Stephen Curry

Nikola Jokic Wins Most Valuable Player Award

6:45pm: Jokic was the runaway winner, per an official press release from the NBA.

[RELATED: MVP Makes Jokic Eligible For Super-Max In 2022]

Jokic received 91 of 100 first-place votes and racked up 971 points. Embiid finished second despite receiving just one first-place vote; he had 586 points, aided by 62 second-place votes; Curry finished third with five first-place votes and 453 points.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Paul rounded out the top five finishers, while 10 other players received at least one vote. The only real surprise among that group was Derrick Rose, who, oddly, received a first-place vote.

4:39pm: Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has won the league’s Most Valuable Player award, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Jokic averaged a career-high 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game this season. In an era in which players are regularly given nights off for rest, Jokic showed his toughness and durability by appearing in all 72 regular-season games.

As the 41st selection in the 2014 draft, Jokic is by far the lowest draft pick to ever earn the honor. He’s also the first Nuggets player to win the award.

Sixers center Joel Embiid and Warriors guard Stephen Curry were the other finalists for the award.

Embiid averaged 28.5 PPG and 1o.6 RPG but only appeared in 51 regular-season games, mainly due to a knee injury. Curry led the NBA in scoring at 32.0 PPG along with 5.8 APG while playing 63 games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sport Images.

Daryl Morey, Sixers Fined For Tampering Violation

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey received a $75K fine on Monday evening for violating the NBA’s anti-tampering rules, the league announced in a press release. The 76ers were also hit with a separate $75K fine for the violation.

The NBA explained in its statement that the penalty was a response to a social media post Morey made on June 3 regarding Warriors star Stephen Curry.

Morey, on Twitter, shared a screenshot of an Instagram post in which Curry praised his brother, Sixers sharpshooter Seth Curry, following Seth’s 30-point outburst in Game 5 of the 76ers’ first-round series vs. Washington. Morey added the caption, “Join ’em,” which was widely interpreted as a call for this season’s scoring champ to join his younger brother in Philadelphia.

Morey later responded to his tweet with the following clarification: “My goodness folks I am talking about the fact that we are all thrilled @sdotcurry is here with the @sixers — nothing else.” However, that wasn’t enough to dissuade the NBA from fining both the Sixers and their head of basketball operations.

This is the second time this season that Morey has been fined for a violation of the NBA’s anti-tampering rules. He was also hit with a $50K penalty in December for a tweet about James Harden.

Warriors Notes: Oubre, Thompson, Wiseman, Curry

Kelly Oubre‘s willingness to accept a reserve role may determine his decision in free agency this summer, writes Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area. In his end-of-season press conference this week, Warriors coach Steve Kerr indicated that Oubre would be used as a sixth man if he returns to the team next season.

“(Klay Thompson)’s going to start when he gets back. So would Kelly be interested in coming off the bench? That’s a question only he can answer,” Kerr said. “So he’ll weigh his options, we’ll weigh ours and we’ll see where it all goes.”

Golden State traded for Oubre in November to help fill the vacancy left when Thompson tore his Achilles. Oubre had an up-and-down season, but he averaged 15.4 points and 6.0 rebounds and would be a dangerous weapon off the bench if the Warriors can keep him.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Kerr expects Thompson’s return to be a memorable moment for both him and the fans, relays Jon Becker of The San Jose Mercury News. In a radio interview this week, Kerr said having Thompson back after missing two years with injuries will be a boost to the entire organization. “Everyone loves Klay. He’s such a breath of fresh air. He’s so much fun to be around,” Kerr said. “And then the fact that when we walk into camp for the first time, it’s all together with Klay being on the court with the rest of the guys in training camp. That means everybody’s spirits will be higher, including mine.”
  • James Wiseman‘s meniscus surgery last month forced the team to delay a plan to have him work out with Kevin Garnett over the summer, according to Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area. The Warriors don’t expect to issue an official update on Wiseman’s condition until September, and they hope he will be ready for the start of training camp. “KG is pretty unique — on the court and what he brings and the mentality,” president of basketball operations Bob Myers said. “Exposing James to a guy like that (would be great). We (also) talked to David West and we were gonna get something going with him. So we have these people in mind that we think can really be helpful.”
  • Stephen Curry, who will be eligible for a four-year, $215.4MM extension starting in August, deserves to be a Warrior for life, Poole contends in a separate story.

Warriors Rumors: Curry, Klay, Wiseman, Oubre, More

Warriors star Stephen Curry will be entering a contract year in 2021/22, but he’ll be eligible to sign an extension once the new league year begins in August. And Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers told reporters today that he’s “pretty confident” the two sides will get something done, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.

Curry is earning a $45.78MM salary next season. Because that amount is technically over the maximum salary, he could only get a 5% raise for the first year of an extension, rather than the usual 20% that veterans are eligible for. Still, that would put him in line for a maximum extension worth a staggering $215MM over four years on a deal that would cover his age 34-37 seasons. It remains to be seen if the Warriors will go quite that high, but after the season Curry just had, the team isn’t likely to low-ball him.

Myers also told reporters today that Curry’s impressive run down the stretch of the 2020/21 season occurred despite a hairline fracture in his tailbone.

Small hairline, but as I’ve been told the pain was coming more from a contusion,” Myers said (Twitter link via Slater).

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • According to Slater (Twitter link), Myers sounded skeptical today that Klay Thompson will be ready to go by opening night in 2021/22. Thompson’s Achilles tear occurred last November, so he won’t be a full year removed from the injury by the time the season starts, says Slater, noting that the idea is to ease the veteran swingman back into action.
  • Myers said the hope is for James Wiseman to be recovered from his knee surgery in time for training camp, adding that he expects the big man to be on the team next season and doesn’t want to trade him. I think he can be helpful in the future and in the present,” Myers said of 2020’s No. 2 overall pick (Twitter links via Slater).
  • Myers said today that he believes the Warriors’ roster is in need of more veterans (Twitter link via Slater). When asked about specific team needs, Myers mentioned a floor-spacing big man, a play-making guard, and more shooting, noting that he’d like any free agent additions to have some playoff experience (Twitter links via Wes Goldberg of The San Jose Mercury News and Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area).
  • Addressing Kelly Oubre‘s free agency, Myers said he hopes the veteran forward is back and said Oubre has made it clear “he’d like to be here.” However, Myers cautioned that he can’t predict what the market will look like and added that Oubre would have to be comfortable with a bench role (Twitter links via Slater and ESPN’s Nick Friedell).

And-Ones: G League, Olympics, NBA Africa, COVID-19

As the league mulls the possibility of a midseason tournament at the NBA level, G League officials are making progress toward finalizing an in-season tournament of their own for the 2021/22 season, sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

According to Fischer, the plan is for the G League’s tournament to be an enhanced version of the event that took place at the league’s annual showcase in 2019. Teams would play a series of 12 or 14 round-robin games leading up to the showcase, then the top four teams would compete in a prize-money tournament at the showcase, while the rest of the NBAGL’s clubs participate in the annual event as usual.

The G League is still working to finalize the format and the reward of its potential fall/winter tournament, which would be labeled as some type of “Cup,” sources tell Fischer.

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

  • Team USA officials aren’t counting on any players who participate in the NBA Finals – or even the conference finals – to be available for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. That means getting commitments from certain players whose teams didn’t make the postseason will be a priority for the program, according to Vardon, who points to Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Pelicans forward Zion Williamson as two top targets for USA Basketball.
  • The NBA has announced the formation of NBA Africa, a new business investment entity that will oversee the league’s business endeavors in Africa, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Former NBA stars such as Dikembe Mutombo and Grant Hill are among the investors, as the league tries to expand its presence in key African markets.
  • While the worst of COVID-19’s impact on the NBA may be in the rear view, the league isn’t taking anything for granted during its non-bubble postseason, writes Marc Stein of The New York Times. “We’re optimistic that what we’ve been doing will work, but we certainly can’t relax because it’s the playoffs,” said David Weiss, the NBA’s senior VP of player matters. “We have to emphasize that it’s important to keep following the protocols and getting vaccinated.”

Western Notes: Booker, Paul, Curry, Muscala

Suns star Devin Booker is ready to produce in the playoffs after Phoenix’s six-year postseason drought, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes.

“It’s been a long journey since I’ve been here,” Booker said. “A full six years to get to this point and I know it’s been even longer for the city of Phoenix and this organization to get to this point. So I don’t want to take these opportunities for granted. We gave the fans what they wanted with a playoff berth and now, we want to give them even more of what they asked for.” 

Booker is looking to create something special in Phoenix, finishing with 34 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in a Game 1 victory over the Lakers on Sunday. The team will host Game 2 on Tuesday.

There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • Suns guard Chris Paul sustained a right shoulder contusion in the club’s game against the Lakers, the team announced (Twitter link). Paul appeared to be in significant pain before exiting for the locker room. He later returned for a brief stint, exited again and returned to finish the game. With Phoenix up 1-0 in the series, it’s an injury to monitor as the team looks to take a 2-0 lead this week.
  • The Warriors owe Stephen Curry more next season, says Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Golden State failed to make the playoffs despite an excellent season from Curry, who averaged a league-best 32 points per game on 48% shooting from the floor and 42% shooting from deep.
  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman examines why veteran big man Mike Muscala wanted to stay with the Thunder this season. Oklahoma City shut down Muscala and teammate Al Horford to focus on its young core late in the season, but Muscala had no interest in leaving the team. “I’m going to get a little emotional probably,” he said as part of a larger quote. “But coming to OKC, it was just like — I’m grateful for it, and it helped me a lot as a man and as a player.”

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Curry, Poole, Green

The Warriors‘ season ended with a pair of disappointing losses in the play-in tournament, but the team believes it can become a title contender again. Part of the optimism involves the expected return of Klay Thompson, who has missed the past two seasons with a torn right Achilles tendon and a torn ACL in his left knee.

Thompson was an important part of the Golden State teams that reached five straight NBA Finals and won three rings. He absence was noticeable this year as the Warriors couldn’t find a reliable second scorer to pair with Stephen Curry.

“He’s going to do everything in his power to get back to 100 percent, knowing what he’s been through the last two years,” Curry told Janie McCauley of The Associated Press. “There’s going to be a lot of support around to help him get there, but whatever version of him comes back is definitely a boost. We’ll patiently wait for what that looks like.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Jordan Poole spent part of the season in the G League, but he made a strong impression on coach Steve Kerr once he returned, McCauley adds in the same story. Kerr envisions the second-year guard in a sixth-man role when Thompson is available. “A season ago, he was lost. He was lost in the woods like most rookies are, and it’s just confirmation that hard work and perseverance pays off,” Kerr said. “Jordan was in the gym more than any other player during the pandemic, and he’s earned this. So thrilled for him. I think he’s got a really bright future, and obviously will play a big role for us going forward.”
  • The Warriors are likely to explore any trade possibilities that don’t involve Curry, Thompson or Draymond Green, according to Mark Medina of USA Today. Medina expects Kelly Oubre to leave in free agency, while inconsistent play from Eric Paschall and Kent Bazemore could decide their fates. “I expect to be extremely involved. It’s just the way it’s got to be,” Green said about personnel decisions.
  • Curry hasn’t made a decision on whether he will try to be part of this year’s Olympic team, writes Alex Didion of NBC Sports Bay Area. Curry has never played in the Olympics, but he does have two gold medals at the FIBA World Cup.

Finalists For Major 2020/21 NBA Awards Announced

During a TNT broadcast ahead of tonight’s Wizards-Pacers play-in matchup, the finalists for six big end-of-season 2020/21 awards were announced. Here is the full list, as voted on by reporters.

NBA Most Valuable Player:

NBA Defensive Player of the Year:

NBA Rookie of the Year:

NBA Most Improved Player:

NBA Sixth Man of the Year:

NBA Coach of the Year:

  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Tom Thibodeau (Knicks)
  • Monty Williams (Suns)

Some of these current contenders are familiar with the hardware they’re up for again. Curry is a two-time MVP, having won the award previously in 2015 and 2016. Gobert and Green have both previously won Defensive Player of the Year awards — Green in 2017 and Gobert in 2018 and 2019. Thibodeau was voted Coach of the Year a decade ago while with the Bulls.

The winners for the awards will be announced during the 2020/21 NBA playoffs.

Play-In Tournament Notes: LeBron, Curry, Grizzlies, Ratings

After two lopsided games on the first night of the NBA’s play-in tournament, the league got the drama it had been hoping for on Wednesday. The Grizzlies defeated the Spurs by four points in an elimination game, then the Lakers and Warriors delivered an instant classic with LeBron James posting a triple-double and Stephen Curry scoring 37 points.

The outcome was in doubt until the final play, and the game-winner turned out to be a desperation three-pointer that James hit from about 30 feet away with 58 seconds remaining. James had been poked in the eye moments earlier and said his vision was blurry on the shot, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

“After (Draymond Green‘s) finger to the eye, I was literally seeing three rims out there,” he said. “I just shot for the middle one.”

Sources tell Shelburne that the NBA’s competition committee had discussed the idea of a play-in tournament for five or six years before trying it out last year in the Orlando bubble. The original plan was to have the ninth- and 10th-place teams meet for a chance to face the eighth team for the final playoff spot. That never happened, but last year’s setup was so successful that the league expanded it to include four teams in each conference.

There’s more from the play-in tournament:

  • The Warriors won 15 of their last 20 games to finish eighth in the West, but they now face a must-win game Friday night against the Grizzlies to avoid an early elimination. Curry promises the team will “come out swinging” with its season on the line, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN“We’ve had to do it the last 20 games, so it’s no different,” he said. “It is a win-or-go-home scenario, but we’ve had a high confidence and put together a string of wins and had a tough loss and had to bounce back, so we’ve been there.”
  • Memphis is also very confident heading into Friday’s game, states Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. The winner will travel to top-seeded Utah for the first two games of a first-round series. “Our plan is to pack for a three-game road trip,” Ja Morant said after Wednesday’s win. “No matter who we’re facing … our goal is to go out and win.”
  • The first night of the new tournament was a success in the ratings, according to Sports Media Watch. The Hornets-Pacers matchup averaged an 0.8 rating and had 1.39 million viewers, and the Wizards-Celtics game had a 1.5 rating with 2.5 million viewers, making it TNT’s most-watched game since opening night.

Pacific Notes: Curry, LeBron, Walton, Ibaka

While Nikola Jokic is considered the odds-on favorite to win this season’s NBA MVP award, Lakers forward LeBron James has endorsed a division rival for the honor, telling reporters on Sunday night that Warriors guard Stephen Curry would get his vote.

“I mean, just look at what he’s done this year,” James said of the NBA’s leading scorer (link via Dave McMenamin of ESPN). “I don’t know anything else if you’re looking for an MVP. If Steph is not on Golden State’s team, what are we looking at? … We get caught up in the records sometimes. We get caught up in the, ‘OK, who has the best record?’ instead of just saying who had the best season that year. And Steph has had, in my opinion, the best season all year.”

Curry has won two MVP awards, but his performance this season may have been his most impressive yet, considering the Warriors didn’t have high-scoring options like Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant available to draw attention away from him. Despite facing double-teams and traps for much of the season, Curry averaged a career-best 32.0 points per game on .482/.421/.916 shooting in 63 games (34.2 MPG). His 5.3 three-pointers per game also represented a new career high.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Bill Shea of The Athletic explores what life after basketball might look like for LeBron James, who will turn 37 later this year. The Lakers star, who has already ventured into the media and business worlds during his playing career, also aims to one day own an NBA franchise.
  • After expressing last week that he was “very confident” about keeping his job as the Kings‘ head coach, Luke Walton explained on Sunday why he’s not worried, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee relays. “It doesn’t weigh on me because it’s the same thing I always talk about — it’s control what you can control — the same message I give my players every day,” Walton said. He added that he felt the story of Sacramento’s season should be the growth of the team’s young players. “I’m excited about this group and excited about our future,” the Kings’ coach said.
  • Having returned on Friday after missing two months due to a back injury, Clippers big man Serge Ibaka told reporters that he has played with back pain since the start of the season, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). It’s a nerve issue, according to Ibaka, who admitted he’s still not back to 100%.