NBA players divert press conferences to discuss Breonna Taylor (videos)

76ers forward Tobias Harris
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Nuggets forward Jerami Grant answered every basketball and bubble question during a recent interview by discussing Breonna Taylor.

Several other NBA players have followed his lead.

76ers forward Tobias Harris

Harris, asked about Russell Westbrook‘s social-justice shirts, via Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“Nothing against the T-shirts, but we want to make sure that [Kentucky attorney general] Daniel Cameron arrests the cops and officers involved with Breonna Taylor’s death,” Harris said. “That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Before another reporter could be called on, Harris repeated the message.

“That’s going to be my answer for every question — for Daniel Cameron to step up and do what’s right. That’s the only message I’ve got today.”

Harris then politely thanked the media on the call and walked off.

Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum

McCollum, via Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports Northwest:

We’ve been very proactive with our conversations and phone calls. We actually did a Zoom call with Breonna Taylor’s mother a few days ago to get more information on everything that is going on, everything that has happened. I want to go on the record saying that [Kentucky Attorney General] Daniel Cameron is in position to arrest the cops who are responsible for killing Breonna Taylor and still has not done that, so he’s the one who is in the position to potentially do that. So we want to continue to uplift people like Breonna Taylor who are victims and haven’t received the proper justice that they are due.

“I think basketball is secondary,” McCollum said. “It’s our job, obviously and we have a responsibility to fulfill those obligations, but it’s also our job to fulfill and protect our neighborhoods, and protect the people who look like us, and come from places like us, and don’t exactly have the same voices that we do. I think that’s something that has been on all of our minds. We’ve been very proactive about it.”

Celtics guard Marcus Smart

Smart, via Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

“Before we start, guys, my answer is going to be ‘Justice for Breonna Taylor,’ ” Smart said. “That’s going to be my answer for everything, so I’m just letting you guys know that now. Justice for Breonna Taylor.”

A reporter asked Smart if that would be his response to a question about the team’s defense, and Smart said that it would, replying, “Justice for Breonna Taylor.”

Celtics wing Jaylen Brown

Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:

Lakers guard Alex Caruso

Melissa Rohlin of Sports Illustrated:

When Caruso was asked about being on the brink of playing in his first postseason, he responded by bringing up Taylor.

“I’m just going to respond with, ‘We need justice for Breonna Taylor,’” Caruso said. “That’s going to be my response to the rest of the questions if they’re basketball-related and not pertaining to me and my sister’s wedding.”

“Just got information from the rest of the players who are trying to stay united with the message,” Caruso said. “This is one way we can control it from inside the bubble. It seems to be an important thing. It’s been four months since it happened that she was murdered in her sleep and nobody has been held accountable.”

Clippers forward Paul George

Raptors wing Terence Davis

Grant’s press conference prompted a major breakthrough. The Nuggets made a far stronger statement than practically every other large corporation:

A billion-dollar company posting “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” is no small matter. NBA players uniting to bring attention should only advance the cause even further.

I salute these players for speaking up. They have a platform, and this is important.

I also appreciate that the common refrain has been “Justice for Breonna Taylor” rather than “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”

As I wrote when Grant raised the issue:

Taylor was killed in her own home by Louisville police in March. Police were executing a “no-knock” warrant based on the stated suspicion she was aiding her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, in selling drugs. It’s disputed whether police announced themselves before using a battering ram to enter the apartment. Walker said he and Taylor were asleep when the incident began. Walker, a licensed gun owner, called 911 and fired at what he says he believed to be intruders. The police returned fire, and Taylor was fatally shot.

None of the three officers involved in the shooting – Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove – have been arrested. Only Hankison was fired.

What happened to Taylor was a travesty, and the injustices are vast.

Crackdowns on drugs have led to extreme state violence. No-knock warrants – and even knock-and-announce warrants executed in the middle of the night – put everyone involved at too much risk. Judges approve warrants with too little oversight.

The politicians who enact these anti-drug laws should be held accountable. The police who order these extreme tactics should be held accountable. The judges who wantonly allow it (and the police officers who take advantage with deceitful warrant requests) should be held accountable.

But the officers at Taylor’s apartment shouldn’t necessarily face criminal charges just for carrying out their jobs as the system called for. Hankison allegedly shot recklessly, and if he did, he should face charges. If any of the three officers did something illegal, they should face charges. But the weight of a failed system shouldn’t fall on the individual officers who follow the rules of that system. The officers were put in an impossible situation – fired upon by someone who very reasonably mistook them for intruders. At that point, the police had some right to defend themselves. Just as Walker had some right to defend himself and Taylor in her own home.

Taylor’s death was a tragedy.

The people who created the system that led to her death should be held responsible. And the system should be changed.

The War on Drugs should be completely re-assessed. No-knock warrants should be eliminated. Warrants should be given more scrutiny before being granted.

Getting justice for Breonna Taylor goes much higher than arresting these three cops.

What will Rockets do at trade deadline? Send out Gordon? Bring in Collins?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
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There’s a sense in league circles that this is the final season Houston will be okay with having one of the worst — as of today, the worst — record in the NBA. The Rockets hope to grab one of the big names at the top of the draft board this season, but they already have drafted Jalen Green at No. 2 (2021) and Jabari Smith Jr. at No. 3 (2022), plus made a draft night trade for Alperen Şengün (who is playing well). With cap space to spend and extensions coming up, the tanking days will be over.

How will that impact the Rockets at this trade deadline? Here are a few names to watch.

Kelly Iko at The Athletic reports the Rockets have interest in the Hawks’ John Collins and the sides have talked, but there is no real traction yet.

There has been nothing concrete from the Rockets — merely ideas floated by the Hawks to Houston among other teams — but the interest is real.

The Rockets could also be part of a larger, three-team trade to move Collins.

Eric Gordon remains on the trade block, as he has been for more than a year. Gordon has been frustrated waiting, but the Rockets have held out for what they thought was fair — a first-round pick — to no avail. That price likely comes down, and according to Iko at The Athletic, the front office is “more inclined to trade him now” than in the past, but the proof will be in a deal.

• Teams also are calling about K.J. Martin, according to Iko.

K.J. Martin, there continues to be interest in the 22-year-old combo forward who has been quite productive as a starter — averaging 14 points and seven rebounds on 35 percent shooting from 3 — but nothing concrete at this juncture in terms of offers on the table.

The Rockets like Martin, it’s going to take a serious offer to get them to consider it.

Knicks reportedly offered multiple first-round picks for OG Anunoby, got nowhere

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors
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What are the Toronto Raptors going to do at the trade deadline?

It’s less than two weeks before the trade deadline and the entire NBA is still asking that question, the Raptors are the one team that could turn this trade deadline from a dud to epic if they decide to pivot toward a rebuild. Are they willing to trade players like OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam, or will they look to add a more traditional big man such as the Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl, who has been linked to the Raptors in rumors? Everything seems to be on the table.

Anunoby is a player a lot of teams covet, including New York. The Knicks reached out to the Raptors, reports Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

“And Anunoby with Toronto, I mean, that would cost you a lot. That would cost you significant draft compensation. Maybe the Knicks are there, maybe they’re feeling like they could make the playoffs and make a big push if you added in Anunoby. I know that we reported they contacted Toronto on Anunoby and I was told in that conversation they offered multiple firsts. But this was a while back… Toronto has done a lot since then. But I don’t think the league is crystal clear on what [the Raptors] want to do on Anunoby.”

Anunoby is an elite on-ball wing defender who can be a finisher, averaging 17.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a game at age 25 — the asking price will start at two unprotected first-round picks in this market. The Knicks may have thrown some of their protected picks in the conversation, but Toronto’s asking price is reportedly sky-high because they’re not eager to get rid of him.

Anunoby is making $17.4 million this season and is under contract for $18.2 million next season, a fair price for what he brings to the court (he has a player option at $19.9 million in 2024-25). What the Raptors do with him may signal their direction.

At the deadline, most people around the league expect Toronto to trade Gary Trent Jr., but that’s it. Any other big moves are likely this offseason. If ever.

Reprots: Luka Doncic day-to-day with “mild” ankle sprain

Washington Wizards v Dallas Mavericks
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While there are grades of ankle sprains, ask anyone trying to walk around on one if there is a “mild” version.

Yet that’s what Mavericks sources say about Luka Doncic’s ankle sprain suffered against the Suns on Thursday night. He is “day-to-day” with the injury, a story first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (and since confirmed by others).

Doncic has been playing through ankle soreness in recent weeks and it’s fair to expect the Mavericks to give him a few games off. However, it can’t be too many for a team fighting for a playoff spot, the Mavs are 0-5 in games Doncic has rested this season and have been outscored by 5.3 points per 100 possessions this season when he sits (although they did beat the Suns largely without him Thursday). Doncic is an All-Star starter averaging 33.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists a game.

Dallas plays next on Saturday against the Jazz. It would be a surprise to see Doncic suit up for that game.

https://twitter.com/CallieCaplan/status/1619016699289956353

Boban? Crowder? Holmgren? Exploring player votes for All-Star starters

CrawsOver Pro-Am
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Four NBA players — not one as a joke, but four… as a joke — voted for injured Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren to start the NBA All-Star Game.

The NBA All-Star Game starters were announced Thursday, chosen from a weighted vote of fans (50%), media (25%) and current players (25%).

While most NBA players may take their All-Star Game starter votes seriously, some do not — they vote for friends, college teammates, guys with the same agent, or just whoever they feel like.

Which is comedy gold once we comb through the public vote (Note: names are not attached to who cast a vote, but we do see who got votes). This season, that list of players getting at least one vote to be an All-Star starter include:

Bol Bol (Orlando Magic, he got six votes)
Willy Hernangomez (New Orleans Pelicans, he got five votes)
Juancho Hernangomez (Toronto Raptors, he got three votes)
Omer Yurtseven (Miami Heat, he got three votes)
Georges Niang (Philadelphia 76ers, he got five votes)
Ochai Agbaji (Utah Jazz, he got four votes)
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Oklahoma City Thunder, he got three votes)
Bismack Biyombo (Phoenix Suns, he got three votes)
Jae Crowder (Phoenix Suns, he got two votes)
Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat, he got two votes)
Blake Griffin (Boston Celtics)
Boban Marjanovic (Houston Rockets)
Kemba Walker (Dallas Mavericks)
Kendrick Nunn (Los Angeles Lakers)
Ish Smith (Denver Nuggets)
Torrey Craig (Phoenix Suns)
Luka Garza (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Chimezie Metu (Sacramento Kings)
Furkan Korkmaz (Philadelphia 76ers)
R.J. Hampton (Orlando Magic)
Johnny Davis (Washington Wizards)
Cedi Osman (Cleveland Cavaliers)
MarJon Beauchamp (Milwaukee Bucks)
Paul Reed (Philadelphia 76ers)

That is just a fraction of the entire list.