Storyline: Giannis Antetokounmpo Free Agency

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The Heat All-Star knows people are going to play up this angle regardless: “I’m pretty sure people are going to run with that this summer and next summer,” Adebayo said of the common agent denominator. “In 2021, people are going to run with that. “But, at the end of the day, he takes care of me like he takes care of Giannis. And that’s just what you need in an agent. You want a guy that actually cares about everybody and not just some people who are doing better than others.”

The Heat All-Star knows people are going to play up this angle regardless: “I’m pretty sure people are going to run with that this summer and next summer,” Adebayo said of the common agent denominator. “In 2021, people are going to run with that. “But, at the end of the day, he takes care of me like he takes care of Giannis. And that’s just what you need in an agent. You want a guy that actually cares about everybody and not just some people who are doing better than others.”

Giannis likely to stay in Milwaukee?

There’s little doubt that Giannis Antetokounmpo, reigning and likely repeat MVP, has every reason to stick around in Milwaukee over the long term. The Bucks have a sparkling new downtown arena and a state-of-the-art practice facility, a long way from the state of play when Antetokounmpo arrived—back then, the Bucks were in the mostly moribund Bradley Center and practiced on the grounds of a Catholic Diocese headquarters in St. Francis, a few miles south of Milwaukee.

Giannis' agent keeping options open on extension

In an effort to keep their star in Milwaukee, the Bucks are expected to offer Giannis Antetokounmpo a supermax contract this summer. “Is he a client you could see staying with one team for his whole career?” asked Zervakis. “Yeah, I think so. Obviously everybody talks about his impending free agency, and I think everything is open,” Saratsis said. “I think he’s someone who could easily say, ‘I’d like to be in Milwaukee my entire career.’ I think he’s also someone who, depending on how the team does, could say, ‘I need a change.’ But for him, staying is absolutely a viable option.”

Miami has told teams that Tyler Herro is off limits, at least for now. The Heat hit big with the Herro/Duncan Robinson/Kendrick Nunn pickups, and Miami isn’t interested in any contracts that stretch beyond 2021 … when Giannis Antetokounmpo could be a free agent, and Pat Riley will have another chance to lure a transformational star to South Beach. Danillo Gallinari fits that mold, and Gallo’s three-point shooting would be a welcome addition to Miami’s frontcourt.

On the NBA Africa League… Giannis: “I didn’t know much about it – it’s amazing! I heard about it earlier in the season and being able to watch games in Africa is amazing. We were able to play in the NBA Africa Game in 2015 and the people in Africa love basketball – there’s so much talent in Africa. I’ve spoken with Masai [Ujiri] and he’s going to do some big things – I’m sure he’s part of this league so I’m really excited to find out more things about it and hopefully we can play a regular season game in Africa as well.”

In truth, as Antetokounmpo shared with The Athletic, the two players took part in a jersey swap afterward (our Steve Berman reported from the Bucks locker room that Antetokounmpo had a signed Curry jersey with a note written inside the zero in his ‘30’). “Steph is a — he’s a fun dude,” he continued when asked how well he knew Curry. “I really don’t know him, know him, but whenever we’ve (played each other) he’s always come up to me, talked to me. It’s fun.”

It’s all fun fodder for the fans, too. But guess what? For the Warriors or any of the other 28 teams that would love to land “The Greek Freak,” none of it is likely to matter if Giannis and the Bucks stay on this same track. The combination of their winning, his play, and his constant praise of the organization’s functionality means subplots like these don’t need to be taken seriously just yet. That doesn’t mean the Bucks can afford to lose focus. It’s quite the contrary, in fact. Keep pushing toward the playoffs, and competing with the kind of relentless spirit that the 25-year-old seems to always employ and demand.

TMZ: “What was going through your mind when you saw Steph Curry trying to recruit Giannis?” Edens: “I think that they’re just friends. A respect for the game … I don’t think Giannis plays video games (laughing). I don’t know, but … ” TMZ: “Exactly. So he must be trying to recruit him for the Warriors, right?” Edens: “I don’t know. No comment. No comment.” TMZ: “Did you guys talk to Giannis afterwards, like, ‘Hey Giannis, everything still good with us?'” Edens: “I don’t think we need to. He’s loyal.” TMZ: “You’re not worried about losing him to the Warriors when free agency hits?” Edens: “Life is good in Milwaukee right now. They’re winning. I think everyone’s happy.”

Eric Woodyard: Coach Mike Budenholzer on if Giannis’ free agency wears on team: “I don’t know maybe there’s more than I realize but he seems in a great place, the group’s in a great place and we’ll hopefully keep it rolling.” See full comment below.

And…how does he react to such humor? Khris Middleton: He laughs. But I mean, we never talk about that, honestly. We don’t talk about that at all. We’re always focused on practice or gameplan or a game or watching film or something. For the most part, we respect our decision making, realize it’s not always about basketball, that it’s about family situations and what not. But we also, like I said man, we just really focus on basketball. We’re basketball junkies. Since we’ve been here, we’ve always been in the gym. Maybe not on the same (basket), but in the same gym working on two different ends and different parts of our game. I think that’s just our relationship. We’re basketball junkies.

Do you get caught up in that sort of chatter at all? I mean this week, we’ve got New York chatter, we’ve got other scenarios (being discussed)… (ESPN reported that Toronto is preserving its 2021 cap space in order to pursue Antetokounmpo, and league-wide rumblings persist that the Knicks want to convince Raptors president Masai Ujiri to head up their front office, in part, because of their belief that he could lure Antetokounmpo their way in free agency – if he ever gets there.) Marc Lasry: That’s great. Whether it sounds dumb or not, I’m very comfortable with the relationship that we have with everybody on this team. And I think at the end of the day, what players want is stable ownership. They want a culture which is focused on winning. They want a coach who they respect. They want to play in a city that they love. It’s what we all want. Let’s be serious. You just want consistency, and you want to know that what you’re being told is reality. So I think as long as we do what we’re supposed to do, everything is going to be fine.

“I want the Bucks to build a winning culture. So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there’s no other place I want to be. But if we’re underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult.” The Athletic’s Joe Vardon followed up by asking Antetokounmpo specifically which words he feels were attributed to him incorrectly. “I’m not going to get into that,” Antetokounmpo said. “As I said, the last – what is it called – quote, paragraph, it’s words that I didn’t use. Underperforming or whether or deciding, all those words. I’ve never used in my life. “As I said, I’m not going to talk about it. There can be stories coming out. I said this, I said that. I said this. But I’m not going to get into it at all.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo told a Harvard University professor that if the Milwaukee Bucks underperform this season, it would make his decision on whether to stick with the team “a lot more difficult.” The unusually pointed language from the team’s superstar came in a spring 2019 interview with Anita Elberse, a Harvard Business School professor who was researching a case study on the Bucks’ turnaround and the challenges a small-market NBA team faces in retaining a superstar-level player.

Antetokounmpo, who has emerged as one of the best players in basketball, likely will be eligible to sign a five-year, $253 million contract extension with the Bucks next summer, or to opt out and potentially become a free agent in 2021. “I want the Bucks to build a winning culture,” Elberse and her co-author, master’s student Melcolm Ruffin, quoted Antetokounmpo as saying. “So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there’s no other place I want to be. But if we’re underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult.”
6 months ago via ESPN

Antetokounmpo, 24, is eligible to sign a five-year, $253.75 million super max extension in the summer of 2020 with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, which would be the largest in NBA history. This would apply even if Antetokounmpo fails to earn All-NBA honors this season, but his focus remains on team goals. “I feel like if you have a great team, and our goal is to win a championship and be the last team standing and get better each day, I think it’s disrespectful towards my teammates talking about my free agency and what I’m going through,” Antetokounmpo said. “So, when the time is right, we’re all gonna talk about it. I don’t think the time is right.”
6 months ago via ESPN

The NBA recently fined Bucks general manager Jon Horst $50,000 for violating league rules of discussing Antetokounmpo’s supermax extension during a televised town hall event, so he stayed away from the topic Monday. During media day, however, he showed up in a great mood while touching on a range of topics, notably managing outside expectations, alongside Budenholzer, with the ultimate goal of a title in mind. What others say in the next 10 months surrounding Antetokounmpo is out of his control. “Internal expectations are what matter to us, and we’ve been saying this for over a year now,” Horst said. “We believe it, we live it. We care about getting better everyday. We want to improve on what we did last year.”

Warriors not a concern in Giannis pursuit?

This week, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne mentioned it on the network. But not much of that chatter is coming from Milwaukee. “Keeping Giannis, it’s a focus obviously,” one Bucks front-office source told Heavy.com. “But fighting the Warriors is not a focus. The Warriors are not the concern in the least. They’d have a long way to go to get him to Golden State, they’d have to give away a lot. He has never given any indication that he wants to leave Milwaukee. So a lot of that stuff, it is more chatter than anything.”

The luring of Durant is cited as evidence that the Warriors can make just about anything happen but that was a much different scenario. Golden State had the benefit of a spike in the salary cap in the summer of 2016, which gave them the room to get Durant without giving up core pieces. And, the source mentioned, “What happened with Durant works both ways.” Durant won two championships with the Warriors. But he wasn’t very happy in his time there and wound up leaving for Brooklyn this summer. No doubt Antetokounmpo, who has expressed how happy he is in Milwaukee, has taken note of how things went for Durant when he made the move.

Down the road, more obstacles loom. Antetokounmpo’s contract is up after 2020–21; “We think about it strategically every day,” says Horst. Other franchises can promise brighter glares, glitzier supporting casts. Horst hopes that by building a basketball culture akin to the Spurs’ and the Warriors’—inclusive, personal and “laser-focused on excellence”—the Bucks can re-sign him. (So far, Giannis has said he loves Milwaukee and shows little interest in, as Bud puts it, “all that bulls— and fame.”)

Yet it’s likewise undeniably true that Steph and Giannis are buddies who are both represented by the same agency (Octagon) and share a mutual admiration that has resulted in Curry and Antetokounmpo selecting each other first overall with the No. 1 overall picks as captains in the first two All-Star drafts. I can promise you, furthermore, that the Warriors have internally mused about a run at Giannis — however futile it may prove to be — in the event they can’t convince Kevin Durant to re-sign this summer. Trying to sign the most attractive free agent available is on the first page of the Golden State owner Joe Lacob’s playbook.

But when the Mavericks pulled the trigger and took Antetokounmpo, it didn’t take long for many NBA officials to figure out the Mavs’ rationale. “They’re looking down the road,’’ an NBA executive said a few days after the draft. “They (the Mavs) know Giannis will be a free agent in a couple of years and this was a way to interest him in Dallas.’’ When another NBA executive was queried earlier this season whether he believed the Mavericks drafted Kostas with Giannis in mind, he didn’t hesitate in responding. “Of course, they did,’’ he said succinctly.

In a report earlier this season by Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, he quoted a former GM as saying, “There’s no way in hell that Giannis Antetokounmp is staying in Milwaukee for his second deal. I would bet everything that I own that Giannis leaves Milwaukee.’’ In that same report by Kennedy, two agents also strongly suggested Antetokounmpo will bolt Milwaukee at the end of his contract. An NBA official and an acquaintance of Antetokounmpo both told me in the last six months that they fully expect Antetokounmpo to eventually leave the Bucks and that several teams have already had preliminary internal discussions on how to land the Greek Freak. Both sources felt the Los Angeles Lakers would likely be Antetokoumpo’s likely landing spot.

While rival GMs speculate about Antetokounmpo’s future and the pressure on the Bucks to keep him happy, Horst stays stubbornly fixated on the present. After all, Antetokounmpo is signed through 2021. “The truth is, it really isn’t the biggest thing on our mind,” Horst says. “The biggest thing on our mind is how do we take a step from last year to this year and continue to improve? And if we do all the right things along the way, and we take the appropriate steps … it will take care of itself.”

To the Bucks’ delight, “all” includes a trait that tantalizes team officials as much as his 60 percent shooting from the field so far, or anything else the league’s hottest individual force does with a basketball in his hands: Antetokounmpo unabashedly loves Milwaukee. It’s a city that, despite a string of successful teams in the 1980s and a squad that fell one win short of the N.B.A. finals in 2001, has never fully shed its “unfashionable” label, which was affixed when the best player in Bucks history — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — forced a trade to the perennially glamorous Los Angeles Lakers in 1975.

Visitors to Milwaukee, however, quickly discover that it’s no exaggeration to describe Antetokounmpo’s future as the least of the Bucks’ concerns in their bid to become a credible contender for the first time in nearly two decades. It also doesn’t hurt that, by virtue of his speedy ascension to All-N.B.A. status and contention for other top individual honors, Antetokounmpo is on a course to be eligible for a so-called “supermax” contract extension from the Bucks via the league’s new Designated Player Exception during the 2020 off-season, which would put him in line for a new deal well in excess of $200 million.

Wojnarowski: It just shows how hard it is at that mid-size market. There are plenty of small-market owners and mid-size GMs who said, “We didn’t go far enough. I can’t keep guys.” Milwaukee is going to go through this with the Greek Freak. That day is coming, right?, where he’s going to look and say, “Where is this organization? What are they doing here?” You don’t think Giannis has been watching what went on there for the last several months, of what they allowed to go on with the front office? He’s watching it, and the clock has started. Everybody in the league is trying to figure out how they’re going to get him out of there. That has started.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: “Duncan and Kobe my role models. I see guys like Tim Duncan, Kobe, who’ve stayed in the same city and the same team for decades. I don’t like changes in my life. I believe that Milwaukee, as an organization but also as a city in general, can make you a better person as well as a better player. There’s not much to do there other than think about basketball and that’s what I need. I might go to the movies, out for a meal and that’s all. I always end up back in the arena again, where I like and love being. The closest place to my house is our coaching center. A two-minute drive. The best!”

Antetokounmpo will earn $3 million next season in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, but it’s no secret that he’ll be in line for a massive raise in the 17/18 season. The Bucks can offer him an extension of up to five years starting in July, and based on this week’s revised 17/18 cap projection of $107 million, Giannis could earn a first year max salary of up to $25 million. With max raises of 7.5% of the first year salary, a five-year deal from the Bucks could be worth approximately $144 million, thus locking in the Bucks’ young star as early as July. Otherwise Giannis would become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2017, where the Bucks would have matching rights and other teams could offer up to four years, 4.5% raises and a total package of around $107 million.
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March 31, 2020 | 3:14 pm EDT Update
Stephon Marbury: I know that was something that people were saying that people didn’t need, but that’s a strong need. One of the things that I learned and saw from living in China and being here is that when the virus outbreak arrived, everyone wore a mask because nobody knew who had the virus. … People cough all the time. When people were saying to me, ‘Oh, you don’t need a mask.’ They’re probably saying that you don’t need the mask from a doctor standpoint. But you don’t know which person has this virus and people sneeze and cough and talk all the time. So, are you going to stop that? For me, knowing that was one of the main things that was needed from being in America and being out in New York and seeing how many people were walking around looking at me when I had on a mask, like, ‘Why you got a mask on?’ And I’m like, ‘You should have a mask on. It’s so important. It’s so vital.’
Storyline: Coronavirus
Stephon Marbury: So, the Brooklyn borough president, he reached out to me about helping him source some masks and other things. My focus has been on the mask and there are other things that I’m trying to help for the medical staff. They need robes, they need the gowns, the goggles, all of these different things are needed. And you know, I have friends that know people [in China] in all of these different areas at the manufacturer. So, I’ve been pretty much speaking to them and trying to accumulate and get everything from my country, for Coney Island, for Brooklyn, for New York City. It’s been a real challenge for me seeing all of us going on where I’m from. Anybody that knows me know how I feel about Coney Island and about New York. I’m a real New York kid.
Stephon Marbury: I lost my cousin to this virus. My little cousin [former NBA guard] Sebastian [Telfair] has an older brother. We lost him two days ago. His mom is fighting for her life right now because of the virus. So, it’s pretty difficult in this trying time and staying on focus and trying to handle the things that I need to handle for my mom and them. They’re nervous about my aunt. … For me being here [in China], my family there, I’m constantly thinking about my mom. My mom is 78 years old. She has respiratory issues. We can’t even allow nobody to come near our home with my mom. My brother doesn’t go next to my mom. My sister doesn’t go next to my mom because we’re just so nervous about it. I’ve got an older brother that’s 60 years old. … I literally have family members that are in a space where my aunt is fighting for her life. And her son just passed away while she’s in an induced coma. She doesn’t even know. My family is just like on pins and needles with what’s going on.
DID YOU REACH OUT TO THE NBA ABOUT COVID-19? Stephon Marbury: I sent [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver an email March 8. I said in the email, ‘You guys got to stop.’ I said, ‘This is not good. You got, like, 17,000, 18,000 people going to games and people don’t know if they’re infected or not. This could happen. One of the basketball players can get infected. Anything can happen.’ He was like, ‘Stephon, thank you for so much for sending me this email.’ My concern is for everybody. It’s bigger than basketball. You got guys getting sick and they can’t play. I mean, what’s the use? There is no point or no purpose. I think that it’s going to be a really big challenge for the [NBA] season to get going this year.
Storyline: Coronavirus
March 31, 2020 | 2:03 pm EDT Update
SB NATION: I’ll begin with a question I find myself asking just about everyone I talk to these days: How are you staying safe? And, did you consider traveling home once the NBA allowed its players to do so, or just bunker down and stay put? PAT CONNAUGHTON: I stayed in Milwaukee. I tried to look at it from a variety of different angles. For me, I’m from the Boston area and Massachusetts was arguably hit worse than the majority of other places, so going home didn’t really make sense for me, for my own health but also for the safety of my family. We’re fortunate to be in the NBA. We might as well stay close to our team just in case, God forbid something does happen and we need access to doctors, we have team doctors. If we need access to food for some reason, the chefs are trying to help us out when they can. There’s different things that I think teams are doing to help their players that stick around.
Storyline: Coronavirus
SB: Being part of such a special season with the Bucks, how often do you think about the possibility that the season is over, and how you might never get an opportunity to finish what you started? How difficult would that be, given all the hard work that was put in and what the expectations were? PAT CONNAUGHTON: It’s tough because you look at it from a few different lenses. You think seasons like this don’t come along every year, so if it ends that’s gonna suck. To be honest. But when you look at it from the lens of an athlete you’re like we, as a team, are very good. What is preventing us from doing it again next year? Obviously we would be disappointed, we’re having a great year, etc. But maybe it just makes us hungrier next year. Maybe it’s fuel on the fire, as opposed to something else. Giannis will be a year older, a year more skilled. We’ll all be getting better. If you look at it that way you can throw some positive light to it.
PAT CONNAUGHTON: The other light you look at it, just being open and honest, there are guys that are on contract years. There are guys that, I mean, personally I don’t have a technical contract for next year or anything. So you look at it like how does it affect free agency? How does it affect the salary cap? What does our team look like next year if the season were to end and not continue, and the playoffs weren’t to happen and there weren’t a champion to be crowned. I think all of those are unknown. I could sit here for 24 straight hours and put down a sheet of paper, pros, cons, all these different scenarios, but I don’t think that does me any good. We don’t know. Nobody knows. The NBA is full of much smarter people than myself. Adam Silver is great. The owners are all very smart guys. The general managers are very smart guys. Obviously the player’s union, Michelle. Chris Paul. All them are very smart. I believe the best interest of as many players as possible and all the teams and the league itself will be what’s most important and what will be accomplished. So for me to worry about those sorts of things, sure, but at the same time it’s not gonna help me. I’m not gonna figure out, sitting in this apartment in the next month and a half, what the answers are.
March 31, 2020 | 12:24 pm EDT Update
Isaiah Thomas: “I was a junior when I entered the draft. I had a year of eligibility left. I wrote down my pros and cons — all the good things by putting my name in the draft and all the negative things that could possibly happen, which can go from not getting drafted to going in the second round to getting drafted and then there being a lockout and no money coming in, and not knowing what to do next. My final decision was that I’m going to just bet on myself. I’ll figure things out. I just felt like college wasn’t going to do anything for me going forward. But on the back end of things, yes, the lockout was on my mind.”
March 31, 2020 | 10:36 am EDT Update
Borrego liked the contrast of styles: the run-and-gun Nuggets against the behemoth Lakers, starting the Pau Gasol-Andrew Bynum mega-frontcourt. Bynum averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds per game for the series, and put up a triple-double — including 10 blocked shots — in the Lakers’ Game 1 win. “A lot of our guys probably don’t even know Andrew Bynum,” Borrego said. The series was also incredibly physical. The offensive teams rebounded almost 37% of all misses, a mark that would lead the league today by a laughable margin. The teams combined for 47 offensive rebounds in the Lakers’ 96-87 win in Game 7; Gasol had six — all in a row — on one pivotal fourth-quarter possession. “Part of this is to show them what physical playoff basketball looks like,” Borrego said. “This is where we want to get to someday. Let’s study it.”
All the players said they enjoyed learning more about the classic NBA characters in that series. Obviously, today’s players love watching peak Bryant — now more than ever. Bynum has become something of a curiosity. “People forget how good Bynum was,” Zeller said. “He was a monster.” Caleb Martin said he was surprised at the speed and athleticism of a young Danilo Gallinari, playing almost full time as a wing. “You know of these guys, but you never sit down and actually watch them play a full game,” Cody Martin said.
On a recent episode of The Lake Lake Show podcast, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report suggested that “it could be three or four years until the league is back in balance”. Pincus also went into depth on how the NBA will return. Where he stated that the league are considering canceling games. Which will create financial implications for players, even more so the high-end stars like LeBron James. “Players typically get paid on the 1st and 15th of every month and the 1st would be a full check. But the league hasn’t committed to the 15th… it means they’re considering canceling games. Because by the rules, they can’t dock players for games that are rescheduled. They can only dock from players for games that are canceled.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
“If they were going down that path they might start with canceling a few games. Why cancel a lot, right? There’s no reason to until you have a better feel. I could see them canceling 3 games and start deducting 3 games worth of money from each player’s check. For someone like LeBron James, that’s in the neighbourhood of $400,000 per game. So you’re talking about deducting $1.2 million from LeBron’s check. So it’s not a small amount.”
March 31, 2020 | 7:46 am EDT Update
ESPN’s NBA insider Brian Windhorst, on his recent podcast, expressed his thoughts what the offseason will most likely bring to big name free-agent DeMarcus Cousins. “I think DeMarcus Cousins is looking at a make good contract, even if it’s more than a minimum. I think that after a series of injuries he’s had, all of which indicates that he’s coming back too fast, doing too much, he needs even more time of coming back from this. He’s gonna have a job in the league, but I don’t think it’s gonna be a big money,” the NBA insider said.
The Brooklyn Nets are expected to continue to reshape their roster around Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. “I believe they have telegraphed they intend to use some of their young talent to acquire a third star along with Kyrie and Durant,” said Brian Windhorst. “Now, we can get enter a healthy debate here about whether Caris LeVert is that third star and they make the decision that he is. But my feel reading the tea leaves, paying attention to what Sean Marks has said and also being aware of some conversations they had at the trade deadline, which was sticking the toe in the water on some things, I think they’re going to swing for the fences whenever the season comes. They’re going to have to potentially hire a coach that is going to help them do that.”
Joe Harris is a pending free agent, one who likely will get a big raise this summer. But the sharpshooter wants to re-sign with the Nets, partly to take a shot at a title playing alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. “Yeah, definitely! Why wouldn’t you?” Harris asked rhetorically before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Storyline: Joe Harris Free Agency
On the Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis duo: Jason Terry: “They’re still headed down as one of the all-time dynamic duos in the history of the game, if they continue to win and then have success in the playoffs, and hopefully take us to another NBA finals and win a championship. Because they’re so young. When you have two young stars as KP and Luka, and the talent that they possess, they have yet to really reach their full potential and I think the chemistry that they’ve gained this season by playing together is going to continue to grow.
Jason Terry: “KP is learning that ‘hey maybe it might not be at the four position, maybe at the five position where I can be most dangerous and effective.’ Luka is also understanding ‘hey I might not have to take over an entire ball game, I can kind of conserve my energy and be the closer very similar to what Dirk [Nowitzki] was and kind of let KP get off early in games.
Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic was all set to make his triumphant return on Sunday, Mar. 15 against the Houston Rockets. It was a home game for the Blazers. An early matinee game on national television. It was 10 days away from Nurk’s one-year mark of his leg injury. And to the Bosnian Beast, it was a “perfect” game to make his debut for the 2019-20 season. In choosing that day to return, it was a collective effort by Nurkic’s camp along with the entire Trail Blazers organization. In a recent interview with NBC Sports Northwest’s Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes, Nurk detailed what went into the decision making of that game.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is 9 hours ahead of Portland, OR; thus, the timing of a noon tip-off in Rip City also worked out great for his family and friends back home. It was an earlier game Sunday, and of course, I need to look [out] for my people back home. It was perfect for them too. It was like 8:30pm back home. So, everybody was pretty much set up and I thought it was a really good game because it was [a] home game and I really wanted to play [at] home first. — Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic told our Dwight Jaynes
After his teenage brother Dorian tragically died of heart disease, Dawkins tapped into his basketball network to pay for a memorial and an AAU team in Dorian’s memory. He says he quickly raised more than a hundred thousand dollars from some of the most important people in the sport. His network mattered. Before long, NBA agent Andy Miller noticed Dawkins and hired him. Fast forward a few years and Dawkins is at the NBA draft, barely legal to drink, sitting in the green room with Miller and Elfrid Payton’s family. Rodney Hood, Fred VanVleet … Dawkins was instrumental in directing their careers, in the belly of the basketball beast. “Everybody knew Andy was paying players,” Dawkins says in “The Scheme.” “Andy’s been paying players since I was born. It wasn’t, like, a secret.”
The president of the Spanish Basketball Federation, Jorge Garbajosa, wants to ensure the future of the National Team bench and for this, a new contract extension could be offered to Sergio Scariolo until 2024, according to AS.com. The Italian coach’s agreement with the Federation would come to an end after the 2020 Olympics. However, with the current worldwide health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the Games in Tokyo until 2021, a new scenario is created.
Storyline: Olympic Games
Every bit of help is key amidst this coronavirus pandemic, whether it’s food, cash or medical supplies. The Nets, Barclays Center and Alibaba — all owned by Joe Tsai — have been providing all of the above. With live sports shut down and teams and arenas getting squeezed economically, many hourly workers have been laid off or face pay cuts. But Nets and Barclays Center employees are getting the same checks they would have if they’d worked events as scheduled through the end of May. And it’s not just NBA games, but concerts, Islanders games, college basketball like the A-10 tourney and even graduations. A source familiar with the unions and the overall process told The Post the checks cut could end up totaling an estimated $6 million.
“We discussed supplies. I want to thank Michael Evans from Alibaba, who is here with us today,” Cuomo said at Monday’s press briefing. “I want to thank Elizabeth Jennings [the chief of staff] from the Asia Society, who is here with us today, who are helping us source supplies.“We’re in a situation where you have 50 states all competing for supplies, the federal government is now also competing for supplies, private hospitals are also competing for supplies. We’ve created a situation where you literally have hundreds of entities looking to buy the same exact materials basically from the same place, which is China.”
ABC/ESPN’s highly anticipated 10-part Michael Jordan documentary, “The Last Dance,” is being moved up to April, The Post has learned. Sources said the start date will be Sunday, April 19. It was originally slated for June. ABC/ESPN plans to make an announcement on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, according to sources.
There are a couple possible reasons for the delay. The first is obviously coronavirus. We talked before about the delays and pushbacks we’d see in production with factories in China being shut down over the virus. Some of those are up and running again, though, so this might not be the case. The second is Nike still might not know what direction they want to go in with Kobe’s line — especially since resellers gobbled it up. Coming up with a strategy for the future of the line is imperative.
It looks like a facsimile of the Kobe VI plastered on top of the LeBron XIII lows. It’s a clunky and low cut which is never really a good combination for a hoop shoe. It’s important for Nike to get things right with Antetokounmpo because of his status in the landscape.of his sport now and going forward. Getring it right with him isn’t as easy as it seems. Giannis is ostensibly a big man with guard skills — even more so than LeBron James. On the other side, Zion Williamson is the future of Jordan Brand and he has the same problem.
March 30, 2020 | 9:31 pm EDT Update
The Utah Sports Commission recognized Gobert for his excellence on the court, as well as his impact on the state of Utah. Gobert has established Rudy’s Kids Foundation which supports charities that directly impact the lives of youth in Utah, as well as a program that donates money to ShelterKids and Salt Lake County Youth Services, and the Utah Refugee Connection with every blocked shot Gobert records on the floor.
Khem Birch was one of the key pieces of Canada’s squad during the 2019 FIBA World Cup, and felt playing under Nurse did wonders for his professional development. After spending some time learning from him, Birch now understands why Nurse is viewed as one of the NBA’s top coaches. “Team Canada has a lot of potential, especially with coach Nurse. With the roster we had, I think he did a really good job, and I imagine if we had all our guys I think we would have won the whole thing,” Birch said during an interview on Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Good Show Monday.
Chris Ballard: After almost 20 years, today is my last at Sports Illustrated. Hell of a ride. I got to work alongside childhood idols, collaborate with some of the best editors in the business, and live out a dream. Best job in the world, I always said, and it was. A few thoughts:

Storyline: Media Layoffs
March 30, 2020 | 9:08 pm EDT Update