LeBron James

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Zion Williamson “just went back to square one” with quarantine workouts

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Zion Williamson looks cut — like he spent the entire quarantine doing workouts — and ready to be a force at the NBA restart in Orlando.

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What workouts did Zion Williamson do during the break to get that look? He took everything back down to step one and built it up again working out with his stepfather Lee Anderson, Williamson told reporters on Friday (hat tip Andrew Lopez of ESPN):

“It just felt like I was 5 years old again,” Williamson said Friday. “Just went back to square one, tried to get my body where it needs to be, get my fundamentals back to square one and start from there. So yeah, it was just like starting over at 5 again. It was a great process to learn it all over.”

Williamson did a little more than that. He also had approval from the league to go to the Pelicans practice facility throughout the quarantine and get treatment on his knee, the one that kept him out the first 45 games of the season. So he stayed healthy.

He also worked on other aspects of this game, such as his jump shot. Williamson took 76.7% of his shot attempts at the rim this season, and while getting to the rim is critical to his game, he’s going to have confidence in his shot and knock down jumpers to reach higher levels in the league.

The Pelicans enter the bubble 3.5 games back of Memphis for the eighth seed in the West, and with the softest schedule of any team in Orlando (matching their schedule before the interruption), they have a legitimate chance of forcing a two-game play-in series. It’s not easy, but there is a path to the playoffs for New Orleans (setting up a Zion vs. LeBron James first-round showdown that league broadcast partners are drooling over).

A stronger, improved Zion could help get the Pelicans there.

After four months off, first NBA teams practice in restart bubble

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Nikola Vucevic had to raise his voice a bit to answer a question. He had just walked off the court after the first Orlando Magic practice of the restart, and some of his teammates remained on the floor while engaged in a loud and enthusiastic shooting contest.

After four months, basketball was truly back.

Full-scale practices inside the NBA bubble at the Disney complex started Thursday, with the Magic — the first team to get into the campus earlier this week — becoming the first team formally back on the floor. By the close of business Thursday, all 22 teams participating in the restart were to be checked into their hotel and beginning their isolation from the rest of the world for what will be several weeks at least. And by Saturday, all teams should have practiced at least once.

“It’s great to be back after four months,” Vucevic said. “We all missed it.”

The last eight teams were coming in Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers among them. Lakers forward LeBron James lamented saying farewell to his family, and 76ers forward Joel Embiid — who raised some eyebrows earlier this week when he said he was “not a big fan of the idea” of restarting the season in a bubble — showed up for his team’s flight in what appeared to be a full hazmat suit.

“Just left the crib to head to the bubble. … Hated to leave the (hashtag)JamesGang,” James posted on Twitter.

Another last-day arrival at the Disney campus was the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors, who boarded buses for the two-hour drive from Naples, Florida — they’ve been there for about two weeks, training at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers — for the trip to the bubble. The buses were specially wrapped for the occasion, with the Raptors’ logo and the words “Black Lives Matter” displayed on the sides.

Brooklyn, Utah, Washington and Phoenix all were down to practice Thursday, along with the Magic. Denver was originally scheduled to, then pushed back its opening session to Friday. By Saturday, practices will be constant — 22 teams working out at various times in a window spanning 13 1/2 hours and spread out across seven different facilities.

Exhibition games begin July 22. Games restart again for real on July 30.

“It just felt good to be back on the floor,” said Brooklyn interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who took over for Kenny Atkinson less than a week before the March 11 suspension of the season because of the coronavirus. “I think that was the most exciting thing. We got a little conditioning underneath us. Didn’t go too hard after the quarantine, wanted to get guys to just run up and down a little bit and feel the ball again.”

Teams, for the most part, had to wait two days after arriving before they could get on the practice floor.

Many players have passed the time with video games; Miami center Meyers Leonard, with the Heat not practicing for the first time until Friday, has been giving fans glimpses of everything from his gaming setup to his room service order for his first dinner at Disney — replete with lobster bisque, a burger, chicken strips and some Coors Light to wash it all down.

The food has been a big talking point so far, especially after a handful of players turned to social media to share what got portrayed as less-than-superb meals during the brief quarantine period.

“For the most part, everything has been pretty good in my opinion,” Nets guard Joe Harris said. “They’ve done a good job taking care of us and making sure to accommodate us in every area as much as possible.”

Learning the campus has been another key for the first few days, and that process likely will continue for a while since teams will be using all sorts of different facilities while getting back into the practice routine.

“We have to make the best out of it,” Vucevic said. “You know, this is our job. We’re going to try to make the best out of it. I really think the NBA did the best they could to know make this as good as they can for us. And once we start playing, you’re not going to be thinking about the little things.”

Report: Kawhi Leonard didn’t travel with Clippers to Disney World, expected to arrive in a few days

Kawhi Leonard in Orlando
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A Clippers-Lakers Western Conference finals – featuring Kawhi Leonard vs. LeBron James – is one of the most anticipated potential attractions of the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.

But Leonard must get there first.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard did not travel with the team on Wednesday to Walt Disney World for the resumption of the NBA season, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Leonard was given permission by the organization to tend to a family matter and the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and two-time NBA Finals MVP is expected to join the team on campus in a few days, sources said.

Hopefully, everything is alright with Leonard and his family and he arrives as smoothly as this report indicates. The NBA has protocols for players who travel to Orlando after their teams. Leonard isn’t unique in having a personal issue delay his arrival.

But this situation bears especially close watching for two reasons:

1.  Kawhi Leonard might be the NBA’s best player. The Clippers are a top-tier championship contender. Leonard’s whereabouts hold more significance for the season than, say, Magic guard Markelle Fultz‘s.

2. The Clippers have misled to protect Leonard before. Though it was easy to see their logic, it leaves them with less credibility here.

Again, hopefully this is only a minor snag. We’ll know more within a few days.

NBA schedule 2020: Dates, times, matchups for restart in Orlando

NBA schedule 2020
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The NBA schedule release for 2020 is out.

Well, the revised, 22-teams on the Orlando campus playing “seeding games” schedule is out. Players will have been there for three weeks (for a mini training camp) by the time gams tip-off on July 30.

And the NBA is leaning right into its biggest stars.

Opening night has two games. First, it’s Zion Williamson and the Pelicans against the Jazz; then it’s the matchup everyone wants in the West — Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers vs. LeBron James and the Lakers. The next day, July 31, we get a battle at the top of the East, the Celtics vs. the Bucks.

Here are a few more notes on the NBA schedule release 2020:

• These “seeding games” count toward the regular-season standings and the stats count toward regular-season statistics.
• The Pelicans got their easy schedule back. New Orleans had the easiest schedule remaining in the NBA before the interruption, and it is the only team whose opponents have a cumulative win/loss of under .500.
• The most difficult schedule (based on opponent winning percentage) belongs to the defending champion Toronto Raptors.
• Each of the three courts used for games will be sanitized between games, meaning it is at least four hours between games on a court (once warmup time is factored in).
• Games will start as early as 12:30 Eastern on weekdays, 1 p.m. Eastern on the weekends.
• Games will start as late as 9 p.m. Eastern, and those will mostly involve West Coast teams.
• Each team has one back-to-back.
• The times and national broadcasts for games on Aug 12 and 13 are not set. They are flexible, allowing the most important games for seeding to be nationally televised.

NBA schedule 2020 for Orlando restart. (All times ET)

July 30, Opening Night

Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans 6:30 p.m (TNT)
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers 9 p.m. (TNT)

July 31

Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets 2:30 p.m.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers 4 p.m. (NBA TV)
Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards 4 p.m.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs 8 p.m.
Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 1

Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 2

Washington Wizards vs. Brooklyn Nets, 2 p.m.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Boston Celtics, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 4 p.m.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns, 6 p.m.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets, 8 p.m. (ABC)
Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic, 9 p.m.

Aug. 3

Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat, 1:30 p.m.
Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 4 p.m.
Indiana Pacers vs. Washington Wizards, 4 p.m.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
San Antonio Spurs vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 4

Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 1:30 p.m.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Sacramento Kings, 2:30 p.m.
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 4 p.m.
Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers, 6 p.m.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Aug. 5

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz, 2:30 p.m.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards, 4 p.m
Denver Nuggets vs. San Antonio Spurs, 4 p.m.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Toronto Raptors vs. Orlando Magic, 8 p.m.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 6

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings, 1:30 p.m.
Indiana Pacers vs. Phoenix Suns, 4 p.m.
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 4 p.m. (TNT)
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Aug. 7

Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio Spurs, 1 p.m.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 4 p.m.
Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets, 5 p.m.
Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
Washington Wizards vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 8 p.m.
Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Aug. 8

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 1 p.m. (TNT)
Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets, 3:30 p.m. (TNT)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers, 6 p.m. (TNT)
Phoenix Suns vs. Miami Heat, 7:30 p.m.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 9

Washington Wizards vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 12:30 p.m.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Toronto Raptors, 2 p.m.
San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 3 p.m. (ABC)
Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics, 5 p.m.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 6:30 p.m.
Houston Rockets vs. Sacramento Kings, 8 p.m.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 9 p.m.

Aug. 10

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Phoenix Suns, 2:30 p.m.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz, 3 p.m.
Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat, 8 p.m.
Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Aug. 11

Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic, 1 p.m.
Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs, 2 p.m.
Phoenix Suns vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 4:30 p.m.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks, 5 p.m.
Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Washington Wizards, 9 p.m.

Aug. 12

Indiana Pacers vs. Houston Rockets, 4 p.m.
Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 13

Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns
San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz
Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Brooklyn Nets

Aug. 14

Denver Nuggets vs. Toronto Raptors
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Houston Rockets
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

Schedule by team for Orlando

Boston Celtics

vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, July 31 (6:30 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, August 2 (3:30 p.m., ABC)
vs. Miami Heat on Tuesday, August 4 (6:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, August 5 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Friday, August 7 (9 p.m. ET, TNT)
vs. Orlando Magic on Sunday, August 9 (5 p.m.)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, August 11 (6:30 p.m., TNT)
vs. Washington Wizards on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Brooklyn Nets

vs. Orlando Magic on Friday, July 31 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Washington Wizards on Sunday, August 2 (2 p.m.)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, August 4 (1:30 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Boston Celtics on Wednesday, August 5 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Friday, August 7 (5 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Sunday, August 9 (9 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Orlando Magic on Tuesday, August 11 (1 p.m.)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Dallas Mavericks

vs. Houston Rockets on Friday, July 31 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Sunday, August 2 (9 p.m.)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, August 4 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Thursday, August 6 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, August 8 (8:30 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Utah Jazz on Monday, August 10 (3 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, August 11 (5 p.m.)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Denver Nuggets

vs. Miami Heat on Saturday, August 1 (1 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, August 3 (4 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, August 5 (4 p.m.)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, August 6 (8 p.m.)
vs. Utah Jazz on Saturday, August 8 (3:30 p.m., TNT)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, August 10 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. LA Clippers on Wednesday, August 12 (9 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Houston Rockets

vs. Dallas Mavericks on Friday, July 31 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, August 2 (8:30 p.m., ABC)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, August 4 (9 p.m., TNT)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, August 6 (9 p.m., TNT)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Sunday, August 9 (8 p.m.)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, August 11 (2 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, August 12 (4 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Indiana Pacers

vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, August 1 (7 p.m.)
vs. Washington Wizards on Monday, August 3 (4 p.m.)
vs. Orlando Magic on Tuesday, August 4 (6 p.m.)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Thursday, August 6 (4 p.m.)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, August 8 (6 p.m., TNT)
vs. Miami Heat on Monday, August 10 (8 p.m.)
vs. Houston Rockets on Wednesday, August 12 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Miami Heat on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

LA Clippers

vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, July 30 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, August 1 (6 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, August 4 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, August 6 (6:30 pm, TNT)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, August 8 (1 p.m. ET, TNT)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, August 9 (9 p.m. ET, NBA TV)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, August 12 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Los Angeles Lakers

vs. LA Clippers on Thursday, July 30 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Saturday, August 1 (8:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Utah Jazz on Monday, August 3 (9:00 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, August 5 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Houston Rockets on Thursday, August 6 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Saturday, August 8 (6 p.m, TNT)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Monday, August 10 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Memphis Grizzlies

vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, July 31 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, August 2 (4 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, August 3 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Utah Jazz on Wednesday, August 5 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, August 7 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Sunday, August 9 (2 p.m.)
vs. Boston Celtics on Tuesday, August 11 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Miami Heat

vs. Denver Nuggets on Saturday, August 1 (1 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Monday, August 3 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Boston Celtics on Tuesday, August 4 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, August 6 (4 p.m, TNT)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Saturday, August 8 (7:30 p.m)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Monday, August 10 (8 p.m.)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, August 12 (8 p.m.)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Milwaukee Bucks

vs. Boston Celtics on Friday, July 31 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Houston Rockets on Sunday, August 2 (8:30 p.m, ABC)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, August 4 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Miami Heat on Thursday, August 6 (4 p.m, TNT)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, August 8 (8:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Monday, August 10 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Washington Wizards on Tuesday, August 11 (9 p.m)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

New Orleans Pelicans

vs. Utah Jazz on Thursday, July 30 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. LA Clippers on Saturday, August 1 (6 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, August 3 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Thursday, August 6 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Washington Wizards on Friday, August 7 (8 p.m.)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, August 9 (3 p.m, ABC)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, August 11 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Orlando Magic on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Oklahoma City Thunder

vs. Utah Jazz on Saturday, August 1 (3:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Monday, August 3 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, August 5 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, August 7 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Washington Wizards on Sunday, August 9 (12:30 p.m.)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Monday, August 10 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Miami Heat on Wednesday, August 12 (8 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Orlando Magic

vs. Brooklyn Nets on Friday, July 31 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Sunday, August 2 (6 p.m.)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, August 4 (6 p.m.)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, August 5 (8 p.m.)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, August 7 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Boston Celtics on Sunday, August 9 (5 p.m.)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, August 11 (1 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Philadelphia 76ers

vs. Indiana Pacers on Saturday, August 1 (7 p.m.)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Monday, August 3 (8 p.m.)
vs. Washington Wizards on Wednesday, August 5 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Orlando Magic on Friday, August 7 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, August 9 (6:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, August 11 (4:30 p.m.)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, August 12 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Houston Rockets on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Phoenix Suns

vs. Washington Wizards on Friday, July 31 (4 p.m.)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, August 2 (9 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Tuesday, August 4 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Thursday, August 6 (4 p.m.)
vs. Miami Heat on Saturday, August 8 (7:30 p.m.)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, August 10 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, August 11 (4:30 p.m.)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Portland Trail Blazers

vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, July 31 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Boston Celtics on Sunday, August 2 (3:30 p.m, ABC)
vs. Houston Rockets on Tuesday, August 4 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Thursday, August 6 (8 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Saturday, August 8 (1 p.m, TNT)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, August 9 (6:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, August 11 (5 p.m.)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Sacramento Kings

vs. San Antonio Spurs on Friday, July 31 (8 p.m.)
vs. Orlando Magic on Sunday, August 2 (6 p.m.)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, August 4 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, August 6 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Friday, August 7 (5 p.m.)
vs. Houston Rockets on Sunday, August 9 (8 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, August 11 (9 p.m., TNT)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

San Antonio Spurs

vs. Sacramento Kings on Friday, July 31 (8 p.m.)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, August 2 (4 p.m.)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, August 3 (8 p.m.)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, August 5 (4 p.m.)
vs. Utah Jazz on Friday, August 7 (1 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, August 9 (3 p.m, ABC)
vs. Houston Rockets on Tuesday, August 11 (2 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Utah Jazz on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Toronto Raptors

vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, August 1 (8 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Miami Heat on Monday, August 3 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Orlando Magic on Wednesday, August 5 (8 p.m.)
vs. Boston Celtics on Friday, August 7 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, August 9 (2 p.m.)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, August 10 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, August 12 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Utah Jazz

vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, July 30 (6:30, TNT)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, August 1 (3:30, ESPN)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, August 3 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, August 5 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Friday, August 7 (1 p.m.)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Saturday, August 8 (3:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Monday, August 10 (3 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Washington Wizards

vs. Phoenix Suns on Friday, July 31 (4 p.m.)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, August 2 (2 p.m.)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Monday, August 3 (4 p.m.)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, August 5 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, August 7 (8 p.m.)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, August 9 (12:30 p.m.)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, August 11 (9 p.m.)
vs. Boston Celtics on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

CJ McCollum talks social justice, basketball, and wine in Orlando

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As a VP of the players’ union, CJ McCollum has had to grapple with important issues the past month as the Trail Blazers prepare to head to Orlando for the NBA restart. The health and safety of himself and other players. And how to use the NBA platform to maintain and further the social justice movement while on the Disney campus.

Then there’s how to make sure there is enough good wine in the Orlando hotel where he stays.

“I’ve already organized my shipment to come in…” McCollum said, with a smile. He (along with LeBron James and others) is a member of the league’s growing wine-loving culture. “I’m sending some of my stuff down there as well [McCollum has his own wine label], so it will be a nice change of speed, especially during that isolation period we have to go through [upon arrival] when we have to spend 24 to 48 hours in our rooms without leaving. It will be nice to watch TV shows and have a nice glass.”

Organizing wine shipments has been just one of the many things on McCollum’s plate lately, from talking to fellow players about life in the Orlando bubble to talking with his father about grooming and style through a partnership with Old Spice.

McCollum admitted he’s been glued to his phone talking to players for a month or more as momentum for the NBA restart picked up pace. As a vice president of the National Basketball Players’ Association, players were reaching out to him for answers — answers that kept evolving over time.

So did the questions. At first, the questions were about whether or not there would be a return to play, how it would work, and what life would be like in the bubble.

“But now it’s more around what impact we can make to support what is going on in the real world, to continue to support Black Lives Matter and the things we’re facing as a society,” McCollum told NBC Sports. “Those are the calls we’re having now. How can we impact? How can we spread awareness on certain things in the world that are going on? …

“The biggest thing is to take advantage of the platform [in Orlando], to coincide with the NBA and figure out productive ways we can continue to spread information, to continue to educate, to continue to put light on things that have often been behind closed doors and never been brought out to the public eye. So I think those are the conversations we’ll continue to have.”

Even those social justice questions are starting to evolve, McCollum said, changing from how players and the league can make a statement to how they can help take concrete steps to further that change.

“We’re definitely looking for actionable items and collectively we’re brainstorming ideas on how to empower the masses, especially minorities, to vote,” McCollum said. “To try to put an emphasis on voter suppression where you have cities that might have one polling place for 600,000 or 700,000 people. We’re trying to eliminate those kinds of situations and the key is to educate as many people as we can.”

Voting rights are just the tip of the iceberg. There is also a focus on other issues, such as prison reform, McCollum said. Also finding ways to get people of color move into more powerful positions in Fortune 500 and other major companies — including the NBA. McCollum emphasized the NBA needs to lead by example.

Then there was taking the time to sit down with his father and talk grooming, something Old Spice put together recently for Father’s Day.

“It was really, really cool. Thank you to Old Spice for bringing us together and helping us catch up,” McCollum said. “We discussed style and grooming from the ‘50s, 60s, ‘70s up to now. It’s really understanding why I really take so much pride in my overall grooming, my overall health and overall freshness.”

On top of all that, there’s McCollum’s day job — a 22.5 point a game two guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, a team heading to Orlando with a real belief they can catch Memphis as the eighth seed and become a dangerous playoff team.

McCollum and his teammates have been working their way back into shape, but players from all teams are concerned about not ramping up too fast after this forced break. Nobody wants an injury.

“I think going through training camp, the restart, coaches and trainers are going to have to be very careful with the load increase,” McCollum said.

It’s going to be a lot of work for McCollum, work that will not stop when the Portland charter touches down in Orlando.

At least when McCollum heads back to his room he knows there will be a good bottle of wine waiting for him.