Storyline: Rodney McGruder Injury

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February 20, 2020 | 1:03 pm EST Update
On Wednesday, when Gordon and his Magic teammates returned to practice for the first time in more than a week, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward said he was looking forward at what was to come the rest of this season. Gordon, 24, said the fate of the 24-31 Magic matters much more to him now than whatever lingering bitterness that there might be over last weekend’s dunk contest. “For sure, it’s definitely a test,’’ Gordon said of potentially using the dunk contest result as fuel for the rest of the season. “I’m just looking to help my team. That’s what I want – I want us to be a great team and (give) ourselves and opportunity to win deep into the playoffs. That’s what it really comes down to.’’
“I definitely feel some type of way about it,’’ Gordon said while carefully choosing his words. “I’m definitely kind of irritated a little bit and a little frustrated, as well. “But it’s OK, it’s really OK,’’ he added. “We’ve got to move on because it’s over now. I think it will be talked about for years and years and years, which is really cool. But at the same time, it’s over.’’
As the Knicks (17-38) get back into the swing of things with the 2019-20 season’s second half set to begin in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game against the Indiana Pacers (32-23) at Madison Square Garden, Randle opened up on Miller’s impact Wednesday. “I don’t make those decisions, but from my personal standpoint, dealing with him on a daily basis has been absolutely amazing while he interacts with us, how he coaches the game — everything.,” Randle said. “We’ve responded really well to him and he’s done a great job.”
Storyline: Knicks Coaching Search
Since he replaced Fizdale with Dec. 7’s 104-103 loss to the Pacers, Miller is 13-20 through his first 33 games in charge of the Knicks. Over that span, Randle has been an instant beneficiary of Miller’s tweaks. Randle averaged 16.5 points on 44.2-percent shooting with 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists over 31.9 minutes in his first 22 games under Fizdale. Since Miller took over Dec. 7, Randle has 21.1 points on 46.2-percent shooting, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists over 33.5 minutes in the past 33 games. “He just made some adjustments, so what he feels is best, as far as playing to guys’ strengths and stuff like that,” Randle said. “It’s just the adjustments and all that type of stuff. So he’s done a great job.”
Buchanan is widely known for his embrace of analytics. If the Bulls ask for and receive permission to interview Buchanan, his longstanding working relationship with Pritchard would seemingly indicate an ability to mesh with Bulls executive vice president John Paxson. As previously reported, ownership still values Paxson’s leadership and vision for the direction of the franchise. Paxson long has publicly stated he’s willing to accept any role the franchise thinks is best for the Bulls.
Storyline: Bulls Front Office
February 20, 2020 | 11:23 am EST Update
How does unemployment work for an NBA player? I guess I’m wondering how you train. Don’t say what specific gym, of course, but is there a random Dallas area gym that you’re just showing up to. If I had a – I don’t know – Lifetime Fitness pass, might I randomly run into a vaguely familiar 6’7 dude shooting and lifting? Ryan Broekhoff: Yeah, you might, now that we’re back in Dallas. You might see us around some spots. But just using some contacts I’ve made to get somewhere to work out and I guess, not have privacy, but make sure that I can have a free court (so I’m) able to stay ready for whatever does happen next.
The Wizards have to maximize all of their other resources, much like the Brooklyn Nets did when they ultimately overcame the disastrous 2014 trade with the Boston Celtics that left them paying a debt of high first-round picks for years. Brooklyn worked around their draft pick blackhole by hitting on late-round selections plus minor signings and trades. And they built a foundation along the way that made them surprising heavyweights in free agency. The Wizards have plenty of work to do, but first-year general manager Tommy Sheppard is already proving his worth in peripheral transactions, the types that turned the Nets around. They may be less-heralded acquisitions, but they can also become major separators between GMs.
Sheppard has been running the Wizards front office for less than a calendar year, yet he already has an impressive list of marginal moves. Just recently he turned Isaiah Thomas, who was a glaring detriment on the defensive end, into Jerome Robinson, the 13th overall pick just 20 months ago. Last offseason, his first as GM, he flipped Aaron White, a former second-round pick who was stashed in Europe, for Davis Bertans, who has become one of the best shooters in the NBA. He also turned cap space into Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga, two guys with intriguing potential. Wagner, in particular, has emerged as a building block.
There are other minor moves Sheppard has made that stand out as good ones. He may have found something in Garrison Mathews, a rookie on a two-way deal who can light it up from three. Anzejs Pasecniks and Gary Payton II have been nice surprises as end-of-the-roster guys. And signing Ish Smith for less money instead of retaining Tomas Satoransky has proven to be a smart decision.
February 20, 2020 | 9:26 am EST Update

Giannis Antetokounmpo expected to re-sign with Bucks

Given how well the Bucks are playing, every executive we spoke to expects Antetokounmpo to re-sign with Milwaukee. The Bucks are overwhelming favorites to reach the NBA Finals, and falling short of that bar looks to be the only thing that could put Milwaukee’s MVP in play.
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No max for Brandon Ingram?

What happens with New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Brandon Ingram in restricted free agency is more divisive. Most executives believe Ingram isn’t worth a max contract, which makes his future difficult to predict. “I wonder if [Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin] will hardball [Ingram] and say, ‘Get an offer,'” one executive asked. “Where is he getting it from?”
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Several people mentioned the Nets could be active in trades. Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen are all names that rival executives believe to be available in some form. They could be attractive pieces for the Nets to package together to land a third star that sends them to the top of the conference. Some also wonder whether Brooklyn will spend big to keep unrestricted free agent Joe Harris this summer.
“He’s had a great year, for sure, but not sure everyone fully trusts it yet,” a league source told The Athletic. “It’s been the most consistent he’s shown his whole career. I think, maybe, $5 (million) to $7 million per year (is what he’ll get).” Then there’s this evaluation … “I would expect him to get a mid-level value, something like $9.7 (million) annually,” an NBA agent said.
Wood has impressed all year, as a bench man and even as a starter. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer after playing this season on a vet-minimum deal. At the trade deadline, the Rockets and Celtics, two championship-contending teams, made multiple offers to Detroit for Wood, per a source. The 2020 free agency class is considered blah, so don’t be surprised if Wood garners interest from teams with available cap space.
Storyline: Christian Wood Free Agency
“Without any hesitation or anything like that, I was like, ‘Hell yeah, I’d come back and play for the Lakers,’” Howard told The Athletic following a Lakers off day in early January, shortly after his contract was guaranteed for the rest of the season. “Why wouldn’t I? For me, it was kind of like in my heart I was full of forgiveness towards the fans and how the situation ended. I think after that first stint I was super angry. I hated L.A., I hated all that stuff, but I had to let all that go. And it just made my life better.”
February 20, 2020 | 6:52 am EST Update
February 20, 2020 | 6:51 am EST Update
February 20, 2020 | 3:15 am EST Update
Much like in 2016 when Gordon was the tough-luck loser to two-time champion Zach LaVine, Gordon has spent the past few days dealing with the fall out of an event he’s always thought he was destined to win at some point in his basketball career. In the subsequent four days since the Dunk Contest ended, Gordon has heard from countless numbers of fans, fellow NBA players and celebrities in the music and movie industries about a result they felt was wrong. That, in a weird and twisted sort of way, has helped to soothe Gordon’s disappointment over the results, he said. “I definitely feel some type of way about it,’’ Gordon said while carefully choosing his words. “I’m definitely kind of irritated a little bit and a little frustrated, as well. “But it’s OK, it’s really OK,’’ he added. “We’ve got to move on because it’s over now. I think it will be talked about for years and years and years, which is really cool. But at the same time, it’s over.’’
Storyline: All-Star Contests
Embiid is well-aware of these comments. And recently, he mocked them and shrugged it off as he shot down the speculation regarding his on and off-court relationship with his fellow teammate, Ben Simmons, during an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “I was actually right,” Embiid claimed. “A few years ago, I predicted it. I’m sure if you go into the archives and stuff, you can see I predicted the media, with my social media and Ben, [the media] were going to try and drive us apart. At the end of the day, we know what we gotta do. I love playing with [Ben Simmons]. He’s a special talent. I think we can accomplish something special.”
Something that came up with you with this process was getting feedback from others and guys telling you you should go, giving you advice and that kind of brought up the question in my mind of when you have something specifically within the NBA that you’re looking for feedback on or advice on, who are the people you turn to the most? Devin Booker: Just people that I respect the most. Whether that’s a teammate, if it’s my brother, my mother — whoever it is. I said when I first didn’t make the game, a lot of people reached out to me that I never really had a personal connection with and a lot of people I respected. I said after the game Chauncey Billups was probably the most memorable. Like, I grew up idolizing this guy and for him to reach out to me and tell me it was (expletive) and I should be in the game — hearing that from Chauncey “Big Shot” Billups, it means that much more to me. I talked to Dame a lot about it. So, all these guys that have been in your shoes. It’s hard to get advice from somebody that hasn’t been in your shoes. The guys that have been in those situations, they all told me a story of when they got snubbed or a situation like that. But the consistent answer was to get there and enjoy this weekend and that’s what I did.
Beilein is, though, first and foremost, his own man. It accounts for his defiant rise through the coaching ranks, from a nobody to a somebody. It also accounts for a high degree of pride, or perhaps ego, and the staunch belief that his way works as long as everyone around him subscribes to it. And there, more than anywhere else, is most likely where you will find the fatal flaw of Beilein’s dalliance in the NBA.
It should at least be considered that Beilein could be done coaching. He told at least one fellow coach earlier this season that he could not imagine returning to the college game. Of course, comments like that could have just been a product of life on the other side. Or maybe it was hyperbole. Regardless, it’s worth understanding that Beilein’s loyalty has never been to a certain school or a certain level of play, but to the game. Basketball is his true love. Well, that and his family.
In that room, where he often shouted at guys for sloppy play, sluggishness and poor habits, and tried to find positives in double-digit defeats, Beilein poured his heart out, taking ownership for faults while also offering encouragement. He wanted to get a specific point across. We’re not that far away. Ironically, that perspective was too often elusive for Beilein during his first NBA season. He had a difficult time seeing the bigger picture through the pile of losses. It didn’t matter that Larry Nance Jr. had made more 3-pointers than at any other point of his career. Nor did it matter that second-year guard Collin Sexton had improved across the board and was named a Rising Star. It didn’t resonate that Kevin Porter Jr. was growing into a key piece of the rebuild.

Storyline: Andre Drummond Free Agency