Jamal Crawford

Lakers Avery Bradley
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Lakers’ Avery Bradley reportedly opts out, will not play at Orlando restart

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Lakers’ starter Avery Bradley is putting his family first — and that means he will not be suiting up in Orlando for the NBA’s restart.

Bradley informed the Lakers of his decision Tuesday, choosing to spend more time with his family and put them first over basketball, Bradley told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

[Bradley’s 6-year-old son] Liam Bradley has a history of struggling to recover from respiratory illnesses and it’s unlikely that he could have been medically cleared to enter the Orlando bubble with his family.

“As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family. And so, at a time like this, I can’t imagine making any decision that might put my family’s health and well-being at even the slightest risk.

“As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”

In a sports world where the culture has long been families have to sacrifice so that a player can chase a title/money, it’s good to see a player put his family and their well being in front of money (Bradley will not be paid for the Orlando games). It’s a decision we should all respect.

Bradley also has been at the forefront of players involved in the Black Lives Matter and social justice movements, including pushing hard for the NBA itself to take action and not just give lip service. He can focus on those causes along with his family.

On the court, this is a blow to the Lakers: Bradley is the starting two guard, giving the Lakers 8.6 points a game, some floor spacing with his shooting (36.4% from three), and strong defense. Of the players on the roster, this will mean a bump in minutes and role for fan-favorite Alex Caruso.

The Lakers can fill Bradley’s roster spot in Orlando and seem to be looking at former LeBron James teammate — although not always the most helpful teammate — J.R. Smith.

Jamal Crawford also is available, if the Lakers are looking for veteran help. The Lakers signed Dion Waiters just before the season was shut down, plus they have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo to play some guard minutes.

None of them, however, begin to fill the hole Bradley leaves in the roster.

Seven NBA free agents to watch as transaction window opens

NBA free agents
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The wheeling and dealing of the NBA is back.

Not exactly on the franchise-changing level we’ve come to expect from a league that loves its deals, but starting at noon Eastern on Tuesday NBA teams can sign free agents, waive players, sign their two-way players, or in other ways round out their rosters for the restart.

Here are seven players to watch, NBA free agents who could get signed in the next week.

Don’t overthink this — if a player was a free agent come the middle of March, it was for a reason. These are role players for a team, but that role can impact winning.

Note: For this story we have not included players set to sign with teams — making them unavailable in reality — such as Joakim Noah (Clippers), or Corey Brewer with the Kings.

1. Tyler Johnson

A solid rotation player up until the last year, Johnson’s shot deserted him in Phoenix (48.1 true shooting percentage, 28.9% from three). That led to him being buried on the bench behind Ricky Rubio and Jevon Carter, and once the Suns couldn’t use him in a trade at the deadline they bought him out.

If Johnson is fully healthy and can find his shot again he could help a team looking for guard depth — he shot 37% from three when the Heat matched a four-year, $50 million contract offer four years ago. He’s just 28 and in his prime, his shot and production should still be there.

The Rockets reportedly have interest, but expect a few suitors to call.

2. Gerald Green

If healthy, he may be the most sought after player on this list. Green is a veteran wing who shot 35.4% from three last season. Green was thought to be lost for the season with a foot injury, but he has had time to heal and is joking around like a player expecting to be in Orlando.

The Rockets had his rights but cannot re-sign him because they traded him at the deadline (as part of the four-team Clint Capela deal). Denver then quickly waived him. For teams looking for depth on the wing — a spot of need for a lot of teams — Green could be a quality pick up.

3. Jamal Crawford

He’s 40 years old — which is one reason no team has signed him this season — but, in the right situation, he could help a team get buckets off the bench. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year is showing his age and has lost a step in recent years — and his horrific defense is a bigger concern to front offices — but he can still score. Crawford averaged 7.9 points per game last season off the bench and lit it up for the depleted Suns at the end of last season. Some team should give him a chance, but I’m not sure any well.

4. Trey Burke

Burke is available because he has limitations: He needs the ball in his hand to run a lot of pick-an-rolls, he’s not terribly efficient and doesn’t make the best decisions, plus he’s undersized and that hurts him on the defensive end. That said, he played solidly off the bench in Philly this season until let go, as he had in New York and Dallas before. For a team looking for a third point guard in Orlando they can turn to because of injury/sickness, Burke is a solid pick up.

5. DeMarcus Cousins

The biggest name on the NBA free agents board, but he is coming off back-to-back career-threatening injuries between his torn Achilles then a torn ACL. He wasn’t moving very well for the Warriors in the Finals last June, and that was before the ACL. The question for teams looking at Cousins is “does he fit with us?” He is not a big who can just set a pick then pop/rim run; he’s more effective getting the ball at the elbow or on the block and making plays. That’s not the direction the game is trending, but it might help a team in Orlando in the short term if Cousins is healthy enough to play.

UPDATE: Cousins has told suitors he is not playing in Orlando to focus on next season.

6. Iman Shumpert

Shumpert played well for the Nets earlier this season. He averaged 18.5 minutes a game, and while he wasn’t racking up counting stats (4.2 points and 2.6 rebounds a game on average) he played solid defense and the Nets were winning with him in the rotation. For teams looking for veteran wing depth heading into Orlando, Shumpert could be a solid pickup.

7. Dragan Bender

We know what you’re saying, “why would anyone sign that bust?” Because he’s just 22 and is a 7-footer who can hit threes. He’s not exactly a unicorn, but players that size who can shoot get extra chances. He played respectably for the Warriors on a couple of 10-day contracts this season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear a team signed him, not looking so much at the restart in Orlando but down the line, rolling the dice on him for next season with a team-friendly contract.

NBA to open ‘transaction window’ for teams to sign players before restart

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NBA GMs want as much roster flexibility as they can get heading into the restart of the league in Orlando.

They’re going to get some — and not just the GMs of the 22 teams headed to Orlando, all 30 teams can make moves in an upcoming “transaction window” reported by Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Starting likely June 22 and lasting about a week (the details are not finalized and sent teams) there will be a one week transaction window where teams can do things such as:

• Convert two-way players to regular contracts
• Sign free agents to contracts (Jamal Crawford is the biggest name available)
• Convert players on 10-day contracts to standard contracts for the remainder of the season (the Clippers signed Joakim Noah to a 10-day just before the shutdown, for example).

Not every team has a roster spot to make a move during the transaction window (for example, Boston is full up), but for teams with players out for the postseason — the Nets with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Dallas with Dwight Powell, Utah with Bojan Bogdanovic — it gives teams a chance to fill out their roster.

Teams still will only be able to bring 15 players to Orlando, any replacement player brought in later would have to go through a quarantine period.

During the seeding games, if a player tests positive for coronavirus and has to be quarantined, or if a player suffers an injury that will have him out for a considerable time, teams can fill that roster spot from a pool of their two-way players and guys who were on G-League contracts.

ESPN’s Marks had good suggestions for the league; however, these likely do not get put into practice.

In reality, this is not going to matter much. If a starter or quality rotation player tests positive for the coronavirus in the Orlando “bubble,” he will be quarantined seven to 14 days (that exact time frame is not public yet). In that window, the team will have to fly out their two-way replacement player, quarantine him for 10 days, and then is the coach going to put a non-NBA player who has not been practicing with the team into a playoff game? Not a chance. The team will just wait out the rotation player and hope he can return to action before they are eliminated.

That said, at the end of June there will be some roster moves by teams, setting up their postseason run.

NBA may allow two-way, G-League players to fill roster spot if there’s a positive coronavirus test

When will NBA return
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Here is a hypothetical situation: Two games into the “seeding games” (what most people still call the regular-season games) in Orlando, Team X has a player who tests positive for the coronavirus and has to be quarantined. Can that team fill his roster spot while he is out, and if so with whom? After the quarantine period, can that player return to the court or is he done for the entire rest of this season?

Today those are hypothetical questions. By early August, there’s a decent chance those are real problems for at least one NBA team inside the bubble at the league’s restart of the season. That has the NBA planning, talking to teams, and planning to negotiate with the National Basketball Players’ Association to come up with a plan, report Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN. Two-way players and players invited to training camp may be part of the solution.

If COVID-19 or a serious injury strikes a team during training camps or the eight regular-season seeding games, there are expected to be no limitations on the number of players a team could sign to replace those lost, but there would be restrictions on those in the pool of eligible players, sources said…

Eligible replacement players probably will have had to be signed in the NBA or G League or be on training camp contracts this season, sources said. Under these restrictions, for example, no team could sign veteran Jamal Crawford — who went unsigned all season — or an international player.

The league office has discussed the possibility with its teams that there could be a requirement that those players replaced for COVID-19 or injury would become ineligible to return for the balance of this season, sources said.

While GMs want all the roster flexibility they can get, the reality is if a starter — or, more importantly, a star player — tests positive in Orlando the team likely will not fill that roster spot. What is the point? For the playoffs, coaches already shrink their rotations. No G League player or guy on a two-way contract is going to be able to step into that starter/star role and help a team instantly in the postseason. Plus, if the team has to bring that new player in from outside the Orlando bubble, then that new player would have to go through his own quarantine period before he can play. By that point, the starter/star who initially tested positive could be ready to return.

The real challenge for GMs and coaches would come if three or more players from one team tested positive.

Expect the league and players union to come up with some plan to make rosters more flexible when teams head to Orlando and start working out there. Just don’t expect it means much changes with rotations when it gets to the playoffs.

2020 PBT Awards: Sixth Man of the Year

Clippers Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams and Thunder guard Dennis Schroder
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The NBA regular season might be finished. Heck, the entire NBA season might be finished. Even if play resumes with regular-season games, there’d likely be an abridged finish before the playoffs (which will also likely be shortened).

So, we’re making our 2019-20 award picks now. If the regular season somehow lasts long enough to reconsider our choices, we’ll do that. But here are our selections on the assumption the regular season is over.

Kurt Helin

1.  Montrezl Harrell, Clippers

2.  Dennis Schroder, Thunder

3.  Derrick Rose, Pistons

A Clipper gets my vote, and for the first time in years, it’s not Lou Williams (who would be fourth on my ballot). Montrezl Harrell improved his game this year defensively and he continues to bring energy and grit off the bench that has made the Clippers’ second unit one of the most feared in the league. Schroder had a fantastic season, mostly when paired in a three-guard lineup with Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Rose faded a little at the end and the Pistons didn’t win much, but he averaged 18.1 points a game and was the team’s best player for chunks of the season.

Dan Feldman

1. Montrezl Harrell, Clippers

2. Dennis Schroder, Thunder

3. Christian Wood, Pistons

After finishing a deserved third for this award last year, Montrezl Harrell improved his scoring skill and played stingier defense while maintaining his energetic style. That moved him past Clippers reserve teammate and reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams. Harrell and Williams work well in tandem, but it seems Harrell has taken a little more ownership of their shared production.

Dennis Schroder scored more effectively than ever. He also diversified his all-around game to fit with the Thunder’s other point guards, Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Schroder absolutely deserves credit for helping make that trio work.

Christian Wood narrowly topped Bucks guards George Hill and Donte DiVincenzo, who both did plenty to help replace Malcolm Brogdon. Wood made so many productive plays inside and out, especially as a starter after the Pistons traded Andre Drummond. That’s part of being a good reserve, stepping up when the starter is unavailable.

Keith Smith

1. Dennis Schroder, Thunder

2. Montrezl Harrell, Clippers

3. Lou Williams, Clippers

It seemed like this might be another year where the two Clippers could have split the award, but Dennis Schroder was just a bit better than both. In his second year coming off the Thunder bench, Schroder has put together the best season of his career. He’s averaging 19 points per game, while shooting 46.8% from the field overall and 38.1% from three, both career highs. And he’s also averaging 4.1 assists per game and 3.7 rebounds per game. To top it off, Schroder is regularly a part of the closing lineup for the surprising Thunder.

L.A.’s two bench stars could be mainstays on this ballot if they stay in reserve roles with the Clippers. Williams has hit Jamal Crawford-territory, where award could be named for him. He had another outstanding scoring season at 18.7 points per game, but what stood out was Williams’ career-best 5.7 assists per game. Harrell also continued to impress with 18.6 points on 58% shooting, to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.