Gayle Benson

Southwest Notes: Hardaway Jr., Burke, Vaccinations, Benson

Tim Hardaway Jr. re-signed with the Mavericks this summer on a four-year, $75MM contract. He was given the option by head coach Jason Kidd of being a starter or sixth man. Hardaway chose the former, Dwain Price of the team’s website writes.

“I asked him in the summer what he wanted to do, and he wanted to think about it,” Kidd said. “So when he came back – that was enough time for him to think – and I asked for the answer, and he wants to start.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Guard Trey Burke has a sketchy future with the Mavericks, as Marc Stein of Substack details. The Mavericks explored the trade market for Burke during the offseason before signing Frank Ntilikina. With 15 fully guaranteed contracts and one partially guaranteed deal, the team has a decision to make. Waiving Burke would cost the team $6.45MM, since his contract runs through next season, which includes a player option for 2022/23. Dallas is expected to explore more trade scenarios before waiving a player with guaranteed money, Stein adds.
  • The Pelicans hope to be fully vaccinated by opening night, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune relays. “The league has done a really, really good job of making it almost unanimous that almost everyone is fully vaccinated,” executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin said. “I would say that by the time the regular season rolls around, we get to that point.”
  • The Pelicans have received numerous offers from interested buyers but owner Gayle Benson isn’t selling, Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune reports. Despite disadvantages such as having one of the lowest TV revenue deals in the league, Benson is intent on keeping the franchise and leaving it in New Orleans. “There is no way, as long as I’m going to be alive, that I would sell the Pelicans,” Benson said.

Pelicans Notes: Ingram, Zion, Murphy, Succession Plan

As he prepares to play for his third head coach in the past three seasons, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram is looking for more stability under Willie Green, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Ingram has added some muscle mass to his lean frame, and he thinks it will help him be more efficient around the rim.

I thought it would help my game out a lot, just the way I’m playing,” Ingram said. “Driving to the basket. Taking a lot of contact. I wanted to be able to deliver the blows. Being able to finish. Being in good, low positions. And being able to finish. It was something I just wanted to work on this summer.

Ingram has also taken on a leadership role for the Pelicans, Clark notes, helping to organize voluntary workouts in Phoenix over the summer. Green believes the key to Ingram’s new role as a team leader is to be himself.

I’m looking forward to seeing him lead in his way. I think that’s the key for Brandon. Not to try to do something that is not him. I can see that early with who he is and what his personality is. He’s been great all summer.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • William Guillory of The Athletic recently spoke to Jeff Stotts, a certified athletic trainer who runs a website tracking injuries and how they affect NBA players, about whether Zion Williamson‘s injury might be a cause for long-term concern. Stotts says that Williamson’s fractured fifth metatarsal on his right foot has a relatively high re-injury rate, and can be especially problematic for larger players, noting that Kevin Durant, Brook Lopez, and Glen Davis all suffered setbacks with similar injuries. Guillory adds that this is the third injury to Zion’s right leg since 2019, which is certainly worrisome. However, Stotts says that Pelicans head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson is elite, as his teams have consistently been in the top tier for fewest games missed due to injury or illness, and Robin Lopez had a successful recovery from the same injury while under Nelson’s care in Phoenix.
  • Rookie Trey Murphy is “one of many” players in the running for a starting roster spot, Clark writes for NOLA.com. Clark thinks Murphy’s ability to space the floor and make quick reads could be a nice complement for stars Ingram and Williamson.
  • Pelicans owner Gayle Benson recently revealed the franchise’s long-term succession plan, per Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com, with the primary goal to keep the team in New Orleans.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Benson, Brandon Boston, THJ

In an extensive new mailbag, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian addressed the possibility of the Grizzlies considering trades for incumbent wings Dillon Brooks and Kyle Anderson, among other topics. Herrington wrote that, though an offseason Anderson trade appears unlikely, he could see the veteran forward’s expiring $9.9MM contract being moved during the year.

Because Brooks’s current three-year, $35MM contract extension with the club is fairly favorable, Herrington considers him less likely to be moved. Herrington also speculates on how the new-look Grizzlies can improve in a stacked Western Conference.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has donated $1MM towards Hurricane Ida relief, per an official press release from Benson and the Pelicans.
  • The Pelicans received $2.5MM in cash considerations from the Clippers in New Orleans’ trade of No. 51 pick Brandon Boston out of Kentucky, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Pelicans also received a heavily-protected 2022 second-round draft pick in the deal that appears unlikely to convey.
  • Mavericks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr., newly re-signed on a four-year, $75MM deal, registered his optimism about the future performance of former All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis, as Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com relays. So far during his time in Dallas, Porzingis has been a shadow of his former self as the result of a series of injuries. “I know he’s back in Latvia busting his tail right now to get back to where he was before the injury when we were with the Knicks,” Hardaway said. “I know how much he loves the game and how much he works. He’s going to do whatever he can to get back to that level. Injuries do play a part in the game.”

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Morey, Benson, Van Gundy

Former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey took out a full-page newspaper advertisement to thank the city of Houston, Rockets fans, James Harden, and more this past weekend.

Morey spent 14 years with the team and announced his plans to step down from the position last week. He was responsible for a number of major transactions during his time with the franchise — most notably in recent years — which includes acquiring All-Star Russell Westbrook and trading away Clint Capela.

“Thank you for an amazing 14 years. Your love, support and energy has meant the world to me,” Morey wrote. “My family and I came to Houston as yankees, nervous about how the city would welcome us and honored that [previous owner] Leslie Alexander had trusted me to help run a legendary franchise. I came into an organization with Hall of Fame players Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady already in place and a championship legacy built by Houston legends like Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

“Walking into work on the first day was exciting, daunting and inspiring. Soon enough, the nervousness washed away and we came to feel like adopted Texans. What followed was the most amazing 14 years of my life.”

Morey dedicated the final part of his ad to Harden, who he credits for ‘changing his life’ during their time together in Houston.

“An entire page could be dedicated just to James,” Morey wrote. “He not only transformed my life but also revolutionized the game of basketball — and continues to do so — like almost no one has before. The game is played differently because of James, and on every playground in the world, the next generation of talent is studying and imitating his game.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Morey had a major impact on the NBA during his time with the Rockets, also causing some unintended consequences along the way, David Aldridge of The Athletic writes. Aldridge examines how Morey impacted players, teams and small-ball, particularly in his final years.
  • A man attempted to steal a car with Pelicans owner Gayle Benson sitting inside of it on October 10, as relayed by Ramon Antonio Vargas and Amie Just of Nola.com. The man aborted his plan after Benson screamed at him to leave the vehicle, fleeing the scene in a white Nissan Titan. “While she was very shaken at the time, she was unharmed and is doing fine,” Pelicans spokesman Greg Bensel said of Benson. “She wanted to send her sincere gratitude to the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department that responded so quickly and professionally.”
  • William Guillory of The Athletic ponders whether Stan Van Gundy could provide the structure and winning mentality the Pelicans crave. Van Gundy appears to be one of the finalists for New Orleans’ head coaching job, which was made vacant when the team fired Alvin Gentry in August.

And-Ones: Adebayo, Olympics, NBA Foundation, Tsai

Although he didn’t make the final 12-man squad that took part in the 2019 World Cup, Heat center Bam Adebayo participated in Team USA’s training camp leading up to that event and received consideration to represent the U.S. in the international competition.

With the Tokyo Olympics on tap for the summer of 2021, however, another national program is hoping to recruit Adebayo away from USA Basketball, according to Colin Udoh of ESPN, who says Nigeria wants to add the big man to its Olympic roster. Adebayo’s father is Nigerian, Udoh notes.

“Having Bam in our national team is a possibility that we are considering as a federation ahead of the 2020 Olympics and beyond,” Nigeria Basketball Federation president Musa Kida said in a statement to ESPN. “We are excited about how far he has gone and what he can achieve in his career with D’Tigers if he chooses to play for Nigeria.”

Nigeria has already earned an Olympic berth and – assuming next season’s schedule allows for it – is expected to feature NBA players such as Josh Okogie, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chimezie Metu, and potentially Spencer Dinwiddie. It remains to be seen if the team will be able to land Adebayo, but he has said in the past that he’d consider Nigeria if asked. He also may be more open to the idea after being cut from last year’s Team USA roster.

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

  • The NBA and NBPA issued a joint press release today announcing the board of directors for the NBA Foundation, a new organization dedicated to driving “economic empowerment for Black communities through employment and career advancement.” In addition to Harrison Barnes and Tobias Harris, whose involvement was previously reported, the NBA Foundation’s board of directors will be made up of Adam Silver, Michele Roberts, and four team owners (Gayle Benson, Tony Ressler, Larry Tanenbaum, and Michael Jordan).
  • As we relayed earlier today, China’s CCTV has lifted its year-long ban on NBA broadcasts, citing the league’s role in fighting COVID-19 in China as a primary reason for that decision. NetsDaily suggests Nets owner Joe Tsai may have played a key part in that effort, having sent a $3.7MM donation to China in February to help fight the pandemic.
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks lists the trade assets held by all 30 teams, including moveable players, surplus draft picks, and trade exceptions.

Southwest Notes: Ingram, Mavericks, Benson, Aldridge

Pelicans All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, recently crowned the Most Improved Player for the 2019/20 season, made significant strides this season after his trade from the Lakers, per William Guillory of The Athletic.

Ingram specifically credits the time he logged watching game tape, both of himself with the Lakers and of the Pelicans’ offense, with his performative improvement. “When I wasn’t on the court, I just had to visualize things,” Ingram said during a media Zoom conversation Monday. “I had to watch film … It helped me out.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Following an exciting 2019/20 campaign that ended in a 4-2 loss to the Clippers, Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News takes a look at the Mavericks‘ roster. Caplan assesses player performance this season and projects how players will fare next year, looking at everyone from All-Star Luka Doncic to crucial veteran role player Trey Burke.
  • After testing positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19, Pelicans (and Saints) owner Gayle Benson has been cleared to return to team activities by doctors, per Jeff Duncan of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • The Spurs apparently tried to shop big man LaMarcus Aldridge at this season’s trade deadline, though potential trade partners balked at San Antonio’s requested return haul, as we previously reported.

Pelicans Owner Gayle Benson Diagnosed With Coronavirus

Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to Amie Just and Ramon Antonio Vargas of NOLA.com.

Benson – who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last two weeks, per NOLA.com – is 73 years old, putting her at higher risk of being seriously affected by the virus. It’s not known what symptoms she’s experiencing, but Just and Vargas report that the Pelicans owner is under “daily medical care” and is recovering well.

Team spokesperson Greg Bensel said Benson was not hospitalized and hasn’t missed a Board of Governors call in recent days, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

While the NBA has done a great job avoiding an outbreak of COVID-19 within their Walt Disney World campus, only 13 teams are still in Orlando, and each of those clubs has a smaller traveling party than usual. So plenty of players, executives, coaches, owners, and other personnel around the league aren’t currently enjoying the benefits of the NBA’s Disney “bubble.”

Benson, who also owns the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, is at least the second NBA owner known to have contracted the coronavirus. Knicks owner James Dolan tested positive for COVID-19 back in March.

Hiatus Notes: TV Revenue, Benson, Storylines, Clippers

The NBA hopes to play at least 70 regular-season games this season in order to retain 100% of the revenue the league receives from their regional sports network partners, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (hat tip to RealGM). Those networks broadcast games in local markets. An abbreviated resumption of the regular season would also serve as a way for teams to ramp back up before the playoffs begin, Windhorst adds.

We have more developments related to the league’s hiatus:

  • Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has pledged to give $1MM to various causes, including financial assistance to arena workers displaced by the coronavirus-related stoppage, according to a team press release. The Gayle Benson Community Assistance Fund will also provide assistance to the general New Orleans community. Numerous players and teams have reached out to help their arena workers.
  • LeBron James‘ pursuit of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record and Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s potentially historic follow-up to his MVP season are among the storylines that won’t be played out if the season is canceled, Michael Lee of The Athletic notes. The Pelicans’ pursuit of the Grizzlies for the Western Conference’s final playoff berth, with the added intrigue of those teams being led by top rookies Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, would also fall by the wayside.
  • The hiatus could have a silver lining for the Clippers, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk points out. The prime title contender will have a chance to get fully healthy heading into the postseason, as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will have an extended time to rest, while Lou Williams (calf) and Patrick Beverley (groin) can recover from their ailments. The article breaks down what the hiatus means for each Western Conference club.

Southwest Notes: Davis, Pelicans, Rockets, Mavs

Responding to a report which claimed she had said she’d only trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers “over my dead body,” Pelicans owner Gayle Benson laughed and called it “totally absurd” and “completely untrue,” tweets Fletcher Mackel of WDSU.

Rumors of the Pelicans’ reluctance to send Davis to the Lakers have persisted since before the trade deadline. There was a perception that the timing of Davis’ trade request was orchestrated by his camp to attempt to push him to Los Angeles, with the Pels resisting that outcome.

While sending their All-NBA big man to a big-market conference rival may not be their first choice, the idea that the Pelicans would rule out a trade partner altogether is far-fetched — if the Lakers’ offer is clearly the most favorable, it wouldn’t make sense for New Orleans to look elsewhere out of spite.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Speaking of potential Davis trade talks, Kevin Knox may be a centerpiece in any Knicks offer for the Pelicans‘ star, but a source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that New Orleans isn’t high on the 2018 first-rounder.
  • In the view of Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer, the Rockets‘ biggest offseason priority should be adding a frontcourt player who is capable of creating shots and offense.
  • The risks associated with acquiring Kristaps Porzingis keep growing for the Mavericks, Kevin Sherrington of the Daily Morning News opines. While it’s unlikely to prevent owner Mark Cuban from offering Porzingis an extension this summer, the Latvian big man carries plenty of baggage with him, Sherrington continues. The latest unsavory incident is his alleged involvement in a bar room brawl in his home country.
  • Magic center Nikola Vucevic might be a better free agent fit than Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, Sherrington writes in a separate story. Vucevic would give Dallas size, rebounding, scoring and play-making, with his relative lack of athleticism the only downside. Walker and Doncic would have to share the ball and that approach didn’t work well with Dennis Smith Jr. this season, Sherrington notes.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Pelicans Notes: Davis, Griffin, Holiday, More

Making his first public appearance today as the Pelicans‘ new executive vice president of basketball operations, David Griffin offered an interesting take on the Anthony Davis situation.

As Will Guillory of The Athletic relays (via Twitter), Griffin said that after meeting with agent Rich Paul, he believes that Davis could be open to staying in New Orleans. Griffin has yet to speak to Davis directly, but plans to do so in the hopes of establishing whether AD is all-in or all-out on the Pelicans (Twitter link). He’s committed to convincing the 26-year-old that it’s possible to win in New Orleans (Twitter link).

It still seems like a long shot that Davis will be a Pelican to start the 2019/20 season, but Griffin made it clear today that he won’t let the All-NBA big man go without a fight, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. As Kushner notes (via Twitter), New Orleans’ new head of basketball operations doesn’t think the Davis well is poisoned, and believes Paul is excited to work together.

Here’s more from Griffin’s introductory presser:

  • According to Griffin, he made some “outrageous” demands during his meeting with the Pelicans, and the team was on board, giving him confidence that owner Gayle Benson is 100% committed to the franchise’s success (Twitter link via Kushner). Griffin provided some clues at the changes he wants to make, mentioning his desire to invest in areas such as analytics, player performance, and the medical department (Twitter link via Kushner).
  • Griffin is excited about several of the players currently under contract with the Pelicans, singling out Jrue Holiday as someone who represents everything the Pelicans want to be (Twitter link via Guillory). The former Cavaliers GM said he “absolutely” feels as if Holiday is a foundational piece for the club (Twitter link via Kushner).
  • Responding to the idea of New Orleans as a small-market team, Griffin said that it would mean more to win in a “small” market, adding that it’s “bulls–t” to say winning in New Orleans isn’t possible (Twitter link via Guillory).
  • Pelicans president Dennis Lauscha said the Pelicans looked at more than 100 candidates for the job before hiring Griffin (Twitter link via Kushner). Obviously, the club narrowed that list down to a much smaller group before beginning interviews. Griffin, who has been a candidate for other front office openings, said it took him about a half-hour in the interview room for him to realize that the Pelicans’ job was the one he really wanted (Twitter link via Kushner).