Adam Silver: It would take ‘significant spread’ of COVID-19 in bubble to stop play

Adam Silver national athem
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Unlike the “stop play now” crowd on Twitter, Adam Silver and the NBA were not freaked out by the 16 players who tested positive for the coronavirus. Rather the opposite. The league feared the number would be higher and, as Silver added, “None of the 16 were seriously ill in any way. That was also a big relief for us.”

There are concerns among league officials and players about the record number of new coronavirus cases in Florida. Still, it would take a “significant spread” of COVID-19 in the NBA’s Orlando campus to stop play again, the NBA commissioner emphasized.

“Yes, the level of concern has increased, not just because of the increased levels in Florida but throughout the country…” Silver said during a conference call with reporters Friday. “We designed our [Orlando] campus, in essence, to isolate ourselves from whatever the level of cases are in our surrounding community.”

Put more directly, “We ultimately believe it will be safer on our campus than off it,” Silver said.

“But, this is not business as usual.”

Silver said players would be tested daily inside the bubble, “at least to start.” That level of testing was always going to be critical to maintaining the bubble the league wants to create.

One glaring weaknesses of the bubble is that the Walt Disney World employees who would be cooking the food, cleaning the rooms, and more around the NBA bubble will go home at night — back into a Florida where cases of the disease are spiking. The original plan called for Disney employees to get temperature checks and be monitored, but not tested.

That may be changing, the league is negotiating with Disney and the unions representing those workers to test the people who come in contact — “will be in the same room” — with players, Silver said.

The health of players was a large focus of the call with reporters, but players’ union president Chris Paul emphasized this wasn’t just physical health.

“Mental health is the thing a lot of [players] are thinking of first. We’re going into a tough situation…” Paul said of players being away from family, friends, their support systems and routines for an extended period of time (at least 35 days and up to three months.

“Mental health is real, and being in this situation, we’re going to be trying to come with any ideas to make sure that players are healthy in that aspect of their lives.”

Players are free to leave the Disney campus at any point, but if they return they are subject to quarantine guidelines before they can be around their fellow players or take part in games again.

Paul, Silver, and others also discussed the need for the league to provide ways for players to use the Orlando platform to promote Black Lives Matter and social justice causes.

“This is a platform, because of the game and the popularity of the game-and specifically, because of the popularity of the players — the world will be watching,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said.

“It’s never a shut up and dribble situation. You’re gonna continue to hear us,” Paul added.

Adam was quick to admit the Orlando restart was not an ideal situation, but that he did not want to stop play again. At one point he tried to spin the return saying, “We’re coming back because sports matter in our society. They bring people together when they need it the most.” That falls flat. This return is all about the money and everything else is a distant second.

Within that, both the league officials and players agreed everyone has done the best they can to build something that is safe for the players and league staff. It’s the best of a bad set of options.

“We ultimately believe it will be safer on our campus than off it…” Silver said.” My ultimate conclusion is we can’t outrun the virus, and we are going to be living with this for the foreseeable future… which is why we designed the campus the way we did.”

We will see if that campus design is good enough over the next couple of months.

Watch Jamal Murray, Kawhi Leonard score first buckets in returns

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It’s only preseason. But if you’ve sat out an entire season with an ACL injury,  just getting on the court feels like a milestone.

And getting your first bucket back feels memorable.

That happened for the Nuggets Jamal Murray and the Clippers Kawhi Leonard on Monday night.

For Murray, the bucket came on a corner 3 in transition.

Murray also showed flashes he’s getting his handle and wiggle back, something that made him a great fit with Nikola Jokic.

Leonard wasted no time, scoring the Clippers’ first bucket by lulling his defender to sleep and then shooting the pull-up 3.

I feel we’re going to see a lot more of that this season.

The NBA is just better with these two back on the court.

 

Cavaliers Evan Mobley out 1-2 weeks with sprained ankle

2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day
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The Cleveland Cavaliers might have the best frontcourt in the East this season with All-Star Jarrett Allen and the emerging star Evan Mobley, but it may be a few weeks before we see them together.

Mobley is out 1-2 weeks with a sprained right ankle, the Cavaliers announced a couple of days before their preseason opener. Mobley stepped on a teammate’s foot and rolled his ankle during practice, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

Mobley, who finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, averaged 15 points and 8.3 rebounds a game in his first campaign, but his more significant impact was on the defensive end. Mobley earned All-Defensive Team consideration as a rookie — an incredibly rare feat — and with Allen formed an impressive backstop for teams trying to drive the paint.

Reports out of Cavaliers training camp rave about the improvements made in Mobley’s offensive game, but we’ll have to wait a few weeks to see that for ourselves now. Mobley, with a more consistent face-up game and jumper, has the potential to develop into a top 15, maybe even top-10 player in the league. The Cavaliers are banking on the young core of Mobley, Allen, Darius Garland and the just acquired Donovan Mitchell to be able to take the team far in the next few years, with Mobley’s improvement key to just how far they can go.

It sounds like Mobley will be good to go for the start of the season.

Karl-Anthony Towns just cleared to walk Saturday following non-COVID illness

Karl-Anthony Towns Offseaon Workout
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Karl-Anthony Towns has not been in camp with the Timberwolves, sidelined by a non-COVID illness. Beyond that, there were not a lot of details other than his girlfriend Jordyn Woods saying on social media that she had taken him to the hospital.

Towns spoke to the media for the first time this season on Monday and said he was just cleared to walk again on Saturday, but did not get into detail about whatever illness he is dealing with.

First, it is Towns’ right if and when to disclose what he went through. This is not an on-court injury leading to a loss of playing time, and it is his call to talk about.

Towns has been sidelined before by illness, including COVID. After losing his mother and other family members to the disease, he also had a long battle with it. Fortunately, this is not that virus, but whatever it was it sidelined him for a couple of weeks.

That missed training camp is a setback as the Timberwolves try to get used to a two-big lineup with KAT and Rudy Gobert, plus some other new faces. Still, Towns and Minnesota should be good to go by the start of the season, a team thinking playoffs and much more after spending big this offseason.

Lakers reportedly ‘seriously considered’ Westbrook trade for Hield, Turner

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“If you make that trade, it has to be the right one, you have one shot to do it. So we’re being very thoughtful around the decisions on when and how to use draft capital in a way that will improve our roster.”

That was Lakers GM Rob Pelinka on media day talking about the possibility of the Lakers trading the only two first-round picks they control this decade — 2027 and 2029 — to upgrade this roster around LeBron. Pelinka was clear the Lakers were committed to building a winner around LeBron, “We have one of the great players in LeBron James to ever play the game, and he committed to us on a long-term contract, a three-year contract… He committed to our organization. That’s gotta be a bilateral commitment, and it’s there.”

But should that include a Russell Westbrook trade to Indiana for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner? Shams Charania of The Athletic updated and added to the extensive previous reporting on this trade, saying the Lakers kept the door open right up to the start of training camp but didn’t pull the trigger.

Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, owner Jeanie Buss and senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis seriously considered sending Westbrook and unprotected first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to the Pacers for center Myles Turner and guard Buddy Hield, sources said. They held a series of meetings in the days leading up to camp to analyze the possible Pacers deal from every angle, with the views of Ham and Lakers executives Joey and Jesse Buss also being strongly considered in the process. The organization even delayed the midweek news conference for Pelinka and Ham as the debate continued…

If they were going to gamble on a make-or-break move of this magnitude, the thinking went, then everyone had to have confidence in the same vision. But when that wasn’t the case, sources say, the choice was made by Pelinka to remain patient and see, yet again, if Westbrook might find a way to make this imperfect fit with the Lakers work.

Hield and Turner would absolutely improve the Lakers. Turner can play the five, is an elite shot blocker who could provide a strong defensive back line next to Anthony Davis, and is a respectable 3-point shooter who can space the floor. He’s a natural fit. Hield brings shooting that the Lakers have coveted for years and need more of now.

That trade would have moved the Lakers up the ladder to a solid playoff team in the West. Would that trade make the Lakers contenders? Probably not. It still would have come back to the bubble version of Davis and LeBron being ready for the final 16-game sprint to have a puncher’s chance (that may be the case regardless of other moves). Also, it would have messed with future free agency plans in Los Angeles — the Lakers can have around $30 million in cap space next summer to chase Kyrie Irving (although Shams reports that’s not in their plans) or other name players, Hield is owed $19.3 million next season and Turner will be a free agent the Lakers would need to re-sign. This deal would end the dream of a free agent taking a little less than the max to come to the Lakers (a dream not likely to come to reality anyway).

As Pelinka said, the Lakers have one shot with trading their two picks to upgrade the roster — they have to hit a home run, this can’t be a solid single. The Lakers were not convinced Hield and Turner could be that home run tandem.

So Los Angeles will go into the season with a starting five of Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, LeBron, Davis, and Damian Jones, with a bench of Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, Austin Reaves, and Dennis Schroder. The Lakers will see if it fits, how far it looks like this group can take them under new coach Darvin Ham, and watch the market to see what other stars could become available.

The Lakers aren’t done dealing, but it looks like a deal with Indiana is now in the rearview mirror.