Warriors star Stephen Curry
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Second bubble for other eight NBA teams? Not so fast

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The eight teams teams that didn’t qualify for the NBA’s resumption at Disney World – Knicks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons, Hawks, Hornets, Timberwolves and Warriors – are reportedly considering a second bubble in Chicago.

Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports:

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:

A safe operation, like the one at Disney World, comes with two major drawbacks:

1. It’s expensive. Accommodations, frequent coronavirus testing, transporting equipment to the site – it adds up.

2. It’s burdensome for participants. They’ll be separated from family and friends in order to limit coronavirus exposure points.

But the campus in Disney World is happening for one reason: Money. Finishing the season will generate a lot of money for the NBA, especially national-TV money for the playoffs.

Will a second bubble produce enough money to justify its existence? I doubt it. These eight teams are done with meaningful games. Maybe it’s worth fulfilling local TV contracts, but that’s a narrow needle to thread. The product would be lousy.

Players on these eight teams will reportedly receive the same share of salaries as players going to Disney World. If that becomes no longer guaranteed unless reporting to a second bubble, perhaps players would be compelled to go. But it’s hard to see much enthusiasm – especially among impending free agents, who should protect their health. Any notable players with injury concerns, like Golden State star Stephen Curry, would also likely be held out.

Many people within these eight teams want to keep playing. There’s concern about a long layoff and a natural desire to do something to improve. But the continuing 22 teams will have historically short layoffs. Extra rest might be an advantage. It’s a completely unprecedented situation. Nobody knows which group – the 22 teams or the eight teams – will be better-prepared for next season.

Amid that the uncertainty of the benefits – and the very clear and high costs – there’s plenty of reason to doubt a second bubble gets off the ground.

But the plan’s supporters have at least enough momentum to make it a discussion.

Report: Eight non-restart teams nearing deal for second NBA ‘bubble’ in Chicago

NBA bubble Chicago
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The eight teams with the worst records in the NBA, the ones not invited to Orlando for the NBA’s restart — Warriors, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls, and Hornets — have been asking the NBA to organize workouts and games for them, so they don’t lose ground to the teams that do get training camps and meaningful games.

ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen reports that is getting closer to coming together in the form of a second NBA bubble in Chicago.

The details are still being hammered out, and teams continue to push for an alternative plan that would enable them to hold mini-camps within their local markets and to explore the idea of establishing regional sites where teams could scrimmage against each other.

How close it is to happening depends on who you ask around the league, different sources say different things. This second bubble likely would take place in September, while the playoffs take place down into Orlando. There would be roughly two weeks of practices followed by four games each, according to reports.

Not every team is fully on board.

Veterans are less into the idea, but most teams are more focused on developing young players in this kind of setting.

The eight teams had been concerned that going from March to December without meaningful games — while the other 22 teams had training camps and played at least eight “seeding” games — would put the development of their young players and cultures behind. Teams pushed for practices and some organized games, although in what form has varried from team to team.

Michelle Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, reportedly is insistent that if the eight teams get together in Chicago the players be protected by the same protocols in place in Orlando.

“Unless we could replicate in every way the protocol that’s been established for Orlando, I’d be – I’m being tame now – suspicious,” Roberts said last week in a conference call with reporters. “I think there are conversations that could be had if there’s anything we can do with the other eight teams. I know there are some players, particularly young players, that seem concerned they’re not getting enough [opportunities]…

“But I am very concerned and frankly, my concern aside, our players, our teams are very concerned about any — in terms of play that doesn’t have the same guarantees of safety and health that we’ve provided for the teams in Orlando. So yeah, never say never, but there’s a standard. It’s a standard that’s got to be met.”

Mark Tatum, the NBA’s deputy commissioner, quickly agreed with Roberts.

Expect an NBA Chicago bubble to come together in some form. Some of the eight teams on the outside — the Atlanta Hawks with their young core, for example — have pushed hard to get their players opportunities for games and workouts. Each of the eight teams are in different spots, however, and have different motivations. Golden State likely will not send Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson, this would be about getting younger players some extra run.

Report: Eight eliminated NBA teams won’t be allowed to hold mandatory practices

Hawks guard Trae Young vs. Knicks
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The eight NBA teams not resuming the season at Disney World – Knicks, Bulls, Pistons, Cavaliers, Hawks, Hornets, Timberwolves and Warriors – wanted more opportunities to play. That could have been mandatory practices and/or games.

But the league won’t allow it.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The eight teams not involved in the Orlando restart were pushing for mandatory Organized Team Activities to make up for missing out on the Orlando restart. But the NBA and its players association won’t allow any of it to be mandatory, according to sources.

The league hasn’t ruled out informal group-setting team workouts, based on state social-distancing laws, but only voluntarily and with strict guidelines, according to sources.

The NBA is executing a highly burdensome – both in terms of cost and discomfort for participants – operation at Disney World. Why? Because that’s the only way to safely make money.

The eight done teams won’t produce that type of revenue. Their late-season games are a wasteland, even in normal times. It’s just not worth enacting the procedures that would make it safe for these teams to continue.

Especially for impending free agents. Why should they be forced to continue working with eliminated teams they might leave this offseason?

The eight done teams have whined they’re at a competitive disadvantage for next season. But they didn’t just get arbitrarily eliminated. Though this wasn’t planned and wasn’t ideal, they were eliminated due to their poor records. It’s only a matter of degree before complaining that playoff teams in a normal season get an unfair advantage going into the next season.

In reality, this offseason will be historically short for some teams and historically long for others. We’ve never seen anything like this, and there’s no telling how it will affect teams next season. These eight teams might be better off with the extra rest.

At this point, they just must hope that’s the case.

Rumor: LeBron James planned to sign with Knicks until ‘disaster’ meeting in 2010

Former Cavaliers star LeBron James after Knicks meeting in 2010
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It feels like fait accompli now: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joining forces with the Heat in 2010.

But did the Knicks – owned by James Dolan and run by Donnie Walsh, who dealing with health issues – actually once have the inside track on signing LeBron?

Bill Simmons on “The Bill Simmons Podcast:”

From everyone that I’ve talked to in the know since then, it’s clear that the Knicks were the first choice. And I’m sorry Knicks fans, earmuffs. But it was basically the Knicks’ to lose, and they just couldn’t stay out of their own way. And the stories are legendary.

They had the legendary meeting. Donnie Walsh was in the wheelchair, and Dolan was Dolan. And it was just a complete – they didn’t have anything prepared. And it just couldn’t have gone worse, by all accounts. It was a disaster.

The Knicks made a dubious presentation, and it looks worse as we’ve learned more. Dolan reportedly handed out copies of his CD during free-agent meetings that summer.

But did LeBron really favor the Knicks before the meeting? I’m skeptical, at least how this is presented.

I wouldn’t be surprised if LeBron had different top choices – including the Cavaliers and Bulls – at different points in the process. He had a major decision. There was a lot to consider.

Yet, that’s different than the Knicks leading in July 2010 and coming up short only because they blew the meeting.

LeBron has also seeming enjoyed teasing the Knicks in the years since. Convincing people the Knicks nearly got him, accurate or not, would fit right in.

Report: Cavaliers signing Jordan Bell

Former Warriors center Jordan Bell vs. Cavaliers
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Two years ago, Jordan Bell was drunkenly celebrating the Warriors’ NBA Finals victory over the Cavaliers.

It has been a tough decline for both Bell and Cleveland.

Now, they’re linking up.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

League sources tell cleveland.com the Cavaliers agreed to a two-year contract with free agent forward Jordan Bell and converted the Two-Way pact of forward Dean Wade into a multi-year deal.

Sources say Wade, who was garnering interest from the Washington Wizards over the last few weeks, will receive a team-friendly four-year contract that pays him $375,000 for the rest of the 2019-20 season. The final three years, starting in 2020-21, are non-guaranteed. According to sources, Bell will get $250,000 for the rest of 2019-20. His second year is non-guaranteed.

This is a head start on next season for the Cavaliers, who didn’t qualify to continue this season at Disney World

Bell signed with the Timberwolves last summer. Just before the trade deadline, he got traded to the Grizzlies (via the Rockets). He got waived by Memphis after just two games, but too late for him to be playoff-eligible elsewhere.

Though Bell is just 25, players like him – mobile centers who play versatile defense and finish well above the rim – can peak early. Bell must retain his athleticism to contribute.

Cleveland already has a few expensive bigs: Andre Drummond (who’s staying), Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. But Bell is a reasonable option – especially at this price.

Adding Bell effectively costs only his real-dollar salary for this season, and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has shown a willingness to spend. If Bell looks promising, the Cavs will keep him cheap next season. If not, they can clear his roster spot with no future cap consequences.