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NBA Allowing Teams To Open Facilities For Group Workouts

12:03pm: In order to participate in offseason group workouts, players will be have to be tested for COVID-19 every day and return a negative test each time, says ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

12:00pm: NBA players getting work in at their teams’ practice facilities will no longer be restricted to individual workouts, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the league informed teams today they can now conduct group practices, workouts, and scrimmages.

Those group activities will be limited to a total of 10 players, Charania adds.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams have, for the most part, only been able to host players for one-on-zero workouts at their facilities since the spring. Of course, the teams that participated in the summer restart practiced and played games in the Walt Disney World bubble, and the eight teams left out of the restart got a two-week window for group activities last month. Otherwise though, only individual workouts have been permitted.

With the 2020/21 season expected to get underway in either December or January, it won’t be long before teams have to report back to training camps, so the league apparently wants to give some runway to clubs to begin group workouts before that point.

It’s not clear whether the NBA intends to alter its coronavirus-related protocols to account for today’s change. For most of the year, anyone entering a practice facility has been required to undergo a temperature check before entering the building and wear a mask when not engaged in physical activity.

NBA May Only Offer 50-Game Season If Players Want January 18 Start

As ESPN reported earlier this week and as NBPA vice president Malcolm Brogdon confirmed during an appearance on The Jump on Thursday, the expectation is that the league’s 2020/21 season will start on either December 22, the date proposed by the NBA, or January 18, the date that a number of players reportedly prefer.

However, if the players insist on starting the season on Martin Luther King Day rather than before Christmas, the NBA may only offer a 50-game season, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). The league’s December 22 plan would result in a 72-game season.

As Stein explains – and as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press confirms (via Twitter) – the NBA’s television partners are pushing for the earlier start date and/or a shortened schedule because they don’t want the season to clash with the Tokyo Olympics in July and August. Those TV partners presumably also wouldn’t be enthusiastic about the NBA postseason running into September again and competing with the NFL.

Completing the 2020/21 season in July would allow the NBA to get back to its usual October-to-June calendar for the ’21/22 campaign. However, a 50-game season would result in a substantial pay reduction for players, since their earnings are tied to league revenue, as cap expert Albert Nahmad observes (via Twitter). As such, the NBPA is unlikely to be on board with such a plan.

It sounds as if the NBA and NBPA still have some work to do to bridge the gap on the season’s start date and length. And while the two sides had previously set October 30 (today) as the deadline to negotiate changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Brogdon indicated during his appearance on The Jump yesterday that he expects that deadline to be pushed back for a fourth time. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts conveyed a similar sentiment earlier in the week.

If the league and players’ union move forward with the NBA’s December 22 plan, training camps would begin on or around December 1, so the two sides will need to reach some sort of agreement sooner rather than later. According to Stein (via Twitter), a resolution is expected by next week, since all involved parties are “antsy for clarity.”

Pistons Naming New G League Team Motor City Cruise

The Pistons‘ new G League affiliate will be known as the Motor City Cruise, the team announced today in a press release. The club, which will have its inaugural season in 2021/22, will play its games at Wayne State University.

The Grand Rapids Drive are Detroit’s current NBAGL affiliate and will continue to hold that role in 2020/21 — assuming there is a G League season. However, the Pistons don’t own the Grand Rapids franchise and the affiliate agreement between the two teams expires in ’21. The Pistons wanted their G League team to be located closer to the NBA squad, and the Drive had indicated they weren’t interested in moving to downtown Detroit.

As a result, the Pistons purchased the Suns’ NBAGL affiliate – the Northern Arizona Suns – in July and intend to relocate and rebrand that team. After spending one more season as Phoenix’s affiliate, it’ll move to downtown Detroit and become the Motor City Cruise for ’21/22.

The Pistons solicited fan submissions in choosing the name of their new G League affiliate and ultimately opted for the Cruise, which pays homage to the city’s automotive industry and was submitted by 10 fans.

“After considering many clever submissions, we are excited to announce the Motor City Cruise as the next professional sports franchise for the city of Detroit,” team owner Tom Gores said in a statement. “We wanted Pistons fans to help us with the naming process and engage with our new brand from the beginning. Our new G League team will create an affordable entertainment option in Detroit and also play an important role in our player development goals.”

Nets To Hire Mike D’Antoni, Ime Udoka As Assistants

A pair of notable coaches are joining Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn as assistants, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka are finalizing deals with the Nets.

D’Antoni, who parted ways with the Rockets following the team’s elimination from the postseason in September, ranks 20th among head coaches on the NBA’s all-time list of wins. In addition to coaching the Rockets, he has been on the sidelines for the Lakers, Knicks, Nuggets, and – most notably – the Suns, where he lead two-time MVP Nash to back-to-back appearances in the Western Finals.

By joining the Nets, D’Antoni will reunite with Nash and provide the sort of veteran experience that the first-time head coach could use on his staff.

As for Udoka, he has never been an NBA head coach, but he has proven his bona fides as an assistant, serving on Gregg Popovich‘s staff in San Antonio for seven years before joining the Sixers for the 2019/20 season.

There was a time when it looked like Udoka would receive a shot at a head coaching job this year — he was linked to the Nets, Bulls, Pacers, Knicks, and 76ers jobs, but was passed over in each instance. Now he’ll get the opportunity to work under Nash in Brooklyn, as the Nets – led by a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – look to make a deep playoff run in 2021.

Nash’s staff will also include former Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn, who was retained as an assistant after missing out on the permanent coaching job. When word broke that the Nets were retaining Vaughn, Wojnarowski reported that he would be the highest-paid assistant in the NBA — it’s not clear if that’s still the case, but it’s probably safe to assume Brooklyn spared no expense bringing in D’Antoni and Udoka.

ESPN2 To Televise Edwards, Maxey Pre-Draft Workouts

Georgia swingman Anthony Edwards and Kentucky point guard Tyrese Maxey, two 2020 first-round prospects represented by Klutch Sports, are set to go through a televised “Pro Day” workout on ESPN 2 at 8:00 pm EST this evening, per Anna Negron of ESPN. The 2020 NBA draft is currently scheduled to be conducted virtually at 7:00 pm on November 18.

The athletic 6’5″ Edwards, who worked out for the Warriors last week, is widely considered to be one of the top three picks in November. The 6’3″ Maxey, a solid shooter, is projected to be taken with the No. 20 pick by the Heat in the latest mock draft from The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie.

Maxey and Edwards, both 2020 Second-Team All-SEC team selections, will work out at the Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. The workout will be broadcast replete with commentary, courtesy of Jay Bilas, Dalen Cuff and Mike Schmitz.

Timberwolves Met With LaMelo Ball

The Timberwolves, who hold the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s draft, met with potential top pick LaMelo Ball on Tuesday in Southern California, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

While the meeting provided the Timberwolves – including president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and head coach Ryan Saunders – an opportunity to interview Ball in person, no basketball activities were conducted as part of the visit, a source tells Givony.

[RELATED: Wolves’ Gupta On Draft: “We’re Ready To Pick”]

Ball confirmed earlier this month that he conducted virtual interviews earlier this year with the Warriors and Knicks. However, his Tuesday meeting with the Timberwolves is the first time he has met with a club in person, per Givony.

According to Givony, Ball is also tentatively scheduled to interview in person with the Warriors early next week, and will likely meet with the Hornets and Bulls as well. Those clubs hold the second, third, and fourth overall picks in the 2020 draft.

The NBA recently allowed teams to conduct in-person visits with draft-eligible prospects, after having prohibited such meetings for most of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Teams are allowed to conduct a total of 10 meetings.

Although a number of clubs are getting a chance to work out prospects during those meetings, it’s not unusual for presumed top picks like Ball to decline to work out, Givony notes. Still, the Wolves and the other teams at the top of the draft are probably disappointed not to get an in-person look at Ball, since he hasn’t played in a competitive game since November 30, 2019, having been sidelined with a foot injury for much of Australia’s NBL season.

Malik Beasley Faces Two Felony Charges

Timberwolves swingman Malik Beasley faces a pair of felony charges related to his late-September arrest, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who tweets that Beasley is being charged with fifth-degree drug possession and threats of violence.

As Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News relays, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office issued a press release detailing the charges against Beasley and providing more details about the September 26 incident. According to the release, a family alleged that Beasley pointed an assault rifle at them when they were on the road outside his home:

“They stated they were on a Parade of Homes tour with their 13-year-old, when they pulled up to the roped-off residence, assumed it was closed, and decided to look for another home to view, the complaint says. The victims at the time were on the shoulder of the road in front of the roped-off house.

“The complaint continues, saying that the victims heard a tapping on the (vehicle’s) window and saw Beasley pointing the firearm at them, telling them to get off his property. The victims got back onto the road and saw Beasley pointing the rifle at them as they drove off.”

After obtaining a search warrant for Beasley’s home, officers found three firearms – including one matching the description of the assault rifle – and more than 835 grams of marijuana, according to the statement from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

Paul Walsh of The Star Tribune provided some additional details on the charges and allegations against Beasley.

“We are cooperating with the law enforcement investigation and will carefully review the discovery and charges in the coming days,” Beasley’s lawyers, Steve Haney and Ryan Pacyga, said in a joint statement, per Charania.

Beasley, who was traded from Denver to Minnesota at the February trade deadline, finished strong, averaging a career-best 20.7 PPG and shooting 42.6% on three-pointers in 14 games with the Timberwolves. He’ll be a restricted free agent this offseason and the team has suggested it plans to re-sign him, as executive VP Sachin Gupta reiterated on Wednesday.

“Essentially we’re not going to be a real big player in terms of cap room,” Gupta said when asked about the team’s cap situation, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “But we do have plenty of room below the tax. We’ve got our own free agents with Malik and Juancho (Hernangomez) so with the Bird rights we’ll be able to re-sign those guys, and now with a No. 1 pick, that’s a bigger salary slot than maybe we would’ve expected prior to the lottery. … But we still feel good about having plenty of room below the tax to bring those guys back and also add in free agency as well.”

Knicks Open To Using Cap Room To Take On Unwanted Contracts

As one of a small handful of NBA teams projected to have significant cap room this fall, the Knicks are in position to make a splash on the free agent market. However, the club is also open to using its cap space to take on other teams’ unwanted contracts in trades, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Since the Knicks have so many players with options or non-guaranteed salaries for 2020/21, it remains to be seen exactly how much cap space they’ll have. Begley suggests the number could exceed $60MM, but that seems unrealistic to me. Something in the $25-40MM range should be doable though, and that would give New York more flexibility this fall than all but one or two other franchises.

Teams willing to accommodate other clubs’ “salary dumps” are generally rewarded with draft picks or young players. Last summer, for instance, the Clippers got a first-round pick for taking on Maurice Harkless; the Grizzlies got one for absorbing Andre Iguodala‘s $17MM+ salary; and the Hawks got a pair of first-rounders for taking Allen Crabbe and sending Taurean Prince to Brooklyn.

The Knicks didn’t take advantage of those opportunities in 2019, opting instead to use their space on second- and third-tier free agent signings. However, Leon Rose has since replaced Steve Mills as the head of basketball operations. And in 2020, there may be even more opportunities for Rose and the Knicks to take on undesirable contracts — if the tax line remains unchanged at $132.6MM, several clubs that didn’t expect to be taxpayers will be near or over that threshold and may be looking to shed salary.

In addition to their own future first-round picks, the Knicks also control the Clippers’ 2020 pick and a pair of future Mavs’ first-rounders. Accommodating a salary dump or two would allow New York to continue stockpiling draft assets and could give the team extra ammunition to eventually put together a trade package for a star.

Bucks, Pacers Have Reportedly Discussed Victor Oladipo

The Pacers have talked to the Bucks about a trade involving Victor Oladipo, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. However, O’Connor cautions that at this point a deal seems unlikely.

Oladipo, who is entering a contract year, has become a frequent subject of trade speculation in recent months, since it’s unclear whether he’ll remain in Indiana beyond his current contract. A report earlier this week suggested the two-time All-Star likes playing with the Pacers and would be happy to sign a big new deal with the team, but an earlier story had indicated he may be “looking to move on” from Indiana.

The Bucks, meanwhile, will be seeking out roster upgrades this offseason as they attempt to boost their title chances following a disappointing second-round playoff exit and convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a long-term contract with the franchise. Chris Paul has been mentioned as one possible target for Milwaukee, though a September report stated that the club is “highly unlikely” to aggressively pursue the veteran point guard.

While Oladipo would be an intriguing addition to an already formidable Bucks defense, his offsensive game didn’t look quite right in 2019/20 as he returned from the quad tendon injury that sidelined him for a full year. If he could recapture his form from the previous two seasons – when he averaged 21.7 PPG and 4.6 APG on .461/.362/.780 shooting – he may be just the sort of play-maker, scorer, and shooter that Milwaukee needs in its backcourt.

Any Bucks offer for Oladipo would probably have to start with point guard Eric Bledsoe for salary-matching purposes and would likely see the Pacers’ 2020 first-round pick returned to Indiana. I imagine the Pacers would seek another future first-round pick or other additional assets for Oladipo, while the Bucks may be reluctant to go all-in on a player who didn’t look fully healthy in ’19/20.

The Pacers and Bucks, two Central rivals, did come together last year to complete a sign-and-trade involving Malcolm Brogdon, so respective heads of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and Jon Horst have worked with one another before.

Roberts: NBPA “Won’t Be Rushed” On NBA’s Proposal

The NBA and NBPA agreed earlier this month to push back the deadline that would allow either side to terminate the Collective Bargaining Agreement to October 30. However, with that deadline just two days away, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts tells Shams Charania of The Athletic that the players’ union expects negotiations to continue beyond this Friday.

“The union and the players are analyzing all of the information and will not be rushed,” Roberts said. “We have requested and are receiving data from the parties involved and will work on a counter-proposal as expeditiously as possible. I have absolutely no reason to believe that we will have a decision by Friday. I cannot and will not view Friday as a drop dead date.

“While we are all anxious to resolve these and other substantive issues outstanding between the parties, we plan to proceed at a pace that provides our players ample opportunity to determine the best way to proceed.”

The players, led by the NBPA, are currently reviewing the league’s proposal to begin the 2020/21 season on December 22. The plan is expected to require teams to begin training camps on December 1, which is just over a month away. The NBA Finals came to an end just two weeks ago, and Roberts suggested in her comments to The Athletic that the players are feeling rushed by the process.

“Given all that has to be resolved between now and a December 22 date, factoring that there will be financial risks by a later start date, it defies common sense that it can all be done in time,” Roberts said. “Our players deserve the right to have some runway so that they can plan for a start that soon. The overwhelming response from the players that I have received to this proposal has been negative.”

[RELATED: Substantial Faction Of Players Pushing For Season To Start In January]

According to Charania, the NBA told teams on Wednesday that talks between the league and the players have been “productive” so far, and Roberts tells The Athletic that she believes the two sides are close to an agreement on salary cap figures for the 2020/21 season. The cap and tax are expected to remain right around $109MM and $132MM for next season, Charania reports.

However, the league and the union still need to bridge the gaps on issues such as how much player salary will be held in escrow in ’20/21, as well as the proposed December 22 start date, sources tell The Athletic.

According to Charania, commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged on Wednesday in a conversation with team presidents and general managers that the proposed turnaround is quicker than the NBA anticipated or planned, but said that the league’s TV partners have been pushing for a return to the NBA’s usual October-to-June calendar as soon as possible.

“We’re being strongly encouraged by our partners to work closely to a traditional season,” Silver said, per Charania. “It’s almost disconcerting we’re deep into planning for next season so soon. But the sooner we can get back, the better.”

Charania adds that if the players ultimately accept the NBA’s proposed timeline and report to camps at the start of December, the NBA hopes to conduct three-to-four preseason games to allow teams to “reset their arenas” for the regular season. A number of days at the start of camps would also be set aside for coronavirus testing before team activities are permitted, says Charania.