Stephen Curry

Warriors Notes: Curry, Thompson, M. Gasol, Smailagić

Warriors guard Stephen Curry was devastated after learning that his backcourt partner, Klay Thompson, will miss another full season after suffering a torn Achilles last week, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Golden State had hoped to return to title contention after an injury-plagued year, but the loss of Thompson is a major setback.

“To get that call was a gut punch for sure. A lot of tears,” Curry said. “You don’t really know what to say because a guy like that is having to go through two pretty serious rehabs now. But at the end of the day, we have to have his back. We hope that he is around and a part of what we do through his rehab and staying connected with us. He can come back strong. He’s a guy that loves the game so much. He is going to do whatever it takes to get back out there on the floor and be himself. That’s what we hope and the confidence that we have. Two-and-a-half years of rehab is tough for anybody. We’re hoping for the best.”

Curry was limited to just five games last season after breaking his left hand in October. He will return to a roster that’s much different than the one that dominated the league for five years, with additions such as Kelly Oubre, who was acquired in a trade, and James Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in last week’s draft.

“Not seeing (Thompson) on the court, at first, is going to be weird,” Curry said. “But I think we’ve done a really good job in the offseason with James and our draft picks and in the free agency pool to put together a really solid roster. We’re going to have to learn a lot really quickly, and we will need a full commitment from everybody.”

There’s more Warriors news this morning:

  • Thompson’s injury may have cost Golden State a chance to sign free agent center Marc Gasol, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. At age 35, Gasol was looking to join a contender and ended up with the defending champion Lakers. The Warriors are still in the market for veteran help and expect to receive a $9.3MM disabled player exception in the wake of Thompson’s injury.
  • Management doesn’t believe Alen Smailagić is ready for regular playing time, but he’s likely to be kept on the roster with a $1.5MM guaranteed contract, Slater adds in the same piece. However, Smailagić could be waived later in the season if there’s an opportunity to sign someone. Second-round pick Nico Mannion is expected to be a two-way player and will see a lot of time in the G League, if there is a G League season.
  • Oubre, who will be a free agent next summer, is hoping for a long-term stay with Golden State, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN.
  • In case you missed it, the team’s deal with free agent guard Brad Wanamaker is now official. It was completed using a portion of Golden State’s taxpayer mid-level exception.

Free Agency Rumors: Markieff Morris, Craig, Bazemore, Sixers

A Morris brothers reunion might be in play for the Clippers, Jason Dumas of KRON4 News tweets. Dumas notes that there may be mutual interest in adding free agent forward Markieff Morris – most recently of the Lakers – to a Clippers frontcourt that includes newly re-signed forward Marcus Morris, Markieff’s twin brother. Marcus has agreed to a four-year, $64MM deal to remain with the Clippers.

Markieff’s minutes may be relatively minimal, as he would presumably be the fourth big man in the Clippers’ frontcourt rotation, behind starting power forward Marcus, starting center Ivica Zubac, and just-added veteran power forward/center Serge Ibaka, who will be signed using the club’s full MLE after the departure of Montrezl Harrell to the Lakers. Big man Patrick Patterson was also retained by the Clippers this offseason.

Marcus was a key role-playing piece in the Lakers’ championship run after joining the team off waivers this spring. In 18.4 MPG, Markieff averaged 5.9 PPG and 3.0 RPG, while shooting a stellar 42% on 3.3 three-point attempts per game and 77.8% from the charity stripe across 21 games en route to the Lakers’ 17th NBA title.

Meanwhile, if Marc Gasol ultimately leaves the Raptors for the Lakers, Toronto has strong interest in replacing him with Markieff Morris, and may be able to offer him more than the Clippers can afford.

Here are more free agency rumors:

  • Darren Wolfson of KSTP 5 Eyewitness News tweets that the Timberwolves also considered adding free agent guard Torrey Craig to their offseason roster. Craig ultimately agreed to a contract with the Bucks this offseason, the terms of which have yet to be released.
  • Though Kent Bazemore wound up returning to the Warriors and his close friend Stephen Curry on a veteran’s minimum contract, the Clippers apparently considered using their $3.6MM bi-annual exception to sign the veteran swingman, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
  • Though Sixers GM Daryl Morey has already made significant changes to Philadelphia, the club still needs a great perimeter scorer, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes. “Obviously, our job is to always look for opportunities,” Morey commented this weekend. “But we feel very good about where we are right now.” Pompey notes that in Ben Simmons, the Sixers have the kind of All-Star blue chip piece that could fit well into a deal for Rockets superstar perimeter scorer James Harden.

Knicks’ Robinson Among Players Not Participating In Bubble Mini-Camps

The NBA’s bottom eight teams are finally participating in group workouts this week as part of the second phase of the league’s in-market bubble plan to get those clubs some organized offseason activities to tide them over to the 2020/21 season. However, those activities are voluntary and not every player on the bottom eight rosters is in attendance.

One of the more notable absences is in New York, where Knicks center Mitchell Robinson isn’t taking part in the team’s mini-camp, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. As Begley details, Robinson participated in individual workouts last week but will be absent from the group portion of the camp for personal reasons. The big man doesn’t have COVID-19, sources tell Begley.

Robinson’s absence from the mini-camp is unfortunate for the Knicks because he’s under contract for multiple seasons and these sessions are mostly aimed at getting teams’ young, core players some extra reps in practices and scrimmages. Participation from established veteran players is less crucial, so it’s no surprise that Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have been excused from Golden State’s in-market bubble camp for family reasons, as Nick Friedell of ESPN writes.

“A lot of guys are going to get a lot better and really thrive in this environment,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “I’m not worried about Steph and Draymond; I know how hard they work and I know they’ll be prepared for next season.”

Impending free agency is another logical reason why certain players would opt to forgo these offseason team activities. In Atlanta, for example, Jeff Teague, DeAndre’ Bembry, Treveon Graham, and Damian Jones – all of whom are on expired contracts – aren’t with the Hawks in their bubble, according to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Dewayne Dedmon also isn’t participating in the team’s group activities, Spencer adds.

We’ve previously passed along details on players from the other five teams who aren’t taking part in these in-market camps. That list includes Kris Dunn for the Bulls; Juan Hernangomez, Evan Turner, and Omari Spellman for the Timberwolves; Bismack Biyombo and Nicolas Batum for the Hornets; Andre Drummond, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, and Cedi Osman for the Cavaliers; and Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Christian Wood, and Langston Galloway for the Pistons.

Pacific Notes: Harrell, Bazemore, Thompson, Booker

Clippers coach Doc Rivers is hopeful big man Montrezl Harrell can play in the team’s final seeding game on Friday, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. Rivers would like to play one game with his usual rotation prior to the playoffs, Buha adds. One of the league’s top reserves, Harrell left the Orlando campus due to the passing of his grandmother. He’ll have to rebuild rhythm with teammates and regain his conditioning, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times notes.

We have more on the Pacific Division:

  • Kings swingman Kent Bazemore appears unlikely to play against the Lakers on Thursday, Sean Cunningham of KXTV tweets. Bazemore, who hasn’t played since last Thursday, is dealing with a calf injury. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
  • Warriors guard Klay Thompson has been working out mainly in Orange County, Calif., including a workout with backcourt partner Stephen Curry, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Thompson was cleared to train without restrictions in June after suffering a torn ACL during last season’s Finals.
  • The Suns have been the breakout team in Orlando and Devin Booker is confident that will carry over to next season, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. “I don’t think there’s going to be any sad faces around here, whether we leave here in the playoffs or not,” Booker said. “We’ve put the work in and we’ve grown as a team. We’ve took tremendous strides that I think will build for us for continuing years to come.”

Pacific Notes: Kawhi, J. Green, Lakers, Suns, Warriors

Star forward Kawhi Leonard didn’t travel to Walt Disney World this week with the rest of the Clippers this week, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. According to Haynes, Leonard was given permission by the club to tend to a family matter. Haynes wrote on Wednesday that the reigning Finals MVP was expected to arrive in Orlando within “a few days.”

Leonard isn’t the only Clippers player who will be late in arriving to the NBA’s campus. Sources tell Andrew Greif and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) that forward JaMychal Green is tending to a family matter of his own and isn’t in Orlando yet. Green is expected to arrive on Sunday, per The L.A. Times.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic digs into the question of whether J.R. Smith or Dion Waiters will help the Lakers more this summer in Orlando.
  • Not all of the Suns players are at the NBA’s campus yet, but Monty Williams declined on Thursday to identify the players arriving at a later date, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix’s head coach did say it was good to get back on a practice court. “It’s not weird when we get into the gym,” Williams said of the unusual circumstances. “It’s just when we leave the gym and you have to put your mask on and the coaches have had their mask on the whole practice. So you can imagine the huffing and puffing that goes on with us older coaches.”
  • Appearing this week on David Aldridge’s “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast at The Athletic, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr discussed a bevy of topics. Among them: His desire to conduct offseason team activities and the Warriors’ plan for Stephen Curry to make sure they’re “not wearing him out” going forward.

Latest On Klay Thompson’s ACL Recovery

The Warriors won’t play their next regular season game until December, but injured sharpshooter Klay Thompson continues to make major strides in his rehab from his ACL tear. According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, Thompson recently received clearance to train without restrictions on his knee, and has been ramping up his workouts since then.

As Slater explains, Thompson has been running, jumping, dunking, and “doing just about everything you can do in an individual workout.” He has also been going through some 3-on-0 and 5-on-0 simulation drills at full speed.

However, given the current restrictions in place due to COVID-19, he won’t get a chance to participate in group workouts and scrimmages with teammates anytime soon, which will be a necessary step to make sure he’s game-ready.

According to Slater, the Warriors expect the NBA to allow the eight teams not involved in the Orlando restart to hold some form of offseason mini-camps in the coming months. If and when that happens, Thompson figures to fully participate — as will his veteran teammates who dealt with injuries of their own during the 2019/20 season.

“Oh yeah,” head coach Steve Kerr recently said when asked if Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green would be required to take part in an offseason mini-camp. “100 percent. I would not consider this voluntary workouts. Obviously, these are really unique circumstances. But given that we would be staring at a nine-month break, to be perfectly honest, I’d be shocked if any one of those three guys said to me, ‘No, I don’t want the work.’ They all know they need the work. We need the work. So they’ll be there.”

Thompson has been sidelined since tearing his ACL in the final game of the 2019 NBA Finals, last June 13. He had long been ruled out for the 2019/20 season, with the expectation that he’d target training camp – or perhaps the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – for his return. With the Olympics and the start of next season both postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Thompson has a longer runway to get back to 100% before his next game.

LeBron, Curry Among Players Who Will Owe Money From 2020/21 Salaries

Starting this Friday, 25% of NBA players’ pay checks will be withheld for the foreseeable future. The NBA and NBPA reached that agreement last month in order to ensure that players are bearing some of the brunt of the league’s lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic — and so that players won’t be required to surrender a significant lump sum in a few months if games are officially canceled and the CBA’s “force majeure” clause is triggered.

However, some players will still have to return money to the league down the road rather than seeing a portion of their pay checks withheld now. While most NBA players are paid in 24 bi-monthly installments, beginning in November, some players negotiated deals that see them receive just 12 pay checks, with the last one issued on May 1. As a result, those players have already received their full salaries for the 2019/20 season and withholding part of their checks starting on May 15 isn’t an option.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, John Wall, Blake Griffin, and Paul George – all of whom are making $33MM or more this season – are among the players who have already received their ’19/20 salaries in full.

Because those players – and several others – won’t resume receiving pay checks from their respective teams until the fall, they’ll essentially owe the NBA an IOU for each pay date this spring and summer (until the 25% agreement ends), Marks explains.

By the fall, the league should better understand to what extent players’ 2019/20 salaries have to be reduced, and players like James and Curry will have money taken out of their advances for 2020/21 (on October 1) and/or their ’20/21 pay checks (beginning on November 15).

As Marks notes, the amount of money that players ultimately have to give up for the 2019/20 season will depend on how many games can be played this summer if and when the season resumes.

Players could lose approximately 23-26% of their full-season salaries if games don’t resume, according to Marks. On the other hand, in the unlikely event that the NBA is able to play its remaining regular season games and playoff games in full, teams would be responsible for returning players’ full salaries to them.

Adjusting player salaries based on the amount of games that can eventually be played should help the league avoid a scenario in which the salary cap fluctuates significantly over the next couple years based on this year’s lost revenue, since the NBA and its players share roughly a 50-50 split of the league’s revenue.

LeBron, Giannis, Curry, Other Stars United In Desire To Resume Season

NBPA president Chris Paul arranged a private conference call with a number of the league’s superstars on Monday to discuss the coronavirus ramifications and the potential resumption of the 2019/20 season, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

By the end of the conversation, per Haynes, those players were united in their desire to resume the season once the NBA ensures the necessary safety measures are in place and gets the green light. According to Haynes, LeBron James, Giannis AntetokounmpoStephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, and Russell Westbrook were among the players on the call.

As Haynes explains, the group’s decision is expected to carry significant weight at a time when not all of the NBA’s players are necessarily on board with the idea of completing the 2019/20 season this summer.

Sources tell Yahoo Sports that many players on teams who are all but eliminated from playoff contention would prefer to just have the top eight clubs in each conference finish the season. The fact that stars outside the playoff picture, such as Curry and Lillard, are in favor of resuming play is significant.

According to Haynes, there was also some concern among players after Friday’s call that the NBA wouldn’t be able to guarantee player safety, with a coronavirus vaccine not expected to be available until 2021 at the earliest. Commissioner Adam Silver assured players that the league will do all it can to create the safest possible conditions, and it sounds like the stars on Monday’s call are satisfied with that promise.

Haynes notes that there are some players out of the playoff picture who are worried about a canceled season negatively impacting the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. That’s an issue we’ve touched upon in recent days, with Adrian Wojnarowski, Bob Myers, and Mark Cuban among those who have suggested that lottery teams will have to prioritize the “greater good” of the league, since the NBA and its players would benefit financially over the long term from playing as many games as it safely can this year and next.

As we relayed earlier this afternoon, the NBPA has reportedly begun reaching out to individual players to get their feedback on whether or not they want the season to resume.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Paul, Draft, Oubre, Kaminsky

The Warriors‘ dynasty almost didn’t happen. Golden State was looking for an All-Star back in 2011 and the franchise offered Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to New Orleans in exchange for Chris Paul, Ethan Strauss writes in The Victory Machine (h/t Dan Feldman of NBC Sports).

Paul, whose contract expired at the end of that season, reportedly told the Warriors that he would not re-sign with them, which nixed the negotiations. Paul was later dealt to the Lakers in a trade that was vetoed. He ultimately ended up on the Clippers via another trade.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • If the NBA doesn’t resume, the Warriors are guaranteed a top-five pick and Anthony Slater of The Athletic examines the team’s options with that selection. As Slater details, trading it away for a proven vet is worth exploring, especially if there are no surefire prospects in the draft, as some believe.
  • Trading down is an option for the Warriors in the draft and Slater (in the same piece) proposes a fun hypothetical deal that sends Kelly Oubre and the Suns‘ pick (projected to be No. 10) to the Warriors for their top-five pick. Oubre would fit in nicely with the team’s core and his salary would fit into the team’s $17.2MM trade exception.
  • Suns GM James Jones said that Oubre, who underwent meniscus surgery back in February, and Frank Kaminsky, who was dealing with a patella stress fracture, have both medically healed, Gina Mizell of The Athletic tweets. Both have “kind of pressed the pause button” though, as they can’t participate in traditional sports rehab.

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.”