Paul George

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.

Clippers Notes: Dunn, George, Jackson

There has been buzz throughout the 2019/20 season that the Clippers are expected to be among the teams that will show interest in Kris Dunn when he reaches free agency this summer, says K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. It’s not clear how Dunn’s season-ending knee injury will affect L.A.’s potential interest, Johnson adds.

The Clippers’ interest level may also be impacted by how the Bulls handle Dunn’s situation — he’ll be a restricted free agent if Chicago extends a qualifying offer worth $4,642,800, which seems likely and which would increase the Bulls’ leverage.

While Dunn’s offensive numbers aren’t great, he was one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders when healthy, leading the league with 2.9 steals per 36 minutes. That would make him an intriguing fit on a Clippers roster that’s already packed with talented defenders, including Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Patrick Beverley.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • After he enjoyed a career year in 2018/19 in Oklahoma City, Paul George is still trying to get comfortable amidst an injury-plagued first season with the Clippers, writes Royce Young of ESPN. “I’m a work in progress,” George said on Tuesday. “It’s been a tough year being injured. Being in the rotation, being out of the rotation. And then just playing in a whole new system, new players, new teammates, new coaches, new playing style. So it’s been a bit of an adjustment for me.”
  • Reggie Jackson has had an impressive impact on the Clippers’ second unit since arriving from Detroit, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who notes that Jackson’s ball-handling ability has freed up Lou Williams to play off the ball more frequently.
  • In case you missed it, we identified Jackson as one of 2020’s best buyout-market signings in a Community Shootaround discussion earlier today.

L.A. Notes: Morris, Jackson, George, Beverley, Bryant

After failing to land Marcus Morris, the Lakers are set to add his twin brother Markieff Morris after the forward negotiated a buyout with the Pistons on Friday. While Markieff is not the offensive contributor that his brother is, he can still pack some punch for the Lakers, Sporting News’ Jacob Hancock writes.

Marcus is in the midst of his best season, averaging 19.0 PPG and 5.4 RPG while shooting 43.2% from beyond the arc. Markieff has posted more a modest 11.0 PPG whilst shooting a career-best 39.7% from three. Markieff gives the Lakers another big body to see time in the frontcourt along with Anthony DavisJaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. Additionally, Markieff’s presence will allow Kyle Kuzma — who has seen time at power forward — to play his more natural position at small forward.

The move figures to become official once Markieff clears waivers on Sunday.

Check more notes surrounding the L.A. teams:

  • To reach a buyout agreement with Detroit, Markieff gave up $4.3MM, the remainder of this season’s salary plus his player option for 2020/21, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
  • Despite practicing for two straight days, Paul George (hamstring) and Patrick Beverley (groin) have been ruled out of the Clippers‘ Saturday tilt against the Kings, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk writes. George’s hamstring has been a cause for concern this season while Beverley sat out the Skills Challenge to heal the groin. Head coach Doc Rivers has stressed the need for the Clippers to be healthy and establish chemistry heading into the playoffs.
  • In addition to acquiring Marcus Morris, the Clippers were also busy in the buyout market adding veteran guard Reggie Jackson. While Jackson figures to help the Clippers’ second unit off the bench, the opportunity will also allow him to play alongside longtime friend Paul George, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes.
  • The Lakers vs. Clippers game scheduled for January 28 that was postponed following Kobe Bryant‘s shocking death has been rescheduled for April 9 at Staples Center, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

Paul George Suffers Strained Hamstring

Paul George‘s troublesome left hamstring continues to be an issue. The Clippers‘ star forward exited the team’s Thursday game vs. Boston in the second quarter after suffering a hamstring strain, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

As Youngmisuk details, it’s the third time this season that George has dealt with a similar injury. He sat out on January 4 due to left hamstring tightness, then missed nine more games in January after straining the hamstring a few days later.

“I’m a little concerned about that one because that’s the second time now, maybe third,” head coach Doc Rivers said of the injury. “Listen, I don’t know what to do, but I know rest you have to do and we’ll see.”

The injury at least came at the right time for George and the Clippers, who won’t resume play until February 22. That gives the 29-year-old over a week to rest and rehab. The Clippers have yet to provide an update on the severity of the injury or a possible recovery timeline, so it’s not clear if it’s as serious as the strain that forced George out of action for nine games last month.

Although the 37-18 Clippers hold the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, the team has dealt with injuries all season long. George has missed 21 games in total, while Kawhi Leonard has missed 13. Key rotation players Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet have also been sidelined for 15 and 17 games, respectively.

“We got to get healthy,” Rivers said, per Youngmisuk. “That’s going to be the key for us. And then we got to play multiple games in a row as a group so we can kind of get some continuity. But other than that, I love our spirit, I love how we are. We’re good.”

California Notes: Wiggins, PG-13, Kings, Lakers

New Warriors wing Andrew Wiggins, the centerpiece of a trade that sent D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota, is off to an excellent start with his new team, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, is a reclamation project in what amounts to a redshirt year for Golden State.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is grateful to have part of a season to develop Wiggins in the 12-43 Warriors’ motion offense before Golden State’s Big Three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is fully reinstated next fall.

“He’s a great weapon to have, and we’re still learning how to use him,” Kerr said of Wiggins. “We’re going to experiment with some things the last couple months of the season.” The 12-43 Warriors have ruled Thompson out for the entirety of the 2019/20 season.

There’s more out of California:

  • After Clippers star forward Paul George critiqued a disparity of foul calls favoring the home Sixers in a 110-103 Philadelphia victory as ”home-court cooking,” the NBA fined George $35,000 on Thursday, as NBA.com details.
  • Several factors will determine how the Kings close out the stretch run to what has been disappointing season, according to James Han of NBC Sports California. The development of core Kings players De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Harrison Barnes is a crucial element.
  • The 41-12 Lakers boast the best odds in the Western Conference (+180) to win the NBA title, per Caesars Sportsbook, writes David Purdum of ESPN. Los Angeles has a four-game lead on No. 2-seeded Denver (38-17) for the best record in the West.

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Pacers Notes: Oladipo, Lamb, McConnell, George

The Pacers‘ G League affiliate played an important role in preparing Victor Oladipo for his expected season debut, writes Scott Agness of The Athletic. Oladipo has made eight trips to Fort Wayne over the past two months to practice with the Mad Ants as he comes back from a ruptured right quad tendon. With the Pacers on a road trip, the G League team visited their practice facility this week to work with Oladipo.

“Anytime that an All-Star like Vic wants to play and practice with your guys, you’re going to let him,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “Our Mad Ant guys are going to be watching him, and they’re going to look at every move that he does. Vic has been talking to a lot of our guys and trying to help them and give them pointers, both offensively and defensively and off the court. It’s been great for our guys just as much as Vic needs it.”

Gansey has been in frequent contact with Pacers coach Nate McMillan, providing updates on Oladipo’s progress. The latest step has been getting him used to traps as he brings the ball up court.

“This was the best I’ve seen Vic since we’ve had him in practice,” Gansey said of the time in Indianapolis. “We had three straight days where you just saw a different athleticism out there that you can really tell that he’s coming back here pretty soon and really pushing himself.”

There’s more Pacers news to pass along:

  • Jeremy Lamb has been starting in Oladipo’s place, but McMillan won’t hesitate to pull him on a bad shooting night, observers J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Lamb, who has been mired in a shooting slump, sat out the entire fourth quarter of a comeback win in Denver this week. “I went scoreless. That hasn’t happened in a while,” Lamb said. “It still feels the same, score or not score. When you lose, you got to figure out how to just find ways to get better. Last game I had zero points but we won. It’s a lot easier to deal with that.”
  • T.J. McConnell has taken over the starting point guard duties while Malcolm Brogdon is sidelined with a concussion, Michael notes in a separate story. The former Sixer has been a valuable addition for Indiana after signing a two-year deal over the summer. Only the first season is guaranteed, but Michael states that the second one is considered a lock to be picked up.
  • In an interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and general manager Chad Buchanan talk about what they look for in a player, the challenges that face a small-market team and the difficulty of trading Paul George in 2017. “We really thought that there was going to be 29 teams throwing the kitchen sink at us,” Pritchard said. “But at the end of the day, the number of teams that were after Paul was very small. I think there were just two offers that were real offers.”

Clippers Still Working Through Chemistry Issues

Some players on the Clippers are not thrilled with the team’s preferential treatment to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, sources tell Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic. This sort of handling is common in the NBA nowadays. Stars play by different rules, however, that doesn’t mean things are always smooth behind the scenes.

Look across the Staples Center to LeBron James to see another example of stars getting different treatment. James frequently sets the Lakers’ practice and shootaround schedules, coordinating with coach Frank Vogel as they try to figure out what works best for the team. Yet, LBJ’s situation is generally accepted by teammates because of his leadership style; he has an ability to inspire and connect with his teammates in a way that facilitates it.

Leonard and George have different personalities. Leonard is a lead-by-example type and with George having the same approach, there’s a bit of uncertainty about whose voice should be the loudest.

“I think it boils down to Kawhi not talking, and so who is their true leader?” one source with knowledge of the Clippers’ dynamics said. “How do you get around that?”


After a loss to the Grizzlies earlier this month, Montrezl Harrell was particularly vocal about the team’s performance, telling the media that the Clippers were not a great team” while explaining that the club needed to “wake up and figure it out.” Harrell was asked about the vibe in the locker room and the center’s response was noteworthy.

“I don’t know, brother,” Harrell said at the time. “I don’t know. And that might be another problem right there.”

Doc Rivers addressed Harrell’s comments and Buha and Amick hear that tension had been rising in the locker room leading up to those remarks. The big man’s words also rubbed some teammates the wrong way as they felt Harrell’s post-game mood was, at times, reliant on his individual box score.

Harrell is in a contract year and could be in line for a major raise in free agency. However, sources tell The Athletic duo that the 25-year-old remains focused on the team’s goal of winning a championship over any sort of personal agenda.

“Everything he does is out of his passion for winning,” one source said. “He kind of walks to his own beat a little bit, but it’s not from a selfish perspective at all.”

Buha and Amick spoke to over a dozen sources and the entire piece is worth a read. Here are more highlights from the duo’s latest:

  • Multiple Clippers players don’t feel the team practices as hard or as seriously as it should be. Leonard’s load management plays a role in that.
  • The Clippers prefer to call the strategy with Leonard “injury management.” Los Angeles’ medical team still doesn’t consider Leonard a fully healthy player and maintains that Leonard should not play back-to-backs.
  • Leonard has become more vocal recently. He’s coordinated player-only film sessions that many around the team believe have been a key to the Clippers’ recent surge in the standings. “It wasn’t one of those crazy players-only meetings, but they started doing it two or three games ago,” Rivers said earlier this month. “They just felt like watching the game together instead of everybody watching their iPads, watching it alone, would be better.”
  • The team’s success over the next week or so (which includes games against the Heat and Lakers) could determine what Los Angeles does at the trade deadline. Many players and team employees feel the dynamics have improved and the team has begun to jell over the past few weeks.
  • Buha and Amick write that Leonard most frequently speaks with George, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Maurice Harkless. The pair notes that Leonard is not standoffish to others, but has grown the most comfortable with that group.
  • As a reminder, both Kawhi and PG can hit the free agent market in the summer of 2021, as each player’s deal contains a player option for the following season.

Clippers Notes: George, Kawhi, Trade Ideas

The inciting incident for the union of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George during the summer of 2019 was a congratulatory phone call from George to Leonard a few days after the Raptors‘ championship victory, writes Ramona Shelburne in a cover story for ESPN.

“It was congratulating him on winning,” George said. “That’s how it started … then it took on a life of its own.”

As Shelburne details, that one phone call turned into multiple phone calls, text messages, and even in-person meetings at Drake’s house in Los Angeles, where the rapper let Leonard stay while the San Diego native was in town for free agent meetings.

By July 1, Leonard and George had decided they wanted to team up, preferably with the Clippers, and kept in constant communication during that first week of free agency, even meeting at Drake’s house following Kawhi’s meeting with Toronto. Although the Thunder engaged in George trade talks with both the Clippers and Raptors, as reported in July, the Clips were “clearly the favored destination” for the star duo and were the team most willing to pay the high price to get a deal done, per Shelburne.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Shelburne’s story is worth checking out in full for a more in-depth explanation of why returning to his hometown of Los Angeles meant so much to George. “[People] think it was a basketball move,” George said. “And for a lot of reasons, it was a basketball move. But that’s not where it comes from. It was a lot deeper than me coming here for basketball reasons.”
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton examines the Clippers’ trade options, noting that the team will want to load up for a potential playoff matchup with the Lakers. Pelton views Marcus Morris as a more worthwhile trade target than Andre Iguodala if the Clips are willing to give up their 2020 first-round pick. He also briefly explores the idea of a Lou Williams trade, unlikely as it may be.
  • The Clippers are in almost exactly the same spot the Raptors were last season, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. As Woike points out, the Clippers’ 2019/20 first half (28-13, sixth in net rating) is nearly a statistical match for Toronto’s ’18/19 first half (29-12, sixth in net rating). Leonard has also missed almost exactly the same number of games (11 of 41, compared to 10 of 41 last season).
  • Those similarities to last year’s title team may be one reason why Leonard is preaching patience to his Clippers teammates, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. “We just can’t be in a rush,” Kawhi said when asked about the Clippers’ continuity, or lack thereof. “That’s what I’m [telling them]. Just be patient. It’s hard to win a championship. The pressure isn’t even on us now. Just enjoy the process and have fun.”

Injury Updates: Holiday, Zion, George, Towns

Reinforcements are on the way soon for the Pelicans, who have been without their most talented backcourt player (Jrue Holiday) for the last four games and their most talented frontcourt player (Zion Williamson) for the entire season.

According to Christian Clark of NOLA.com (Twitter link), Holiday isn’t expected to play on Monday night in Detroit, but Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry sounded optimistic that the veteran guard will be ready to go on Thursday against Utah.

Meanwhile, Williamson – who was playing 3-on-3 after shootaround this morning with Holiday and Pelicans staffers – is inching closer to making his NBA debut. According to veteran NBA writer Mitch Lawrence (Twitter link), there’s a chance that could happen as early as Thursday, depending on how practice goes this week for Zion.

As we wait for an update from New Orleans on the season’s most-anticipated debut, let’s round up a few more injury-related items…

  • Paul George, who has missed the Clippers‘ last two games due to a hamstring injury, is expected to be re-evaluated early this week, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. George aggravated the left hamstring issue in a practice last Wednesday.
  • Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns won’t be back to action on Monday night, but it sounds like that’s more a result of an illness than his knee injury, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. A return appears imminent for Towns, who hasn’t played since December 13.
  • After being sidelined for nearly a month with a broken finger, Celtics center Vincent Poirier is available to play on Monday night, tweets Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com.