Storyline: Mike Conley Injury

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Mike Conley expects the Memphis Grizzlies to clear him for full-contact drills at some point this month, ending a frustrating ordeal with his left Achilles that cost him a year of his prime and the coach who helped him become a more complete offensive player. Family time was fun and the daddy-day-care responsibilities helped him overcome the agonizing waiting game of the past nine months, but it also made Conley more appreciative of the game he otherwise would’ve taken for granted. “It’s like I lost my wallet, got it back and now I can do something with it,” Conley told Yahoo Sports at the USA Basketball minicamp last month.

“We’re doing the right things. Taking things slow. And giving me time to really be ready to go for training camp. Mentally, I’m there. I’m ready. Physically, I feel good. It’s just my body has to catch up,” Conley told Yahoo Sports. “Being a dad, being low-key out of the way, it gave me a perspective like, ‘Hey. This is great, I get to spend time with my kids, even though this is a down part of my career.’ But also at the same time, I’ve got a new re-tooled drive. … Knowing that I took care of the issue, we got the issue figured out, hopefully, going forward, I won’t have any flare-ups. I can just play basketball like I’m used to playing and I’ve got a free year, another year, added to my career, so I’m excited.”

How do you balance ‘I need to be out there’ with ‘I need to be healthy’? Mike Conley: It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my career. It’s something I’ve been battling since day one of this season, trying to figure out the balance of push through this wall or just wait behind it, let everything just come together and let things settle down. But in the process of letting things play out, we didn’t do well as a team. For me personally, I might have been healing a little bit better, but I’m looking out there and I’m feeling, I need to be out there to help this team play and move forward.

Q: Are the occasional flare-ups something you have to accept going forward? Mike Conley: After this last incident, they (the doctors) told me the Achilles can heal fully. I just have to give it time to heal. As we know, I rush things a lot and when I come back I won’t say anything about it but I might be feeling it. I might withhold that from the trainers to try and get on the court. I’ve done that over the years. Right now, I’m trying to do the smart thing, which is frustrating. But I knew I wasn’t helping the team with the way I was playing.

How are you feeling now with the sore Achilles? Mike Conley: It’s tough. Anything that has to do with your heel takes a little bit longer to heal. So, I’m just taking it day by day. Hopefully, we’ll know something more in the next week or so. Q: How would you describe your condition when the Achilles flares up? Mike Conley: It’s almost impossible to walk when it’s really flared up. It’s hard to get on your toe to jump or do anything athletic, let alone doing the basic things – walking or trying to go up steps. It’s tough. It’s not something I’m used to having to deal with in the sense I play a certain way. I play hard. I play fast. I just hate that this happens.

Before he gingerly walked out of the locker room after the Grizzlies’ first home loss of the season, Conley slowly gathered his thoughts and his belongings. He then tried to think back to a time when his normally deft shooting touch has disowned him quite like this. “If I had been in one, I don’t recall it,” the Grizzlies’ catalyst said of his current slump on offense. “I don’t even think about it. I always just move on to the next game. You know, it’s tough. But tough times don’t last. I’ll get through it. I know my teammates will help me through it and it will turn around.”

Conley is listed as questionable with Achilles soreness entering Wednesday’s game, but was on the court with teammates at the end of the morning shootaround. “Once Mike is feeling better, we’re going to see a lot better basketball out of him,” Fizdale said. “Right now, he’s just fighting through nagging pain and stuff you can’t control. It’s always going to be his Achilles. It’s going to be sore. Sometimes it feels better than other times. It’s just getting back into the competition, doing it every day again and getting through that threshold of pain. Once he gets to a certain number of games, he gets his legs under him and feels better.”
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August 15, 2020 | 4:13 pm EDT Update
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver responded to President Donald Trump referring to the league’s players as “nasty” and “dumb” for holding silent protests during the playing of the National Anthem. Silver defended the league’s players in an interview Friday with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, saying league administrators support some of the players who hold the anti-police brutality protests during the National Anthem.
Silver replied that roughly 55 million Americans have watched the NBA games leading up to the playoffs so far this year, particularly the coveted demographic of men between the ages of 18 to 49 years old. “And in terms of Black Lives Matter,” Silver continued, “we support it as a national movement. Depending on estimates, roughly 25 million Americans have protested for social justice in the country — in this country.”
Silver rejected criticism from Trump and conservatives who have accused the league of cozying up to China’s Communist Party simply to do business with the country’s massive fan base. The NBA is currently making billions of dollars off of its Chinese consumers, which came to a head last year when the Houston Rockets’ general manager tweeted out in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. “As a result, we were taken off the air, Chinese Central Television, for the first time in 30 years. And our games are still not back on the air, as a result of our supporting that general manager and supporting, frankly, American values, the values of free speech,” Silver said, adding that the NBA has had ties to China since the Washington Bullets played a game there in 1979.
August 15, 2020 | 2:11 pm EDT Update
August 15, 2020 | 1:34 pm EDT Update
“I’m grateful for and appreciative of Alvin’s commitment to the organization and, most importantly, the local community,” said Griffin. “The City of New Orleans is richer because of his presence here. These types of moves are often about fit and timing, and we believe now is the right time to make this change and bring in a new voice.”
Storyline: Alvin Gentry Firing
“I want to thank Alvin for his contributions to the Pelicans and the New Orleans community,” said Pelicans Owner Gayle Benson. “We believe that making a head coaching change is necessary at this time. I truly appreciate Alvin’s leadership, dedication and perseverance through some challenging circumstances over the past five seasons. He will always be a part of our Pelicans family, and we wish him and his family all the best in the future. Our intention moving forward is to find the right head coach that will guide this Pelicans team to compete for championships. That is what our fans deserve.”
August 15, 2020 | 12:37 pm EDT Update
Among those coaches expected to be part of the Pelicans search: Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Clippers assistant Ty Lue and former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, sources said. The Pelicans are also expected to have an interest in Brooklyn interim coach Jacque Vaughn, should the Nets decide not to retain him, sources said.
August 15, 2020 | 12:12 pm EDT Update
Knicks GM Scott Perry has been floated as a possibility for the newly opened Sacramento job following Vlade Divac’s firing Friday. Sacramento consultant Joe Dumars, Perry’s boss in Detroit, is running the GM search. According to a source, Bill Duffy, RJ Barrett’s agent, may be considered.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization on Saturday allowing public use of a saliva-based test for the coronavirus developed at Yale University and funded by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. The test, known as SalivaDirect, is designed for widespread public screening. The cost per sample could be as low as about $4, though the cost to consumers will likely be higher than that — perhaps around $15 or $20 in some cases, according to expert sources.
Storyline: Coronavirus
Yale administered the saliva test to a group that included NBA players and staff in the lead-up to the league’s return to play and compared results to the nasal swab tests the same group took. The results almost universally matched, according to published research that has not yet been peer-reviewed. The leading coronavirus saliva test, developed at a Rutgers University lab and given the same permission by the FDA in mid-April, costs individual consumers up to $150 — though that can be reduced to $60 or $70 in some circumstances, said Andrew Brooks, an associate professor at Rutgers and chief operating officer of RUCDR Infinite Biologics, the lab behind the test. The Rutgers test can be taken at home and returns results in 24 to 48 hours.
August 15, 2020 | 11:34 am EDT Update
While the list of candidates may grow, several coaches and executives around the league believe there is one candidate who stands out amongst the current group – Atkinson. “I think the list will change, but out of the group mentioned, I think Kenny would be the favorite,” one general manager told HoopsHype. “Some of it depends on Arturas’ timeline, but Kenny can coach, and he can oversee player development. He will be able to compete on the court while also continuing to develop the young guys.”
Storyline: Bulls Coaching Job
“No brainer, Kenny Atkinson,” one NBA scout told HoopsHype. “It’s a young team. He will do for Chicago exactly what he did for Brooklyn. He’ll have them overachieve, outhustle and outwork teams on a nightly basis. They will be physical, smart, and tough to guard because they will share the ball. Plus, he’s a no-nonsense, direct, fair coach who relates very well to players. He’d be my pick.” In Chicago, Atkinson would be reunited with assistant coach Chris Fleming, whom he worked with for three seasons in Brooklyn.
Should Karnisovas consider hiring an assistant coach, Unseld Jr. is a prime candidate given their history with the Denver Nuggets. With the help of Unseld Jr., Denver’s defensive rating improved from 25th to 16th since being hired in 2015. “Kenny would be very good there,” another general manager told HoopsHype. “My gut is they go with an assistant coach that Arturas has worked with before. I think Unseld deserves a shot.”
Storyline: Bulls Coaching Job
“I think Vanterpool will be good if he gets an opportunity,” one former NBA executive told HoopsHype. “He’s a high-level player relator, which has been a piece they’re missing there.” Vanterpool was an assistant coach with the Blazers for six seasons while Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum emerged as one of the league’s premier backcourts. “Keep an eye on Ime Udoka,” an NBA scout told HoopsHype. “He’s a bright, young up and coming head coach candidate. It’s only a matter of time before he’s hired.”
Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce was recording a podcast appearance with HoopsHype as news of Boylen’s firing broke. As a fellow coach tasked with developing a young team in a rebuild, the news hit home for Pierce. “For me, it’s disturbing,” Pierce told HoopsHype. “It’s upsetting. Jim’s a great man. I know the challenges that he was facing as a coach with a team that’s similarly young to ours. You’re trying to get that thing going. It’s not always the easiest task at hand when you’re dealing with the media, social media, young players, and the expectations of everyone. Everyone wants to win, and everyone wants to win right now.
Charles Barkley vs. the Miami Heat has practically been a television miniseries. And now, the loquacious “Inside the NBA” analyst is at it again, this time with his perspective on the Heat’s impending first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. “The Miami Heat don’t scare anybody,” he said during his Thursday appearance on TNT. Barkley then noted the evolving antipathy between Heat All-Star forward Jimmy Butler and emerging Pacers scorer T.J. Warren. “And Jimmy’s going to have to control his emotions,” Barkley said. “Like, he’s the best player on that team. He’s a leader of that team. But if he’s going to spend all his energy going at T.J. Warren, that’s not going to work. Because when you’re the best player, you can’t get in foul trouble and you cannot get sidetracked. So, to me, that’s a pick ’em.”
Former Heat center Shaquille O’Neal, the show’s third analyst, also has the Heat. “I like Miami because Miami’s just known for defense,” he said. “You can’t let this T.J. Warren guy average 30 or 40. They’ll bring him back down to earth where he was; I don’t even know where he was. I’m saying 15 to 20 points a game, then they should be able to win this. “Indiana does have a chance to win a couple of games, because they do have some talented players. But you can’t let a guy like T.J. Warren average 40.”
In February of ’92, just three months after announcing his retirement, Johnson cleared a bigger physical and psychological hurdle, playing for the Western Conference in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando. That appearance was one of the first major counters to the concerns – and, frankly, the prejudices – that many people living with HIV had faced from others. There was Magic Johnson, HIV-positive, still doing what he’d done as well as anyone who’d ever played the game. But it had been a long and difficult road to get there. “There was a question if, after his announcement, forget about the All-Star Game,” Johnson’s longtime agent, Lon Rosen, said last week. “If he was going to be able to play in the Olympics, number one, was he going to be alive? Number two, was he going to be healthy? And number three, if he was healthy, would other teams play against him? If you recall, in 1991, some people didn’t want to be in the same room as him. It was COVID to another degree.”
“I’m on vacation with Earvin, we’re in Hawaii, the results come in and he’s leading,” Rosen said. “So I speak with Russ Granik. Russ says, ‘Well, David’s going to let him play, but he’s not going to let him start.’ I say, ‘Hey, Russ, I’m telling you this – if David doesn’t let him start, he ain’t playing.’ Earvin was like, ‘Hell no, I want to start.’ To be true, David had a lot to deal with. There (were) players who were uncomfortable playing against him. … And I can say this, you know, what is it, 30 years since then – they weren’t wrong. It’s unfair. Because, you know what? You didn’t know much about it. It’s a much different disease now. But it was still hurtful. And Stern called me, he called with the old, ‘you m———–.’ He m———– me. It was fine.” But, eventually, Stern relented. Not only would the NBA honor the final fan vote – Johnson’s 658,211 votes were second only to Drexler’s 759,550 among Western Conference guards – it enthusiastically backed Johnson’s appearance in the All-Star Game.
August 15, 2020 | 9:09 am EDT Update
Several candidates have emerged, including former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool, and Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas, according to multiple reports. While the list of candidates may grow, several coaches and executives around the league believe there is one candidate who stands out amongst the current group – Atkinson. “I think the list will change, but out of the group mentioned, I think Kenny would be the favorite,” one general manager told HoopsHype. “Some of it depends on Arturas’ timeline, but Kenny can coach, and he can oversee player development. He will be able to compete on the court while also continuing to develop the young guys.”
Storyline: Bulls Coaching Job