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The Raptors came to be one of the few NBA teams at the Walt Disney World Resort accompanied by both of their senior executives — president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster. “It was a conversation that we had very early on when we knew there were only so many spots,” said Webster on a conference call Thursday. “But really, it wasn’t that difficult a decision. I think you guys know how we operate, and having both of us here is good to take care of things here on the ground — we can communicate back to Toronto — but I think more than anything … we’re here in full support, we’re in this together, obviously we think this will be a long haul for us here, and we just wanted to do that.”
The least amount of time that anyone in the Raptors travelling party will have been away from their families by the time the second round of the playoffs begin – which is when families can come to Disney World – will be 10 weeks. Webster and Ujiri – each with young families at home – are no exception. “They’re really committed to the organization — that goes without saying — but they’re committed to what we’re doing,” said Raptors guard Norman Powell.
When the Raptors left the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Naples, Fla., to make their way to Orlando after having spent two weeks there in ‘pre-quarantine,’ they looked up to see a pair of gleaming buses in the franchise’s Black and Red colour scheme with “Black Lives Matter” emblazoned on the side. “We didn’t know they were doing that, or at least I didn’t know,” said Powell, who has been outspoken in his support for social justice and is donating proceeds of his “Am I Next” shirts from his clothing line to a pair of charities aligned with the cause. “… But it was really cool to walk out of the lobby and see those buses with Black Lives Matter out there. I really like that.”
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA informed teams of updated protocols for player re-entry: - Less than 4 days of quarantine (or none) if approved leaving for local/NBA-designated medical treatment - 30 minutes outside room per day during quarantine under conditions such as 25 ft. social distancing
Hayward notes the days feel a lot like a training camp, particularly when the team went to Newport for a week. He writes, "You wake up, go eat, come back, hang out for a little bit. Maybe you have practice in the morning or early afternoon. You come back. You go eat again. Get treatment. You have a meeting. You come back, you eat again, you go get tested. You go back to your room. So there hasn’t been that much free time. There’s small pockets throughout the day of free time, but not much."
Hayward points out, "There’s one conference room for each team, which is kind of like a meeting room and dining room, and it’s like an eight-minute walk from the rooms. But there’s one hallway to get there. So everybody walks down this hallway throughout the day at different times and you have to be wearing your mask the whole time. So you run into people from the different teams every day, and the coaches and all that stuff. It’s almost like passing period in high school, where you’re just constantly running into people and seeing the same people. Once we start playing games and competing against each other that might get a little weird."
J.R. Smith said he likes that he can play golf every day and the food has gotten better since the initial quarantine period. There’s just one problem. Asked what he wished he had packed, Smith replied, “Man, more underwear and socks.” “Honestly, I packed like seven because I thought I’d be good for once a day,” Smith said. “But I ain’t calculate all the showers in between everything that I be doing, so I’ve been running through in like two, three days. We’ve got a great laundry system, though. We’ve got a great laundry system, so I’m good.”
Kelly Iko: Rockets F Luc Mbah a Moute has landed in Orlando, a source told @TheAthletic
P.J. Tucker didn’t see Russell Westbrook walk into practice at 7:30 Wednesday morning, but he felt it when the guard arrived. Literally. “He walked by and smacked my neck,” Tucker said grinning. “I didn’t know he was out yet.”
Holmes announced early last week that he had to quarantine for an extra period of time because he met a delivery food driver, which was a violation of the league’s health and safety protocol for the bubble. So what was it that led Holmes to make the decision? Some chicken wings. “I ordered some food, ordered some wings and went to grab the wings and I wasn’t really too aware of the borders,” Holmes said on Wednesday. “I stepped out, grabbed the food and came back and they just let me know they want me to be as safe as possible and had to enforce the rules, and I completely understand that. I won’t make that mistake again.”
I see you’ve been fishing. Do you regularly go fishing or is that because you’re there? Buddy Hield: I’m fishing because I have to be here. When was the last time you’d gone fishing before arriving in Orlando? Buddy Hield: This is the first time I’ve ever been fishing, bro.
I’m curious about the food. You’ve told me more than once the Bahamas has the best food, so how’s the food so far? Some have complained when they arrived. Buddy Hield: I’m grateful for the food and everything. I came from nothing, but you have to realize a lot of these guys come from Black communities so even though they probably didn’t grow up rich, they still had a mother’s love and touch into the food. So when you didn’t grow up rich, there was still a good cooked meal, it came from the heart, it was seasoned right, you know how it is. It’s a mother’s love. It didn’t matter if you were white or Black, it was a good, cooked meal. You don’t need a five-star lobster meal because we’re NBA players, no there’s a mother’s love in cooking. Whether it’s soul food, some fish, it was cooked in a way that you knew it was cooked right, it’s not cooked hotel right. I think when guys were complaining it wasn’t like “Oh we’re NBA players, we’re bougie.” We didn’t grow up on food like this, when we were poor, eating like this. So I think when people saw the pictures they thought “Oh, NBA players aren’t grateful.”
Two of his best role players, Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell, have left the Disney bubble to attend to personal matters, sources confirmed to The Athletic. Both are expected to return, and in neither case is the player sick with COVID-19, but they will be subject to quarantine periods of four to 14 days when they return. Either way, they definitely won’t be playing Wednesday. The Clippers are also without Ivica Zubac and Landry Shamet.
Almost all players and coaches on Zoom calls with local and national media on Tuesday were wearing masks, strongly suggested if not mandated by the league. Dudley says that players been sticking with that protocol when the cameras are off as well. “Ninety-eight percent of the time, you see people with masks,” Dudley said. “Maybe (not) outside, if they’re walking somewhere or riding a bike or something like that. But for the most part, I want you to imagine you’re in a hotel room, and a convention center’s connected. By the time you leave your hotel room, you’re in the elevator, you go downstairs, your mask (is) on, (when) you get to the meal room, you take your mask off. You wear your mask to practice. You get to the practice, you take it off. It’s really a five-, 10-minute thing, and you can take it off. People are doing that. I would say that people are taking it serious, but to be honest with you, we’re not doing too much. Yes, you might see some pictures of people fishing. When they’re fishing, their masks are usually off. But when they’re around people – especially people who are non-teammates – and you’re walking by, everybody has their masks on.”
Howard took to Instagram Live on Tuesday in an apparent effort to clear the air. “I do not want people out here lying and people on here trying to say stuff about me because of my (Instagram) Lives and stuff that’s going on,” Howard said. “Because I’ve seen some things online about this whole mask situation.” He proceeded to rail against an online aggregator,, as well as USA Today, MSN and Yahoo, saying he had never talked to reporters from any of those outlets. However, his recent social media posts and a video conference with reporters on Saturday provided ample material for publications to quote him.
Players were instructed by the league to be “clean and neat in appearance” upon arriving at the arena, with postgame showers taking place back at team hotels. Clifford and Rivers conferred multiple times before the game about some of the concepts they hoped to work on during the scrimmage; both agreed, for example, to play some zone defense. Head coaches and their three front-row assistant coaches did not wear masks in this game, but all other team staff members behind them did.
The largest of Disney’s three arenas will have 62 seats for players who wish to come and watch. The others have 45 and 30 seats. “I’ve got to look at the schedule and see who’s playing, things like that, but there’s not much to do here, so to go out and watch some other teams, scout a little bit, I might end up going there,” Davis said.
When someone on the Clippers’ bench yelled “and one,” searching for a foul that was not called, it was the only voice heard in the arena. “I thought it was cool when somebody scored, they had their own graphic on the screen,” Williams said. “I heard the defensive chants. But when I actually was on the floor, I didn’t hear it. I didn’t see it. I didn’t feel it. I was locked into the game. “So I don’t know who that experience is for because there’s no fans in the arena but it definitely wasn’t for us.”
Fred Katz: Rui Hachimura took off his mask during his postgame media availability after he was told he was supposed to wear it. No penalties or anything like that being levied for not wearing masks, but the league just sent out a memo advising players and coaches to wear them in pressers.
Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks had her own brush with panic shortly after arriving in the bubble on June 12, when her first test returned positive. “My phone rang on Monday, and it was a Florida number,” she told me in a less ominous phone call last week. Rooks knew what was coming. “I said, ‘I assume this is a bad call,’” she said. Rooks was “shocked,” saying she had tested negative just before flying down to Orlando.
As she absorbed the news, Rooks sought guidance from a trio of NBA players who had previously tested positive for the coronavirus: Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, whose positive test in March triggered the league’s suspension of play; his teammate Donovan Mitchell; and the Brooklyn Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie, who opted not to join his team in the bubble after testing positive earlier this month. “They were super helpful, and I’m also thankful to them for not telling anybody,” Rooks laughed. Ultimately, Rooks could breathe a sigh of relief: The initial result was deemed a false positive after subsequent retests came back negative.
Gerald Bourguet: Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque are not with the team due to personal matters. Aron Baynes has COVID-19. All 3 are expected to join the Suns at later dates
Gina Mizell: Baynes says he is hopeful that he can join the #Suns at some point during the restart, but has not recorded the two negative tests the NBA requires to travel to Orlando.
Kyle Goon: Some pregame graphics — the NBA is still exploring ways to do this, but they want a home game to actually *feel* like a home game. This could be done through graphics, audience sound pumped in, or virtual fans among the options being considered. Important come playoff time.
Ira Winderman: Kings' Richaun Holmes said he violated quarantine because he was unaware of border limits at Disney. Said it happened after ordering wings. Said he utilized a punching bag in his room during quarantine. Won't play tonight in 8 p.m. scrimmage vs. Heat.
Erik Horne: Sam Presti on Dennis Schroder having to leave Orlando for the birth of his second child: "We’re totally supportive of whatever Dennis wants to do. That’s not rhetoric. Family is the most important thing. We’ll find a way to do this for him. The team has been adaptable all year."
Erik Horne: Sam Presti on Dennis Schroder for Sixth Man of the Year: “The thing that doesn’t get enough recognition is his willingness to accept the role itself. He’s a big reason the team is functioning at a high level. He’s playing the best basketball of his career."
Jonathan Feigen: P.J. Tucker, on first day of the mask requirements for the zoom media sessions: "I listen to the professionals. If they say we wear masks, I wear a mask. At the end of the day, people are dying. A lot of people have died, and we've got to protect one another."
Harrison Faigen: Kyle Kuzma does not see himself leaving the bubble for any reason. "It's tough for me because I'm trying to win a ring, so I'm here... If anything happens, sorry in advance."
Adam Wexler: #Rockets @Russell Westbrook has cleared protocol and will meet with the media before he & the team practice today. D'Antoni said he thinks Westbrook could be ready to go for full practice, but they'll see. Probably do 80% of practice at least. #NBABubble
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley left Orlando on Tuesday night to address an emergency personal matter and he intends to rejoin the team in the future, league sources told ESPN. Already short-handed, Beverley is the second Clippers player to leave Orlando. Montrezl Harrell had an excused absence for a family emergency.
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA has informed teams that they are installing “Timeout Chairs” during games: - Movable chairs to court so players and coaches can huddle, but players must stand/sit around chairs apart from bench - Chairs cleaned by team staff at end of each timeout
While under quarantine with his family at home, Milwaukee Bucks swingman and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo said he didn't have access to a hoop. But apparently that wasn't the case. Antetokounmpo admitted after Tuesday's practice in Orlando, Florida, that he was just saying that to gain an edge on his peers. "Anybody out there that thought I didn't have access to a gym, they don't even know me," Antetokounmpo said, laughing. "So, I just said that to try to get a little bit ahead of the competition."
To no surprise, Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo is deserving of consecutive MVPs for his "significant body of work." However, Antetokounmpo is locked in on a bigger goal. "To be honest with you, I really haven't thought about it. I saw it a couple days ago, that it ended. I tried not to focus on the MVP talks -- who's the MVP and all that. My goal is to get better each day to help my team win games and everything is going to take care of itself," Antetokounmpo said. "That's what happened last year. I was locked in and winning games and helping my teammates, and it took care of itself. So, that was my main focus. Now, I know it's going to be a lot of people out there talking about the MVP, but that's not my main focus.
On Thursday, two days before the wedding, he made his decision and texted his family: He would skip it. He had friends record "basically the whole event" and send him video, he said. He spent his downtime over the weekend watching the footage in his room. "There were some people that should have had masks on that didn't," Caruso said of the wedding. "I would say 75% of the people had them on. Texas and Florida -- they can kind of be their own countries at times. Some people just like to do their own thing." He could not FaceTime into the wedding because the reception wasn't good enough, he said. He said he is sad but at peace with his choice. "If I was on a team that didn't have title aspirations -- a team trying to hold on to the No. 8 seed or something -- it might have been different," Caruso said. "But we have worked too hard."
They saw the video screens surrounding the court, where it’s possible virtual fans will be shown during a game. They saw the bench area where seats will be spaced apart, nothing like the knee-to-knee setup on a normal NBA bench. The court reads Black Lives Matter just in front of a plexiglass box that encloses the scorer’s table. “I think it’s pretty cool how they’ll have the big monitors, where you can have your family, friends, fans, whoever, kind of be in the arena,” Davis said. “I think that’s a pretty dope idea. I know they’re still trying to figure out some things as far as lighting and sound and stuff. But I think the whole concept of it is pretty dope.”
At one point during the prepractice stretches, Waiters stood in one corner of the convention center ballroom that had become their practice court and danced, sang and rapped along to the music accompanying their movements. On the other corner of the room, Smith sat near James as James got stretched by his longtime trainer Mike Mancias. “I think we’re pretty close,” Davis said, when asked how far the team is from where it wants to be when games begin to count. “There’s still some things that we want to work on. We were one of the worst teams in transition [defensively], so we’ve been going over that a ton, watching film on that a ton. But I think everybody came back in shape. You could tell guys have been working during the break. Now it’s all about putting it all back together.”
Scott Agness: Myles Turner shared today he’s choosing to wear “Respect Us” on the back of his jersey in Orlando. This morning, I wrote about their options, how one will be auctioned off and they will get to keep one. Read + subscribe:…
Anthony Chiang: Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn have rejoined the Heat in the NBA bubble, a league source confirms. Adebayo and Nunn now have to quarantine for 36-48 hours before joining their teammates on the court.
Anthony Chiang: Udonis Haslem said the Heat has a "no-complain rule" in the NBA bubble. Haslem: "Everybody's coming in with a lunch-pail mentality every day to get it done. We understand that everything is condensed, so we've got a short amount of time to get a lot of work done."
Nick Friedell: Udonis Haslem says he's already spent about $5,000 on Amazon orders since he's been in the bubble. "I got everything now ... I don't think I need nothing for the next three months. I'm good for the long haul."
Kinexon’s SafeZone tags are the latest tool the NBA and NFL are using to monitor social distancing and also to provide contact tracing in the event a player tests positive. It’s all part of the new reality as sports leagues are investing their money and resources into tools to allow them to return to action safely. The German-based company, has been working with more than 100 professional sports teams for years on performance tracking, but it decided to pivot once coronavirus struck.
Unlike their performance tracking devices, which provides valuable insights to teams through precise location and movement tracking, SafeZone is only measuring the proximity between people and the length of time interactions occur. As training is underway in the Orlando bubble, the NBA made these devices available to players, however it is only mandatory for league officials and members of the media. In its safety and protocols document obtained by CNBC, the NBA assures players the devices will not be used to access GPS location.
NBA TV will televise 16 inter-squad scrimmages, starting with a doubleheader on Wednesday, July 22, featuring the Orlando Magic against the LA Clippers at 3 p.m. ET, followed by the New Orleans Pelicans and Brooklyn Nets at 7 p.m.
Most of these encounters will generate little more than a hello, because the aforementioned 10 reporters, and a like number from the league’s official media partners at ESPN and Turner, were required to sign unprecedented waivers pledging that we would not approach any team personnel when we saw them outside of official access periods for the news media. The rules were conceived by the league for safety reasons. To minimize the risk of a coronavirus outbreak, it wants no one getting close to the principals who does not need to be close.
But let’s be clear: There are likely other motivations for league and team officials to have limited our accessible slice of the Coronado Springs property to less than one square mile, as measured on a walk by my colleague Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. They don’t want us to see and document violations — players not wearing masks or failing to maintain a proper distance. They don’t want us to see the inter-team mingling that, in the N.B.A.’s social media era, will inevitably (and instantly) be construed as tampering, like last week when Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka and Andre Iguodala of the Miami Heat, who have a longstanding relationship as former player agent (Pelinka) and client (Iguodala), were spotted walking together.
Two weeks ago, Daniels was observing the NBA’s mandated 48-hour quarantine as a preventive measure against COVID-19 at the Grand Destino when his food order was delivered late and wasn’t exactly the most aesthetically appetizing meal. With not much to do and a lot of time to kill, Daniels decided to innocuously post pictures of the meal on Instagram. It immediately became a trending topic on social media and the focal point of talking heads across the national media landscape. “[I was] kind of surprised, but it’s about time,” Daniels told joking referring to the attention he’s gained from that post.
Daniels insisted most of his pictures are from Florida though. Although all of the attention has greatly exceeded Daniels’ expectations, he’s enjoyed having a chance to connect with fans and colleagues through social media – especially since he’s separated from family as part of the league’s rules. He calls his 29th birthday, which he spent away from family and friends, the “most unique one of his life.” So, connectivity is important to Daniels. “I’m just trying to give my fans and people who follow me a different outlook on what they may see [otherwise],” Daniels explained. “That’s what we’re going through in the bubble…It’s not about where you’re from, it’s about where you’re at. I’ve just dealt with it [the attention] and if I could do it over, I would literally do it over again. It’s just something I try to share with my fans, I’m just a realist.”
Turner Sports announced Tuesday that Kevin Harlan and Ian Eagle will serve as TNT’s play-by-play voices during the planned resumption of the NBA regular season at Walt Disney World, working alongside analysts Reggie Miller and Stan Van Gundy, respectively. The broadcast teams will call games on-site. Stephanie Ready, Jared Greenberg and Chris Haynes are set to serve as sideline reporters.
“They’ve done everything right as far as I’m concerned,” Rivers said of the NBA incorporating constant symptom checks and mandating masks at the resort. “When you think about that we’re running a village for the first time, the league is doing pretty well. ... But as far as our health, we have an app every morning that we have to do, wearing bands, facemasks.”
Mike Trudell: Frank Vogel said Markieff Morris has cleared the protocol in L.A. and is on his way to Orlando, where there is an additional protocol that he’ll need to clear before getting back on the court.
Chris Haynes: Yahoo Sources: League sent email to teams this morning urging players, coaches to wear masks during Zoom calls now that media in attendance. “We want to make sure we are staying within rules of campus and since we’re indoors and they aren’t working out, wearing masks apply here.”
Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes, Elie Okobo and rookie Jalen Lecque didn't make the initial July 7 trip with the Phoenix Suns to Orlando and still haven't practiced with the team as of Sunday at Walt Disney World Resort, sources have informed The Arizona Republic. The Suns are scheduled to practice Tuesday. They will play the first of their three scrimmages Thursday against Utah. Phoenix (26-39) opens the first of eight regular-season "seedings" games July 31 against Washington (24-40) at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Joe Vardon: Marcus Morris is here at Clipper practice. He was not previously.
Marc J. Spears: More good news for the Kings as forward Harrison Barnes could be departing to Orlando today if he passes one more Covid-19 test, a source told @TheUndefeated @espn. Barnes revealed he tested positive for the coronavirus a week ago.
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“It was adventurous for sure,” Holiday said. “There were some ups and down. There were some times where it got kind of hectic there. Zion (Williamson) getting hurt in the beginning. Then the 13-game losing streak. I got hurt for a while. But all in all man, we ended up being in position to make the playoffs. That was something we wanted to do. That was one of our goals. Then the pandemic hit. Just back in the bubble, it’s been an adventure for sure.”
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