The Trail Blazers have started a COVID-19 emergency relief fund to support local non-profits which serve the community, as the team announced on its website. To date, more than $35MM has been raised by NBA and WNBA teams and players to combat organizations impacted by the coronavirus.
As we wait to see when the pandemic will subside and the NBA will return to action, let’s take a look at some basketball notes from around the league:
Josh Robbins of The Athletic breaks down the Magic‘s improved offense prior to the suspended season, exploring what it might mean going forward. Aaron Gordon spending the majority of his minutes at the four, which is his natural position, played a major role in the team excelling.
Regardless of how and when the season resumes (or doesn’t), the Grizzlies showed enough progress to be optimistic about their future, Michael Wallace of NBA.com contends. Memphis is in the playoff picture and No. 2 overall Ja Morant looks like a future star.
As part of his usual Friday column for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe tracks Jonas Valanciunas‘ development from a young prospect who “spoke broken English (and) struggled calling out coverage on defense” to one of the NBA’s most underrated and reliable traditional big men. The Grizzlies‘ center has recorded 14.9 PPG with a career highs in RPG (11.2) and FG% (.586) in just 26.3 MPG this season.
Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the role that former Grizzlies swingman Tony Allen has assumed with the franchise. Allen has worked with several Memphis Hustle players in the G League this season, most notably former No. 4 pick Josh Jackson. “I let him know what he’s doing,” Allen said of Jackson. “He takes it in. He’s not one of them guys who get stubborn and doesn’t want to hear it. He takes it. And when he gets the message, it carries over on the execution side in live play.”
Earlier today, we explored what the lottery odds for the 2020 NBA draft would look like if the regular season doesn’t resume. We’re now applying that hypothetical to another aspect of the draft and examining which traded 2020 picks would and wouldn’t change hands based on the current standings.
Our projections below assume that the NBA will sort its standings by winning percentage in scenarios where teams haven’t played the same number of games this season. Again, this is just a hypothetical exercise — if the season resumes, the order below would likely change.
With that in mind and with the help of our reverse standings, let’s take a closer look at where this year’s traded draft picks would land if the NBA has played its last regular season game of 2019/20.
Minnesota Timberwolves (from Nets)
Boston Celtics (from Grizzlies)
Brooklyn Nets (from Sixers)
Note: Could be No. 20 depending on random tiebreaker.
Milwaukee Bucks (from Pacers)
Note: Could be No. 19 depending on random tiebreaker.
Philadelphia 76ers (from Thunder)
Note: Could be No. 22 depending on random tiebreaker.
Denver Nuggets (from Rockets)
Note: Could be No. 21 depending on random tiebreaker.
Utah Jazz (to Grizzlies; top-7 and 15-30 protected)
The Thunder pick would be the one worth watching closest if the season does resume. It’s top-20 protected, so OKC would keep it if it were to move up a spot or two, sending the Sixers second-round picks in 2022 and 2023 instead.
Dallas Mavericks (from Warriors)
Charlotte Hornets (from Cavaliers)
Philadelphia 76ers (from Hawks)
Sacramento Kings (from Pistons)
Philadelphia 76ers (from Knicks)
Washington Wizards (from Bulls)
New York Knicks (from Hornets)
New Orleans Pelicans (from Wizards)
Memphis Grizzlies (from Suns)
Boston Celtics (from Nets)
Chicago Bulls (from Grizzlies)
Golden State Warriors (from Mavericks)
Atlanta Hawks (from Rockets)
Note: Could be No. 51 depending on random tiebreaker.
The Hawks will receive the more favorable of Houston’s and Miami’s second-round picks, while the Kings will receive the less favorable of those two picks. Those two picks could end up right next to one another, since the Rockets (40-24) and Heat (41-24) have nearly identical records.
The Celtics’ pick looks like it will be one of the rare second-rounders with heavy protection that will actually change hands. Boston would have kept it if it had fallen in the top 53.
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.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was the first to publicly state that employees would be taken care of during the uncertain period and many more teams have stepped forward since then. Per Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register, the Lakers, Clippers and NHL’s Los Angeles Kings are set to announce a partnership that will compensate part-time and contract workers at Staples Center.
As Goon notes, venue ushers and security personnel are expected to be among those compensated during the suspension of play. Additionally, other employees have been asked to work remotely if at all possible, Goon adds.
A moratorium agreement between the NBA and the NBPA will reportedly affect players on 10-day contracts, as Shams Charania of The Athletic said earlier today. Following up on that point, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitterlinks) confirms that the clock will stop on the 10-day contracts that were active when the NBA suspended its season.
Presumably, Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver won’t be impacted. His 10-day deal with Memphis was set to expire on Wednesday night, the last night of game action before the suspension began. Once the moratorium is lifted and play resumes, he’ll likely have to sign a new 10-day contract or rest-of-season pact with the Grizzlies to remain with the team.
However, there were seven other players whose 10-day contracts had yet to run their course as of Wednesday night. Here are the affected players, with the number of days remaining on their deals noted in parentheses:
We’ll have to wait for official details on the moratorium agreement to confirm exactly how these 10-day deals will be handled.
Based on today’s reports though, it sounds like the contracts for players like Chealey, Hall, and Randle, which would have expired on Thursday night, will carry over to the day the season resumes. A player like Noah, who still had a week left on his 10-day contract, should play out that week following the resumption of the season.
In a roundtable discussion at ESPN.com, five writers were asked whether the Nuggets represent the biggest threat to derail a potential Lakers/Clippers showdown in the Western Conference Finals this spring. Of the five respondents, only Royce Young said yes, pointing to the “matchup nightmare” that Nikola Jokic represents, as well as Denver’s ability to both score and defend when the team is firing on all cylinders.
The other four ESPN reporters and analysts who participated in the roundtable weren’t quite as bullish on the Nuggets. Kevin Pelton identified Houston as a more realistic challenger, arguing that the Rockets‘ ability to play with quickness and space the floor makes them the team best suited to match up with the Lakers in a Western playoff series. Tim MacMahon suggested that the Rockets, despite some inconsistency, have the highest ceiling of any non-L.A. team.
Although MacMahon had praise for Houston, he and Kirk Goldsberry made a pick that would have been shocking six months ago, arguing that the Thunder are actually the most legitimate threat to an all-L.A. Western Finals. Goldsberry, who point out that Oklahoma City’s 29-10 record since December 15 is the West’s best during that stretch, also observed that the clutch-time lineup of Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and Steven Adams has the best stats of any five-man unit in the NBA, outscoring opponents by 30 points per 100 possessions.
The Jazz, who are currently the No. 4 seed in the West, didn’t get quite as much love from ESPN’s panel, but Pelton and Young both identified Utah as the non-Lakers team that may match up best with the Clippers in a seven-game series.
The Mavericks probably aren’t ready to seriously challenge the Lakers or Clippers yet, but they may get a shot to upset the Clips in round one. Meanwhile, whichever team claims the No. 8 seed is on track for a matchup with the Lakers. Could any teams from the group of candidates that includes the Pelicans, Grizzlies, Kings, Spurs, or Trail Blazers realistically push LeBron James and Anthony Davis?
We want to know what you think. Which Western Conference team is the best bet to play spoiler and knock off one of the Los Angeles teams in the first two rounds, preventing a WCF showdown?
Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!
Here are Monday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:
Forward Donta Hall has been recalled by the Pistons, James Edwards of The Athletic tweets. Hall is nearing the end of his second 10-day contract with the club. He has appeared in three Pistons games since signing his first one.
The Grizzlies assigned and then recalled swingman Justise Winslow, the team’s PR department tweets. Winslow participated in a practice with the G League club as part of a rehab assignment for his back injury.
The Hornets recalled guard Dwayne Bacon from their Greensboro affiiliate, according a team press release. Bacon has appeared in 39 games with Charlotte, posting averages of 5.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 1.3 APG in 17.6 MPG.
Jackson, who is dealing with a sprained left knee, has been on the shelf since suffering that injury on February 21. Before going down, he was one of Memphis’ leading scorers, with 16.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 54 contests (28.0 MPG).
As for Winslow, he has yet to actually appear in a game for the Grizzlies, having been acquired from the Heat in the three-team trade that sent Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder to Miami at last month’s deadline. The centerpiece of that trade from Memphis’ perspective, Winslow has been limited to just 11 games on the season due to injuries. In 2018/19, he recorded 12.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 4.3 APG in 66 games (29.7 MPG) for the Heat.
The Grizzlies have been holding their own without Jackson and Winslow — their 32-32 record gives them a four-game lead on the Pelicans and Kings for the West’s final playoff spot. Still, Memphis isn’t in the clear yet. New Orleans, in particular, is a candidate to make a run at the No. 8 seed, since the Pels have the league’s easiest schedule for the rest of the season, per Tankathon. The Grizzlies have the second-hardest rest-of-season slate.
Although Jackson and Winslow are close to returning, the same can’t be said for Brandon Clarke, who remains sidelined with a right quad strain. The Grizzlies’ announcement today did offer some optimism on Clarke’s recovery though, indicating that he’s still expected to return before the end of the season.
Porter, the younger brother of Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., has progressed well in his rehab from two separate knee injuries and is projected to be ready by training camp in the fall, the release states. Memphis will use Jarrod Uthoff‘s roster spot to sign Porter, with Uthoff’s 10-day deal recently expiring.
Porter, 20, went undrafted last June after spending multiple seasons at Missouri. Despite the fact that he tore his ACL multiple times during his college career, he was still viewed by ESPN as a top-50 prospect when he declared for the draft last April.