From Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton to Sam Jones to Willis Reed to Earl “The Pearl” Monroe to Bob Love to Anthony Mason to Charles Oakley to Ben Wallace, it used to be commonplace to see players from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the NBA All-Star Game. But today, it’s rare to see an HBCU player in the NBA at all. There is only one HBCU player left among the 30 teams: Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington, who starred at Tennessee State. “That’s a little disturbing,” Wallace told The Undefeated. “Most of us HBCUs, we’re scorers or specialists. The league has shifted to shooters and that has weeded out a lot of the HBCU players.”
April 17, 2021 | 1:45 am EDT Update
The pool of teams that will have the salary-cap space to make a run at Markkanen is limited, but multiple executives and scouts anticipate the San Antonio Spurs will make a strong offer this summer. Without LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio has a need for a stretch big with Markkanen’s size and skill set.
Warriors star Stephen Curry will be entering a contract year in 2021/22 if he doesn’t reach an extension agreement in the offseason with the team. However, he doesn’t sound like someone eager to test free agency. Asked by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (video link) how much of a priority it is to spend his entire career in Golden State, Curry affirmed that’s his plan. “It’s always been a priority,” Curry said. “When you look at guys like Dirk (Nowitzki), Kobe (Bryant), that I played against and have heard them talk about what that’s meant, they don’t speak on it lightly. There’s a reverence for that club.
“You never know what can happen, obviously, but I feel like that’s always been something that would mean so much to me. You want to stay competitive, you want to stay in that fight where you’re winning championships. If I can accomplish both, that’s the ultimate goal.”
Convincing Zach LaVine the Bulls are building a playoff contender is important when you consider the 26-year-old’s “big focus” coming into the season was to get Chicago into the playoffs. That’s why rival executives anticipate the Bulls will try to lock up LaVine with a contract extension (he will make $19.5 million this season and next) but know he’ll likely let his deal lapse, become an unrestricted free agent and sign what will be a more lucrative multiyear max pact.
“That’s why them getting Vooch was a really big deal,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “Players want to get paid, just like we all do. But they also want to win, and guys like Zach have been around the block long enough to know they can’t win in this league by themselves. LeBron’s the best to do it, and he couldn’t win it all by himself. Even he needed help.” The exec added, “Them getting Vooch sent a clear message to Zach that yes, Chicago is serious about trying to put together a winner here and now.”
The patience has paid off to a relative degree, as now the Wizards are in position to possibly make the playoffs. Beal feels like he has been somewhat vindicated by the experience. “It speaks volumes. It’s always tough because when my name was buzzing, that’s all I heard early in the year is ‘trade Beal, trade Beal.’ It wasn’t anything other than that,” Beal said. “So, me knowing who I am and just sticking through it, that’s a testament to what we did as a team this year.”
Ian Begley: On The Putback this week: Dennis Schroder among PGs on NYK radar for 2021 free agency; he reportedly turned down a 4-yr, $80M-plus extension from LAL.
Brunson, who scored 15 points with seven assists and five rebounds in a win over the Knicks on April 2, has a non-guaranteed year left on his pact. The Mavericks, whom the Knicks visit on Friday night, could let Brunson become a restricted free agent and match any offer this summer. Or they could let him become an unrestricted free agent in 2022. The guard is the son of former Knick Rick Brunson. The Knicks have had their eye on Jalen Brunson, whose father was one of Thibodeau’s assistant coaches with the Bulls and Timberwolves.