Trevor Ariza

Pacers star Victor Oladipo
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Pacers star Victor Oladipo to sit out NBA resumption at Disney World

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Several players have decided to sit out the NBA’s resumption at Disney World:

*Jordan lands in a gray area. He tested positive for coronavirus, but was unclear how quickly he’d recover. It sounded like he decided to sit out before seeing how his health progresses.

Now, the first star – Pacers guard Victor Oladipo – joins the list.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo has decided to sit out the resumed 2019-20 NBA season, Oladipo told The Athletic.

“I really want to play, and as a competitor and teammate this is tearing me apart,” Oladipo told The Athletic. “I feel like I’m at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 percent. With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can’t get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing. I have to be smart and this decision hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe continuing on the course I’m on and getting fully healthy for the 2020-21 season is the right decision for me.”

“We totally respect and understand Victor’s decision to not play in the restart of the NBA’s season,” Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said in a statemnt. “The first priority for our players is, and always will be, their health, whether that be physical or mental health.  Victor has looked great in workouts, but the timing of the restart and lack of 5-on-5 activity makes it difficult to for him to commit to playing at the high level he expects with regards to further injury. His future health is the No. 1 priority and we look forward to having him back at full strength for the 2020-21 season.

“This is not a unique situation for our team, playing without key players like Victor and Jeremy Lamb. This team has shown great resolve in responding to adversity and we fully expect this will be no different. We remain excited about what they can accomplish in Orlando “

Oladipo is a competitor. He proved that growing up and in the NBA.

He’s also one of the many people thrown into an impossibly difficult situation by the coronavirus pandemic.

Oladipo missed more than a year due to a torn right quad tendon and was just ramping back up when the league shut down. The long hiatus exacerbates injury concerns. He took his time exploring his decision.

Though it’s past the stated deadline for withdrawing without facing discipline, presumably Oladipo will face similar consequences. His base salary would be docked $1,842,105 plus $230,263 for each playoff game Indiana plays (up to $3,223,684 in total lost base salary).*

*With league-wide revenue way down, no players will receive their full base salary.

This decision raises questions about the long-term future of Oladipo, who’s headed toward 2021 unrestricted free agency. He just signaled that he’s not absolutely committed to heling Indiana win at all costs.

Maybe that’s only a product of these circumstances. But bet that teams interested in signing him – ahem, Heat – at least took notice. And surely so did Indiana, which could always trade him before free agency.

It’s unclear how big of a short-term loss this will be for the Pacers, who are tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference. Oladipo is an excellent two-way player when healthy. But he mostly struggled while playing a big offensive role in his return. Though he played better his last few games, there’s no telling how he would’ve picked back up after this long layoff.

Indiana’s place looks similar, with or without Oladipo. The Pacers can still win a playoff series with the right matchup. They probably won’t go further.

Beyond this season? There was already plenty of intrigue around Oladipo’s situation. This will only add to the speculation.

Report: NBA and union agree to revised CBA, including enhanced insurance

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell
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The National Basketball Players Association only “approved further negotiations with the NBA” on a 22-team resumption. It wasn’t a done deal.

But with the planned Disney World restart approaching, the union, as expected, has approved all relevant details.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Talk of players boycotting the resumption en masse never turned into reality. Some individuals – Wizards forward Davis Bertans and Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza so far – will decide to sit out. But that will be a personal choice. As a collective, players are playing.

Of course, many still have concerns – from coronavirus to injury to standard of living in the bubble to social justice.

The enhanced insurance is designed to assuage players worried about injury. Several players entering their contract-extension window – Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Heat big Bam Adebayo, Kings guard De'Aaron Fox and Lakers forward Kyle Kuzmapushed for this. These young players have been relatively modestly paid so far and stand to land major paydays this offseason. Of course, a question: Who will foot the cost of this enhanced insurance? It can be expensive.

Not playing would have been far more costly for players.

Which is why we’re here.

Report: Trail Blazers’ Trevor Ariza sitting out to spend time with son

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NBA players will arrive at Disney World between July 7-9. The second round of the playoffs are scheduled to begin Aug. 31. Only teams advancing that far will have family present in the bubble.

Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza deemed that setup unacceptable for him.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Based on Ariza’s $12.2 million salary, this will cost Ariza $1,053,996 plus $131,749 for each play-in and playoff game Portland plays (up to a total of $1,844,492 in lost wages). However, that doesn’t account for the salary withholding all players face with league-wide revenue way down.

With just $1.8 million of his $12.8 million salary guaranteed next season, Ariza could become an unrestricted free agent at age 35 this offseason. He has proven to be a helpful glue guy on good teams.

Fair or not, this will increase concerns about Ariza’s commitment to losing teams. But Ariza can set his own priorities. Basketball isn’t everything. His son clearly matters significantly to him, as he is proving with this drastic and commendable step. Let teams considering signing Ariza decide what that means to them. That’s their issue, not Ariza’s.

For Portland, this a key loss. Since being acquired in January, Ariza had been starting at small forward, a position where the Trail Blazers have little depth. Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins provide frontcourt depth, and Carmelo Anthony can slide up from power forward. But Ariza was suited for his role. Portland’s road to the playoffs just got tougher.

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

Mock NBA expansion draft
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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.

Trae Young blocks shot, does Dikembe Mutombo finger wag (video)

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Trae Young – even at just 6-foot-1 with a 6-foot-3 wingspan and less than supreme athleticism – blocks an occasional shot.

But he really enjoyed this stuff of Kyle Anderson.

Despite Trevor Ariza just warning him about showboating, Young paid tribute to Hawks legend Dikembe Mutombo with a finger wag after the block.

Yes, Anderson’s release was notably slow. Yes, Atlanta was on its way to a 127-88 loss to the Grizzlies.

But I appreciate Young bringing some fun to the game.

Arguably the NBA’s worst defender wagging his finger – who doesn’t love that?