- Rockets superstar James Harden says once the league deems it safe to resume competition, he’s primed for action, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. “If the league and public officials are confident that a single-site setup is safe for all players, staff and fans, then I’m ready to go,” he said. “I want to get back out there I just want to make sure we’re in a good position to so.”
- Kelly Iko of The Athletic explores James Harden‘s boot camp, detailing how the Rockets star has stayed in shape throughout the NBA’s hiatus. “I’ve been doing a lot of cardio,” Harden said. “I’ve got treadmills in my houses, weights, and all that good stuff. It really hasn’t affected me like it’s affected a lot of other players.”
Rockets shooting guard Eric Gordon expects to be able to play if the 2019/20 NBA season resumes, per Fox 26 Houston’s Mark Berman (Twitter link). Gordon, who underwent November right knee surgery, has been in and out of the lineup since then. The extra two months off (and counting) provided by the pause in NBA play has been beneficial for Gordon’s health.
Potential lame-duck Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni‘s expiring contract with the team will not affect his tenure with the team for the rest of the 2019/20 season, if play resumes, per Sam Amick of The Athletic. D’Antoni’s contract is technically set to expire on July 1st.
The 40-24 Rockets not need fear D’Antoni walking before the season is over, according to the coach’s agent, Warren LeGarie. “It’s obviously something we have to work out,” LeGarie told Amick, “but he would never, ever walk away from what he feels is a moral responsibility to see it through with his team and especially with his players.”
We can add Houston to the list of potential “bubble” locations being considered by the NBA as it explores resuming the 2019/20 season, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Assuming the season can be completed, it’s expected to happen at one or two neutral sites rather than at each team’s home arena.
Multiple sources tell The Ringer that Houston is under consideration, with O’Connor noting that the Rockets‘ Toyota Center is adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center. Combined, they’d have the necessary facilities to host NBA teams and games, O’Connor says.
Additionally, Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated earlier this week that his state is targeting May 31 for professional sports without spectators, so the NBA presumably wouldn’t face any legislative roadblocks if it looked to play games in Houston.
Still, while Houston may be an option for the NBA, I’d be surprised if the league goes that route. Orlando and Las Vegas have long been considered the frontrunners to host games and look like the more logical candidates, given their facilities; ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested during a TV appearance this week that Orlando seems to be gaining traction.
Toronto was previously cited as another city that has received NBA consideration as a “bubble” location.
As coronavirus restrictions have been loosened in certain parts of the country, several teams have begun opening their facilities for limited, voluntary workouts. Wojnarowski noted earlier this week that the NBA expected 22 of the league’s 30 teams to have their facilities open for voluntary workouts by this coming Monday.
For those players who choose to participate in the workouts, several safety precautions are required. Players are allowed to train for an hour at a time, with no more than four total players in the building. Temperature checks are administered before entering the facility and players are required to wear a mask when not engaged in physical activity.
FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 will be held that summer from August 25 to September 10, according to a FIBA press release. The group phase of World Cup 2023 will be played in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines, with the final phase taking place in the Philippine capital city of Manila. It will be the first time the competition has been staged in more than one country. Spain defeated Argentina in the finals of last year’s Cup, which was held in China.
We have more from around the basketball world:
- Turkey became the latest country to cancel the remainder of its basketball season. Former NBA player Hedo Turkoglu, the basketball federation’s president, officially announced the cancellation of BSL and TBL seasons, according to Alessandro Maggi of Sportando.
- Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski turned down numerous offers over the years to become an NBA coach, Sportando’s Nicola Lupo relays. In an interview on WIP radio, the Duke coach said he turned down the Sixers job in 2003, the Celtics in 1990 and the Lakers in 2005.
- The Warriors’ signing of Kevin Durant, the Spurs’ draft-night acquisition on Kawhi Leonard and the Rockets’ trade for James Harden rank as the biggest and best transactions over the past decade, according to ESPN Insiders. A list of 74 major moves was compiled by ESPN’s NBA experts.
- Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni is the league’s second-oldest head coach at age 69, which could put him at greater risk if he were to contract the coronavirus. However, sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPN that D’Antoni would feel comfortable being on the sidelines if the NBA resumes the season, since he has confidence that Adam Silver and the league would create as safe an environment as possible.
Despite a claim from Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing that he’ll be back with the program this season, Mac McClung continues to test the draft waters and hasn’t informed the school of any official decision yet, agent Daniel Hazan tells Ben Standig of The Athletic.
As Standig details, McClung’s energy and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect worth monitoring, but he’s not considered likely to be drafted if he goes pro this year. One general manager said he’s still not clear on what position or role McClung would play at the NBA level.
Still, NBA teams are doing their homework on the sophomore guard. Hazan said on Tuesday that McClung has had virtual meetings with 11 teams, with more to come — a source informs Standig that the Rockets, Bulls, and Nets are among those 11 clubs.
Here are a few more draft-related items:
- Michigan State forward Aaron Henry has signed with agent Aaron Reilly of AMR, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). Because Reilly is NCAA-certified, Henry can continue to test the draft waters without forfeiting his remaining two years of college eligibility.
- Goodman has published the second version of his 2020 mock draft at WatchStadium.com, forecasting a top five of James Wiseman (Warriors), Anthony Edwards (Cavaliers), LaMelo Ball (Timberwolves), Obi Toppin (Hawks), and Deni Avdija (Pistons).
- With last week’s early entrant deadline behind us, Jeremy Woo of SI.com and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic have each updated their respective big boards for the 2020 draft. Both draft experts have Ball, Edwards, and Wiseman ranked as their top three prospects, but disagree on some other lottery prospects. Vecenie has Toppin (No. 4) and Cole Anthony (No. 8) several spots higher than Woo does, but is less bullish on Isaac Okoro (No. 11), who is sixth on Woo’s board.
3:29pm: The Rockets have now postponed the target date for reopening their facility to May 18, according to Medina (via Twitter).
2:03pm: Although the NBA is still expected to allow teams to reopen practice facilities for individual voluntary workouts this Friday, only a small handful of clubs are expected to take advantage right away. The Rockets, Trail Blazers, and Nuggets intend to reopen their facilities on May 8, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt and Mark Medina. The Cavaliers will do so as well, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
Not all players have remained in their teams’ respective cities since the NBA suspended its season in March, so some Rockets, Blazers, Nuggets, and Cavs players may have to return from out of state before they can resume working out at their clubs’ facilities.
As Zillgitt and Medina detail, several other teams – including the Hawks, Heat, and Bucks – could reopen their facilities as early as next week. However, clubs like the Celtics, Mavericks, Grizzlies, and Timberwolves haven’t shared details on their plans, and many other teams will remain in limbo for the foreseeable future, deferring to local government ordinances and health experts.
The Warriors, for instance, are following the City of San Francisco’s lead, as Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. USA Today’s report suggests that Golden State is unlikely to reopen its facility until at least June, since the city’s stay-at-home order runs through May 31.
As for the teams that are opening this Friday, they’ll face strict regulations on the number of players who will be permitted into their facilities at a time (four), and how their workouts will be conducted (no group activities are allowed). The league recently issued a long, detailed memo outlining the safety measures that teams must put in place to reopen their buildings.
“This isn’t a hangout session for the guys,” a Cavaliers source told Fedor. “We’ve read the riot act – so to speak – to these guys. I think they are appreciative of us trying to find the right way to get the building open because they need the outlet and want to work out and this is the safest place for them to do it.”
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links), the NBA informed teams this week of updated measures on cardiac screening for certain players prior to their voluntary workouts. Clubs have also still been told not to conduct COVID-19 tests on asymptomatic players, since the league is sensitive to an ongoing shortage in some areas of the country. If and when the NBA is able to open camps for a resumption for the 2019/20 season, there’s an understanding those testing protocols would change, Woj adds.