Trying to restart the NBA season is simply not worth th…

Trying to restart the NBA season is simply not worth the risk as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the country, Shaquille O’Neal believes. If it was up to him, it would already be over. “We should scrap the season,” the Hall of Fame center told The Post in a phone interview. “Continue to care about the safety of the players and the people, let the government figure out how they’re going to get rid of this thing forever. I hate hearing this statement, oh it’s going to come back, it’s going to come back.”

More on Season Suspension

As the NBA nears the two-month mark of its shutdown — and some team practice facilities prepare to reopen — Popovich said the country’s sports associations did the right thing by suspending their seasons quickly. “I think everybody understands we’re in this for the long haul, and hopefully we won’t do anything that’s a knee-jerk sort of reaction, where we just jump back in because we’re instant gratification people,” he said.
In a call with season ticket holders, Brad Stevens says games without fans would be disappointing, but could provide a unique setting for some interesting basketball. “I guess playing without fans would be much more like a typical practice environment, and I think that the one thing about these guys is they don’t compete any less hard in practice,” Stevens said. “In fact, sometimes in those quiet gyms where you can hear everything somebody else is saying, it gets even more feisty. And so, I think that it would be great basketball if we’re able to do that.”
“We want to be as routine-oriented as we can, but it’s just not always feasible. And so, this particular situation, as COVID-19 shut down more and more businesses and shut down our league, became more real to all of us, then it affected everyone’s routine,” Stevens said. "It’s not an athlete thing, it’s not a coach thing, it’s an everyone thing. And so everybody is dealing with that, and I think that as an athlete, the different curveballs that come out of left field that you get used to hitting I think are good preparation for times that are going to challenge you like this.”
Eventually, everything will go back to normal. When that happens is anyone’s guess, but it will, and Stevens is looking forward to it. “I can’t tell you how excited we’ll be when we do get a chance to play and I can’t tell you how much more exponentially excited we’ll be when we get a chance to play at TD Garden in front of our fans,” Stevens said. “I think we’re all looking forward to that moment and the ability to feel free to do that and feel able to do that.”
Marc Stein: Cavs players submitted to temperature and symptom checks and each wrote their number on two basketballs in thick Sharpie ink so no one else uses them After roughly 90 minutes of weights and shooting, Nance said: "It was more for mental health than physical to be honest with you"
Marc Stein: Cleveland's Larry Nance Jr. (@Larry Nance Jr) to @NYTSports on returning to the team's practice facility today: "It was wonderful." Nance was in the Cavs' first group of the day alongside Kevin Love, Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic. "All of us actually shot it really well," Nance said.
Friday was the day the NBA targeted to allow teams in states with eased stay-at-home guidelines to reopen their facilities to players for individual workouts. But the Timberwolves' facility at Mayo Clinic Square remains closed in accordance with Gov. Tim Walz's stay-at-home order which is set to expire May 18. A Wolves spokesperson said the situation remains fluid.
The Pistons join the rest of the NBA in awaiting further instruction from state officials. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order through May 28. Until then, at least, the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center will remain closed. Michigan is in phase three in its six-phase “Safe Start” plan to reopening the economy. Gatherings remain banned, and gyms are still categorized as non-essential.
Currently, there’s no guarantee from Whitmer that the state will ease restrictions on May 29. It also isn’t immediately clear how that phase will impact the Pistons. “There’s a set of guidelines, we’ll follow them to the T and we’ll be very cautious for both the player and the staff,” Pistons senior advisor Ed Stefanski told the Free Press. “But … it’ll be a slow process. We’re waiting for the state of Michigan to allow us. We’re not doing anything until then.”
There are significant decisions to be made in the future, but all the Pistons can do for now is sit tight. They’re continuing to prepare for the draft and free agency as though it’s the offseason. And if the regular season resumes, they’ll prepare for that as well. “We have players who are at home with their families,” Stefanski said. “ We’re not asking them to come back to Detroit. Once the self-quarantine stops and Michigan opens up more, if they want to come back they’re more than welcome. But we’re not asking them to come back and the league is not giving us any dates on when they’re going to resume play or anything like that. We’re all waiting. It’s a waiting game.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers reopened their practice facility to players for individual workouts on Friday, and at least four players showed up, sources tell cleveland.com. General manager Koby Altman and the team’s medical staff informed players on Wednesday that the workouts were voluntary and players should take some time to think about whether they wanted to be put on the schedule.
The feedback Altman received was positive. All players -- eight or nine -- who stayed in the market during the stoppage said they were eager to participate. “They were all pretty excited about it,” a source said. Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic were among those inside Cleveland Clinic Courts, sources said.
“It’s funny because most think the NBA players, they make millions of dollars so they automatically assume all these players have these fabulous indoor courts," Roland said. "I really only know maybe two guys in the whole NBA that I know of that have their own gym at home. So, everybody's pretty much in the same situation, just doing a bunch of dribbling drills out there.”
As creative as they’re getting to stay ready, Roland says the return to the season would be comparable to preseason. "I know the majority of the NBA has not shot a basketball since their last game over a month ago," he said. "I saw a video of Serge Ibaka running laps down his hallway, which is only so long, you know, he's going from the bathroom to the bedroom just running laps. So to ask these guys to go from that to 'boom', let's try to revamp the season, it's going to be really tough. You think about how sloppy the preseason can be sometimes with basketball and now we’re asking guys to go from not really working out, not touching a basketball and starting the regular season and the playoffs. So, it’s a really difficult time, guys are in a really tough space.”
The temporary move to California has allowed the family to find warmer weather, while also providing Dellavedova with a better environment to stay prepared for the eventual return of basketball. "We were living in an apartment in downtown Cleveland and I didn't have access to a hoop. I tried to see if they could get an outdoor one put at the [Cavaliers] facility, but I think that was against the league rules at the time, so we made our way to California."
The Charlotte Hornets have no immediate plans to open their training facility, as the NBA begins allowing players to return to practice gyms and weight rooms. “At this time, our practice facility and our offices will remain closed as we continue to monitor the current situation,” the Hornets said in a prepared statement Friday. “Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate this on a week-by-week basis.”
Golden State Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said his organization will be "good partners" if and when the NBA regular season resumes. On April 28, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said the team (15-50) had been operating as if its season was over despite having 17 games remaining on the schedule.
Myers told ESPN this week that he understood what Kerr was expressing and thought the comments were taken out of context. "The truth is we have the worst record in the league. That's a fact," Myers said. "It's hard to motivate in our unique position. But that doesn't mean players don't have pride and won't come back and play and care about the league as a whole. We want to be good partners and we will be good partners. We'd like to see Steph [Curry] play with [Andrew] Wiggins; I think we got to see that for one game where we were hoping to see that."
The NBA recently informed teams of a "limited exception" to guidelines that forbid the testing of asymptomatic individuals in this preliminary phase of players returning to practice facilities. Essentially, the NBA will approve a written authorization from a local health authority that confirms a "robust testing program in place for at-risk health care workers" in the team's community, sources said.
If the NBA resumes play in a bubble, there will be complications as everyone arrives at a central location. Of course, everyone must get there first. That won’t necessarily be simple for international players like Luka Doncic.
MICHELE ROBERTS CAN'T remember when she first heard about the "bubble," the idea of isolating NBA players in a hotel so the league could resume its season amid the coronavirus pandemic. But she remembers her reaction to it vividly. "When that one was first floated," said Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, "there was some consternation."
A strict bubble where players are separated from their families, and only go to and from practices and games to a hotel, might seem attractive initially, Roberts said. But to enforce it, everyone inside would likely have to submit to some level of surveillance. And to Roberts, a former public defender and trial lawyer, that was problematic from the jump. "Are we going to arm guards around the hotel?" Roberts wondered. "That sounds like incarceration to me."
The hypothetical also didn't sit well with her constituents, the NBA's players. If a quarantined zone guaranteed players and coaches wouldn't get COVID-19, they told her it would be worth the sacrifice of separating from family and friends for several months. But without surveillance, how could anyone guarantee the bubble was impenetrable? What if a team staffer went to get a slice of pizza and became infected? What if an asymptomatic family member or significant other came to visit and spread the virus? If the honor code was too lax, but a police state was too draconian, what was the point of a bubble?
But one thing has changed -- the growing acceptance that if and when the NBA does resume, it will be in a world where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is ever-present. If the NBA is to come back in some form, there will be, by definition, risk. "This is a world with the virus," Roberts said. "And we have to figure out a way to work, play and live in a world with the virus. "The questions have now evolved from, 'Are we going to play again?' to, 'If we play, what are the risks going to look like?'"
Doug Smith: Raptors say they have permission for limited opening of training facility under tight NBA guidelines and rules. It will begin "the week of May 11" Th is not -- NOT -- a precursor to any resumption of play, it's letting a few employees at time back in the workplace
Publicly, the NBA has been vague about its plans to restart after suspending the season on March 11. There is no schedule for full teams to return to practice, nevermind to play real games. Privately, however, commissioner Adam Silver and his team in the league office have been making contingency plans for every imaginable scenario for how the coronavirus pandemic develops, according to recent conversations with sources from teams, agents, and the league. “What’s been hard for people to understand is the amount of flexibility that Adam has,” said one source with knowledge of discussions in the league office. “He doesn’t need to make a decision until he has as much information as possible based on where we are as a country and where the NBA is as a league.”
Multiple sources corroborated that Silver and his team have a decision tree that will guide the NBA’s choices. The league has the ability to chop off portions of the remaining schedule depending on what happens from both a player and public health standpoint. Here’s the league’s thinking based on a variety of possible events:
The Warriors are eliminated from postseason contention. The Cavaliers and Hawks are close, as are many other teams in the league, like the Timberwolves and Pistons. There is a belief around the league that their seasons are over. Some players want to get back on the court. “I’m excited to get some reps,” Cavs big man Larry Nance Jr. said. “I want the year to come back. I’m not gonna act like I know if we will, but I just really hope we do.” But one front office executive on a Western Conference lottery team said that while the NBA isn’t messaging that their seasons are finished, the thought is that the league won’t have the time or resources to bring all 30 teams to one location and play out the regular season.
“The first game when we get back will probably be a playoff game,” said a league source with knowledge of plans for resuming games.
A postseason play-in tournament has been weighed but is considered highly unlikely, according to multiple league sources. While a tournament could be attractive to fans and lucrative for the league in future seasons, it’s considered too dramatic of a shift in the short term.
It’s too soon to have this conversation, league front office executives say, because no one knows if games will be played and how much revenue those games would yield. The salary cap is set through a complex process based on revenue from the prior season, so right now projecting the 2020-21 salary cap is impossible without knowing if any more games will be played in 2019-20. And since no one knows when fans will be allowed back in arenas, next season’s revenue could still fall well short of expectations considering the amount of money made from live games.
Clifford said he is already starting for formulate plans in his head for when the Magic are allowed to practice in full. Because players usually get in a host of work outs prior to training camps starting in late September, this restart will be completely different because many players haven’t touched a basketball in weeks due to strict stay-at-home measures in various states, Clifford stressed. ``I think the biggest challenge from a coach’s standpoint is to figure out how much we can put in with players,’’ Clifford said. ``We’re going to have at least two or three weeks here of individual work, so the earliest we could hope to get back (to full team practice sessions) would be three or four weeks from now.”
The state won’t move into the final phase of Newsom’s plan, which includes the reopening of sporting events to fans, until immunity to COVID-19 has increased and a vaccine is widely available. “It’s a very tough question for these leagues to answer because they must have a safety-first, health-first mindset,” Newsom said in a press conference. “There are conditions that persist in this state and this nation that make re-opening very, very challenging.”
For sports leagues to function, they will also need access to tests and, possibly, vaccines. The NBA estimates it needs at least 15,000 test kits in order to safely resume play, but commissioner Adam Silver has stated he isn’t comfortable using a high volume of tests while they are still publicly in high demand. Newsom, a noted sports fan, has been in contact with officials from several leagues. “It’s very fluid, and it should be,” Newsom said. “They should be very, very sensitive to the needs of the community.”
“I think we got to be creative. This has given us a unique opportunity to think as far outside the box as we possibly can,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said during a Wednesday Zoom call with reporters. “Working with our staff, just having a conversation that we don’t always have to do what we’ve always done just because we’ve always done it. This is an opportunity to push the envelope and try to come up with some new and creative things that can help our guys even when things do get back to normal.”
One creative development tool that has come up: Virtual reality. “You basically can put a guy on the floor and he’s got to move through space like he would on a real court playing against opponents,” Bickerstaff said. Multiple members of the organization have brought virtual reality up when discussing a path to development at this uncertain time. It’s clearly on Cleveland’s radar. “I like that space a lot,” one member of the organization told cleveland.com.
Multiple Western Conference athletic training officials referred to this psychological impact as a powerful added stressor for some players that could no doubt inhibit their ability to perform, even if the NBA was able to create an ideal environment at some point in the near future. "Some players will have an easier time breaking through that, and other players will have a real challenge with that," one Eastern Conference athletic training official said.
If, in fact, some players are ultimately uncomfortable being on the court -- and, thus, breaking social distancing guidelines -- then a number of team officials said they expect that feeling will dissipate in time, especially as financial losses mount. "I think as soon as checks are impacted negatively," said one Western Conference general manager, "guys are going to get over any concern they would have for returning to play."
Adam Himmelsbach: Per a Celtics spokesperson, season-ticket holders can now get their remaining regular-season tickets refunded, or add the credit to next season, with a 10% bonus. Fans who purchased single-game tickets through the Cs or Ticketmaster are now eligible for refunds or credits, too.
Large gatherings at sports and other events in Oregon should either be canceled or significantly modified through September because of the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Kate Brown announced Thursday. The announcement will have a direct impact on the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, MLS' Portland Timbers and collegiate programs at Oregon and Oregon State. The NBA and MLS seasons remain on hold, while the upcoming fall college sports season is the subject of intense debate.
Grousbeck is confident that the NBA will return at some point, but says it will only happen when it’s safe for all the players involved. “We’ll see another season for sure, you can count on that. We’re trying, and talking in private among the league. The general mood I have is optimistic,” he said. “We have to be focused, we have to be safe. But as the country unlocks, I think pro sports will follow shortly after that.”
While Coach K admits the NCAA faces more difficult challenges that professional leagues, NCAA will still follow the lead of their pro counterpart. "I think college will try to learn from what the professional sports do," he said. "You gotta just be really careful, but again you have to bring things back too. We're gonna watch what the NBA does especially, and I'm sure college football is going to watch what the NFL does."
Coach K says the idea of certain NCAA teams playing and others not, even within the same conference, is something that is being discussed. "We could have, in our country, a disjointed way of doing things in that certain regions may be playing where other regions aren't," Krzyzewski said on Thursday. "Or conferences have to make decisions as to whether or not everyone in the conference plays. In other words, in our conference we have 15 schools from 10 different states. What if, five states you allow things that in the other states you don't. Do those schools have an abbreviated schedule or a schedule without the others? There's a lot of talk about that, very complex."
According to 76ers General Manager Elton Brand, he's got a backup plan prepared. On Tuesday, the second-year GM assured the media that despite being in a state where the stay-at-home mandate doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, the Sixers would not fall behind everybody else in terms of getting players back up to speed. "We will definitely make sure our players are not at a disadvantage when the season starts," Brand said on a conference call. "We're looking at access in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as they're loosening the stay-at-home mandates."
Scott Agness: Pacers will NOT be opening up their practice facility on Friday, the first date allowed by the NBA, for individual workouts. Indy’s stay-at-home order was extended to May 15. Nate McMillan encouraged players to ramp up training and mentally prepare for the season to resume.
Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum is urging the NBA to adopt a balance between proper coronavirus safety measures and players getting back to work with the league allowing teams to open their facilities on Friday. The Trail Blazers, along with the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers, plan to open their facilities Friday in states in which the government has eased the stay-at-home mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been almost two months since the NBA suspended its season on March 11, and the league is seeking to exhaust all options in hopes of salvaging the 2019-20 season. Players are encouraged to stay in shape until health experts are able to decide whether a return to league play is feasible.
“I am worried like the rest of the world, but I like that it is optional and I’m pleased with the caution, structure and measures the Blazers organization has put in place to ensure the safest environment possible for all parties involved,” McCollum told Yahoo Sports. “I get the measures [the league is] taking, but you have to think at some point when there are drastic measures that need to be taken, ‘Is it really worth it?’ It’s either safe or it’s not. … And let’s just be honest, man, it’s not like it will be the first time players got gym access outside of the team’s facilities. Some people have been working out, if we’re being honest.”
Despite feeling uneasy about working out at the team facility, McCollum — who is also vice president of the National Basketball Players Association — intends to go in on Saturday to evaluate if it’s possible to safely execute a workout with so many restrictions. “The issue is you can go to your practice facility, but there’s all these stipulations,” McCollum told Yahoo Sports. “You can’t use certain stuff, can’t do certain stuff. Now they’re talking about you might have to be 12 feet away from your strength coach. How are you going to lift 12 feet away from somebody?”
Rockets sources, however, said that D'Antoni has determined that he would coach if the season resumes, in large part because of confidence in NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league office to create as safe an environment as possible. Sources said D'Antoni, who has been sheltering in place at his Houston home and plans to take precautions such as wearing a mask, has faith that Silver would not allow the league to resume if the safety of players, coaches and staffers would be compromised.
Tina Cervasio: Garrett Temple: #Nets Garrett Temple tells me on @fox5ny about NBPA scheduled call, where #NBA Commish Adam Silver will be checking in. "We actually have a call on Friday w/the League. I've been on a few calls as 1 of the vice presidents on the executive committee for our union. And just trying to figure it out at the end of the day. It's so fluid & really nobody has a single answer. We know obviously it's not going to happen this month, if it does start...maybe late June. Obviously a bunch of different scenarios have been thrown out, but until States, have lifted certain regulations and until we can try to get this thing, this virus under control, we really don't know what's going to happen."
Tim Reynolds: Wednesday is the day the Heat are now targeting for a reopening of their facility to players for voluntary workouts, per source. (Disclaimer: Dates for virtually everything in sports right now should be called "fluid.")
Despite continued optimism from the NBA that the season will resume, the Utah Jazz are offering season ticket holders a number of credit and refund options for the remaining 10 home games of the 2019-20 regular season. On Wednesday, the Jazz sent an email to season ticket holders saying the NBA has allowed the team to offer them the opportunity for refunds and credits for the postponed games, which is a change from the original policy that stated tickets for postponed games would be honored when games are rescheduled or refunded when games are canceled.
Storyline: Season Suspension
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July 5, 2020 | 6:47 pm EDT Update
The Rockets plan to travel to Orlando later this week and will play their first of eight “seeding” games on July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets are assured of one of eight playoff spots in the Western Conference and are tied for fifth place with the Oklahoma City Thunder, with the Mavericks 1½ games behind. “The team that catches a rhythm first, kind of has an advantage overall,” Covington said of his expectations for the abbreviated sprint to the NBA’s finish line this season.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
He recalled that he and his cousin and two other youths were playing football in the street and occasionally running into a neighbor’s yard. The neighbor told the children to stay out of his yard, and Covington said he and his cousin obliged. The other two kids did not, and the man called the police. The officers began to detain all four of the youths, even though the neighbor told police Covington and his cousin had done nothing wrong. “The cop didn’t care; he arrested all of us,” Covington said. “He put is in the back of the car and took us down to the station. I got stuck in the car – I was too tall and my foot was wedged in between (the front seats). I told the officer I couldn’t get out. He said if you don’t get out of this car, I’m going to break your leg to get you out.”
July 5, 2020 | 2:38 pm EDT Update
July 5, 2020 | 1:47 pm EDT Update
As for next month’s challenge, Marlowe is confident that he and his color analyst, Scott Hastings, can interpret and call the games from afar. “It’s certainly a technique on how to do it,” he said. “You can’t always see clearly or hear clearly an official’s decision. You can’t interpret it because you’re not right there, so it takes a little bit of imagination.”
July 5, 2020 | 1:10 pm EDT Update
For the most part, the players are feeling pretty comfortable with the health and safety precautions that the NBA has put in place, and believe that the league is doing every thing within their power to mitigate risk related to the coronavirus. It all looks good in theory and on paper, but how it will all work once the players are actually there is another thing entirely. “I’m sure there will be some changes once we get down there, and they see that some things worked and some things didn’t,” Georges Niang said on Thursday.
As far as the actual games go, the players aren’t worried about playing without fans or how the schedule was decided on. They’re just excited to get to play again. “We miss playing the game of basketball,” Niang said. “We miss our day jobs so I think for the most part we’re excited to get down there and use our platform for social issues and be safe while doing that. The NBA has set up an environment that’s given us the right safety protocols to move in the right direction to be able to play.”
The insinuation was that players would not be able to be away from their sexual partners for such a long time. “Forget three months, they’re gonna struggle with three weeks,” Smith yelled. Do the Jazz think that players will break the rules of the bubble? “If they do, that’s them,” O’Neale said, dismissing the notion. “I’m single, I’m by myself, I ain’t got nothing to worry about. Quarantine life was kind of easy for me. I just played video games and hung out with my dog, so I think it’ll kind of be the same thing. Just without my dog. I’ll be alright.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Rick Carlisle: “On the heels of George Floyd’s death on May 25, the head coaches got together on a Zoom call which was put together very quickly. We talked about the things that are going on in the world. Lloyd Pierce, who is the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, made a very passionate speech to the entire group about his feelings about everything. He was immediately appointed the chair of the NBA coaches committee on racial injustice and reform. That committee met on Zoom calls probably five times and filtered through a lot of different things to the point where now on a national level we’re under the Obama Foundation …”
Rick Carlisle: “In Dallas, I’m partnering with Mothers Against Police Brutality. We’ve met many times on Zoom. We had an in-person meeting with the mayor. We had a virtual meeting with T.C. Broadnax, the city manager. We had another meeting with [Dallas police chief] Renee Hall. So we’ve gotten into good conversations there. Our initiative, the final title of it, is NBA Coaches for Racial Justice. We will have a pin that we wear. A big part of what we’re doing, because we’re coaches, we’re teachers and we’re educators.”
July 5, 2020 | 1:00 pm EDT Update
Perhaps the most difficult injury to return and recover from is a ruptured achilles, but not only has Rodney Hood put in the work off the court, he is also putting a tremendous amount of work on the court. The Portland Trail Blazers tweeted a video of the former Duke basketball player rising up to the rim, albeit in a controlled and cautious way as he works his way back to the court.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith was the one to throw the San Antonio Spurs head coach’s name in the mix, but there’s been no word about the idea since. Not until Nets general manager Sean Marks was asked about the possibility on WFAN’s Joe & Evan on Friday: Pop has a job. So I will say that. And, obviously, we all know he’s an amazing, amazing coach — and to be quite frank, an even better leader. So I’ll let Pop continue to coach for the Spurs. He owes it to them and they owe it to him. I’m sure he’s quite happy there.
When he gets back to the head coaching search, Marks intends to talk to Brooklyn’s “key players” about who will run the show next. And he specifically mentioned Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving when addressing the matter on WFAN: It would be probably, you know, not incredibly smart of us if we did not involve some of these key players in this decision. That only goes to Kevin, I think it’s — you know, Kevin and Kyrie, we’re gonna pick their brains on what they are looking for in a leader, what they want in a coach, what they need. I think these guys have been brutally honest so far.
Storyline: Nets Coaching Job
Jamaal Wilkes said he’s proud to be an American and wants law and order while at the same time seeing the need for change in the wake of demonstrations after the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. “I’m not an activist. I’m not in the guts of the stuff, but we need some kind of reform with the police department (while) recognizing that the majority are good police,” Wilkes said in a recent conversation with the Bay Area News Group’s Wes Goldberg. “And they are probably as sick and embarrassed and disgusted with the Floyd incident as most of the country is.”
The Floyd murder during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jamaal Wilkes: “On one hand, it was very shocking and disturbing. On the other hand, it’s nothing new . . . it was unbelievable. It was horrible and no one could deny it because there was footage. That, along there being no sports, brought it to a head. I think that all lives matter, of course, but it’s only black lives that are being murdered. We can no longer tip-toe or ignore the elephant in the room, which is systemic racism, white privilege.”
July 5, 2020 | 12:42 pm EDT Update

Jared Sullinger wants back in the NBA

On Saturday, The Basketball Tournament kicked off and Jared Sullinger was on the sideline for Carmen’s Crew. He was the coach of the team filled mostly with Ohio State alumni. It’s a role he relishes. Yet it’s not a role he wants to assume permanently. Sullinger, the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2012 who enjoyed four solid seasons with the club, still has aspirations of returning to the NBA. He’s only 28 but hasn’t played in the league in three years. His post-Celtic career lasted just 11 games with the Raptors, and then Sullinger learned about the harsh reality of being injured and considered damaged goods.
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He has recovered fully. Sullinger is married and the father of twins. He reflects on his Celtics years fondly but hopes he’s not done gobbling up rebounds with his burly frame. “I want to play and, of course, the NBA is the ultimate goal,” he said. “The last two years I just felt like I had to find myself. I had to find something that drives me and makes me want to play. In the NBA, you kind of get lost in the shuffle because you have so many games, and when I got out there in [the Chinese Basketball Association] it was kind of a retreat for Jared Sullinger to learn himself and fall in love with the game again.”
Smith aspires to be a general manager, but the NBA has had issues in recent years with diversity in front offices. He hopes that recent events will cause the NBA power structure to closely examine hiring. “To think people don’t gravitate toward people who are like them, look like them, or are like-minded, then you don’t understand the basis of stereotypes and racism, which is two different things,” he said. “If I make my decisions based on race and not having the ability to have the opportunity, then I’m a racist. It’s a simple process. White America is like how do I figure it out? You’re making the decision and you’re taking into account that it will hinder someone based on their race. That’s a racist act, period.”
What bothers Smith and many other former players is that front office candidates who did not play the game but are astute analytically are somehow seen as more qualified than former players. “You mean to tell me LeBron James couldn’t put a team together? He puts it together now. You’re telling me his production and consumption of information is not more valuable than someone who’s never played the game? It’s impossible. It’s an awareness.”
Though Marlowe said he would’ve preferred the NBA scrap the regular-season games and jump straight to the playoffs, he did find an advantage for the Nuggets. Their grueling schedule, featuring games against both Los Angeles teams, the Raptors and the Thunder, is a perfect primer for the postseason, he said. The Nuggets were 15-11 against teams that were .500 or better throughout the season, which was a better record than all but three teams in the NBA. In addition, as Marlowe pointed out, seeding doesn’t really matter since there’s no homecourt advantage. “I think the eight play-in games are interesting because I believe six of the last eight for the Nuggets were going to be played away from Pepsi Center, so the Nuggets don’t have to do that,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think winning is the preeminent goal in these (seeding) games. I don’t think it really matters to the Nuggets to finish third, fourth, fifth or sixth. I think the key is, can coach Malone and the rest of the coaches get this team playing at its zenith in these eight games and going into the playoffs?”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Meanwhile, high atop the Chicago skyline, Bosh was in a conference room receiving a pitch from the Heat — a meeting punctuated by Pat Riley unfurling a small velvet carpet onto the table, followed by the presentation of a small velvet bag. “Oh, yeah, Pat brought his rings out. It looked just like a Crown Royal bag,” Bosh said. “He puts it down, like boom. Big boy talk. When he ended the meeting, Pat gave me a 2006 Heat championship ring.” “Take it. Keep it. Give it back to me when you win one,” Riley said to Bosh. “I still haven’t given it back,” Bosh said. “I wonder if he even remembers that? I think I mentioned it once, like, ‘Yo, do you want that ring back?’ And he said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And I kept it moving.”
A generation ago, it was tough to find any Warriors fans outside of the Bay Area, let alone at some desolate outpost in Southeast Europe. But by now, such encounters no longer count as shocking. After five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, with a roster that features some of the game’s most marketable players, and after a concerted effort to raise their profile abroad, the Warriors emerged as a certifiable global brand. According to the team’s internal tracking, the majority of the Warriors’ social media followers reside outside the United States — that’s 80 percent of their followers on Facebook, 70 percent on Instagram, 52 percent on Twitter.
He recalled over the phone last week that in the late ’80s, growing the NBA meant Stern handing a baffled TV executive from Italy a stack of videocassette recordings in hopes the exec would air them when he got back home. “The victories were getting a game that was played 10 days ago aired at a terrible time on Italian television,’’ Welts said. “That’s the kind of thing we considered a victory back then.” Around that time, league officials also attended an international market show in Cannes. “With pretty much a cardboard table and a bunch of business cards,’’ Welts said. “We just tried to grab any television programmer who was there to try to explain to them what the NBA was and why it would be such a great property for their company to air on television.”
July 5, 2020 | 4:34 am EDT Update

Nets to make 'godfather offer' to Gregg Popovich?

In an appearance this week on the “Let’s Get Technical” podcast with retired NBA stars Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, Gerald Brown of SiriusXM NBA Radio noted the presence of rumors linking Popovich to the Brooklyn Nets. The rumors state that Nets owner Joe Tsai is looking to make a “godfather offer” to Popovich for him to come coach the team.

Stone Cold Shea Jackson: It’s mostly trolls I guess. But even homie callin him entitled. Earlier in June and people siding with him. Now they talkin bout him demanding a trade and shit but it ain’t never from him. And that got niggas callin him a bum. And he the realest dude you could find in the league. Damian Lillard: My stance ain’t changed. This is a result of a pandemic and lack of content lol.
Storyline: Damian Lillard Trade?
Add in Nic Claxton’s season-ending injury, and that leaves Jarrett Allen as the only healthy Net taller than 6-foot-9. Expect GM Sean Marks to sign a big man as a substitute player for Jordan. “We have to definitely think about that,” Vaughn said. “Sean and I talked this morning on a call and we talked about addressing our size and not putting extra demand on Jarrett. So that could definitely be a route we take for sure.
From the moment he and his teammates reconvened in Florida last week, Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka said everyone was “locked in” and ready to get to work. “I saw just how everyone is in great shape,” Ibaka said on a conference call with reporters Saturday. “They came here in great shape and as soon as we got here everyone was starting to put in work. “I’ve been in the league for 11 years. You can see when people’s locked in and they are ready mentally, and when they are not. “So I can tell you right now, mentally, everybody is ready. Everybody is ready.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Josh Lewenberg: Serge on COVID-19 numbers in Florida: “Honestly, it’s a little concerning. Hopefully everybody follows the rules when we get into the bubble in Orlando… I have my daughter, who lives here. It’s kinda scary a little bit.” Ibaka on Raptors: “Man, listen, we believe in us. We have the experience, we have the championship mentality already, we’ve got confidence. It’s time to go to work. We’re ready.”
“I’m happy now. I’m in a good place, you know,” Gobert told reporters Friday. “And I’m happy that I get the joy back from playing basketball with my team and the competitiveness is back. I’m ready to try to go out there and try to win the championship. That’s the goal. And to be honest, after everything we’ve been through as a team and as human beings, it would be a great comeback.” Gobert answered questions for about 11 minutes. He talked about the relationship with Mitchell. (“It’s never going to be perfect,” he said, acknowledging strains that have been no secret.) He talked about the potential of signing a lucrative extension — he’s supermax-eligible — with the Jazz, which could happen before next season. (“I don’t plan on leaving right now,” he said.) He talked about his recovery from the virus, which is ongoing, at least in how his sense of smell hasn’t totally recovered. (“Smelling, I took that for granted too. It’s back now, it’s back at 80%, I’m not worried,” he said.)