Luka Doncic

Kings assistant coach Igor Kokoskov
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Report: Kings lead assistant Igor Kokoskov to become Fenerbahce head coach

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The Kings are trying to end their historic playoff drought.

They’ll make that push as lead assistant Igor Kokoskov has one foot out the door.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Jason Jones of the The Athletic:

Kokoskov had a rough go in the NBA spotlight. After working his way up the coaching ladder and becoming the Suns’ head coach in 2018-19, he got fired after only one season. Phoenix gave him an ill-equipped roster, notably passing on Luka Doncic in the draft – perhaps despite the input of Kokoskov, who coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team. Maybe Kokoskov wasn’t a good-enough coach. He didn’t build a strong affirmative case. But getting only season in his first head-coaching job was a tough break.

Fenerbahce (Turkey) is a premier overseas job. Kokoskov will succeed a legend in Zeljko Obradovic, who recently drew attention for this, um, motivational speech.

For Sacramento, the timing is tricky. Luke Walton is still in charge. But with traveling parties limited for the resumption at Disney World, teams need the coaches in attendance to pull extra duty. Maybe Kokoskov is up for it. It’d also be completely natural if he’s at least somewhat distracted by his next job.

Report: Mavericks’ Willie Cauley-Stein sitting out; Dallas signs Trey Burke

Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein
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The NBA season typically ends in June. This year, due to coronavirus, players are set to enter a bubble at Disney World in July and stay through as late as October.

That schedule doesn’t work for Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein, but does open the door for Trey Burke.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

In some ways, this feels unfair to Cauley-Stein. Sitting out will cost him $188,119 of base salary plus $23,515 for each play-in and playoff game Dallas plays (up to $329,209 in total lost base salary).* But players often miss time to attend birth of children without having their pay docked.

Yet, coronavirus has forced the NBA to take special precautions. It’s unsafe for players to freely enter and exit the campus at Disney World. Cauley-Stein would face a long quarantine. Playing is also much more burdensome than usual, and continuing players are increasing the salary pot for all players.

On the other other hand, if Cauley-Stein were on one of the eight done teams, he could stay outside the bubble AND keep his salary.*

*With league-wide revenue way down, no players will get a full share of their base salary.

Coronavirus has created numerous difficult situations. This is one of them.

The Mavericks traded for Cauley-Stein in January to replace injured center Dwight Powell. Burke won’t help there, but he will add depth in the backcourt with Courtney Lee and Jalen Brunson also injured. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle often uses two-point-guard lineups, and Burke should fit.

Maybe the Mavericks will make another move to address center. Waiving Lee, who’s on an expiring contract, is an option.

Or Dallas could just roll with Kristaps Porzingis, Boban Marjanovic, Maxi Kleber, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Dorian Finney-Smith in creative lineups. Porzingis is very talented and very effective at center, but he’s too slight for some matchups, and he’s not the ideal roll threat to complement Luka Doncic. Marjanovic is too lumbering for many matchups. Kleber, Kidd-Gilchrist and Finney-Smith are small-ball options.

The Mavericks would benefit from having a more-prototypical center (like Powell and Cauley-Stein were). But it’s not paramount.

Reports: Mavericks’ Courtney Lee out after ‘freak accident’ calf injury

Mavericks guard Courtney Lee
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Courtney Lee‘s most prominent roles with the Mavericks have been burdensome salary accepted to get Kristaps Porzingis then tradable expiring contract.

But Lee started Dallas’ last four games before the season got suspended and could have filled a role as play resumes at Disney World.

Unfortunately, the shooting guard apparently suffered a calf injury and underwent surgery.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Bobby Marks of ESPN:

The Mavericks have a full roster. However, they could open a spot by waiving Lee, who’s on an expiring contract. They’d lose his Bird Rights for the offseason, but those likely won’t matter, anyway. At 35 next offseason, Lee won’t command a high salary if Dallas wants him back.

The Mavericks have plenty of backcourt depth with Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Seth Curry, Delon Wright and J.J. Barea. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle likes using two-point guard lineups.

So, the Mavericks should get by. They just lose some optionality, especially with Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson also injured.

Trainer says Luka Doncic ‘not in the best shape,’ will be ready for games

Luka not in best shape
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Players’ workouts during the shut down have been a mixed bag. Stars such as James Harden and LeBron James have home gyms nicer than the ones you (and I) pay for and have been posting their workouts on Instagram. Other players had equipment sent home by teams with trainers leading online workouts that were the best players could manage, but not keeping players in game shape.

Luka Doncic appears to be in the latter category.

His trainer said Luka is “not in the best shape” but is working out and will be ready when games start in Orlando. The trainer, Jure Drakslar, spoke with RIA Novosti in Solvenia, and that was translated by Eurohoops.net.

“We have been working together for the last three weeks. Luka was previously in quarantine and trained individually at home,” he pointed out, “The last three weeks we have been working hard to prepare him for the resumption of the NBA season…

“Most players struggled to stay in shape. Doncic is no exception,” said Drasklar… “We understand his role in Dallas. Luka is improving every day. He puts in a lot of effort. He has completely dedicated himself to be ready…

“He is not in the best shape, which is normal. NBA games will not be played before the end of July, so there is enough time to help him recover and get ready,” he added, “However, he undoubtedly would be ready to play right now.”

Doncic’s conditioning improved considerably between his rookie and sophomore campaigns, one of the key reasons he made the leap from Rookie of the Year to a guy who will make an All-NBA team and draw some MVP votes this time around. That he slipped a little during the NBA’s forced hiatus is not a surprise — a lot of players have — nor an issue, as long as he puts in the work to get back.

Dallas enters Orlando as the seven seed in the West, only 1.5 games back of both six seed Houston and fifth seed Oklahoma City. The Mavericks moving up could help them avoid the Clippers in the first round, a matchup that would be particularly difficult for Dallas (which lacks good wing defenders, and the Clippers bring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the party).

Making that move up will require peak Doncic. Which means he’s got some conditioning to do.

U.S. exempting travel restrictions for foreign NBA players

Mavericks star Luka Doncic
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NBA teams could soon recall players to train for a resumed season.

But some international players – including Mavericks star Luka Doncic (Slovenia) and Pistons rookie Sekou Doumbouya (France) – returned to countries where United States travel restrictions apply.

That won’t be a problem, though.

Department of Homeland Security:

In support of the Trump Administration’s reopening of the economy, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf signed an order that exempts certain foreign professional athletes who compete in professional sporting events organized by certain leagues, including their essential staff and their dependents, from proclamations barring their entry into the U.S.

“Professional sporting events provide much needed economic benefits, but equally important, they provide community pride and national unity,” said Acting Secretary Wolf. “In today’s environment, Americans need their sports. It’s time to reopen the economy and it’s time we get our professional athletes back to work.”

The Department will work with the professional sporting groups to identify the specific athletes, essential staff, team and league leadership, spouses, and dependents covered by this exemption, including Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour, the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, the National Hockey League, the Association of Tennis Professionals, and the Women’s Tennis Association.

Of course these powerful and connected companies get special treatment.