July 14, 2020 | 8:40 am EDT Update
Zenit Saint-Petersburg is seriously considering to sign Greg Monroe, according to Eurohoops sources. Talks between the involved parties are ongoing with the “Moose” still exploring his NBA and overseas options.
Zalgiris fans will see yet another new face in green-and-white, as the Lithuanian champions have signed a one-year deal with French center Joffrey Lauvergne Zalgiris fans will see yet another new face in green-and-white, as the Lithuanian champions have signed a one-year deal with French center Joffrey Lauvergne.
Zach Lowe: I was talking to someone around the league the other day, and we were just sort of spitballing about players. There’s a lot of people within the league that think Donovan Mitchell is still a bit overrated. And this guy was one of them. We were talking about who would you rather have Devin Booker or Donovan Mitchell. And I think the only skill in which Donovan Mitchell is ahead of Devin Booker is defense and I don’t think he’s ahead by as much as you think he’s ahead of Devin Booker.
July 14, 2020 | 3:03 am EDT Update
The Los Angeles Lakers’ time in the NBA bubble might have had an inauspicious start, with guard Rajon Rondo discovering a fractured right thumb during the team’s second practice, but coach Frank Vogel is still counting on the veteran’s contributions. “What we have to understand about Rajon, losing Rajon is a huge loss for our team, but we expect Rajon to be a part of our playoff run,” Vogel said on a video conference call with reporters Monday.
Even with his upcoming supermax decision full of uncertainty, with the new realities of the league in effect following the pandemic, Milwaukee’s front office isn’t worried about opposing players trying to potentially recruit him. “Zero. We can only control what we can control. If it’s considered tampering or recruiting or whatever it is, in our league people talk, people are connected, people have relationships,” said Bucks GM Jon Horst. “At the end of the day, I have full confidence in my personal relationship, our league’s relationship, our coach’s relationship, his teammate’s relationship with Giannis in what we’re doing and what we’re about.
Exactly one month before announcing he’s tested positive for COVID-19, Russell Westbrook was hanging poolside at Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas. Westbrook was with a group of friends, including former NFL running back Reggie Bush, fashion jeweler Greg Yuna, bodybuilders and trainers Mike Rashid and Valeriu Guto and Wynn club host Jai Shaun White at the outdoor dayclub on June 13. The group posed for a photo at one of the party space’s VIP bungalows.
Responding to a question asking if Westbrook had contracted the virus at the hotel, Wynn Las Vegas referred to company policy that it does not disclose personal information about guests. Generally, the statement read: “Any guest diagnosed with COVID-19 while visiting the resort is reported to the Southern Nevada Health District, which conducts community contact tracing. Our internal contact tracing determines who in the resort the guest has had contact with and what areas they visited; relevant contacts are informed for testing and the areas visited are thoroughly sanitized.
Lydecia Holmes: You only cross the line for your MOMA’s COOKING! AND I WAS NOT IN FLORIDA SIR!! #lol @Rich_Holmes22 . Love you baby!
“Guys make mistakes. The Postmates — you learn,” Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside said Monday, referring to the popular online delivery service. “I think more mistakes made as we go on, but guys are learning what you can and can’t do. This is new to everybody. So it’s a learning lesson.”
Denver Nuggets guard Troy Daniels posted two images of his meal to his Instagram story when he first arrived inside the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World last Tuesday. The post immediately went viral as social media jokes were made comparing the entrees to the meals “Fyre Fest” distributed. “It’s actually not that bad man, to be honest with you,” Daniels tells ClutchPoints from inside the bubble. “I think my picture that went viral really took everything out of context.” He then went on to explain how he really feels about the bubble. “You can tell the NBA put a lot of thought and a lot of money into it,” Daniels said. “Once you get out of the quarantine process, it’s really dope.”
Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown said Monday he has been playing All-Star Ben Simmons “exclusively” at power forward in practices inside the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Resort and has been thrilled by what he’s seen. “He’s so dynamic,” Brown said on a conference call with reporters. “Let’s just talk about running. There’s nobody faster in the NBA. So to always have the ball and dribble it up against five guys … to do that dilutes some of his potent weapons. “So, watching him fly up the floor, watching him and Joel [Embiid] play off each other, has been a really good look. I think they’ve been fantastic together.”
Gratitude to be working during a time when he said “there’s not a lot of hope.” Gratitude for the opportunity to again inspire, playing the game he loves. Gratitude for his basketball career breathing another life. Gratitude for the opportunity to compete for a championship with the team that, just under three weeks away from the restart, owns the third-best record (44-20) and title odds in the league. “I feel really blessed to be in this situation. In September, I had a freak accident and cut my achilles,” Noah said, referencing an incident in which he sliced his achilles — crucially, not rupturing it — while carrying a steel ice tub, which required six-plus months of rehab. “And you know I told myself that’s just not how I wanted to end my career. So the day after the surgery I was in the gym working out, with the hope of making this team.”
“He looks great,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “I don’t know if this stoppage has helped any single player more than him, because he was not healthy when we signed him, and now he is. And so, you know, I think he’s gonna help us on the floor, but even if he doesn’t, he’s just gonna help us with his presence, and his voice. I think he’ll be invaluable for Zu(bac).”
For Conley, this latest round of training camp represents a polar opposite from his initial foray in a Utah Jazz uniform. He’s comfortable now. He knows what to expect from his coach, from his teammates, from the front office. It’s no secret that the season hasn’t been easy for him, especially when it came to adapting to a new system for the first time since matriculating from high school to Ohio State. But what seems to have been a painfully long integration now appears to be a thing of the past. “It feels like I’ve played a full season already,” Conley said. “I’ve had a chance to build chemistry with my coaches and with my teammates. I haven’t had any questions about plays or my role. I have a clear picture on what to expect.”
For the second straight media availability, head coach Doc Rivers was non-committal when asked about Leonard’s health status and the team’s plan with his injury management. “I don’t know that yet,” Rivers said of Leonard’s limitations with minutes and back-to-backs. “But no limits. Kawhi is healthy, for the most part. That still doesn’t mean that we don’t want to maintain him and get him through the first eight games and get ready for the playoffs. We want to be smart about this. Not just for Kawhi. It’s with everybody. “But having everybody healthy was more about training camp. I mean, we really did not have a great training camp because we didn’t have enough bodies and enough of our key guys practicing. We have a virtually new team so we needed our new guys to be on the floor, and we didn’t have that ability to do that. This time, for the most part, we’ll have everybody in.”
But Leonard has become the inadvertent poster boy for load management, and any mystery regarding his status only fuels speculation. For now, the specifics of his health remain a mystery — remember, Rivers qualified Leonard’s health with “for the most part,” which leaves room for interpretation — and this storyline isn’t going away until games resume and there is a greater sense of where he’s at physically.
Tom Thibodeau remains the front-runner for the position, league sources have told The Athletic. The Knicks have 11 candidates in all, embarking on an exhaustive and wide-ranging search that might just land on the same man who has been thought to be their first choice all along. Rose told MSG Network last month that he expects a mid- to late-July conclusion to the search.
Don Harris: I can confirm that Spurs Asst. coach Tim Duncan is NOT with the team in Orlando. Spurs tell me Tim and a few members of the medical and performance group are directing LaMarcus Aldridge’s rehabilitation program.
The Bulls hired Eversley three weeks after vehement blowback from Black executives over not having any candidates for the open executive vice-president of basketball operations job. Former Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas got the top job, while Eversley was hired as the No. 2 man. Behind the scenes, there’s still skepticism about the Bulls. “I could just see people saying they hired him because they needed a Black face,” said one high-ranking African American team executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Knicks still have another critical hire to make in the front office. Craig Robinson left the organization, a league source confirmed, to take over as the executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Robinson had been the Knicks’ VP of player development since 2017, when he was hired by former president Steve Mills.
Mike Vorkunov: Sean Maclean started with Knicks today as an exec part of Brock Aller’s basketball strategy team, according to a source. He’ll be working alongside Michael Arcieri & others. Maclean worked in strategy lead roles at Capital One and Stack Sports before this. https://t.co/lQb9GQq9g5
Mark Medina: Raptors guard Kyle Lowry on protesting systemic racism: “I grew up a black man in America. Definitely a tough thing to grow up that way. You never know what could possibly happen to you. You never know if you’re going to make it out. So for me to do that itself is a blessing.”
As NBA players arrive at games during resumed play in Orlando, they will have the freedom to wear clothing from their own wardrobes while walking from the team bus to the venue’s locker rooms, according to a league spokesperson. Initially, ESPN was misinformed by a league spokesperson that a “concrete” dress code protocol had been finalized last week, requiring players to fully dress for games in their hotel rooms and “be in uniform and warmups when they arrive” to the game venue.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., suggested Monday he would support a subpoena of NBA commissioner Adam Silver to investigate the league’s relationship with China. Hawley expressed concern that the NBA is allowing players to wear preapproved social justice cause messages on their jerseys for causes such as Black Lives Matter but does not allow for messages relating to China or supporting law enforcement. He called a Senate Judiciary committee subpoena of Silver “a great idea.”
“If the NBA’s going to put these social justice statements on the back of uniforms, which is what they’re doing now, why is it that there’s nothing on there about, like, free Hong Kong or the Uyghurs or anything that has to do with the billions of dollars the NBA makes in China?” Hawley said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Hawley also fired back at ESPN for suspending reporter Adrian Wojnarowski after he responded to an email from Hawley’s press office with an expletive. Hawley said Wojnarowski’s suspension was a distraction and he should be reinstated. “They don’t want to address the core issue, which is the NBA’s relationship with China. ESPN has a slice of that pie,” the senator said.
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, in a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Friday, wrote that the league’s policy on social injustice messages “appears to stop at the edge of your corporate sponsors’ sensibilities,” especially when it comes to matters involving China and support of the United States military and law enforcement personnel. In the letter, Hawley said Silver has been “deepening the NBA’s ties to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]” since Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong in October.
Andrews is one of only 10 or so “Group 1” reporters who will be admitted to the NBA bubble, which started welcoming 22 teams last week to restart the suspended season by July 31. Andrews admits she thought twice about the assignment. Reporters must agree to stay inside the bubble for three months. They must undergo daily COVID-19 testing. They can only move between their hotel and the practice and competition venues. But Andrews seized on the chance to tell the story of the NBA comeback to millions of global basketball fans. “I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. I have bouts with anxiety,” said Andrews. “But first and foremost, I cover sports. I love journalism first. And sports journalism is what I do. This is an incredible journalistic opportunity. There are only 10 reporters and a handful of other folks who are going to be able to experience this and document it first-hand. It’s documenting history.”
“I keep getting asked if I’m bored? The answer is absolutely not. There’s so much reporting to be done; my days are just packed,” she said. Andrews said she has also taken up meditation to remain on an even keel.
Harris remains saddened by the loss of Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January. “We talked different times over the years, but he was focused mainly at first just on him and what he could do to be the best. And for a while, he wasn’t the best teammate because he was, you know, in it to be the best. And he didn’t have patience for other players who couldn’t do what he could do. But he developed maturity later in his career. And he became such a man and did things for others,” said Harris. “And the shame of it all is that, at age 41, he was going to make an impact for years. He had a program all set up. But it’s a shame that he wasn’t able to continue on for another 20, 30 years and show just what kind of a man he turned out to be.”
Boban Marjanovic ( @BobanMarjanovic ) and Tobias Harris ( @tobias31 ) are reunited in Orlando! Tobias ( @tobias31 ) wasn’t having any of it though, telling Boban ( @BobanMarjanovic ) – “I don’t like you no more. You got new friends now.”
July 13, 2020 | 9:55 pm EDT Update
Harrison Faigen: Kyle Kuzma on why he brought a panini press to the bubble: “I brought that after I saw the pictures of what they were serving here. I just wanted to eat comfortably during the self-quarantine portion of things.”
Harrison Faigen: Kyle Kuzma said he hasn’t really been taking part in the bubble entertainment options. “There’s nothing but basketball for me here. I’m not really interested in doing a lot of other things.”
July 13, 2020 | 9:36 pm EDT Update
Cayleigh Griffin: Coach D’Antoni clarifies that he is hoping the players who did not make the flight will be in Orlando mid-week. He says there is a good chance, but he cannot say for sure. He noted that they will be ready to go, nonetheless, and excited to be back on the floor playing. #Rockets