Who is left on the board after wild first day of NBA free agency?

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That was insane.

NBA teams agreed to $1.3 billion in contract money in the first 24 hours of free agency, in what was as hectic a first day as anyone can recall. The CBA worked as the owners intended — small market teams did just as well (actually, much better) than the big markets and most free agents took the extra money and security their current teams could offer. Guys stayed home (19 out of 26 guys did not change teams of the early signings).

So who is left on the board as we head into Day 2? Here are the biggest names out there still.

LeBron James — Like he’s leaving Cleveland. He’s a free agent in name only.

Marc Gasol — He also is out there in name only, the Grizzlies will have a deal with him by the end of the day. It’s just that the deal is being worked out in Spain, in between tapas and siestas, so it’s moving at a different pace.

LaMarcus Aldridge — He has a couple more meetings on Thursday, including with the Knicks and Raptors, before sitting down and figuring out where he wants to play next. The Spurs remain the front-runners, they impressed him with their pitch, plus he gets to go home to Texas and step straight on to a contender. However, Portland, Phoenix and everyone but the Lakers are still holding out hope.

DeAndre Jordan — The athletic center has had a few meetings, and it is thought to be a 50/50 decision between the Mavericks and Clippers. In Dallas he gets to go home to Texas and be a bigger part of the offense; but the Clippers offer more money, he likes living in Los Angeles and playing for Doc Rivers, plus they are legit title contenders.

Greg Monroe — Maybe the most open name on the board. The young center played for relative peanuts last season to get this moment, and the Knicks and Lakers are both very interested. However, both Portland and Milwaukee have made strong impressions and are in the mix. He’s going to get a max, he just has to decide where he wants to play.

Dwyane Wade — He and the Miami Heat need each other, and they are reportedly closing in on a deal. There isn’t much of a market outside Miami for his skills, unless he wants to take less money than he felt insulted by when the Heat offered it.

Robin Lopez — He has had interest from a number of teams, but for the Knicks and Bucks the veteran big man is kind of Plan B after Monroe. Lopez is going to get paid then bring solid defense and a hatred of mascots to wherever he chooses.

Wesley Matthews — He tore his Achilles last season and, while reportedly ahead of schedule on rehab, teams can’t expect him to be right for at least half if not all of this next season. That said, he has shown zero interest in taking a discount — he wants $15 million per year or more. Dallas is considered the front-runner for maybe the best “3 and D” guy in the league (because he can do more than just that), but other teams such as the Kings are interested.

Tobias Harris — With Orlando striking out on Paul Millsap (who stayed in Atlanta) it may take a max offer to get the Magic not to match (Harris is a restricted free agent). The Pistons, Lakers, Knicks and others have reportedly been interested, but will any of them put that much money on the table for the young forward?

Monta Ellis — The Pacers meet with Ellis on Thursday, and that may be a match. The Pacers need shot creation and playmaking, plus they have the money to pay. The Kings also are said to be interested, and more may come calling.

Other names on the board: Lou Williams, Rodney Stuckey, Jared Dudley, Ed Davis, Kosta Koufos and Patrick Beverley (he’s restricted, the Rockets can match any offer).

Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo to wear “Equality” on jersey

Giannis Antetokounmpo jersey
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While a couple of high profile stars — LeBron James and Anthony Davisare forgoing a social justice message on their jersey, Giannis Antetokounmpo has settled on one.

“Equality.”

That’s what the reigning MVP told reporters Monday, it’s the same message his brothers (Thanasis Antetokounmpo, also on the Bucks) will wear. Giannis would not get into why he chose “equality.”

Antetokounmpo, who grew up as a poor immigrant in Athens, is not going to complain about the bubble conditions. From Eric Woodyard of ESPN.

“I’m in a situation where I’m extremely blessed and I cannot complain. Obviously, it doesn’t matter where you are in life, there’s always something to complain, there’s always a problem and an issue,” Antetokounmpo said. “But I try to kind of not focus on that. So as I said, my apartment in Greece, when I was younger, with my four brothers, was way smaller than the suite that I have in the hotel, so I’m just trying to enjoy the moment.

“This is something special,” he continued. “Hopefully, this pandemic never happens again so we never are able to come back in the campus, but at the end of the day, this is part of history, so just being able to be here, participate in this, I’m just trying to be in the moment, trying to enjoy every moment, trying to enjoy basketball. I’m happy that we’re back playing basketball, something that I love doing, so there’s nothing really to complain about.”

If only every player had that mindset.

 

Pacers’ increasingly optimistic Victor Oladipo to play in restart

Victor Oladipo play
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“With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can’t get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing… getting fully healthy for the 2020-21 season is the right decision for me.”

That was Pacers’star Victor Oladipo explaining why he would sit out the NBA restart in Orlando.

Then he got to the Walt Disney World property and saw the set up of the bubble, and he got in some five-on-five practices with teammates, and not it appears he might play after all, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Oladeipo may lace them up and play at the end of the month, but nothing is set in stone. Of course, a competitor like Oladipo wants to get on the court, and there is an unquestioned energy finally getting back out there after the coronavirus-forced interruption.

There are also another $2.7 million reasons for him to play (the salary he would lose sitting out). Countering that, Oladipo also got one more year under contract and his concerns about an injury from ramping up to fast are legitimate.

Oladipo missed more than a year after surgery to repair a torn right quad tendon. He played in 13 games before the league was shut down, and in the last five of those he averaged 18.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.

Indiana enters the bubble as the five seed in the East, tied with the sixth-seed Sixers, and just two games back of the four seed Heat. There could be a lot of shakeups in the middle of the East standings, which would impact first-round playoff matchups.

The Pacers are a much more dangerous threat with Oladipo in the lineup, but the player and the team need to decide if now is the time to push that advantage.

Kings’ Richaun Holmes quarantined after leaving NBA bubble for food delivery

Kings center Richaun Holmes
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Coronavirus cases are surging in Florida. The NBA’s bubble is in Florida.

Is that a problem?

Theoretically, the bubble location shouldn’t matter. The NBA’s setup at Disney World is designed for players never to come into too close of contact with the surrounding community. So, it wouldn’t matter how prevalent coronavirus is in the surrounding community.

Unless someone violates the protocols.

Which nobody eeeeever expected would happen.

Kings center Richaun Holmes:

Presumably, Holmes – like Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo – faces a 10-day quarantine

That’s the way to ensure Holmes didn’t contract coronavirus from the deliverer. Holmes would almost certainly test positive and/or show symptoms within 10 days if he has coronavirus. A player spreading coronavirus within the bubble is the ultimate fear for the NBA.

Unlike some other players, Holmes even vouched for the quality of food brought to his room. Yet, he still wanted outside delivery.

Maybe there’s a safe way to get it. The deliverer – away from people – could set the food down at the edge of the campus then retreat at least six feet. At that point, Holmes could go pick it up.

But without those precautions, Holmes put himself – and therefore everyone else in the bubble – at too great of a risk. Hence, the lengthy quarantine.

Holmes has been essential to Sacramento’s turnaround. Yes, Marvin Bagley III should be healthier. But the energetic Holmes is the Kings’ most dependable center.

To make the playoffs, they’ll need him following the rules and allowed outside his room.

NBA: 19 more players, two at Disney World tested positive for coronavirus

NBA coronavirus
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On June 23, 16 NBA players tested positive for coronavirus. Between June 24-29, nine more NBA players tested positive.

But that downward trend took a sharp reversal in July.

At least 19 more players, two after arriving at Disney World, have tested positive for coronavirus

NBA release:

Of the 322 players tested for COVID-19 since arriving on the NBA Campus July 7, two have returned confirmed positive tests while in quarantine.  Those players never cleared quarantine and have since left the Campus to isolate at home or in isolation housing.

Since July 1, during in-market testing, 19 NBA players newly tested positive.  These players are staying in their home markets and recovering until they are cleared under CDC guidelines and NBA rules for leaving home isolation and joining the Campus.

Those 19 new positive tests are a disturbingly high number.

It can be difficult to compare different date ranges. June 23 is only a single day, but as the first day of in-market testing, it covered weeks of players potentially contracting coronavirus. The second testing period (June 24-29) is shorter than the July period (which varied based on whether teams departed July 7, 8 or 9 for Disney World).

But, ideally, the number of cases would’ve shrunk as players became increasingly immersed in the NBA’s plan, which called for greater precautions and testing.

The league and teams should investigate why there were so many new cases in July – then explain the findings to the public. Given the lack of transparency around the restart, I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.

At least there are no known positive tests from players who’ve been given free reign within the bubble. That’s the most alarming scenario. Two players testing positive during their in-room quarantines appears to be the system working.

However, the league should confirm that anyone traveling with those two players didn’t become infected en route. A false negative could be catastrophic.

This brings the minimum total of NBA players who’ve tested positive for coronavirus under the league’s restart plan to 44.

And there’s two positive tests at Disney World.* Plus everyone who tested positive before June 23 (at least 10 players**) and tested positive only outside the NBA’s system.

That’s a LARGE segment of NBA players – at least 54.

*It’s possible these two players previously tested positive, tested negative, traveled to Orlando then tested positive again. So, they’re not necessarily new cases.

**Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, Pistons big Christian Wood, four Nets including Kevin Durant, Celtics guard Marcus Smart and two Lakers.

Yet, it still doesn’t say much about the safety of the NBA bubble, which is just getting underway. The outside world is dangerously full of coronavirus. That’s what all these positive tests so far show.

Additional positive tests – by players fully involved in the bubble – will be far more chilling for the NBA’s planned season completion.