Report: Raptors and Celtics discussing boycotting Game 1

0 Comments

NBA players are upset. Upset police shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Upset they’re in the bubble while all this is happening outside it.

Raptors guard Norman Powell and Celtics guard Marcus Smart – whose teams are scheduled to play Game 1 of their second-round series tomorrow – even said a boycott was being discussed.

Apparently, those talks are advancing.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

The NBA Players Association executive committee is in active discussions with players who are seeking guidance on the logistics of potentially boycotting games, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Players began reaching out to the committee in recent days, sharing that they’re not in the right frame of mind to play basketball, sources said.

Sources said there is a sizable faction of players who are psychologically distraught by the video of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot in the back multiple times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as he tried to get into his vehicle.

The hearts of players are heavy, with some feeling intense guilt for playing and that they’re providing entertainment that is drowning out the injustices that are plaguing this country, sources said.

Boycotts are designed to spark change and are naturally more effective when more people participate. That’s different than individual players personally deciding they just can’t focus on basketball right now.

Are some players trying to organize larger boycotts? Are some players considering individual boycotts? Are some players just pondering a personal decision not to prioritize basketball right now?

Each is different.

All are understandable.

With a heightened awareness of injustices like racism and police brutality, many people feel the desire to do… well, something. It can be difficult to determine what that something is. Kneeling during the national anthem, wearing corporate-approved social-justice messages on jerseys and speaking up during press conferences haven’t solved the problem. So, NBA players are looking for something that will. Maybe that’s boycotting.

But there are no simple answers, because racism is not a simple problem. It is embedded into so many elements of our system and will take years to properly address.

It’s easy to imagine an alternate universe where players boycotted the NBA’s resumption at Disney World. Police probably still would have shot Jacob Blake. In that universe, players might be regretting not playing and using their platforms to advocate for change.

Players shouldn’t feel guilty for playing. Basketball is not that important to the world. People who want a distraction will fine one. Many people are paying attention to both the NBA and the push for racial justice. NBA players are aiding that cause through their messaging.

However, even if basketball isn’t that important to the world, players securing their salaries can be very important to them.

Of course, money isn’t everything. Many people feel disillusioned with their normal jobs while more important things are happening in the world. Why should NBA players be any different? The desire to step away from something trivial like basketball is very relatable. Yet, earning an income remains important.

It’s a lot to balance.

Boston and Toronto players boycotting Game 1 would raise many questions. What are their demands for ending the boycott? Can those demands be met? How quickly? How would that affect logistics of playing the series?

Players leaving the bubble would cause even greater complications. Could the Raptors lose enough players to be disqualified from the playoffs? Would they be given time to add replacements?

A boycott would be extreme in the scope of the NBA.

Enough to make a dent in the greater world? That’s more questionable.

Hawks trade Harkless, second-round pick to Thunder for Vit Krejci

0 Comments

The Atlanta Hawks just saved some money, getting under the luxury tax line. The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up a second-round pick for their trouble of taking on a contract.

The Hawks have traded Moe Harkless and a second-round pick to the Thunder for Vit Krejci the teams announced (Shams Charania of The Athletic was first).

This saves Atlanta a little over $3 million, which moves them from above the luxury tax line to $1.3 million below it. While the almighty dollar was the primary motivation in the ATL, the Hawks also pick up a development project. Krejci showed a little promise in his rookie season, appearing in 30 games and averaging 6.2 points plus 3.4 rebounds a night, before having his knee scoped in April.

Krejci was on the bubble of making the team in Oklahoma City, now the Thunder pick up a second-round pick for a guy they might have waived anyway.

Harkless, 29, is on an expiring $4.6 million contract, which fits nicely into the Disabled Player Exception the Thunder were granted for Chet Holmgren’s season-ending foot injury.

The Thunder are expected to waive Harkless and buy him out, making him a free agent. However, they could keep him and see if another trade could net them another second-round pick.

Lonzo Ball says ‘I can’t run’ or jump; Bulls’ Donovan has to plan for extended absence

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
0 Comments

Officially, Lonzo Ball will be out 4-6 weeks after getting his knee scoped this week.

However, this is his second surgery on his left knee this year — he had meniscus surgery in January, after which he was never able to return to the court — and there are concerns Ball could miss significant time again. And coach Billy Donovan has no choice but to plan for an extended absence.

Ball did a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday and it’s hard to come away from what he said overly optimistic. Rob Schaefer reported on the call for NBC Sports Chicago:

“Literally, I really can’t run. I can’t run or jump. There’s a range from, like, 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have, like, no force and I can’t, like, catch myself. Until I can do those things I can’t play,” Ball said. “I did rehab, it was getting better, but it was not to a point where I could get out there and run full speed or jump. So surgery is the next step.”

The symptoms are something Ball said he has never dealt with and have left doctors, in his words, “a little surprised.”

It’s never good when doctors are surprised. Ball said the doctors don’t see anything on the MRI, but there is clearly something wrong, so they are going in and looking to find the issue and fix it.

Ball has been diligent in his recovery work from the start, the problem was pain in his knee. Something was still not right after the first surgery. Whatever it is.

The 4-6 week timeline would have Ball back in early November, but you know they will be overly cautious with him after the past year. Coach Billy Donovan was honest — he has to plan for a season without Ball.

The Bulls need Ball in a deep and challenging East. He brings defense, pushes the pace in transition, and takes care of the rock. Chicago has other players who can do those things individually — Alex Caruso can defend, Coby White pushes in transition, Goran Dragic takes care of the ball — but the Bulls lack one player who can do all those things. At least they lack one until Ball returns.

Whenever that may be.

Deandre Ayton says he hasn’t spoken to coach Williams since Game 7

Phoenix Suns v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
0 Comments

In a Game 7 against the Mavericks last May, Suns coach Monty Williams benched center Deandre Ayton, who ended up playing just 17 minutes in an ugly, blowout loss for Phoenix. When asked about it after the game Williams said, “It’s internal.”

Ayton and Williams have not spoken since then, according to Ayton.

Yikes. Remember that includes a summer where the Suns would not offer Ayton a max contract extension so he went out and got one from the Pacers, then the Suns instantly matched it. Ayton did not sound thrilled to be back in Phoenix on Media Day, and he was rather matter-of-fact about dealing with his coach.

It’s what every fan wants to hear — “this is just my job.”

Reporters asked Williams about this and he played it off, saying he hasn’t spoken with a lot of players yet.

It’s just day one of training camp, but there are a lot of red flags around the Suns: owner Robert Sarver being suspended and selling the team, Jae Crowder not in camp waiting to be traded, and now not a lot of communication between the team’s star center and its coach.

Maybe it all amounts to nothing. Maybe the Suns get on the court, Chris Paul looks rejuvenated, Devin Booker looks like Devin Booker, and none of this matters. But what had looked like a stable situation not that long ago now has a lot of red flags flying heading into the season, and that has to concern Suns fans.

 

Report: Lakers would have traded both first-round picks for Irving, Mitchell

Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets
Matteo Marchi/Getty Images
0 Comments

“If you make that trade, it has to be the right one, you have one shot to do it,” Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said at media day, pulling back the curtain a little on his thinking of trading two first-round picks. “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 tracks with the consistent messaging out of Los Angeles all summer: The Lakers would only trade the only two first-round picks they fully control for the rest of this decade (2027 and 2029) for a deal that made them a contender.

That meant landing Kyrie Irving or Donovan Mitchell, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said on The Hoop Collective Podcast.

“I’ve been told that had the Lakers been able to acquire, Kyrie Irving, or the Lakers been able to acquire Donovan Mitchell, either of those players, the Lakers were willing and able to move both those [first-round] picks to do it.”

The problem for the Lakers is the market price for elite talent has moved beyond two first-round picks. The Jazz got three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029) plus the rights to two pick swaps (2026 and 2028) in the Mitchell trade, not to mention three players: Lauri Markkanen (who they will try to trade for another pick), Collin Sexton, and Ochair Agbaji. The price for Kyrie Irving would have been at least as high, if the Nets really wanted to trade him.

The Lakers traded all of their young players and most of their picks to land Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, except for the ones they let walk away (Alex Caruso). Before he was judicious in making trades like he was this offseason, Pelinka made deals that backed him into this corner.

The Lakers likely could use both picks to acquire Buddy Hield and Myles Turner out of Indiana (sending Westbrook back), but that doesn’t make Los Angeles a contender (a playoff team, but not a title threat) and it messes with the plan to have around $30 million in cap space next summer to chase a big name.

The Lakers you see in training camp are the Lakers you get. At least for now.