Last season, New Orleans made the playoffs for the first time since trading away Chris Paul in 2011. They were swept in the first round by the eventual champion Warriors, but the Pelicans enter the season widely expected to make a leap and become a factor in the postseason this year. Having Anthony Davis, a 22-year-old MVP candidate and destroyer of worlds, helps. But a lot of the Pelicans’ success this season will depend on health, and so far the signals on that are mixed when it comes to a few of their key players.
Starting point guard Jrue Holiday had leg surgery this summer, and head coach Alvin Gentry tells John Reid of the Times-Picayune that he’ll be cleared to practice when training camp starts, albeit with some limitations:
New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday has made enough progress in his recovery from offseason surgery in his lower right leg that he’s expected to be cleared for training camp later this month.
But Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said on Friday that Holiday is likely going to be under restrictions involving practicing just once a day when two-a-day practices are scheduled during camp, which is set to open on Sept. 29 at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.
Quincy Pondexter, meanwhile, will take a little longer to get healthy after undergoing knee surgery in May. Gentry says he won’t be available until November:
The outlook, however, is a little more bleaker for starting small forward Quincy Pondexter. It’s looking like the Pelicans may have to wait until this upcoming November for Pondexter to fully recover from undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in May.
The Pelicans didn’t do much this offseason in terms of additions, and they’re banking on a more offensive-minded coach to help them take a step forward after last year’s relative success. In order for that to come to fruition, they will need everybody to be healthy, and hope for no more setbacks to Holiday, Pondexter, or anyone else.
Nikola Jokic was delayed in joining the Nuggets after testing positive for coronavirus in Serbia.
Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Michael Porter Jr. apparently aren’t with Denver, either.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
The Nuggets closed their facility two weeks ago after positive coronavirus tests. At least a week prior to that, a Western Conference playoff team reportedly had four positive coronavirus tests.
Are either of those events related to these absences?
The NBA has shown a disturbing lack of transparency around its restart.
When the season got suspended, Denver looked like a good regular-season team that’d face issues adapting to a playoff style. Now, who knows how the Nuggets will be when the season resumes? There’s so much roster uncertainty.
Harris is Denver’s starting shooting guard, and Craig and Porter have been rotation-level backup forwards. Both Harris (on smaller players) and Craig (on bigger players) have been defensive standouts with lackluster offense. Harris’ shooting struggles have been a major disappointment. For Craig, they’re an accepted limitation. Porter has shown flashes as a superb scorer, but he’s still raw.
Who knows if and when these three will join the Nuggets? Again, the lack of transparency has been frustrating. But Harris, Porter and Craig missing time would be a major setback for Denver.
Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t travel with the Rockets to Orlando for the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.
Westbrook says he tested positive for coronavirus:
It’s good that Westbrook is feeling well. And, once he had coronavirus, it’s good he tested positive before the team departed. He can quarantine in the comfort of his own home rather than a hotel room. He didn’t risk spreading coronavirus during the flight.
When will he join the Rockets? That’s tough to say. He must clear coronavirus first, and it’s unclear how long he has had it. Then, upon arrival at Disney World, he faces an in-room quarantine. The length of that can vary.
With Harden as the centerpiece, Houston has built its secondary attack around Westbrook’s aggressive style. The Rockets’ unique center-less approach is a direct response to Westbrook’s minus outside shooting. Empowered by spacing later in the season, Westbrook has really thrived.
He’d be a huge loss. Houston could go from a championship-contending wildcard to one-man show – or less.
This revelation also raises questions about Harden and Mbah a Moute, whose late arrivals haven’t been publicly explained.
Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and 76ers star Joel Embiid expressed doubt about players following the NBA’s protocols in the bubble.
See Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
Players first arriving at Disney World is one of the most perilous times in the NBA’s plan. A player leaving his initial quarantine with coronavirus could undermine the whole operation.
The league has no practical choice but to be strict.
James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t arrive with the rest of the Rockets in Orlando. This makes four players who are behind in their ability to build chemistry and train with their teammates. At least Caboclo is just four days away from being four days away – major progress for him.
Houston has already clinched a playoff spot. But there’s some danger of slipping to the No. 7 seed and facing the powerful Clippers in the first round. So while they don’t have the most urgency for the seeding games, the Rockets are playing for something in the seeding games.
Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley sent out a press release complaining about the NBA’s list of approved social-justice messages for jerseys.
ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski replied to the email, “F— you.” (Wojnarowski did not censor the first word.)
Wojnarowski apologized. ESPN condemned his behavior and, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, suspended him two weeks.
Several NBA players have publicly supported Wojnarowski:
Lakers star LeBron James:
Clippers guard Lou Williams:
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley:
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray:
Heat big Bam Adebayo:
Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie:
Kings forward Harrison Barnes:
Pacers center Myles Turner:
Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver:
Wizards wing Troy Brown Jr.:
Trail Blazers guard Jaylen Adams:
LeBron’s message is particularly notable.
Obviously, he’s the NBA’s biggest star. His words carry weight.
Wojnarowski also has a long history of harshly criticizing LeBron. Here are just a few examples.
But if he can get over The Letter from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, LeBron can probably get past anything written about him.