Month: May 2020

Knicks, Nets Receive Permission To Reopen Facilities

6:19pm: The Nets intend to reopen their facility for voluntary workouts on Tuesday, the team confirmed today (Twitter link via Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News).

12:04pm: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has granted permission for New York sports teams to resume operations immediately, stating in a tweet that “Starting today, NY professional sports leagues can begin spring training.”

Although coronavirus cases remain high in the New York City area, Cuomo believes sports can be conducted safely without spectators in the stands. He made similar comments this morning during a briefing at Jones Beach on Long Island, according to Joseph Spector of The USA Today Network.

“I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena, do it. Do it,” Cuomo told reporters.

The Knicks and Nets are two of the 11 NBA teams that haven’t opened their training facilities, notes Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

However, both teams may try to train somewhere else before joining the rest of the league in Orlando. A story published Friday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski listed the Knicks, Nets, Celtics and Raptors as organizations that have expressed concerns to the league about unique complications affecting their marketplaces.

Cuomo has been urging professional leagues, most of which have their headquarters in his state, to explore ways to start playing again, Spector adds.

“Work out the economics if you can. We want you up,” Cuomo said. “We want people to be able to watch sport. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy.”

Southwest Notes: Curry, Pelicans, Harden, Mavericks

Despite having multiple opportunities to join the Warriors and play with his brother to this point, Mavericks guard Seth Curry has decided he’d rather compete against Stephen Curry and has turned down those chances, as he explained on Uninterrupted’s “Go Off” with Austin Rivers.

“I thought about it,” Curry said, as relayed by DallasNews.com. “Earlier in my career, I had some opportunities to play on the Warriors and go there and, obviously, take on a much lesser role having teams stacked the way they’ve had them the last few years… I always turned him down, I never really wanted to play on the team, I wanted to play against him. I’m going to be compared to him in some way, in his shadow whether I’m on the team or not so it’s going to multiply if I were on the same team. I’d like to create my own path and doing my own thing…

“He wants me to stay on my path and do my thing. He knows the kind of pressure I get under when compared against him, playing against him and being on the same team. He knows what it will be like so he’s kind of pushed me the opposite direction of going my own separate way.”

Curry, 29, is coming off an impressive season with Dallas, averaging 12.6 points in 24.5 minutes per game. He shot 50% from the floor and 45% from deep, raising those marks from the previous season.

Curry also discussed what it’s like to play with Luka Doncic, his thoughts on the NBA returning to play and more in the video.

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division:

  • William Guillory and Danny Leroux of The Athletic examine the futures of Derrick Favors and Jrue Holiday, with Favors on track to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and Holiday set to turn 30 next month. Despite Favors entering free agency, the Pelicans‘ top priority is still re-signing Brandon Ingram in restricted free agency.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic explores James Harden‘s boot camp, detailing how the Rockets star has stayed in shape throughout the NBA’s hiatus. “I’ve been doing a lot of cardio,” Harden said. “I’ve got treadmills in my houses, weights, and all that good stuff. It really hasn’t affected me like it’s affected a lot of other players.”
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is making sure his players stay ready ahead of the NBA’s decision on whether to resume, as The Athletic’s David Aldridge writes. Dallas has yet to open its practice facility, with Mavericks players relying on virtual instructions, at-home workouts, yoga sessions and more since the league went on hiatus. “I don’t have any doubt that the players are very motivated to play, but (they’re) also, very smart guys, and they understand, I think, that we’re in a very serious part of our history, and things need to be handled the right way,” Carlisle said.

Greg Whittington Attracting NBA Interest

Free agent forward Greg Whittington has received interest from multiple high-level NBA teams throughout the year, his agent told Hoops Rumors.

Whittington impressed scouts during a shortened campaign with Turkish team Galatasaray in the EuroCup, playing against some of the toughest competition overseas. He posted averages of 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 14 Turkish League contests, shooting 52.8% from 3-point range.

“Greg’s put in the work, and now he knows he’s graduated to being able to pick his next opportunity,” agent Jerry Dianis said. “He can now cherry-pick his next opportunity, and obviously he has some high-level NBA and international interest. I think Greg is going to be the most coveted free agent outside of the NBA because of his versatility and ability to shoot the ball.”

Whittington also averaged 18.4 points per game for Hapoel Gilboa Galil in Israel the season before, shooting 41.5% from deep in 30 contests while leading the country in rebounding (9.6 per contest). His versatility and unselfishness are two major reasons why he’s registered NBA interest, with the 27-year-old also being named forward of the year this season.

Whittington, a lengthy 6’9″ combo forward, went undrafted in 2015 after spending two seasons at Georgetown. He joined the Heat for summer league and earned a training camp deal with the team that fall, spending the rest of the season in the NBA G League. He’s since made stops in Australia, Sioux Falls, Japan and Israel.

Whittington’s consistent play has made him a strong candidate for an NBA contract, though all transactions across the league remain on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Several teams around the association are actively preparing for a return to action, possibly as early as July. The season was suspended indefinitely on March 11.

Heat Notes: Season, Playoffs, Adebayo, Free Agents

The Heat hope to hit the ground running in the event the NBA season is resumed, staying ready and waiting for Adam Silver‘s decision, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Silver is expected to make a decision within the next few weeks on the season’s fate. However, the Heat are already working to take advantage of the newly-opened practice facility and hold individual workouts with hopes of getting back to game shape earlier than most teams.

“I definitely tell guys that we have this little period where we can go in and do these voluntary workouts, take advantage,” Udonis Haslem said on ESPN’s Now or Never, as relayed by Winderman. “Hit the ground running. If the season comes back, we want to hit the ground running.”

Haslem, who turns 40 next month, is no exception to this lifestyle. Despite weighing potential retirement, the three-time NBA champion is keeping the same work ethic he’s held throughout his career.

“The younger guys, they can adjust a lot faster than the guys my age,” Haslem said. “But, for me, I guess that’s why I just never stop working. At his stage of my career and at this stage of my life, it’s a choice to make and a lifestyle. It can’t just be a decision that I make. It’s a lifestyle. So I tell all my young guys that I’ll never ask you anything I won’t do myself.”

Here are some other notes out of Miami tonight:

  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Winderman examines which first-round opponents the Heat could meet in the playoffs and which team they might prefer to play. The top tier of the East is full of talented clubs with championship aspirations, including the Bucks, Raptors, 76ers, Pacers and Celtics.
  • Miami should wait to offer Bam Adebayo a contract extension due to the team’s complex salary-cap situation, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. By agreeing to a max contract extension with Adebayo this offseason, as Jackson notes, the Heat would limit their salary-cap space for the summer of 2021 when the team hopes to pursue the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo. By waiting and keeping Adebayo’s more modest cap hold on its books, Miami could sign other free agents in 2021 before going over the cap to ink the big man to a long-term deal.
  • NBA teams could benefit from having some sort of a “quarantine team” made up of current free agents if the NBA season is resumed, Winderman opines. Players from this group of free agents could be added to rosters in the event that multiple players get sick or quarantined during the playoffs, ensuring that each team has enough players. These players could also come from the G League if the rest of its season is canceled.

Jon Leuer Announces Retirement

Former Pistons big man Jon Leuer has announced his retirement after spending eight seasons in the NBA, the 31-year-old wrote on social media.

Leuer, who made stops with Milwaukee, Cleveland, Memphis, Phoenix and Detroit across his career, officially bid farewell to the game on Sunday.

“I love the game of basketball. I still want to play, but I know deep down it’s not the right decision for my health anymore,” he wrote on Instagram. “The past three years I’ve dealt with a number of injuries, including two that kept me out this whole season. It’s taken me a while to come to grips with this, but I’m truly at peace with my decision to officially retire.

“As disappointing as these injuries have been, I’m still thankful for every moment I spent playing the game. Basketball has been the most amazing journey of my life. It’s taken me places I only could’ve dreamed about as a kid. The relationships it brought me mean more than anything. I’ve been able to connect with people from all walks of life and forged lifelong bonds with many of them. What this game has brought me stretches way beyond basketball. I’m grateful for this incredible ride and everyone who helped me along the way.”

Leuer was the No. 40 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and last played with the Pistons in April of 2019. Detroit traded him to Milwaukee last June; the Bucks later waived him in early July.

Leuer ended his career holding per-game averages of 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds, mostly serving as a player off the bench. Perhaps his best season came during the 2016/17 campaign, which saw him average 10.2 points, four rebounds and 25.9 minutes per game in 75 contests.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets Notes: Dinwiddie, Marks, Durant, Harris

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has a pointed question for the NBA if it decides to resume its season with just playoff teams, relays Ted Holmlund of The New York Post.

“If we go 16 teams directly to playoffs do those teams get paid more for the risk and carrying this year’s revenue after Corona and China?” Dinwiddie tweeted.

He offered a few more comments in response to fans who replied to the tweet. After someone accused him of viewing the return only in financial terms, he wrote, “Isn’t that what big business is about? I’m a small business that is a cog in the machine of a bigger business lol.” After another claimed that players ceded some of their leverage by admitting they want to play again, Dinwiddie stated, “Yes, the team owners have run a master class in media manipulation.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • After dropping a hint three weeks ago that Kevin Durant might be close to a return, Nets general manager Sean Marks now seems resigned that it won’t happen until next season, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Sources tell Berman that the league hiatus has made it impossible for Durant to maintain the progress he was showing during workouts in late winter. Durant wasn’t in game condition when the season stopped and needed five-on-five scrimmages to reach that point.
  • Talking to Sky Sport New Zealand, Marks said Durant and Kyrie Irving have a chance to add to their legacies if they can bring a championship to Brooklyn, Berman adds in the same story. “That’s what these guys are fighting for now,’’ Marks said. “If you talk to Kevin and Ky, they’ve both won —Kevin’s won two championships, Ky’s won a championship — so now, it’s how do we make this ours, how do we take this to the next level and who do we do it with?”
  • In an interview with Michael Grady of YES Network, Joe Harris called remaining in Brooklyn his “ideal scenario” as free agency approaches. “I look back just over four years ago coming to Brooklyn, getting an opportunity to play here, to learn as a young player to play through my mistakes and be given a niche in this league,” Harris said. “And I’ve always loved New York and I love living in Brooklyn. Obviously, it’s a business at the end of the day and there are things you can’t control a lot of things that go on. My ideal scenario … that’s what it is for me.”

International Notes: Zizic, EuroLeague, Schroder, Sirvydis

Maccabi Tel Aviv is interested in signing Cavaliers center Ante Zizic next season, according to Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Zizic will be a free agent after Cleveland declined his fourth-year option in October.

Zizic got into just 22 games this year, averaging 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 10 minutes per night. The 23-year-old center is in his third season with the Cavs after being acquired from Boston in the Kyrie Irving deal.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Most EuroLeague players are against resuming the season, tweets Greek basketball writer George Zakkas. A conference call was held yesterday in which players expressed their concerns about the coronavirus and the risk of injury if the season were to start again. The players were unanimous in their stance, which surprised league officials, according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. The 11 A-licensed EuroLeague teams will vote tomorrow morning on whether the season will resume. Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia has heard that four teams seem to be in favor of restarting, while five clubs are against it (Twitter link).
  • The BBL in Germany has released its schedule for a 10-team tournament to crown a league champion, Borghesan writes in a separate piece. The opening game is set for June 6 with the finals on June 26 and 28.
  • Thunder guard Dennis Schroder will become the sole owner of his hometown team in Braunschweig, Germany, on July 1, Skerletic notes in a separate story. “I am very happy to be the sole shareholder of the Lions.” Schroder said. “… I want to give something back to the region. I am convinced that we can develop the team further and make it a top club in the league.”
  • Pistons draft-and-stash player Deividas Sirvydis has agreed to a long-term deal with Hapoel Jerusalem, Carchia writes. Detroit selected the 19-year-old forward in the second round last year.
  • Former NBA center Tarik Black has left Maccabi Tel Aviv, Lupo relays.

Warriors Notes: Myers, Draft, Resumption, Mullin

The Warriors project to have the best odds whenever the draft lottery takes place, but they aren’t committed to keeping their pick. General manager Bob Myers confirmed to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area that trying to trade for a more established player remains an option.

“Yeah, we’re going to consider all that,” Myers said. “Now, I don’t know if the headline is going to be that we’re trading our pick. So, be clear that I said ‘consider.’”

Golden State is aiming to get back into title contention after a lost season due to injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Myers admits there’s not a “transformational” player at the top of this year’s draft and Poole states that there’s little difference in talent level between the top pick and No. 5, which is the farthest the Warriors can drop in the lottery. Adding to the uncertainty, the traditional pre-draft evaluation process has been disrupted because of COVID-19 concerns.

The current front office has never been in position to make a top-five pick, so the Warriors are reaching out to other franchises, including the Hawks, whose GM, Travis Schlenk, was a former Golden State executive.

“He said there’s a lot of activity, that it depends on the traffic and how open you are to doing something,” Myers said. “The higher you are, the more optionality you have to make moves. The thing about trading or not is you want to make the best decision possible. The best position might be to draft, or it might be a trade. You don’t know until you see what you can do and what offers you have.”

There’s more Warriors news this morning:

  • It’s not certain that Golden State and the other teams at the bottom of the league will participate in a resumption of the season, but many people in the organization believe it would be beneficial, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. A few practices and games could provide a mini-camp to help prepare the team for the start of next season.
  • Former Warriors star Chris Mullin believes The Last Dance documentary sheds light on how impressive Golden State’s five-run in the NBA Finals was, relays Alex Didion of NBC Sports. “I think it puts into context how great this last five-year period the Warriors have been on,” Mullin said in an interview on KNBR. “That’s a hard thing to endure man, and the way they did it, they did it with some grace and some class and some dignity. I know (Warriors coach) Steve (Kerr) didn’t let the cameras in, but I think as years go by, we’re gonna look back and go ‘Man, that Warriors team of the last five years was a special, special time here in the Bay Area.’”
  • The Warriors have almost no chance of reaching the 70-game threshold for their regional sports network, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Of the 65 games they have played, nine have been exclusive to national TV, so they would need 14 more to meet the target.

Coronavirus Notes: Resuming The Season, Hall Of Fame, Ewing

Several teams that are unable to open their facilities because of government restrictions are asking the NBA if their players can report directly to the proposed campus environment, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Sources tell Woj that the NBA is willing to work out an arrangement with those teams. Franchises located in areas where stay-at-home orders are still in effect have a large number of players who have gone elsewhere, he adds.

A timetable and other specifics to resume the season are expected to be outlined in a Board of Governors call on Friday. Sources tell Wojnarowski that teams expect to be told to begin recalling players to their markets around June 1. A few teams have talked about establishing temporary training camps at other sites before arriving in Orlando, which is now considered the likely location to finish the season.

There’s more coronavirus-related news to pass along:

  • During a conference call on Thursday, the league offered few specifics about how it plans to finish the season, Wojnarowski writes in the same story. Some Board of Governors members believe the league would prefer not to bring back all 30 teams because placing more people in the bubble environment means a greater opportunity of contracting the virus. Also, there was little support for a scenario that would provide a chance to make the playoffs for the league’s worst teams. Privately, Woj states, those teams are more concerned with preserving their odds for the draft lottery and don’t want to risk injuries to their veteran players.
  • This year’s induction ceremony at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame is still set for August 29, but two other dates are being considered if the virus is still prevalent, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Hall officials are willing to move the ceremony to Columbus Day weekend or to next spring. No matter what happens, the 2020 and 2021 inductions will not be combined. “I do want to make it very clear we will have a separate event for the class of 2020 because of the notoriety of that class and, frankly, every class deserves its own recognition,” CEO John Doleva said. “There is a potential next calendar year that we could have two enshrinements.”
  • Former Knicks star Patrick Ewing, now the head coach at Georgetown, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN. Ewing issued a statement urging everyone to “stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.”

Wizards Notes: Beal, Wagner, Bonga, Stewart

Bradley Beal‘s agent is downplaying a report that the Nets have had “internal discussions” about trading for the star guard, writes Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

“There are no Beal sweepstakes and that’s why he re-signed with the Wizards,” Mark Bartelstein said. “Brad re-signed with the Wizards because he wanted to stay in Washington and the Wizards wanted to keep him there.”

Beal agreed to a two-year extension in October that will keep him under contract through the end of the 2021/22 season. It also includes a $37.26MM player option for 2022/23.

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • Fred Katz of The Athletic looks back at 10 storylines he set for the team during preseason to see how they panned out. Among his findings are that former Lakers Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga have both been valuable additions, Thomas Bryant has been slowed by injuries and still hasn’t developed into a rim protector, Troy Brown has improved as a ballhandler and shooter and coach Scott Brooks appears more likely than ever to make it to the end of his contract next season. Katz believes the team’s most significant decisions were to hold onto Beal and impending free agent Davis Bertans.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports continues his look at potential Wizards draft picks with University of Washington power forward/center Isaiah Stewart. Hughes believes Stewart could be an effective back-up big man behind Bryant and Rui Hachimura, but he doesn’t have the athleticism or enough of a complete game to justify being taken with a top-10 pick.
  • Playing five more regular season games, which has been suggested in some circles, probably wouldn’t be enough to give the Wizards a shot at the playoffs, Hughes tweets. At 24-40, Washington was in ninth place when the hiatus began, five-and-a-half games out of the eighth spot.