Trevor Booker Drawing Interest From NBA Teams?

Veteran forward Trevor Booker hasn’t played an NBA game since the 2017/18 season, but he remains on teams’ radars, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Sources tell Kennedy that Booker has received interest from several NBA clubs, with a handful of playoff teams among those monitoring him.

Booker, an eight-year NBA veteran, appeared in a total of 68 games during the 2017/18 campaign for the Nets, Sixers, and Pacers, averaging 6.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 17.0 MPG. After failing to catch on with an NBA team in the summer of 2018, he signed with China’s Shanxi Brave Dragons, but left the team early in the season and returned stateside to undergo foot surgery.

During the 2019 offseason, Booker worked out for multiple potential suitors, including the Nuggets, Bucks, and Clippers. Although he didn’t find a new NBA home at that point, he’s still just 32 years old and hasn’t given up on a comeback.

According to Kennedy, it’s “very possible” a team in need of frontcourt depth will sign Booker at some point after the February 6 trade deadline.

Kobe Bryant On Track To Headline 2020 Hall Of Fame Class

Late Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is on track for a first-ballot enshrinement into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this year, as Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Bryant, who was among the eligible candidates announced last month, will be part of the Hall’s standard screening process this week, then is expected to be named a finalist in February and an inductee in April, per Charania (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash]

In addition to featuring Bryant, the Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 is expected to include Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, who are eligible for the first time this year. Players like Chris Bosh, Shawn Marion, and Michael Finley are also first-time nominees and Hall-of-Fame hopefuls. The list of inductees will be announced during the NCAA’s Final Four in Atlanta this spring.

“(The class of 2020 is) expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said, according to Charania. “Kobe will be honored the way he should be.”

The enshrinement ceremony for the class of 2020 will take place on August 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Given the circumstances surrounding Bryant’s induction, it figures to be an emotional event.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Bulls, Oladipo

Following last Thursday’s loss to the Wizards, Cavaliers players expressed disappointment that the team doesn’t seem to be making any positive progress, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com details. Tristan Thompson suggested the club seems to be “at a standstill,” while Kevin Love said he feels as if the Cavs should be better than they are.

“We have to start trending in the right direction again because we felt like we were playing good basketball, even in a couple of the losses we had, and these are uncharacteristic — losing by double-digits to these two teams,” Love said following a series of Cavaliers losses to Chicago, New York, and Washington. “Nothing against them, we just feel like similar records and these are teams we can compete with, especially on our home floor. We should have a chance to really win.”

While the Cavaliers may shake up their roster a little prior to the trade deadline, there are no guarantees that veterans like Thompson and Love will be moved, so it’s no surprise they’d like to see the team become more competitive if they’re going to remain in Cleveland for the rest of the season. Things didn’t get any better on Saturday, when the Cavs lost at home to the Bulls to extend their losing streak to seven games.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times wonders if there’s any chance the Bulls could be buyers, rather than sellers, at this year’s trade deadline. Head coach Jim Boylen said those conversations haven’t taken place yet – at least not with him in the room – but he’d be happy if the team stands pat. “I love the guys we have, and we’re going to keep coaching and teaching the guys we have, and I’ve got a good group, a willing group, a coachable group,” Boylen said. “It’s going to be ‘we and us,’ and ‘we and us’ are going to keep working.”
  • Nathan Brown of The Indianapolis Star spoke to knee specialist Dr. Rodney Benner to get a sense of what Pacers star Victor Oladipo might look like upon returning from his year-long injury. “It’s going to be a little bit, trial-and-error isn’t the right word for it, but there’s going to be some adjusting of activity up and down to see what he can handle, just because it’s such an uncommon injury that it’s hard to predict,” Benner said of Oladipo, who remains on track to make his season debut on Wednesday.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along a handful of Bulls notes and Pacers items over the weekend.

Grizzlies Rule Grayson Allen Out Indefinitely, Recall Josh Jackson

Another Grizzlies bench player will be sidelined for the foreseeable future, as the team announced today in a press release that Grayson Allen will be out indefinitely with a hip injury. According to the club, the injury – which occurred when Allen fell awkwardly on his left leg during Friday’s game vs. Detroit – will require “offloading” to heal.

A first-round pick in 2018, Allen was acquired by Memphis in last summer’s Mike Conley blockbuster. The second-year shooting guard has been limited to 30 games this season due to health issues, but has had a fairly regular rotation role when healthy. He was averaging 7.2 PPG on .494/.375/.833 shooting in the 16 games leading up to his injury.

The Grizzlies are now down three roster players, with Bruno Caboclo on the shelf due to a knee injury and Andre Iguodala away from the team while he awaits a trade. Jae Crowder also missed Sunday’s game with knee soreness, though there’s no indication that’s a major issue.

To add some depth to their rotation, the Grizzlies have recalled former No. 4 overall pick Josh Jackson for the first time this season, according to the team (Twitter link). Jackson, also acquired in a trade last summer, has spent the entire 2019/20 campaign in the G League, averaging 20.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.5 BPG, and 1.4 SPG in 26 games for the Memphis Hustle.

As Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian observes (via Twitter), the Grizzlies had been reluctant to call up Jackson to the NBA roster without a clearer path to playing time. It remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be inserted into the rotation with Allen out, but at the very least, he’ll travel with the team for now and provide emergency depth.

Heat Notes: Butler, Injuries, Waiters, Battier

The latest injury concern for the Heat involves star forward Jimmy Butler, who sprained his ankle during the team’s home game against the Clippers on Friday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Miami is also currently dealing with injuries to primary ball-handlers Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic (calf) and Justise Winslow, making Butler’s absence a tougher pill to swallow.

“It’s a sprain,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Butler’s injury, as relayed by Winderman. “We’ll have to re-evaluate. I don’t even like commenting after sprained ankles. You have to wait until the next day to see how a guy feels. He’s getting treatment already and we’ll go from there.

“Same with Goran and K-Nunn. At least we have a couple of days before the next game and it’ll give them an opportunity to really get into the training room and get some treatment.”

Butler, Dragic, and Nunn are all listed as questionable to play on Monday against Orlando, with Bam Adebayo (ankle) probable and Winslow remaining out.

Miami is a half-game behind Toronto for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 31-14, sporting an impressive 20-2 record at home. Players such as Tyler Herro, Dion Waiters and James Johnson could receive more ball-handling responsibilities in the interim.

Here are some other notes out of Miami:

  • Dion Waiters has taken full responsibility for his three suspensions this season, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Waiters finished with 14 points in 18 minutes against the Clippers in his first game of the season on Friday, making key late-game plays on both ends of the court. “I’m a grown man,” Waiters said. “I don’t point fingers. I could easily say this and that, but at the end of the day, it’s me. I made immature decisions. So, you know, I take full responsibility.”
  • Ira Winderman ponders in a different Sun Sentinel article whether Waiters could become a trade chip for Miami before the February 6 deadline. Waiters will make $12.1MM this season and $12.65MM in 2020/21, currently serving as a third-string option at guard. During his tumultuous first half, he was viewed as virtually unmovable.
  • Winderman also examined the front office role of Shane Battier, who played with the Heat for three seasons and won two championships. Battier currently serves as Miami’s Director of Basketball Analytics and Development.

More Reactions To Kobe Bryant’s Death

Despite some speculation that Sunday night’s games might be cancelled in the wake of Kobe Bryant‘s death, the NBA moved forward with those contests. Moments of silence were held before the games, eight- and 24-second violations were committed in Bryant’s honor, and many players admitted to being preoccupied with thoughts of the longtime Lakers star.

Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, who played on multiple Team USA squads with Bryant, said that basketball “was the furthest thing on my mind,” but that he believed Kobe would have wanted him to play, per Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“This probably was the hardest game I ever had to play,” Anthony said after scoring 14 points in the Blazers’ home win over Indiana. “Just uh … I don’t know … whoooo. It was tough. It was tough.”

Kyrie Irving, who was held out of Sunday’s Nets contest in New York for “personal reasons,” was said to be devastated by the death of Bryant, who had been his idol growing up, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details. According to Lewis, Irving left the arena altogether after hearing the news.

“I was with him. I’ll keep [the scene] private, but they were very close,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said of Irving. “Tough, tough, tough, tough times.”

There were “heavy hearts” in the other Madison Square Garden locker room as well, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who suggests that many Knicks players didn’t feel like going forward with the game.

“Somebody said to me earlier, ‘Superman is not supposed to die,'” Knicks forward Marcus Morris said. “And to us, he was Superman. I just feel sorry for his family. And the other passengers on there, I feel sorry for their families. It’s just a tough day.”

Blake Murphy of The Athletic provides a look at the Spurs and Raptors players who were heartbroken by the news, while Chris Kirschner of The Athletic looks at the reaction of Hawks guard Trae Young, who received a congratulatory FaceTime call from Kobe and his daughter Gianna after he was named an All-Star starter. Young, who began the game wearing a No. 8 jersey, became the first player to record a 45-point double double on fewer than 25 field goal attempts since Bryant did it in 2006.

Here’s more:

  • According to a report from CBS Los Angeles, the nine people who were killed in Sunday’s helicopter crash have all been identified. Several of those victims have since been profiled by various outlets, with Alden Gonzalez of ESPN discussing Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, Scott Gleeson of USA Today writing about girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, and Molly Knight of The Athletic remembering Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gigi Bryant.
  • More details are emerging on the circumstances surrounding Sunday’s crash, according to Paula Lavigne of ESPN, who writes that the Los Angeles Police Department had grounded its helicopters on Sunday morning due to foggy conditions. It remains to be seen whether those visibility issues were the reason for the crash, and the full investigation may take weeks, writes Mark Medina of USA Today.
  • Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times explore how Lakers players reacted to the death of the franchise legend.
  • Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, who was one of a handful of full-time Lakers beat writers during Kobe’s early years, examines how Bryant evolved into an NBA icon.
  • The list of current players who looked up to Bryant and counted on him for advice is long, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic, who notes that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard were among the superstars who fit that bill.
  • An ESPN report details the worldwide impact of Bryant’s death, sharing reactions from around Europe and Asia.

Silver, Jordan, Others React To Kobe’s Passing

The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant has affected countless lives across the globe, with several prominent NBA figures releasing statements on social media to honor the 41-year-old legend.

Bryant, along with the pilot and seven other passengers (including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna), passed away in a horrific helicopter crash early Sunday morning. The crash occured in Calabases, California, with the helicopter reportedly in route to a travel basketball game.

“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning.  He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary:  five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals. But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna. 

“We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world.”

Here are some other reactions from those closest to Bryant:

  • Hornets owner Michael Jordan released a statement expressing his sadness. “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much,” part of the statement read.
  • Lakers legend Magic Johnson also offered some words on Bryant (Twitter links): “As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken. I love him, his family and what he stood for on the court and off the court.”
  • NBA legend Jerry West released the following statement: “The news we’ve all received today is the most devastating news that anyone can imagine. I am so saddened for Kobe’s parents, Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, Capri, Kobe’s sisters and all of the NBA fans that hold Kobe in their heart. This loss of Kobe, Gianna, and everyone on board, is beyond tragic and incomprehensible. I will love Kobe forever and always cherish the time that I spent with him. I watched him grow from an energetic kid into the man he became, making a difference in so many people’s life. He has left the world a better place. Kobe’s legacy will live forever.”
  • Barack Obama, who served as president for several years during Bryant’s playing career, stated the following: “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
  • Dwyane Wade, Bryant’s longtime competitor and Olympic teammate, offered this heartfelt thought: Heroes come and go LEGENDS live forever #8 #24″
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced that no other Maverick will wear No. 24 in honor of Bryant. “We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” he said. “Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father. Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick. Our hearts go out to all the lives lost and the families impacted by this terrible tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to Vanessa and the family, the Lakers organization and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/26/20

Here are Sunday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

Reactions To Kobe Bryant’s Passing

The NBA world was stunned today when future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant died in a fatal helicopter crash that killed seven other people. The NBA sent out a confirmatory email verifying the passing of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link).

Several key sites in Bryant’s life are already being flooded with tributes and fans. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets that hundreds of fans have arrived at the scene of the crash in Calabasas, with the wreckage still smoking. Rich Hoffman of The Athletic (Twitter link) documented a small shrine to Bryant developing at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, Bryant’s alma matter. The Athletic’s Brett Dawson took stock of mourners gathering at Staples Center (Twitter link), the Lakers’ current home arena.

ESPN.com compiled the reflections of several NBA players and non-basketball athletes (present and retired), including Joel Embiid, Tony Parker, Kareem Abdul-JabbarScottie Pippen, and Tom Brady.

Bryant’s two most important teammates, Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal (Twitter links) and future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol (Twitter link), also penned moving tributes.

Though all of today’s NBA games appear on track to continue, not all the players are up for logging time. Nets guard Kyrie Irving, famously close with Bryant, will be sitting out today’s tilt against the Knicks, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).

Here are more reactions to Bryant’s death:

  • Scott Horner of the Indianapolis Star compiled many of the tributes from current and historic Pacers, including Reggie Miller and Myles Turner, plus other NBA and sports luminaries.
  • European football star Neymar dedicated his second goal this evening to Bryant, according to ESPN FC (Twitter link).
  • Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry paid tribute to Bryant’s appreciation for his legions of fans in comments to reporters, captured by Ben Golliver of the Washington Post (Twitter link). “The last game he was here he stood right there in that locker room and signed every piece of memorabilia,” Gentry said. “That’s the side of him that people didn’t see.”
  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, whose Celtics battled Bryant’s Lakers in the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals, was in tears talking to reporters. “The news is just devastating to everybody who knew him,” Rivers said (video link via NBA TV). “He means a lot to me obviously… I was getting to know him more since he retired. This is a tough one.”
  • ESPN reporter J.A. Adande, who covered a vast majority of Bryant’s playoff games, spoke on Bryant’s legendary work ethic during a SportsCenter conversation. “Since the year 2000, he has been the predominant Los Angeles athlete,” Adande said. “LA fans have always appreciated hard work… he was a dedicated player, a hardworking player.” ESPN reporter Jay Williams paid tribute to Bryant on SportsCenter (Twitter link) as well.
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated proposes having both All-Star teams this season wear tributary jerseys for Bryant’s two jersey numbers (Twitter link). Mannix proposed that Team LeBron could wear No. 8, while Team Giannis could wear No. 24.

NBA Moves Forward With Sunday’s Games In Wake Of Kobe’s Death

In the wake of the tragic news that Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter have died in a helicopter crash, there was uncertainty over whether the NBA would move forward with tonight’s slate of games. Although the league hasn’t officially confirmed that all of Sunday’s games will be played, two of them are already underway and there’s no indication that any of the rest will be cancelled.

Tributary moments of silence were held during the day’s afternoon games in Denver and San Antonio. Another is planned in Atlanta for tonight’s Hawks/Wizards tilt, according to Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). The rest of Sunday’s games will almost certainly follow suit.

At the start of this afternoon’s contest between the Spurs and Raptors, the two teams exchanged 24-second shot clock violations in tribute to Bryant’s jersey, No. 24 (video link). Fans in San Antonio chanted “Kobe!” and gave a standing ovation.

The Lakers are not in action today.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this post.