidation or lack of confidence.”
August 3, 2020 | 7:05 pm EDT Update
Kendra Andrews: Nuggets beat the Thunder 121-113. Nikola Jokic finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists. Michael Porter Jr. with a career-high37 points and 12. rebounds. Monte Morris and Paul Millsap add 17 points each.
Scott Agness: Pacers earn their 41st win of the season, 111-100 over the Wizards. Now 2-0 in the restart. Pacers used runs of 20-2 and 22-2 to grow their lead, as large as 22. T.J. Warren had 34/11/4/4. Brogdon added 20/7/6. Up next: vs Orlando tomorrow in their only b2b.
August 3, 2020 | 5:46 pm EDT Update
Michael Singer: That’s 20 first-half points for Michael Porter Jr. His career-high is 25. He’s also a rebound shy of a first-half double-double. This is like his breakout game in Indiana. Except it’s coming two weeks before the playoffs.
Anthony Chiang: Heat now 1-13 this season in games that it shoots 32 percent or worse from three-point range in. Bam Adebayo: “We were getting good looks. We were just missing shots. That’s the bottom line.”
August 3, 2020 | 5:12 pm EDT Update
Josh Lewenberg: Fred VanVleet on his career-high 36 points… and scoring 3 more points than Lowry did on Saturday: “That’s a double whammy right there. I’ll take that.” He joked that he was disappointed he couldn’t top the 37 that Powell scored earlier this season.