Category Archives: NBA

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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Cavaliers to open facility for workouts friday

The Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to reopen their practice facility on a limited basis Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic, a team spokesman told the New York Times’ Marc Stein.

Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, who first stated the news, noted that the NBA set Friday as the date that teams in cities with softened stay-at-home orders can start to open their facilities under strict guidelines.

Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and the team’s medical staff reportedly advised players during Zoom calls Wednesday that the facility will open back up for individual workouts. While the Cavs are reopening, Fedor reported that not all teams are going to follow suit even if they are located in areas in which opening their facilities would be permitted.

Everyone who has access to the practice facility will have to adhere to strict protocol upon arriving at the building.

Per Fedor, those attempting to enter will get their temperature taken and have to answer questions about how they’re feeling, where they’ve been and who they’ve been around.

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA has told teams not to test asymptomatic players for COVID-19. Instead, the league has given teams with updated information on cardiac screening for players if needed.

Under the guidelines, a maximum of four players can be in the facility at any given time, and they must be socially distant from one another. Also, everyone in the building must wear masks at all times, with the exception of the players during physical activity.

While head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his primary assistants won’t be allowed to participate in the workouts, players will be permitted to have developmental coaches present if they desire, per Fedor.

The Cavs will reportedly break down their workouts into two-hour windows from Monday through Thursday, with players able to work on the court and in the weight room.

The reopening of some practice facilities is the first of many steps toward potentially resuming the 2019-20 season, which was suspended in March after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

No specific plans are in place for when and under what circumstances the season could restart, but there were well over 200 total regular-season games left to be played plus the playoffs.

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NBA discusses delaying start of 2020-21 season until December

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and team owners examined delaying the start of next season until December due to complications with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — an idea that is reportedly gaining traction among owners.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the NBA to suspend operations on March 11. The league presently doesn’t have any specific plans to resume play. 

The NBA officially postponed both the draft lottery and scouting combine on Friday, both of which were scheduled to take place this month in Chicago. It did not delay the draft itself — which is currently scheduled for June 25 — however “there’s an increasing belief that it’s just a matter of time” before that happens, per Wojnarowski. 

There were more than 1.1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 64,500 deaths attributed to the virus.

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Most sports leagues in the country, including the NBA, have considered playing matches without fans present upon return.

The idea behind delaying the start of next season, per Wojnarowski, is to allow fans to be present for as much of the season as possible. 

“If you start in December, that doesn’t mean the [fans] are coming back in December, but maybe they’re back in March,” one owner told ESPN. 

While talks occurred on Friday, there are “no imminent plans” to make any decisions about next season now. Before that plan is made, the league will almost certainly need to determine how it will move forward with the rest of the current season. 

Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said in March that he believes beginning the season in mid-December rather than in mid-October would eliminate competition with most other professional sports leagues. Instead of competing with the NFL and college football for the first few months of the season, the NBA would be able to dominate the winter and summer — where Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour are, for the most part, alone in the sports world. 

Doing so would push the NBA Finals to August, which would allow the season to conclude just before football begins again each fall.

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Knicks sign one year GM Scott Perry

Leon Rose, the new president of the New York Knicks, isn’t ready to show general manager Scott Perry the door just yet. Newsday reported on Wednesday that the Knicks have kept Perry on a one-year contract.

The Knicks confirmed Perry’s new contract with a statement from Rose.

“Scott is a well-respected basketball executive who I have known for more than 20 years, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him as we look to build a winning team in New York,” Rose stated, via Newsday. Rose was named Knicks president in March after Steve Mills was released in February.

In normal, non-coronavirus times, this move would be seen as classic Knicks. Instead of cleaning house, something that is badly overdue in the executive ranks, the Knicks are retaining the old GM who continued the team’s slide into irrelevance and embarrassment.

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Retaining Perry is still a classic Knicks move, but there’s more to consider right now.

The NBA is at a total standstill due to COVID-19, and there’s no telling when — or if — the league will resume play this campaign. The draft is still scheduled for June 25, but teams have reportedly been calling for commissioner Adam Silver to push it back so it can coincide with the official end of the season (whenever that will be).

Everything that’s happening with the NBA is unprecedented and weird, and bringing in a brand new general manager amid so much doubt is like digging a hole with a shovel when there’s a backhoe sitting in your driveway. It would unnecessarily increase the degree of difficulty, and at the worst possible time.

Perry is on a one-year contract, so Rose hasn’t committed the Knicks to multiple years of Perry if things don’t work out in the next year. Perry now has an opportunity to turn things around with a new president, a chance he may not have had if the NBA wasn’t forced to suspend the season.

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NBA to open practice facilities

The NBA will reportedly allow teams to open their practice facilities again beginning on May 1, more than six weeks after it suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teams will be allowed to re-open those facilities only if their respective local governments have eased stay-at-home orders, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

There were more than 926,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Saturday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and millions of Americans are still under some form of a stay-at-home order — many of which have been extended past May 1. 

Teams will not be authorized to require players to work out at their facilities, but rather will let them do so on a voluntary basis.

No organized team activities or group workouts will be allowed, either.

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While some markets will have lifted or significantly loosened stay-at-home restrictions by that date, many will still be implemented past that date — including both New York teams and the four California franchises. The NBA, per Wojnarowski, will work with teams unable to open their facilities directly in order to make sure every player has the opportunity to safely practice again.

Many players had been asking their teams about traveling to Georgia to workout, too, per the report. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has allowed certain businesses in the state to re-open this week — a decision that has drawn criticism, even from President Donald Trump — including gyms. The league, however, made it clear it doesn’t want players working out at public fitness centers there.

Though it appears that this is the first step to resuming the season in some form, the league is “still unsure” when it will play again, if at all, per Wojnarowski.  NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last week that the league is “not in a position to make any decisions” about what the rest of the season may look like, but that “everything is on the table.”

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Zach LaVine set to lead Chicago’s charge on court

Though the standing on the rest of this 12 months’s NBA season stays unclear, Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine is not permitting it to kill his spirit.

Amid Monday’s front-office modifications — which included firing basic supervisor Gar Forman — LaVine shared his marriage proposal to his now-fiancee, Hunter Mar, on Instagram. And on Tuesday, he spoke along with his former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell on the NBA’s Instagram Reside about how he plans to assist the Bulls transfer ahead when basketball resumes.

“You need to have targets. We had an aim coming into the 12 months and we did not obtain it,” LaVine instructed Mitchell. “We fell actually brief. We weren’t pretty much as good as we thought we had been. We did not play in addition to we may’ve.

Earlier than the March 11 stoppage, LaVine was averaging a career-best 25.5 factors, 4.eight rebounds and 4.2 assists per recreation, however the workforce was 22-43 general. Chicago has now accomplished one among its greatest front-office shake-ups in the franchise historical past after hiring Denver Nuggets basic supervisor Arturas Karnisovas as the chief vp of basketball operations.

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The Bulls additionally moved John Paxson, who beforehand held Karnisovas’ place, within the new position of senior adviser of basketball operations and are looking for a brand new basic supervisor.

“Incomes the keenness and pleasure again from the followers of the Chicago Bulls is each a problem and one thing I very a lot look ahead to,” Karnisovas stated. “These followers deserve a workforce that they are often pleased with and my goal is to get us again to relevancy.”

Whereas variations are nonetheless being made, LaVine continues to work out and stand up a whole lot of pictures in his house state of Washington regardless of remaining underneath quarantine.

The 2-time slam dunk champion additionally shut out NBA legend Paul Pierce on Sunday evening within the NBA’s first HORSE Challenge on ESPN and is headed to Thursday’s semifinals the place he’ll look to win all of it.

As soon as the NBA resumes, he’ll attempt to carry over that momentum to take the following step in his profession.

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Bulls tab Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas to lead basketball ops

The Chicago Bulls are hiring Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas to become the franchise’s new executive vice president of basketball operations, league sources told ESPN.

The sides were completing contractual details on a multi-year deal late on Wednesday night, after offering the job to Karnisovas shortly after completing a second-round of interviews, sources said.

Karnisovas, 48, will replace John Paxson, who has been running the Bulls basketball operations since 2003. He will be tasked with hiring a new general manager and reshaping the totality of an organization that’s fallen out of the playoffs for the past two campaigns.

The Bulls were taken with Karnisovas’ history for talent evaluation and strong endorsements from Nuggets Governor Josh Kroenke and President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly about his leadership, organization and ability to structure operations, sources said.

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Karnisovas had a lengthy virtual interview with Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf – who’s leading the search — on Tuesday, sources said.

On Wednesday, Michael Reinsdorf introduced Karnisovas to his father, Jerry, for additional discussions and got the blessing to offer Karnisovas the job.

Reinsdorf completed an initial round of virtual meetings on Wednesday after an interview with former Atlanta Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, sources said.

Karnisovas’ diverse background in the game had caught the Bulls attention from the beginning of this process, including his role in building the Denver Nuggets into a contender with President Tim Connelly and Governor Josh Kroenke. The Nuggets draft success has included All-NBA center Nikola Jokic, guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris and former center Jusuf Nurkic.

Karnisovas had stops with the Houston Rockets front office and league office and a decorated EuroLeague and Olympic-medal winning playing career. Karnisovas, a native of Lithuania, left home as a teenager to play college basketball at Seton Hall.

Karnisovas will be asked to reshape the Bulls front office, including hiring a new general manager and additional basketball operations and scouting positions, sources said.

Paxson is expected to move into an advisory role and there will be discussions with GM Gar Forman about his future with the organization too, sources said.

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UCLA Chris Smith enter NBA draft

UCLA junior Chris Smith is entering the 2020 NBA draft, he told ESPN on Tuesday.

“I’m 100% committed to the process and am excited to see what the future holds,” Smith stated.

Smith, the No. 72 prospect in the ESPN Top 100, is coming off a breakout season, earning Pac-12 Most Improved Player and All-Pac-12 first-team honors.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per match for the Bruins, helping his team recover from a poor start to finish the campaign 12-6 in the Pac-12. UCLA was the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament prior to it being canceled.

Smith enrolled at UCLA as a 17-year-old and is the youngest junior in the ESPN 100; he is younger than most sophomores and even some freshman projected to be drafted, having only turned 20 in late December.

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He is intriguing to NBA teams not only due to his age, but also his versatility.

He has perimeter skill, making 35% of his 3-pointers this campaign and 85% of his free throws. Defensively, he was regularly tasked with defending opposing guards, doing a better job of buying into using his tools more regularly as the season moved on under Mick Cronin, one of the reasons UCLA won nine of its last 11 games.

The NBA draft is programmed for June 25, but following worldwide suspensions of basketball activities during the coronavirus pandemic, NBA front-office executives and others in the industry told ESPN they are bracing for the potential impact of a delayed 2020 draft with a heavily reduced pre-draft process.

A player like Smith would be highly sought for private workouts and interviews, as teams would surely like to get a better handle on the likelihood of him reaching his untapped potential.

The NBA informed teams on Monday that organizations are prohibited from conducting in-person workouts or interviews with draft-eligible players until further notice.

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Utah Jazz undergo layoffs amid coronavirus pandemic

The first organization in the NBA has formally made layoffs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A small percentage” of the Utah Jazz workforce — as part of larger overall layoffs within the Larry H. Miller Group — lost their jobs on Friday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The layoffs, per the report, were limited to non-basketball staff members, though it’s unclear how many lost their jobs. Some employees will also start taking pay reductions.

“Due to the impact on our customer-facing businesses from this unprecedented pandemic, the [Miller Group] …. unfortunately had to make difficult decisions to reduce a small percentage of our workforce,” the organization said in a statement, via Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune. “Over the past several weeks, we have worked to manage and reduce costs, including executive compensation, and have reached a point where we have had to say farewell to a limited number of our valued employees.

“We have connected with our associates with outplacement services and aligned them with employers who have immediate hiring needs. We remain focused on helping our communities stay healthy.”

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The NBA suspended operations on March 11, just moments after Jazz veteran Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

Several others across the league have since tested positive, including Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, Knicks owner James Dolan and others. There is still no plan in place for a return this campaign, though plenty of ideas have been floated should the league be able to return at all.

Many teams have created plans and funds to help displaced arena and staff workers amid the league hiatus in recent weeks, led by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who announced he was setting up a plan the same night the league shut down. 

The Philadelphia 76ers briefly announced that it was planning to reduce employee salaries, however quickly shut that down after immense public backlash. 

The Jazz are the first organization to officially introduce layoffs, however several others are looking into that option, according to ESPN.

The NBA reportedly asked players to take a 50 percent pay cut starting on April 15 on Friday, though the NBPA countered with a 25 percent pay cut starting in mid-May.

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