Storyline: Ben Simmons Injury

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“My opinion, and this is not confirmed yet, is that we are going to be able to inch him back into this,” Brown said. “Is he going to be 100%, I don’t expect that. But I think he is going to be available.” Brown has kept busy the last few months. When the NBA shut down, Brown put his staff to work. He searched for reasons why a team that was 29-2 at home could be a dreadful 10-24 on the road. Everything from travel schedules to hotels to team meetings were dissected. He studied the offense, which failed to click, especially in the half court. He studied the defense, which slipped into the middle of the pack after Christmas. “It was what did we do well and what didn’t we,” Brown said. “And let’s fix the stuff we didn’t.

Keith Pompey: #Sixers GM Elton Brand is optimistic that Ben Simmons (back) will return if or when the season resumes. But Brand was asked if the PG would be ready if the playoffs were today: “It’s tough because of him not playing 3-on-3, 5-on-5 just to speculate there. But when I FaceTime him during his workouts, during his treatment and I see him, I’d be highly encouraged that his ramp up would be different. We took our time. We’ve been methodical and thoughtful about his recovery and rehab just to make sure, because we weren’t in a rush. It’s hard to speculate, but he’s been working hard, and I know he’d be closer or ready.”

The nerve impingement diagnosis lacks clarity because the cause of the impingement is a critical factor in Simmons’ recovery. That detail has not been released, so we’re a bit in the dark. (The Sixers have yet to release an official statement on Simmons’ injury, but a team representative confirmed to The Athletic it is “nerve impingement in the lower back.”) What we do know is Simmons was dealing with back issues before Saturday’s game. According to the team, Simmons initially felt discomfort last Wednesday, during the first practice following the All-Star break. He received treatment following that practice, and again on Thursday as he still experienced pain. He then missed last Thursday’s game against Brooklyn with “lower back tightness.”

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July 2, 2020 | 10:53 am EDT Update
The next edition of the NBA 2K video game series already has two cover athletes in New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. A third iteration of the game will honor late Los Angeles Lakers legend and Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. The new version, called the “Mamba Forever Edition” will be a special copy available for both current and next-generation consoles for $100. Bryant will be featured on the covers of both games, with him in his No. 8 jersey for current generation consoles and next-generation console editions will feature Bryant in his No. 24 jersey.
July 2, 2020 | 9:18 am EDT Update
Do you have a timetable? Like when you say, ‘I’m done’. Jamal Crawford: I don’t know if I have a timetable but I would think for me, it would probably be at some point next season. Like it may not be the beginning of next season, maybe a team that fighting for the playoffs later on in the season. And at that point, probably if it doesn’t happen, I would probably say, ‘Okay, that’s it’.
Storyline: Jamal Crawford Retirement?
Booker became a first-time All-Star this season, and was averaging 26.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 48.7 percent from the floor when the league shut down. Williams envisions Booker aiming to make another push for league-wide respect during this restart. “He wants to go to Orlando and cement himself as one of the better players in the league in a different way,” Williams said. “He made the All-Star team. Now he’s probably got his eyes set on All-NBA, and he’s more than capable.”
Monty Williams did not confirm nor deny if he typically enjoys roller-coaster intergalactic adventures. But the Suns coach emphasized that he will not be partaking in any during his team’s stay in Orlando beginning next week. “We’re not going to ride on Space Mountain and do the Disney thing,” Williams said Wednesday during a videoconference call with local reporters. “This is freakin’ ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Gladiator’ stuff that we are trying to will onto other teams, and that’s the mindset.”
The New Orleans Pelicans star and the 2019 No. 1 overall pick has been named the NBA 2K21 cover athlete on next-generation consoles. “Realizing that I am going to be on the cover of NBA 2K21 was one of those moments that I am still processing,” said Williamson over a Zoom chat with Sports Illustrated. “I dreamed about being on the cover and for 2K to give me this honor, it means a lot because I have always played 2K with teammates and all my friends growing up. 2K has always been there with me. Looking at each cover and thinking maybe one day I could possibly be on the cover of one of these and for it to actually happen is a lot to process.”
If basketball icon LeBron James gets his way, NBA arenas and other sports venues around the country will be mega polling sites for the November general election. James and his voting rights group, formed this spring with other black athletes and entertainers, are joining with other professional basketball leaders and Michigan’s top elections official to push for mega voting sites to accommodate in-person balloting amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More Than A Vote, the James organization dedicated to maximizing Black turnout in November, shared its plans with The Associated Press on Wednesday after the Detroit Pistons became the second NBA franchise to announce plans to use its arena for voting later this year. In Georgia, Fulton County elections officials this week approved the Atlanta Hawks’ proposal to use State Farm Arena as a polling site. Plans call for the arena to serve as a countywide early voting site ahead of Election Day.
July 2, 2020 | 3:44 am EDT Update
Back in 2010, James met with the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls in addition to the Knicks and Heat as he contemplated his future. It’s easy to forget that James was said to be seriously considering the Knicks at the time. In fact, there was even a strong rumor that LeBron was going to choose the Knicks. So what happened? Bill Simmons said on his podcast that the Knicks’ meeting with James was a “disaster.” “They had a legendary meeting. Donnie Walsh was in the wheelchair, and (James) Dolan was Dolan. And it was just a complete – they didn’t have anything prepared. And it just couldn’t have gone worse, by all accounts. It was a disaster,” Simmons said.
The Decision was incredibly ill-advised and self-indulgent, but we all knew it was coming. Gilbert’s scathing reaction was somewhat predictable, since he found out LeBron was leaving at the same time as the rest of us. But that rally was so over-the-top. I will never forget the look on Pat Riley’s face when they panned to him in the stands. He looked mortified. Riley told me years later he was so busy making sure all the contracts for LeBron and Chris Bosh were in order that he didn’t pay much attention to what the team had planned. It showed.
As coronavirus cases rise in different regions across the United States, commissioner Adam Silver has made clear that the league is monitoring the numbers as it prepares to head for Orlando. Silver has described to league executives on conference calls recently that his goal is for the Disney World campus to be the safest place in the U.S. “We have confidence in the plan that we’ve built,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told players and teams on a call this week, according to sources. “It was designed for this.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
Operating the three-month completion of the NBA season at the Walt Disney World Resort will cost the NBA more than $150 million, sources told ESPN. The league is housing 22 teams plus support staff at three resorts, has arranged for seven practice courts and is playing games at three arenas during the quarantine. It is also providing meals, daily coronavirus testing and other medical support, security, transportation and entertainment for more than 1,500 people during the height of the event.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble

Victor Oladipo not sure about playing

Indiana Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo isn’t ready to commit to playing at the NBA restart in Orlando even though Wednesday is supposed to be the deadline for the 22 participating teams to declare their traveling list of 35. Except, league sources tell IndyStar, it’s not a firm deadline. “Nothing is locked in like a normal roster deadline,” one of the sources said.

Nikola Jokic feeling 'great'

Denver Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic is feeling “great” and is expected to return to the United States in time to join the team flight to Orlando, Florida, according to coach Michael Malone. Jokic had his return to Denver delayed after testing positive for the coronavirus in Serbia, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst reported on June 23. “Nikola feels great,” Malone said in a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday. “We are working on getting him back here. Next Tuesday we depart for Orlando; the hope and expectation is that Nikola Jokic will be with us on that plane. From everything that I have heard and talked to him, he feels great, he feels fine and is excited to get back.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 263 more rumors
Paul shared details on that night in what was the catalyst for the domino effect that before the night ended would lead to the NBA season suspension. Like many of the fan base, Richardson and Miles were watching and noted seeing Paul approach Joe Ingles at center court to ask where Rudy (Gobert) was. Even after nearly four months, the events of March 11th remain confounding for Paul who explained his feelings at the moment. It was crazy, and I tell you a little bit about it, but to tell you the truth it’s crazy man I’m doing a documentary about it, like a movie, like a movie about a sports stop with Antoine Fuqua and Brian Grazer. We doing a whole thing about that like getting perspectives from athletes of what happened.Man, listen, I ain’t never seen nothing like it. Never seen nothing like it.
Jared Weiss: Walker isn’t concerned about going into COVID hot zone: “I think we’re going to be pretty safe and secluded in the bubble.” Kemba: “I’m a single man with no kids, so I’ma be fine. All I do is stay in the house anyways, so there’s nothing wrong with me staying in the room. I’m actually looking forward to it cause I’m ready to play basketball. And it’s going to be set up so we can have fun.”
Here is how the coaches voted in The Athletic’s anonymous poll. When players received votes at more than one position, they were slotted at the position where they garnered the most votes. It is no surprise that Gobert and Antetokounmpo received the most first-team votes at their respective positions and led all vote-getters in total overall points. Gobert, the reigning two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, ranks fourth in rebounding (13.7 per game) and sixth in blocks (2.0 per game). Antetokounmpo is the top defender on the Milwaukee Bucks, who lead the league in defensive efficiency. The Greek Freak also ranks third in the league in rebounding (his 13.7 boards per game edging Gobert’s average by 0.027 boards per game).
Jamahl Mosley, a Knicks coaching candidate, is in his sixth season on Rick Carlisle’s Mavericks staff. The 41-year-old has emerged as one of the league’s top young assistants destined to take the next step. However, it was legendary coach George Karl — not Carlisle — who gave Mosley his first job in the NBA, hiring him to work out Nuggets players in 2006 for the paltry salary of $25,000. Mosley, a 6-foot-8 star power forward at the University of Colorado, was with Karl from 2006-10, going from player developmental coach to bench assistant coach in their last two seasons together. “I thought he had a great connection with today’s player,’’ the retired Karl told The Post from his home in Denver. “He was hungry. He was big in player development, then toward the end of his time, we gave him scouting reports, game-plan responsibilities. He was really good with basketball intellect and really good with players. That’s the combo you need in today’s world and changing attitudes of the young players.”
Storyline: Knicks Coaching Search

Storyline: Media Layoffs
July 1, 2020 | 9:33 pm EDT Update
“It’s two-fold,” Neil Olshey said Wednesday. “On one hand, I’m excited to see our guys play again. You know, the season ended so abruptly, we were just getting healthy. We were three days from getting ‘Nurk’ (Jusuf Nurkic) back and Zach (Collins) was on the horizon — he was about three weeks out from returning. At that point, Trevor (Ariza) was in the starting lineup, so the exciting thing is to see the guys out playing basketball again. I missed basketball.”
“I don’t think anyone can be cavalier about the health risks,” he said. “Our players and our traveling staff have tested negative over the course of our two weeks of mandatory testing. But, it’s a concern, and we have family members concerned about us going into the environment. I do think there will be diligence down there. I do think Adam’s (Commissioner Adam Silver) model of trying to make it the safest place in the country, i think the league will do everything in its power to do that. But I can’t tell you that people aren’t concerned about their health.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Neil Olshey: “Guys have stayed. They are dialed in. They are locked in. They’re ignoring whatever the strength of schedule we’re going to face down there. And they’re going down with the mindset that Day One, this is playoff basketball for us. We’re training and preparing and we’re going to give it our best shot. One of the things that has been consistent with this group is that this is a group of closers. We’ve always been better the second half of the year. It’s a testament to the character of the guys we have and our coaching staff not burning guys out and keeping them engaged and I think you will see that when we get to Orlando.”
Gansey’s short-term plan is to scout players from afar with the hope he and the Pacers can reach an agreement for next season, a conversation that may not happen until after the NBA playoffs in October. “I can look at some other G League players and players who were on (two-way contracts) this year,” Gansey said. “You know, there are guys who have played overseas and I can do some scouting on some of these college guys and guys who are going to enter the draft here pretty soon.”
July 1, 2020 | 7:17 pm EDT Update