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Report: Malachi Richardson and Cheick Diallo tell teams they’ll stay in draft

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Syracuse freshman Malachi Richardson entered the NBA draft without hiring an agent, allowing him to maintain his college eligibility.

What would it take for him to stay in the draft?

Richardson, via Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report:

“A guaranteed first-round, early first-round spot.”

Hmmm.

Chad Ford of ESPN:

Richardson didn’t participate in five-on-five play or drills at the combine, more circumstantial evidence of a promise.

The wing is a fast-riser thanks to Syracuse’s Final Four run. He’s long and athletic, capable of getting his own shot. There are raw tools to like. But Richardson is 20, old for a freshman, and his mid-range game is broken. There’s nothing wrong with taking him in the first round – as long as you realize you’re getting nothing close to a finished product.

Cheick Diallo – who hired an agent – is even more of a project. A highly rated recruit last  year, the power forward played just 7.5 minutes per game in 27 contests at Kansas. Diallo plays hard, maximizing his length and athleticism. But he needs to add strength and offensive polish. He looks like a borderline first-rounder, but in a similar position last year – barely playing during one season at Kansas – Cliff Alexander went undrafted. When you’ve played so little, there’s more variance in your draft range.

Report: Kings lead assistant Igor Kokoskov to become Fenerbahce head coach

Kings assistant coach Igor Kokoskov
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The Kings are trying to end their historic playoff drought.

They’ll make that push as lead assistant Igor Kokoskov has one foot out the door.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Jason Jones of the The Athletic:

Kokoskov had a rough go in the NBA spotlight. After working his way up the coaching ladder and becoming the Suns’ head coach in 2018-19, he got fired after only one season. Phoenix gave him an ill-equipped roster, notably passing on Luka Doncic in the draft – perhaps despite the input of Kokoskov, who coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team. Maybe Kokoskov wasn’t a good-enough coach. He didn’t build a strong affirmative case. But getting only season in his first head-coaching job was a tough break.

Fenerbahce (Turkey) is a premier overseas job. Kokoskov will succeed a legend in Zeljko Obradovic, who recently drew attention for this, um, motivational speech.

For Sacramento, the timing is tricky. Luke Walton is still in charge. But with traveling parties limited for the resumption at Disney World, teams need the coaches in attendance to pull extra duty. Maybe Kokoskov is up for it. It’d also be completely natural if he’s at least somewhat distracted by his next job.

NBA: Nine more players tested positive for coronavirus

Nets center DeAndre Jordan
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Of the 302 NBA players tested for coronavirus June 23, 16 tested positive (5.3%).

Nets center DeAndre Jordan said he learned of his coronavirus diagnosis five days later. He wasn’t alone in testing positive around then.

NBA:

In tests conducted of 344 NBA players between June 24-29, an additional nine players have tested positive for the coronavirus.   Twenty-five of 351 players have tested positive since testing began on June 23.

In tests conducted of 884 team staff between June 23-29, 10 have tested positive for the coronavirus.

If the NBA’s plan is working, the infection rate among players should decrease as they spend more time in the league’s system of isolation protocols and frequent testing. That appears to be happening. Nine is less than 16. But the exact progress is difficult to track.

It’s unclear how many players who tested positive in the first round of testing were also tested in the second round, let alone how many of them again tested positive in the second round. The 344 players tested in the second round might have had just nine positive tests (2.6%). Or the 344 players tested in the second round might have had 25 positive tests (7.3%).

It’s also unclear how many of the previously announced 16 players have recovered. So, even the total result – 25 of 351 players testing positive (7.1%) – is difficult to contextualize. COVID-19 Projections estimates 0.8% of people in the United States currently have coronavirus. The website also estimates 6.0% of people in the United States have or have had coronavirus. The NBA is not including the many players who tested positive before June 23, making it even more difficult to find a comparison point.

That just 10 of 884 staff members tested positive (1.1%) is encouraging, especially because they tend to live in big cities where teams are located and where coronavirus has tended to hit harder.

76ers say they’ll investigate claim of bullying, racism within dance team

Philadelphia 76ers
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A former member of the 76ers’ dance team, Yahne Coleman, alleges racism and bullying within the squad and that the organization’s HR ignored her complaints.

Coleman detailed her claims on Instagram, including a video she says is of another former dance-team member, Annie Weiss (warning: profanity):

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First of all Thank you @treysongz , @hollywoodunlocked and you amazing people showing me support. I was scared to release this because I was bullied and racially targeted by my 76ers NBA teammates and former Teammates. I went to my coach Dayna Haftez and the Sixers organization crying out for help so many times. I sent the video above of me being racially profiled, bullied and threatened to my coach Dayna Haftez, Lara Price the 76ers Senior Vice President of Business and HR seeking help and nothing was done. They would move my things into the bathroom stall for me to get ready for games. They would make fun of my pictures in a group chat, talking about my black features and send me videos threatening my safety. I did not want them to run me away from a dream I always wanted to accomplish so I tried my hardest to remain strong through it all. I went through this for 3 years. When I auditioned for my 4th year this group of girls called me the night before on the phone saying “your BLACK ass will not be coming back”. I still went to the tryouts and unfortunately that was the end of my 76ers dance team career. It didn’t stop there. They proceeded to harass me by calling and leaving hateful racial videos saying they would come to the slums of West Philly Ghetto and physically harm me. I’m not from the ghetto and never lived in the ghetto but because I’m black they decided to say this laughing and giggling. They went around asking about me, finding out where I worked and called my employment saying things to get me fired. I would hate for this group of women who are still working and connected to the @sixers @philadelphiaflyers to hurt another young talented black girl. Sadly, I let this racial bullying incident from this group of women deter me from my dancing career. The women who racially bullied me – Annie Weiss aka Annie Fuhrman her pages @ mommycanyou @ projectstillhuman, Nicole Vernile Current Captain @76ersent , Kerri McDonald Current Dance Coach @76ersent , Danielle Dematteo @philadelphiaflyers Dance Coach, Malinda Ruth , Erica Hammel , Val Dematteo , Julie Kaskiw, Lauren Schwer, Krystal Almora aka Krystal Gregorio @KrystalAlmora , Coach Dayna Hafetz

A post shared by Yahné Coleman (@yahneofficial) on

Coleman also said Lara Price – who’s currently listed in the 76ers’ media guide as “Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, 76ers” – did nothing after Coleman went to her.

Weiss posted an apology:

76ers statement, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

Tonight, we were made aware of social media posts involving former dance team members that contained insensitive, offensive and unacceptable remarks, as well as allegations of bullying and racist behavior.

“The videos, which were filmed in 2016, featured derogatory comments from a former dance team member who left the organization in 2013.

“We take this situation very seriously. We intend to investigate this matter immediately and remain committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and equality.

Hopefully the 76ers don’t stop at investigating the bullying and racism specifically alleged here (which is quite concerning) – but also examine whether HR properly addressed Coleman’s complaint at the time. A well-functioning human-resources department is essential for properly handling issues that arise in the future.

Damian Lillard on players keeping strict bubble: ‘My confidence ain’t great’

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard
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The NBA is creating a bubble for its players at Disney World. Anyone who enters the bubble must pass multiple coronavirus tests beforehand. Everyone inside the bubble will receive frequently coronavirus testing and be distanced from people outside the bubble.

So why does it matter that coronavirus cases are rising in Florida?

Because the bubble has vulnerabilities. And if the bubble is penetrated by people who come into contact with the surrounding community, their likelihood of having coronavirus affects the odds of them spreading coronavirus within the bubble.

Disney employees who enter and exit the NBA campus (and NBA commissioner Adam Silver who plans to do the same) are required to stay distanced from players, but could get too close or even spread coronavirus via surfaces. Players could suffer significant injuries that require them to seek medical attention outside the bubble.

And players could sneak out of and back into the bubble or sneak in someone.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard expressed serious doubt that all the protocols and rules will be strictly followed by players.

“My confidence ain’t great,” Lillard said with a laugh Wednesday. “My confidence ain’t great because you’re telling me you’re gonna have 22 teams full of players following all the rules? When we have 100 percent freedom, everybody don’t follow all the rules. I don’t have much confidence. But hopefully it’ll be handled to a point where we’re not putting everybody at risk or in a dangerous position.”

“I know there’re going to activities for us and all that stuff, but I mean, I’m gonna be chilling. I feel like there’s still a possibility for something to spread within that bubble, just with so many people doing so many different things that we’ve got to follow to be safe, even though we’re not exposed to the public. So for me, it’s going to be: What time is practice, what time can I get in the weight room, what time can I get some shots up, what’s the plan for game day. And then I’m gonna be in the room. I’m gonna have my PS3, my PS4, I’m gonna have my studio equipment, my mic, my laptop, I’m gonna have all my books. That’s it, man. I’m gonna be in the room, chilling.”

“It was just so many rules where everybody was like, ‘Man, are we even playing? Is this even worth it?'” Lillard said.

Why are they playing? Money. A lot of money.

The restrictions are cumbersome. Five-on-five basketball games are generally an unsafe activity amid this pandemic. To counteract that, the NBA must implement tight protocols that greatly minimize the risk of anyone playing with coronavirus.

Will players abide? Lillard knows NBA players well and has doubts, which is why he’s taking extra precautions by staying in his room so much. There are videos and rumors of players not socially distancing.

If caught leaving the bubble, players will face a 10-day quarantine. That’s a strong disincentive.

But the temptation to live freely is strong, too.

Though many voiced reservations, players signed up for this. Hopefully, they follow the rules designed to keep everyone in the bubble safe.

They have at least one doubter, though.