This looked bad. It was worse — for Jusuf Nurkic, and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Midway through the second overtime against Brooklyn Monday night, Nurkic went down with what can only be described as a gruesome injury. The Trail Blazers later announced it was compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula, which will require surgery and not only end this season but also will bleed into next season as well (there is no timeline for something like this).
Re: Nurkic: There’s only one comparable injury in the NBA since 2005-06 and that’s Paul George. He returned to action 247 days (8 months) after his injury.
Nurkic had gone up for an offensive rebound and came down awkwardly, his leg bending in ways that no leg should bend. He laid on the floor in pain, was carted off in a stretcher — with the crowd sending positive vibes — and taken directly to the hospital.
Coach Stotts says that Nurkic is “at a local hospital” right now… Adding, “it’s devastating”
This is a Portland team also without C.J. McCollum, who has a left knee injury and is out officially for the upcoming four-game road trip and may miss the rest of the regular season.
Nurkic got paid last summer, a four-year, $48 million deal — but unlike others who take their foot off the gas once they get their money, Nurkic came back better and more motivated. He has averaged a career-high 15.4 points per game this season on 50.7 percent shooting, his PER of 23.1 and other advanced stats are at career bests, and on the defensive end he moved better and was more of a presence. On offense, he sets the picks for Damian Lillard (second most used pick-and-roll tandem in the NBA) and when teams inevitably trap and blitz Lillard he has gotten the ball to the rolling Nurkic, whose skills as a passer and playmaker have grown tremendously in the last year. He has been Portland’s second best player for stretches of the season.
Portland had looked like a more dangerous playoff threat this season and Nurkic was a big reason for the Blazers’ optimism heading into the postseason. Now, that edge is gone.
The more people I talk to, the more people in the league think that it’s going to end up being a playoffs-only scenario. And to spice it up, this is something I think Adam Silver is going to bring to the table.
There have two major impediments to this plan in normal years:
Eastern Conference owners
It seems likely the season will resume at only Disney World. A single site eliminates the travel concerns.
At least five Eastern Conference owners would have to vote for this format change. They typically want to protect their playoff slots and easier path to the NBA Finals rather than mixing with often-better Western Conference teams.
But if only some teams resume, owners of the finished teams would would be incentivized to support whatever draws the most revenue. If only playoff teams return, that would increase the pool of owners who wouldn’t be voting by self interest.
It helps that the top eight teams in each conference have the league’s 16 best records. So no teams would gain or lose a playoff berth unless more regular-season games are played (or a play-in tournament is held).
This might be the year for a 1-16 format. Just don’t expect it to continue into normal years.
If it happens without any more regular-season games, here’s how the bracket would look:
Rumor: Mike Budenholzer was close to taking Knicks job in 2018
Discussions between the Knicks and Budenholzer in the 2018 offseason advanced to a point where some people who would have come with Budenholzer to New York were talking about places to live in the city because they felt Budenholzer was close to taking the job, per SNY sources…
One official from an opposing team involved in searches at the time confirmed that coaching the Knicks intrigued Budenholzer. “Bud was definitely interested,” the team official said recently.
Budenholzer, however, chose Milwaukee, which had Antetokounmpo and a roster that was talented but needed a more modern offensive style and more focus. Budenholzer brought that and the team won 60 games last season, and is a title contender this season (if and when the NBA season restarts).
The Knicks hired David Fizdale, who lasted less than a season and a half before being let go. New team president Leon Rose now has to hire a new coach, and that will say a lot about the direction he wants to take the team.
He’d be lucky to find someone as good as Budenholzer.
Watch Tom Brady tell Charles Barkley to ‘take a suck of that’ after he holes fairway shot
It was the highlight of an entertaining — if not always pretty — afternoon of live golf, raising money for charity.
Tampa Bay Bay Buccanneers quarterback Tom Brady (it’s so weird to type that) was on his fourth shot on the par-5 7th hole at the Medalist Golf Club. Brady had a rough front nine to that point, and commentator Charles Barkley decided to up the trash talk (as if Barkley should talk about someone else’s golf game).
“How many shots do you want? Come on, I’m going to give you some shots man, I want some of you,” Barkley said.
“Don’t worry, it ain’t over yet,” Brady countered as he walked up to his fourth shot, 130 yards from the pin. “I think you just made him mad, Chuck,” host Brian Anderson said. “No, he can take a joke,” Barkley replied. Then this happened.
More and more, the buzz has been the NBA league office sees things the same way. I am not the only reporter hearing this: Steve Popper of Newsday wrote a column saying there was no reason to invite all 30 teams to the bubble city and the USA Today’s well-connected Jeff Zillgett added this:
The NBA will continue to say many ideas are on the table but I have heard rumblings of this idea: if play resumes with regular-season games, teams without a chance of making the playoffs wouldn’t be invited. https://t.co/TkySFKiTBu
This is where we throw in the caveat: There are no hard-and-fast plans from the NBA yet and every option is still being considered. One lesson Adam Silver took from David Stern was not to make a decision until you have to, and Silver is going to absorb more information in the coming weeks — such as from the recent GM survey — before making his call.
For the bottom three to five teams in each conference, there is little motivation to head to Orlando for the bubble. It’s an expense to the owner with no gate revenue coming in, teams want to protect their NBA Draft Lottery status, and the Warriors don’t want to risk injury to Stephen Curry — or the Timberwolves to Karl-Anthony Towns, or the Hawks to Trae Young — for a handful of meaningless games.
The league is considering a play-in tournament for the final seed or seeds in each conference (there are a few format options on the table, it was part of the GM survey). That would bring the top 10 or 12 seeds from each conference to the bubble, depending upon the format, and they would play a handful of games to determine which teams are in the playoffs (and face the top seeds).
Either way, that would leave the three or five teams with the worst records in each conference home. Which is the smart thing to do, there’s no reason to add risk to the bubble for a handful of meaningless games.