New Orleans Pelicans – Hoops Rumors Legitimate NBA free agent and trade rumors. 2020-08-03T20:31:59Z https://www.hoopsrumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Southwest Notes: Zion, Burke, Doncic, Harden]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=167438 2020-08-02T22:16:57Z 2020-08-02T14:59:29Z Zion Williamson played just 14 minutes in Saturday’s blowout loss to the Clippers, and his time is expected to remain limited in Monday’s showdown with the Grizzlies, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Williamson was barely a factor yesterday, making 3-of-7 shots and committing three turnovers in the 23-point defeat. The Pelicans came to Orlando with hopes of reaching the playoffs, but have now dropped to 12th place with six games remaining.

The team was heavily criticized for not using Williamson down the stretch of its opening loss to the Jazz, but vice president David Griffin explained yesterday that the star rookie didn’t have much practice time to get back into game shape after the four-month hiatus. Williamson briefly left the Walt Disney World campus to tend to a family matter and was quarantined upon returning.

“It makes sense to me that there’s so much attention — obviously, he’s a phenom,” Griffin said. “The league office itself takes as much interest in this as the fans do, and I’m grateful, frankly, that the fans take as much interest as they do. What I’m frustrated by is that there has to be a conspiracy theory involved when literally there’s not one thing different that’s being done with him than was done for every player on this roster when we got here, and he missed 13 days of what those guys got. Now all of the sudden, because the stakes are raised and because, unfortunately, we were selected for seven national (television) games, we’re supposed to reinvent the wheel.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Trey Burke had a memorable debut with the Mavericks, scoring 31 points and hitting eight 3-pointers Friday night, but barely played in the fourth quarter as Dallas saw a big lead slip away, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “I think some of the guys on the side were wondering the same thing,” Burke said, referring to his teammates. “I just got here. I know Coach has a lineup at the end of the game that he trusts at this point.” Coach Rick Carlisle explained that Burke, who was signed as a replacement player for Willie Cauley-Stein and has only been in Orlando for about a week, was tired late in the game.
  • The Mavericks feature an offense that statistically ranks as the NBA’s best ever, but they have trouble holding onto leads, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Luka Doncic believes that will eventually change with experience. “We’re a young team. We’ve got a lot to learn,” he said. “We’ll get better for sure. I know we’re going to get together when it matters most in the playoffs, so I’m not worried about that.”
  • Ahead of their meeting tonight, McMahon examines the history of the feud between Rockets star James Harden and the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, which began with last year’s MVP race.
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Luke Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Pelicans’ Plan For Zion Williamson]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=167352 2020-08-01T14:38:08Z 2020-07-31T21:57:12Z With just eight seeding games to put themselves in position to knock off the Grizzlies for West’s final playoff spot, the Pelicans let the first one get away on Thursday, falling to Utah in a 106-104 nail-biter. After the game, as Jeff Duncan of The Athletic writes, the team faced questions about its usage of Zion Williamson, who was limited to 15 minutes and didn’t play during crunch time.

“I was told the minutes he could play and that’s what I did,” said head coach Alvin Gentry, indicating that the Pelicans’ medical staff came up with the plan and minutes restriction for Williamson. “I don’t know what the numbers are or anything. That would be something that you would have to ask the medical team.”

Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin spoke to reporters on Friday in an effort to provide additional clarity, pointing out that every Pelican player started out at around 15 minutes in the team’s first scrimmage before eventually ramping up (Twitter link via Andrew Lopez of ESPN).

According to Griffin, New Orleans’ practice schedule in Orlando has made it difficult to quickly get Williamson up to full speed and improve his conditioning, but the young forward has been putting in extra work on the side to accelerate that process (Twitter link via Will Guillory of The Athletic).

Griffin added that the former No. 1 overall pick isn’t expected to play “significant minutes” on Saturday against the Clippers and may not on Monday against the Grizzlies either (Twitter link via Lopez).

With every game on the schedule of the utmost importance, Griffin’s update may frustrate Pelicans fans. However, it’s worth noting that the team may have a point about Williamson’s conditioning — although he scored 13 minutes in his 15 minutes on Thursday, he didn’t grab a single rebound, and the team had an atrocious 164.3 defensive rating when he was on the court, having been outscored by 16 points.

Those numbers weren’t all Williamson’s fault, but they suggest he wasn’t having the sort of elite impact on the game he normally would. In his 19 games prior to the hiatus, the Pelicans had a +10.4 net rating in Zion’s minutes. That number was -60.8 on Thursday.

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Alex Kirschenbaum <![CDATA[Williamson A Big Focus Of Restart]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=167268 2020-07-31T03:04:52Z 2020-07-31T02:13:23Z Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson is among the top stars to watch in the NBA’s Orlando season restart, according to Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. Kushner notes that the league’s unique eight-game seeding play-in approach was clearly designed to imbue value to the Pelicans’ eight contests, and to allow a debut Williamson playoff appearance to be possible.

This play-in option, which equips the teams in the West seeded ninth to 13th with a theoretical chance of making the playoffs in a knockout two-game wildcard bout with that No. 8 seed, would benefit a team like the eleventh-seeded Pelicans, who fall to a 28-37 record after their loss to the Jazz tonight.

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Alex Kirschenbaum <![CDATA[Zion Williamson To Play On Thursday]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=167078 2020-07-30T21:33:02Z 2020-07-30T21:32:07Z JULY 30: Williamson will be active on Thursday vs. the Jazz, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). Although Zion won’t have a set minutes restriction, he’s expected to play in “short quick bursts,” Haynes adds.


JULY 29: The availability of Pelicans star rookie forward Zion Williamson for his team’s first seeding match on Thursday against the Jazz will be a game-time decision, according to head coach Alvin Gentry, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

Williamson cleared his on-campus quarantine on Tuesday, having returned to the league’s Orlando restart campus last week after tending to a pressing family matter. He will have practiced twice with his team ahead of Gentry’s decision tomorrow.

Gentry did acknowledge during a press conference today that Williamson took part in five-on-five drills on Tuesday. Zion engaged in a light-contact practice with the Pelicans today, per Mark Medina of USA Today (Twitter link).

Williamson has no reservations about his preferences for tomorrow’s contest in Orlando. “If you know me, I want to hoop,” Williamson said. The No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft has been limited to just 19 contests out of a possible 64 this season, though his play has lifted New Orleans to the brink of playoff contention.

Williamson boasts a terrific slash line of 23.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG, while shooting 58.9% from the field and 46.2% from long range. For the 2019/20 season, the Pelicans are 11-8 with Williamson and 17-28 without him.

Gentry noted that the Pelicans’ medical staff would determine whether or not there would be a minutes restriction on Williamson, should he indeed suit up on Thursday, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). Williamson had no known medical issues prior to departing the Orlando campus earlier this month.

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Luke Adams <![CDATA[Zion Williamson Clears Quarantine, Set To Practice With Pelicans]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=166876 2020-07-28T21:50:18Z 2020-07-28T21:45:02Z JULY 28: Williamson has cleared quarantine and will practice with the Pelicans on Tuesday evening, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

It remains to be seen whether Williamson will be available when New Orleans’ season resumes in just over 48 hours, but the fact that he’s set to return to practice on Tuesday is a positive sign. As Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter) that will give him two practices before the team has to decide his status for Thursday.


JULY 27: The Pelicans are hoping to get Zion Williamson back at practice by Wednesday after his four-day quarantine period ends, executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin tells Malika Andrews of ESPN.

“In theory, his quarantine would end Tuesday afternoon-ish,” Griffin said of the star rookie. “The problem is he has to test and get the results before they release him.”

After initially reporting to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus with the rest of the Pelicans, Williamson left on July 16 due to an urgent family matter. He was away for a little over a week before returning to Orlando on Friday.

According to Griffin, Williamson was able to conduct some light workouts while he was away from the campus and has been given a yoga mat and a few other pieces of workout equipment while he quarantines in his hotel room. However, the Pelicans will have to see how the former No. 1 overall pick responds to Wednesday’s practice before determining whether he’ll be available for the club’s first seeding game on Thursday vs. Utah.

“Literally any player on our roster who went 13 days without doing any physical activity, it isn’t going to be a given that we would just cut them loose in that next game,” Griffin told Andrews. “Particularly a player that generates as much torque as he does. So we will see where he’s at.”

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Dana Gauruder <![CDATA[Zion Back On Campus, Could Play On Thursday]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=166608 2020-07-26T21:23:02Z 2020-07-25T15:06:14Z JULY 25, 10:06am: Williamson’s Orlando quarantine that began Friday night will last four days, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. If he’s cleared, he will be eligible to play in the team’s seeding opener on Thursday.


JULY 24th, 7:25pm: Pelicans superstar rookie forward Zion Williamson returned to the Orlando campus on Friday, the team’s PR department tweets.

Williamson was tested daily for COVID-19 while away from the team and produced negative results each time. He is required to quarantine immediately, per NBA protocol.

The team is awaiting word on the number of days he’ll be required to quarantine, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. However, even if the league clears him, it’s not a slam dunk that New Orleans will play him in its first seeding game on Thursday. The team will be cautious with its prized rookie since he’s been away for more than a week and will have to sit idle for a few more days, Lopez adds (Twitter link).

Williamson left Orlando on July 16 for what was described as an “urgent family matter.” He expressed his gratitude to well-wishers in a statement issued on Friday, Lopez relays in another tweet.

“My family and I appreciate the love and respect that everyone showed us while we dealt with a private family matter,” Williamson said. “I’m excited to rejoin my team in Orlando and look forward to getting back on the court with my teammates after quarantine.”

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Luke Adams <![CDATA[No Timetable Yet For Zion Williamson’s Return]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=166393 2020-07-22T19:37:18Z 2020-07-22T19:31:56Z The Pelicans have issued an update on forward Zion Williamson, who left the NBA’s Disney World campus last week to attend to an urgent family matter. While the Pelicans say that Williamson “fully intends” to rejoin the team, there’s still no timetable for his return to the campus, per today’s announcement.

Williamson has been getting tested for the coronavirus on a daily basis while he has been away from the club and continues to return negative results, according to the club. That’s good news for the Pelicans. Based on the NBA’s protocols, that means the star rookie should be quarantined for as few as four days once he eventually reports back to Disney.

Given Williamson’s ongoing absence, it seems increasingly unlikely that he’ll participate in any of the Pelicans’ exhibition scrimmages within the next week. New Orleans’ regular season schedule will resume on July 30 when the team faces Utah in the first official game on the NBA’s summer calendar. It remains to be seen whether 2019’s first overall pick will be available for that contest.

Williamson has averaged 23.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG in 19 games (29.7 MPG) in his first NBA season, and figures to play a key part in the Pelicans’ quest to secure a playoff spot in the West. New Orleans is currently 3.5 games back of the Grizzlies and can force a play-in tournament by remaining within four games of Memphis while finishing ahead of Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Phoenix.

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Luke Adams <![CDATA[NBA Announces Official Rosters For Summer Restart]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=166155 2020-07-20T22:42:24Z 2020-07-20T22:08:40Z The NBA has announced the official summer rosters for each of the 22 teams involved in the resumption of the 2019/20 season. A total of 350 players make up the 22 squads, with only eight clubs carrying the maximum allowable 17 players. The Trail Blazers have the smallest summer roster, with just 13 players.

Injured players who didn’t make the trip to Orlando – such as Nets stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant – don’t show up on the official rosters list, but injured players who traveled with their teams – including Mavericks big man Dwight Powell and Pacers swingman Jeremy Lamb – are included, even if they won’t play this summer.

Besides players who are injured, voluntarily opted out, or were ruled out after contracting COVID-19, there are a few more notable omissions on the list, which we’ll round up here:

  • Houston Rockets: William Howard
    • A two-way player, Howard recently reached a two-year deal with ASVEL Basket in France, so it makes sense that he won’t be playing for the Rockets this summer.
  • Los Angeles Clippers: Johnathan Motley, Mfiondu Kabengele
    • As previously reported, Motley and Kabengele didn’t travel to Orlando with the Clippers and won’t be playing this summer.
  • Milwaukee Bucks: Cameron Reynolds
    • The Bucks only brought one of their two-way players (Frank Mason III), as Reynolds doesn’t show up on their official roster. The reason for his absence is unclear.
  • New Orleans Pelicans: Josh Gray
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Ryan Broekhoff
    • Broekhoff was signed as a substitute player to fill the Sixers’ open two-way slot, but later announced that he hadn’t traveled to Orlando because his wife, who is “high risk,” tested positive for COVID-19. Based on his omission from Philadelphia’s roster, it appears that Broekhoff won’t be joining the club after all.
  • Phoenix Suns: Tariq Owens
    • The Suns left one of their two-way slots open and apparently didn’t bring their lone two-way player to Orlando. The reason for Owens’ absence is unclear.
  • Portland Trail Blazers: Moses Brown
    • Despite only having 13 players available in Orlando, the Trail Blazers won’t have Brown – their second two-way player – with them. The reason for his absence is unclear.
  • Washington Wizards: Gary Payton II

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Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Pelicans Notes: Zion, Redick, Ingram, Restart]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=166031 2020-07-20T01:47:50Z 2020-07-19T16:00:38Z Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry hasn’t spoken to Zion Williamson since he left Orlando for an “urgent family medical matter,” and there’s no timetable for the star rookie to return to the team, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Few details have emerged about Williamson’s situation since the announcement was made Thursday. Williamson will likely have to be quarantined for at least four days once he returns to the Walt Disney World Complex.

“Basically, we’re going to do our best to hold it down for him until he gets back, whenever that is,” J.J. Redick said on his latest podcast. “As a teammate, he’s a family member. We’ll do our best to keep this thing rolling. But obviously whatever is going on, we want the best for him. I feel awful for him because so much of this season has been a roller coaster for him. It seemed like he was in such a good place. Hopefully we get him back here soon.”

There’s more on the Pelicans, all courtesy of Vardon:

  • Redick, who turned 36 last month, talked about the strain placed on older players by stopping and restarting the season. In addition to the four-month hiatus, the league is hoping to begin next season in December, which would result in an unusually short offseason. “I feel good still. I feel like I have years left in my body,” Redick said. “As many of you know who have children and have a family, as they get older and you start missing milestones, it becomes harder to be away from them. I think as an athlete you want to have some sort of storybook ending. Most of us don’t get to have that. When you get towards the end, at least my thought process is as I get towards the end you sort of examine things in the moment. And, yeah, there’s uncertainty about next season and maybe even beyond that, it’s in the back of my mind about how much longer I want to play.”
  • With NBA awards to be based only on games already played, Gentry is campaigning for Brandon Ingram to be named Most Improved Player. Ingram posted career highs with 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists and helped New Orleans stay in the playoff race while Williamson was sidelined.
  • Gentry raved about the steps the league has taken to create a real-game atmosphere for the restart. The Pelicans will be part of the first game, facing the Jazz on TNT. “I think everybody assumed we were just going to play in an empty arena and you’re going to hear the balls bouncing and the officials talking,” he said, “but I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised when you see the atmosphere we’re going to be playing in.”
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Luke Adams <![CDATA[Zion Williamson Leaves NBA Campus For Urgent Family Matter]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=165690 2020-07-16T20:17:53Z 2020-07-16T20:16:51Z 3:16pm: Williamson’s exact return protocol will be determined once the league gets more information on the specific circumstances of his absence, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com and Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links). As noted below, the expectation is that he’ll have to quarantine for at least four days upon returning.


10:28am: Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson has left the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus in order to attend to an “urgent family medical matter,” the team announced today in a brief press release. The expectation is that Williamson will rejoin the team in Orlando at a later date.

“We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family,” Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement. “Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time.”

The NBA has a protocol in place for players who receive approval to leave the Disney campus for a personal matter, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer relays. As long as the player tests negative for the coronavirus for each of the seven days preceding his return to campus (or tests negative every day, if he’s away for fewer than seven days), he is subject to only a four-day quarantine period upon returning.

An unexcused absence or a failure to follow those guidelines would result in a 10-day quarantine period upon the player’s return to campus. However, with seeding games just two weeks away, I’d expect Williamson to be careful about following the league’s protocols to ensure he maximizes his availability for New Orleans’ eight upcoming games.

The Pelicans will take part in the first game of the NBA restart on July 30 vs. Utah. That game will be followed by crucial matchups with the Clippers (August 1), Grizzlies (August 3), and Kings (August 6). New Orleans’ schedule finishes with games against the Wizards (August 7), Spurs (August 9), Kings (August 11), and Magic (August 13).

The Pelicans, who are 3.5 games back of Memphis for the No. 8 spot in the West, have one of the more favorable summer schedules and are in position to challenge the Grizzlies for the conference’s final playoff spot. The club will hope that Williamson can be a key part of that postseason chase — he has averaged 23.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG in 19 games (29.7 MPG) in his first NBA season.

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Luke Adams <![CDATA[Western Notes: Holiday, Duncan, Len, Hield, Schiller]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=165611 2020-07-15T18:51:08Z 2020-07-15T18:51:08Z Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday announced today during an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump that he and his wife Lauren will be putting his remaining game checks toward the Jrue and Lauren Social Justice Impact Fund, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN writes.

The aim of the social justice fund will be to help communities in New Orleans, Indianapolis, and the Los Angeles area, according to Lopez. Holiday plays in New Orleans, his brothers Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday play in Indiana, and the Holiday family is from the L.A. area.

“We want to make an impact,” Holiday told ESPN. “God has blessed us with so much. We know a couple of things that are important are time and money, and right now, we have both. To be able to give away our money to help further this movement and Black-owned businesses that have taken a hit in COVID-19, to us, it felt like the perfect time and opportunity.”

Lopez suggests that Holiday’s remaining game checks could be worth up to $5.3MM — that estimate seems a little high based on my calculations, but considering the veteran guard has a 2019/20 salary of $26MM+, his donations will be substantial.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Spurs assistant coach Tim Duncan won’t be with the team in Orlando, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who tweets that Duncan is staying in San Antonio to help oversee LaMarcus Aldridge‘s rehab from shoulder surgery.
  • Like Harrison Barnes, center Alex Len – who recently contracted COVID-19 – isn’t yet with the Kings at the Walt Disney World campus, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “We have to prepare as if we’re not going to have either one of those guys,” head coach Luke Walton said of Barnes and Len. “And that’s just getting ready for what worst-case scenario would be. And there’s a reality that might be it. So our mindset is we prep that we’re not going to have them with us, and we’re hopeful that they rejoin us.”
  • Within the same story, McMenamin passes along Buddy Hield‘s comments on his experience with the coronavirus. The Kings sharpshooter said his symptoms were mild and that the virus resulted in just “a little head cold” and “chills one night.”
  • G League Coach of the Year Martin Schiller, who had been the head coach of the Jazz‘ NBAGL affiliate, is leaving the Salt Lake City Stars to coach Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania, as Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune details.
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Luke Adams <![CDATA[Community Shootaround: Western Conference Seeding]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=165310 2020-07-13T18:10:24Z 2020-07-13T18:10:24Z As we detailed on Friday when we discussed the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, there will be an opportunity for teams to move up – or down – in the standings when play resumes on July 30.

With eight “seeding games” on tap, teams are unlikely to make up five- or six-game deficits on the clubs ahead of them in the standings, but there’s a strong likelihood of a shake-up in instances where teams are only separated by a game or two.

That’s even more true in the Western Conference than it is in the East, albeit not necessarily at the very top of the standings, where the 49-14 Lakers hold a fairly comfortable lead on the 44-20 Clippers. The Lakers’ magic number to clinch the conference is just three, so they’re a safe bet to hang onto the No. 1 seed.

After that though, there’s some congestion in the standings. The Clippers’ lead on the Nuggets (43-22) is just 1.5 games. Denver holds an identical lead over the Jazz (41-23). Utah, meanwhile, is just a couple losses away from slipping down to the No. 6 seed, as the Thunder (40-24) and Rockets (40-24) are right on their heels. The 40-27 Mavericks round out this group of six teams, a game-and-a-half behind OKC and Houston and just 5.5 games behind the second-seeded Clippers.

A number of those six clubs bunched up in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture will face one another when play resumes. For instance, the Thunder – who have the potential to move up or down a couple spots in the standings – will open the restart against the Jazz and Nuggets and eventually finish their season against the Clippers. The Clips will face the Mavericks and Nuggets in addition to OKC. Dallas opens its eight seeding games by playing the Rockets.

Given the strength of competition in the West, seeding could be paramount in the postseason. The Nuggets, for example, could conceivably face the Jazz, Thunder, Rockets, or Mavs in the first round and would likely prefer some opponents to others in that group. The Jazz, currently at No. 4, could be motivated to avoid the No. 6 Rockets in the first round, since they’ve been eliminated by Houston in each of the previous two postseasons.

At the bottom of the playoff picture, the No. 8 Grizzlies (32-33) have essentially no chance to move up, since they’re seven games back of Dallas. But they’ll be looking to increase their lead over the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, and Suns — if they can finish with more than a four-game lead on all those clubs, they’ll avoid a play-in tournament. If the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds finish within four games of one another, a play-in tournament will be necessary to determine that final playoff spot.

A newly-healthy Blazers squad will be a major threat to the Grizzlies, as will a Pelicans team that faces one of the league’s weakest schedules over the course of the eight seeding games.

What do you think? Do you think we’ll see much movement in the Western Conference’s top eight? Will the Grizzlies be knocked out by one of the challengers behind them in the standings? What do you expect the West’s top eight seeds to look like by the time the playoffs begin?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your predictions!

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JD Shaw <![CDATA[Southwest Notes: Williamson, Rockets, Winslow, Mavs]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=165256 2020-07-13T01:34:03Z 2020-07-12T22:57:49Z Pelicans star Zion Williamson primarily worked on fundamentals and conditioning during the NBA’s months-long hiatus, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.com.

Williamson spent significant time with his stepfather, Lee Anderson, harping on the core principles of his game in recent weeks. With the 2019/20 NBA season officially restarting in Orlando, Williamson is looking to build on what’s already been an impressive rookie campaign.

“His stepfather did a fantastic job of working him out every day, of making him be in good conditioning when we got him back,” head coach Alvin Gentry said. “He’s made a lot of strides in his shooting, I think. Although we weren’t together, he did a lot to improve his game.”

Williamson is averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 29.7 minutes in 19 games this season, displaying unprecedented athleticism and power in his first year with the team. New Orleans is tentatively scheduled to have its first scrimmage on Wednesday, July 22 against Brooklyn.

Here are some other notes out of the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets stars Russell Westbrook and James Harden are expected to arrive in Orlando soon, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Houston had its first team practice on Saturday without the star duo, with head coach Mike D’Antoni hinting that the two All-Star guards will likely join the club in the next few days.
  • Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal examines how Justise Winslow fits in with the Grizzlies, particularly under head coach Taylor Jenkins’ offensive system. Jenkins indicated that Winslow will likely be used in a play-making role during the NBA’s resumed season, Barnes writes. “His versatility is really going to come out in our style of play,” Jenkins said. “That’s why I talk about him being just a great fit and a perfect fit for our system because he can play multiple positions on offense.”
  • Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News explores how much playoff experience will matter for the Mavericks, whose top two players (Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis) have yet to see postseason action in their careers. The typical home and road atmospheres that teams usually encounter in the playoffs naturally won’t be the same this year due to COVID-19. “It’s hard for me to predict that, how it’s going to be,” Porzingis admitted. “This is going to be my first experience and no matter what the circumstances are, I’m going to try to get the most out of it and get the most experience and play the highest level basketball I’ve ever played.”
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Luke Adams <![CDATA[Pelicans’ Gentry Cleared To Travel To NBA Campus]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=164743 2020-07-08T16:24:00Z 2020-07-08T16:24:00Z Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry has been cleared to travel with his team to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link), Gentry received the call from the NBA today just minutes before the Pelicans were set to board their plane to Orlando.

Gentry, who is 65 years old, is one of the head coaches who has received extra scrutiny from team doctors and the NBA due to potentially heightened health risks if he contracts the coronavirus. The restart agreement gives the league the right to prohibit certain red-flagged individuals from accompanying their teams to Disney.

The NBA has assured coaches they won’t be red-flagged based on their ages alone. However, if there are also underlying health issues that will put them at greater risk, they can be held out of the restart — that was the case for Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins, for instance.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, 71, is expected to travel to the NBA campus on Thursday, per Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News. Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, 69, also said this week that he hasn’t heard anything suggesting he’ll be prohibited from heading to Orlando (Twitter link via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle). D’Antoni is still waiting the official OK from the league, but there’s optimism he’ll get it, tweets Wojnarowski.

While the Pelicans got good news on Gentry, the club will be without associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik won’t be with the club this summer. He decided to stay in New Orleans and work remotely after consulting with team doctors and CDC regulations.

In addition to Bzdelik, the Pelicans will be missing assistant Jamelle McMillan, who is staying behind to care for his newborn son, according to Lopez (Twitter link).

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Luke Adams <![CDATA[Pelicans Notes: Thornwell, Replacement, Favors]]> https://www.hoopsrumors.com/?p=164684 2020-07-07T22:00:14Z 2020-07-07T22:00:14Z When the Pelicans announced on Monday that they’d signed Sindarius Thornwell, they indicated in their press release that the guard is a substitute player, but didn’t reveal which player on the roster he’d be replacing. More than 24 hours later, we have no further clarity on which New Orleans player will be supplanted by Thornwell.

According to John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link), Thornwell is replacing a player who tested positive for the coronavirus and the Pelicans can’t name that player for privacy reasons. The team previously announced that three players tested positive for COVID-19, but the identities of those players wasn’t reported. Still, it will likely just be a matter of time until we know which Pelican won’t participate in the summer restart, if only by the process of elimination.

  • Pelicans center Derrick Favors, whose contract expires at season’s end, admitted today that he weighed the risk of suffering a pre-free-agency injury this summer before ultimately deciding to play. I definitely thought about it,” Favors said, per Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link). “But I trust my body and I trust what I’ve done.”
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