Domantas Sabonis

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Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon is the latest player to test positive for coronavirus

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Malcolm Brogdon, the primary shot creator and heart of the Indiana Pacers’ offense, has become the latest NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus.

Brogdon announced he tested positive, releasing this statement.

On the court, Brogdon has been critical to the Pacers push into the playoffs (they are the fifth seed in the East heading to Orlando and the restart). He averaged 16.3 points and 7.1 assists a game, setting up players such as Domantas Sabonis and working to integrate with Victor Oladipo after his return.

Off the court, Brogdon has been one of the more active NBA players in the Black Lives Matters protests and movement. He is one of the players saying he could use the platform in Orlando to get the BLM message out to a broader audience. As he said, Brogdon still plans on playing in Orlando.

As teams started testing players for the coronavirus this week, a number of players have tested positive (we don’t have an exact number, not everything is public). Malcolm Brogdon joins Denver’s Nikola Jokic as one of the biggest name players to test positive this week (Kevin Durant, Rudy Gobert, and Donovan Mitchell did back in March).

The NBA and team executives expected some positive tests, even as some fans on Twitter question if the league should go forward considering the players with the disease and the rise in positive tests in the Orange County/Orlando area. This is why teams are still working out at their home facilities, giving time for players such as Brogdon to quarantine, get treatment, then head to Orlando in a week (or later) when cleared. The idea is to find out who is sick now, get them healthy, then create the “bubble” or campus in Orlando with the coronavirus on the outside and players staying healthy inside (and being tested nearly daily). Of course it’s not that simple, but team executives and players largely buy into the plan.

The league is moving forward with the restart in Orlando — and Brogdon will be with it.

Rumor: Teams watching Victor Oladipo situation with Pacers for possible trade

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The Indiana Pacers are locked into some big money contracts: Malcolm Brogdon at three-years, $65 million after this season; Myles Turner three years, 54 million, Domantas Sabonis‘ four-year, $77 million extension kicks in next season; plus both T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb have a couple of seasons at more than $10 million.

Then there is Victor Oladipo, just returned to the court and starting to round into shape after a major injury. He has only one more season after this one, at $21 million. He and the Pacers talked extension briefly but tabled those talks.

Can the mid-market Pacers keep all those players? Might they trade Oladipo? Ian Begley at SNY.TV says other teams are monitoring the situation.

Opposing teams are keeping an eye on the situation in Indy because the club will likely have to commit significant money to Victor Oladipo in the summer of 2021 if it wants to keep him.

The Pacers will be able to exceed the cap to sign Oladipo. But it would take a significant financial commitment from Indy to keep the foursome of Oladipo, Sabonis, Brogdon and Turner intact…

The Knicks, Nets and plenty of other teams are in position to be aggressive if a player of Oladipo’s caliber becomes available via trade.

Right now, that’s all a big “if” that hinges on how healthy Oladipo is and can he bounce back to his All-NBA level of play. While he was starting to round into form upon his return, he was not his old self, yet (nor should he be expected to be yet), and he was still developing chemistry with Brogdon.

The sense around the league is that the Pacers would move one of their big men, Turner or Sabonis. However, those two have played well together on the front line and the Pacers have shot down trade requests for Turner in the past.

The questions for owner Herb Simon of the Pacers become: Does he want to pay the luxury tax to keep this team together? While this Pacers team is good, is it “pay the tax” like a contender good? Throw into the mix that Simon’s money in large part comes from owning shopping malls — a sector hit hard in the current economy — and there are a lot of questions to answer.

Which is why other teams will monitor the situation. The core guys in Indiana could help a lot of other teams.

Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell headline televised NBA video-game tournament

Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell
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The NBA season isn’t returning any time soon.

So, the closest thing you’ll get to live basketball on television is a video-game tournament between NBA players. The bracket has been revealed.

The Boardroom:

1. Kevin Durant (Nets)

2. Trae Young (Hawks)

3. Hassan Whiteside (Trail Blazers)

4. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)

5. Devin Booker (Suns)

6. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)

7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)

8. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)

9. Domantas Sabonis (Pacers)

10. Deandre Ayton (Suns)

11. DeMarcus Cousins (previously Lakers)

12. Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets)

13. Rui Hachimura (Wizards)

14. Patrick Beverley (Clippers)

15. Harrison Barnes (Kings)

16. Derrick Jones Jr. (Heat)

I have questions:

  • How does Hassan Whiteside have the same rating as Donovan Mitchell and a higher rating Devin Booker?
  • Does being extremely online bode well for Kevin Durant?
  • Is Donovan Mitchell, who spent his coronavirus isolation playing video games, in the best game shape?
  • Will Zach LaVine redeem himself?
  • Will players use their own teams? If so, will Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton both use the Suns, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley both use the Clippers? If not, the most interesting aspect of this tournament – to non-esports aficionados – could be reading way too much into which teams players pick.

Mock NBA expansion draft: Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons, Pacers, Bucks

Mock NBA expansion draft
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The NBA season is on hiatus. NBC Sports is not – even if we have to venture into fantasy.

We’re holding a mock NBA expansion draft. Keith Smith is setting protected lists for existing teams. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman will run two new teams as this project culminates in an expansion draft.

Current teams can protect up to eight players. Each team must make at least one player available. If selected, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents. Pending options can be decided before or after the expansion draft at the discretion of the option-holder. Anyone selected in the expansion draft can’t return to his prior team for one year. Players entering unrestricted free agency and players on two-way contracts are essentially ignored.

We’re unveiling protected/unprotected lists by division (here is the Atlantic Division). Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Central:

Chicago Bulls

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 7

Ineligible – 0

Analysis: Chicago keeps their young building blocks, as well as the veterans they acquired to support them. In the end, the Bulls hope that this group can finally get healthy and make a playoff push. That means protecting all of them.

Chandler Hutchison was the toughest decision among the unprotected players. He’s still on his rookie scale contract, but he hasn’t been healthy during his first two seasons. That means the Bulls prioritize a veteran or two over him. Kris Dunn is another tough player to leave unprotected, but as a free agent, there is no guarantee he’d be back anyway.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 2

Ineligible – 3

Analysis: The Cavaliers are in a spot to really clean up their cap sheet if either Kevin Love or Larry Nance Jr. are selected. That made the protection decisions pretty easy. Keep all the young guys and the guys on decent contracts. Andre Drummond doesn’t really fit either description there, but Cleveland did just trade for him.

Detroit Pistons

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 1

Ineligible – 5

Analysis: This one has some gamesmanship involved. Because the Pistons have five free agents, they only need to leave the minimum of one player unprotected. It’s that one player that makes the eight protected players easy decisions. Sure, there are young guys in that group Detroit wants to keep. But a handful are players the Pistons wouldn’t lose sleep over seeing get drafted.

On the flip side, by leaving only Blake Griffin unprotected, Detroit opens the possibility of getting that albatross salary off their books. The Pistons don’t have any extra first-round picks, but could be open to moving one of their own to entice and expansion team to take on the remaining $77.8 million in salary over the next two seasons.

Indiana Pacers

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 5

Ineligible – 2

Analysis: The Pacers protection decisions were fairly easy. Every player they are protecting is a key rotation player or a recent draftee.

It was a little difficult to leave Jeremy Lamb and T.J. McConnell unprotected, but Lamb is coming off a major injury. An expansion team may not want to deal with that. While McConnell has been good for Indiana, he’s a little expendable with Aaron Holiday on the roster.

Milwaukee Bucks

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 4

Ineligible – 3

Analysis: The Bucks deep roster works against them a little bit here. Seven of the protected players were fairly easy decisions. The only one that was tricky was Wesley Matthews. He’s a veteran with a player option, but Milwaukee isn’t taking chances with one of their starters.

On the unprotected front, it came down to Matthews vs D.J. Wilson and Sterling Brown. Ultimately, neither young player has cracked the rotation on a regular basis. That makes it a little more palatable to leave them exposed in the expansion draft.

Pacers All-Star Domantas Sabonis has 20 and 11, leads Pacers past Blazers

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INDIANAPOLIS — Domantas Sabonis had 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 106-100 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Malcolm Brogdon had 17 points, eight assists, and six rebounds while T.J. Warren and Victor Oladipo scored 15 points each for the Pacers, who have four of their last five.

CJ McCollum had 28 points and eight assists, Gary Trent Jr. had 20 points, and five rebounds, and Hassan Whiteside had 18 points and 16 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who have lost five of six.

The Pacers were able to hold off the Blazers’ late push.

After Brogdon made a jumper to give Indiana a 103-93 lead with 1:54 remaining, Portland went on a 7-0 run. McCollum’s floater made it 103-100 with 30 seconds to go.

Myles Turner drilled a 3-pointer with 9 seconds remaining to seal it.

The Trail Blazers went on a 10-1 run late in the first half to push ahead.

McCollum made a 3-pointer to give Portland a 42-40 lead with 3:13 to go in the second quarter. After a free throw by Oladipo, McCollum made another three and then a fadeaway to put the Trail Blazers in front 47-41.

Portland led 49-43 at halftime.