Emmanuel Mudiay

Cliff Alexander
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Former Trail Blazers player Cliff Alexander charged with gun felony

Leave a comment

Five of the top six 2014 high school recruits were drafted in the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery: Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, Stanley Johnson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Myles Turner.

The exception: Cliff Alexander.

After a rocky freshman season at Kansas, Alexander was effectively forced in the 2015 NBA draft by the threat of NCAA punishment. He went undrafted, signed with the Trail Blazers and played just eight games. The next season, he signed a 10-day contract with the Nets but never played for them.

TMZ:

Former NBA player Cliff Alexander — the top H.S. recruit in the country in 2014 — was arrested Wednesday … after cops say they found a loaded gun on him during a traffic stop.

Alexander, who cops say does NOT have a concealed carry license — was arrested and booked on a felony charge of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Alexander, 24, has been playing in France.

Report: Jalen Green jumping from high school to NBA’s minor league

Jalen Green
John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA still bans players jumping from straight from high school to the NBA.

The NBA’s minor league does not. In fact, the minor league is offering a $125,000 salary specifically to entice top high school recruits.

Nobody took the deal last season, the first year it was offered. Kevin Durant and Emmanuel Mudiay said they wouldn’t have gone that route if it were available. Top American players who wanted to turn pro – LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton – instead went to Australia’s National Basketball League, which also has a special program to lure graduating high schoolers.

So, Jalen Green will be a trendsetter.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

This is risky.

Green will get more money than he would playing college basketball. Probably. At minimum, this is over the table.

He’ll also get professional experience. College basketball grooms players for the NBA. This program is designed to groom players for the NBA.

But that cuts both ways. Green will face far better competition against older and better minor-league players.

He’ll also get far less exposure in a little-watched league. College basketball draws major viewers and would’ve given Green more ability to build his brand. On the other hand, he can cash in sooner, signing endorsement deals now.

Will this be good for Green overall? Tough to say. There’s no precedent. Presumably, he weighed all the pros and cons and made the best decision for him. Hopefully, he made the right call.

Mock NBA expansion draft: Nuggets, Timberwolves, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Jazz

Mock NBA expansion draft
(Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

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, Central Division, and Pacific Division). Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Northwest:

Denver Nuggets

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 2

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: Denver had maybe the easiest protections decisions in the NBA. Two rotation players (Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee) are ineligible, so the Nuggets simply protect their other rotation players.

Keita Bates-Diop is the exact type of player an expansion team should snag. He’s shown some upside in limited minutes. Vlatko Cancar has the benefit of an additional year on his contract, and will be only 23 years old at the start of next season.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 5

Ineligible – 1

Analysis: The Wolves are keeping guys who might be a part of the future. Most were no-brainers. The decision point was Omari Spellman v.s Juancho Hernangomez. Keeping Hernangomez doesn’t mean Minnesota will definitely re-sign him, but he has more upside than Spellman.

After Spellman, the rest are take it or leave it. Also, the Timberwolves aren’t paying either expansion team to take James Johnson off their hands.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 3

Analysis: If this was done before the season, there could have been an argument for the Thunder to expose both Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder. Both have played far too well to chance that now. Steven Adams is overpaid, but not by enough to leave him unprotected. The rest of the players, led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, are young players with upside.

Abdel Nader has been a part of the rotation at times for OKC, but he’s not getting protected over a younger player. Deonte Burton and Mike Muscala were easy decisions due to their minimal roles for the Thunder.

Portland Trail Blazers

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 3

Analysis: Portland is keeping its key veterans and younger players. The decision point was Wenyen Gabriel vs. the three unprotected veterans. In the end, the Trail Blazers chose to protect Gabriel, who they’ll likely renounce in free agency.

As for the three veterans, they all had strong cases against protecting them. Trevor Ariza is overpaid at this point his career. Rodney Hood is coming off a torn Achilles’. And Mario Hezonja just isn’t worth protecting, even despite his minimum salary.

Utah Jazz

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 5

Ineligible – 2

Analysis: Utah’s first seven players were easy decisions. They are all rotation players. The decision point was keeping a non-guaranteed player (ultimately chose 2019 second-round pick Miye Oni) over either Mike Conley or Ed Davis.

The Jazz are leaving Conley and Davis unprotected because neither acquisition has worked out as hoped for. If Utah can clear Conley’s salary, that would be helpful for a team that is starting to get very expensive. Davis makes less than Conley, but the fit just doesn’t work. And of the minimum players, none have found a rotation role.

NBA suspends season after Rudy Gobert reportedly tests positive for coronavirus

Rudy Gobert COVID-19
Omar Rawlings/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA reportedly planned to continue playing games – without fans in attendance – amid the coronavirus outbreak.

That was until Jazz center Rudy Gobertwho made a mockery of the NBA’s coronavirus guidelines by going out of his way to touch reporters’ recorders and microphones then came down with an illness before tonight’s postponed Jazz-Thunder game – tested positive for coronavirus.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

NBA release:

The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19.  The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.  At that time, tonight’s game was canceled.  The affected player was not in the arena.

The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice.  The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tony Jones of The Athletic:

Hopefully, everyone in Oklahoma City is OK. What a scary situation there. There are many people – including Utah teammate Emmanuel Mudiay, who also has an illness – facing concerns.

This spreads well beyond the Jazz and Thunder. In the last week, Gobert played against the Raptors, Pistons and Celtics.

How far does this go? It’s an open question, especially with a lack of testing.

That’s why the entire league is going on hiatus.

Jazz-Thunder postponed in Oklahoma City as coronavirus concerns swirl around Rudy Gobert

Leave a comment

Jazz center Rudy Gobert made a mockery of the NBA’s coronavirus guidelines by going out of his way to touch reporters’ recorders and microphones. Then, he came down with an illness.

It’s difficult not to connect the dots from that episode to tonight’s Jazz-Thunder game in Oklahoma City being postponed.

The Thunder’s team doctor came running onto the court and spoke with officials moments before tipoff, according to Royce Young of ESPN:

Thunder public-address announcer Mario Nanni said, “Fans, we have a slight delay. Waiting for league confirmation to start the game.”

In-arena entertainment continued – awkwardly, amid the uncertainty. Eventually, Nanni delivered a different message:

And fans, due to unforeseen circumstances, the game tonight has been postponed. You’re all safe. And take your time in leaving the arena tonight and do so in an orderly fashion. Thank you for coming out tonight. We are all safe. And you can visit OKCThunder.com for updates on upcoming games. Please drive home safely. And goodnight fans.

Was that due to Gobert’s and Emmanuel Mudiay‘s illnesses? Though the Utah players were known to be sick earlier in the day, there were more developments closer to the scheduled start.

The Jazz called Gobert questionable, ruled him out then upgraded his status to questionable:

Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune:

Were the Thunder concerned about Gobert playing? Being around? Is this completely unrelated to coronavirus?

The abrupt cancelation leaves many questions unanswered.

But if related to Gobert’s illness, this is how a plan to continue games quickly turns into a hiatus. In the last week, Gobert has played against the Raptors, Pistons and Celtics.

The game was postponed in Oklahoma City.

Coronavirus concern is spreading much further.