Tagged in: NBA

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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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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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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