Lou Williams

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Clippers reportedly shut down practice facility after positive coronavirus test among traveling party

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The Brooklyn Nets and Denver Nuggets shut down their practice facilities after positive coronavirus tests among players and/or staff members.

Add the Clippers to that coronavirus list, they shut down their facilities on Thursday after a member of the traveling party tested positive, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Woj’s phrasing implies that a staff member, not a player, tested positive.

Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers, just 24 hours earlier, told reporters that “to his knowledge” nobody with the team had tested positive for the coronavirus. Rivers also said he believed that all the players — including Lou Williams — intended to join the team in Orlando.

This isn’t a knock on Rivers, it’s a sign of how fast things change in a coronavirus world.

It is possible the Clippers re-open their facilities before the team heads to Orlando a week from today, July 8.

The Clippers head to the NBA’s Orlando restart as one of the three-favorites to take home the title (along with the Lakers and Bucks).

Lou Williams asks can jerseys say ‘Black Lives Matter?’ What about court?

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Tune into an English Premier League game this weekend and you will see the kits/jerseys say “Black Lives Matter” across the back, where the players’ name traditionally would be. Also, all the players on both teams take a knee before kick-off. It has been a fantastic tribute to the cause from across the ocean.

Could NBA jerseys have “Black Lives Matter” on them somewhere when play resumes in Orlando next month? What about having BLM on the court somewhere?

Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams asked those questions when he appeared on CoStar Friday, in response to a question about what NBA players will do to keep social justice causes it in the spotlight. Williams sounded like a guy who thought going to Orlando would prove a distraction from more important issues (hat tip Los Angeles Times).

“We’re trying to find that balance where if we do suit up we’re having conversations behind closed doors. If we do suit up, how much of this platform can we really use? Can we get a ‘Black Lives Matter’ patch on our jerseys? Can our jerseys say ‘Black Lives Matter’? Can the court say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ so we can use that platform to the best of our abilities? So it’s just hard to call, bro. it’s honestly, it’s hard to call. I’m 50-50 right now, to be honest with you…

“I think for us, the only benefit of us not playing is to keep the focus on the fight. And with that being said, this is in six weeks, so we don’t know what it looks like in six weeks. In six weeks the world may need some healing, they may need us to be on the floor. But if more Black kids or more Black adults or any adults that’s dealing with police brutality are getting killed and we’re still outraged, I don’t know if it’s in our best interests to suit up because it looks like we don’t care. You know what I mean? It’s just a fine balance we’re trying to create.”

Adam Silver and the NBA are negotiating with players’ union on exactly what a return will look like and part of that is how the league and players can use that platform to promote the social justice cause that matters so much to the players.

Williams, just like every other player in the league, has an intensely personal decision coming up that has to balance not just BLM and social justice issues, but also family, health risks, and the serious financial risks the players make by choosing not to play. The answer is not the same for everyone, and obviously Williams has not decided.

If he didn’t come to Orlando it would be a blow to the Clippers and their depth. One of the things that makes the team a title threat is that beyond Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (now both healthy and rested) is they roll out serious depth and versatility, including bringing Williams and Montrezl Harrell off the bench. If Williams chooses to stay home, it’s one fewer weapon Doc Rivers has to use when needed.

And Rivers would be the first to say that is fine, that Williams has to do what he sees as right.

What players chose not to go to Orlando could end up having a massive impact on who is a favorite once there.

Dwight Howard: ‘Basketball isn’t needed at this moment’

Lakers center Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard has all the basketball reasons in the world to want to jump on a plane and head to Orlando to be part of the NBA’s restart of the season. He’s a key big man on a Lakers’ team that is the odds-on favorite to win it all, and a ring would be the cherry on top of his Hall of Fame career.

But Dwight Howard says players should not play right now, there are far more critical things to focus on in society.

Howard was part of Friday night’s 80-player call, led by Kyrie Irving, discussing whether players should be part of the restart. Howard told CNN he thought the NBA should not play right now. Here’s Howard’s statement, via his agent, to CNN.

“I agree with Kyrie (Irving). Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction. Sure it might not distract us the players, but we have resources at hand majority of our community don’t have. And the smallest distraction for them, can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now. I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that’s just too beautiful to pass up. What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families?

“This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of. When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families? This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!! European Colonization stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves. Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It’s time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved.”

Howard joins Irving and CJ McCollum as three name players who have come out and said they opposed a restart of games due to the social climate. Others, such as the Clippers’ Lou Williams, have expressed similar concerns.

Howard is teammates with LeBron James, who has championed a return to play and believes players can balance social justice issues and basketball. Other players, such as Austin Rivers, have echoed this idea.

There is not a unified feeling among players about the restart. It is a personal decision for each player. Players do not have to report to Orlando and will not be punished, although they will not be paid for that time.

For players NBC Sports has spoken to in recent days, money also plays a significant factor in this decision. Players would be giving up paychecks from this season (something Howard, Irving, and McCollum can afford to do more easily than the 72% of players who make less than the league average salary). Plus, not playing would lead to a tearing up and renegotiating of the current CBA, and those negotiations during a pandemic would lead to the players certainly getting a smaller share of league revenue in the future.

Some players believe that any financial sacrifices are worth helping the bigger cause. Dwight Howard is firmly in that camp and made it clear he doesn’t think the NBA should return to play.

Lou Williams plans to finish career with Clippers: ‘I’m not playing for anybody else after this’

Lou Williams
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Lou Williams can still just get buckets. The 33-year-old guard averaged 18.7 points a game off the bench for the Clippers this season, and while his efficiency slipped a little he is still going to get a lot of Sixth Man of the Year votes.

Williams has one more season on his contract after this one, for a very reasonable $8 million. After that he could chase a bigger payday.

Except he doesn’t want to, he wants to finish his career with the Clippers he told Ros Gold-Onwude of ESPN (hat tip Sports Illustrated).

The money quote:

“This is it. Listen, all teams out there, I’m not playing for anybody else after this… I identify with this group of guys, I identify with this organization. I don’t see me finding that somewhere else.”

His agent would like to thank Lou for helping with the negotiating leverage.

As long as Williams can continue to cross guys up and rack up points, plus he’s willing to take reasonable contracts, there’s no reason the Clippers wouldn’t want him coming off the bench. Williams said in the interview he thinks he can play four more years, and he will because he brings real value to an already deep and versatile roster.

The Clipper to watch this summer is Williams’ pick-and-roll partner Montrezl Harrell (who is my pick for Sixth Man of the Year this season). Harrell is a free agent and the market for a high-energy big like him could be more than the Clippers are willing to pay. Los Angeles will have a decision to make with Harrell.

That’s not the case with Lou Will. He’s good.

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.