BIG3

And-Ones: Big3, Giannis, Overtime Elite, GM Candidates

Jarrett Jack has joined the Suns’ coaching staff, but his playing career isn’t completely over. Jack hit the game-winning shot Saturday as the Trilogy defended its Big3 title, writes Jack Maloney of CBS Sports. Jack, who was named Co-Rookie of the Year in the summer three-on-three league, had 29 points in the championship game.

“Got a little emotional,” he said. “To be honest, man, this was crazy. This was my first time hitting a game-winner in front of my son. I’m happy for him to be a part of it. Our coach stuck with us through and through every week. We had a hell of a group man. I just want to shout out these guys, my teammates.”

Former NBA All-Star Joe Johnson was named league MVP for the second straight season (Twitter link). Other award winners were Kevin Murphy joining Jack as Co-Rookie of the Year, Isaiah Briscoe as Fourth Man of the Year and Larry Sanders as Defensive Player of the Year.

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

  • Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is considering a return to international basketball in the 2022 EuroBasket tournament, according to EuroHoops. He had to miss this year’s Olympic qualifying tournament because of the playoffs, and Greece failed to earn a spot in Tokyo. “Taking it day by day. But I can’t wait,” Antetokounmpo wrote in response to a tweet by FIBA previewing EuroBasket.
  • In a press release, Overtime Elite announced the signing of three more players — Jahzare Jackson, Jaylen Martin and TJ Clark. The league, made up of top high school prospects, now has 24 players for its inaugural season. OTE is also hoping to sign Kamari Lands, who recently decommitted from Syracuse, tweets Adam Zagoria.
  • The Bucks’ championship makes assistant general manager Milt Newton one of the top GM candidates in the league, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Newton has experience running a team in Minnesota and he helped build a title-winning roster in Milwaukee. Fischer also examines several other candidates who may be considered for the next GM openings.

And-Ones: Overtime Elite, Two-Way Rules, Barbosa, Lottery

The Overtime Elite league for top high school prospects has secured its first two commitments, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that Matt Bewley and Ryan Bewley, a pair of 6’9″ twin brothers from Florida, are signing with Overtime Elite.

Matt and Ryan, high school juniors who are ranked third and 12th overall by ESPN among recruits in the class of 2023, are expected to earn in the seven figures over the course of their respective two-year contracts, sources tell Wojnarowski.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who tweets that Overtime Elite has been “extremely active” in attempting to recruit top high school prospects this spring, notes (via Twitter) that the league is aiming to end up with about 30 players by the time it starts up in September. The league has been approaching 2021 high school grads with offers of two-year contracts and reclassification to 2022, according to Givony.

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

  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Brian Windhorst and Kevin Arnovitz explore which new rules and other innovations implemented for the NBA’s 2020/21 season may stick around beyond this season. According to the ESPN duo, the baseball-style two-game series that became common this season are unlikely to be as frequent going forward now that fans are being allowed back into arenas, but the league has been gauging teams’ interest in keeping the rules related to expanded eligibility for two-way players.
  • Former NBA guard Leandro Barbosa, who currently works as a player mentor coach on the Warriors‘ staff, will play in the BIG3 this summer, a source tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic takes a look at what’s next for this year’s lottery-bound NBA teams, while Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report identifies the Cavaliers, Kings, and Warriors as some teams that should consider either trading their lottery picks or trading down if they don’t land a top-four pick.

Nick Young To Play In BIG3

12-year NBA veteran shooting guard Nick Young is returning to the hardwood. He has inked a contract with the Enemies for the 2021 BIG3 season, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

Young will serve as the new team captain for the Enemies, per a BIG3 league press release. The club will be coached by Young’s former Wizards teammate, Gilbert Arenas.

Just last week, the BIG3 formally announced it would officially resume operations for its fourth season this summer, after canceling what would have been its fourth season in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 12-team league, founded by Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz in 2017, has generally served as a platform for longtime NBA veterans. The 2021 season will be broadcast by CBS and its affiliate platform Paramount+, and is set to kick off on July 10 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Scheduled to last for eight weeks, the BIG3 season will also log time at Xavier University of Louisiana. A two-week playoff will culminate in a September 4 title game.

Young was drafted by Washington with the No. 16 pick in 2007 out of USC. The 6’7″ swingman enjoyed eventful stops on the Wizards, Clippers, Sixers, and Lakers. He became a bench contributor for a 2017/8 title-winning Warriors team. His last NBA appearance was a four-game cameo for the Nuggets during the 2018/19 season.

The 35-year-old holds career averages of 11.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.0 RPG, along with a shooting line of .418/.376/.836.

BIG3 Announces Return This Summer

The BIG3, a summer league that features many former NBA players, will return for its fourth season, the league announced on its website. The 2020 season had to be canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

“After a challenging year, we can’t wait to have our players back on the court for the best BIG3 season yet – where the world’s top competitors come together on one court and provide fans with an unmatched entertainment experience,” league co-founders Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz stated on the website. “We are excited to bring the BIG3 to two basketball rich cities and we know our players will put on a show.” 

The season will begin July 10 with games at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. There will be an eight-week schedule with games also being played at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, followed by two weeks of playoffs. The championship game is slated for September 4.

“We are happy to have two great host cities in Las Vegas and New Orleans for our fourth season, bringing our fast paced and one-of-a-kind game back to fans across the country,” said BIG3 CEO Chris Hannan.

Attendance policies and arena capacities will be set in accordance with protocols established by the host sites. All games will be broadcast live, either on CBS or Paramount+.

During its first three seasons, the BIG3 has served as a showcase for players such as Joe JohnsonRashard LewisAmar’e Stoudemire, and Josh Smith.

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.