Five Key Stories: 3/8/20 – 3/14/20

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

An unprecedented week for the NBA saw the league suspend operations indefinitely due to the spread of the coronavirus. The league is preparing for the shutdown to last at least 30 days as health officials discourage large gatherings in an effort to get the virus under control. Commissioner Adam Silver admitted it’s possible that the current season will not be finished.

The G League also suspended its season this week, while the NBA 2K League season was canceled. The NCAA decided to call off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments after giving consideration to a 16-team field.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus shortly before Wednesday’s scheduled game between the Jazz and Thunder, forcing it to be postponed. Teammate Donovan Mitchell also contracted the virus.

Silver penned a letter to NBA fans to explain the situation. He explained that tickets to all games will be honored once the season begins, and refunds will be issued if they have to be canceled or played in an empty arena.

Many teams around the league announced that arena staff will continue to be paid during the shutdown. Several players have contributed money to make sure that workers can survive financially until the games resume.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from around the basketball world this week:

  • Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff has a new contract that runs through the end of the 2023/24 season. He took over when John Beilein stepped down as head coach last month.
  • Veteran center Joakim Noah signed a 10-day contract with the Clippers. Both sides were planning to test out the arrangement before working out a deal for the rest of the season.
  • The Warriors signed rookie guard Mychal Mulder to a multi-year deal. He impressed the coaching staff with his performance on a 10-day contract that expired last Saturday.
  • Sheldon Mac returned to the NBA after a three-year absence, signing a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers. He had been with the team’s G League affiliate in Canton.
  • Jontay Porter agreed to a multi-year contract with the Grizzlies. He is still recovering after a pair of knee injuries and is expected to be ready for training camp in September.
  • The Suns released two-way player Jared Harper. He got into just three NBA games and played eight total minutes during his time with the organization.
  • Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison opted for shoulder surgery, which will sideline him for 12 to 16 weeks. Injuries have limited him to a combined 72 games in his first two NBA seasons.
  • Vince Carter addressed the possibility that his long NBA career might be over if the season doesn’t resume.
  • Before the season was suspended, Lance Stephenson talked to the Pacers about possibly returning to the team. He is currently under contract with the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association.
  • Disabled Player Exceptions expired this week across the league. Six teams were granted DPEs that weren’t used.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On The Dunk Contest Controversy

The judges at Saturday’s dunk contest intended for the event to end in a tie, but their plan failed when three of them awarded nines on Aaron Gordon‘s final jam, according to Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

After Derrick Jones Jr. and Gordon both received 50s on their first dunks in the dunk-off, Jones finished his night with a running slam from just inside the foul line that received a 48. Gordon sought to clinch the trophy in dramatic fashion by jumping over 7’5″ Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, but after a long wait the judges awarded him three nines and two 10s for a final score of 47.

“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” said hip-hop artist Common, who served as one of the judges. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”

A second judge, Candace Parker, confirmed Common’s comments, saying the intent was for the dunk-off to end in a tie, which would have meant a poll of the judges to determine a winner.

“I really felt it was an even battle, and we, as judges, felt the scores should be even and they should just have a judge-off,” Common said after a breath-taking series of dunks from both competitors. “We had the cards. Put your card up for who had the best dunks.”

Gordon started the event with perfect scores on his first five dunks. He expected a sixth after dunking over Fall, and he and the crowd at the United Center in Chicago were visibly dismayed when the final results left him a point behind Jones. It was a familiar experience for Gordon, who also lost the 2016 dunk contest to Zach LaVine in a controversial decision.

“We’re here to do four dunks,” Gordon told reporters afterward. “It should be the best of four dunks. I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s. That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA dunk contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?”

There’s more on the wild finish to All-Star Saturday Night:

  • Despite the controversy, Jones believes he was the rightful winner and was unhappy with the score he received on his final dunk, relays Andre Fernandez of The Athletic“When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school,” Jones said. “I know that’s 50-worthy. There’s no way I should have gotten a 48.”
  • Jones also said he could have kept dunking as long as the contest remained tied (video link from Ben Golliver of The Washington Post). “I just turned 23,” said Jones, who had a birthday cake wheeled onto the court before his first dunk. “I’ve got legs for days, bro.”
  • Fall tells Shelburne that his role in Gordon’s final dunk wasn’t pre-arranged (Twitter link). After a night that saw several dunks over other people, Gordon picked out the tallest man in the building. “I was scared for my life,” Fall admitted.
  • Dwyane Wade, one of the three judges who gave Gordon a nine on his final attempt, denied that the score was a favor to Jones, his former Heat teammate. “I wasn’t the only one who gave him a 9, let’s talk about that!” Wade said in a video tweeted by Complex Sports.
  • Several commentators suggested that the controversy may affect the league’s ability to get elite dunkers in future competitions. After watching the event, Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, who many wanted to see participate this year, tweeted, “Y’all just made my decision easier,” then later sent out a video of American Idol judge Randy Jackson saying, “Yeah, it’s a no from me dawg.”
  • Dwight Howard offered a tribute to Kobe Bryant with his second dunk, taking off his shirt to reveal a Superman jersey underneath, then taking away the S logo to to show a number 24. He told Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that Bryant had agreed to be part of the dunk before his tragic death last month (Twitter link).

Five Key Stories: 2/2/20 – 2/8/20

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

The Grizzlies finally found a taker for Andre Iguodala as the NBA’s trade deadline arrived this week. The veteran forward, who hasn’t played since the Warriors sent him to Memphis over the summer in a cost-cutting move, was shipped to Miami for Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson, but not the first-round pick the Grizzlies had been insisting they wanted in return.

The Rockets, Timberwolves, Hawks and Nuggets put together this season’s largest trade, with 12 players changing teams. The biggest names involved were Robert Covington, who went from Minnesota to Houston, and Clint Capela, whom the Rockets sent to Atlanta.

The Wolves added a player they’ve been chasing since the offseason by trading Andrew Wiggins to the Warriors for D’Angelo Russell. In addition to providing a long-term solution at point guard, Russell is a close friend of franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns, who expressed frustration this week with the team’s frequent losing.

The Clippers added an important piece for the postseason by acquiring veteran forward Marcus Morris from the Knicks in a three-team deal. The Clippers outbid their cross-town rivals, as the Lakers refused to include Kyle Kuzma in their final offer.

The Cavaliers picked up Andre Drummond from the Pistons in exchange for a pair of expiring contracts and a second-round pick. Drummond has indicated that he will opt in to his $28.75MM salary for next season, giving Cleveland a potential All-Star in the middle.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from around the basketball world this week:

  • The Knicks fired team president Steve Mills and hired player agent Leon Rose as head of basketball operations. Despite rumors that the franchise was expected to pursue Raptors executive Masai Ujiri, there was pessimism that the move was possible without a huge price tag.
  • Owner James Dolan issued a statement that he won’t sell the Knicks. Dolan has become unpopular with fans during a string of losing seasons, and there was a loud “Sell the team!” chant at the end of a recent loss.
  • Dillon Brooks received a contract extension from the Grizzlies. The move wraps up Brooks, who would have been a restricted free agent this summer, for the next three seasons.
  • Former Pacers guard Darren Collison is nearing a decision on whether to return to the NBA. The Lakers and Clippers are considered to be the favorites to sign him.
  • The Suns listened to offers for Kelly Oubre before the deadline. Although no deal was made, it’s surprising that Oubre’s name was leaked as a potential trade target.
  • As the top vote-getters, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo held their draft for the All-Star Game. Lakers teammate Anthony Davis was James’ first pick, and Antetokounmpo followed by taking Joel Embiid.
  • Participants were also announced for the 3-point and slam dunk contests, along with the skills challenge.
  • The Wizards don’t expect John Wall to play this season, general manager Tommy Sheppard confirmed.
  • The Hawks waived Chandler Parsons, who suffered serious injuries in a car accident last month.
  • RJ Hampton left his Australian team and returned to the United States to get ready for the draft.

Lakers Recruiting Darren Collison?

A familiar face was in attendance at Staples Center on Thursday night, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who writes that veteran point guard Darren Collison watched the Lakers host the Rockets in a second-row seat near team owner Jeanie Buss.

Collison, who was said last month to be mulling an NBA return, would reportedly prefer to stay on the West Coast and play for the Lakers or Clippers if he makes a comeback. A source tells ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the Lakers were “recruiting” Collison, who plans to discuss his next step over the next week with his agent and family. A decision appears likely to come after All-Star weekend.

For his part, Collison was unwilling to give any hints about whether his presence at Staples Center on Thursday night suggests he’s leaning toward joining the Lakers.

“Just watching the game, ain’t nothing to it,” Collison told ESPN. “Got the best seats in the house.”

Of the two Los Angeles teams, the Lakers – who could use one more play-maker in their backcourt – may have a greater need for Collison, but they currently have a full 15-man roster so they’d need to waive someone to open up a spot. The Clippers, on the other hand, are expected to have two openings once they officially waive Isaiah Thomas. For what it’s worth, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweeted on Thursday that league sources have “long believed” Collison would prefer the Lakers.

Of course, before Collison picks a team, he’ll have to decide whether or not he actually wants to return to the NBA after his surprise retirement last summer. ESPN analyst Matt Barnes said on Thursday that Collison told him he’s still “50/50” on whether to play.

Knicks Notes: Morris, Perry, Schroder, Robinson

Marcus Morris is confident that he’ll sign a multi-year contract with the Knicks if he remains with the organization past the trade deadline, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. This comes after a report earlier this week that he and the team have “strong mutual interest” in reaching a new deal this summer. Morris likes playing in New York and enjoys being so close to his family in Philadelphia.

Morris risked some security last year when he reneged on a two-year offer with the Spurs to accept a one-year arrangement with the Knicks. He recently hired a new agent in Raymond Brothers, who has a close relationship with New York general manager Scott Perry.

While it’s not a sure thing that Perry will remain with the organization after another disappointing season, some sources believe owner James Dolan’s desire to have Masai Ujiri run the team could work in Perry’s favor. Dolan may not be able to land Ujiri while he’s still under contract with the Raptors, so Mills may be able to convince Dolan to give him another season while he waits. Thunder president Sam Presti could be another target, Bondy adds.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • A source tells Bondy the Knicks are in the market for a point guard and have interest in acquiring Dennis Schroder from the Thunder. Schroder is making $15.5MM this year and is signed for the same amount for next season.
  • The Clippers are believed to be interested in Morris, and a source suggests to Steve Popper of Newsday that the Knicks might accept Maurice Harkless in return, along with a first-round pick, Landry Shamet or possibly both. Harkless has an $11MM expiring contract. Popper also states that New York may be willing to trade for Pistons center Andre Drummond as a way to unload Julius Randle, who will make $18.9MM next season. Drummond is expected to opt out of his $28MM salary, which would provide a huge amount of cap room. The Knicks have also received calls about Kevin Knox, Popper adds.
  • The Knicks are surprised that Mitchell Robinson was passed over for the Rising Stars Challenge, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. The second-year center has been one of the bright spots of the team, averaging 9.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. “It’s not something that’s going to hurt my feelings,’’ Robinson said. “I’m still going to come out here and play. I’m still going to move on and continue to play ball. I’m still in the NBA, so I really don’t care.”

Five Key Stories: 1/26/20 – 2/1/20

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

The NBA was devastated this week by the death of one of its greatest stars. Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, California, that also took the life of his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people. Tributes to the 41-year-old star have been pouring in from players, league dignitaries and others who knew him, and the NBA elected to change the format of its All-Star Game as a way to honor Bryant.

Reserves were announced to fill out the rosters for the Feb. 16 All-Star Game in Chicago. The WizardsBradley Beal, the SunsDevin Booker and the BullsZach LaVine were among this year’s most notable snubs.

The NBA revised its salary cap and tax line projections for next season, making both a little lower than originally anticipated. Current revenue figures project the cap to be at $115MM, down from an expected $116MM, while the tax line will fall from $141MM to $139MM. The final numbers will be determined in July.

Knicks guard Elfrid Payton and two Grizzlies players were suspended after a scuffle late in Wednesday’s game. Payton’s suspension was for pushing Jae Crowder, while Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marko Guduric were each docked one game for leaving the bench.

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has been diagnosed with a moderate ankle sprain for the second time this season. He is expected to miss six games, and his availability for the All-Star Game is in question.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from around the basketball world this week:

Community Shootaround: Mock All-Star Draft

The NBA announced its 10 All-Star starters on Thursday night, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James headlining the group.

While five starters were selected from each conference, the East and West won’t square off in the All-Star game, as the NBA will once again conduct an All-Star draft. Top vote-getters Giannis and LeBron will serve as team captains for a second consecutive year and will essentially participate in two separate drafts, selecting from the eight-player starter poll before moving onto the 14-player pool of reserves.

We don’t know yet which reserves will round out the All-Star rosters, but now that the starters have been announced, we can speculate about how the first part of the All-Star draft might play out.

Here’s the eight-player starter pool that Antetokounmpo and James will be selecting from:

  1. Luka Doncic, G (Mavericks)
  2. James Harden, G (Rockets)
  3. Kemba Walker, G (Celtics)
  4. Trae Young, G (Hawks)
  5. Anthony Davis, F/C (Lakers)
  6. Kawhi Leonard, F/C (Clippers)
  7. Joel Embiid, F/C (Sixers)
  8. Pascal Siakam, F/C (Raptors)

Our discussion question today is a two-parter: We want to know what you think the draft should look like if Giannis and LeBron are each trying to build the best lineups possible, and what it actually will look like after various allegiances are taken into effect.

For instance, it’s probably a safe bet to assume that LeBron – who was the leading overall vote-getter and figures to get the No. 1 pick – won’t pass on his teammate Davis. After all, a year ago, LeBron faced half-joking accusations of tampering when he selected the then-Pelican with his first pick in the reserve round.

Veteran basketball writer Tom Ziller tried his hand at predicting how the All-Star draft will actually play out, starting with James selecting his fellow Lakers star. But it might be more fun to imagine what the draft would look like if Giannis and LeBron were both solely focused on winning the game and building the best roster possible. Would Davis still be LeBron’s first pick or would he lean toward someone like Leonard? Would Harden be picked a whole lot higher than he was a year ago?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts on what the 2020 All-Star starter draft will – or should – look like!

Five Key Stories: 12/8/19 – 12/14/19

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

The Heat suspended Dion Waiters for the third time this season. The latest ban is six games for failure to adhere to team policies, violation of team rules and continued insubordination. Although Waiters hasn’t played this season, Miami is unlikely to try to terminate his contract.

The G League will expand to Mexico City next season. An announcement was made Thursday that Capitanes, which is currently part of Mexico’s Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional, will join the G League starting in 2020/21.

The Nets waived Iman Shumpert, even though the veteran swingman had played well since joining the team last month. Brooklyn needs an open roster spot once Wilson Chandler becomes eligible to be activated again following his 25-game suspension.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern was hospitalized after suffering a sudden brain hemorrhage Thursday. Stern, who ran the league for 30 years, collapsed at a restaurant in Manhattan and had emergency brain surgery.

The Rockets’ protest of a loss in San Antonio was denied by the league. Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that the referees missed the call on a James Harden dunk that was disallowed, but ruled that Houston had plenty of time to overcome the mistake.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from around the basketball world this week:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Notes: Thybulle, Simmons, Embiid

Rookie Matisse Thybulle has special skills for a defender but his discipline is what is going to allow him to play more minutes for the Sixers, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes.

“I should have a higher tolerance level to endure his wild decisions defensively,” head coach Brett Brown said after the team’s contest against the Jazz. “Because they are punishing. This league is so unforgiving when you just forget, ‘Oh, I left Joe Ingles, I forgot he could shoot, and I’m just going to make any play I want — And oh, my bad.’ [Thybulle] is getting better at that and I have to allow him to get better at that.”

If Thybulle had joined the Sixers three or four years ago, he’d have plenty of court time to experiment and grow. However, this is not “The Process” version of the Sixers any longer. The stakes are much higher as the team looks to make its first NBA Finals appearance since 2001.

“I’m always reminding myself, if we woke up tomorrow and it’s April 15th, would I feel comfortable that I’ve grown him the way that I should? And I need to do more, and better, sort of within the confines of what I’ve just said,” Brown said.

Here’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Thybulle, whom the team traded up in the 2019 draft to nab, isn’t taking his playing time for granted. The rookie is using his court time to learn from his mistakes and gain the reps needed to be a contributor on a playoff team. “Just being out there and seeing it live, I think, is huge,” Thybulle said (via Bodner in the same piece). “Most of these games, it’s my first time [playing against a team]. We played against [Utah] twice now, so I had a better feel for the guys. And just with each game, I get a better feel for the pace and what I can get away with, with the refs or with help-side and those types of gambles.”
  • With Ben Simmons and Thybulle on the squad, the Sixers have options when defending opposing perimeter threats, Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia explains. The duo shared defensive duties guarding Utah’s Donovan Mitchell on Monday and held him to just 6-for-19 from the field.
  • Some around the league aren’t thrilled with Joel Embiid and his antics on the court. Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke wasn’t shy when given the platform to discuss the big man’s style (h/t Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). “I hate that team…I think Embiid gets away with a bunch of crap the league ignores,” Burke said of Indiana’s recent matchup with the Sixers.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/21/19

Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Wizards assigned Isaac Bonga, Admiral Schofield, and Justin Robinson to the Capital City Go-Go, the team announces on its Twitter feed. Bonga was recalled later today, as the team only sent him down for practice.
  • The Raptors are sending Dewan Hernandez back to the Raptors 905, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Hernandez saw action with the NBA club on Wednesday.
  • The Thunder have recalled Justin Patton from the Oklahoma City Blue, the team’s website relays. Patton has played six minutes for the Thunder this season.
  • The Clippers have assigned Mfiondu Kabengele and guard Derrick Walton Jr. to the Agua Caliente Clippers, the team announces. Kabengele was the No. 27 overall pick in the 2019 draft (selected by Brooklyn and traded to Los Angeles).
  • The Jazz have recalled Miye Oni and Nigel Williams-Goss from the Salt Lake City Stars, per the team’s Twitter feed. Oni has seen action in four G League games this season while Williams-Goss has played in two games.
  • The Rockets recalled Gary Clark from the Grande Valley Vipers, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Clark should see playing time this weekend with the Rockets facing a back-to-back and Danuel House likely to be sidelined.