Bulls guard Coby White vs. Hawks
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Report: No second bubble, scrimmages or practices for other eight NBA teams

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The on-again, off-again idea of a second bubble? The on-again, off-again idea of the eight NBA teams not continuing at Disney World even scrimmaging or practicing?

It’s all looking unlikely.

Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic:

There is growing belief among the NBA’s eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well.

“There’s nothing happening,” one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”

I’m so sick of some of these eight teams whining. They’re not playing because they weren’t good enough to qualify for the resumption. Deal with it. Every year, some teams get eliminated before others. This is different in degree, not kind.

Besides, are these eight teams watching the high level of play in the bubble? After a long layoff, teams look energetic and fresh. Long offseasons could give the eight eliminated teams an advantage next season.

Playing basketball safely amid the coronavirus pandemic is costly – both in terms of operational expenses and lifestyle sacrifices for participants. It’s worthwhile for the continuing 22 teams because the revenue being produced by the resumption.

That wouldn’t necessarily be the case for the other eight teams. Maybe there’s value in fulfilling local TV contracts, but the remaining games are a poor product. Scrimmages and practices would be even less marketable. Impending free agents especially have little reason to care about continuing.

I understand why many of the eight teams want to do something. But it’s probably just not worth it.

Warriors GM Bob Myers harbors no ill will toward Kevin Durant for leaving

Bub Myers Kevin Durant
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Kevin Durant came to the Golden State Warriors and averaged 25.8 points, 7.1 rebounds. 5.4 assists, helped lead the team to three straight NBA Finals, winning two where he was named Finals MVP and outplayed LeBron James straight up. For those three seasons, Durant was the best player on the planet.

Then, after tearing his Achilles during the Finals, he decided to bolt for Brooklyn.

That led to a lot of backlash in some quarters of Warriors nation (not to mention from the Durant haters out there), but not from Warriors general manager Bob Myers, maybe the man most impacted by the move. Myers went on “The Woj Pod,” with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and said he didn’t think Durant deserved any criticism. (Hat tip NBC Sports Bay Area)

“Look, the guy came to our team, was MVP of the Finals twice, two championships, three Finals,” Myers told Adrian Wojnarowski, “what do you want? I mean, what do you want to happen? What do you expect out of a human being? What is the problem with that? But, people would find it and seek it.

“Everybody is so fast to look at what’s wrong with a team, and I was just so focused on — and still am — on what was right with all those things, even in losing. Even in the effort you make to win or lose, there are great experiences there. And so for me — and it may have come from I liked the guy, for all of him.

“A lot of people that comment on him would say he shouldn’t have left or he shouldn’t have done this — everybody’s telling him how to live his life. The way I think about Kevin is … just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean he’s confused.”

Durant has discussed his decision at length, and like every big decision in life it wasn’t just one thing. It was a new challenge, it was the argument with Draymond Green, it was building his legacy, it was building his brand, it was how he fit in Golden State, and probably many other things he didn’t talk about publicly.

And it was his choice. Kevin Durant signed a contract and fulfilled it, then decided he wanted to work somewhere else. That’s his right.

It’s understandable Warriors fans are frustrated, but after the run that team has had the past five years there should be nothing but joy and celebration out of Warriors nation for a while. There are Durant haters who would criticize him if he developed a coronavirus vaccine, and the only person who seems to interact with them is Durant himself.

We should all take a lesson from Myers — accept what happened, look at all the good from that relationship, and move on. But we all know that’s not how NBA fandom works in a social media age.

 

Steve Kerr on Daryl Morey-China-Hong Kong situation: ‘I handled it really poorly’

Warriors coach Steve Kerr in China
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Warriors coach Steve Kerr is incredibly outspoken on political issues. He even once said, “If you look at the history of the world, the biggest problems come when people don’t speak. So, I think it’s important to express your views.”

But when controversy erupted over Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting support for Hong Kong protesters (who trying to maintain and expand their freedoms) and the NBA’s relationship with China, Kerr was quiet.

Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

I’m glad Kerr admitted his remorse.

At very minimum, Morey deserved stronger support for exercising his freedom of speech. That should have been easy to provide. Yet, even the NBA itself needed multiple attempts to get that right. So many around the league blew that easiest test.

Kerr is right: The NBA is far from unique as an American company operating in China. But the NBA looked ill-prepared for this inevitable dispute. And more than just tolerating authoritarianism in China, the NBA has reportedly even been complicit in abuses.

The money can be blinding.

And then there is the actual substance of Morey’s tweet – supporting the Hong Kong protesters. Kerr still didn’t directly address that.

Nor does he have to. Kerr was reasonable when he said he needn’t address every issue around the world.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and team owners should do more to explain the league’s business interests on China. That responsibility shouldn’t fall onto coaches and players just because they’re in front of the media more often.

But it stood out that Kerr, for all his political outspokenness, kept quiet in a situation where the NBA – which includes Kerr – had significant revenue on the line.

It was a difficult situation. It wasn’t just Kerr’s money at stake. Everyone involved with the league had a vested interest in keeping China happy. Everyone involved with the league has a vested interest in keeping China happy.

Even now, Kerr still doesn’t say anything nearly as divisive as Morey tweeted.

While I appreciate Kerr admitting he mishandled the situation, it’s not as if he has suddenly become a leader on the human-rights issues in China. He’s just not as quiet as he initially was.

NBA Power Rankings: Milwaukee looks good… now real games start

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Let the games begin! The NBA’s bubble concept has worked so far (*knocks on wood*) and the seeding games tip-off Thursday. With that our NBA Power Rankings are back (returning to their usual Wednesday slot next week) and will run a few weeks up until the start of the playoffs.

 
Bucks small icon 1. Bucks (53-12, Last week No. 3). The Bucks offense has looked good in both scrimmages, putting up 113 points in 40 minutes and 131 in 48. Brook Lopez, who struggled with his shot for much of the regular season (29.6% from three), has found it in Orlando: 12-of-15 shooting overall and 7-of-9 from three. He has been the best Bucks player in the scrimmages, and while those games don’t matter it’s a good sign.

 
Lakers small icon 2. Lakers (49-14, LW 1). Already without Avery Bradley (who chose to sit out the restart for family reasons), the Lakers have now lost Rajon Rondo to a thumb injury. While Rondo is expected back around the Western Conference Finals (when they would really need him), he and Bradley accounted for 44 minutes a game in the backcourt rotation. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is starting, while Quinn Cook and Dion Waiters have looked good for stretches in the scrimmages. Grey-beard LeBron James and Anthony Davis look rested and ready.

 
Clippers small icon 3. Clippers (44-20, LW 2). After having six rotation players not with the team in the Orlando bubble at one point last week, the Clippers are down to just one (Montrezl Harrell, out on a family matter), with a number of players in quarantine but close to being back. Lou Williams will be a little longer, he’s quarantined for 10 days because his favorite restaurant in Atlanta is a strip club (he does have a wings flavor named after him at Magic City, so maybe they are good).

 
Raptors small icon 4. Raptors (46-18, LW 5). Serge Ibaka has looked rested and his shot is falling at the restart, he had 19 points against Portland, plus a little dust up with Jusuf Nurkic. Kyle Lowry also has played well in a couple of games, and Fred VanVleet’s knee knock with a Portland player doesn’t seem to be anything serious. Don’t sleep on this deep team with championship experience.

 
Celtics small icon 5. Celtics (43-21, LW 4). Kemba Walker has been eased back into competition this restart because of the balky left knee that has bothered him all season, but Walker moved well and impressed in Sunday’s scrimmage. That’s a good sign. Backcourt scoring and versatile, switchable wing play are Boston’s strengths, but a deep playoff run will depend on Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter stepping up at the center spot.

 
Rockets small icon 6. Rockets (40-24, LW 6). James Harden is back, looking rested, and dropped 31 points (and a near triple-double in 35 minutes) on Sunday. He requested to play all those minutes, and wouldn’t come out at the end, because he wanted the feel of a real game. The Rockets defensive rotations looked sharp in the fourth quarter Sunday and held the Grizzlies to 18.2% shooting.

 
Thunder small icon 7. Thunder (40-24, LW 9). I’m not sure most fans realize just how well OKC was playing before the season was interrupted: They were 33-13 after Dec. 1 with a top 10 offense and defense. Chris Paul was playing at an All-NBA level and may have been the best clutch player in the league this season, leading OKC to a lot of close wins. The Thunder got an emotional boost watching Andre Roberson step back on the court for the first time in 909 days.

 
Heat small icon 8. Heat (41-24, LW 8). Kendrick Nunn (who tested positive for the coronavirus) was not only back in Orlando but back in the starting lineup for the Heat’s scrimmage against Utah. Bam Adebayo, who also tested positive, is in Orlando but has yet to play in a game. With a deep and versatile roster, Miami is the dark horse favorite at the restart for a lot of analysts, thanks in part to the intensity of Jimmy Butler leading a talented young core.

 
Nuggets small icon 9. Nuggets (43-22, LW 7). Mike Malone said it himself: Denver’s coach has no idea where his team is in preparation for the seeding games right now. Due to injury and the coronavirus they have had just eight players ready to go in both scrimmage games. But on of those players is Bol Bol and that is all most of us need to see.

 
Mavericks small icon 10. Mavericks (40-27, LW 11). Any questions about Luka Doncic’s fitness should be tossed out the window at this point, he has looked fantastic. Dallas’ floor spacing and shooting from three is going to be dangerous in the playoffs, but their defense needs to tighten up if they are going to be a real first round threat. Also, expect Doncic to text Kristaps Porzingis daily to remind him to get his coronavirus test.

 
Sixers small icon 11. 76ers (39-26, LW 11). Joel Embiid missing a game due to calf tightness isn’t devastating but it will raise some eyebrows — a healthy and focused Embiid is critical to any Sixers playoff hopes. (He did practice Monday, a good sign.) All that talk about Ben Simmons taking two corner threes in the Sixers opener (hitting one), notice in the second game he didn’t even attempt a shot from deep. He has to shoot constantly from there to be a threat.

 
Jazz small icon 12. Jazz (41-23, LW 13). Utah needs a Mike Conley to step up and replace Bojan Bogdanovic‘s scoring and play making, which is why his second half against Miami is encouraging. Rudy Gobert has looked fantastic through two games, and he and Donovan Mitchell have shown some on-court chemistry even as there are questions about their chemistry off it.

 
Blazers small icon 13. Trail Blazers (29-37, LW 14). Jusuf Nurkic was back for his first scrimmage over the weekend and looked fantastic both as a scorer and distributor. His chemistry with Damian Lillard was like he never left, and the little dust-up with Serge Ibaka was a reminder of the grit Nurkic brings. The experiment of Nurkic and Hassan Whiteside playing together will be something to watch.

Pelicans small icon 14. Pelicans (28-36, LW 15). Zion Williamson is back in the bubble and (provided he keeps testing negative) will be available opening night against Utah. Whether Alvin Gentry will play him after limited practice remains to be seen, but the Pelicans can’t afford to start slow in the chase to get into a play-in series for the eighth seed. They need Zion.

 
Pacers small icon 15. Pacers (39-26, LW 12). The loss of Domantas Sabonis for the restart due to a foot injury is a punch to the gut of a team that was looking to advance out of the first round in the playoffs. No official word yet on if Victor Oladipo will play in the seeding/playoff games, but he has looked fantastic in both Pacers scrimmage games. Will the Sabonis news impact his decision?

 
Magic small icon 16. Magic (30-35, LW 17). Both Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz are set to return for the final Magic scrimmage game and could be good to go for the seeding games, if cleared. Getting Isaac back would be huge for an Orlando team where defense has been the issue, he was an All-Defensive Team level player before an injury prematurely ended his season.

 
Grizzlies small icon 17. Grizzlies (32-33, LW 16). The loss of Justise Winslow to a hip injury is a real blow to the depth and potential of this team. There have been bright spots. Memphis’ best rookie through two scrimmages is not soon-to-be Rookie of the Year Ja Morant (who has still looked solid), it’s Brandon Clarke (16 points against Houston Sunday). Kyle Anderson also has shown he is healthy and can handle some minutes in Orlando.

 
Kings small icon 18. Kings (28-36, LW 19). No Marvin Bagley due to a foot injury that has him out for the restart (the other foot from the foot injury that had him out for much of the season). No Bagley hurts the offense, the lack of Alex Len being healthy hurts the defense, although Len could return by the weekend. With all that it’s hard to picture Sacramento ending a playoff drought that goes back by 2006.

 
Spurs small icon 19. Spurs (27-36, LW 20). Pour one out for the Spurs 22-season playoff streak, there is almost no way that will continue. The bubble games for San Antonio are about the future, specifically what a Dejounte Murray/Lonnie Walker IV backcourt might look like. Plenty of speculation around the league about whether Gregg Popovich will coach next season, a question he may not know the answer to yet.

 
Suns small icon 20. Suns (26-39, LW 21). Good news, Aron Baynes has been cleared after testing positive for the coronavirus and is on his way to the Orlando bubble. Phoenix is using this restart to get Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton some time to build chemistry — and Ayton plans to keep shooting those threes if left open. The Suns lack of depth has been an issue in the scrimmage games (especially against a deep Celtics’ roster.

 
Nets small icon 21. Nets (30-34, LW 18). With more players out than we have room to list here, Brooklyn has become the Caris LeVert show at the restart, a lot of the offense runs through him. Joe Harris and Garrett Temple will have bigger roles too, while Jarrett Allen has a chance to step up. Most observers expect the Nets to fall behind the Magic and become the eight seed in the East (meaning the Bucks in the first round).

 
Wizards small icon 22. Wizards (24-40, LW 22). Can Washington make up two games on Brooklyn to force a play-in series? As depleted as the Wizards are, that feels like a long shot. The key is for guys to stay healthy and not suffer an injury that impacts next season.

 
Bulls small icon 23. Bulls (22-43, LW 23). Hearing more and more buzz that even though the new front office is not sold on Jim Boylen as coach — and players such as Thaddeus Young will push for a trade if he stays — he will keep his job next season. It saves money for ownership at a time the league is taking a hit, plus it lets Arturas Karnisovas save the “changing the coach” card for another time. Nothing is decided yet on this front, but it will need to be in the coming weeks.

 
24. Timberwolves (19-45, LW 24). Glen Taylor has put the team up for sale, but only to a new owner who will keep the team in Minnesota (the team’s lease at the Target Center runs through 2035). Kevin Garnett is the best storyline of the potential new owners, and he is talking to billionaire partners. The Wilf family (which owns the Vikings) are not actively negotiating, but there are a number of other billionaires kicking the tires on the sale.

 
Hawks small icon 25. Hawks (20-46, LW 25). Not in Orlando for the restart and not much new to talk about in Atlanta, outside of Lou Williams’ restaurant choices.

 
Hornets small icon 26. Hornets (23-42, LW 26). Not in Orlando for the restart.

 
Knicks small icon 27. Knicks (20-45, LW 27). Tom Thibodeau is the team’s new head coach, and I like the hire… with caveats. First, Thibodeau has to have grown and take his foot off the accelerator at points with a young team — RJ Barrett doesn’t need to lead the league in minutes played. Secondly, Thibs and team president Leon Rose need to be on the same page with player development, culture building, and more. That coach/front office connection has not always been there in Madison Square Garden before.

Pistons small icon 28. Pistons (20-45, LW 28). Not in Orlando for the restart.

 
Cavaliers small icon 29. Cavaliers (19-46, LW 29). Not in Orlando for the restart.

 
Warriors small icon 30. Warriors (15-50 LW 30). Not in Orlando for the restart.

Chris Boucher calls out Draymond Green for saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t directly affect Raptors

Warriors forward Draymond Green in Toronto
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The Toronto Raptors arrived to the NBA campus at Disney World with “BLACK LIVES MATTER” written on their buses:

Warriors forward Draymond Green had some questions about that.

Appearing on TNT, Green asked Raptors president Masai Ujiri about the buses.

TNT:

Green:

You have on your bus Black Lives Matter. As a Canadian team, it doesn’t directly impact your team, because you’re in an entire different country. What made you guys take the stand and put it on your bus? I think one of 22 teams that actually went through with it. Where did that idea come from, and why did you guys feel the need to push that through?

Ujiri:

Thanks, Draymond. You’ve been unbelieve on this and what you’re speaking on, and I think the league is proud of you. For us, we said we were going to use the bubble as a statement, right? We said we’re going to use this place as a platform. And we thought that, coming in here, you have to make a statement. You have to, for me, you have to create awareness. What you guys are doing over there is creating awareness. You’re talking about this. And we have to continue to do that. And we thought, what greater way than to ride through Florida for three hours and show people? We know what’s going on in the country, and we’re heading to the bubble. And what is going on here, what Adam Silver has done here to get the league back, we’re excited about that. But there’s something on our minds, too. And we wanted to show people that, as we come in – not just the Toronto Raptors, we represent the NBA – that there’s something that’s on the minds of all the players and all the teams.

That’s a perfectly reasonable, non-confrontational answer. But Ujiri didn’t set Green straight.

Chris Boucher, a Black Canadian who plays for the Raptors, did.

Boucher:

I don’t think Green intended to slight anyone. In fact, his tone indicated admiration for the Raptors stepping up despite not being directly affected.

But his clumsy wording did slight Black people outside the United States and indicated an ignorance to the scope of the movement.

The beauty of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is its simplicity. Black lives matter. Period. It’s not just Black American lives matter.

There is racism outside the United States, including in Canada. Black Lives Matter protests have been occurring around the world for years – both in solidarity with American protests, but also for issues in other countries. As an organization, Black Lives Matter has a global mission.

Also, not for nothing: Most Raptors players are American. But, again, racism directly affects Black people beyond the United States.

Boucher is correct, and I have no problem with him responding Green publicly. After all, Green said what he did on national TV. There’s value in Boucher continuing the conversation where people can see it.

Hopefully, Green learns from this. It shouldn’t be a hard less for someone, like Green, who cares about the issue.