NBA, Players Assessing Blood Tests For Coronavirus

The NBA and the Players’ Association are looking into quick blood tests for the novel coronavirus which would make it more viable for the league to resume the season, Baxter Holmes of ESPN reports.

The league and its players have been assessing the viability of multiple blood-testing devices that could provide accurate results within a matter of minutes. That process would be a critical first step toward returning to action, though commissioner Adam Silver said on Monday no decision on resuming play would be made until at least next month.

The “diabetes-like” blood test can be conducted with the prick of a finger and yield results within 15 minutes. Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories have begun shipping out the rapid-response tests, which can deliver results in 5-13 minutes. However, they have yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Sources told Holmes that the assessment of utilizing these tests is still in the exploratory phase. Finding ways to rapidly test for COVID-19 is the crucial path for sports leagues to resume play in the coming weeks and months, Holmes adds.

However, the NBA and its players are also aware that even if such rapid testing devices become available, health care workers and others tasked with saving lives should have priority to them.

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz GM Interviews For Top Spot In Bulls’ Front Office

Jazz GM Justin Zanik had a video interview with the Bulls on Monday for the franchise’s executive VP of basketball operations opening, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Zanik has held the GM job with the Utah franchise since May 2019 after being promoted from assistant GM. That occurred at the same time longtime GM Dennis Lindsey was promoted to executive VP of basketball operations.

Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas will get an interview in the middle of this week, Wojnarowski adds. Utah just received permission to interview Karnisovas, who is one of four executives reportedly on Chicago’s initial wish list for the job. The person the Bulls hire will have full authority on basketball decisions.

Pacers GM Chad Buchanan  and Heat assistant GM Adam Simon were two of the candidates on that wish list, but both decided to stay put prior to the interview process.

It’s also uncertain that Raptors GM Bobby Webster, the other candidate on the list, will be interviewed. Toronto may not grant the Bulls permission to talk to Webster, who is under contract through 2021.

Clippers GM Michael Winger, Clippers assistant GM Trent ReddenMagic assistant GM Matt Lloyd are some other names that have surfaced as potential candidates.

NBA Establishes Guidelines For Virtual Meetings With Prospects

NBA teams will be allowed to conduct virtual meetings with prospects but they will be prohibited from in-person workouts, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Teams will also be banned from requesting and watching live video of prospects during the coronavirus pandemic (Twitter links).
Until further notice, teams can conduct up to four hours of virtual meetings per prospect during the predraft process. However, they will be prohibited from meeting for more than two hours a week with any player, Charania adds.
Teams are still restricted from having contact with underclassmen until the early entry list is sent by the NBA , Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. The last day for underclassmen to declare is April 26 but the list last year was sent out three days after the deadline, Marks notes.
With practice and training facilities shuttered around the league, front office staff have been holding meetings via video conferences and conference calls. They’ll now be doing the same with potential draft prospects, though it will be more difficult for unheralded players to improve their stock without team workouts.
The draft lottery is still tentatively scheduled for May 19 with the draft itself on June 25. Those dates could obviously change, especially if the league continues to hold out hope of resuming the season.

Silver: Weeks Away From Decision On Resuming Season

Commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with TNT broadcaster Ernie Johnson on Monday that a decision on whether to resume the season won’t come until at least May 1, Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays in a string of tweets.

Like millions of fans and everyone connected with the league, Silver said the suspension of play in NBA and other major pro and college sports has left a void in daily life.

“I think we are all realizing how much we miss live sports,” he said.

However, the stark reality of the coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible to know when games will be played again. Playing regular-season games as well as a postseason is still a possibility “in an ideal world.” However, there has been a growing sense of pessimism as the delay drags on with no end in sight.

Even though the league is willing to stretch this season into September to crown a championship, it also has to take into consideration that it doesn’t want negatively impact next season, Silver points out.

Silver is even more concerned about the 55,000 jobs affected by the stoppage of play in the league, including all of its game-day workers. Once it’s considered safe for games to be played, the sports leagues will be “ready to go.”

Coronavirus Notes: Training Facilities, NBPA, K. Guy

In a Monday morning appearance on ESPN’s Get Up (video link), Brian Windhorst said that the aggressive pay check reduction that team owners have proposed for players is an indication that the NBA is “preparing for the worst” while “hoping for the best.”

As Windhorst explains, the proposal from owners – a 50% pay check reduction starting on April 15 – is essentially what would be required to help balance the players/owners revenue split in the event of a canceled season.

While Windhorst is one of many people connected to the NBA expressing pessimism about the resumption of the 2019/20 season, he notes that the league, Turner Sports, and ESPN are all working hard to try to come up with events that could realistically be held in the coming months without the need for widespread COVID-19 testing. The proposed H-O-R-S-E competition that was reported over the weekend is one such example.

Here’s more on the NBA’s hiatus and the coronavirus pandemic:

  • In an entertaining Q&A with Michael Lee of The Athletic, Lakers forward Jared Dudley discussed a wide variety of topics, expressing concern about players who have no access to training facilities being able to prepare for a resumed season. “I’m not allowed to shoot a basketball (because of California’s stay-at-home order). For four months!” Dudley said. “And you’re going to give me two to three weeks? To be ready for playoffs and regular season? And be able to have my body play without injuries? That’s the last component where you’re like, ‘Hey, what’s feasible?’ Because the NBA will give you two weeks, that’s not enough. You will 100 percent see injuries you haven’t seen because of that.”
  • The NBPA originally had a conference call with agents scheduled for Monday, but it has been pushed back until Tuesday, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Woj, the NBA’s proposed pay check reduction for players is among the subjects expected to be discussed during that call.
  • After losing his grandfather to COVID-19, Kings rookie Kyle Guy published an Instagram post in which he urged people to take the virus seriously and follow public health orders. Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee has the full story.

Adam Simon To Remain With Heat Despite Bulls’ Interest

A Heat spokesperson said on Monday that assistant general manager Adam Simon – who also serves as the team’s VP, basketball operations – will be remaining with the franchise, according to reports from Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald and Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link).

Simon was one of a handful of executives rumored to be drawing interest from the Bulls, who are looking to hire a new head of basketball operations. Chicago has reportedly been keeping a close eye on Miami’s office structure and had Simon high on its wish list, but the team won’t get a chance to interview with the veteran Heat executive.

In some cases, when a team wants to keep an executive who is drawing interest from a rival club, that exec receives a promotion and/or a raise. It’s not clear yet if that will be the case for Simon, who grew up in South Florida and is highly regarded by the Heat for his scouting and draft work, according to Jackson.

The Bulls’ initial list of front office targets was said to include Simon, Pacers GM Chad Buchanan, Raptors GM Bobby Webster, and Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas. Like Simon, Buchanan will be remaining with his current team, and there’s a belief that Webster will do the same. However, Chicago has reportedly received permission to interview Karnisovas and Jazz GM Justin Zanik.

2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: Boston Celtics

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead at the 2020/21 salary cap situations for all 30 NBA teams. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the NBA, it’s impossible to know yet where the cap for 2020/21 will land. Given the league’s lost revenue, we’re assuming for now that it will stay the same as the ’19/20 cap, but it’s entirely possible it will end up higher or lower than that.

After a disappointing 2018/19 season, the Celtics bounced back in ’19/20, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown taking major steps forward and Kemba Walker providing the veteran stability that Kyrie Irving hadn’t. Prior to the NBA’s hiatus, Boston was 43-21 – third in the Eastern Conference – and looked like one of the only teams capable of seriously challenging Milwaukee for a spot in the NBA Finals.

Armed with three first-round picks in 2020, the Celtics are in position to continue adding intriguing young talent, even if the club no longer has the cap flexibility that it has in recent years.

Here’s where things stand for the Celtics financially in 2020/21, as we continue our Salary Cap Preview series:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

  • No. 17 overall pick ($2,964,840)
  • No. 26 overall pick ($2,035,800)
  • No. 30 overall pick ($1,936,440)
  • Total: $6,937,080

Offseason Cap Outlook

Assuming Hayward exercises his lucrative player option for 2020/21 and Theis is brought back on his modest team option, the Celtics will have committed nearly $135MM in guaranteed money to 11 players.

The NBA’s most recent luxury-tax projection, based on an estimated $115MM cap, was $139MM. Once Boston fills out its roster, it figures to surpass that threshold, making the C’s a taxpaying team whether or not the cap ultimately falls short of that projection. Barring some cost-cutting moves or a surprise Hayward opt-out, that means the club won’t have the full mid-level exception or bi-annual exception available in the offseason.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Room exception: $5,718,000 2

Footnotes

  1. Theis’ salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 3.
  2. This is a projected value.

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are based on the salary cap and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Early Bird Rights was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Bulls’ Front Office Search

The Bulls have received permission to interview Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas, sources tell K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Karnisovas was one of four men said to be on Chicago’s initial wish list for a top front office executive who will have full authority on basketball decisions. It’s not clear if the Bulls will get a chance to talk to any of those four potential candidates besides Karnisovas.

Pacers GM Chad Buchanan reportedly rebuffed the Bulls’ interest, opting to remain in Indiana. And there’s plenty of speculation around the NBA that the Heat will make an effort to retain assistant GM Adam Simon, according to Johnson (Twitter link).

As for the fourth candidate, Toronto’s Bobby Webster, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes that the Raptors may not grant the Bulls permission to speak to their general manager, who is under contract through 2021. With president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and head coach Nick Nurse also set to have their contracts expire after next season, and many of their players coming off the books in the coming months, the Raptors face some long-term uncertainty and might not want to risk losing a rising young executive. There’s a sense they’ll tell Chicago that “this is not a good time,” according to Grange.

Even if they’re only able to speak to one of their initial four targets, the Bulls have a longer list of candidates, per Johnson (Twitter link), who names Clippers GM Michael Winger, Clippers assistant GM Trent Redden, Magic assistant GM Matt Lloyd, and Jazz GM Justin Zanik as possibilities.

Chicago has received permission to talk to Zanik, Johnson reports, so the Utah GM will join Karnisovas in taking part in the first round of Bulls interviews.

The Bulls will conduct those meetings electronically due to the coronavirus pandemic and reportedly want to make a hire prior to the draft and free agency.

Louisville’s Jordan Nwora Enters 2020 NBA Draft

Junior Louisville forward Jordan Nwora has elected to add his name to the 2020 NBA draft pool, he confirmed today in a Twitter announcement. Nwora intends to go pro rather than testing the waters while maintaining his college eligibility, as he tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports.

“I really just think and feel that now is the best time for me to reach my dreams and I got to go for it,” Nwora said. “Now is the best time for me. I think I did enough at Louisville and now is the best time for me to go.”

A two-time All-ACC player, Nwora averaged 18.0 PPG and 7.7 RPG in 31 games (33.1 MPG) as a junior, with a solid shooting line of .440/.402/.813. He ranks 39th overall on ESPN’s big board of 2020’s draft prospects, including ninth among power forwards.

Nwora, who tested the draft waters a year ago and participated in the combine before withdrawing his name, is optimistic that he can be a first-round pick in 2020, as he tells Daniels.

“I think I can go anywhere after 20, between 20 and 30 probably if I had to guess,” Nwora said. “With what I do, I think that depending on what teams need, especially with shooting there’s a chance I could go higher, it all depends. … At the end of the day I have confidence in my work ethic and my game. I don’t think there’s anyone else at my position that shoots better than me.”

Knicks Notes: DSJ, Trier, Free Agent Targets

Last year’s Kristaps Porzingis trade was ultimately the “undoing” for Steve Mills in New York, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who notes that Dennis Smith Jr.‘s inconsistent play for the Knicks didn’t help keep Mills off the hot seat leading up to his February ouster.

As Berman writes, former head coach David Fizdale and assistant Keith Smart were among Smith’s “key allies” within the franchise, and their departures – along with Mills’ – significantly reduce the odds that DSJ has a long-term future with the Knicks. Berman suggests Smith will be a trade candidate during the 2020 offseason, with the Magic among the teams that could have interest. Some teams still believe the former lottery pick can evolve into a solid pro, per Berman.

“He thinks too much about his shot and trying to score the ball,” one NBA scout said of Smith. “He needs to be more of lead pass-first guard and score second. Dennis also need a coach who shows him love and gives him confidence. The quickness and ability to dribble-drive is always there, but he wants to always be the highlight play with traffic dunks.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While Fizdale was fond of Allonzo Trier, interim head coach Mike Miller preferred to play stronger defenders with more experience, Berman writes in a separate New York Post story. Given Trier’s lack of a regular role in 2019/20, he seems unlikely to stick with the Knicks as a restricted free agent this offseason, according to Berman.
  • Mike Vorkunov and John Hollinger of The Athletic take an in-depth look at the Knicks’ future, breaking down the upcoming head coaching search, identifying possible free agent targets, and discussing which of the club’s current players are long-term keepers. Fred VanVleet is one free-agent-to-be singled out by Holliner as a potentially nice fit for the Knicks.
  • 2020’s free agent class isn’t a particularly strong one, but there will be some intriguing players available if the Knicks want to try to make a splash, writes Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Rafael Canton of SNY.tv explores whether the Knicks’ financial flexibility could give them a chance to be in better position that the Nets three years from now.