Kawhi Leonard

Pacific Notes: Howard, Warriors, Kings, Kawhi

A year after Dwight Howard‘s NBA career appeared to be on life support, the veteran center is once again healthy and making an impact for a Lakers team that has become the strong favorite to win the 2020 championship, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com.

As Mannix details, Howard wore out his welcome at several of his other recent NBA stops, including in Charlotte. The Hornets believed the big man “didn’t impact winning,” according to one team official, and were worried about the influence he might have on the team’s young players, including Malik Monk.

In Los Angeles, Howard has accepted a complementary role that suits him and is part of a locker room whose veteran leaders are capable of quelling any chemistry issues that may arise, according to Mannix, who suggests that the eight-time All-Star should be able to extend his NBA career by a few years if he’s willing to play a similar role going forward.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Sixers, Nets, Leonard, VanVleet

The Celtics announced on Wednesday that forward Gordon Hayward is listed as doubtful for Thursday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Bontemps points out, this is the first time Hayward has been upgraded from “out” since he suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Celtics replaced Hayward in the starting lineup with Marcus Smart, who is averaging 15.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 4.2 APG.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • After losing the development rights to Penn’s Landing to a rival bidder last week, the Sixers have signaled their dissatisfaction with playing at the Wells Fargo Center, writes Jacob Adelman of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers want their own arena for a variety of reasons, including the ability to gain schedule flexibility, which they currently do not have. Philadelphia’s lease at the Wells Fargo Center reportedly runs out in 2031. The Inquirer goes on to lists various locations within Philadelphia that the Sixers could use to build their new arena.
  • Long Island Nets guard Devin Cannady spoke with Alex Schiffer of The Athletic about working out with Nets superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Los Angeles. The NBA G League guard recalled a game of 2-on-2 where he had trouble defending Irving. Durant stopped the game and instead gave tips Cannady to help him. “If I got the confidence from KD,” Cannady said to Schiffer. “Then I don’t need to hold back anymore at all.” The former Princeton standout also said that Durant looks good and healthy in the workouts.
  • One of the reasons why Kawhi Leonard wanted to go to the Clippers is because he felt the Raptors weren’t good enough to repeat, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link). The Finals MVP reportedly said this last summer in his meeting with Toronto’s front office. Leonard ultimately ended up signing a three-year deal with Los Angeles and teaming up with Paul George. However, his old team didn’t experience a significant drop-off, finishing with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Semifinals.
  • With the Raptors’ season coming to an end last week, Blake Murphy of The Athletic explains what it would take to re-sign Fred VanVleet while also maintaining max cap space for the 2021 offseason. VanVleet is set to be an unrestricted free agent and is reportedly expected to receive interest from the Knicks, Pistons, and Suns. Murphy details various scenarios involving OG Anunoby‘s rookie-scale extension, which he is eligible for this offseason, the 2021 free-agent class, and Norman Powell‘s player option.

NBA Announces 2019/20 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-NBA teams for the 2019/20 season. Voting was completed prior to the league’s restart in July and was based on results through March 11.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lakers forward LeBron James, widely considered the two frontrunners for this year’s MVP award, were the only two players to be unanimously voted to the All-NBA First Team this season. Rockets guard James Harden, Lakers big man Anthony Davis, and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounded out the First Team.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Giannis and LeBron scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Among the players who just missed the cut were Bucks forward Khris Middleton (82 points), Sixers center Joel Embiid (79), Wizards guard Bradley Beal (32), and Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (26). A total of 11 other players also received at least one All-NBA vote — the full results can be found right here.

Today’s announcement is great news from a financial perspective for Siakam and Simmons. As a result of Siakam’s Second Team nod and Simmons’ Third Team spot, both players will earn starting salaries worth 28% of the 2020/21 salary cap, rather than 25%. Players who sign rookie scale extensions can earn maximum salaries up to 30% of the cap if they negotiate Rose Rule language into their deals.

The exact value of those new contracts will depend on where exactly the ’20/21 cap lands. Assuming it stays the same as in 2019/20 ($109.141MM), Siakam’s four-year extension would be worth $136.9MM instead of the $122.2MM it’d be worth if it started at 25% of the cap. Simmons’ five-year pact would be worth $177.2MM rather than $158.3MM.

While it’s also worth noting that All-NBA berths are of great importance to players seeking super-max contracts, there aren’t any real developments to report on that front as a result of this year’s votes. Antetokounmpo and Gobert remain eligible for super-max extensions, but they’d already qualified based on their previous accolades.

Embiid would have become super-max eligible in 2021 if he had earned an All-NBA spot, but he’ll need to make an All-NBA team next season to gain eligibility now, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our spring poll. Beal, Embiid, and Devin Booker were your picks who didn’t make the official list. Of the 12 who made it, 11 made the exact team you projected, with Paul (who made Second Team instead of Third Team) representing the only exception.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Notes: Game 7 Loss, Next Steps, Kawhi, George

The Clippers blew double-digit leads in each of their last three games against Denver, losing the series and missing out on a date with the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Having failed to advance after taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, the team was left searching for answers on Tuesday night.

As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details, head coach Doc Rivers accepted blame for the club’s shortcomings and suggested that conditioning issues played a part in the Clippers’ inability to put Denver away. However, Lou Williams and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard pointed to chemistry issues as they looked to explain the club’s disappointing postseason run.

“I think a lot of the issues that we ran into, talent bailed us out. Chemistry it didn’t,” Williams said. “In this series, it failed us.”

“We just couldn’t make shots,” Leonard said. “That’s when it comes to the team chemistry, knowing what we should run to get the ball in spots or just if someone’s getting doubled or they’re packing the paint, try to make other guys make shots, and we gotta know what exact spots we need to be. And you know, just gotta carry over and get smarter as a team. Get smarter. Basketball IQ got to get better.”

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising comment of the night came from Paul George, whom the Clippers acquired last summer in a deal that cost the team Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks, and two first-round pick swaps.

I think internally, we always felt this was not a championship-or-bust year for us,” George said, per Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • The Clippers are now very much on the clock, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who points out that Leonard and George can opt for free agency in 2021. Rival executives don’t expect the Clips to make major changes, but they could make a trade to bring in more talent if they’re willing to take on some long-term money, writes Windhorst.
  • One rival executive suggested to Windhorst that the Clippers are essentially pot-committed to their win-now approach, meaning it doesn’t make sense for them to back off now by significantly shaking up the roster. “You’ve heard of the saying, ‘In for a dime, in for a dollar’?” the exec said. “Well, they’re in for 95 cents, in for a dollar.”
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) also explored what’s next for the Clippers. As Marks points out, one of the first orders of business for the team will be figuring out which of its major free agents – Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris, and JaMychal Green – can and should be re-signed. Harrell and Morris are unrestricted free agents, while Green has a $5MM player option that he may turn down.
  • Marks also notes that the Clips could offer a George a contract extension worth up to $128.9MM over three years, if they so choose. George would be 32 years old before that extension begins in 2022 though, so it’s not clear how aggressive L.A. will be on that front.

Pacific Notes: Clippers Arena, Randle, McGee, Kawhi

The Clippers‘ forthcoming Inglewood arena has received the final approval necessary from the Inglewood City Council, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). The team, which announced a joint deal to buy the publicly-owned property on the arena site, now has the go-ahead to begin building its new arena in 2021.

In a press release on the club’s official site, the team notes that construction is scheduled to commence next summer. The Clippers are expected to move from the Staples Center, an arena they share with the Lakers, to their new home ahead of the 2024/25 season.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Suns coach Monty Williams has added Brian Randle to his staff as an assistant coach, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). Randle is a former player development coach for the Timberwolves.
  • Lakers starting center JaVale McGee has been cleared to play in tonight’s pivotal Game 3 against the Rockets, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). McGee turned his left ankle in Game 2 of the Lakers’ series with the Rockets and was limited to just eight minutes of action. An MRI on the ankle came back negative. Mark Medina of USA Today tweets McGee will not have a minutes restriction tonight. Medina adds that bench guard Dion Waiters will not be available for Game 3.
  • Meanwhile, Rockets forward Danuel House Jr. will be unavailable tonight for personal reasons, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Feigen adds (Twitter link) that Houston center Tyson Chandler will also miss tonight’s game for personal reasons, but that both players remain on the NBA’s Orlando campus.
  • Clippers All-Star Kawhi Leonard‘s stellar Game 3 performance showcased just how valuable he is as a two-way player, and why he was the top priority for Los Angeles in free agency ahead of the season, notes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Leonard was named to the 2020 All-Defensive Second Team earlier this afternoon.

NBA Announces 2019/20 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2019/20 season. Unsurprisingly, Defensive Player of the Year (and possible repeat MVP) Giannis Antetokounmpo was the leading vote-getter with 195 total points. Players receive two points per First Team vote and one point per Second Team vote.

This is the Bucks forward’s second consecutive appearance on the All-NBA First Team. Antetokounmpo was listed on 98 of 100 ballots from the 100 broadcasters and writers who comprised this year’s voting panel. 97 of those voters awarded him a First Team vote.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis was featured on every ballot and received a total tally of 187 points (including 87 First Team votes). Sixers guard Ben Simmons tallied 185 points with the third-most votes this year. Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the 2018 and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, was fourth with 95 total votes (85 First Team), for 180 total points. Celtics guard Marcus Smart rounded out the All-Defensive First Team with 152 points, including 57 First Team votes.

Gobert’s inclusion on the All-Defensive First Team has earned him a $500K bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Antetokounmpo’s Bucks teammates Brook Lopez (67 points) and Eric Bledsoe (59 points) each made the All-Defensive Second Team.

[RELATED: Giannis Antetokounmpo Named Defensive Player Of The Year]

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team:

Second Team:

You can find the full voting results right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Announces All-Bubble Awards

The NBA announced today that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has been named the Player of the Seeding Games, earning de facto MVP honors for the league’s restart.

Lillard, who averaged 37.6 PPG and 9.6 APG on .497/.436/.888 shooting in eight seeding games, led the Blazers to a 6-2 record, allowing the team to surpass the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West. Portland will earn the conference’s final playoff spot if it picks up a win over Memphis today or tomorrow.

Lillard was the unanimous selection among 22 media voters for the bubble’s MVP award. Devin Booker (Suns) received 19 second-place votes, with T.J. Warren (Pacers) picking up two and Luka Doncic (Mavericks) getting the other one. Booker, Warren, Doncic, James Harden (Rockets) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) all received third-place votes.

Meanwhile, Suns head coach Monty Williams was named the Coach of the Seeding Games, per today’s announcement. The selection comes as no surprise after Williams led Phoenix to an 8-0 record this summer. The Suns narrowly missed out on a spot in the play-in tournament, but were the only club that went undefeated during the seeding games, despite initially being ranked 21st of the 22 teams invited to Orlando.

Williams was a near-unanimous choice, with Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts receiving one first-place vote and finishing second overall in voting. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn and Raptors coach Nick Nurse were among the other top vote-getters.

The NBA also announced All-Seeding Games First and Second Teams, as follows:

First Team:

  • Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  • Devin Booker (Suns)
  • Luka Doncic (Mavericks)
  • James Harden (Rockets)
  • T.J. Warren (Pacers)

Second Team:

Lillard, Booker, and Doncic were unanimous First Team selections, with Harden and Warren each receiving 18 of 22 First Team votes. Antetokounmpo received the other eight First Team votes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

L.A. Notes: Kawhi, Clippers, Lakers, KCP, Waiters

After appearing in 51 of the Clippers‘ 64 games before the NBA went on hiatus in March, star forward Kawhi Leonard said this week that he feels good and is ready to go, as Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times writes.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers suggested there would be “no limits” on the former Finals MVP, who hasn’t played in back-to-back sets over the last couple seasons due to leg issues. However, Rivers acknowledged that the Clips’ priority will be to keep Leonard in top shape, which may mean not pushing him too hard during the eight seeding games.

“Kawhi is healthy for the most part,” Rivers said. “That still doesn’t mean that we don’t want to maintain him and get him through the first eight games and get ready for the playoffs. We want to be smart about this. Not just for Kawhi, it’s with everybody.”

Here’s more on the Clippers and their L.A. rivals:

  • The Clippers will have 15 players available in Orlando when the season resumes, according to Greif, who notes in a separate Times story that the club didn’t bring rookie forward Mfiondu Kabengele or two-way center Johnathan Motley. Teams were permitted to bring up to 17 players to the NBA’s campus, but the Clips elected to “load up on medical personnel” to fill out their traveling party, writes Greif.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the leading candidate to replace Avery Bradley in the Lakers‘ starting lineup, head coach Frank Vogel said on Monday, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bradley, who opted out of the rest of the season, started 44 games this year, typically alongside Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Danny Green, and JaVale McGee.
  • With Bradley not playing this summer and Rajon Rondo sidelined due to a broken thumb, Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register wonders if Dion Waiters could assume some ball-handling duties off the bench for the Lakers. “Losing Rondo put more of a need on Dion’s skillset, so I look forward to seeing what he can do more as we get into games,” Vogel said.

L.A. Notes: Noah, Williams, Leonard, LeBron

Joakim Noah, who recently signed with the Clippers for the rest of the season, might have joined the team earlier if not for an accident in September, writes Garrett Chorpenning of Sports Illustrated. Noah had a workout scheduled, but was forced to cancel after getting hurt.

“In September, I had a freak accident and cut my Achilles, and you know, I told myself that that’s just not how I wanted to end my career,” Noah told reporters today. “So you know, the day after the surgery, I was in the gym working out with the hope of making this team. I knew that if I didn’t keep training and if I got a call from the Clippers and I wasn’t ready, I knew I would have regrets for the rest of my life. … Being in a position to win a championship, it’s not something that I take for granted.”

The 35-year-old center finally joined the team on a 10-day contract in March, just two days before the hiatus began. Late last month, he signed a deal that covers the remainder of this season and is non-guaranteed for 2020/21.

There’s more regarding the L.A. teams:

  • Clippers guard Lou Williams was “50-50” about coming to Orlando, but respected the results of a team vote, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “We decided our decision was going to be everybody or nobody,” Williams said. “… We decided to come as a group. I’m part of the group. I have a lot of thoughts, ideas I felt strongly about personally, but I represent a group.”
  • After not traveling with the Clippers to Orlando, Kawhi Leonard joined the team last night, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Coach Doc Rivers said he hasn’t decided what to do with Leonard’s minutes yet, but having a fully healthy team will make it easier to rest him, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
  • Lakers star LeBron James will wear his name on the back of his jersey rather than one of the league-approved messages regarding social justice, according to ESPN. James said the available options “didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.” He adds that he never feared that the NBA wouldn’t finish its season. “No, never crossed my mind that we did not need to play this beautiful game of basketball that brings so many people together,” James said. “That brings happiness. That brings joy to the households of so many families.”

Pacific Notes: Kawhi, J. Green, Lakers, Suns, Warriors

Star forward Kawhi Leonard didn’t travel to Walt Disney World this week with the rest of the Clippers this week, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. According to Haynes, Leonard was given permission by the club to tend to a family matter. Haynes wrote on Wednesday that the reigning Finals MVP was expected to arrive in Orlando within “a few days.”

Leonard isn’t the only Clippers player who will be late in arriving to the NBA’s campus. Sources tell Andrew Greif and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) that forward JaMychal Green is tending to a family matter of his own and isn’t in Orlando yet. Green is expected to arrive on Sunday, per The L.A. Times.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic digs into the question of whether J.R. Smith or Dion Waiters will help the Lakers more this summer in Orlando.
  • Not all of the Suns players are at the NBA’s campus yet, but Monty Williams declined on Thursday to identify the players arriving at a later date, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix’s head coach did say it was good to get back on a practice court. “It’s not weird when we get into the gym,” Williams said of the unusual circumstances. “It’s just when we leave the gym and you have to put your mask on and the coaches have had their mask on the whole practice. So you can imagine the huffing and puffing that goes on with us older coaches.”
  • Appearing this week on David Aldridge’s “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast at The Athletic, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr discussed a bevy of topics. Among them: His desire to conduct offseason team activities and the Warriors’ plan for Stephen Curry to make sure they’re “not wearing him out” going forward.