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JJ Redick explains why he was upset at coverage of Markelle Fultz last year

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JJ Redick famously lashed out at reporters last season for covering seemingly every moment of 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz’s workout routine last season. The Philadelphia 76ers guard chided reporters for zeroing in on a player who was just 19 years old at the time, and who was clearly going through some sort of odd mental block with his shooting form.

During Zach Lowe’s podcast on Thursday, Redick elaborated on his emotions at that time, saying that he felt it was out of line for media to continually publish updates on Fultz during practices.

Redick’s response comes at around 35:00 during Lowe’s podcast:

You have a responsibility to cover the story, I get it … There’s a tension to it. I think whatt made me angry that day, and it had been festering, was the way in which people were physically covering him with the cell phones.

That was like our third practice leading up to the trade deadline, and I think the trade deadline had just passed, so we had three practices in the span of that weak. Every time we’d finish practice, or finish shootaround, and the doors would open for the media … you’d see this mad rush to get prime footage location. Everyone would get their cellphones out and they’d start recording him … doing who the fuck knows. Dribbling a basketball, shooting a free throw … mundane things. We, by that point, had seen months of him shooting.

On that particular day, Bryan Colangelo had a press conference … and they all came in with body language like they were vultures preying over a dying, decaying body. The kid was 19, he’s clearly going through something. I got angry … basically cussed them out.

He was my rookie so I guess I was protective but also empathetic. Whatever he was going through, physically or mentally, as an athlete we’ve all been there. There’s varying degrees of extremes to that but we’ve been there.

Lowe: There were also people in your organization who were saying, ‘Why is he out there when the media is coming in?’

Redick: That was his choice. Markelle is an adult, he wanted to be out there.

As an athlete, Redick’s disposition is understandable. He is going to be loyal to his teammates, and have more empathy for the athlete’s side of things. But the line of morality for journalists doesn’t necessitate shielding legal adults who are struggling to perform on a basketball court. That was the duty of the 76ers, if anything. Readers seemed to eventually tire of hearing about Fultz and his issues, although local editors in Philadelphia probably saw less of that.

Redick doesn’t have the experience or training to decide what is newsworthy and when. That is up to editors and journalists covering teams. The real burden lay with the Sixers when it came to Fultz last season. Teams close practices to the media all the time, and the reality is it isn’t natural for media to attend one-on-one workouts for individual players. Media access for those types of things are decided by front office.

The 76ers decided not to (or could not) dissuade Fultz from being in front of the media during the time they were allowed into the practice facility. That’s on Fultz, and the Sixers. Fultz made an adult decision to allow the media to cover him during a vulnerable time. That’s probably not what Redick wanted — and my personal opinion is to concur — but that’s what happened.

The Sixers could have just as easily kept him away, and had private sessions with Fultz until he returned to some kind of form becoming of an NBA player. Videoing the No. 1 overall pick from a $1 billion sports franchise was not just within the realm of journalistic morality, it was necessary from a duty of coverage standpoint, particularly for local outlets in Philly.

Redick can feel the way he feels. He has that right. Journalists cover what they do, with years of training to dictate how to do it. They don’t have to agree. For Sixers fans, the hope is that trainer Drew Hanlen really has fixed Fultz’s jumper, so we can put this story to bed.

I’ll agree with Redick on one point: the whole story is quite tired.

Chris Paul playing cornhole. Luka Doncic trick shots. Welcome to life in the NBA bubble.

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Teams have emerged from quarantine in the Walt Disney World campus in Orlando, getting some run in on the court, and are starting to explore life in the NBA bubble.

Then they are documenting it on social media.

For example, Chris Paul and Darius Bazley played some cornhole.

Dallas’ Luka Doncic was hitting trick shots on the court.

Then Doncic and Boban Marjanovic were doing Disney Channel ads.

Complaints about the food by players have died down, in part because they are out of quarantine and get a choice of restaurants, in part because they saw the backlash and realized the complaints looked elitist. Or maybe it’s just the Mickey pancakes.

Everyone is out and exploring the campus and having fun…

Well, except for Robin Lopez, who sees no reason to leave his room.

Zion Williamson “just went back to square one” with quarantine workouts

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Zion Williamson looks cut — like he spent the entire quarantine doing workouts — and ready to be a force at the NBA restart in Orlando.

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What workouts did Zion Williamson do during the break to get that look? He took everything back down to step one and built it up again working out with his stepfather Lee Anderson, Williamson told reporters on Friday (hat tip Andrew Lopez of ESPN):

“It just felt like I was 5 years old again,” Williamson said Friday. “Just went back to square one, tried to get my body where it needs to be, get my fundamentals back to square one and start from there. So yeah, it was just like starting over at 5 again. It was a great process to learn it all over.”

Williamson did a little more than that. He also had approval from the league to go to the Pelicans practice facility throughout the quarantine and get treatment on his knee, the one that kept him out the first 45 games of the season. So he stayed healthy.

He also worked on other aspects of this game, such as his jump shot. Williamson took 76.7% of his shot attempts at the rim this season, and while getting to the rim is critical to his game, he’s going to have confidence in his shot and knock down jumpers to reach higher levels in the league.

The Pelicans enter the bubble 3.5 games back of Memphis for the eighth seed in the West, and with the softest schedule of any team in Orlando (matching their schedule before the interruption), they have a legitimate chance of forcing a two-game play-in series. It’s not easy, but there is a path to the playoffs for New Orleans (setting up a Zion vs. LeBron James first-round showdown that league broadcast partners are drooling over).

A stronger, improved Zion could help get the Pelicans there.

Paul George: “I feel great again,” says Clippers finally fully healthy

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Paul George symbolized the Clippers’ health all season long. George missed the first 11 games of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, then all season long it was still a lingering issue — until the suspension of play gave him time to heal.

“The whole season, all the way up until maybe a month or two ago, I had to always do shoulder rehab stuff, warming the shoulder up,” George said Friday on a conference call with reporters. “Just so much went into stuff I had to do before I actually took a foot on the floor. Now I feel great again.”

It wasn’t just Paul George, the Clippers had Kawhi Leonard managing his knee/thigh issue and an assortment of other injuries that didn’t give Doc Rivers the full arsenal at his disposal. That was until around the All-Star break — after that break Los Angeles went 7-2 with a +11.5 net rating that was best in the league by far.

The season being shut down may have halted that momentum, but it also gave a banged-up Los Angeles roster a chance to get healthy.

“For this team, man, I think our aspirations, again, this time off has given us what we needed,” George said. “We had some guys that was banged up, nagging injuries. The more time gave us more time for us to aid those injuries and to get back to 100.”

Health matters — which is why Montrez Harrell brought his own personal, portable sauna, a secret Reggie Jackson let out of the bag.

Health matters to Rivers, too, but what he wants more is that team chemistry back — and the Clippers have a long way to go on that end in Rivers’ eyes.

“This is not a normal way of starting back,” Rivers said of the mini-training camp all 22 teams at the NBA restart will get in Orlando. “Usually going into training camp, guys have been scrimmaging for three and four weeks, they’ve been playing, shooting on hoops. That’s not happening. This is a group, some of the guys have not touched a basketball or seen a gym until two weeks ago. We got a lot of work to do on both ends.”

The Clippers are not alone, every team is going to take time to find its rhythm again. Pick-and-roll combos need to get used to reading each other (and the defense) again at full speed, defensive rotations will be a step slow, and a few passes are going to head into the bench rather than the player in the corner.

When the Clippers get that rhythm back, with a healthy roster — finally — they again become a legitimate threat to win it all.

First, they just need to navigate the bubble. And maybe borrow Harrell’s sauna.

Atlanta G League affiliate promotes Tori Miller, first female GM in league

Tori Miller
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The Atlanta Hawks aren’t just talking about progress and giving Black women a chance. They are acting.

The College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s G-League affiliate, has promoted Tori Miller to general manager. She is the first female GM in the G-League.

Miller, who grew up in Decatur (a city next to Atlanta), had worked for the team in Erie (when they were the Bayhawks) and followed the team with its move closer to its parent franchise. Miller served as an assistant GM last season before being promoted.

G League front office positions can be a stepping stone into an NBA front office.

The Hawks progressive move comes just as the team’s WNBA franchise, the Dream, has players trying to oust co-owner Kelly Loeffler, a Republican Georgia U.S. Senator, because she advocated against the league supporting Black Lives Matter. Loeffler has said she will not sell. It’s a problem not going away anytime soon.