Dwight Howard

Pacific Notes: Howard, Baynes, Rubio, Len, Barnes

Lakers center Dwight Howard has been disciplined for not wearing a mask at Orlando’s campus, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes. Howard said on social media that the violation was reported to the NBA Campus Hotline, designed to ensure everyone is following protocols. “(My) reaction is that we all should be wearing masks in and around the hotel lobby,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of Howard’s violation. “And the areas that we’re being asked to wear a mask, we should wear a mask. And he’s doing so now.”

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • It remains a mystery whether Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes are practicing with their Suns teammates in Orlando, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Coach Monty Williams has been vague when asked about the duo’s status. “There’s so much medical stuff that I don’t want to violate,” Williams said.
  • Kings center Alex Len has posted negative tests for the coronavirus and will rejoin the team on Friday evening, head coach Luke Walton told James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area and other media members. Len, among a couple of other prominent team members, tested positive for the virus in late June. Len will go into quarantine upon arrival in Orlando and Walton is unsure about the big man’s conditioning.
  • Walton is in no rush to replace Harrison Barnes on the roster, The Athletic’s Jason Jones tweets. Barnes revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19 just before the team headed to Orlando. The Kings don’t want to replace Barnes on the roster just yet, even if he has to miss a game, Jones adds.

Restart Notes: Protocols, Testing, Virtual Fans, Hotline

The NBA sent out a memo to teams today reminding them of the safety protocols and guidelines in place at the Walt Disney World campus and instructing them to refresh players’ memories on those rules, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). As Andrews relays, wearing face coverings and masks was one of the points reiterated by the league in its memo.

Shams Charania of The Athletic suggests (via Twitter) that the NBA’s memo also included a reminder that interacting with or bringing an unauthorized person onto the campus is prohibited. Players won’t be able to bring guests to Disney until after the first round of the playoffs is complete.

Here’s more on the NBA’s restart and life at the Disney campus:

  • Malika Andrews and Tim Bontemps of ESPN provide details on the updates the NBA has made to its COVID-19 testing protocols to try to assuage concern among teams about the potential for false positives affecting returning players. According to ESPN’s duo, at least one player who contracted the virus, recovered, traveled to Disney, and registered multiple negative tests later tested positive. The league has added an antibody test to its protocol for individuals returning from the coronavirus.
  • Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters on Wednesday that games at the Disney campus will include virtual fans, digital boards, and “home team sounds,” tweets Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer. Carlisle added that he was impressed by the setup, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News tweets.
  • Some players in Orlando aren’t particularly fond of the anonymous hotline set up by the NBA to report protocol violations, suggesting that those in the campus community should be responsible enough to follow the rules. Rudy Gobert referred to the hotline as “sort of petty,” per Eric Woodyard of ESPN. Meanwhile, as Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times details, Ja Morant and Montrezl Harrell suggested they don’t intend to use it, while Lakers center Dwight Howard griped that he was reported for not wearing a face mask despite not being around anyone.

Pacific Notes: Ayton, Oubre, Warriors, Lakers

The Suns are excited about the progress of Deandre Ayton during their early workouts in Orlando, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The second-year center was dealing with an injured ankle when the shutdown began, but he’s fully healthy now and feels ready to make a greater impact.

“I feel like I’m in my, damn, I don’t know, third or fourth year, and I know what I’m doing now,” Ayton said. “It’s not really me being told what to do. It’s me understanding and finding what’s available and being a playmaker. (Devin Booker) and Coach (Monty Williams) seen it so we just collaborate our differences and make things happen. Whatever is best for the team.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns haven’t given up hope that Kelly Oubre can play in Orlando, Rankin adds in the same story. Oubre has a knee issue and there have been reports that he will opt out of the restart, but general manager James Jones said this week that Oubre may be ready before the season ends. “Kelly’s doing fine,” Williams said Saturday. “He’s rehabbing. He does a little bit of court work, but for the most part, he’s on the side rehabbing and trying to get himself in tip-top (shape). He’s in good shape, but he’s not in the type of game shape that he wants to be in.”
  • Despite their historic five-year run, the Warriors‘ stars still feel like they have something to prove, Damion Lee said this week on the Runnin’ Plays podcast (hat tip to Kerith Burke of NBC Sports). “Steph (Curry) revolutionized the game,” Lee said. “But if you look at him, Klay (Thompson), Draymond (Green), a lot of guys on this team, we’re all guys that have a chip (on our shoulders).” He explained that all three players had doubters when they came into the league.
  • Dwight Howard and Danny Green both missed the Lakers’ practice Saturday for testing-related reasons, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. Howard was required to take an extra COVID-19 test because he didn’t travel to Orlando with the team, while Green had an error in his last test.
  • Two Kings players who tested positive for the virus have recorded two straight negative tests and have been cleared to join the team, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports. Coach Luke Walton refused to confirm their identities, but Buddy Hield was spotted getting on a plane today, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Dwight Howard To Participate In NBA’s Restart

Lakers center Dwight Howard, who had been weighing whether or not to participate in the NBA’s restart this summer, has decided to play, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

If Howard had opted out of the NBA’s return, he would have forfeited approximately 1.1% of his salary for each game missed, up to a maximum of 14 games. Instead, the veteran big man – who will join the team in Orlando on Thursday – will receive his remaining game checks and will donate them to his non-profit campaign Breathe Again, according to Charania.

Like teammate Avery Bradley, who opted not to participate in the NBA’s restart, Howard talked last month about not wanting the resumed season to draw attention away from social justice movements. He has also been going through personal issues unrelated to social justice, including the recent death of his six-year-old son’s mother.

With Howard on board, it appears the Lakers will be missing just one player (Bradley) from a roster that took a Western Conference-best 49-14 record into the NBA’s hiatus in March. J.R. Smith was signed last week as a substitute player to replace Bradley.

An eight-time All-Star, Howard figures to share center duties this summer with JaVale McGee and Anthony Davis. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has enjoyed a strong bounce-back season with the Lakers in 2019/20 after a lost year in Washington. In 62 games (19.2 MPG), Howard has averaged 7.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 1.2 BPG with a .732 FG%.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Notes: Howard, Vogel, Smith, Pelinka

The Lakers still aren’t sure if Dwight Howard will join them in Orlando, but his name will be on the roster the team must submit today, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The veteran center has been a vocal critic of the NBA’s restart plan and is dealing with off-court issues as well. Still, coach Frank Vogel said today on a conference call that Howard has expressed a desire to play.

“We’ve been in communication with Dwight the whole way,” Vogel told reporters. “We don’t know what the level of participation is yet. He wants to play. We’re hopeful he’s able to join us. We’re hopeful and optimistic that he’ll be able to join us in Orlando.”

Howard is in Georgia with his family, according to a league source, and is complying with the league’s home quarantine and testing protocol. He is taking care of his six-year-old son, whose mother died in March.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Vogel doesn’t expect J.R. Smith to take over Avery Bradley‘s role, but the coach believes Smith can help the Lakers in other ways, McMenamin adds in the same piece. “In terms of what he brings to the table, just the experience factor,” Vogel said. “I mean, this guy is a big-time player. He’s proven it over the course of his career. … We almost added him earlier in the year when we added Dion Waiters and now we have the luxury of having both. We’re not going to ask him to come in and be Avery Bradley. He’s going to come in and be J.R. Smith. He’s going to just fill that position, more than fill that role.”
  • Smith didn’t participate in today’s opening of training camp, and Vogel has only had a brief conversation with the veteran guard, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Vogel admitted that Smith’s prior experience playing alongside LeBron James factored into the signing. “His familiarity with LeBron and the way we built our team, obviously, around LeBron, there’s a lot of similarities to the things they did in Cleveland,” Vogel said. “That definitely is a factor in what we feel like JR can bring to the table in what is going to be a very short time to get acclimated.”
  • GM Rob Pelinka believes the restart will be “as much of a mental test as it is a physical test” because of the unusual circumstances, McMenamin writes in a separate story. After a layoff of roughly four months, teams will have to rediscover their chemistry quickly to deal with a condensed schedule. “I think a team like ours, that has such a strong togetherness component, will have an advantage at that part,” Pelinka said. “This team of guys love being together and love playing together. I think that’s the significant part of the (first) 63 games.”

Pacific Notes: Howard, Lakers, Kings, Warriors

Lakers guard Avery Bradley has opted not to participate in the NBA’s restart this summer, and now the Western Conference’s No. 1 team will have to wait to see if any other players follow suit. Veteran big man Dwight Howard, like Bradley, has talked this month about not wanting the resumed season to draw attention away from social justice movements, but hasn’t yet confirmed his plans for the summer.

Addressing Howard’s status in a conversation with Harrison Sanford on the Inside The Green Room podcast (video link), Lakers guard Danny Green suggested that his teammate is going through personal issues unrelated to social justice, including the recent death of his six-year-old son’s mother.

“There’s just some things that are bigger than basketball,” Green said. “You never know what’s going on with guys’ families. And just hearing the background of what Dwight is going through, I understood fully (why he’d consider not playing). … There’s more than just one issue, more than one thing that’s going on in his life besides the protests… There’s a lot of other things that are going on behind the scenes that people don’t know about.”

Green added that he does still expect Howard to participate in the restart this summer, but stressed that he and his teammates would have the veteran center’s back if he decides against playing.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • In an Insider-only ESPN.com article, Kevin Pelton examines how the Lakers will deal with Bradley’s absence in Orlando, suggesting that Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could assume some of his defensive responsibilities, with Alex Caruso perhaps playing a larger role in the backcourt as well.
  • With the Kings looking to play more small ball, a veteran swingman like Corey Brewer – who spent time with the team last season – is a good fit, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Jones notes that Brewer probably won’t play a major role this summer, but suggests the 34-year-old will give the team a reliable perimeter defender off the bench.
  • Although there’s only a 14% chance that the Warriors will get the No. 1 selection in this year’s draft, they’re better positioned than any other team to get a top pick. With that in mind, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Mike Schmitz, and Bobby Marks (Insider link) consider which prospects Golden State should be targeting and what trade options the club might have with its top-five pick.

Restart Notes: Howard, Lillard, Ranadive, Korver

In a statement sent to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Lakers center Dwight Howard said that the players’ coalition expressing concerns with the NBA’s Orlando restart plan isn’t looking to derail the resumption of the season.

“Our main objective is to raise awareness and gain transparency on the things that concern us collectively,” Howard said. “Many of our fellow players are afraid to voice their concerns and are continuing to follow along with what they believe they have to.

“… In a time like this where we are fighting for equal rights, it would be contradictory if we told our own players to not play and do as we say,” Howard continued. “We are not here to dictate, nor do we have the power to do so. We want to make sure communication is taking place openly without fear. … If any one of us chooses to sit, it has nothing to do with another player’s right to play. Not once has any of us told one of our fellow brethren not to go to the Orlando Bubble Experiment and we stressed that in our meetings.”

A report earlier this week indicated that Kyrie Irving, who has been one of the leaders of the coalition voicing concerns about the NBA’s restart, has encouraged his Nets teammates not to go to Orlando. Howard’s statement suggests that’s not the case. The veteran big man added that he and other members of the players’ coalition are “in full support of our brothers whether we decide to enter or not enter the Orlando bubble.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s resumption:

  • Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said earlier this week that Irving and Howard “have a point” and that he doesn’t feel “100 percent comfortable” about resuming the season this summer, but that he’s willing to take the risk because of the impact that players’ salvaged salaries can have on their communities. “I can only speak for myself — but I think it goes for other guys as well — we are the financial support for our families and for a lot of our community,” Lillard said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “We bring a lot of that financial responsibility to support black businesses in black communities. So it makes a lot of sense for us (to return), from that standpoint.”
  • Even as the positive test rate and total number of COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to increase, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive said this week during a CNBC appearance that he’s confident in the NBA’s return-to-play plan, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. “Statistically, it’s actually going to be safer to be in a bubble in Orlando than to stay home and go to a grocery store, so this has been very well thought through and I feel very confident that we will be in Orlando in a few weeks,” Ranadive said.
  • Bucks forward Kyle Korver said this week during a conversation with Richard Jefferson (video link) that he’d be willing to sit out the restart if his black teammates and friends felt it was the best way to bring about change, as Joe Coles of The Deseret News details.
  • The NBPA issued a press release on Wednesday that discussed a series of social-justice issues and initiatives and noted that the union is considering ideas for how players “can effectively continue their advocacy on the national stage occasioned by the games” in Orlando this summer.

Restart Notes: L. Williams, Lakers, NBPA, More

The Lakers and Clippers are among the NBA’s top championship contenders, but that doesn’t mean all their players are gung-ho about restarting the season. Clippers guard Lou Williams expressed on Instagram why he feels as if resuming play could distract from social-justice causes, while Lakers center Dwight Howard conveyed a similar sentiment over the weekend.

Howard’s agent, Charles Briscoe, told Dave McMenamin of ESPN on Sunday that his client has yet to make a decision on playing basketball this summer, while other Lakers players said that there’s still plenty of time for the team to get on the same page.

“(There’s) no divide,” one Lakers player told McMenamin.

Here’s more on the NBA’s proposed restart:

  • The National Basketball Players Association has scheduled another call for 5:00 pm ET today, with all players invited to participate, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. We’ll see if we get a better sense after that call of how the league and union may try to address certain players’ concerns about the return-to-play plan.
  • Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype spoke to agents and executives to get a feel for whether teams would use the ability to sign a replacement player for an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 this summer. “I think as long as a team doesn’t have multiple players who get sick at the same time, they won’t sign anyone,” one general manager said. “I think most teams will just wait for their sick player to return.”
  • Tim Bontemps of ESPN explores what will be at stake when the NBA resumes play, ranging from the impact the playoff results will have on Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future or LeBron James‘ legacy to what happens to the league if the bubble plan doesn’t work.

Hiatus Notes: Howard, Rivers, Green, Beverley

Lakers center Dwight Howard believes the NBA should reconsider its plans of returning next month due to the ongoing racial injustice problems in the United States, claiming that the resumption of a season could prove to be a distraction.

Howard, an eight-time NBA All-Star, issued the following statement on the matter (as relayed by CNN’s Jill Martin):

“I agree with Kyrie [Irving]. Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction. Sure it might not distract us players, but we have resources at hand [the] majority of our community don’t have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now. I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that’s just to [sic] beautiful to pass up. 

“What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families. This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of. When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families. This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!! European Colonization stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves. Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It’s time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved.”

Multiple players (including Irving) agree on the matter, with Irving voicing his concerns during a conference call that included dozens of the league’s players on Friday. Several other players are in disagreement, however, citing financial implications, competitive aspects, and a dire need for sports in such an unprecedented time.

The NBA is still working on finalizing details for the resumed 2019/2020 season, which was suspended indefinitely in March due to COVID-19. The league is currently eyeing a July 30 return date, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Here are some other notes related to the NBA’s hiatus:

  • Rockets guard Austin Rivers holds a different opinion than Howard about whether the NBA season should resume, posting his comments in an Instagram reply (as relayed by ESPN). “Us coming back would put money in all of our (NBA players’) pockets,” Rivers said as part of a larger quote. “With this money you could help out even more people and continue to give more importantly your time and energy towards the BLM movement. Which I’m 100% on board with. Because change needs to happen and injustice has been going on too long.”
  • Lakers guard Danny Green detailed the different aspects of the NBA’s restart plan in a Q&A with Mark Medina of USA Today. Green touched on a number of subjects, including concerns about the NBA’s “bubble,” player feedback, and his level of optimism on the league’s expected return.
  • Clippers guard Patrick Beverley had a rather interesting take on whether the NBA should return, posting the following on social media. Hoopers say what y’all want. If @KingJames said he hooping. We all hooping. Not Personal only BUSINESS #StayWoke.” Beverley is part of a talented Clippers team seeking its first ever championship this year, with both the Clippers and the Lakers battling for bragging rights in Los Angeles.

More Details Emerge From Friday’s Conference Call

We relayed details last night about a conference call regarding player objections to the plan to restart the NBA season in Orlando. More information on that call, which involved in excess of 80 players, has been released by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Charania confirms that Kyrie Irving was the leader of the effort to make players reconsider their support of finishing the season. He spoke first and offered a direct message to his peers, telling them, “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bull–. … Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”

Avery Bradley, who was outspoken throughout the conversation, was the first player to follow Irving’s comments. He encouraged the players to take a stand and to use the opportunity to “play chess, not checkers.” Other prominent names on the call included union president Chris PaulKevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Donovan Mitchell.

Players have been involved in conversations for the past two weeks, sources tell Charania, expressing concerns about the games in Orlando and the restrictive conditions that are rumored to be part of the bubble environment. The opposition began among “rank-and-file” players, with Irving and Durant providing prominent voices.

Sources offered Charania a few more tidbits from the conference call:

  • Anthony emphasized the need for player unity and the importance of conveying a single message. He also urged all 80 players on the call to donate $25K to a cause of their choice.
  • CJ McCollum told players they have to be prepared for financial setbacks if they choose not to play and the possibility that owners will nullify the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • Howard warned that resuming the season will distract from the social justice issues the country is focused on. He encouraged players to use the moment as a catalyst for change.
  • Mitchell talked about players “being behind the 8-ball” by being forced into a competitive environment after being idle for so long. “We’re taking a big injury risk,” he told his fellow players.
  • NBPA leadership doesn’t expect fans to be allowed into games at any point during the 2020/21 season, which would result in another huge revenue loss for the league.