Storyline: Clippers Front Office

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The title bump may have looked ordinary, but it is a highly visible marker of a growing trend — as Silicon Valley types have flooded NBA ownership ranks, front offices have adopted their ranking hierarchy with no consistency among organizations. A handful of positions are a major departure for the sport: The Oklahoma City Thunder, for instance, has vice presidents of “insight & foresight” and “identification & intelligence,” while former sportswriter Lee Jenkins serves as the Los Angeles Clippers’ “executive director of research and identity.”

As the president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Teaneck native and former New Jersey Nets head coach is playing a significant role in the transformation of the NBA landscape in Los Angeles, working for an owner he reveres in Steve Ballmer and alongside close friend and head coach Doc Rivers. Together they guided the Clippers out of a dark period and into a run of sustained success. Now the Clippers, after a summer that included signing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George, are one of the top teams in the Western Conference and a contender for the franchise’s first NBA championship.

The Hall of Famer was a guest on The Dan Patrick Show on Monday, and made some interesting comments: “One of the things I enjoy about being here — and obviously this is gonna be my final stop in my basketball life — is [Clippers owner] Steve Ballmer has really put together an unbelievably terrific organization. He has spared no expense. “It’s a really fun place to be. It’s not ego-driven at all. He’s got an awful lot of basketball people over there and I’m just happy to be such a small part of it. “He’s willing to spend on players, he’s willing to spend on personnel within the front office. I’ve never been around any organization that’s better than this one that’s for sure.”

At this crossroad, the Lakers are still preeminent in town. Horrid as their season was, and noble as the Clippers’ season was, the Lakers had a 2.23 cable, more than four times the Clippers’ 0.56 rating. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they’re at a low ebb with sky high goals and huge expectations but new, uncertain management and no nucleus to speak of, since they would trade any, or all, of their players aside from LeBron James. The teams have one thing in common: About to commit the huge cap room they spent years accumulating, this is their last, best chance to be someone.

Jerry​ West helped​ build​ the​ Warriors​ dynasty beside Joe Lacob, Bob Myers,​ Steve Kerr​ and​ the rest,​ of​ course,​​ and right now he’s in his second season of trying to do something very similar with the Clippers beside owner Steve Ballmer, president Lawrence Frank and coach Doc Rivers. So I asked the NBA legend on Tuesday: Has it been a little strange for you to watch your Clippers play the Warriors — and fall to a 3-1 deficit — in this first-round series so soon after you celebrated multiple titles in the Bay Area? “I don’t look at it that way — to me, this is all about competition,” West said by phone. “It’s fun. At the end of the day, you just want to win.”

And it’s clear that West, Ballmer and the others are aiming to land a star. With some amount of caution. “I’ve always said that cap space is fool’s gold,” West said. “There’s probably four or five players out there that people really covet. At the end of the day, only four or five teams are going to sign those players. “We haven’t promised anything here at all. Our owner is absolutely fantastic. Our front office, the people here are fantastic. I love working with them. No one will outwork them or outsmart them. “Does that mean we’re attractive to free agents? I don’t know that. I don’t even like to speculate. I don’t think that’s fair to teams that have these free agent or to the fans of both sides. But would we like to sign a free agent? One hundred percent, we’d like to.”

As for what’s next for West, who reserves the right to routinely re-assess his situation if only because of his age and his incredible stature, this much is clear: He’s part the Clippers’ summer strategy, and the future from there is unclear. When asked whether he would return next season, he demurred. “Well as far as I can tell, I really don’t have a future, OK? My future is now,” he said. “I don’t really worry about that. I worry about getting through this season, and really concentrating – all of us, concentrating – on free agency.

“Well, I think for some reason, people think that I don’t like the Lakers; that is not even close to true,” West began in our chat. “My life has been the Lakers. It’s an iconic brand, but there are things that happen – things that happen where everyone is trying to look for a reason that they happened. And if someone wants to walk away – and Earvin did it – there had to be reasons. But he did it. And honestly, he looked like he was a happy camper.

And then, per Clippers unofficial protocol, everything was being viewed in the context of the Lakers again. “We have a different kind of fanbase than the Lakers do, which is good,” he continued. “I think (the competition) is really good for the city, and I think it’s good for the respective franchises. We certainly don’t have the history (like the Lakers) and it’s not an iconic brand at this point in time. But I think with Steve’s plan, and Lawrence leading the charge, I think we’re well positioned to do something this summer. It’s my hope that we’re able to maybe acquire one of those (free agent) players, if somebody is going to move. No one knows that, ok? We don’t have contact with people. We don’t.”
1 year ago via TSN

The Los Angeles Clippers are expected to make the most aggressive push for Leonard, and they’ve made little secret of it. The Clippers have had representatives at many Raptors games this season, home and away, ranging from scouts, to assistant general manager Mark Hughes – who attended Friday’s game against Oklahoma City – to team president Lawrence Frank and billionaire owner Steve Ballmer.The Clippers – like the Lakers, who some league insiders believe to be less of a draw to Leonard – can offer at least a few things Toronto can’t. They can offer a warmer climate and an opportunity for the California native to play closer to home. If those are the factors that end up powering Leonard’s decision, the Raptors don’t stand a chance and likely never did.

It also includes the periphery relationship-building that is equally important, learning who matters most inside said player’s inner circle and, in essence, what makes them tick. The gray area that comes with recruiting is where it gets trickier, not only because of tampering rules that govern such matters (albeit not very well) but because of the tougher-to-define desire across the league for some professional courtesy in such matters. Yet the Raptors officials with whom I spoke, and who are hoping their mid-July trade with San Antonio to make him their centerpiece wasn’t a one-year rental, expressed no concern over the Clippers’ style. And if what transpired after that Raptors-Clippers game is any indication, it’s quite clear that this isn’t about getting Leonard to notice them or their efforts.

In this post-“Moneyball” era, many sports franchises have gone to great lengths to maximize their statistical focus, in some cases hiring journalists with a quantitative bent. Just last year, to much less fanfare, Jenkins’s friend Luke Winn left Sports Illustrated, where he’d covered college basketball, to fill a new position created by the Toronto Raptors—director of prospect strategy—that seems to combine old-fashioned scouting with the contemporary vogue for analytics. (“I probably picked up the phone ten times during this process, like, ‘I should call Luke right now,’ ” Jenkins told me. “But I didn’t. I didn’t want to seem like I was at the N.B.A. job fair.”) It stands to reason that there may now be comparative advantages, however small, to be gained from concentrated efforts to assess the intangibles with an outsider’s eyes: about the extent to which boys from chaotic households may become men who crave order in their daily routines, say, or about the predictive nature of automobile preferences.

It’s also not very expensive, given the disparity between journalists’ wages and athletes’ millions. Jenkins, for his part, downplayed the applicability of Lewis’s theory, perhaps realizing that being implicated as a spy or a therapist would diminish his effectiveness in the role. “It’s not sports psychology,” he said, of his new gig, adding that talking to players who are already under contract with other teams is considered “tampering,” and punishable by fines or worse. Neither, he said, does the job involve “P.R.” He won’t be writing copy for the team’s Web site. The only kind of externally directed writing he could imagine possibly engaging in was helping to craft letters to players’ representatives, or agents, not so much as a primary element of the job but in the collaborative sense of “looking for ways that I can add value.”

Jenkins is believably adamant that the looming sale of the magazine he’d dreamed of writing for since he was fifteen had “absolutely nothing” to do with his seizing an unusual opportunity. He said that he’d always expected to be “the last guy before they turn the lights out,” and that he intends to return to full-time writing, only with a deeper base of knowledge about how the league operates from inside, in the future. He hopes he’ll last in the new job for more than a year, but sounded skeptical of my alternative suggestion that he could remain with the Clippers for as many as five years, let alone the fifteen that Bill James has been with the Red Sox. When I asked if he’d considered writing a book about the experience, he said that he didn’t anticipate doing so.

Doc Rivers set a goal of winning an NBA championship upon taking the job, just as he’d done in Boston, which won a title in 2008. He knew he needed top players to do that. To get stars he needed the perception of the franchise, long one of the league’s least successful and most woebegone, to change. “That has happened,” Rivers said. “Now when you hear people come, when they say, ‘Well I want to go to L.A.,’ and when you hear rumors they want to go to L.A., they mean both teams. And sometimes they mean only our team. To me, that’s a level of success that tells you we’re doing something right here.”
2 years ago via ESPN

Jenkins, 41, will be working alongside Clippers president of basketball of operations Lawrence Frank and general manager Michael Winger in the franchise’s reshaped front office. Jenkins has worked at Sports Illustrated for the past 11 years, with assignments that included revelatory cover stories and features on the biggest stars in the NBA. “As a reporter, I can ask a hundred questions to a hundred people, but I could never know what really goes on behind the curtain,” Jenkins told ESPN on Monday night. “The deadline. The draft. Free agency. All the strategy and gymnastics and prep work that goes into those events, but also the every day of an organization. On a personal level, I came to the realization that no matter how many player profiles I write, I still have a ton to learn about the NBA, and the best way to learn it is through immersion.

“We identified Tyrone as a versatile, competitive and tough-minded player who adds to the organizational culture,” said Frank. “Ty worked hard with our staff at Agua Caliente and Los Angeles, and his growth has been a reflection of his commitment to getting better. Together with our team’s player development program, Ty demonstrated impressive improvement and contributed meaningfully to our team last season. We are excited to welcome Ty back to the Clippers.”

On whether Teodosic and Marjanovic will play for Serbia in September: “On Tuesday, I have a final meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers‘ General Manager, Lawrence Frank, after which I will know everything on Milos Teodosic and Boban Marjanovic’s situations and whether they’ll join the team. Both of them travelled to Los Angeles to meet with doctors and athletic trainers. On Monday and Tuesday they will practice, and then a decision will be made. Most likely on Wednesday, the roster will feature 16 players.”

He also likes where he’s at in terms of job description, though he says things haven’t shifted much in his tenure. “I’m still doing basically the same stuff,” Rivers said. “It’s interesting. I don’t think my role has changed since I’ve been there. “When I first came, I was just the coach, but I was involved in every decision. Then I was the president, and I was involved in every decision. Now I’m the coach and whatever other title I have — I have another title, but I don’t even know what that is — but I’m still involved in every decision, so it really hasn’t changed much. My workload has changed some though. It’s less now, and that’s good. Before this last title change, I was hiring different people so I didn’t have to do everything, and that was the intent.”

When the Clippers’ scouting department made their respective prospect rankings, Frank claims they were almost unanimous in evaluating Robinson as an NBA-ready scorer and lottery talent that would be the logical pick in the Clippers’ draft range. “It’d be one thing if I just had that opinion,” Frank said. “But when we do our scout rankings, we don’t allow out other scouts to look at the other scouts’ rankings because we don’t want to get into the group thing and you want to avoid the echo chamber. When you just kept on seeing [Jerome], you’re like, ‘OK, I think we’re onto something.’”

Though Robinson didn’t win over all of his skeptics in the media ahead of the draft — some mock drafts still had him as a late first-round pick as recently as a few days before the draft — Frank and his front office refused to waver in their confidence in the 21-year-old. “Internally we were always very, very high on him,” Frank told The Athletic. “And we thought, if you’re going to allow the mock drafts to determine your decision-making, that’s probably a little bit skewed. But we did think eventually the rest of the basketball media community would catch on to how good he is.”

Almost a Knick? West strongly shot down the notion, which was in circulation earlier this season, that the Knicks made a run at hiring him as a front-office consultant before the Clippers did. “No truth whatsoever,” West said. But he did surprise me a bit by revealing that he fully expected to land with the Knicks in the 1960 draft. The Lakers had the No. 2 overall pick and selected West before the Knicks were forced to settle for Darrall Imhoff at No. 3. Referring to the intense fan interest and media scrutiny in New York, West said: “I always thought that would be an interesting place to be.”

Do the Clippers hold on to those picks and wait for July 2019 to make their next big free-agent push? Do they try to package one or both in a potential trade this off-season to pursue an established star like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard? Frank and Ballmer will ultimately make those calls, but West expects to have significant say. “I don’t just want to be a figurehead,” West said. “You want to be a part of the decision-making process. I don’t have the final decision here, but I do have a voice.”

Clippers, Doc Rivers agree to extension?

Although nothing has been made official, all indications are that Rivers and Ballmer have reached an agreement on a multiyear extension that will keep Rivers here for a remodeling job that will begin soon. This is big. This is cornerstone big. This is the Clippers setting the foundation for the post Lob City era with a guy who is coaching even better now than when he led them through the Donald Sterling crisis upon his arrival five years ago.
2 years ago via ESPN

When Altman visited with James in the Cavaliers’ practice facility a week ago, he let him know that there were still talks alive with the LA Clippers on a Jordan deal. What’s more, there was significant progress: Altman had ownership approval to send the Clippers Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and the Cavs’ 2018 first-round pick for Jordan. The Clippers were willing to accept the trade, but on one significant condition. Clippers general manager Michael Winger explained to Altman that LA didn’t want another shooting guard. He hoped to find a third team that would take Shumpert and his $21 million with draft compensation, and have the Clippers get a center back. Altman and Winger agreed to make more calls to try to find a third team to make the deal work. Winger wondered whether Altman would let him talk to Shumpert’s agent about a possible contract buyout, but Altman wanted trade talks to be further along before granting that permission.

There’s a price for that, though. Ownership has no interest in a Sixers-like rebuild, a team source told Yahoo Sports, but it’s hard to see L.A. as anything but middle of the pack. The Clippers were 8-8 without Griffin this season. Bradley is one of the NBA’s most underrated players, and Harris, at 25, is having his best season. Sure, if things break right — the season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins will likely clear one team from the field in front of them — the Clips could make the playoffs … where a first-round butt-kicking awaits them.
2 years ago via ESPN

After serving as team president in the NBA’s coveted “dual role” of lead basketball executive and head coach, Doc Rivers is now a mere mortal in the first chair, a job for which he’s under contract through the summer of 2019. Sources with knowledge of the Clippers’ thinking say owner Steve Ballmer is eager to see what Rivers can do as a coach with more limited talented. With the Clippers playing a spirited brand of basketball after (and even amid) their late-autumn swoon, the powers that be have entertained no serious thoughts of a midseason shakeup.
2 years ago via ESPN

He might even agree, to an extent, with those who see him that way. “People are like, ‘Well, his dad [Doc Rivers] gave him his chance.’ Is that true or not? I don’t know. It might be,” Austin Rivers said. “[But] could it be that my pops knew how good I could be because he’s my pops? “He told me on the phone [when the Clippers traded for him in 2015], ‘If it doesn’t work out, we’ll just cut ways at the end of the year, keep it clean, and you can go on and try to figure it out.'”

Paul reportedly had issue with Austin, especially after Doc Rivers was unable to make a rumored deal for Carmelo Anthony that would’ve sent Austin Rivers, Paul Pierce and Crawford to New York. Rivers denies that he rejected a deal in order to keep his son and takes issue with criticism of Austin and how he coached him. “I don’t think we’ve really heard a former player actually say that. It was reported,” Rivers told The Vertical. “I think Austin, it will always be unfair to him, throughout his career. He was a McDonald’s All-American. I guess that was because of me. The game-winning shot against North Carolina? Somehow I made that shot. He was drafted 10th. I guess that was me, too. He’s always got to deal with extra crap. He’s an easy target. It’s very easy for reporters. Use his name, and you’ll get hits. I’ve told Austin this a lot. ‘Is it a fair shake? But the lifestyle you’ve been able to live growing up, you had that advantage.’ ”

They were sitting in a meeting on the eve of free agency, when one of the NBA’s icons captured the room for Blake Griffin. With owner Steve Ballmer, coach Doc Rivers and Los Angeles Clippers teammates, Jerry West captivated Griffin, who made clear his desire to return. West had been hired as a special consultant with the Clippers, and the first task he had embraced was persuading Griffin to re-sign with Los Angeles. For all of the voices in the final meeting before midnight, West’s resonated, and Blake returned.

The Clippers pulled off one of several blockbuster trades in a wild NBA summer when they dealt Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, but it was Paul who wanted out of Los Angeles, not the other way around. And in an appearance on ESPN’s The Hoop Collective podcast with Kevin Arnovitz, head coach Doc Rivers admitted “there were a lot of reasons” why one of the best point guards in NBA history was ready to move on. “I think he was tired of hearing my voice,” Rivers said. “I think Chris is a guy who is very opinionated, wants to be coached ‘kind of,’ if you know what I’m saying, but wants a partnership as well. And it’s tough from a coaching perspective. You gotta have a partnership but at times, you’ve gotta make the call. I thought that bothered him.

On Monday, the former Lakers legend and Hall of Famer talked about his move south an interview with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami. “Frankly it was very sad, OK? It really was. A place where I thought that if I was going to work another year or if somebody wanted me to work another year, I thought I could contribute; I did not want to leave. I did not want to leave. I was very happy there. But those things happen sometimes. Obviously to be around a bunch of players that were as together as any I’ve seen and I think more importantly the talent that was on that team and to see the joy. There’s a lot of joy there. I think those are the kind of environments where people really prosper.”
3 years ago via ESPN

Redden worked with Winger in Cleveland, where he rose in the executive ranks as a well-regarded talent evaluator who worked under Danny Ferry, Chris Grant and Griffin. He will complement Winger, who has established a reputation as an expert strategist with a steady administrative hand and strong negotiating skills. For years, the Clippers had among the thinnest staffs in the NBA under the thrifty ownership of Donald Sterling. Since the arrival of Steve Ballmer in 2014, the franchise has grown into a robust organization with a basketball operations department that has expanded exponentially in size. Sources say the team has plans to add another assistant general manager to its brain trust.
3 years ago via ESPN

NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes that Rivers did a great service to the franchise’s value, and to the NBA, with how he held together the organization and its star players through the tumult of the Sterling nightmare. Silver wasn’t necessarily against Rivers’ ascension to the top of the Clippers masthead, but the commissioner has privately expressed concerns to owners and senior franchise officials in several instances, case by case, about the dynamic of the coach-in-charge model, league sources said.
3 years ago via ESPN

Rivers’ losing his front office duties isn’t so much an indictment of his individual fitness for the duties, but the fact that it is suited for no one coach in this modern era. For everyone trying to replicate the San Antonio dynasty, understand this: The Spurs have the greatest coach (Gregg Popovich) and greatest executive (RC Buford) of a generation. As much as it’s the ultimate model, it’s the ultimate aberration too. Popovich defers to Buford’s expertise and judgment, in ways that Minnesota president and coach Tom Thibodeau will likely never do with a GM.
3 years ago via ESPN

LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is returning Doc Rivers to the primary duty of head coach, freeing him of front office responsibilities, the owner told ESPN on Friday. Rivers, who held the title of president of basketball operations, will continue to have a strong voice in personnel and organizational matters and will partner with Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, Ballmer told ESPN Friday. Frank will now oversee basketball operations, including the general manager.
3 years ago via ESPN

“I’ve owned the team for three years now, and I really better understand what an owner’s responsibility is — and it turns out that running a franchise and coaching are two enormous and different jobs,” Ballmer told ESPN on Friday. “The notion that one person can fairly focus on them and give them all the attention they need isn’t the case. To be as good as we can be, to be a championship franchise, we need two functioning strong people building teams out beneath them. There needs to be a healthy discussion and debate with two strong, independent minded people.

Do the Laker moves at all, do they affect you today?” Jerry West: “Well, what have they done? You know something, every year when people… I love Earvin Johnson, OK? I love him. I will admire him forever. But just because people do things doesn’t always make it right. How many times has the first player failed in the draft? Three times. Everyone gets excited about the draft. I’m excited even though the Clippers don’t have a draft pick at this point in time. Laker fans should be excited about it, they should be. But there’s so much more to this than meets the eye.
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April 9, 2020 | 9:12 pm EDT Update
Will the NBA’s indefinite suspension limit what the Warriors do with the checkbook in the offseason? “We’re looking at all of those questions and the possible answers. But I don’t really have a good sense yet because I really have no idea how this is gonna shake out,” Lacob told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on Thursday morning. “We don’t know what the salary cap is gonna be, we don’t know what the luxury tax is gonna be. We don’t really know what we can plan on at this point. We just have to look at a lot of different scenarios. That’s what we’re doing right now. It could make a huge difference, it might make no difference.”
Storyline: Season Suspension
As Illinois goes through this together, the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, is proud to be playing a critical role with our city, state and federal response to the pandemic. As announced on March 25, our arena and outside campus will be transformed into a logistics hub where we will be assisting with food storage for hunger relief, first responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.

Moving forward, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, will be utilizing the United Center as a satellite storage facility in response to the increased need for food. By alleviating space in the food bank’s warehouse, the Food Depository can bring additional volunteers into their facility to build more family food boxes in an environment that adheres to social distancing protocols. These boxes will continue to be distributed to those in need by the Food Depository’s partner network throughout Chicago and Cook County.
Storyline: Coronavirus

April 9, 2020 | 7:56 pm EDT Update

Pau Gasol contemplating retirement

With the league’s current campaign suspended indefinitely due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, Gasol, who will turn 40 years old in July, is contemplating retirement at this point of his career. “With this recovery process and the injury that I have been dealing with for more than a year, it’s undoubtedly inevitable to think about retirement,” Gasol said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, via NBC Sports. “Also, taking into account that I will be 40 years old in a few months. So, [retirement] is definitely on my mind.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 14 more rumors
“It’s something that will come one time, sooner or later,” Gasol said of retirement. “We hope that time hasn’t come yet. But I also take the opportunity to focus on the Gasol Foundation and other off-court projects. And also think of what my next professional stage may be, my next challenges. All this while I’m still recovering, trying to give myself a chance to keep playing. Now, the priority is to overcome this pandemic among all. Everything else is completely secondary.”
In 2011, Jacob Hamilton was a 26-year-old cinematographer looking to expand his portfolio by directing a documentary. He came across a two-minute interview online titled, “The Man Who Invented the Jump Shot.” Four years later, Hamilton was screening his short film in Kevin Durant’s backyard, shocked to see one of the NBA’s best-ever jump shooters geek out over footage he’d gathered of Kenny Sailors from the 1940s. The film was still only halfway to the finish line. “Jump Shot” premiered at South by Southwest in 2019, but still hasn’t been released to the public. That will change next week, when the feature-length documentary will be available online April 16-18. Pre-order is underway at jumpshotmovie.com.
“Jump Shot” got two of its most important assists from NBA superstars Steph Curry and Durant. Hamilton had simply hoped for an interview when, through a connection between an executive producer and a chaplain for USA Basketball, the former Golden State Warriors teammates were introduced to Sailors’ legacy. The crew flew to Oakland and were invited to Durant’s home. Partway through the screening, KD asked for the film to be paused. Hamilton feared the worst, a bored millennial. In reality, the former Longhorns star was mesmerized. “These are moves that I’m doing today,” Hamilton recalls Durant telling them. “I was literally working on this in practice this week, and Kenny was doing this 60-70 years ago? This is unbelievable.”
Curry took his adoration a step further when he told Hamilton he was not only up for an interview, but wanted to get more involved. That’s how basketball’s greatest jump shooter became an executive producer. Both players are interviewed in the film, along with a lineup of basketball legends — from Dirk Nowitzki to Bob Knight, Nancy Lieberman and Clark Kellogg. Their astonishment at Sailors’ pioneering shot, particularly a photograph that appeared in Life magazine in 1946, will resonate with basketball fans.
April 9, 2020 | 6:35 pm EDT Update
When this all ends, whenever that is, what’s the one thing you’re most looking forward to doing on that first day? Dion Waiters: Just trying to hoop. Just vibe out and hoop. I’ve had damn near the whole season off. I’m trying to get back and hoop. I got something to prove at the end of the day. During this quarantine I’ve been dieting, getting my weight down, getting in shape. For me, it’s just playing basketball.
“I am in such debt to the people who worked so incredibly hard on the technical side to make what I believe is still magic — there might be some elves involved, it is Disney after all,” ‘The Jump” host Rachel Nichols told Insider. “I can’t believe that they were able to figure out a way to produce an entire television show with everybody at home, not a single person in our television facility.”
April 9, 2020 | 6:29 pm EDT Update
If nothing else at a time when the Clippers have more questions than answers amid the NBA’s hiatus because of COVID-19, the team is confident in at least one thing to be true. Should the season resume, the same roster that had been dogged by injuries since last summer is on track to be the healthiest it has been. “The Kawhi [Leonard] we’ll see will be in phenomenal shape,” coach Doc Rivers said, adding that Paul George “is another guy that’s goig to be in phenomenal shape. Reggie [Jackson], who was injured when we got him, will now be healthy.”
Since there is a pause on all roster transactions across the league, the 10-day contract Noah signed remains in effect one month later. That has left the former defensive player of the year able to work into shape under the supervision of the team’s medical and performance staffs. “It’s been great for him,” Rivers said. “There are certain individuals who this rest period, or whatever this is called, has been a benefit, and Jo is one of them for sure because he’s got a chance now to get healthy, and to get in shape and that will be a factor for him. He will be a guy that will be able to help us.”
A whopping 72% of Americans polled said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus. The poll, which had a fairly small sample size of 762 respondents, was released Thursday by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. When polling respondents who identified as sports fans, 61% said they would not go to a game without a vaccine. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.6%.
Storyline: Coronavirus
NBA star DeMarcus Cousins first hired Noordin Said to be his personal security guard in 2015 during All-Star weekend in New York. From there, the two hit it off, and Said worked the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2017 All-Star weekend in New Orleans at Cousins’ side. Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green hired Said to be his personal security guard during the 2018 playoffs, and Said worked this season with Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo at most home games.
Storyline: Coronavirus
April 9, 2020 | 5:21 pm EDT Update
As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the world, NBA owners are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. The league plans to keep all options to resume the season available for the time being, sources told ESPN, but the financial realities of the situation demand near immediate action. That has become clear in talks between the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and player agents, sources told ESPN, as the league tries to get its finances in order in the event the rest of the season must be canceled.
Storyline: Salary Reductions
The league’s CBA includes a force majeure clause, enabling owners to cancel games and recover salary in the event of a pandemic. This clause also gives the league a 60-day window within which it can rip up the CBA entirely — effectively beginning a work stoppage. No one wants to do that. But it underscores the gravity of the situation. Still, in recent years the two sides have worked as well together as ever, and the CBA isn’t set to expire until 2024.
The agreement between owners and players in the last CBA calls for roughly splitting revenue 50/50 and also splitting the coming losses. So, the owners want to hold back a percentage of players’ checks going forward — both giving them extra money they can use now, if needed, and also to help balance the books in the event some, or all, of the remainder of the season is canceled. From an economic standpoint, both sides would prefer to limit the pain of the shutdown to only this season and not start next season with IOUs on the ledger. Setting the money aside now would help do that.
Karnisovas will have full decision making over basketball operations, including the futures of Forman, head coach Jim Boylen, and the entire coaching staff. He was even asked about Paxson, and had the option of having the organization move on from the long-time Bulls executive if that’s what he desired. However, a source indicated that Karnisovas had no issues with the Reinsdorfs keeping Paxson around.
There were multiple reports that the search angered a handful of African American executives around the league, who felt like people of color weren’t involved in the searching process by the Bulls. A source close to the situation, however, indicated that not only did Michael Reinsdorf reach out to multiple minority candidates to try and get interviews – but was denied permission to do so by their current organizations, and in some cases simply turned down.
April 9, 2020 | 5:10 pm EDT Update
One of the most indelible images from the night the NBA shut down was a young girl crying at a Sacramento Kings game. Her tear-stained face and broken heart reflected how many people felt about the temporary end of life as we knew it and the indefinite stoppage of sports. That girl’s name is Sophie, and Kings player Harry Giles wanted to make her feel better. So he recently sent her and her brother a sweet video message. He apologized for the way their last game ended, and to make up for it, he invited them to a Kings game when sports are back underway. Not surprisingly, Sophie was extremely excited.

Shelby Delaney of the Summit Medical Center in Oakland was one of the first nurses to volunteer to help coronavirus patients at the hospital. Curry made sure the 27-year-old knew how important that was. “I can’t thank God enough for what you’re doing and just the sacrifice, the selflessness and the way everybody’s coming together,” Curry told her on the call. “Thank you so much for just what you do, your heart and the inspiration you provide for everybody.”
April 9, 2020 | 5:02 pm EDT Update
“I have an organization who basically gave me the keys,” Beal said. “‘We’re going to build around you. We’re going to get guys around like’ – if I go anywhere else, granted, it may be a good team, but I would be a piece. Who knows if my role would be the same? My role here is, I love what it is. I love [Scott] Brooks. I love what we have. I love our young guys. I think the fact that we actually have guys that are committed to getting better.”
Lowe opened the podcast by giving Beal the opportunity to address the omission: “I was angry, but I wouldn’t say I played angry because of that,” Beal said. “At the end of the day, I wanted to make the playoffs. The All-Star game was what it was. I’m not mad at you for your votes. For me, I will never take that moment away from the other 24 guys. Because that was me two years ago and a year ago. I can’t sit here and take that moment away from Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell and guys who got their first one.
April 9, 2020 | 4:50 pm EDT Update
Eric Gordon said he would not object to having a season restarted in a sequestered location, one of the ideas the NBA is considering. But he also indicated it is too soon to know if even that will be possible. “That sounds like almost our only option,” Gordon said. “That’s the only thing that can make sense. Just coop us up in a hotel for months and see if we can have that chance to have the season. It’s still a dicey situation, so we’re just hoping this virus calms down and goes away quickly. As of right now, it doesn’t seem like it is.”
Storyline: Season Suspension