Vincent Poirier

Community Shootaround: Should The NBA Go Back To A “Bubble”?

The NBA’s closed-campus experiment at Disney World was hailed as a huge success that enabled to league to complete its 2019/20 season and crown a champion without any interruptions from COVID-19. However, there was no desire to repeat the experience for an entire season as teams preferred to play in their home arenas, even if no fans were allowed.

But that decision carried risks, which are already beginning to overwhelm the new season. Only one game has been canceled so far — a season-opener between the Rockets and Thunder because Houston didn’t have enough eligible players — but several teams are operating with depleted rosters due to positive coronavirus tests and contact tracing mandated by the league’s health and safety protocols.

The Sixers had just eight eligible players this afternoon as they lost at home to Denver. Danny Green was the only Philadelphia starter to suit up for the game, while Dwight Howard and Tyrese Maxey were the only other members of the rotation who played.

The team’s predicament began Thursday when Seth Curry learned that he had tested positive for the virus. Tobias Harris, Shake MiltonMatisse Thybulle and Vincent Poirier shared a table with Curry at a team meeting that day, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, so they are required to quarantine for contact tracing. They will likely be unavailable for an entire week, which means three more missed games.

“We don’t know,” said coach Doc Rivers, whose season may be derailed after a 7-2 start. “We don’t know anything. We have to make that assumption, I guess. I mean, they were at a table. So it wasn’t like close contact. So maybe that will shorten their days. I don’t know that. But I guess even that’s too close. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t get that whole (thing).”

The 7-3 Celtics may be headed for the same situation. Star forward Jayson Tatum has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, joining Robert Williams, Grant Williams and Tristan Thompson in quarantine. Boston’s injury report for tomorrow’s game mentions all but eight players, which is the minimum needed for the game to be played.

Tatum’s test has also affected the Wizards because he talked after the game to Bradley Beal, who is now subject to health and safety protocols for contact tracing. The Nets, Nuggets, Spurs, Grizzlies and Mavericks are also short on players because of quarantine issues.

Kendra Andrews of The Athletic believes the NBA is making a mistake by forcing games like the one today in Philadelphia to be played. She notes that virus rates are higher now in many places than they were when the league suspended play in March, and basketball is an easy way for germs to spread because of close contact and shared equipment.

The league isn’t at a crisis situation yet, but it’s headed in that direction. Without the controlled environment that was in place at Disney World, the athletes face a lot more potential exposure to COVID-19, and just one case can change the course of a season.

We want to get your opinion. Do you believe the NBA can play an entire season under the current conditions or will it need to revert to a “bubble” alternative at some point? Please leave your responses in the comments section.

Sixers Waive Lamine Diane, Justin Robinson

The Sixers have waived Lamine Diane and Justin Robinson, the team’s PR department tweets.

The moves are being made in order to complete the Al Horford trade with the Thunder, which can become official on Tuesday.

Diane and Robinson were signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, meaning they’ll likely land with the team’s G League affiliate – the Delaware Blue Coats. They could receive bonuses worth up to $50K if they spend at least 60 days with the Blue Coats.

Philadelphia had the maximum 20 players in camp before waiving Diane and Robinson and needed to open a couple more roster spots to finalize the Horford deal.

The Sixers are receiving guard Danny Green and wing Terrance Ferguson in the deal. Big man Vincent Poirier, who was recently traded by the Celtics to Oklahoma City, is also coming to Philadelphia, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. That confirms a report from France’s L’Equipe that Poirier is heading to the Sixers.

A 6’7″ undrafted rookie forward, Diane put up big stats for Cal State Northridge in his two college seasons, averaging 25.1 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 2.1 BPG in a total of 52 games (35.5 MPG). He won the Big West Player of the Year award in consecutive years before declaring for the draft this spring.

Robinson appeared in 33 G League games with Delaware and Capital City last season, averaging 14.2 points, 6.2 assists and 31.2 minutes per game. The 23-year-old guard also played nine brief games with the Wizards, scoring a total of 13 points in 49 minutes.

Thunder Sign, Waive Jaylen Hoard

Former Trail Blazers forward Jaylen Hoard had a brief stint on the Thunder‘s training camp roster, but has since been released. While photos tweeted by the Thunder on Sunday showed Hoard participating in camp, the NBA’s official transactions log indicates that the team waived him on Sunday.

Hoard, 21, signed a two-way contract with Portland in July 2019 after going undrafted out of Wake Forest. He spent the entire 2019/20 season with the club, though he didn’t see much action at the NBA level, logging just 103 minutes in 13 games.

The Blazers don’t have their own G League affiliate, so Hoard spent time as a rookie with the Texas Legends. He averaged 16.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 1.8 APG in 24 games (27.6 MPG) for Dallas’ NBAGL affiliate.

The Thunder have been turning over the spots at the back of their 20-man roster during the last week, having also released Antonius Cleveland and Melvin Frazier shortly after signing them. The moves are presumably being made with G League rights and/or Exhibit 10 bonuses in mind.

A report from French outlet L’Equipe first indicated last week that Hoard would sign an Exhibit 10 deal with the Thunder. Interestingly, that L’Equipe report also suggested that big man Vincent Poirier will be heading to the Sixers in the still-not-official deal involving Al Horford, Danny Green, and Terrance Ferguson.

Poirier’s inclusion in that deal has been speculated by cap expert Albert Nahmad, among others, since his contract is a perfect fit for salary-matching purposes and would allow the Thunder to keep their recently-created $27.5MM trade exception. The trade will likely be completed this week once the salary aggregation restrictions on Green and Poirier lift.

Celtics To Guarantee 2020/21 Salaries For Theis, Ojeleye

The 2020/21 salaries for Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye will become guaranteed if they’re not waived today, and the Celtics intend to hang onto both players, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter links).

Theis will have a fully guaranteed $5MM salary for the coming season as a result of the move, which was always expected, given the crucial role he played for the team in 2019/20. The 28-year-old was Boston’s starting center, averaging 9.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 24.1 minutes per contest. He’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2021.

Ojeleye, meanwhile, wasn’t a lock to be retained, but the cost ($1.75MM) isn’t substantial. Himmelsbach had reported on Thursday that Ojeleye’s status may be affected by what happened with Gordon Hayward and other players in free agency.

Presumably, with Hayward, Brad Wanamaker, Enes Kanter, and Vincent Poirier all headed elsewhere and team salary having declined significantly, the C’s are comfortable that there’s enough room for the forward on the roster and on the cap.

Ojeleye played a limited role for the club in 2019/20, averaging 3.4 PPG and 2.1 RPG on .408/.378/.875 shooting in 69 games (14.7 MPG).

Celtics Deal Poirier To Thunder

The Celtics have traded center Vincent Poirier and cash considerations to the Thunder for a conditional future second-round pick, according to the Celtics’ Twitter feed.

Poirier, who saw limited playing time last season, will make $2.62MM next season. He can be a restricted free agent after next season if Oklahoma City extends a $3.27MM qualifying offer.

Boston gives itself a little more cap flexibility with the move. In 22 games during his first NBA season, Poirier averaged 1.9 PPG in 5.9 MPG. He only played a total of 130 minutes.

Poirier led the Euro League in rebounding during the 2018/19 season with Baskonia of the Spanish Liga ACB.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Okoro, Poirier, VanVleet, Nets

The Celtics have reportedly explored the possibility of packaging their three first-round picks (Nos. 14, 26, and 30) to move into the middle of the draft lottery. On Thursday, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggested that Boston’s intent with that plan may be to flip the newly-acquired mid-lottery pick to New Orleans in a deal for Jrue Holiday.

However, Sean Deveney of Heavy.com hears that the Celtics also have their eye on a potential target in the top 10. Sources tell Deveney that Boston has been “enamored with” Auburn forward Isaac Okoro all year and that he would be the target if the team trades up. The C’s would also be happy to see who falls to them at their current spot, Deveney adds.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Clarifying some comments he made recently to a French outlet, Celtics center Vincent Poirier tells Tom Westerholm of MassLive that he wasn’t upset about his limited role in 2019/20 and knows that if he wants more minutes, he has to earn them. “I just told (head coach Brad Stevens) I accepted the role I had this year, because obviously that’s what I deserved, because I didn’t show anything,” Poirier said. “But I think I worked, I think I understand the game, so I used this season to grow and to progress. I’m just saying that was cool, but as a competitor, as a man, as a basketball player, I want more. I’m not here just to be with the guys.” Poirier has a guaranteed $2.6MM salary for 2020/21.
  • Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun isn’t reading too much into Fred VanVleet‘s comments about “trying to get paid” in free agency. It’s hardly breaking news that money is an important consideration for top free agents, according to Wolstat, who says he’d still bet on the Raptors re-signing their veteran point guard.
  • Maryland’s Jalen Smith declined to say which teams he has worked out for, but the Nets were one of the first teams to interview him and have genuine interest in drafting him, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Smith told reporters in a conference call that if he gets an opportunity to play with Kevin Durant, it would be a “dream come true.”

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, VanVleet, Poirier, Toppin

Though the Raptors prefer to host their home games for the 2020/21 season in Toronto, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca notes that the decision will ultimately be made by the Canadian government. The federal officials at the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Ottawa Citizenship, who oversee travel regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, may hesitate to make a special exemption on extant 14-day quarantine requirements for new arrivals into the country just to accommodate visiting U.S.-based NBA personnel.

With the draft and free agency scheduled for next week, plus an expected lift on the current pause on trades, time is running out for Raptors ownership to keep Toronto in Toronto.

Nashville, Tampa, Kansas City, Buffalo and Newark have all been floated as stateside alternative options for Toronto set up shop this season, per Grange and Eric Koreen of The Athletic“Our focus is on playing in Toronto,” a team spokesperson said yesterday, per Koreen.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, one of the top free agents during the 2020 offseason, stated on J.J. Redick and Tommy Alter’s podcast The Old Man And The Three that money will be important in his offseason decision-making. He elaborated on the matter, per Joshua Howe of Sportsnet.ca. “I’m trying to get paid, man,” VanVleet said. “I won a championship and now it’s time to cash out.”
  • Celtics center Vincent Poirier is hoping for a larger role in Boston this season. Keith P Smith of Celtics Blog breaks down a conversation between Poirier and French outlet We Sport. “I don’t know where I’ll be,” Poirier said, “but in my head it’s obvious that I’m not doing one more season at the end of the bench to applaud.”
  • Brooklyn native Obi Toppin has worked out for four squads: the Timberwolves, the Hornets, the Cavaliers, and his hometown Knicks. Though New York has the lowest draft pick among these squads, the club is apparently hopeful to add the 6’9″ forward on November 18, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “They have a great organization,” Toppin commented during a Zoom chat today. “It would be great to go home. But there’s a lot of teams that are in front of them that would be great, too.”

Celtics Notes: Free Agency, Theis, Green, Drummond

The playoffs showed that the Celtics could use more scoring off their bench, and Jared Weiss of The Athletic has a few suggestions that should fit into Boston’s budget. If Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter both opt in for next season, the team will be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception, which should be about $5.7MM.

Weiss’ first choice is Langston Galloway, who averaged 10.3 points per game and shot 39.9% from 3-point range this year with the Pistons. Weiss notes that Galloway also handles the ball well enough to be considered a combo guard and would be a step up from Brad Wanamaker. Two other veteran possibilities he brings up are Orlando’s D.J. Augustin and Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, who may want to wrap up their careers on a team that can compete for a title.

Weiss also throws in point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who played 30 games for the Timberwolves this year after a sensational performance in the G League. However, the 24-year-old is a restricted free agent and Minnesota has expressed a desire to keep him, so the Celtics would likely have to go above his market value to have a chance.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Center Daniel Theis had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee Tuesday that included removal of a loose body, the team announced on Twitter. The surgery was successful and he is expected to be ready when training camp opens (Twitter link). Theis had surgery on the same knee in 2018, notes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link).
  • In a full story, Forsberg looks at Carsen Edwards, Javonte Green and Vincent Poirier and examines whether any of them have a future in Boston. Edwards was a second-round pick who is under contract for $1.78MM next season, so he’ll likely return. Green made his NBA debut at age 26 this season after several years of playing overseas, but he has a non-guaranteed contract for 2020/21 that nearly doubles his salary to $1.5MM. Poirier will make $2.6MM next season, and Forsberg expects the Celtics to look for someone to take that salary off their hands to ease their tax situation.
  • The Celtics are monitoring the Andre Drummond situation in Cleveland and could be a potential trade partner if the Cavaliers decide to move him, sources tell Evan Dammarell of Forbes. Drummond is expected to opt into the the final year of his contract at $28.7MM, which would make him a free agent next summer. Dammarell mentions the Clippers and Spurs as other possibilities.

And-Ones: Stoudemire, Ndour, COVID-19, Poirier

Veteran power forward Amar’e Stoudemire isn’t ready to end his career, according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. After signing with Maccabi Tel Aviv in January, the big man is close to reaching an agreement to return to the Israeli team.

Stoudemire, who will turn 38 next month, averaged 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 17 games with Maccabi Tel Aviv, then captured the Israeli League Finals MVP award after leading the team to the championship. Stoudemire played 14 NBA seasons with the Suns, Knicks, Mavericks and Heat, but has been out of the league since 2016. He has spent time in Israel and China, as well as the BIG3.

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

  • Power forward Maurice Ndour, who played for the Knicks during the 2016/17 season, has signed with Rytas Vilnius in Lithuania, tweets JD Shaw of HoopsRumors. Ndour has played in Russia and Spain since leaving the NBA.
  • The coronavirus continues to disrupt overseas basketball, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The Dutch Basketball League has postponed all its games for the next four weeks due to an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the country, while games in the Ukraine will be played behind closed doors until at least the end of December. The Ukrainian league had been permitting fans to attend at 20-25% of each arena’s capacity.
  • Celtics center Vincent Poirier says winning an Olympic gold medal for France would mean more to him than an NBA title, relays Antonis Stroggylakis of EuroHoops. Poirier made the comments during an interview with the French site Konbini Sports. “I take the Olympic title,” Poirier said. “French Olympic champions are rare. If I’m one of the 12 players who win the gold at the Olympics, I will be a legend.” Poirier won a bronze medal with the French team last year at the FIBA World Cup. France has just two Olympic medals in basketball, capturing the silver in 1948 and 2000.

Celtics Notes: Hayward, Poirier, Walker

Gordon Hayward will miss Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals as he continues to recover from a right ankle sprain. The Celtics tweet that he’s out, though coach Brad Stevens said Hayward went through a “hard, small group workout” immediately after practice on Monday, Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Stevens went on to say that Hayward “looked good, but there’s a big difference between doing that and going into a game.”

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Center Vincent Poirier has cleared quarantine and practiced with the team on Monday, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets. Poirier left the Orlando campus for the birth of his first child. Poirier essentially gives the club another practice body, as he only appeared in one seeding game, along with a two-minute stint against Toronto in Game 1 of the Eastern semifinals.
  • Kemba Walker‘s production nosedived in the last two games against the Raptors but Stevens insists that his point guard’s knee “feels great,” the team tweets. Walker played 96 minutes in Games 6 and 7 and scored a combined 19 points on 7-for-27 shooting.
  • The Athletic’s beat reporters for the Celtics and Heat take a hard look at what most expect will be a hotly-contested series.