Suns trade Polish Marcin Gortat, reportedly apologize by offering free tickets to fans celebrating Polish heritage night

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The Suns will celebrate Polish heritage night during their season opener against the Trail Blazers tonight, Phoenix’s only game during Polish-American Heritage month. The Suns weren’t necessarily honoring Polish heritage solely because Marcin Gortat was slated to be their starting center, but they at least made Gortat a prominent part of the festivities.

And then they traded him to the Wizards.

Michael Lee of The Washington Post:

The timing of the trade caught Gortat off guard, too, because he assumed that he would at least make it through the first week of the regular season. The Suns planned to have Polish heritage night for their home opener on Wednesday and Gortat had flown in 25 people from his native country – including soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, the Polish minister of sport, the Polish ambassador and children from his basketball camp — for what was expected to be a fun week in Phoenix. But while they were arriving in Arizona, Gortat was catching a flight to start his new life in Washington.“They all was sitting there at a dinner and chatting about everything. I was sitting by myself in a hotel” in Washington, Gortat said, shaking his head. “So the last 24 hours have been hell. It was hard for me, at the beginning, but this is life. This is a business. The NBA is a big, big business.”

But all’s well that ends well. Those who bought tickets to the game using the code “POLISH,” will get free tickets when the Wizards visit Phoenix in January, according to the Polish American Congress Arizona Division (hat tip: Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post):

Ladies and Gentleman,

As you may have heard, we just received some unfortunate news about Marcin Gortat. He was just traded to play with the Washington Wizards. He will not participate in Polish Heritage Night on Wednesday as he will already be playing for the Wizards.

This is very disappointing.

I spoke to a representative of the Phoenix Suns and he encouraged all Polish fans to still come to the game and show the strength of the Polish community in Arizona as it cheers for their local team.

To make up for this unpleasant situation the Suns have offered all the fans who bought tickets thru the special web site a free ticket to a game on January 24, 2014 at 7PM in which Marcin Gortat will play with the Wizzards against the Suns.

I will let everyone know how these tickets will be issued (they may be issued at Wednesday’s game). I will also let you know if the post-game events have been cancelled.

That’s still a major bummer for the fans who came from Poland. I imagine many won’t be able to repeat the trip.

Hopefully, they can take solace in the fact that the best Polish player in NBA player is now in a much better situation, both for team and individual success.

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture

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Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls

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Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

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John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

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Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”