Tagged in: NBA

Stephon Marbury trying to get masks from China for New York

Former NBA star Stephon Marbury is using his connections in China to seek to supply New York hospitals with 10 million N95 masks at a discount, according to Rich Calder of the New York Post.

Thanks to Marbury, the mask supplier in China will sell the state masks “at cost” for $2.75 each to help supply medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had said suppliers were trying to sell masks for $7.50 each amid the current crisis, according to Bob Ivry and Brandon Kochkodin of Bloomberg.

After learning of the shortage within New York City, Marbury reached out to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams while helping broker the deal with the new supplier.

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“At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn,” he stated. “This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York. I have family there in Coney Island, a lot of family … who are affected by this, so I know how important it is for people to have masks during this time.”

Julia Arredondo, spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, confirmed that Adams reached out to City Hall about the masks supplier, per the Post. 

But they have yet to iron out details, which means no purchases have been made. 

New York has been hit notably hard by COVID-19, with over 52,000 cases as of Sunday, per CNN.com. There are more than 120,000 cases nationwide.

Marbury was able to see the damage from the global pandemic even earlier from his home in Beijing, where he has been a coach in the China Basketball Association. He was a player in the CBA from 2010 to ’18 after a 13-year career in the NBA.

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NBA to pay players full salaries due April 1

The NBA and its players are in a very difficult financial situation. With matches suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak, teams have no revenue incoming.

Players have guaranteed contracts, though, so the two sides have to sort out how to approach this crisis in a manner satisfactory to all involved. While no long-term plan has been made, the NBA took a short-term step to appease the players on Friday.

Teams will pay players their next scheduled check on April 1, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

Typical NBA contracts spell out payments on the first and 15th of every month during the season, though different pay schedules can be spelled out within individual contracts.

That means that, for the most part, the league’s next payday after April 1 would have come on April 15.

The league will give teams “additional guidance” on that payday in the near future.

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While short-term solutions are necessary, the league has a bigger long-term problem to solve if it hopes to settle its finances. As it presently sits, the owners stand to take the brunt of the fall for lost games.

While salaries are guaranteed in advance through contracts, the cap is based on projected revenue. The league didn’t build coronavirus into its plans, so players had been set to be paid as if this was a normal season. 

The league has tools it can use to force a compromise. All player contracts have force majeure clauses that allow teams to withhold 1/92.6th of their salary for every canceled game, and 10 percent of player salaries are held in escrow in case players wind up earning more in a given season than the CBA allows. That means that, in all likelihood, the players and the league will work together to find a compromise that splits the burden of these lost matches evenly among both sides.

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Two Lakers’ players test positive on Coronavirus

Two Los Angeles Lakers players tested positive for the coronavirus, the team has affirmed. 

The names of the players were not made public and they are in midst of a 14-day self-quarantine. 

The tests were taken by the Lakers on Wednesday and were administered entirely within the players’ cars, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The Lakers took the tests after superstar Kevin Durant and three other members of the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. 

The Lakers were the last team to play the Nets before the campaign was indefinitely suspended, as Brooklyn bested Los Angeles 104-102 last Tuesday night.

The list of NBA members to test positive for the virus continues to grow. As of Thursday, there have been 14 confirmed or reported cases spanning seven different teams.

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, eight of the league’s 30 teams have undergone team-wide testing. The teams that are openly known are the Jazz, Thunder, Raptors, Nets, Lakers and Sixers. The Raptors came back with negative test results.

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While some have been frustrated with the ease with which NBA teams seem to be acquiring the tests considering its lack of widespread availability, NBA spokesman Mike Bass made the argument to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that testing players across the league’s landscape is essential. 

NBA team facilities will reportedly be closed to players and team staff beginning on Friday in order to try to curb the outbreak of the virus.

During this time, players are able to travel outside of the city where they play, but they must stay in the country. Despite this, Silver stays optimistic that the season can still be salvaged, to an extent. 

While a return to basketball this season would be great, it’s obviously secondary to the health and safety of the teams, players and fans.

The NBA will certainly explore all feasible avenues when it comes to getting back on the floor, but the situation is fluid, and something that the league can’t control. Like everyone else, they just have to hope that the virus can be curbed in a timely manner.

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Kevin Durant among four Nets players to test positive for covid-19

Kevin Durant, the DMV’s contemporary basketball legend, tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after coming back from a trip to San Francisco with his new team the Brooklyn Nets.  Durant, who remains sidelined after rupturing his achilles tendon in the 2019 NBA Finals while playing for the Golden State Warriors, was one of four Nets players who reportedly have contracted the virus.

“Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine,” the Prince George’s County native said to the sports website The Athletic. He said that he is feeling fine and not showing any symptoms. “We’re going to get through this.”

According to various reports, Brooklyn hired an outside firm to handle its testing, but the organization hasn’t released the names of the players. However, the Nets said in a statement on Tuesday that only one of the four players showed symptoms of the virus. but they are being kept isolated while receiving medical attention from team physicians. 

Four players represent one third of the team’s roster who have been infected.

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“All players and members of the Nets travel party are being asked to remain isolated, closely monitor their health and maintain constant communication with team medical staff,” the Nets said in a statement.

“The health of our players and staff is of the highest priority to the organization and the team is doing everything within its power to ensure that those affected receive the best care possible.”

Durant, 31, signed a four-year deal that could pay him $164 million in Brooklyn after spending the last three years with the Warriors. While playing in the Bay Area he led Golden State to straight championships and they seemed poised for a third until he was lost for good in game six of the 2019 championship series.

The 10-time NBA all star led them on two title runs and was named NBA Finals MVP twice. He hasn’t played this campaign while rehabilitating an Achilles tendon injury suffered during their loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The final team the Nets faced before the season was forced into its hiatus were the Los Angeles Lakers ,who have been tested Wednesday. Lakers officials announced via Twitter after testing the team will be imposing a 14-day self quarantine.

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Bikerstaff get multi year deal to coach Cavaliers

An encouraging 10-game start to his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers has formally landed head coach J.B. Bickerstaff a contract extension. 

The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo was the first to report that Bickerstaff and the Cavs had agreed to a multiyear deal. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the deal is for four years and will run through the 2023-24 campaign. 

The 41-year-old started this season with the Cavaliers as an associate head coach on John Beilein’s staff. He spent the previous two years as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies but was fired after a 33-49 record in 2018-19. 

When Beilein resigned as Cleveland’s head coach on Feb. 19, the team promoted Bickerstaff to take over on a full-time basis. 

“We are very fortunate to have someone of J.B.’s caliber and basketball pedigree lead our franchise as head coach,” Altman said in a statement released by the team. “His wealth of experience, coupled with the respect he has garnered around the NBA and with this team, has made for a seamless transition from associate head coach to head coach.

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The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon reported after Beilein’s resignation that Cavs players “began tuning Beilein out” during training camp and he had “shown no consistency in relating to players or in building lasting relationships with them.”

One unnamed Cavaliers player told Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor the change has been “night and day” going from Beilein to Bickerstaff: “[Beilein] didn’t know how to talk to people. He couldn’t communicate.”

After going 14-40 under Beilein, the Cavaliers have been a respectable 5-5 in 10 matches with Bickerstaff at the helm.

Bickerstaff previously coached in Houston and Memphis before coming to Cleveland. He led the Rockets to the playoffs in 2015-16.

Second-year guard Collin Sexton, a core piece of the rebuild, has been one of the driving forces behind the surge, averaging 25.4 points over the last 10 matches, which ranks 14th in the NBA. Only LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid are averaging more points per match with a higher field goal percentage. Sexton is also averaging 4.1 assists and 10.1 potential assists under Bickerstaff.

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Kings send Warriors to 7th straight home loss

The Sacramento Kings came out of the All-Star break knowing they had little margin for error if they wanted to make a playoff push.

Three straight victories to begin the stretch run has them creeping back into contention.

Harrison Barnes and De’Aaron Fox each scored 21 points and the Kings defeated the Golden State Warriors 112-94 on Tuesday night for their ninth victory in the past 13 games.

”It’s a big goal,” coach Luke Walton said about making the playoffs. ”But the way you achieve a big goal is by focusing on the present and what we’re working on, and showing up and playing a certain style every night. If we do that, we’ll give ourselves a better chance to achieve the big goal at the end of the day.”

The Kings still have plenty of work to do to reach that level, as they still trail Memphis by four games in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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But after losing 15 of 18 games during a stretch in December and January, even having a shot at it is an achievement.

”I think we’re playing well on both sides of the ball,” Fox said. ”Things have been going good for us. We’ve been able to get stops when we needed them. … We’re playing our best basketball of the season.”

Buddy Hield made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter on the way to a 19-point night and Bogdan Bogdanovic had 17 to give the Kings their third straight win.

Marquese Chriss scored 21 points and Andrew Wiggins added 16 for Golden State.

The Warriors have lost seven consecutive overall and seven in a row at home for the first time since dropping the final seven home games in the 2000-01 season.

The Kings raced out to an early lead behind 14 points in the first quarter from Barnes and never trailed on the way to their third win in as many meetings this season with the Warriors.

This is the longest winning streak in the Northern California series for Sacramento since winning 15 in a row from 2000-03.

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Houston Rockets to sign verterans Green, Carroll

The Houston Rockets are keeping busy during the All-Star break, with plans to sign veteran forwards DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Green, according to multiple media reports Monday.

Green, who has been a free agent since Utah Jazz waived him on December 24, is estimated to sign a 10-day contract as early as Tuesday, according to league sources at ESPN.

Sources indicate he will be offered a deal for the rest of the season if he feels comfortable enough to commit to it.

Carroll, who took a buyout from the San Antonio Spurs on Monday after playing only 15 games (averaging 2.2 points, 2.1 rebounds a game), needs to clear waivers before signing with the Rockets.

“I don’t know what went wrong, what happened,” Carroll said via the San Antonio Express-News about his short stint with the Spurs after signing as a free agent last summer.

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“I felt like San Antonio was going to be a great place for me, for my talents, but it didn’t work out.”

Carroll, 33, is in his 11th NBA campaign, having started his career with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2009 after they made him a first-round pick in that year’s NBA draft.

During the 2010-11 season, he played for the Rockets, and also had stints with the Denver Nuggets (2011-12), Utah Jazz (2011-13), Atlanta Hawks (2013-15), Toronto Raptors (2015-17) and Brooklyn Nets (2017-19). In 569 career games, he has averaged 9.0 points and 4.3 rebounds.

The six-foot-eight Green, also 33, has career averages of 13.0 points and 4.4 rebounds a game while playing for eight NBA franchises, beginning his 13-year career with the Seattle SuperSonics in 2007-08.

During his time with the franchise that became the Oklahoma City Thunder, Green was team-mates with current Rockets players James Harden and Russell Westbrook. His other stops included the Boston Celtics, Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards.

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Suns Debin Booker replaces injured Damian Lillard in All-Star Game

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker was among the NBA’s biggest All-Star Game snubs and loudest critics of its selection process. As it turns out, the 23-year-old scoring savant is an All-Star after all.

Booker will substitute injured Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard in both Saturday’s 3-point contest and Sunday’s All-Star Game, the league informed on Thursday morning. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had the final say on which Western Conference player replaced Lillard.

Booker will fill Lillard’s spot on Team LeBron. That he was not already on the roster came as a surprise. The Suns star’s 26.4 points per match currently rank 10th in the NBA, and he is doing so on 50/36/92 shooting splits. Booker is also averaging 6.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds a night. His first All-Star selection cements his status as one of the game’s best young players.

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Lillard withdrew from the All-Star Game and 3-point contest after suffering a right groin strain (grade 1-2) late in Wednesday’s beat to the Memphis Grizzlies.

He plans to rehab during the break in hopes of leading the Blazers to a seventh straight playoff appearance. Portland currently trails Memphis by four games for the eighth seed.

Although this is his first All-Star Game, Booker has been part of All-Star Weekend in each of his five NBA campaigns. He has been in the 3-point contest three other times, winning the title in 2018 and also competing in 2016 and 2019. He was a finalist in that event as a 19-year-old in 2016, alongside Golden State’s sharpshooting duo of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.

Booker still holds the 3-point contest records for most points in any round and most points in a final round — he had 28 points in the finals to win the title two years ago. Booker took part in the skills challenge in 2017.

He also scored 25 points in the 2016 Rising Stars game and 17 points when he returned to that game for first- and second-year players the following season.

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Williamson’s pushes Pelicans past Blazers

Zion Williamson scored a season-high 31 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans used a dominant second half to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 138–117 Tuesday night.

”I expect to make an impact but I don’t expect to do nothing like this,” Williamson said in his usual, grinning, affable manner. ”I just kind of look to come in, just kind of fit in, just not try to mess up, but my teammates and coaches are always pushing me.”

‘I do hold myself to high expectations, but I think it’s just finding the line between reality and dreams,” Williamson added. ”If my teammates find me, they find me. If not, just got to make another play, get the rebound and just play defense.”

Playing 28 minutes in just his ninth NBA game, Williamson used his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame, quick feet and explosive vertical to have his way with every defender Portland tried against him.

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Williamson was either too strong, too fast, or both. He mixed spinning dribbles and sudden baseline drives into his usual arsenal of soaring transition dunks and tenacious putbacks. Six of his nine rebounds came on the offensive end.

”I don’t really think he’s comparable to anyone that I have seen,” Portland forward Carmelo Anthony said of Williamson. ”Someone who is as powerful as that, who jumps like that … you can tell he’s getting better and getting a feel for the game.”

JJ Redick scored 20 points for New Orleans, which trailed by as many as 16 in the first quarter before taking command en route to a third consecutive triumph. Portland star Damian Lillard scored 20 points — less than half of his 42-point average over his previous 10 matches. 

Brandon Ingram was ruled for the game due to a sprained ankle.

The victory against Portland brings the Pelicans to 25–30, only three matches behind the Memphis Grizzlies.

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Grizzlies agree to trade Andre Iguodala to Heat

The Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to a deal to send Andre Iguodala to the Miami Heat, a league source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Iguodala also has agreed to a two-year, $30 million extension with Miami, sources said. The extension includes a team option.

Justise Winslow is part of the package headed to Memphis, sources told Wojnarowski. The forward has played in only 11 games for the Heat this season because of injuries. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4 assists.

In addition, Miami, Memphis and the Oklahoma City Thunder are working on an elaborate three-team trade that would land the Heat both Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, league sources told Wojnarowski.

The Heat and Gallinari’s representatives were working on a contract extension overnight to help finalize the three-team trade, league sources told Wojnarowski.

Gallinari can become a free agent this summer.

Part of the challenge in a new deal is the Heat’s wish to preserve cap space for 2021.

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Iguodala said he’s “really excited” to be joining the Heat and playing with Jimmy Butler, who had similar feelings.

“[He brings] winning. He knows how to do that on both sides of the ball. He’s super smart. There’s nothing he cannot do,” Butler said after a 128-111 loss to the LA Clippers on Wednesday. “We got a lot of pieces, man. He’s definitely going to add to that.”

Iguodala, 36, hasn’t played for the Grizzlies this season. Last summer, the Golden State Warriors sent the veteran swingman — who is making $17.2 million in the final year of his contract — and a lightly protected 2024 first-round pick to the rebuilding Grizzlies because Golden State needed to shed his salary to execute a three-team, sign-and-trade deal for All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell.

Iguodala was a fundamental piece of the Warriors’ three championships and five straight Finals appearances; he is considered one of the league’s elite wing defenders and is an excellent passer and threat off the dribble.

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