Sources tell our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania : “76ers …

More on Philadelphia 76ers Turmoil?

Tom Moore: #Sixers coach Brett Brown on Josh Richardson questioning the team’s heart last night: ‘I agree. People use different words - mine was physicality.’
Embiid is well-aware of these comments. And recently, he mocked them and shrugged it off as he shot down the speculation regarding his on and off-court relationship with his fellow teammate, Ben Simmons, during an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "I was actually right," Embiid claimed. "A few years ago, I predicted it. I'm sure if you go into the archives and stuff, you can see I predicted the media, with my social media and Ben, [the media] were going to try and drive us apart. At the end of the day, we know what we gotta do. I love playing with [Ben Simmons]. He's a special talent. I think we can accomplish something special."
Joel Embiid has heard all of the chatter about the awkward fit between he and fellow Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons on the court, and whether the two of them are capable of winning at the highest levels playing together -- noises that have only grown louder as the Sixers entered the All-Star Break in fifth place in the NBA's Eastern Conference. He has a message for the doubters: just wait. "I think it's BS," Embiid said here Saturday morning before All-Star practice, "because when you look at the last couple years, the last two years that we've been playing together, it's not a problem. This year it's only been a problem because our offense has struggled.”
Bleacher Report: Jimmy's comment 👀🍿

http://twitter.com/BleacherReport/status/1227041725060792324

http://twitter.com/ELITExBARRETT/status/1227042130255847425
The 76ers didn’t respond to the meeting with a win, as the Bucks continued to show how they’ve separated themselves from the rest of the league, let alone the East. Philadelphia thought it would be up there with the Bucks, and perhaps would be — if it played every game at home. The 76ers haven’t defeated a team with a winning record on the road since Dec. 12 in Boston. “It’s baffling to us all,” Brand said. “We have an uphill battle. As of now, we’re going to start the playoffs on the road and we haven’t been good on the road. We need to figure this out and we have to figure it out fast but we have the group that can do it.”
That’s what happened on Sunday when the fans began booing superstar Joel Embiid for what they judged as subpar effort. Embiid then gave a hand gesture to quiet the home crowd and he appeared to yell something not too flattering as well. Back at practice on Monday, coach Brett Brown gave his thoughts and reaction to the gesture. “I’ll speak with Jo to learn what actually happened, but I think in general, it goes like this,” he prepared to say. “This city is a uniquely, aggressive city. Look at how they handle their stars from Carson Wentz to (Bryce) Harper to Joel Embiid, they’re on coaches and some of it is we just got to play better and we just got to coach better.”
NBA Central: Embiid 👀 pic.twitter.com/FJrQUC0sda

http://twitter.com/TheNBACentral/status/1226276333593997312
The team did end up losing that game to the Bucks, but they showed some more toughness and an edge that they did not have in the Heat loss. They then came home and led by as many as 33 in an easy win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. “We sat down, we talked some stuff out, and I think it was good for us to get those things out there,” said Richardson after returning from a left hamstring strain.
OK so there is really only one way to read that, right? Problems in Sixerland. At least, that’s how Horford’s comments were perceived nationally. I asked him about it Thursday morning and he said, “No, not at all. Every year that I’ve been in the league, teams, internally, there’s always stuff that I guess goes on. What I was referring to was, I always like keeping that stuff in the group. People shouldn’t know the things that we are addressing or that we’re talking about. Sometimes the reality is people take things how they want to take them. Right now, everyone, all eyes are on us. We’re not performing to a level that we’re expected to, so people are just firing away.”
“I got to spend a lot of time at the 3-point line, just to make sure there’s some spacing,” Embiid said during Wednesday’s off day.“Everybody keeps saying, ‘Get in the post!’ You’ve got to find that balance. It’s not about me, it’s about the team.”
Serena Winters: Joel Embiid said #Sixers are still trying to find their offensive identity. Says offensive balance is all about sacrifice & ‘understanding what's going on around us & how we can help each other be better.’
“Nah, if you want to get someone the ball, we can find a way,” Embiid said. “Then again, coaches only can have so much control. They’re not on the court shooting the ball or passing, making plays. All they can do is call plays and we’ve just got to execute.”
“If you want to get me the ball, we can find a way,” Embiid added. “I don’t know why the ball didn’t…I had a pretty good start and I don’t know what happened then. I’ll have to go back and watch the tape.”
The frustration levels were clearly shown in the second half as they had their issues on both ends of the floor. Tobias Harris, who had a miserable night scoring just six points on 3-for-12 shooting and he missed all six of his attempts from deep, knows the frustration is there, but they need to stay positive. “I mean, obviously, we’re frustrated,” said Harris. “We have to stay positive and battle through. It’s just a part of the season. You have your highs and you have your lows. It’s really how you weather that storm and get through it. Obviously, we want to play better and be better. We have expectations for one another. We have to keep our head high and just be ready for the next one and go out and learn from this game and keep going.”
The Sixers, you may have heard, laid an egg on New Year's Eve. In the words of head coach Brett Brown, they "stunk," and did so badly enough to trigger a post-game rant from Josh Richardson on a lack of accountability in the locker room. Not the sort of thing you want to hear from a team allegedly fighting for a title. Thursday, the faces of Philadelphia had their chance to publicly weigh in on the accountability issue, having conducted a team meeting in the morning to talk things out in-house. For the time being, they're putting on their best appearances.
"It has been a rough last three games, but we're good. I don't really want to share what goes on inside, but we're good, I feel like everybody has a good spirit and we know we're going to get out of it," Joel Embiid told reporters Thursday. "I don't talk much, I lead by example, but if I feel the need to say something I will, and as a leader you kind of have to do that. That's what you got to do."
"Everybody has the freedom to do whatever they want, we're not entitled. I've been here the longest, Ben has been here, we're not entitled. The way I get better, I like people telling me what I don't do best, and I feel like every time if I do something wrong, these guys let me [know]. We're humble, we want to learn, we want to get better...there's no sense of people being afraid to speak up, everybody has the freedom, and that's the culture that we have. There's nothing going on."
And yet, even as the Sixers tried to circle the wagons and block out the outside noise, even as they said all the right things about each taking responsibility for where they are, the big fella couldn't seem to avoid barreling into the subject that has hung over this team for the last two-plus seasons: Ben Simmons' shooting.
He did not mention him by name, he did not point the finger at anyone individually, but it is not hard to figure out who and what he is referring to when he uses specific examples in response to broader questions: REPORTER: Starting lineup has struggled offensively. What have you seen in that regard? EMBIID: We just got to look at ourselves and see what we can do individually, we’ve got to help each other even if it means being outside of your comfort zone for the greater [good] to help the team win. Meaning that, if you’ve got to space and shoot it, you’ve got to do it. We need everybody to buy into that and we’ll be fine, we’re going to be fine. We’re still finding our groove, we haven’t been totally healthy, the whole starting lineup. Like I said, we’ll be fine.
Keith Pompey: #Sixers SG @J_Rich1 : "I don't think that there's enough accountability in our locker room right now, honestly. I think that we got some new guys, who don't want to step on toes, including myself. I feel like we kind of go play, and don't compete as much. And I think our locker room has some growing to do."
Jimmy Butler: As for the Sixers, the potential is through the roof. We’re still working out all the kinks of everything. Everybody trying to figure everybody out two months in and we still got a long way to go. The whole thing is just to win and figure out how we’re going to win come playoff time. That’s what you think about, but you got to get there first. So, we got to make sure that we continually win the day at hand.
But Brown seemed like he had a few things he still wanted to get off his chest about that report from ESPN, which said Butler confronted Brown in a way that was outside the norm between a player and coach. He addressed the report again. “When you go into a team film and you say, this is what I see, what do you see? I’m the instigator … ” Brown said. “This is why I like coaching. I like that communication, the relationship. Sometimes, there’s subtle, respectful confrontation. There is in my home. I got no problems with any of it. I think where the thing pivots to ‘Oh, this isn’t typical,’ I don’t agree with that. “It’s happened many times. This is just the first time it’s public.”
Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons called his team "too soft" for the second time this season after Friday night's 123-121 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Playing without star center Joel Embiid, who missed the game with a sore ankle, the Sixers allowed Atlanta to rack up 62 points in the paint while outrebounding Philadelphia 44-30. "Definitely," Simmons said when asked whether physicality was the Sixers' biggest problem. "I think we were too soft."
"I don't like the word 'soft,'" Butler said, and added a whistle. "I just don't think that we did what we were supposed to do. I'm not gonna say that anybody's soft. I just think that we got beat in every aspect of the game. They came out from the jump and did what they wanted to do, and they did that for 48 straight minutes."
Though league sources say that Jimmy Butler has developed a good relationship with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, his reported problems with the Sixers system are real. Results aren’t everything. Even without the benefits of building chemistry during the offseason and training camp, the Sixers are outscoring teams by 8.8 points per 100 possessions with at least two of the trio on the court. Still, the internal conflict is relevant.
It’s been three days since a report surfaced that Jimmy Butler “aggressively challenged" Brett Brown and that the dialogue between the two was “disrespectful” during a film session in Portland. Brown stated his case again Saturday that the report was “overrated” and normal dialogue between NBA player and NBA coach in 2019. Butler agreed. We’ve been talking damn near every day. Trying to figure everything out and how we can make everyone work. Not just for myself but for everybody. I’m telling you it’s a player and a coach conversation. I think that if you’ve followed me long enough, you know if I was being confrontational because I don’t think I could hide it very well.
A report published on Friday said that Butler recently challenged Brown in a disrespectful way and wants to be utilized differently in the coach's offensive scheme. Brown dismissed the report before Saturday's game against the Dallas Mavericks. "I didn't feel like any of that crossed the line," Brown said. "He's vocal. He's all in and he has opinions, but it's instigated by me. None of this should surprise anybody. He's got opinions. He wants to be heard. And he should be heard."
A report published on Friday said that Butler recently challenged Brown in a disrespectful way and wants to be utilized differently in the coach's offensive scheme. Brown dismissed the report before Saturday's game against the Dallas Mavericks. "I didn't feel like any of that crossed the line," Brown said. "He's vocal. He's all in and he has opinions, but it's instigated by me. None of this should surprise anybody. He's got opinions. He wants to be heard. And he should be heard."
Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Jimmy Butler has aggressively challenged coach Brett Brown on his role in the offense, complicating an already tenuous chemistry among the team's Big 3 hierarchy, league sources told ESPN. Butler has been vocal in his contesting of Brown and his system, including a recent film session in Portland that some witnesses considered "disrespectful" and beyond normal player-coach discourse.
Brown has told people within the organization that he had no issues with that exchange and considered it within the confines of the relationship that he's developed with Butler, sources said. While a source close to Butler contends that his intense, direct style can come off as combative as he's trying to make clear his viewpoints, Butler's sluggish assimilation into the Sixers environment is causing some concern about his long-term viability and fit with the organization, league sources said. Nevertheless, the franchise's full focus and resources remain on making this new partnership work this season and beyond.
Brown, who signed a contract extension in the offseason, remains a popular figure with ownership and management. Around the organization, there's an urgency for Brown and his coaching staff to stabilize the situation, sources said. Ownership has been committed to making the Big 3 of Embiid, Simmons and Butler work, especially with Butler's free agency looming this summer.
Butler has expressed a desire to teammates that he hopes to play in more traditional pick-and-roll and isolation sets, rather than trying to find his place in the Sixers free-flowing offense, league sources said. In searching for answers, Butler has met privately with Brown and his coaching staff, as well as general manager Elton Brand, league sources told ESPN.
"I don't like shooting 3s," Embiid said. "I only do it because of the spacing that we have, and sometimes I have to take them. I have to be on the perimeter, just getting guys open, because of all the attention that sometimes it seems are presented to me.
"I don't like shooting 3s. I only do it because I got to make it work, but the last couple games, mainly the last two games, my mindset has been, if I'm on the perimeter, it doesn't mean that I have to shoot 3s. Even if I'm wide open, I think I had a couple of opportunities tonight and last game against the [New York] Knicks where I could've shot it, but I took one dribble and I took a midway shot.
"I mean, I wouldn't say I don't totally like [shooting them]," Embiid said. "I mean, it's cool and all that. But when you look at yourself and see how dominant you can be inside ... it doesn't matter. "I can score in so many ways. [But] it's also about just feeling comfortable. Right now, I'm not feeling comfortable being in that situation. I'm sure I'm gonna take some. I'm sure some games I'm going to take 10, some games I'm going to take 15 ... you'll see."
Williams has been more than a coach, knowing Fultz since he was 7 years old via a relationship with the family and treating him like a son or nephew. In the lead-up to the draft, Williams served as Fultz’s representation, connecting him with sponsorships from such brands as Nike, Tissot and JBL. But as things started to derail, Fultz’s mother, Ebony, and Brothers took control of the player’s off-court life. Williams said he backed off to avoid conflict, but he believes the forced separation might have affected Fultz.
Fultz is now a professional on a four-year contract worth $33 million, but close associates said Ebony still goes to great lengths to shield him. During Fultz’s first season in Philadelphia, Ebony had cameras installed inside his New Jersey home, according to several people familiar with the setup who described the indoor surveillance as unusual. The cameras have since been removed. Multiple people said Ebony has asked some who have dealt with Fultz to sign nondisclosure agreements for reasons that are unclear to them. “There’s definitely crazy [expletive] going on with the mom and how involved she is and how overprotective she is,” said a person with a close connection to Fultz. “The best possible situation is if the mom just backs off for a period of time and gives him a chance to breathe.”
“I don’t talk about it. That’s none of my business,” the center said. “I just know that he’s a great person. He comes in every day, does his job and tries to make the team better. He’s a great guy. Everybody around loves him. I love him personally, but that’s his business. I don’t want to get into the whole family thing.”
When Brett Brown surveyed the smoking wreckage of Sunday's loss in Brooklyn, he didn't take refuge in the just-one-of-those-nights explanation. There was something deeper that went wrong, something "unacceptable," according to the Sixers coach. "That is not who we are," Brown said, although the box score was actually an accurate reflection of the team's worst tendencies. He was right that it didn't portray the better angels of their nature, but he also knew it wasn't so out of character that it could be dismissed as a freak loss devoid of greater meaning.
"It's the reality of the ages of the people that we have," Brown told the media after the game, partially excusing, at least for public consumption, what happened in Barclays Center. What he said to the team privately was much harsher. "They hear me talk way deeper than what I get into with you guys. We spoke candidly," Brown said after practice Tuesday. "You weigh up your bullets throughout the course of the year and you use them. That was one of them. That game didn't sit well with me."
"We're not spiritually at a stage that's able to do that right now," Brown said. "We're figuring some stuff out." And the job of imparting that stuff is on him. "It is. I'm the head coach," Brown said. "In a very sadistic way, I like this as a coach; the pain, the reality of what is really going on. We're not jab-stepping anything. We'll own this. I'll own this."
He denied being connected to those four accounts. The problem with Colangelo’s denials, however, is that those tweets were aligned with some of the frustrations and beliefs inside the organization. According to several sources, that’s why several players believe Colangelo is linked to the tweets even if he did not directly post from the burner accounts. “I think the damage is done,” said an NBA executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I don’t know if the players can trust him. I think he lost the trust of the players unless it’s proven definitively that it wasn’t him.”
Colangelo is in Los Angeles attending agent-run workouts for NBA draft prospects this week. A league source said Colangelo was visibly shaken in a hallway as The Ringer report broke Tuesday while he was attending a BDA Sports Management workout. Along with having two first-round draft picks (10th and 26th overall), the team is preparing to make a big splash in free agency, which begins on July 1. James is the Sixers’ most sought-after target, but they are also eyeing Oklahoma City Thunder all-star Paul George, among others, according to sources.
Colangelo is in Los Angeles attending agent-run workouts for NBA draft prospects this week. A league source said Colangelo was visibly shaken in a hallway as The Ringer report broke Tuesday while he was attending a BDA Sports Management workout.
The problem with Colangelo’s denials, however, is that those tweets were aligned with some of the frustrations and beliefs inside the organization. According to several sources, that’s why several players believe Colangelo is linked to the tweets even if he did not directly post from the burner accounts.
Adrian Wojnarowski: 76ers president Bryan Colangelo has been actively reaching out to individuals mentioned in those burner accounts, insisting that he isn't responsible for those tweets, league sources tell ESPN. Sixers probe is underway in aftermath of The Ringer story.
Dan Gelston: 76ers Set to investigate the burner accounts: "An online media outlet filed a story linking multiple social media accounts to 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo. The allegations are serious and we have commenced an independent investigation into the matter. We will report the results of that investigation as soon as it is concluded."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Nevertheless, Colangelo is denying he is responsible for those tweets and many league executives seem to believe this: It is hard to fathom a GM risking his job in such a reckless manner. Many are giving him the benefit of doubt on that level alone. It just doesn’t add up. twitter.com/wojespn/status…
Keith Pompey: Things are officially a hot mess inside of the #Sixers’ organization. @Joelembiid responds to the Ringer report that Bryan Colangelo allegedly talked about via a burner account.
Alex Kennedy: Innocent until proven guilty, but The Ringer article is pretty damning. And the activity on the accounts seems to suggest it's true. At one point, he tweeted to a reporter that he should request an interview with Colangelo through the 76ers so he could tell his side of the story! Trevor Booker:‏ Yeah I’m looking at all the evidence now and it’s not looking good 🤦🏾‍♂️
Rich Nurse: Now I really want to know if Brian Colangelo was in a restuarant with @DwyaneWade & @itsgabrielleu in Beijing in 08... if he was I guess that ties the badmouthing burner account to him??? Dwyane Wade: I guess all black people do look alike 🤷🏾‍♂️ because @itsgabrielleu wasn’t at the Olympic in 08. Clearly Eric Jr lied 🤥
Bryan Colangelo: Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news. While I have never posted anything whatsoever on social media, I have used the @Phila1234567 Twitter account referenced in this story to monitor our industry and other current events. This storyline is disturbing to me on many levels, as I am not familiar with any of the other accounts that have been brought to my attention, nor do I know who is behind them or what their motives may be in using them.
Shams Charania: In speaking to 76ers president Bryan Colangelo tonight in Los Angeles, Colangelo says he stands by his statement: No knowledge of “motives or origin.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Maybe there’s an IT person who can prove it wasn’t Bryan Colangelo, but here’s one of his biggest problems in disputing Ringer story: Those tweets reflected not only private team biz, but launched personal beefs/jealousies/frustrations that he’s shared inside and outside 76ers.
Zach Lowe: Prevailing sentiment around the league so far -- and w/in the Sixers -- is confusion and "wait and see." (And, outside the Sixers, a whole lot of snark in addition to the above stuff).

https://twitter.com/scottcwheeler/status/1001665431487336449
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid tells ESPN on Bryan Colangelo: “I talked to him and he said that he didn’t say that. He called me just to deny the story. Gotta believe him until proven otherwise. If true though, that would be really bad.”

https://twitter.com/JoelEmbiid/status/1001655821913284610

https://twitter.com/JoelEmbiid/status/1001659466478219264

https://twitter.com/KevinOConnorNBA/status/1001636463207841792
The five accounts pinpointed by the unnamed source included one that followed media members, Sixers employees, and NBA agents but never tweets (its handle is @phila1234567, and it has no account name), and four that have posted tweets or replied to other users. Of those, one was active between April 2016 and May 2017 (its account name is Eric jr, and its handle is @AlVic40117560), two were active within the past five months (HonestAbe / @Honesta34197118 and Enoughunkownsources / @Enoughunkownso1), and one was posting several times a day (Still Balling / @s_bonhams) and as recently as last week.
On February 12, while Okafor was home in Philadelphia as the team traveled, a writer for the blog The Sixers Sense named Brian Jacobs posted a highlight from then-Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Eric jr replied, seemingly off topic, “I must be nuts, I cannot sleep because I worry Jah will not pass physical exams and sent back.” The next day, Jacobs posted a prospective trade that would ship Okafor to the Pelicans for E’Twaun Moore and a pick. Eric jr responded again. “I feel it in my bones, deal was done and Jah did not pass physical,” the account wrote. “Let’s wait & see, only possibility at this point.”
One source familiar with Okafor trade negotiations between the Sixers and the New Orleans Pelicans told The Ringer that the source was not aware of any failed physical for Okafor, and that the deal fell through because Colangelo and Pelicans general manager Dell Demps could not agree on pick protections.
Storyline: Philadelphia 76ers Turmoil?
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April 10, 2020 | 7:25 am EDT Update

Wizards keeping Shabazz Napier?

John Wall’s return significantly elevates expectations surrounding the Wizards next season and will make the team’s offseason decision-making process that much more important. In the case of Napier and Bertans, Washington’s general manager Tommy Sheppard talked highly of both in a Q&A with Dave Johnson Thursday. “I think with [Napier and Bertans], when we acquired them not as rentals we acquired them to stay here,” Sheppard said. “I think the players that we acquired, they’re here to show that they can be here for the future. With Davis and Shabazz, they showed enough to us that certainly we would love to retain them. We plan to.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 24 more rumors
Napier started eight games and averaged 12.2 points, 4.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals while shooting 43.1% from the field and 38.1% from three. Based on production alone, it’s not that surprising Sheppard wants to bring the former UConn star back. However, if the Wizards can re-sign Napier this summer, they’d have quite a lot of viable point guards on their roster going into next season. Wall will be back and Ish Smith will be in the final year of his two-year contract.
He is one of professional sports most-outgoing and charismatic owners, and Mark Cuban doesn’t shy away from offering his thoughts on a wide-variety of topics. The Mt. Lebanon native and owner of the Dallas Mavericks told the PM Team he believes professional sports could have games being played in two months. “If things really go our way, it’s not inconceivable to me–and this is me being hopeful and not being scientific–that we could potentially play games in early June,” Cuban said.
But Cuban’s optimism is rooted in science and medicine. “I think we’re coming back,” Cuban said. “I can’t tell you exactly when, but this is purely a science and doctors thing. My attitude always is it’s not about if the glass is half empty or half full, it’s who’s pouring the water. In this particular case, it’s the scientists pouring the water. All I know from all the science and everything that I’m reading, I think we’re making enough advances that several of them will come through so we can start planning what a comeback would look like. I’m a big believer in American exceptionalism, and everything I’m starting to hear in terms of the science is coming along and the medical advances that we’re making to fight this thing makes me very positive. If I had to bet, and this is more a guess than a bet, I’d say early June is when you see teams start to take the field and maybe play games just for television.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
The NBA has considered a similar setup in Las Vegas. Lakers star LeBron James initially voiced his displeasure about playing games without fans but has since softened his stance. “LeBron is right. It’s hard to play without fans,” said Johnson, who stepped down as Lakers president of basketball operations in 2019. “You play one game, you’ll adjust to not having fans there. We’ve all played our whole life on the playgrounds and in pickup games without fans being there. Basketball players will know how to adjust.”
Even if Johnson admitted he is “looking forward to see if the Lakers are going to win the championship,” he seemed more concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic than worried if sports will resume. “I hope that happens. But first the players have to be safe,” Johnson said. “The numbers have to be stabilized. America and all of us who live in this great country we live in need sports, especially in a time like this. But only if everybody is safe.”
Pelicans director of mental health and wellness Jenna Rosen has been working with players twice a day with a Zoom of mental exercises and stress-relieving exercises according to Griffin. “We’re trying to be as creative as we can to have constant contact with people and make them understand that we’re still part of the same family, and family matters vitally to this group,” Griffin said. “I think our players are very close individually. I think organizationally, I think if you talk to most of the people in it, they would tell you that ‘family’ is a big focus of what we’ve brought to this, so we’re trying as best we can to connect with as many people on as many different levels as possible.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
When Thursday night’s quarterfinals action in the NBA 2K Players Tournament wrapped up, the four players remaining come from just two NBA teams — the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns. Young guns DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker, both from the Suns, won their matchups, while Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell of the Clippers each emerged victorious.
Storyline: eSports
The semifinals begin Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The matchups are Ayton vs. Beverley and Booker vs. Harrell, providing Suns-Clippers undercurrents in both games. Interestingly enough, both pairs were the only tournament participants from the same team among the original field of 16. Ayton faced the toughest test among the semifinalists on Thursday during his battle with Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks. Booker cruised by Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards) in the first game and Harrell took out No. 16 seed Derrick Jones Jr., who defeated top seed Kevin Durant during the opening game of the tournament.
“I was 26 at the time, number three pick [in the 2006 NBA draft], a really low point in my life, and I got a text from Robert Lara, the Lakers security and one of Kobe’s best friends. He said ‘Hey, what’s your address, I’ve got something in the mail for you.’” Morrison assumed he was getting a magazine from Lara, whom he had a friendship with during his time with the Lakers. “I get the package, and it’s an autographed jersey from Didier Drogba, who was my favorite player,” Morrison said. “I’m a Chelsea fan. It was from Kobe. A game-worn jersey, signed by Didier Drogba, ‘To Adam, Best Wishes.’”
“The night he passed, I’m scrolling through, reading everything, and I’m emotional,” Morrison said. “And on Chelsea’s Instagram page, it’s him with Didier Drogba holding up a jersey and it says ‘To Adam, Best Wishes.’ So he went up to my favorite player, got it signed for me without me even asking, and sent it to me when he knew I was low. It’s unbelievable. I still have the jersey. That’s what Kobe Bryant was, man. He was just one of those dudes who understood his own aura and could sense when people were down.” Morrison said he was lucky to play alongside Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP and one-time regular season MVP. Bryant was posthumously elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Nonetheless, Johnson still drew parallels between HIV and COVID-19 because of the similarities regarding the misconceptions about the respective viruses, the inadequate testing, the lack of available drugs and how the pandemic has hurt the black community. “African Americans are leading in terms of dying from the coronavirus and most of them in the hospital are African American,” Johnson said. “We have to do a better job as African Americans to follow social distancing, stay at home and make sure we educate our loved ones and our family members and do what we’re supposed to do to keep safe and healthy. Then when you add that up, we don’t have access to health care, quality health care. So many of us are uninsured. That also creates a problem, too. Just like it did with HIV and AIDS.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
Consider the common perception about HIV when Johnson learned he first had it. “When I announced, it was considered a white, gay man’s disease,” Johnson said. “People were wrong. Black people didn’t think they could get HIV and AIDS.” That partly explains why Johnson went public with his diagnosis. It also partly explains why Johnson eventually raised more than $10 million for HIV/AIDs research and charities through his foundation. Nonetheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2018 black people accounted for 42% of new HIV diagnoses. USA TODAY recently reported that black people are dying of coronavirus at much higher rates compared to other Americans in major cities. Johnson offered varying reasons that explain such a troubling trend.
April 9, 2020 | 9:12 pm EDT Update
Will the NBA’s indefinite suspension limit what the Warriors do with the checkbook in the offseason? “We’re looking at all of those questions and the possible answers. But I don’t really have a good sense yet because I really have no idea how this is gonna shake out,” Lacob told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on Thursday morning. “We don’t know what the salary cap is gonna be, we don’t know what the luxury tax is gonna be. We don’t really know what we can plan on at this point. We just have to look at a lot of different scenarios. That’s what we’re doing right now. It could make a huge difference, it might make no difference.”
Storyline: Season Suspension
As Illinois goes through this together, the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, is proud to be playing a critical role with our city, state and federal response to the pandemic. As announced on March 25, our arena and outside campus will be transformed into a logistics hub where we will be assisting with food storage for hunger relief, first responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.

Moving forward, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, will be utilizing the United Center as a satellite storage facility in response to the increased need for food. By alleviating space in the food bank’s warehouse, the Food Depository can bring additional volunteers into their facility to build more family food boxes in an environment that adheres to social distancing protocols. These boxes will continue to be distributed to those in need by the Food Depository’s partner network throughout Chicago and Cook County.
Storyline: Coronavirus

April 9, 2020 | 7:56 pm EDT Update

Pau Gasol contemplating retirement

With the league’s current campaign suspended indefinitely due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, Gasol, who will turn 40 years old in July, is contemplating retirement at this point of his career. “With this recovery process and the injury that I have been dealing with for more than a year, it’s undoubtedly inevitable to think about retirement,” Gasol said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, via NBC Sports. “Also, taking into account that I will be 40 years old in a few months. So, [retirement] is definitely on my mind.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 14 more rumors
“It’s something that will come one time, sooner or later,” Gasol said of retirement. “We hope that time hasn’t come yet. But I also take the opportunity to focus on the Gasol Foundation and other off-court projects. And also think of what my next professional stage may be, my next challenges. All this while I’m still recovering, trying to give myself a chance to keep playing. Now, the priority is to overcome this pandemic among all. Everything else is completely secondary.”
In 2011, Jacob Hamilton was a 26-year-old cinematographer looking to expand his portfolio by directing a documentary. He came across a two-minute interview online titled, “The Man Who Invented the Jump Shot.” Four years later, Hamilton was screening his short film in Kevin Durant’s backyard, shocked to see one of the NBA’s best-ever jump shooters geek out over footage he’d gathered of Kenny Sailors from the 1940s. The film was still only halfway to the finish line. “Jump Shot” premiered at South by Southwest in 2019, but still hasn’t been released to the public. That will change next week, when the feature-length documentary will be available online April 16-18. Pre-order is underway at jumpshotmovie.com.
“Jump Shot” got two of its most important assists from NBA superstars Steph Curry and Durant. Hamilton had simply hoped for an interview when, through a connection between an executive producer and a chaplain for USA Basketball, the former Golden State Warriors teammates were introduced to Sailors’ legacy. The crew flew to Oakland and were invited to Durant’s home. Partway through the screening, KD asked for the film to be paused. Hamilton feared the worst, a bored millennial. In reality, the former Longhorns star was mesmerized. “These are moves that I’m doing today,” Hamilton recalls Durant telling them. “I was literally working on this in practice this week, and Kenny was doing this 60-70 years ago? This is unbelievable.”
Curry took his adoration a step further when he told Hamilton he was not only up for an interview, but wanted to get more involved. That’s how basketball’s greatest jump shooter became an executive producer. Both players are interviewed in the film, along with a lineup of basketball legends — from Dirk Nowitzki to Bob Knight, Nancy Lieberman and Clark Kellogg. Their astonishment at Sailors’ pioneering shot, particularly a photograph that appeared in Life magazine in 1946, will resonate with basketball fans.
April 9, 2020 | 6:35 pm EDT Update
When this all ends, whenever that is, what’s the one thing you’re most looking forward to doing on that first day? Dion Waiters: Just trying to hoop. Just vibe out and hoop. I’ve had damn near the whole season off. I’m trying to get back and hoop. I got something to prove at the end of the day. During this quarantine I’ve been dieting, getting my weight down, getting in shape. For me, it’s just playing basketball.
“I am in such debt to the people who worked so incredibly hard on the technical side to make what I believe is still magic — there might be some elves involved, it is Disney after all,” ‘The Jump” host Rachel Nichols told Insider. “I can’t believe that they were able to figure out a way to produce an entire television show with everybody at home, not a single person in our television facility.”
April 9, 2020 | 6:29 pm EDT Update
If nothing else at a time when the Clippers have more questions than answers amid the NBA’s hiatus because of COVID-19, the team is confident in at least one thing to be true. Should the season resume, the same roster that had been dogged by injuries since last summer is on track to be the healthiest it has been. “The Kawhi [Leonard] we’ll see will be in phenomenal shape,” coach Doc Rivers said, adding that Paul George “is another guy that’s goig to be in phenomenal shape. Reggie [Jackson], who was injured when we got him, will now be healthy.”
Since there is a pause on all roster transactions across the league, the 10-day contract Noah signed remains in effect one month later. That has left the former defensive player of the year able to work into shape under the supervision of the team’s medical and performance staffs. “It’s been great for him,” Rivers said. “There are certain individuals who this rest period, or whatever this is called, has been a benefit, and Jo is one of them for sure because he’s got a chance now to get healthy, and to get in shape and that will be a factor for him. He will be a guy that will be able to help us.”
A whopping 72% of Americans polled said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus. The poll, which had a fairly small sample size of 762 respondents, was released Thursday by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. When polling respondents who identified as sports fans, 61% said they would not go to a game without a vaccine. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.6%.
Storyline: Coronavirus
NBA star DeMarcus Cousins first hired Noordin Said to be his personal security guard in 2015 during All-Star weekend in New York. From there, the two hit it off, and Said worked the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2017 All-Star weekend in New Orleans at Cousins’ side. Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green hired Said to be his personal security guard during the 2018 playoffs, and Said worked this season with Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo at most home games.
Storyline: Coronavirus
April 9, 2020 | 5:21 pm EDT Update
As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the world, NBA owners are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. The league plans to keep all options to resume the season available for the time being, sources told ESPN, but the financial realities of the situation demand near immediate action. That has become clear in talks between the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and player agents, sources told ESPN, as the league tries to get its finances in order in the event the rest of the season must be canceled.
Storyline: Salary Reductions
The league’s CBA includes a force majeure clause, enabling owners to cancel games and recover salary in the event of a pandemic. This clause also gives the league a 60-day window within which it can rip up the CBA entirely — effectively beginning a work stoppage. No one wants to do that. But it underscores the gravity of the situation. Still, in recent years the two sides have worked as well together as ever, and the CBA isn’t set to expire until 2024.
The agreement between owners and players in the last CBA calls for roughly splitting revenue 50/50 and also splitting the coming losses. So, the owners want to hold back a percentage of players’ checks going forward — both giving them extra money they can use now, if needed, and also to help balance the books in the event some, or all, of the remainder of the season is canceled. From an economic standpoint, both sides would prefer to limit the pain of the shutdown to only this season and not start next season with IOUs on the ledger. Setting the money aside now would help do that.
Karnisovas will have full decision making over basketball operations, including the futures of Forman, head coach Jim Boylen, and the entire coaching staff. He was even asked about Paxson, and had the option of having the organization move on from the long-time Bulls executive if that’s what he desired. However, a source indicated that Karnisovas had no issues with the Reinsdorfs keeping Paxson around.
There were multiple reports that the search angered a handful of African American executives around the league, who felt like people of color weren’t involved in the searching process by the Bulls. A source close to the situation, however, indicated that not only did Michael Reinsdorf reach out to multiple minority candidates to try and get interviews – but was denied permission to do so by their current organizations, and in some cases simply turned down.
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