Charles Barkley

And-Ones: MVP Race, Awards Announcements, Barton, Betting, Barkley

Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are the finalists for the Most Valuable Player award. ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Tim Bontemps take a closer look at the contenders and reveal the results of a straw poll. Jokic is the clear favorite to win the award for the third time, while Lowe gives Doncic the edge for second place due to his superior play-making.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Speaking of the MVP race, the league will announce the winner on Wednesday night, according to NBA Communications (Twitter link). The Rookie of the Year award will be announced on Monday and the Defensive Player of the Year will be revealed on Tuesday. Victor Wembanyama and Rudy Gobert, respectively, are the favorites for those two awards.
  • Former NBA forward Will Barton has joined Cangrejeros de Santurce, a Puerto Rican team, according to Sportando. Bardon also had short stints wih CSKA Moscow and Granada this season. Barton played a total of 56 games for Washington and Toronto last season.
  • In the aftermath of Jontay Porter getting banned from the NBA for gambling-related offenses related to prop bets, the NBA and its partner sportsbooks are discussing changes to combat similar occurrences in the future, David Purdum of ESPN reports. Among the changes that have been discussed is prohibiting betting on players with two-way contracts. There have also been discussions on not allowing bets on the “under” on a player prop, though there are concerns that restricting wagers could push bettors into the unregulated betting market.
  • Charles Barkley stated on the Dan Patrick Show (Twitter link) that if TNT loses its NBA broadcasting rights, he’ll become a free agent. He’s unsure about “Inside the NBA” moving to another network because host Ernie Johnson said he wouldn’t leave Turner Sports. The NBA is in serious negotiations with NBC, Amazon and ESPN/ABC to split up the broadcasting rights, which could leave TNT out of the picture.

And-Ones: NBA Rosters, Barkley, Vildoza, Wembanyama

The NBA’s opening night rosters feature a total of 120 international players, including a record-setting 22 from Canada and 10 from Australia, the league announced today in a press release. All 30 teams have at least one international player, while the Raptors – the NBA’s only international team – lead the way with eight international players.

Meanwhile, the opening night rosters also include a record-setting 234 players with some G League experience, according to the NBA (Twitter link). All 30 teams are carrying at least four players with G League experience, while the Nets‘ roster features a record 12 players who have spent time in the NBAGL — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Markieff Morris, and rookie Alondes Williams are the only Brooklyn players without G League experience.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The four members of TNT’s Inside the NBA studio show – Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal – have agreed to new multiyear contracts, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports announced this week. Barkley’s new deal covers 10 years and will be worth well above $100MM, reports Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, though Barkley said during an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show that there’s “probably zero chance” he’ll stay for the entire 10 years (story via Awful Announcing).
  • Argentinian guard Luca Vildoza, who spent parts of the last two seasons with the Knicks and Bucks, told Mozzart Sport (hat tip to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops) that he didn’t get the opportunity he had hoped for in the NBA, but that he still feels like he benefited from his time stateside. “I feel better physically and stronger,” Vildoza said as he prepares to resume playing in Europe. He appeared in seven games for Milwaukee during the 2022 postseason, but has yet to play in a regular season NBA contest.
  • Lakers star LeBron James isn’t the NBA’s highest-paid player in terms of salary this season, but he’ll earn the most money after accounting for endorsements, according to Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico. Baenhausen pegs James’ total 2022/23 earnings at $119.5MM, putting him ahead of Warriors guard Stephen Curry ($93.1MM) and Nets forward Kevin Durant ($91MM).
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report takes a look at which teams can realistically be expected to tank in 2022/23 for a shot to draft Victor Wembanyama next June.

And-Ones: P. Gasol, Draft, Barkley, 2K League

Veteran NBA big man Pau Gasol talked a couple times in February about the possibility of suiting up for the 2020 Olympics and potentially making an NBA comeback next season. However, with the Olympics being pushed back to 2021 and the NBA currently in a state of flux, Gasol’s comeback efforts are up in the air too.

Speaking to Spanish outlet El Pais, Gasol acknowledged that retirement is an option he continues to consider, given the current global basketball situation and his own recovery from a foot injury.

“With this recovery process and the injury that I have been dealing with for more than a year, it’s undoubtedly inevitable to think about retirement,” Gasol said, per Keith Smith of NBC Sports. “Also, taking into account that I will be 40 years old in a few months. So, it’s definitely on my mind.”

Gasol says he’s focusing on the Gasol Foundation and his other off-court projects for the time being, while he continues to recover. A decision on his next professional step will come at a later date, according to the 39-year-old Spaniard, who adds that right now “the priority is to overcome this pandemic.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NCAA intends to work with the NBA to adapt to any changes to the 2020 draft calendar, NCAA senior VP of basketball Dan Gavitt said on Monday (Twitter link via Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports). For now, with the draft still tentatively scheduled for June 25, NCAA early entrants have until the end of the day on April 26 to declare for the draft, and can withdraw at any time up until June 3 while maintaining their college eligibility.
  • Former NBA star and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley announced on Monday that he tested negative for COVID-19, as Marc Stein of The New York Times relays (via Twitter). Barkley was tested earlier in March after exhibiting some possible coronavirus symptoms.
  • Starting this Friday, the NBA 2K League will be hosting a completely online tournament called the Three For All Showdown, which will give fans, influencers, and top female 2K players an opportunity to challenge NBA 2K League teams. Arda Ocal of ESPN has the details on the tournament, which was created in response to the 2K League postponing its season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus Notes: Next Steps, Barkley, Testing

In addition to recommending that its players self-quarantine through at least March 16, the NBA has told its clubs that each team is “encouraged” to conduct an educational session by Monday for its players and staff to discuss the coronavirus situation, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

While those meetings could happen in person, it seems more likely they’ll take place remotely, given the NBA’s call to self-isolate. According to Charania, several teams already conducted meetings along those lines before the season was suspended on Wednesday.

Here are more updates on the ongoing coronavirus situation:

  • While the NBA may have its own plans in mind for how and when to resume the season, those plans will be impacted by edicts from local governments. For instance, Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago tweets that the owners of all of Chicago’s major sports teams – including the Bulls – told Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker they won’t host any home games with fans in attendance through at least May 1. New York mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, suggested on Thursday that venues like Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden could be closed for “months,” as Malika Andrew of ESPN tweets.
  • NBA analyst Charles Barkley said on TNT on Thursday night that he hasn’t been feeling well and has self-quarantined, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Barkley was tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting those results, Feigen adds.
  • Teams around the NBA want to be able to test their players for the coronavirus, but a limited supply of testing equipment nationwide restricts their ability to do so unless players or staffers are showing symptoms or have definitely come in contact with someone who was affected, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.
  • The McDonald’s All American Games – a showcase for high school players – announced on Thursday evening (via Twitter) that its 2020 events have been canceled.

Stein’s Latest: Antetokounmpo, Vucevic, Lakers

Plenty of teams are hoping for the chance to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Warriors, in particular, have thought about pairing him and Stephen Curry should Kevin Durant leave in free agency, Marc Stein of the New York Times writes in his latest newsletter.

Antetokounmpo would have his pick of suitors on an open market, but as Stein notes, the Greek Freak may never make it to free agency. Antetokounmpo loves Milwaukee and the Bucks have to feel they have a chance at getting him to sign a super-max extension with the team during the summer of 2020—a year prior to him hitting the open market.

Yet, the Warriors will always swing big if given just the tiniest of chances. Antetokounmpo and Curry have selected one another first overall in back-to-back All-Star drafts and the two share a mutual admiration for each other, Stein notes.

Stein, who was honored over the weekend by the Basketball Hall of Fame as a Curt Gowdy Media award recipient, has more in his latest newsletter. Here are some highlights:

  • The Mavericks‘ interest in Nikola Vucevic may be overstated, Stein hears, adding that he doesn’t get the sense that Dallas will pursue the big man. The Mavs were rumored to have interest in Vucevic as a free agent target this summer.
  • The Lakers have the ninth-hardest remaining schedule and a playoff birth is no guarantee. “It’s going to be tough, but we shouldn’t want it any other way,”  LeBron James said. “I look forward to the challenge — and I’m getting healthy, too.”
  • Charles Barkley wonders if the advent of super teams will prompt small market owners to try to take back control in future CBA talks. “I hear all these clowns on TV talking about, ‘It’s great that all these players are exuding these powers,’” Barkley told a small group of reporters prior to All-Star weekend. “Let me tell you guys something: Workers ain’t never going to have power over their ownership. Ever. Now it might work for a couple guys here or there, but in the history of the world, no workers have ever overtaken the people who own a business. And when these guys are sitting at home locked out in a couple years, I want y’all to remember I told y’all that.”

And-Ones: Barkley, J. Smith, D. Johnson, L. Brown

TNT analyst Charles Barkley has been outspoken about his desire to run an NBA team and he said in a recent interview that he thought the Magic were going to give him a chance last year, relays Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. Barkley told radio station 98.7 FM Arizona that he was hoping for an interview in Orlando before the organization decided on Jeff Weltman as president of basketball operations and John Hammond as GM.

“They hired another one of those analytical idiots instead of just getting the best players,” Barkley said.

Barkley expressed interest in taking over the Sixers‘ front office in 2012 and the Suns‘ in both 2010 and 2013. Barkley didn’t indicate whether he wants to be a candidate to replace Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough, who was fired earlier this week.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • At age 32, Josh Smith hasn’t give up hope of an NBA comeback, tweets Ben Stinar of AmicoHoops. Smith played three games for the Pelicans last year, but otherwise hasn’t been in the league since the end of the 2015/16 season. However, a source tells Stinar that Smith is working out and waiting for an opportunity.
  • Most teams made their final roster cuts before yesterday’s waiver deadline at 5pm Eastern, but a few still have decisions to make, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Players with non-guaranteed salaries have begun to receive daily payments that will count against their teams’ salary caps. The Suns, for instance, will owe Isaiah Canaan $19,858 if they wait until Monday to waive him.
  • The NBA has changed the way it will count days of service for two-way players, tweets ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Travel days to and from the G League will no longer count against the 45-day limit.
  • Former Thunder center Dakari Johnson has opted to remain with Qingdao in China, contrary to a report earlier this week that he planned to leave, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The team’s GM confirmed Johnson’s decision.
  • Former NBA and NCAA coach Larry Brown recently traveled to the United States for minor surgery, Carchia tweets. Brown currently coaches Fiat Torino and will be re-evaluated by doctors next week to determine when he can return to Italy.

Odds & Ends: Roster Spots, Hunt, Mavericks

ESPN.com's Marc Stein (via Twitter) points out that the Lakers, Bulls, and 76ers are the three teams that still need to sign players in order to reach the league minimum of 13 players by opening night, although it's worth noting that L.A. is still yet to sign second round pick Ryan Kelly and Philadelphia is in the same boat with Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams. Also, as we pointed out a few days ago, Dexter Pittman accepted a training camp invite with Chicago and could fill that 13th roster spot if they end up offering him a guaranteed contract.

Here are more of tonight's news and notes from around the league:

  • Jeff Haubner of ESPN.com offers a two part preview of the upcoming FIBA Americas tournament.
  • Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel notes that the Bucks/Suns deal keeps Milwaukee about $1.9MM under the salary cap and saves Phoenix around $5.6MM in cap space. Gardner also has more comments from Caron Butler regarding his happiness with the trade. 
  • Former 76ers star Charles Barkley isn't happy with the way his former team handled their assistant coaching situation, saying that those who were released upon the Brett Brown hiring had worked for the team the entire summer and therefore didn't have the opportunity to look for another job (Michael Kaskey-Blomain of The Philadelphia Inquirer).  
  • Keith Schlosser of RidiculousUpside.com takes a look at Kyle Hunt, who while eligible for the D-League draft in the fall is also looking to earn an NBA training camp invite.
  • Tim Cowlishaw of SportsDayDFW suggests Mavericks fans should be happy with 45 wins and a 7th seed in the Western Conference next season. 
  • Ben Couch of BrooklynNets.com provides a brief breakdown of the Nets' depth at the center position, profiling Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche, and Mason Plumlee
  • Former Knick and now a member of the Canadian men's national basketball team, Andy Rautins tells Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun about how prepared he and his teammates feel heading into the FIBA Americas tournament.
  • NBA.com posted an article from Atlanta-based freelance writer Jon Cooper about Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer. Though he stressed the importance of forming good relationships with each player up to the 15th man, Budenholzer specifically mentioned Al Horford and Jeff Teague as two players that he's very much looking forward to working with.
  • Suns.com passes along an article from the archives which delves into the mind of the late former Suns coach Cotton Fitzsimmons

Pacific Notes: Suns, Hill, Meeks, Clippers

Coming into the 2012/13 season, the Lakers and Clippers were receiving most of the attention out west, but with four Western Conference teams still alive, the only Pacific team still standing is Golden State. Stephen Curry and the Warriors played in perhaps the best game of the 2013 postseason last night in San Antonio, but ultimately couldn't hold off the Spurs, who escaped with a 129-127 victory. As we hold out hope that the rest of the series lives up to the standard set by Game One, let's check out some other notes from around the Pacific….

  • ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports (via Twitter) that "rumblings persist" about the Suns holding off on their decision on a new general manager because they're hoping to land Grant Hill for the job. Stein adds in a second tweet that if Hill can't be persuaded to return to Phoenix, the Suns figure to decide between Celtics assistant GM Ryan McDonough and Bucks assistant GM Jeff Weltman. Charles Barkley didn't receive an interview for the position, says Stein (via Twitter).
  • Even if the Lakers could save a bit of money by declining Jodie Meeks' 2013/14 option and replacing him with a minimum-salary player, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Sulia link) expects the team to bring back Meeks, who could be L.A.'s starting shooting guard on opening night.
  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times examines the futures of Chris Paul and Vinny Del Negro in L.A., noting that the Clippers and Del Negro discussed an extension a couple times early in the season, but ultimately elected to wait until season's end.

Weltman, Morway Among Suns’ GM Candidates

Having parted ways with general manager Lance Blanks this week, the Suns are the first NBA team this offseason seeking a new GM. And according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, team president Lon Babby and the Suns have already lined up a number of potential candidates for the job.

Coro reports that Bucks assistant GM Jeff Weltman, former Pacers GM David Morway and former Lakers assistant GM Ronnie Lester are viewed as viable contenders for the Phoenix opening. Assistant GMs Ryan McDonough (Celtics), Wes Wilcox (Hawks) and Troy Weaver (Thunder) are potential candidates as well.

Weltman and Morway have a bit of history either with the Suns or the Phoenix area, as Weltman was a finalist when the team hired Blanks as GM in 2010. Morway, meanwhile, graduated from the University of Arizona.

According to Babby, the team is unlikely to make a promotion from within the organization, but previous GM experience isn't necessarily a qualification for the job. Still, Babby noted that he can't imagine "a first-rate talent evaluator would not have front-office experience." As Coro points out, if front-office experience is a requirement, that would eliminate a couple popular speculative candidates, in former Suns players Grant Hill and Charles Barkley.

According to Coro, members of the Suns organization have hoped to see Hill eventually return to the team in a management role. As for Barkley, he has suggested before that he could have interest in a GM role with the Suns, and reiterated today on XTRA Sports 910 in Phoenix that he hoped to receive a chance to run an NBA team at some point (Twitter link via Eric Sorenson). However, as Coro writes, the Suns' GM position would likely mean a pay cut and a workload increase for Barkley.

"I think the job requires rowing the boat every single day and it’s an all-consuming job and my impression is that he has a pretty full and good life," Babby said of Barkley. "Taking on a challenge like this might be something he really doesn’t want if he knew what it entails."

Western Notes: Rockets, Blazers, Payton, Suns

While there's been plenty of talk about the cap space the Rockets are expected to have this summer, coach Kevin McHale is just hoping to see that space turned into an impact player, as he jokes to Sam Amick of USA Today.

"I've never seen Cap Room score a basket yet though," McHale said. "I've seen old Cap, and his last name is Room, I've yet to see him put a hoop in, haven't seen him block a shot, haven't seen him get a rebound yet. But when Cap Room starts putting up numbers, we should be in great shape."

Here are a few more notes out of the Western Conference as we prepare for All-Star weekend: