Deadline day: By June 24 NBA players reportedly must tell teams they will not play in restart

NBA Deadline June 24
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Players are free to choose not to take part in the NBA’s restart in Orlando, and there will be no repercussions, no punishment for their choice (other than they will not be paid for those games). A coalition of players, led by Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley, has questioned if the players should take part in the restart and how that will impact the Black Lives Matter movement (among other concerns).

NBA players have a deadline of June 24 to make their decision, a week from Wednesday.

All that and more according to a memo the National Basketball Players’ Association sent out to players Tuesday, which was obtained by Shams Charania of The Athletic. Here is the key paragraph:

“It is critical that every player understand that he has the right to choose not to return to play. Any player who exercises this right will not be disciplined. To respect the decision of those who do return to play, it has been agreed that any player who chooses not to participate will have his compensation reduced by 1/92.6 for each game missed up to a cap of 14 games even his team plays more than 14 games in Orlando. There will be no other reductions of pay assessed (e.g., fines for missed practices) for a player’s decision not to return to play. Any player that wishes to exercise this right should notify his team of this election by June 24.”

The 1/92.6 is the per-game pay calculation used in the CBA for pay lost in case of a catastrophic stoppage of play, such as a pandemic. Players already will lose some salary for canceled games this season and the reduction of league revenue; if a player chooses not to go to Orlando for the restart, he will forfeit another 8/92.6ths of his salary on top of what is already lost.

The memo reportedly said a manual of rules and regulations — essentially a “life inside the bubble” manual — is still being created by the NBA in consultation with scientists at the CDC. It has yet to be released but is expected to be soon.

One thing in there: Players are allowed to leave the campus or bubble, but they are asked to get prior approval. If a player or staff member leaves without prior approval they face a 10-14 day quarantine upon their return and will not get paid for any seeding games in that window.

The report also lays out a six-phase plan for a return of games.

• Phase 1, June 12-22 (the phase the league is currently in): Players report to their home market and they can do individual workouts under social distancing guidelines. The only team not going to a home market is the Toronto Raptors, who are working out a facility in Naples, Florida, because of the quarantine times for players flying into Canada from their home markets outside that country.

• Phase 2, June 23-30: Same as Phase 1 except teams will do mandatory coronavirus testing of players — a simple nasal or oral swab, plus a blood antibody test — and players are asked to self-quarantine at home, leaving only for workouts and essential activities.

• Phase 3, July 1-7 (maybe a couple of days later, depending on the team): Mandatory individual workouts for the players at the team facility, with up to eight players at a time in the building, but no group workouts. The head coach can now attend the workouts.

• Phase 4, July 7-11: Teams fly charters to Orlando and, once they arrive at the Walt Disney World property they must stay quarantined in their rooms until they have two negative coronavirus tests 24 hours apart. Everyone has to wear a facemask at all times in public (except when eating or working out). NBA staff will wear a proximity alarm that lets them know if they have been within six feet of someone with alarm for more than five seconds (players don’t have to wear these alarms, it’s optional).

• Phase 4B, July 11-21: Teams can engage in group workouts, a mini-training camp. There will be daily coronavirus testing of players and staff. Players can play golf, video games, have meals (outside), and generally have social interactions with players from other teams (and hotels, the players are not all in one hotel), however they are asked to maintain social distancing. Disney chefs will provide food, there is room service, and if a player wants he can have a private chef send prepared food into the bubble.

Phase 5: July 22-30: Teams continue to workout but now also have scrimmages against the other teams in their hotel. Individual player workouts aside from the team practices also can take place.

Phase 6: July 30-Oct. 13: The games begin, first the eight seeding games per team followed by full 16-team NBA playoffs, all following a previously announced timeline. Players can bring family or friends into the Disney campus after the end of the first round of the playoffs, but they have to follow the same guidelines as the players do, they cannot leave the bubble.


Report: ‘Strong optimism’ Anthony Edwards could return to Timberwolves Sunday

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves
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What looked so bad when it happened may only cost Anthony Edwards three games.

Edwards rolled his ankle last week but could be back Sunday when the Timberwolves travel to Golden State, reports Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports.

Edwards is averaging 24.7 points and 5.9 rebounds a game this season, and he has stepped up to become the team’s primary shot-creator with Karl-Anthony Towns out for much of the season. The Timberwolves have been outscored by 3.4 points per 100 possessions when Edwards is off the court this season.

Towns returned to action a couple of games ago, and with Edwards on Sunday it will be the first time since November the Timberwolves will have their entire core on the court — now with Mike Conley at the point. With the Timberwolves tied for the No.7 seed in an incredibly tight West (they are 1.5 games out of sixth but also one game out of missing the postseason entirely) it couldn’t come at a better time. It’s also not much time to develop of fit and chemistry the team will need in the play-in, and maybe the playoffs.

Nets announce Ben Simmons diagnosed with nerve impingement in back, out indefinitely

NBA: FEB 24 Nets at Bulls
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Ben Simmons — who has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup all season and often struggled when on the court — is out indefinitely due to a nerve impingement in his back, the team announced Friday.

A nerve impingement — sometimes called a pinched nerve — is when a bone or other tissue compresses a nerve. Simmons has a history of back issues going back to his time in Philadelphia, and he had a microdiscectomy about a year ago, after he was traded to Brooklyn.

With two weeks and nine games left in the season, logic would suggest Simmons is done for the season. Coach Jacque Vaughn said Thursday that Simmons has done some individual workouts but nothing with teammates, however, he would not say Simmons is shut down for the season or would not participate in the postseason with Brooklyn.

Simmons had not played since the All-Star break when he got PRP injections to help deal with ongoing knee soreness. When he has played this season offense has been a struggle, he has been hesitant to shoot outside a few feet from the basket and is averaging 6.9 points a game. Vaughn used him mainly as a backup center.

Simmons has two fully guaranteed years and $78 million remaining on his contract after this season. While Nets fans may want Simmons traded, his injury history and that contract will make it very difficult to do so this summer (Brooklyn would have to add so many sweeteners it wouldn’t be worth it).

The Nets have slid to the No.7 seed in the West — part of the play-in — and have a critical game with the Heat on Saturday night.

Frustration rising within Mavericks, ‘We got to fight hard, play harder’


If the postseason started today, the Dallas Mavericks would miss out — not just the playoffs but also the play-in.

The Mavericks fell to the No.11 seed in the West (tied with the Thunder for 10th) after an ugly loss Friday night to a tanking Hornets team playing without LaMelo Ball and on the second night of a back-to-back. Dallas is 3-7 with both Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić playing, and with this latest loss fans booed the Mavericks. What was Jason Kidd’s reaction? Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“We probably should have been booed in the first quarter,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said…. “The interest level [from players] wasn’t high,” Kidd said. “It was just disappointing.”

That was a little different than Kyrie Irving’s reaction to the boos.

Then there is franchise cornerstone Luka Dončić, who sounded worn down, by the season and the losing in Dallas.

“We got to fight hard, play harder. That’s about it. We got to show we care and it starts with me first. I’ve just got to lead this team, being better, playing harder. It’s on me….

“I think you can see it with me on the court. Sometimes I don’t feel it’s me. I’m just being out there. I used to have really fun, smiling on court, but it’s just been so frustrating for a lot of reasons, not just basketball.”

Dončić would not elaborate on what, outside basketball, has frustrated him.

Look at seeds 5-10 in the West and you see teams that have struggled but have the elite talent and experience to be a postseason threat: The Phoenix Suns (Devin Booker, plus Kevin Durant is expected back next week), the Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry and the four-time champions), the Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis and maybe before the season ends LeBron James).

Should the Mavericks be in that class? On paper yes, they have clutch playoff performers of the past in Dončić and Irving, but an energy-less loss to Charlotte showed a team lacking the chemistry and fire right now that teams like the Lakers (beating the Thunder) and Warriors (beating the 76ers) showed on the same night.

The Mavericks feel like less of a playoff threat, especially with their defensive concerns. They don’t have long to turn things around — and get into the postseason.

Watch Anthony Davis score 37, spark Lakers to key win against Thunder


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Davis had 37 points and 14 rebounds, Dennis Schröder added 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers got a vital victory for their playoff hopes, 116-111 over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

Lonnie Walker scored 20 points in an impressive return to the rotation for the Lakers, who won their third straight to move even with Minnesota in seventh place in the Western Conference standings despite the injury absences of LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell.

“It was a must-win game for us,” said Davis, who made 15 of his 21 shots. “We had to come out and get this game, and we came out offensive and defensively just playing extremely well. … We’ve got to .500, and now it’s time to get on the other side.”

With Davis leading the way on both ends of the court, Los Angeles (37-37) reached .500 for the first time this year. The Lakers started the season 2-10, but they’re 12-6 since the trade deadline with a rapidly cohering roster and the looming return of the NBA’s career scoring leader.

“This team is locked in and connected,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “The vibe and the spirit have been great. Guys are really trying to figure out how we can be better. That’s what you want. … Guys are competing because they know what they’re representing. They know the history of the franchise they’re representing.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey scored 27 points apiece for Oklahoma City, which lost for only the fourth time in 12 games down the stretch. The Thunder (36-38) dropped into a tie with Dallas for 10th in the West despite holding the Lakers to only 42 points in the second half after LA put up 41 in the first quarter alone.

“That’s a testament to our ability to scrap and hang in there,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “That’s how you want teams to score against you. All the things they got down the stretch are things we’re willing to live with. It’s hard to slow that down.”

Russell sat out with a sore right hip, joining James on the sideline at an important game for the Lakers’ playoff hopes. Los Angeles still improved to 8-5 during James’ latest injury absence.

Oklahoma City erased all of Los Angeles’ early 17-point lead when Gilgeous-Alexander’s jumper tied it at 102-102 with 5:25 to play. Davis responded with three points, and Walker hit a tiebreaking shot with 3:50 left.

Schröder replaced Russell in the starting lineup and had another standout game, including six points in the final 3:18 while the Lakers hung on. Walker got his most significant playing time since early March in Russell’s absence, and the former starter responded with four 3-pointers.

“I’ve just been in the gym, being positive and focused on what we’re trying to accomplish,” Walker said. “I love these guys, and I’m fortunate to play with them.”

Ham said Russell’s hip injury was “not too serious, but serious enough where we need to manage it.”

Gilgeous-Alexander played despite the Thunder being on the back end of consecutive games. The Thunder have been resting him in the second game of recent back-to-backs.