Category Archives: NBA

Pacers’ Oladipo to sit out restart of NBA season

Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo has decided not to play when the 2019-20 NBA season resumes at Disney World in Orlando later this month. Oladipo tore his quad tendon last season, and made his return in late January, just about six weeks before play was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result of his health situation, Oladipo told The Athletic in an interview that he just doesn’t feel comfortable returning to play under these circumstances. However, he will still travel with the team. 

The good news is that this isn’t the result of any sort of setback during the quarantine. Both Oladipo and the Pacers consider he is healthy and progressing well, they just think returning to play under these stressful and unique conditions is not worth the risk. Especially considering that players who suffer the same injury as Oladipo are more susceptible to soft tissue injuries in the ensuing years. 

“This kind of injury takes a while to get back from,” Oladipo’s physical therapist said. “This is a very rare injury. He’s playing this smart and we look at it as: He came back, he got into rotation, he got a feel for the game and his knee really responded well — and we had to shut this whole thing down from the pandemic. We haven’t been able to play five-on-five yet due to circumstances. Now we’re asking guys to ramp up in 21 days. That’s just a real short time window for a person with his kind of injury.”

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Heading into Orlando, there are all sorts of health concerns, mostly related to the coronavirus pandemic — and for good reason, as cases are surging, and we still don’t fully understand the long-term effects of the illness. However, the potential for augmented risk of injuries is a serious issue as well. 

Most players were not able to train like they normally do over the past few months, and will now be required to ramp up into a training camp situation, then high-intensity games in a rather short amount of time. For guys like Oladipo who are already dealing with the effects of a serious injury, it makes sense to take the long-term approach. 

From a basketball perspective, this is obviously a big hit to the Pacers’ probabilities of making some noise in the East.

They were actually a bit worse with Oladipo on the court (minus-2.6 net rating differential) in the 13 games since he returned, and he hadn’t quite found his rhythm. But that was a small sample size after he just returned from a year off, and he’s by far their most talented player. 

Now, they’ll have to play in Orlando without him. Heading into the restart they are tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for fifth place in the Eastern Conference at 39-26, and while they are still within striking distance of the Miami Heat for the fourth seed, getting there doesn’t matter as much with no homecourt advantage anymore. 

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Nets DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie say they tested positive for Covid

When the novel coronavirus pandemic first struck the NBA, four members of the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for COVID-19. One of them was Kevin Durant, but he and the other three unnamed members of the team have since been cleared of the virus and are symptom-free.

However, Durant (right Achilles), Kyrie Irving (right shoulder), Nic Claxton (left shoulder) and Wilson Chandler (opting out) will not be available for the Nets when the NBA resumes the 2019-20 campaign at Disney World in Florida at the end of July.

And Brooklyn will now be down more players – potentially even without its leading scorer for the bulk of the season.

DeAndre Jordan announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus and would not be playing during the resumed campaign, and Spencer Dinwiddie told Shams Charania of The Athletic he has tested positive for COVID-19.

d would not be playing during the resumed campaign, and Spencer Dinwiddie told Shams Charania of The Athletic he has tested positive for COVID-19.

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“Over the past few months, I have been diligent about protecting myself and others from COVID-19 by following all designated protocol and quarantining,” Dinwiddie told The Athletic.

“I was ready and prepared to rejoin my teammates as we were to be an early entry team in the resumed season. I flew private to return to New York, passed multiple COVID-19 tests over my first several days in New York and was able to participate in a couple practices within the first week.

“Originally, we were supposed to be one of the teams to enter into the Orlando bubble early, but training camp got switched back to New York and unfortunately I am now positive.”

Dinwiddie has shown symptoms of the illness, “including fever and chest tightness.” As a result, he’s uncertain if he’ll participate in the league’s restart: “… it is unclear on whether or not I’ll be able to participate in Orlando,” he said. 

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Andre Drummond to pick up option to stay with Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond has ended his silence about his future, saying Tuesday that he plans to pick up his player option that will keep him in Cleveland for another year.

Drummond, acquired by the Cavaliers in February for Brandon Knight, John Henson and a future second-round pick, has a $28.7 million option for the 2020-21 campaign that he needs to officially accept or decline in writing by Oct. 17, the day before free agency is scheduled to begin.

“Yeah, that’s going to be pretty hard to give up, so you can count on me being in Cleveland still,” Drummond said during a light-hearted, laugh-filled interview on the ESPN podcast Le Batard & Friends — STUpodity. “I definitely will be in Cleveland.”

Multiple sources tell cleveland.com the Cavs have not been informed of any decision at this point and don’t expect to receive the formal paperwork from Drummond until October. However, both sides have been giving off the impression that they are interested in continuing the partnership, which was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic on March 11.

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Drummond played eight matches with the Cavs before the league froze.

They went 4-4 with him in the lineup. He averaged 17.1 points and 11.1 rebounds in 28.1 minutes. Because of the Cavs’ record — 19-46 — and their place in the Eastern Conference standings, they weren’t one of 22 teams invited to participate in the NBA’s Disney restart in late July. Still, it was enough to give Drummond a taste of the future.

“I enjoy being in Cleveland,” Drummond said. “I think the people there are outstanding. The fan base is super dope. The gym is dope. I love playing there. The coaching staff is good. The team is young, so it’s good to work with.”

At the time of the stunning blockbuster deal, general manager Koby Altman was unsure of Drummond’s plans beyond this campaign. Neither Drummond nor agent Jeff Schwartz, who also represents Cavaliers teammate Kevin Love, gave any indication. But Altman was always fine with either outcome.

Drummond’s decision to opt in allows him to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2021 — unless the Cavs and Drummond work out a long-term contract extension. According to sources, the Cavs have internally discussed that possibility. Based on the new offseason calendar, Drummond can technically sign an extension beginning on Oct. 23.

With Drummond making his commitment public, the Cavs can proceed with other offseason plans. Sources say Drummond’s decision doesn’t guarantee Tristan Thompson’s departure. Thompson, an unrestricted free agent this summer, will weigh all of his options. But the fallout from COVID-19 — and the anticipated drop in in the salary cap — has caused plenty of uncertainty, especially for free agents.

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Pacers’ Victor Oladipo to ramp up activity before committing to restart

All-Star guard Victor Oladipo plans to ramp up activity with the Indiana Pacers beginning next week and evaluate his repaired torn quad tendon before to making a final commitment to playing in the season’s restart in Orlando, he told ESPN on Saturday.

Oladipo, 28, is hopeful to return to play with the Pacers, but prefers to limit the risk of significant injury after returning in January from a full year of rehabilitating the torn right quad tendon.

“I feel a whole lot better,” Oladipo told ESPN. “I know there’s risk going into it with the unique situation that I’m in — being off so long and trying to ramp it up that fast. I’ve just got to be smart, that’s all.”

The Pacers have been cautious and working cooperatively with Oladipo throughout his rehab and return, and plan to keep closely monitoring and managing his recovery with the looming restart.

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Players must inform teams by Wednesday if they plan to participate in the season’s 22-team restart in Orlando — and teams must provide the league a roster of eligible players by July 1. However, Oladipo and the Pacers can push a decision on his return through the month of July as he ramps up in Indianapolis and Orlando for training camps.

Indiana would simply keep Oladipo on its active roster until a decision is made.

A team can sign a substitute player from an eligible pool of players to replace a roster player — and that replaced player will be ineligible to return.

Oladipo had his best match of the season — 27 points versus the Boston Celtics — in his last performance prior to the March 11 shutdown of the campaign.

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Malik Monk reinstated from suspension for violating anti drug program

Charlotte Hornets guard Malik Monk’s NBA suspension back in February flew under the noses of many NBA fans. The 22-year-old was suspended without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug program. While the Malik Monk NBA suspension did not turn many heads, the ‘Malik Monk reinstated back to the NBA’ news made headlines and also captured the attention of fans this week. 

In February 2020, the ‘Malik Monk NBA suspension’ news broke after reports suggested his suspension fit a player in Stage 1 of the Drugs of Abuse program. According to Yahoo Sports, Malik Monk apparently used cocaine, which led to his suspension. The ‘Malik Monk NBA suspension’ came about two weeks before the NBA was suspended on March 11. Monk was suspended by the league indefinitely.

The league statement noted that he will not be eligible to return until he is in full compliance with the NBA’s anti-drug program. He missed a total of eight games due to suspension.

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On Monday, the news ‘Malik Monk reinstated to the NBA’ was reported by ESPN this week.

It is still unclear if Monk was in ‘full compliance’ with the league’s drug-related policies. Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak told ESPN, “He (Malik Monk) went through his program, and my understanding was he was reinstated as soon as possible. He has been in our facility and participated in all team activities.” 

Kupchak further added that Monk will be back with the team whenever the franchise resumes its formal training routine. Hornets head coach James Borrego addressed the ‘Malik Monk reinstated’ news stating he will be welcomed back to the team and they will move past the suspension. 

Monk was drafted by the Hornets in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft. In three seasons with the Hornets, the 22-year-old played 191 games averaging 8.6 points and 1.7 assists per game. An impact player off the bench, Monk played 21 minutes per game this season, averaging 10.3 points and 2.1 assists in 55 matches. 

The Hornets are one of the eight NBA franchises who were eliminated from the 2019-20 season according to the shortened regular-season format. The Hornets occupied the 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 23-42 (win-loss) record. Hornets’ elimination means Malik Monk will team up with the roster and start preparing for the upcoming season. 

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Spurs LaMarcus Aldridge out for season after shoulder surgery

Seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge will miss the rest of San Antonio’s season while he recovers from surgery on his right shoulder, a major blow to the Spurs’ postseason probabilities, assuming the season continues as planned.

The Spurs announced Monday that Aldridge had the surgery on April 24, stemming from an injury he suffered in a game at Utah on Feb. 21.

San Antonio is one of the 22 teams will that report to the ESPN Wide Wide Of Sports complex at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida, starting next month, when the NBA plans to resume its season. The Spurs have been to the playoffs in 22 consecutive campaigns, matching the longest streak in NBA history.

When play resumes, the Spurs will be among four teams — the others being Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento — that are all separated by a half-game in the race for ninth place in the Western Conference and potentially a berth in a play-in series. The gap between those four teams is .010 percentage points. Aldridge played in two more games after getting hurt, including one on March 10, when he scored 24 points in the Spurs’ win over Dallas. The NBA suspended its season the following day because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Aldridge turns 35 next month. He concludes this season averaging 18.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

The Spurs say Aldridge “is expected to be fully cleared for all basketball activities” in time for training camp ahead of next season. Based on the NBA’s current calendar plans, training camps for 2020-21 are likely to start in November.

San Antonio now has very few options to turn to in their frontcourt, and that comes down to a number of poor decisions on their part. During the offseason, they traded future star shooter Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards in order to create the cap space to sign Marcus Morris, who then reneged on their agreement to join the New York Knicks. Only three days before Aldridge’s injury, the Spurs bought out versatile forward DeMarre Carroll, allowing him to join the Houston Rockets. That will force the Spurs to rely on younger players like Trey Lyles, Luka Samanic and Chimezie Metu. 

If nothing else, that will give San Antonio a glimpse into its future. Aldridge will turn 35 in July, and his contract expires after next season. Aldridge’s days as a superstar for the Spurs were limited as it was. After this injury, both his future and San Antonio’s are in even greater doubt.

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NBA approves 22 team format to finish season

After several months on hiatus, the NBA made significant headway in returning to play. On Thursday’s board of governors call with league commissioner Adam Silver, the owners approved a plan to conclude out the remainder of the 2019-20 season at Disney World in Orlando, where eventually, a champion will be crowned, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The vote required three-fourths support to pass, and it received a 29-1 vote from owners on the call, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The owners now need formal approval from the National Basketball Players Association before the league can move forward. The NBPA is expected to hold a virtual call on Friday to approve the plan that the owners just voted on, according to the New York Times’ Marc Stein.

The league is targeting a start date of July 31, where 22 of the 30 NBA teams are expected to participate in Orlando. That will include the 16 current playoff teams as well as the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards.

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Teams will play an abbreviated version of the regular season that will consist of eight games, as well as a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in both conferences.

The tournament will only happen if the No. 9 seed finishes within four games of the No. 8 seed, in which case the No. 9 seed will have to beat the No. 8 seed twice to earn the final playoff spot in their conference. The playoffs will be a best-of-seven series in each round, with the NBA Finals finishing no later than October 12.

While NBA seasons had previously been shortened by labor disputes, never has the league halted operations so abruptly only to pick them back up months down the line. That creates a number of questions leading into the resumed season, including how teams will prepare after so much idle time.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after two members of the Utah Jazz, later revealed to be Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, a number of players and league figures have tested positive, including Kevin Durant, Marcus Smart and New York Knicks owner James Dolan. Those who did test positive have since recovered, and no new positive tests have been made public since. 

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NBA to approve plan for 22 team return

The NBA’s Board of Governors on Thursday is expected to approve the league’s plan for a 22-team return in Orlando, ESPN reported.

The conference call is slated to take place at 12:30 p.m. ET. The NBA’s Board of Governors requires a three-fourths passage of the 30 teams on a plan.

The return of basketball would start July 31 under the proposal, with the last possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals being Oct. 12, ESPN reported.

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, each of the 22 teams will play eight regular-season games for seeding purposes for the playoffs.

The 16 teams now in postseason position will be joined by the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference and the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference.

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The Pelicans (28-36), Kings (28-36) and Trail Blazers (29-37) sit 3 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies (32-33) in the Western Conference. The Spurs (27-36) are four in back of the Grizzlies, while the Suns (26-39) are six back.

The Wizards (24-40) reside six games behind the seventh-place Brooklyn Nets (30-34) and 5 1/2 behind the eighth-place Orlando Magic (30-35).

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, “If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer matches behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth.”

The Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Nets and Magic currently occupy playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers join the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Grizzlies in residing in playoff position in the Western Conference. The NBA saw play stopped on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Wizards’ John Wall says he is 110% but still working at rehab

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall declared himself fully recovered after two operations that sidelined him for the past 1½ years and said he is “itching” to get back on the court next campaign.

Speaking on a video call Tuesday to discuss his “202 Assist” program to help pay rent for people in the nation’s capital affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Wall said he is “still taking my time at the rehab” and working to get himself “in the best shape possible.”

“I’m 110%,” the five-time All-Star said. “I’m healthy.”

He has not played in an NBA match since December 2018. Surgery for bone spurs in his left heel ended that season; while he was working his way back from that, he tore his left Achilles tendon and needed another operation in 2019.

That held Wall out for all of the current season, which was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m itching to get back out there,” he said Tuesday.

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When play was halted, the Wizards were 24-40 and ninth in the Eastern Conference, 5.5 games behind the team in the last playoff spot, the Orlando Magic. Wall’s backcourt mate, shooting guard Bradley Beal, was second in the league in scoring at 30.5 points per game.

“I’m just focused on getting back out there and watching how Brad has developed, how our team has developed,” Wall said, “how we have made changes in the organization to prepare ourselves for next season and see what we can do.”

He thinks NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will put the safety of players and their families first when determining whether and how to resume this season.

If that can’t be certain, Wall said, “I think they’ll stop the season and prepare for next year.”

The Wizards’ practice facility is closed because of lockdown measures, so Wall has been working out at home. He uses an app the Wizards gave players with information about weightlifting, rides his bike and works on shooting and ballhandling at a half-court he has at his house.

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Former NBA guard Mo Williams named Alabama State Head Coach

Fourteen-year NBA veteran Mo Williams has been named men’s basketball coach at Alabama State.

Williams has spent the past two seasons at Cal State University Northridge as an assistant with Mark Gottfried, his former coach at Alabama.

“It’s a great day to be a Hornet,” Williams said in a school release Tuesday. “I am extremely excited to become part of the family, and I am looking forward to the challenge. Go Hornets!”

Williams takes over Lewis Jackson, who resigned in March after 15 years as coach of the Hornets. “We are excited about the direction of our men’s basketball program as we moved forward into this new era,” Alabama State athletic director Jennifer Lynne Williams.

“Mo Williams checked the boxes that we were looking for in the next head coach of Alabama State men’s basketball, and his passion and leadership speak volumes. He is no stranger to the South, having played high school basketball in Mississippi and college basketball in Alabama.”

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Williams was a Parade All-American at Murrah High in Jackson, Mississippi.

Williams, a 6-foot-1 guard, was a standout at Alabama from 2001-03 and helped the Crimson Tide to the SEC regular season title as a freshman and earned Sporting News National Freshman of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year in 2002.

Williams averaged 16.4 points per game during his sophomore season.

After two campaigns at Alabama, Williams was selected No. 47 overall in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz.

He is best recognized for the time he spent in Cleveland — two stints from 2008-11 and back again for the 2015-16 season when the Cavaliers won the NBA title. 

He averaged 13.2 points per match during his career which also included stops with the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Charlotte Hornets.

Williams will take over a program that won 207 matches during Jackson’s tenure and made three NCAA tournament appearances. However, the Hornets were 8-24 this past season and struggled with an early out-of-conference schedule that included Gonzaga, Tennessee, Kansas State, Oregon, Houston and VCU. 

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