Three things to know: NBA players, coaches react to Capitol protest, Blake decision


The NBA season is in full swing, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every key moment from the night before in one place.

1) NBA players, coaches react to Capitol protest, Jacob Blake decision

“It’s an embarrassing and shameful day in our country.”

New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy spoke not just for himself but also for many Americans — and with that many NBA players and coaches — with that statement Wednesday.

The contrast was stark and obvious. The day before, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced no charges would be filed against police officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white, for shooting Jacob Blake, who is black, seven times in the back because Blake had a knife. Sheskey claimed self-defense. NBA players were outraged.

Then on Wednesday, a violent mob of almost all white people loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and took over the steps, and went into the building. The Capitol Police only used pepper spray to try and slow them. It was a very different and soft response from the Capitol Police compared to how they greeted and were prepared for Black Lives Matter protestors a few months back.

“People see the difference; they saw what people did today and how there were no consequences for them,” Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson said. “On the other side, it would have… ended in multiple arrests and deaths.”

NBA players and coaches either took a knee before the game or kneeled right after tip-off in protest. The Heat and Celtics players released a joint statement, then knelt before their nationally televised game.

Before their game, Golden State Warriors players wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts, then they and the Clippers players knelt for the anthem.

NBA players and coaches were not going to just shut up and dribble in the face of all this. Here is just a sampling of what was said.

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers: “I will say it because I don’t think a lot of people want to. Can you imagine today, if those were all black people storming the Capitol, and what would have happened? That, to me, is a picture that’s worth a thousand words for all of us to see…

“The symbolism of storming the Capitol without force done to them, if you’re a Black American, it definitely touches you in a different way. This is not a Black thing. This is an American thing.”

Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce: “Racism is real. The issues are real. The protests are real. What we’re seeing now is a sad reality that our country has yet to reckon with and acknowledge. For those who didn’t believe it, I hope you believe it now…

“We all understand that it would have been guns ablaze and fires ablaze as if that were black people protesting on the outside, and we haven’t even mentioned getting inside and tearing up the building.”

Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens, when asked about the actions of the Trump Administration that egged the mob on. “They’ve operated in a win-at-all-costs attitude. I don’t know, our sports world is a lot less important, obviously. But I’ve always thought if you operated with a win-at-all-costs attitude, it’s going to be a pretty unfulfilling ending. And in this situation, a disgraceful ending. So, I’m looking forward to two weeks from now, as I know a lot of other people are, too.”

Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “I mean, it’s saddening. It’s disgusting, to be honest with you. Our democracy has been a beacon for hundreds of years of what the world ideologically should be. People have looked up to us all over the world, and what’s happening there is a disgrace. We have a democracy. Every vote should matter. Every state should have the right to certify their votes and their results. And when that happens, we move forward.

“It’s a stain on our democracy. It’s entitled, spoiled, throwing temper tantrums instead of accepting and moving forward to make our country better, which is the most important thing. It’s not about us as individuals, it’s about what’s best for the country and how we heal our country. And this doesn’t help. This makes it worse.”

Magic coach Steve Clifford: “We can disagree about policies or about the way the country should be run. But there’s no place in our country for what’s going on right now. That’s not a protest. They’ve gone way over the line… It’s sad. Our country, we’re being laughed at all over the world from the way we’ve handled the pandemic to this. It’s a sad day for everybody.”

Van Gundy, who has politically outspoken on Twitter, also talked about the bigger picture of what Wednesday’s events say about our nation’s future. “You just wonder if this is an isolated incident or the beginning of a real demise of our country. I don’t think we should take our democracy for granted. I don’t think we should try to brush this off very easily.”

2) Markelle Fultz is done for the season with a torn ACL

The Basketball Gods have no mercy for Markelle Fultz.

Fultz’s long journey from No. 1 pick to a nerve injury that altered his shot and his game, to finding his way back and becoming a solid NBA starting point guard for the Orlando Magic, was one of the most uplifting stories of the NBA season. Fultz was averaging 12.9 points and 5.4 assists a game for Orlando, and his shot had smoothed itself out. Now, this.

Fultz is out for the season after tearing his ACL.

Fultz is in the final year of his rookie contract and has already signed a 3-year $50 million extension with the Magic (although only $35 million of that is fully guaranteed, and he may now not make some of the benchmarks to get to $50 million).

For Orlando, the future got put on hold this season because Fultz joins promising young forward Jonathan Isaac in being out for the season with a torn ACL. Look for rookie Cole Anthony to be thrown into the fire and become Orlando’s starting point guard.

3) Bradley Beal scores career-best 60 points, it’s not enough as Wizards lose to 76ers

If you wonder why NBA GMs from around the league are circling the Washington Wizards like vultures, ready to swoop in the second Bradley Beal becomes available via trade, first watch this video of him dropping 60 points on the top defense in the league this season in Philadelphia.

Then know that wasn’t enough to get the Wizards the win. Philadelphia was in control most of the game, leading by as many as 21 points, but Beal brought the Wizards back. It just wasn’t enough. Joel Embiid continued his MVP-level play early with 38 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.

Every time talk of a trade comes up, both Beal and the Wizards shoot it down. A year ago, Beal signed a short extension with Washington to show his loyalty, but after this season’s slow 2-6 start — and the fact almost all of the top free agents next summer have re-signed with their teams — other GMs are looking at Beal as an option and wondering at what point will he have had enough and ask out?

Maybe that doesn’t happen, but the losses are piling up for the Wizards, which hits Beal hard.

Watch Celtics shooters look sharp in easy preseason win over Hornets

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics
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It’s just one meanless preseason game, but for a franchise that could use some good news the Boston Celtics will take it.

The Celtics’ shooting looked in mid-season form in their preseason opener against the Hornets on Sunday — 57.1% overall and 22-of-47 from 3 (46.8%). Boston just couldn’t seem to miss, especially early.

Jayson Tatum had 16 points in 22 minutes, while Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer with 24 points in 24 minutes.

The one unexpected bright spot was a strong game from Mfiondu Kabengele, who is currently on a two-way contract with the team. He ended up with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and showed some hustle.

Kelly Oubre led the Hornets with 17 points, while LaMelo Ball had 14 points, seven rebounds and four dimes.

It’s just one preseason game, don’t read much of anything into it. But the Celtics will take the good news where they can find it.

T.J. Warren still out for Nets; team to reassess status in November


The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.

NBA returning to Seattle for exhibition game; when will it be more?

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SEATTLE — An NBA preseason game may not seem like a benchmark moment, even in a basketball-hungry city like Seattle, but Jamal Crawford believes there’s value even in an exhibition.

“It reignites a whole new generation of kids who need to see this,” said Crawford, a Seattle native who has been a basketball ambassador for the city through a 20-year NBA career and now with a pro-am that brings in NBA players every summer. “They need to be able to dream and know that it’s real.”

The NBA is making its latest brief return to the Emerald City. The Los Angeles Clippers will play the Portland Trail Blazers there on Monday night, the first time two NBA teams will meet in Seattle since 2018, when the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings played a preseason game. That was the last sporting event inside KeyArena before it was gutted and rebuilt into the gleaming Climate Pledge Arena.

There was a warm-up act of sorts Friday when the Clippers played Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana in an exhibition, one where the most of the Clippers’ big names – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall and Reggie Jackson – weren’t participating.

A sell-out crowd turned out for that Warriors-Kings game four years ago, the first one in Seattle since the beloved SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008 after 41 years in the Pacific Northwest. Another big crowd is expected Monday.

“The Sonics haven’t been a team since I’ve been in the NBA. So just to go play in Seattle is cool,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “We played in Vancouver a few years back. I think like two or three years ago, we had a preseason game at the (Memorial) Coliseum. So every time we get to do something like that, I always enjoy it because I wondered what was it like when it was a real thing, when the games were played in these different arenas. So I am excited to play in Seattle.”

Someday, possibly soon, the expectations are that Seattle will reclaim its place as an NBA town.

“It’s always been a great city to me,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “It’s unfortunate that they lost their team and the team went to OKC. This city definitely deserves a team.”

Speculation is nonstop about when the NBA will choose to expand. Thanks to the resolution of its arena situation, Seattle seems likely to be at the forefront of those expansion talks, with Las Vegas likely right behind it.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been noncommittal about a possible expansion timeline, and it seems likely those talks won’t pick up steam until the league deals with the new collective bargaining agreement and television deals that are on the horizon.

The community’s commitment has never been in question. The appetite of Seattle fans hasn’t waned in the years since the Sonics left and as the region became a hotbed for NBA talent, whether it was Crawford continuing to carry the banner for the city, to Zach LaVine of Renton, Washington, to this year’s No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, another Seattle native.

As if any reinforcement was needed, the summer provided a perfect example as fans camped overnight outside Crawford’s summer league venue for the chance to get inside and watch LeBron James make his first basketball visit to the city in more than a decade.

“Anyone that knows Seattle knows what a great basketball city we are,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said this summer when the preseason game was announced.

The idea for having the Blazers and Clippers meet in Seattle was the result of a brainstorm between Lue and Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. The two close friends wanted their teams to meet in the preseason and Lue noted the owners for both teams are Seattle based: Steve Ballmer of the Clippers and Jody Allen for the Blazers.

“I haven’t been back since I played there in 2008, I think it was. So just to be able to go back there and you know, Mr. Ballmer and kind of see his offices and how he lives, and (Chauncey) to get a chance to see his owner, and then to be with my best friend, I thought it would be a great common ground,” Lue said.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.