- Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson underwent shoulder surgery shortly after the league suspended its season earlier this month. Although Brunson may have a few months to recover, head coach Rick Carlisle said the 23-year-old won’t play again this season, even if the 2019/20 campaign runs well into the summer, per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).
Mavericks big man Dwight Powell, who continues to recover from the torn right Achilles he suffered back in January, tells Callie Caplin of the Dallas Morning News that “everything is on schedule” with regard to his recovery, adding that the coronavirus precautions are not impacting his rehab.
“Luckily it’s nothing I can’t do from home for now,” Powell explained. “I have a couple more months of really not too much, so I have everything I need here. The Mavs set me up with all the equipment, which there isn’t much of, to keep on track, and they’re checking in with me daily, so things are going good.”
Powell added that he remains in contact with the team’s medical staff via FaceTime, checking in every day. He said communication between him and his teammates has been solid.
“I think we’re doing a good job of reaching out on a daily and every-other-day basis with everybody, and we’ve got a group chat that’s pretty active and is light, humorous,” the big man said.
While the Mavericks remain away from their facility, the franchise is doing its best to help the community that is impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Powell credited Dallas’ leadership for how responsive the organization has been.
“That’s something I was taught and shown from Day 1 getting here from Mark [Cuban] and from Coach [Rick] Carlisle and from Dirk [Nowitzki], especially, at that time when he was here,” Powell said of the organization setting a high standard for giving back to the community. “They set the stage for that, so it doesn’t surprise any of us at all to see the leadership role that Mark has taken in this situation, the example that he’s set and the guidance he’s given all of us in how we can help as well.
“…We can’t be out there on the front lines, so those heroes that are doing the real work and the ones that are trying to get us back to normalcy, those are the ones who really need support, and I think that was one area that was being a little bit overlooked.”
- The Mavericks, whose training facility has been closed since March 12, have shifted their focus from basketball to community outreach amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News has the story and the details.
- Mark Cuban, Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell have teamed up with the Mavericks Foundation to donate $500,000 to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital, the team announced (Twitter link). The funds will support childcare for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.
The Thunder announced that their players and staff have tested negative for the coronavirus, writes Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City was set to host Utah last Wednesday, but the game was postponed after Rudy Gobert‘s positive test.
OKC officials said they followed recommendations of infectious disease experts that all players and staff members should get tested. Jazz players were tested on the night of the game, with Donovan Mitchell also revealed to have contracted the virus, but the Thunder’s tests didn’t come until later.
“Recognizing the stress on the state of Oklahoma’s medical system, the Thunder did not use state resources and chose an alternative path for testing of its personnel,” the team explained today in a press release.
There’s more COVID-19 news from around the league:
- Sixers players underwent coronavirus tests Monday, multiple sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. A week ago, Philadelphia hosted the Pistons with Christian Wood, who became the third player to test positive for the virus over the weekend. Sixers players and staff have been in self-quarantine since Thursday while waiting for the tests, according to Pompey, who adds that some staff members still haven’t been tested.
- The Nets, who had four players test positive, issued a statement today stating that they had players and staff showing symptoms of the virus and obtained the tests from a private company, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. “As we learned NBA players on other teams had tested positive for COVID-19, we noticed that several of our players and staff had symptoms,” the statement reads. “Based on this information, and the judgment that all of our players are subject to high exposure due to the close physical nature of basketball, the communal nature of teams and the possibility of an accelerated spread from team to team, our medical experts advised that our players get tested. We sourced the tests through a private company and paid for them ourselves because we did not want to impact access to CDC’s public resources.”
- The NBA has come under criticism with so many of its players receiving tests that aren’t easily available to the public, so league spokesman Mike Bass offered an explanation to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Twitter link). “Public health authorities and team doctors have been concerned that, given NBA players’ direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, in addition to their frequent travel, they could accelerate the spread of the virus,” Bass said. “… Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their test results public, they have drawn attention to critical need for young people to follow CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly.”
- The Mavericks (Twitter link) and Hawks (Twitter link) both closed their practice facilities to players this week. Players are being told to stay home and engage in social distancing.
Earlier today, we explored what the lottery odds for the 2020 NBA draft would look like if the regular season doesn’t resume. We’re now applying that hypothetical to another aspect of the draft and examining which traded 2020 picks would and wouldn’t change hands based on the current standings.
Our projections below assume that the NBA will sort its standings by winning percentage in scenarios where teams haven’t played the same number of games this season. Again, this is just a hypothetical exercise — if the season resumes, the order below would likely change.
With that in mind and with the help of our reverse standings, let’s take a closer look at where this year’s traded draft picks would land if the NBA has played its last regular season game of 2019/20.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (from Nets)
- Boston Celtics (from Grizzlies)
- Brooklyn Nets (from Sixers)
- Note: Could be No. 20 depending on random tiebreaker.
- Milwaukee Bucks (from Pacers)
- Note: Could be No. 19 depending on random tiebreaker.
- Philadelphia 76ers (from Thunder)
- Note: Could be No. 22 depending on random tiebreaker.
- Denver Nuggets (from Rockets)
- Note: Could be No. 21 depending on random tiebreaker.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (from Nuggets)
- New York Knicks (from Clippers)
- Boston Celtics (from Bucks)
- Golden State Warriors (to Nets; top-20 protected)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (to Pelicans; top-20 protected)
- Utah Jazz (to Grizzlies; top-7 and 15-30 protected)
- The Thunder pick would be the one worth watching closest if the season does resume. It’s top-20 protected, so OKC would keep it if it were to move up a spot or two, sending the Sixers second-round picks in 2022 and 2023 instead.
- Dallas Mavericks (from Warriors)
- Charlotte Hornets (from Cavaliers)
- Philadelphia 76ers (from Hawks)
- Sacramento Kings (from Pistons)
- Philadelphia 76ers (from Knicks)
- Washington Wizards (from Bulls)
- New York Knicks (from Hornets)
- New Orleans Pelicans (from Wizards)
- Memphis Grizzlies (from Suns)
- Boston Celtics (from Nets)
- Chicago Bulls (from Grizzlies)
- Golden State Warriors (from Mavericks)
- Atlanta Hawks (from Rockets)
- Note: Could be No. 51 depending on random tiebreaker.
- Sacramento Kings (from Heat)
- Golden State Warriors (from Jazz)
- Brooklyn Nets (from Nuggets)
- Charlotte Hornets (from Celtics)
- Philadelphia 76ers (from Lakers)
- New Orleans Pelicans (from Bucks)
- Indiana Pacers (to Nets; 45-60 protected)
- Portland Trail Blazers (to Nets; top-55 protected)
- The Hawks will receive the more favorable of Houston’s and Miami’s second-round picks, while the Kings will receive the less favorable of those two picks. Those two picks could end up right next to one another, since the Rockets (40-24) and Heat (41-24) have nearly identical records.
- The Celtics’ pick looks like it will be one of the rare second-rounders with heavy protection that will actually change hands. Boston would have kept it if it had fallen in the top 53.
- Several members of the Mavericks’ front office and scouting staff believed Luka Doncic would have been viewed as the undisputed top prospect in the 2018 draft if he had played in the United States or attended the pre-draft workouts, according to an in-depth piece from Tim Cato and Sam Amick of The Athletic. GM Donnie Nelson was completely sold on Doncic and owner Mark Cuban wasn’t going to pass him up, since he ignored Nelson’s advice on Giannis Antetokounmpo five years earlier. The Mavs’ front office was confident Doncic wouldn’t be drafted earlier than third overall, allowing them to arrange a trade with the Hawks to move up and nab the eventual Rookie of the Year.
Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson has undergone surgery to address the labrum injury in his right shoulder, the team announced today in a press release. No timetable has been set for Brunson’s recovery.
Brunson has been sidelined since February 22 due to his right shoulder injury. A report in late February indicated that the Mavs were concerned the second-year guard had suffered a torn labrum. That report suggested Brunson may attempt to return and play through the pain before undergoing surgery in the offseason.
With the NBA’s season now on hiatus, Brunson and the Mavs took the opportunity to address his shoulder issue immediately — it’s not clear if that would have happened if not for the stoppage. Although his recovery timeline isn’t known, Brunson may now have a chance to recover before season’s end, depending on if and when the league resumes play.
Brunson, 23, has been an important rotation piece for Dallas this season, starting 16 of his 57 games. He has averaged 8.2 PPG, 3.3 APG, and 2.4 RPG on .466/.358/.813 shooting in 17.9 minutes per contest.
Some of the first comments Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made on Wednesday night after the NBA announced that it had suspended the 2019/20 season were focused on the team’s part-time, seasonal, and hourly employees, such as security guards and concession workers at the American Airlines Center. Cuban made it clear that the Mavs plan to take care of those employees.
“I reached out to the folks at the arena and our folks at the Mavs to find out what it would cost to support, financially support, people who aren’t going to be able to come to work,” Cuban told reporters, per Mark Medina of USA Today. “They get paid by the hour, and this was their source of income. So, we’ll do some things there. We may ask them to go do some volunteer work in exchange, but we’ve already started the process of having a program in place. I don’t have any details to give, but it’s certainly something that’s important to me.”
Since then, a handful of other teams have followed Cuban’s lead. Hawks owner Tony Ressler had been preparing for this possibility and had planned all along to compensate the team’s full-time and part-time employees who will have their jobs disrupted by the NBA’s hiatus, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We have a pretty clear set of priorities in this kind of remarkable time that we’re living through,” Ressler said. “Protecting our fans, protecting our employees, and protecting the reputation of our league, all of which is important, but let there be no confusion, that means taking care of all of our employees, our full-time, our part-time.”
Cavaliers forward Kevin Love pledged $100K of his own money to aid arena employees displaced by the NBA’s stoppage, telling ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that he hopes “others will step up” as well. The Cavs announced (via Twitter) shortly thereafter that they’d be compensating all of their arena and event staff members as if every game and event at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is still taking place.
While only a handful of teams have addressed the issue so far, I’d be surprised if that list doesn’t continue to grow in the coming days. Team owners and players will be affected financially by the suspension, but their losses likely won’t be as damaging in the short term as they would be for the lower-level employees who had been relying on the hourly wages earned at NBA events.
In a roundtable discussion at ESPN.com, five writers were asked whether the Nuggets represent the biggest threat to derail a potential Lakers/Clippers showdown in the Western Conference Finals this spring. Of the five respondents, only Royce Young said yes, pointing to the “matchup nightmare” that Nikola Jokic represents, as well as Denver’s ability to both score and defend when the team is firing on all cylinders.
The other four ESPN reporters and analysts who participated in the roundtable weren’t quite as bullish on the Nuggets. Kevin Pelton identified Houston as a more realistic challenger, arguing that the Rockets‘ ability to play with quickness and space the floor makes them the team best suited to match up with the Lakers in a Western playoff series. Tim MacMahon suggested that the Rockets, despite some inconsistency, have the highest ceiling of any non-L.A. team.
Although MacMahon had praise for Houston, he and Kirk Goldsberry made a pick that would have been shocking six months ago, arguing that the Thunder are actually the most legitimate threat to an all-L.A. Western Finals. Goldsberry, who point out that Oklahoma City’s 29-10 record since December 15 is the West’s best during that stretch, also observed that the clutch-time lineup of Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and Steven Adams has the best stats of any five-man unit in the NBA, outscoring opponents by 30 points per 100 possessions.
The Jazz, who are currently the No. 4 seed in the West, didn’t get quite as much love from ESPN’s panel, but Pelton and Young both identified Utah as the non-Lakers team that may match up best with the Clippers in a seven-game series.
The Mavericks probably aren’t ready to seriously challenge the Lakers or Clippers yet, but they may get a shot to upset the Clips in round one. Meanwhile, whichever team claims the No. 8 seed is on track for a matchup with the Lakers. Could any teams from the group of candidates that includes the Pelicans, Grizzlies, Kings, Spurs, or Trail Blazers realistically push LeBron James and Anthony Davis?
We want to know what you think. Which Western Conference team is the best bet to play spoiler and knock off one of the Los Angeles teams in the first two rounds, preventing a WCF showdown?
Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!
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