BIG3

BIG3 Cancels 2020 Season

The BIG3, the professional 3-on-3 basketball league co-founded by Ice Cube, is canceling its 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release.

The league, which intends to start preparing for its 2021 season, cited “safety, uncertainty of testing, changing government regulations, insurance and liability issues,” and a handful of other concerns as reasons why the ’20 campaign had to be canceled.

“Ultimately, we need the fan experience and the games themselves to be great,” the BIG3’s statement reads. “While other leagues have more immediate financial considerations, as a rising league, we need to put the fan experience above all and ensure each season is better than the one before.

“While we investigated many alternative scenarios, such as playing at a single location like a Los Angeles studio sound stage, the extension of the California stay at home order, California’s constant confusion and changing of the rules when combined with the multiple other issues listed above led to us to determining these scenarios were not feasible.”

Former NBA players such as Joe Johnson, Rashard Lewis, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Josh Smith were among the standout BIG3 performers during the first three seasons of the 12-team league, which typically begins in June. Zach Randolph and Marreese Speights were among the notable veterans expected to join the BIG3 for its 2020 season.

The BIG3 had planned to precede its 2020 season with a reality show-style, three-on-three tournament, which will now be delayed until ’21 as well. The program, titled BIG3: Not in My House, will premiere sometime before the 2021 regular season begins, according to today’s announcement.

“The BIG3, along with (production partner) Endemol, was ready to proceed with this show immediately, but were faced with issues because U.S. networks mostly cannot start reality show and studio productions until at least September,” the league said in its statement. “We will have to wait until network studio production and scheduling stabilizes.”

BIG3 Postponing Quarantined Tournament, 2020 Season

The BIG3 will postpone a quarantined, reality show-style, three-on-three tournament that the league had been hoping to launch in May, reports Mark Medina of USA Today. According to Medina, the BIG3’s 2020 regular season, which had been scheduled to tip off on June 20, will also be delayed.

A source tells Medina that the quarantined tournament will be pushed back to August or September, while the start of the regular season will be postponed until sometime in the fall or winter.

“It’s a fluid situation,” a person familiar with the situation told Medina. “It’s hard to provide a fixed date, but it’s happening.”

As we outlined in March, the BIG3 is aiming to hold a 16-player tournament in which all participants are quarantined together in a single Los Angeles-area home. The televised show would broadcast the three-on-three games in addition to capturing behind-the-scenes footage of the players living in the house — media production company Endemal, which has produced Big Brother, is expected to be involved.

The BIG3 had initially planned to launch the tournament in April or May, but is still working on finalizing the participants. Additionally, since the BIG3 is planning on conducting coronavirus tests on all the players and officials involved in the event, the league is sensitive to ongoing testing shortages elsewhere in the country. The league also wants to address safety concerns for players who would be traveling in from out of state.

BIG3 founder Ice Cube had hinted on Monday that the event would have to be delayed, suggesting that the timeline is somewhat out of the league’s hands.

“The BIG3 is ready to go but we can’t move faster than the government and the networks,” he tweeted. “We’re in a holding pattern until restrictions and schedules are worked out, ya dig?”

And-Ones: BIG3, Pierce, Free Agency, VanVleet

With the BIG3 planning to hold a quarantined basketball tournament that will double as a ‘Big Brother’-style reality show, Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight spoke to UCLA infectious disease epidemiologist Anne Rimoin to get a sense of whether the league’s plans are realistic. Dr. Rimoin is unconvinced that the BIG3’s testing process will be thorough enough and skeptical that the format of the event would be viable.

“Even if you test them (for COVID-19), they could be incubating for up to 14 days,” she said. “They would need to be in complete isolation, put in an isolation chamber — meaning no contact with anybody — for 14 days prior. They wouldn’t be allowed to have contact with anybody during that period, or while they’re playing. That’s the science of it. But I don’t see that happening. These people have families, friends. They might need to get groceries.”

Dr. Arthur Reingold told Herring that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health may also need to give the green light to the BIG3’s plan, so there will be hurdles for the league to overcome if it wants to hold its quarantined tournament.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Appearing on ESPN’s The Jump (video link), Paul Pierce claimed he was intrigued by the idea of playing in the BIG3’s tournament, given the rumored seven-figure prize and the fact that it may take place in Los Angeles. His former Celtics teammate and fellow ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins, meanwhile, argued that the tournament shouldn’t even take place.
  • In an in-depth Insider piece for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks previews the offseason questions facing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down each club’s needs, draft assets, cap situation, and free-agents-to-be.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes an early look at the free agent market for point guards this offseason. With no max-caliber players expected to be available, Leroux identifies Fred VanVleet and Mike Conley as the players most likely to do better than the mid-level. Of course, Conley has a $34.5MM early termination option for 2020/21, so he seems like a good bet to put off free agency for another year.

And-Ones: BIG3, Germany, Mayo, Turkey

The next significant sporting event in the United States may be the BIG3 tournament, which is being planned for early May, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. The BIG3 is a summertime league made up mostly of former NBA players, but organizers are hoping to launch a tournament linked with a reality show to fill the gap in the sports calendar. Its fourth season won’t start until June 20.

“We can’t control what happens with the virus. Nobody can control it,” league co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz said. “If that has to be pushed back a week or two, that’s possible. But we feel pretty good about being able to be up and running in May.”

The league plans to create a quarantine zone where players and officials can safely participate without risk of contracting COVID-19. All participants will be tested prior to their involvement and will stay at a house that is currently under construction.

“No one is allowed to leave the quarantine area. That’s part of what keeps the safety and health of the players,” Kwatinetz said. “It also dovetails with what makes ‘Big Brother’ so great. You have a group of 16 people locked in a house together and the social dynamics that come out of that. One minute, you’re hanging out with someone in the house. That night you have to play them.”

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The season remains suspended in the BBL, the top professional league in Germany, but a prominent figure is calling for it to be canceled, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando“We do not believe that the situation has improved to the point that the season can resume,” said Arne Dirks, general manager of Brose Bamberg.
  • Former NBA guard O.J. Mayo plans to sign with the Liaoning Flying Leopards and begin playing when action resumes in the Chinese Basketball Association, reports Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. His contract still awaits medical and procedural clearances, but the 32-year-old has already begun a 14-day quarantine in Shenyang. Mayo hasn’t played in the NBA since 2015/16.
  • Alec Peters of Anadolu Efes tells Borghesan that the government wanted the Turkish Basketball League to continue playing despite coronavirus risks. “We went a week longer than everyone else in terms of playing, in front of no fans. That was very weird,” Peters said. “We joked that ESPN should come and put us on because we are the only basketball team in the world still playing. The Turkish government has kind of the final say on everything, we knew that the government wanted to keep us playing but the basketball Federation was ready to shut down when everybody else was.”

Coronavirus Notes: Ballmer, Cuban, BIG3

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, through the Ballmer Group, has pledged more than $25MM in aid to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. The donation will help Seattle, Southeast Michigan and Los Angeles, areas that have been hard hit by coronavirus. It includes $10MM to University of Washington Medicine’s Emergency Response Fund to speed up testing for a COVID-19 vaccine. In an unrelated revelation, Ballmer said his team will lose at least $10MM this season because of the suspension of play, sports business Scott Soshnick tweets.

We have more coronavirus-related developments:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggests that fans could be checked for illness entering arenas once games are played in front of spectators, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays. “It’s not hard to use thermal guns to take someone’s temperature and look for fevers,” Cuban said on CNBC. “Is it feasible? Yes, absolutely. We have to be very cautious, particularly as we try to come back. At first, we’ll play a lot of games without fans and figure it out with all the medicines that become available, we’ll go from there.”
  • The BIG3 is moving forward with plans to play a quarantined reality-show tournament in early May, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports. The league is partnering with the producers of the TV show “Big Brother” to create the tournament. Players and referees will be quarantined in the same Los Angeles-area home provided by the league for the three-week preseason tournament, which will consist of 16 players, Haynes adds.
  • A well-known ESPN analyst is recovering from the coronavirus. Get the details here.

BIG3 Aims To Hold Quarantined Tournament In April

The BIG3 is working on plans to launch a “quarantined, reality show-style” three-on-three tournament in April, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz – the league’s founders – have had discussions with TV networks about possibility broadcasting the preseason tournament, which they hope would help fill a void in the sporting world.

As Haynes explains, the idea would be to have approximately 16 to 22 players who test negative for COVID-19 be quarantined together in a large home in Los Angeles. A basketball facility would be built on site, and any player who breaks quarantine at any time during the tournament would be disqualified and removed.

The format would involve seven rounds of games, with teams being reshuffled throughout the tournament and players being eliminated when they accumulate three losses. In addition to the games, the players’ daily lives would also be filmed and broadcast “for added drama and storylines,” per Haynes.

“As long as we can protect the players, which we will do through proper testing and quarantine, Ice Cube and I feel we can give fans some safe, entertaining brand of basketball to get everyone through this pandemic,” Kwatinetz told Haynes.

Even if the BIG3 is able to move forward with its tournament as planned, it’s not yet known which players would participate, but Haynes says that former NBA players like Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, and Greg Oden are among the possible candidates.

Zach Randolph To Play In BIG3

Longtime NBA big man Zach Randolph has reached in an agreement to play in the BIG3, Ice Cube‘s three-on-three league, for the 2020 season, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

According to Haynes (Twitter link), Randolph will be the new captain of the Trilogy, one of the league’s 12 teams. The BIG3 announced on Tuesday that former NBA swingman Stephen Jackson will serve as Trilogy’s head coach for the 2020 season.

Randolph, 38, played in more than 1,100 career regular season NBA games over the course of a 17-year career, appearing in another 70 postseason contests. A two-time All-Star, the former Michigan State standout averaged 16.6 PPG and 9.1 RPG over the course of his career for the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Clippers, and Kings. He was a key member of Memphis’ “grit and grind” teams of the 2010s.

Randolph last played in an NBA game during the 2017/18 season for Sacramento. He technically spent most of the 2018/19 campaign on the Kings’ roster as well, but never appeared in a game before being traded to the Mavericks at the deadline. He was subsequently waived by Dallas last February and officially announced his retirement from the NBA in December.

And-Ones: Speights, BIG3, Jenkins, Jersey Ads

Veteran NBA big man Marreese Speights will be joining the BIG3, Ice Cube’s professional three-on-three league, for the 2020 season, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. According to Spears, Speights will be a player and co-captain for Bivouac this year.

Bivouac, one of the teams introduced in the BIG3’s 2019 expansion, was captained last season by former NBA forward Josh Smith, and he’s one of several captains who have re-signed for the coming season, per ESPN’s Eric Woodyard (Twitter link). Speights will fill one of just seven open captain or co-captain slots available around the league.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former first-round pick John Jenkins, who suited up for the Wizards and Knicks last season, has signed with Hapoel Eliat in Israel, the team announced (hat tip to Sportando). Jenkins had just joined a team in China last month, so it seems he was let out of that contract when the CBA went on hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • According to Terry Lefton and John Lombardo of L.A. Biz, the next round of jersey sponsorship deals for NBA teams could be worth at least 30% more than the original deals (hat tip to RealGM).
  • HoopsHype provides an informative breakdown on which NBA players are on track to earn bonuses in their contracts this season and which will fall short of those incentives.
  • In an interesting piece for NBC Sports, Tom Haberstroh and Monte Poole take an in-depth look at marijuana use in the NBA. Despite league rules prohibiting marijuana use, six players surveyed by Haberstroh and Poole estimated that more than half of the NBA’s active players use it in some form.

And-Ones: Buford, Wiseman, Okafor, Bibby

Wisconsin Herd coach Chase Buford has been suspended two games without pay for a direct and extended public attack on the integrity and credibility of the game officials, according to a league press release. Among other comments, Buford called one of the officials a “clown” after his team, the Bucks’ G League affiliate, got outscored 48-20 in the fourth quarter and lost 126-117 to the Grand Rapids Drive on Sunday. Buford subsequently apologized for his tirade.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Projected lottery pick James Wiseman felt he was treated unfairly by the NCAA before he decided to leave Memphis during his freshman season, as he told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. He left the Tigers during a 12-game suspension for rules violations. His family accepted $11,500 in moving expenses in 2017 from Penny Hardaway, who became the team’s coach a year later. “I was really in the middle of a hurricane,” Wiseman said. “That’s like the worst place you could possibly be.” Wiseman is currently rated No. 3 on ESPN’s Best Available list.
  • Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor has agreed to play for Nigeria in this year’s Tokyo Olympics, Marc Spears of The Undefeated tweets. The team will be coached by Warriors assistant Mike BrownOkafor’s grandfather Chicko was born in Nigeria.
  • Mike Bibby will coach the Aliens in the BIG3 this season, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. The former Kings guard was the Ghost Ballers’ team captain last season.

Joe Johnson Returning To BIG3

Seven-time All-Star swingman Joe Johnson will be returning to the BIG3 this summer for a second season with Ice Cube‘s 3-on-3 veteran league, Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reports (Twitter link).

Johnson, 38, is the reigning BIG3 league MVP. His team, the Triplets, won the BIG3 championship last summer, thanks in large part to Johnson’s sharpshooting heroics.

The 6’7″ wing out of Arkansas last saw some NBA heat this fall, where he was signed to the Pistons’ training camp roster after his stellar BIG3 performance. However, power forward Christian Wood beat him out for the team’s 15th and final roster spot heading into the season. Detroit waived Johnson in October.

In his 17 NBA seasons, Iso Joe played for solid playoff squads on the Celtics, Suns, Hawks, Nets, Heat, Jazz and Rockets. He holds a career slash line of 16.0 PPG/4.0 RPG/3.9 APG. He has converted 44.1% of his shots from the field, 37.1% of his 4.2 three-point attempts a night, and 80.2% from the charity stripe.