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Lakers-Clippers highlights NBA’s Christmas schedule

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While still playing for the Cavaliers, LeBron James named a couple desires for Christmas:

  • Being with family
  • Playing in Los Angeles

He’ll get both this year.

After visiting the Warriors in LeBron’s first season with them, the Lakers will stay in Los Angeles this year.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Malika Andrews of ESPN:

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

This is a good slate.

Lakers-Clippers is the obvious headliner. Those teams are early championship favorites, have major star power (LeBron, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George) and play in a major market. It’s nice both teams can spend the holiday at home.

The Raptors are ending one of the NBA’s longest Christmas-game droughts. They last played in 2001. Though the Canadian market doesn’t translate cleanly for TV ratings, Toronto earned a Christmas home game with its championship. That’s how it has worked since LeBron spoke up. The Raptors won’t be as good as last season. But their opponent, the Celtics, also lost talent.

Rockets-Warriors is a playoff rematch but with enough new faces to add intrigue to this common matchup. Russell Westbrook especially shakes up Houston. Golden State lost Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson will still be sidelined. But D'Angelo Russell is a fresh face.

Bucks-76ers features the two Eastern Conference favorites. Will Giannis Antetokounmpo effectively get inside against Joel Embiid and Al Horford? If not, will Antetokounmpo have developed a better outside game? This will be a fun test of where both teams stand.

Nuggets-Pelicans lacks the combination of star power and market size in many Christmas games. But Denver should be very good, and New Orleans has Zion Williamson and enough talent to be interesting.

The best teams not to get a Christmas game: Jazz and Trail Blazers. But they’re not good enough to get up in arms about a snub, especially considering they play in Utah and Portland. The point of these games is to make money, after all.

At least there’s no Knicks, who’ve played on nine of the last 10 Christmases. New York finally built a roster so dreary, not even that large market excused it.

Marcus Smart announces he recovered, cleared of coronavirus

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Marcus Smart stepped forward and self-identified as having tested positive for the coronavirus. He wasn’t showing any symptoms and went into self-quarantine, and last we heard was doing well.

Sunday, Smart said that two days ago he was cleared and has fully recovered from the virus.

Most importantly, this is excellent news for Smart and his friends and family (and, by extension, the Celtics). His health is the most important thing in this story.

The NBA has asked recovered players to donate plasma because scientists are hoping to use the blood — which has developed immunities — to help create a vaccine or medicine to slow COVID-19. It’s optional, but the league is encouraging players to help.

There have been 10 players and five NBA off-court staff — including Knicks owner James Dolan — who have tested positive for the disease. Fortunately, none of them have shown any advanced symptoms that required hospitalization.

Colorado junior forward Tyler Bey declares for NBA Draft

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University of Colorado forward Tyler Bey has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The junior averaged 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Buffaloes. Bey shot 53% from the field overall and 74.3% at the free throw line.

Bey also extended his range a bit in his third year at Colorado. He knocked down 13-of-31 three-pointers (41.9%) on the season. At just six-foot-seven, he’ll need to be able to score from behind the arc to find a place in the NBA.

Most draft analysts have Bey pegged as an early second-round pick. Some thought he could play his way into the back-end of the first-round with strong pre-draft workouts. With the pre-draft process up in the air, NBA front offices may have to make their decisions based on what they’ve already seen in person and on tape.

Stephon Marbury has arrangement to procure 10 million medical masks for New York

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Former NBA player Stephon Marbury told The New York Post that he’s arranged a deal to deliver 10 million N95 medical masks to New York. These masks are much-needed among healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marbury is having the masks produced at cost in China, where he played the last seven years of his career.

Although Marbury currently lives in Beijing, China, he said “At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn. This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”

While growing up, Marbury starred at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and on New York City’s famed playgrounds. After one year at Georgia Tech, Marbury left for the NBA. The high-scoring guard played for five teams during his 13-year NBA career, including his hometown New York Knicks.

After sitting out for two seasons, Marbury signed to play for the Beijing Ducks in 2011. The move was initially seen as a way for Marbury to prove he could still play at an NBA level. Instead, Beijing became home-away-from home for the New Yorker.

Marbury averaged 21.6 points per game in 271 contests spread over seven seasons with the Ducks.

Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung told ESPN Jonathan Givony that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.

McClung first came to national prominence when his high school highlights blew up on YouTube:

In his second season at Georgetown, McClung averaged 15.7 points and 1.4 steals per game. A foot injury in late-January kept McClung out of the lineup for nearly a month. He returned for one game in late-February, but played just eight minutes off the Hoyas’ bench.

The six-foot-two guard is known for his deep shooting range and his highlight dunks. McClung’s shot is inconsistent however, as he shot under 40% in each of his first two seasons at Georgetown. McClung’s defense also needs work.

McClung projects to be a point guard in the NBA, due to his size. To make it as a lead guard, he’ll need to work on his ballhandling and playmaking. With those question marks, McClung is seen as a stretch to be drafted in the second round.

McClung stated he’s signing with an NBA/NCAA approved agent. That will allow him to keep his college eligibility as he goes through the pre-draft process.