Three Things to Know: COVID news almost overshadows Curry. Almost.


Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks going that make the NBA great.

1) Stephen Curry passes Ray Allen, sets record for most NBA 3s

Ray Allen was famously obsessive about practicing his shot. His most famous 3-pointer — the stepping back corner 3 off a Chris Bosh pass to force overtime against the Spurs in the 2013 Finals — didn’t come from nowhere. He had practiced that shot. He had practiced all the shots; his form was impeccable.

Stephen Curry’s game looks more improvised, more free-flowing. He’s taking pre-game warmup shots from the tunnel. But don’t be fooled — Curry has the same obsessive streak and has practiced all the shots. Those logo threes come from plenty of reps.

For years it’s been accepted that Curry is the greatest shooter the game has ever seen. Now, the numbers back that up. Tuesday night, with a couple of first-quarter 3s, Curry tied then passed Hall of Famer Allen for the most made 3s in NBA history, 2,974.

Allen was there to celebrate with him. So was Reggie Miller, the other person in the greatest shooter conversation.

Curry and Allen share an obsession with golf — a sport where repetition and practice to perfect your form is the path to success. It appeals to both of their styles. For all the ease of Curry’s game and the joy he plays with, this new record is built on a foundation of countless hours in the gym perfecting his craft.

2) COVID hits the NBA hard

Giannis Antetokounmpo is in the protocols. James Harden and six of his Nets teammates are in the protocols. So many Chicago Bulls are in the protocols the league needed to postpone a couple of their games. Multiple teams have canceled practices, and Tuesday night the Nets played with the league-minimum eight players dressed (and they still won).

The feeling of something close to normalcy the NBA had the first two months of the season has been shattered. Now the NBA has joined the ranks of other sports leagues around the globe — the NFL, NHL, Premier League — in having teams get hit hard by COVID and their season disrupted. As of Wednesday morning, 34 NBA players are in protocols, as tracked by our old friend Tom Haberstroh.

What’s more, league and team officials expect it to get worse before it gets better.

The increase in players testing positive not-so-coincidentally started after the Thanksgiving holiday, when players were gathered indoors for events with family and friends. The NBA anticipated this and started to ramp up testing after the holiday weekend, but that has just exposed the underlying problem — with people indoors more because of winter, and with the omicron virus spreading, cases are on the rise (not just with the NBA or sports leagues, but with society as a whole).

While 97% of NBA players are vaccinated and 60% have had booster shots, according to the league, that alone does not stop the spread of the virus. It does make it far less likely players (or team staff, all of which had to be vaccinated) will suffer severe symptoms or face hospitalization from the disease, but masks and social distancing remain the best paths to stopping the spread altogether.

The NBA may tighten restrictions on players (although that would have to be negotiated with the players’ union and would be a tough sell), but thanks to the high vaccination rates around the league, this outbreak is seen as more manageable than last season, when more than 30 games were postponed.

That said, with the winter holidays coming and the highly-transmissible Ormicron variant spreading, the idea of a sense of normalcy around the NBA is not returning anytime soon.

3) Despite being shorthanded, Kevin Durant‘s triple-double sparks Nets win

Stephen Curry is grabbing the headlines early this season — and he did again on Tuesday night, but Kevin Durant is also playing like an MVP this season.

KD did that Tuesday night as well with a 34-point, 13 rebound, 11 assist triple-double.

The Nets needed every bit of that plus a late Patty Mills 3 and overtime to beat the Raptors. And even with all that, Scottie Barnes came thisclose to winning the game with a last-second desperation heave.

Down to eight players because of COVID — including their two-way players — is a quality win for the Nets. Even without Irving, the Nets have been the best team in the East this season, thanks to Durant.

Highlight of the Night, non-Curry edition: Pascal Siakam put Durant in a poster

Durant and the Nets may have had the last laugh with their overtime win, but Pascal Siakam had the dunk of the night and Durant was in the poster.

Last night’s scores:

Brooklyn 131, Toronto 129 (OT)
Golden State 105, New York 96
Phoenix 111, Portland 107 (OT)
Detroit at Chicago, postponed

Pelican’s Green says Zion ‘dominated the scrimmage pretty much’


The Zion hype train keeps right on rolling. First were the reports he was in the best shape of his life, then he walked into media day and it looked like he is.

Now Zion has his own hype man in Pelicans coach Willie Green, who said he dominated the first day of team scrimmages. Via Andre Lopez of ESPN.

“Z looked amazing,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said on Wednesday afternoon. “His strength, his speed. He dominated the scrimmage pretty much.”

“What stood out was his force more than anything,” Green said. “He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.”

Reach for the salt shaker to take all this with — it’s training camp scrimmages. Maybe Zion is playing that well right now — he’s fully capable, he was almost an All-NBA player in 2020-21 (eighth in forward voting) before his foot injury — but we need to see it against other teams. In games that matter. Then we’ll need to see it over a stretch of time.

If Zion can stay healthy this season, if his conditioning is where everyone says it is, he could be in for a monster season. Combine that with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a strong supporting cast in New Orleans, and the Pelicans could surprise a lot of people — and be fun to watch.


PBT Podcast: What’s next for Celtics, Suns? Should NBA end one-and-done?


NBA training camps just opened and teams have yet to play a preseason game, but already two contenders are dealing with problems.

The Celtics have the suspension of coach Ime Udoka as a distraction, plus defensive anchor center Robert Williams will miss at least the start of the season following another knee surgery.

The Suns have the distraction of a suspended owner who is selling the team, plus Jae Crowder is out and demanding a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not seem happy.

Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and myself go through all the training camp news, including the wilder ones with the Lakers and Nets, breaking down what to take away from all that — plus how good Zion Williamson and James Harden look physically.

Then the pair discusses the potential of the NBA doing away with the one-and-done role and letting 18-year-olds back in the game — is that good for the NBA?

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Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six
Harry How/Getty Images

In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’


In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.