LeBron James

Kobe, Duncan, Garnett, Tomjanovich To Be Inducted Into Hall Of Fame

Former NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

This year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony figures to be an emotional affair, with Bryant headlining the 2020 class just months after his tragic passing. The Lakers‘ legend was an 18-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion, winning the MVP award in 2008 to go along with a pair of Finals MVPs. He is fourth on the league’s all-time scoring list and won scoring titles in 2006 and 2007.

Bryant will be joined by a pair of fellow NBA champions, including Duncan, who won three Finals MVPs and five titles in total. Like Bryant, he was named to an All-NBA team 15 times over the course of his career. The longtime Spurs‘ big man was one of the best players of his era, ranking sixth on the NBA’s all-time rebounding list and fifth in blocked shots.

While Garnett’s résumé isn’t quite as decorated as that of Bryant and Duncan, he earned 15 All-Star nods, an MVP award (in 2004), a Defensive Player of the Year award (2008), and a title in 2008 with the Celtics. Garnett, who began his career with the Timberwolves, ranks in the NBA’s top 20 in career points, rebounds, blocks, and steals.

Bryant, Duncan, and Garnett may be this year’s headliners, but they aren’t the only ones being inducted into the Hall of Fame. According to Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link), former Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich has also been elected.

Tomjanovich is one of just three coaches to win both an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal. He coached Houston to a pair of championships in the mid-1990s and had an impressive career as a Rockets player prior to his coaching days, earning five NBA All-Star nods in his 11-year career.

Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Eddie Sutton, and Barbara Stevens were announced as Hall of Fame finalists in February — it’s unclear if anyone from that group will be inducted into the 2020 class alongside Bryant, Duncan, Garnett, and Tomjanovich. The official announcement will happen on Saturday.

It remains to be seen what form this year’s induction ceremony will take. It’s scheduled to happen on August 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts, but there’s no guarantee that the coronavirus situation will have improved enough by then to hold large-scale gatherings.

Heat Notes: Crowder, Big Three, Player Options

Heat forward Jae Crowder hopes to stay with the team past this season and re-sign in free agency, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

Miami traded for Crowder, along with Andre Iguodala and Solomon Hill, in a deal that sent Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson to Memphis in February. Crowder played just 13 games in a Heat uniform, averaging 11.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest.

“I’m just very happy to be a part of this organization because I’ve always envisioned that, but I never knew if it could come true,” Crowder said. “But I always wanted to play for this city.”

Crowder, an eight-year veteran, is a proven three-and-D forward who can provide major minutes in traditional or small-ball lineups. It’s unclear whether he’ll play for the Heat again, with the NBA currently waiting to see if it will be possible to proceed with the season and postseason.

“I’m a Southern guy for the most part. I’m from Atlanta, but I just didn’t want to live back home,” Crowder said. “Whenever I was coming here and my agent was here and I was able to train here when I’m not doing my workouts and stuff, it just felt right. It just felt like home. I quickly adjusted and I made it home. I didn’t want to live in Atlanta. … Then I was able to make some money here and I bought a house. Once I did that, it was like a no-brainer that this is my home.”

There’s more out of Miami tonight:

  • Former Heat superstar LeBron James thought a loss to the Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals could’ve ended the famous “big three” consisting of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as relayed by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. A loss to Boston would’ve marked the second consecutive dissappointing season for Miami, with the well-documented 2011 Finals collapse coming less than one year prior. “My mentality was if we lose, [Heat president] Pat Riley may break us all up. And I [didn’t] want that,” James said. “It might be the quickest breakup in basketball history.” Miami ultimately bounced back from a 3-2 deficit to win the series, advancing to the Finals and defeating Oklahoma City 4-1.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether some NBA player options will become moot this offseason in his latest mailbag. Heat big man Kelly Olynyk is among the talents who have a player option for next season, valued at $12.2MM. Winderman speculates that just about every player with a sizable player option (i.e. DeMar DeRozan, $27.8MM), will strongly consider staying with their team due to the current state of economics and lack of salary cap space that clubs are set to have.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines where the Heat’s young talent — Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn — would be selected if each of their respective drafts were re-started. All four players have proven their worth this season, with Adebayo making his first All-Star selection, Herro showing promise as a scorer, Robinson transitioning into one of the league’s best three-point shooters and Nunn playing as one of the top rookies.

Coronavirus Notes: LeBron, Young, Curry, Temple

Lakers All-Star LeBron James spoke about his feelings on returning to the NBA amidst the coronavirus pandemic with his former Cavaliers teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye – plus Lakers studio host Allie Clifton – for their Road Trippin’ Podcast (h/t to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin).

James feels uncomfortable about potentially playing games without fans. “So to get back on the floor, I would love it,” he said. “Let’s just go to each other’s practice facility, put out a camera, just scrimmage and livestream it. … I just don’t know how we can imagine a sporting event without fans. It’s just, it’s a weird dynamic.”

On the podcast, James also advocates for the NBA playing a handful of regular season games before the playoffs, assuming the 2019/20 season can resume at all. “One thing you can’t just do is go straight to the playoffs… Because it discredits the 60-plus games that guys had fighting for that position.”

Here are a few more items related to the coronavirus pandemic and the NBA’s hiatus:

  • After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NBA to postpone its season, All-Star Hawks point guard Trae Young returned from Atlanta to his offseason home near his family in Norman, Oklahoma, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.
  • Warriors All-Star point guard Stephen Curry has been a solid voice of reason amidst the coronavirus chaos, as Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Curry hosted an informative 30-minute Q&A on his Instagram with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
  • Nets wing Garrett Temple has opted to use the NBA’s indefinite postponement to study for the LSATs, as he told the YES Network’s Michael Grady (h/t to New York Post’s Brian Lewis). “I’m going to be honest, I’ve been sleeping a good amount, but also trying to take on a new task,” Temple said. “I’ve actually started practicing for the LSAT prep.”

Western Notes: Johnson, LeBron, Aldridge, DeRozan

Cameron Johnson, who was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2019 draft, should see an increased role next season in Phoenix, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic contends. The Suns rookie had made 91 three-pointers in 49 games and his progression may allow the franchise to focus on other position as it looks to upgrade the roster this summer.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Lakers star LeBron James is being sued by a photographer for posting content on his social media pages without permission, as I detailed on Heavy.com. The photojournalist captured a picture of James dunking on Meyers Leonard earlier in the season.
  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News examines LaMarcus Aldridge‘s season and wonders if the 34-year-old big man has a lengthy future with the Spurs. Aldridge has one year and $24MM left on his deal after this season.
  • DeMar DeRozan‘s future with the Spurs isn’t certain either, as McDonald writes in a separate piece. The shooting guard is expected to decline his player option for next season and seek a long-term contract—either with San Antonio or another club.

Pacific Notes: James, Warriors Wings, Warriors Draft, Suns

LeBron James indicated during an Instagram Live appearance that he’d like to finish out his career with the Lakers, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. James is in the second year of his four-year pact with the Lakers, though the final year at $41MM is a player option. Answering a question on Instagram, James said, “What NBA team would I never play for? I’m still playing, man. Hey, I’ve got to keep all my options open, man. But right now I’ll tell you one thing: I don’t want to go nowhere besides be here, baby. Be a Laker for the rest of my life.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors will likely sign a veteran free agent wing during the offseason using the taxpayer mid-level exception, Anthony Slater of The Athletic speculates. Maurice HarklessJae CrowderJosh JacksonMichael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams are possibilities, as is a reunion with Glenn Robinson III. Among members of the current roster, Damion Lee is the most likely to stick behind Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson, Slater adds.
  • The Warriors will be looking in the lottery for a player who can jump right into their rotation, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. The team’s director of player personnel, Larry Harris, told Poole of the plan. “Yes, we’ll try to find someone who can come in play right away,” Harris said. “But we also know that when you’re picking this high, a lot of guys are 18, 19, 20 years old. To expect them to come in and be contributors right away, we’re not so naive to think it won’t take time. But we feel there are some players in this draft, up high, that have the ability to come in and play some minutes.”
  • Renovations for the Suns’ Talking Stick Resort Arena and construction of their new practice facility are expected to remain on schedule despite the suspension of the season, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. The $45MM practice facility is projected to be completed by August. The $230MM arena renovation project is scheduled to have 65% of the upgrades done going into next season.

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.

Latest Notes On Coronavirus Situation

After initially declaring that he wouldn’t play in empty arenas if the NBA is forced to take extreme measures due to coronavirus concerns, Lakers star LeBron James walked back that stance in comments to reporters today. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN relays, James said he “had no idea that there was actually a conversation going behind closed doors” about extreme coronavirus precautions when he made his comments last week.

“Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that is what I play for — I play for my family, I play for my fans,” James said. “… But at the same time, you got to listen to the people that’s keeping a track on what’s going on. If they feel like it’s best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise, the safety of the league to mandate that, then we all listen to it.”

Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, whose home country of Italy is among those hit hardest by the international coronavirus outbreak said today that he’d be on board with playing behind closed doors if the situation worsens, writes ESPN’s Royce Young.

“I am in favor, because I see everything that’s been going on in Europe, not just in Italy,” Gallinari said. “In all of Europe, they stopped every game, they stopped every competition, in between countries, too, so it’s not just Italy. The steps they did were playing normal games, then games without fans and now they’re not playing. Hopefully we don’t get to that point where we don’t play games anymore, but maybe as a step forward to play some games with no fans.”

As the NBA continues to weigh next steps, here are a few more notes related to the league’s coronavirus response:

  • At an event on Monday night, Heat president Pat Riley expressed skepticism that the situation will get to a point where the league plays games without fans, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Until the league says something or something else happens, I doubt that that’s going to happen,” Riley said.
  • One high-ranking team executive who spoke to Ben Golliver of The Washington Post took the opposing view: “I think there’s a good chance we will be forced to play games in empty arenas at some point. The virus is spreading quickly, it’s not contained, and it will not be contained any time soon. The threat (to NBA players and fans) could carry on into next season.”
  • Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today (via Twitter) that the state is asking for no indoor events with spectators to be held. The Cavaliers would be affected by a stronger edict from the state government, but for now the team figures to defer to the NBA on any major decisions. The Cavs also don’t have a home game until March 24.
  • The NCAA issued a statement today announcing that it “continues to assess” how the coronavirus outbreak will impact this month’s tournaments. A decision is expected in the coming days.

Lakers Notes: Waiters, LeBron, Clippers Rivalry

Dion Waiters signed with the Lakers on Friday, but it will be “a few games” before he makes his debut with the team, coach Frank Vogel told Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Waiters, who went through his first practice with his new team Saturday, has barely played this season after falling out of favor in Miami. That’s why Vogel plans to bring him along slowly, unlike Markieff Morris, who played right away after joining the Lakers two weeks ago.

“(Morris had) been playing games for the Pistons; Dion’s played three games this year,” Vogel said. “So it’s a matter of acclimating, getting used to our system, getting a few practices under his belt.”

The 28-year-old guard is ready for a fresh start after a difficult season with the Heat that included three suspensions. The first step was getting to know his new teammates, including LeBron James, whom Waiters briefly played alongside in Cleveland.

“We all grew up on the AAU circuit and things like that, so it wasn’t that hard,” Waiters said. “I could easily just come in here and be myself. I don’t have to be nobody I’m not. So they opened the doors for me and welcomed me in with open arms, so it’s been smooth. It’s been really, really good.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Waiters said the team asked about his off-court issues in Miami before deciding to sign him, but that part of the interview was short, Goon adds in the same story. General manager Rob Pelinka was Waiters’ agent for five years, so they already have a relationship in place. “At the end of the day, I’m grown,” Waiters said. “So you learn from your mistakes, at the end of the day. We don’t got to keep drilling on the past, things like that. You live and you learn. And I did that.”
  • Although they have much bigger goals in mind, the Lakers enjoyed clinching a playoff spot with Friday’s win over the Bucks, relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. It was especially important for James, who missed the postseason last year for the first time in more than a decade. “I came here to put this team and put this franchise back where they needed to be,” he said. “The league is not what it is if the Lakers are not winning. And that was one of my responsibilities, one of my goals when I came here.”
  • The Clippers have replaced the Celtics as the Lakers’ most intense rival, claims Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times. They occupy the top two spots in the Western Conference and will have their third meeting of the season this afternoon.

LeBron James Says He Will Not Play In Empty Arenas Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

After the NBA sent a memo instructing teams to prepare to possibly play in empty arenas amid the coronavirus outbreak, Lakers superstar LeBron James said he will not play under those conditions.

“I ain’t playing,” James said after the Lakers defeated the Bucks on Friday night, per USA Today’s Mark Medina. “I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.”

There’s no indication at this point that the league intends to play any games behind closed doors — this week’s memo was simply advising teams to make preparations in case the situation worsens in the coming days or weeks. However, James insisted that playing without fans in the stands cannot be done.

“We play games without the fans?” James asked. “Nah, it’s impossible.”

As the number of coronavirus cases around the world and in the U.S. has increased, the NBA has released statements at various junctures. Last Saturday, the league said it was working closely with the Center for Disease Control but not anticipating any schedule changes.

“The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is paramount,” that statement read. “We are coordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus and continue to monitor the situation closely.”

In another memo, the league warned teams that pre-draft combines and international scouting events could be impacted by the outbreak.

Community Shootaround: 2020 NBA MVP Race

After winning the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2019, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo looks like the overwhelming favorite to do so again in 2020.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.6 PPG and 13.8 RPG, both improvements on last season’s numbers, while playing just 30.8 minutes per contest, his lowest mark since he was a rookie in 2013/14. In addition to his outstanding per-36 numbers, the reigning MVP is a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, and his team holds the NBA’s best record by a comfortable margin, at 53-9. Milwaukee also has an eye-popping +16.7 net rating when Antetokounmpo is on the floor, tops in the league.

Antetokounmpo’s case for a second consecutive MVP award is obvious, and makes him the clear frontrunner. However, not everyone is prepared to hand him the trophy quite yet.

With the Lakers poised to take on Milwaukee on Friday night in a battle of the NBA’s No. 1 seeds, head coach Frank Vogel argued that LeBron James should be considered a frontrunner for the 2020 MVP award, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. Vogel pointed to the intangibles James brings, including his leadership ability, as a factor for why the four-time MVP should receive serious consideration this spring.

“The body of work he’s put forth for our team I don’t really think it compares to anybody else,” Vogel said. “A lot of great performances throughout the year with other players, so I don’t want to take anything away from anyone else, but it’s pretty unbelievable what he does. What he means to us on both sides of the ball, defensive IQ and the way he impacts the game with his strength, athleticism, scoring the way he does, but also leading the league in assists. And the most important stat is how much we’re winning. So, to me, it’s his.”

In laying out James’ case for MVP, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report highlights the extent to which LeBron drives the team’s entire offense with his scoring and play-making. As Pincus points out, the Lakers’ offense falls off a cliff when James sits and the defense gets a little worse too — the club has a +10.4 rating with the 35-year-old on the court, compared to -1.0 when he’s on the bench.

One advance scout who spoke to Mark Medina of USA Today said his vote would go to Giannis, but admitted that the race is close enough for him to be convinced either way. One NBA executive speculated to Medina that voters may not be inclined to choose a back-to-back winner: “My gut would be since Giannis won it last year, people would give it to LeBron.”

We want to know what you think. Does LeBron have a legit NBA shot, or is Giannis running away with the award? If you think the race is still up in the air, what would have to happen in the season’s final five or six weeks to seal the deal one way or the other? Are there any other candidates you think could emerge as realistic alternatives?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!