Saturday, June 12, 2021

Category: Basketball

Basketball, Business, Indiana, sports gambling
Sports gambling continues to be a huge success in Indiana


Hoosiers love their basketball. Ask anyone in Indiana and they’ll tell you that basketball isn’t just a sport; it’s a religion. The Indiana University Hoosiers’ basketball program has always been one of the best in the U.S. and the NCAA Hall of Champions is located in Indianapolis as a testament to the state’s attraction to basketball. On the NBA level, the Indiana Pacers have a massive following across the state, and all the attention given to hoops is paying off in a big way. Indiana continues to set new records with its sports gambling market, most of which is coming from basketball.In February of last year, the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) reported a handle of $187 million, a 10% increase from January. That wasn’t surprising, given the NFL Super Bowl action; however, assuming the money went to football would be wrong. The Big Game received $11.6 million in bets, while college and pro basketball accounted for over $90 million. Indiana continued to raise the bar on the sports gambling industry when the state’s sportsbooks recorded $251.4 million in November of last year, a $20-million increase over the prior month’s action. Much of that was destined for football as the NFL and college games were heating up, but, if there was any doubt of the importance of basketball in Indiana, the most recent numbers will push all of it aside. The IGC just released the latest figures on sports gambling and January was another record-setting month, the fifth consecutive month of breaking records. $348.2 million was wagered in the state last month, an increase of 11.2% over December and more than 100% over January 2020. Of that amount, $133.2 million went to hoops, making it the most money ever spent on one sport in the state. Football only got $77.6 million of the action. That’s not only good news for sportsbooks operating in the state, but it’s good news for the state’s budget, as well. With a tax of 9.5%, January gave Indiana’s government almost $2.8 million in tax revenue and, over the past 12 months, the state has received over $20 million. That’s not too bad for a local industry that has only been around since September 2019. Indiana can thank its neighbors for some of its additional wealth. Kentucky and Ohio don’t yet have sports gambling, although legislation is in the works, so gamblers in both of the states often hop over the border to place their bets. Illinois has a robust sports gambling market and is ranked fourth in terms of handle among legal states, but it doesn’t allow gambling on in-state college games. As a result, it loses some of the potential action it could be receiving and which might allow it to brag as being first or second in the sports gambling rankings. 

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Basketball, Beal, Bertans, Bradley, Brooks, Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Davis (1992- ), Ish, National Basketball Assn, Quarantines, Scott (1965- ), Sheppard, Smith, Tommy (1969- ), Washington Wizards
Half the Team Had the Coronavirus. The Wizards Are Still Recovering.


Bertans had finally been freed from isolation while his teammates were gone, returning home to his wife and daughter. His first practice was an ordeal — “I could definitely tell that I hadn’t done anything for almost two weeks,” he said — and then he missed all seven of his shots in a 16-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 29.“The feel for the game was the biggest struggle,” he said.Smith was having his own problems. The league uses something called cycle threshold, a measure of the amount of virus in the body, to help determine whether a player can be cleared to return. Generally, that number needs to be at least 30, with higher numbers implying less of the virus. A week after first testing positive, Smith was registering cycle threshold values of only 28, he said.Smith would run up the stairs of his home to gauge his fitness.“Everybody is different, and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a situation where I couldn’t breathe,” Smith said.His teammates and coaches were rooting for him from afar.“It reminded me of the Winter Olympics,” Sheppard said. “Americans don’t know anything about these sports, but within two days we’re all experts. It was the same thing with Ish: ‘Come on, Ish! You’ve got to get above 30!’”Smith knew he was fortunate, he said. He had medical supervision. He was undergoing daily testing. His symptoms were never serious. He thought of his siblings, who are teachers, and countless others living through the pandemic without that type of support.“I’ve got no complaints,” he said. “You just have to pick it up and keep it moving.”Smith returned on Jan. 31, scoring 13 points in a dramatic win over the Nets. Brooks celebrated with a can of White Claw.The Wizards have had more lows than highs, going 3-8 since their patchwork season resumed. Practice time has come at a premium. There is no playbook for a pandemic, Brooks said, and he can only hope that his players have endured the worst of it, and that they can build some chemistry. But there are no guarantees, not this season.

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Basketball, Howard, Kia (1996- ), Natasha, New York Liberty, Nurse, Trades (Sports)
Liberty Trade Top Scorer but Add the All-Star Natasha Howard


The Liberty traded away the top pick in this year’s draft and Kia Nurse, their top scorer last season, as part of a flurry of deals across the W.N.B.A. on Wednesday that also brought the All-Star Natasha Howard to New York.The Liberty acquired Howard as part of a three-team deal with the Seattle Storm and the Phoenix Mercury. Howard, a three-time W.N.B.A. champion, provides a solid interior player for the Liberty to pair with last season’s No. 1 overall draft pick, Sabrina Ionescu. As a designated core player for Seattle, Howard had to approve the trade.The Liberty also sent the No. 1 pick in the draft this year and the Mercury’s 2022 first-round pick to the Storm. The Liberty acquired that pick from Phoenix by sending Nurse and Megan Walker to the Mercury for the sixth pick this year and their first-round choice next year.The No. 1 pick didn’t stay in Seattle long, as the Storm traded it to Dallas for Katie Lou Samuelson and the Wings’ second-round pick in 2022. The Wings become the first team in W.N.B.A. history to hold the first and second overall picks in the same draft. In addition, Dallas also holds the fifth, seventh and 13th selections in 2021.“The opportunity to acquire the top pick in a draft does not present itself very often,” said Greg Bibb, the Wings’ president and chief executive. “By securing this pick, we will ensure our ability to draft the player at the top of our draft list while having additional draft assets at our disposal to further improve our team.”It’s only the third time in the league’s history that the top pick in the draft has been traded. On draft night in 2007, Phoenix traded the No. 1 pick to the Minnesota Lynx. Three years later, the Lynx sent the top pick to Connecticut in a deal for Lindsay Whalen, who is from Minnesota.There is a lot of uncertainty about who will be available to be picked in this year’s draft. The N.C.A.A. granted every player an extra year of eligibility, meaning top seniors like Dana Evans of Louisville and Michaela Onyenwere of U.C.L.A. could return to college next year.Also on Wednesday, in a separate trade with Seattle, the Liberty got guard Sami Whitcomb for the rights to Stephanie Talbot.“We have the privilege of welcoming multiple-time W.N.B.A. champions Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb to Brooklyn,” Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb said. “The magnitude of Natasha choosing to be in New York cannot be overstated. She is an All-W.N.B.A. talent who has worked for and earned everything that she has achieved, who has contributed to championship runs on multiple teams, and who will fit seamlessly into Walt Hopkins’ system.”Howard won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. The 29-year-old forward won one title in Minnesota, in 2017, and two titles in Seattle, in 2018 and last season.“I am very excited to be a part of the New York Liberty organization,” Howard said. “I’m also excited to meet my new teammates and the fans. I’m so pumped about the 2021 season.”Howard averaged 9.5 points and 7.1 rebounds last season while shooting 53 percent from the field.Whitcomb was a key member of the Storm’s franchise the last few years. The 32-year-old is a solid 3-pointer shooter.Nurse, the Liberty’s 10th overall selection in the 2018 draft, averaged 11.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2 assists per game over 89 contests (59 starts) during her three-year tenure. She led the team in scoring last season with 12.2 points per game.The Liberty drafted Walker ninth overall last season, and she averaged 3.3 points and 1.5 rebounds while playing in 18 games.“I would like to thank Kia Nurse and Megan Walker for their contributions to our organization,” Kolb added. “The unfortunate part of transactions such as these is that you have to say goodbye to people who have contributed to the team in so many ways. ”Finally, the Lynx traded forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan to the Storm for the 2022 first-round pick they had acquired from Phoenix through the Liberty.

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Basketball, Cuban, Dallas Mavericks, Mark, National Anthems, National Basketball Assn
NBA Says Teams Must Play the National Anthem


The N.B.A. announced on Wednesday that it would again require all teams to play the national anthem before games “in keeping with longstanding league policy,” after the Dallas Mavericks had stopped playing the anthem through their first 13 preseason and regular-season home games.“With N.B.A. teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy,” said Mike Bass, an N.B.A. spokesman.The league office abruptly changed its stance on the matter after giving Mark Cuban, the Mavericks’ franchise owner, permission going into the season to stop playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before home games. A league spokesman said Tuesday that teams were permitted “to run their pregame operations as they see fit” because of “the unique circumstances of this season,” in which nearly two-thirds of the 30-team N.B.A. are still playing home games without fans.Cuban told The New York Times on Wednesday that the Mavericks would follow the policy immediately and play the anthem before Wednesday night’s home game against the Atlanta Hawks at American Airlines Center.“We are good with it,” Cuban said.Most players and coaches regularly knelt during the national anthem to protest social injustice while the league played at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., last summer.Later, in a statement, Cuban said: “We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been.“Going forward, our hope is that people will take the same passion they have for this issue and apply the same amount of energy to listen to those who feel differently from them.”

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Barclays Center (Brooklyn, Basketball, Brooklyn Nets, Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Madison Square Garden, New York Knicks, New York Rangers, NY)
NY to Let Fans in Sports Stadiums and Arenas as Soon as February 23rd


A limited number of fans will be allowed to attend sports and entertainment events in New York at large venues with some restrictions, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday.This means that sports franchises such as the Nets, Knicks, Rangers, Islanders and the Buffalo Sabres may be able to have attendees in the stands as soon as Feb. 23, the governor said. Venues that hold at least 10,000 people — which would include Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center — will be limited to 10 percent capacity.Cuomo added that Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, had already been approved for fans on Feb. 23 for a Nets game against the Sacramento Kings.All attendees will have to show proof of a negative P.C.R. test taken within 72 hours of the event, and the state’s Department of Health will have to approve each venue. Fans will also be required to wear face coverings at games and socially distance.Cuomo said in a news conference on Wednesday that his goal was to “get this economy open intelligently and in a balanced way” while also trying to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. He also cited the recent Buffalo Bills playoff game, which had roughly 6,700 attendees, as a model for other venues.“The testing is the key,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to now extend the Buffalo Bills example.”He said the new initiative would extend past sports and include concerts.“This is a difficult time on many, many levels,” Cuomo said. “Personally, it’s very difficult. Emotionally it’s difficult. Economically it’s difficult. But we are finding the balance and we are going to be the better for it.”This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Barclays Center (Brooklyn, Basketball, Brooklyn Nets, Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Madison Square Garden, New York Knicks, New York Rangers, NY)
New York to Let Fans in Sports Stadiums and Arenas


A limited number of fans will be allowed to attend sports and entertainment events at large venues with some restrictions, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Wednesday.This means that sports franchises such as the Nets, Knicks, Rangers, Sabres and Islanders may be able to have attendees in the stands as soon as Feb. 23, Cuomo said.Cuomo added that the Barclays Center had already been approved for fans on Feb. 23 for the Nets game against the Sacramento Kings.All attendees will have to show proof of a negative P.C.R. test taken within 72 hours of the event, and the state’s Department of Health will have to approve each venue. Fans will also be required to wear face coverings at games and remain socially distanced.Cuomo said in a news conference Wednesday that his goal was to “get this economy open intelligently and in a balanced way” while also trying to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. He also cited the recent Buffalo Bills playoff game, which had roughly 6,700 attendees, as a model for other venues.“The testing is the key,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to now extend the Buffalo Bills example.”He said the new initiative would extend past sports and include concerts.“This is a difficult time on many, many levels,” Cuomo said. “Personally, it’s very difficult. Emotionally it’s difficult. Economically it’s difficult. But we are finding the balance and we are going to be the better for it.”This is a developing story.

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Ball, Basketball, Borrego, Chad, Charlotte Hornets, Coaches and Managers, Content Type: Personal Profile, Dutch, Friedman, Gaitley, Gordon, Hayward, Iske, James, Jay (1958- ), LaMelo, Mitchell, Nate (Basketball Coach), Nick (Basketball Coach), Nored, Ronald, Triano
Behind the ‘Grind’ of the N.B.A. Team With the Next Big Thing


The buzzer sounded, signaling a Charlotte Hornets loss to the Indiana Pacers. Charlotte wouldn’t have to wait long to try to exact revenge.This N.B.A. season is unusual in many ways because of the coronavirus pandemic, and one of its main scheduling wrinkles is that teams are playing each other in consecutive games to reduce travel and potential virus exposure.For the Hornets (12-13), a young, rebuilding team that has turned heads with its star rookie LaMelo Ball, the two-game stands have become a time for learning. Charlotte provided behind-the-scenes access to The New York Times for 48 hours to see how its coaching staff — a team within a team — prepared for recent back-to-back home games against the Pacers. There was practice (practice?), film sessions together and apart, family time and a little bit of trash talk.“I allow my coaches — I trust them — to put together a good game plan,” Hornets Coach James Borrego said. “I take in that information, I digest it, and obviously I make the final decisions. But I trust them to help me make those decisions.”Three of the assistant coaches — Jay Triano, Ronald Nored and Nick Friedman — focus on the team’s offense, while the other three — Chad Iske, Dutch Gaitley and Nate Mitchell — prioritize defense.“A big, overall philosophy for me is a developmental approach with our players, that they help our players grow and develop,” Borrego said. “And I want to have a culture as a head coach that our coaches are developing as well. They’re not just static.”Another assistant, Jay Hernandez, recently departed to coach the Greensboro Swarm in the G League’s bubble at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla.This season is the staff’s third as a group. Triano has head coaching experience, with the Toronto Raptors and the Phoenix Suns. Nored is young enough to have shared a backcourt with Charlotte’s marquee off-season acquisition, Gordon Hayward, when the pair played together at Butler.“We blend well,” Nored said of the coaching staff. “We have a couple of 30-year-olds. Chad is in his 40s. Jay’s in his 60s, but he acts like he’s 25, so it all fits really well together.”Wednesday, Jan. 2710 p.m. — Indiana 116, Charlotte 106The coaches started filtering from the Spectrum Center following the loss to Indiana. Nored, 30, spoke to Hayward over the phone as the two drove home, dissecting the game. Indiana limited Hayward to just 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting in 40 minutes.Getting home that night provided a short decompression window for most of the coaches before they dove back into work. Gaitley, 33, caught an episode of “The Real Housewives of Dallas” with his wife, Moraya. “Made sure that I was up on everything, so that whenever we have that conversation, she knows that I was listening,” he said.At home, Nored tries to study film only after his 2-year-old daughter, Avery, is asleep. He caught up with his wife, Danielle, before plopping on his living room couch, close enough to attend to Avery or his month-old son, Kai, should they stir.Indiana’s defense was Nored’s scout, meaning he was tasked with providing the rest of the coaching staff with a report on the Pacers’ defense so they could prep Charlotte’s offense. (Gaitley had to do the opposite.)Nored watched the game again from his laptop. He jotted notes as he created the video edit that he would show the staff the next day, with clips no longer than three minutes highlighting key decisions and reads.Midnight — ‘It’s a grind.’Jordan Surenkamp, Charlotte’s head video coordinator, wrapped up his evening at the arena. The video staff coded the game as it happened, breaking it into segments — for example, all of the team’s pick-and-rolls and how Indiana defended them.When the game ended, Surenkamp reviewed the film, tightening the segments into digestible pieces before making them available to the coaches. The video staff also gathered film for the players, such as all their shots or assists, so that it would be available to them by the time they returned home. Surenkamp then moved on to his own duties, editing video and compiling statistical spreadsheets, then sending any noticeable trends to the coaching staff.“It’s really the hub of my program, the video room,” Borrego said.It’s also Borrego’s background. Long ago, he started his N.B.A. career in San Antonio’s film room under Coach Gregg Popovich. He sets high standards for Surenkamp, who tries to be the first into the arena and the last to leave.“The expectation is there to be really, really good and prompt and available at what I do,” Surenkamp said. “But I think with that being said, he does understand that it’s a grind, it’s longer days, there’s a lot of responsibilities that I’m given.”Thursday, Jan. 287 a.m. — ‘One game ahead’Surenkamp had already been at the arena for an hour by the time the assistant coaches returned and eased into their practice day. Friedman, 30, hopped on the treadmill while listening to the author Ben Greenfield’s fitness podcast. Nored had dropped Avery off at school en route to the Spectrum Center, then did some recreational reading before starting his day. Gaitley watched film on his next scout, the Miami Heat, whom the Hornets would play in four days. “You’re always working on one game ahead,” Triano, 62, said.10:30 a.m. — ‘Who was talking trash?’The defensive staff filed into a room for a coaches’ meeting, making small talk. George Rodman, Charlotte’s director of basketball analytics and strategy, opened by discussing the recent saga involving GameStop’s stock. “We’re talking about what happened the night before,” Gaitley said. “Who was talking trash or posted on Instagram? You’re joking about that, and keeping everybody up to date on everything that’s happening in the league and then you sort of organically jump into it.”The group watched the video edit that Gaitley had compiled, discussing whether they adhered to their main principles of protecting the paint, grabbing defensive rebounds and contesting 3-point shots. Nored watched, looking for points to emphasize with Ball, one of his developmental priorities and an early leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award.11:15 a.m. — ‘I’m going to get my game.’Pre-practice: The players who did not log many minutes in Wednesday’s game went through an extra workout session to maintain their cardio. Gaitley let the veteran Bismack Biyombo choose between playing pickup with the other players or working out individually.While Biyombo chose to work out, Malik Monk and the twins Caleb and Cody Martin played three games of four-on-four with Gaitley and the assistant video coordinators. “When you’re playing with Gordon Hayward, you’re not going to get 25 shots,” Gaitley said. “But when you play against the video guys, that’s where you’re like: ‘All right, I’m going to get some shots. I’m going to get my game. Get into rhythm.’”The moment afforded Gaitley a chance to connect with the players. He is the son of Stephanie Gaitley, the women’s basketball coach at Fordham University. As a child, he often accompanied her on recruiting visits. Occasionally, she handed him a binder that listed tidbits about the recruit and he’d quiz her on the drive about the name of the recruit’s boyfriend or favorite movie.His mother’s attention to detail stayed with him.“We don’t recruit at our level, but you are still showing the guys that you care every single day, because if you don’t build a personal relationship with them, then it’s going to be hard to coach them hard,” Gaitley said.Noon — ‘I try to be efficient in everything.’Practice: “You want to give them two or three things that they’re going to be able to remember and translate,” Triano said.In previous stops, Triano would list the team’s principles on the whiteboard with an addendum stating that any player who read the board could come into his office to collect $50. Few ever did.Homework: Some coaches stayed in the building throughout the afternoon, working with players and watching film on upcoming opponents. Others resumed their personal lives, like picking up their children from school. Still, they would often text one another through the night.“I think it happens a lot in our culture where it’s just, ‘I’m going to spend every waking moment thinking about basketball and watching every drop of film,’ ” Nored said. “And I could do that, but my daughter would be missing out on time with her dad, my wife would be missing out on time with her husband. And so they’re my priorities as well. And so I try to be efficient in everything that I do.”Friday Jan. 298:30 a.m. — ‘It’s always a good chess match.’The defensive scout meeting was shorter than the previous day’s, a reinforcement of the principles heading into the rematch. “It’s the battle of the adjustments to a degree and what can win out,” said Iske, 44. “Can you prepare for their adjustments, and on the other side of it, what they might do ahead of time? I think it’s always a good chess match to a degree, and exciting because it reminds you of the playoffs.”Afterward, the offensive coaches’ meeting included a 20-clip edit of how Indiana would most likely guard Charlotte on key plays, from screen-and-rolls to pin downs and dribble handoffs.9 a.m. — ‘Vitamins’To limit potential exposure to the virus, the Hornets bypass traditional team morning shootarounds in favor of individual sessions with coaches, called vitamins. “A big thing for us is our player development,” Triano said. “How are we going to get these guys better?”Mitchell, 34, started his day working with Hayward on his ball-handling and finishing at the rim. Later, he would also work with Biyombo, P.J. Washington and Devonte’ Graham. The goal was for Hayward not to settle for midrange shots when there was a path to the basket.Mitchell hopes Hayward’s free-throw attempts will soon rival his career high of 6.1 during the 2014-15 season. He’s averaging 4.8 per game this season.“It’s almost to the point now where he’s pointing out the opportunities more than it is me,” Mitchell said.Noon — ‘I just like to cram some work in.’The coaches filled the middle of the game day as they saw fit. Iske played a shooting game with Surenkamp before finishing his scout of the Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte’s opponent the following evening. Some, like Triano and Mitchell, took a brief nap, after having watched film late the previous night.Friedman squeezed in another workout before preparing for his next scout. “It’s hard for me to nap on game days,” he said. “I just like to cram some work in. It’s basketball at the end of the day, so you’re not really overworking yourself.”4:30 p.m. — ‘The best version of himself’Walk-through: The players and coaches gathered on the practice court for a walk-through of the night’s matchup. The session included an offensive breakdown, defensive scout and a review of plays. Then the assistants worked on the court with players, pulling some aside to watch quick video clips.Friedman played a short montage for guard Terry Rozier of his first start of the 2017-18 season, when he was with Boston. It was a triple-double effort against the Knicks. “It’s more for helping him envision the best version of himself right before we play,” Friedman said.7:10 p.m. — Tipoff vs. IndianaThe Hornets won the rematch, 108-105. “We made more plays down the stretch than we did the night before,” Borrego said, adding: “And I love this setup. I love playing two games against the same team in such a short period. This is a great way to teach.”

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All Star Games, Anthony (1993- ), Basketball, Bryant, Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Davis, James, Kawhi, Kobe, LeBron, Leonard, Los Angeles Lakers, National Basketball Assn, O'Neal, Shaquille
In the N.B.A., Money Speaks Louder Than Stars


David Stern was in his final full season as the N.B.A. commissioner in 2012-13 when LeBron James won his fourth and most recent Most Valuable Player Award. Eight years later, James is in his 18th season and a leading candidate in the race to receive the Maurice Podoloff trophy from Commissioner Adam Silver.James can still do many things in his supposed twilight years with the Los Angeles Lakers. He remains the game’s most high-profile figure and, by playing at an M.V.P. level at age 36, is constantly reminding us that basketball has its own answer to the N.F.L.’s time-defying Tom Brady.It would appear not even James, though, can stop the N.B.A. from staging an All-Star Game next month in Atlanta.He couldn’t have come out much stronger against the concept than he did late last week, blasting the N.B.A.’s plans to stuff three days’ worth of All-Star events into a one-shot Turner Sports extravaganza on March 7. League and players’ union officials are nonetheless expected to soon announce that those plans have been locked in.It is reminiscent of how the season started — and another illustration of the louder-than-ever say held by the N.B.A.’s broadcast partners at such challenging financial times for the sport’s various stakeholders.Players largely left the summer bubble expecting the 2020-21 season to be contested exclusively in 2021, starting no earlier than January and perhaps as late as March. Opening night was then suddenly moved up to Dec. 22 at the strong urging of the league’s two national broadcast partners, who wanted to preserve two valuable television properties: Disney’s five-game Christmas slate on ESPN and ABC, and Turner’s traditional Tuesday night doubleheader to start the season.As James said in a postgame session with reporters on Thursday, many players assumed there would not be an All-Star Game during the extended break scheduled from March 5 to 10. Those players were surprised when it emerged in late January that the league and the union were working on a one-night-only window for All-Star festivities that would enable TNT to air the event, the jewel of its annual N.B.A. coverage.The 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago, for example, attracted 7.3 million viewers for TNT. That was better than the viewing figures for any of the Christmas games on Disney-owned channels.The big difference between December and now is that no one has pinpointed the financial impact of a modified All-Star program. League officials maintain that it’s difficult to project figures for All-Star festivities in terms of basketball-related income, which owners and players split nearly 50/50. The New York Times was among the news outlets to report in December that starting the season before Christmas, rather than in mid-January, was expected to generate at least $500 million more in revenue.Two estimates I was provided by industry insiders pegged the value of Turner’s All-Star coverage at $30 million to $60 million — money that the N.B.A. would have to make up to Turner later if the game was not played. You can safely assume that the overall potential loss (with B.R.I. added) would be much higher, given the way players of considerable stature, such as Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers, have talked about what’s motivating the league to take the health risk of bringing together the top players during the coronavirus pandemic.“It is what it is at this point,” Leonard said. “We all know why we’re playing it — there’s money on the line.”Leonard seemed to grasp better than most that, 11 months into the N.B.A.’s new reality (and the world’s), trade-offs for the big picture are a constant.Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Nets’ James Harden are among the marquee players who have joined James in publicly questioning the All-Star plans, contributing to an uncharacteristic swirl of pushback for Silver from the league’s stars. Phoenix’s Chris Paul, the players’ association president, said in response that “guys are entitled to their feelings” — but Paul insisted that “decisions are being made” with “the full body of players in mind.”Translation: More than 400 players who won’t be invited to participate in the resuscitated All-Star gathering are counting on those who do take part to ensure TNT can proceed with its usual showcase event and insulate them from a costly financial hit.The league’s deals with Disney and TNT, worth $24 billion over nine years, do not expire until after the 2024-25 season, but it is never too soon in coronavirus times to re-establish oneself as an exemplary partner. The N.B.A., for all the criticism it has absorbed in recent days, is certainly on a winning streak there, from conceiving a bubble to safely usher the 2019-20 season to a conclusion … to engineering that bubble at Walt Disney World as opposed to Las Vegas or any other interested city … to this All-Star save.I’m told Phoenix was proposed as a potential venue for March 7. Holding it in Atlanta instead would put the game in TNT’s backyard, eliminating travel for its coverage crews.Yet it’s the opposite for the participants, and that’s the unsettling part — even after the N.B.A. announced zero positives in leaguewide coronavirus testing last week. The All-Stars face extra travel to a function steeped in fraternization between players at a time when teams, in their day-to-day existence, are strongly discouraged from postgame interactions of any kind. There’s seemingly no way to avoid describing this game — an exhibition — as risky.The All-Star Game “has been an important tradition throughout the history of the league and remains one of our top events for global fan interest and engagement,” Mike Bass, an N.B.A. spokesman, said in a statement to The Times last week. “The health and safety of everyone involved is at the forefront of our discussions with the players’ association.”The league and the union have been adamant that the game will feature a significant philanthropic component to benefit historically Black colleges and universities as well as Covid-19 relief efforts. The broadcast itself is certain to amplify a league campaign that urges fans to take the coronavirus vaccine as it becomes available and features Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Gregg Popovich in commercial spots.Murmurs persist that some All-Stars will seek to opt out of playing what has been a mandatory assignment for those selected, according to the league’s bylaws, but all signs indicate the game will go ahead.James surely knows it, too. Don’t forget that, dismayed as he was about a game that “I don’t even understand” and a trip that will take 24 All-Stars “into one city that’s open,” he also said he would be there if selected.Even for the face of the N.B.A.’s player empowerment era, even when he’s playing Brady-esque ball, there are limits.You ask; I answer. Every week in this space, I’ll field three questions posed via email at marcstein-newsletter@nytimes.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as the city you’re writing in from, and make sure “Corner Three” is in the subject line.(Responses may be lightly edited or condensed for clarity.)Q: Who you got? Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant? Or LeBron James and Anthony Davis? I know you’ve covered both duos. I bet you go with Kobe and Shaq. — Chris Williams (Laguna Beach, Calif.)Stein: We’ve seen James and Davis together for less than a season and a half. As fearsome as they look as a tag team, even after winning a championship on their first try and quickly establishing the Lakers as this season’s title favorites, I can’t put them ahead of the twosome at the center of the N.B.A.’s last three-peat.Not yet.But I reserve the right to change this vote down the road.For all their success together, O’Neal and Bryant had to settle for three titles in eight seasons. They dominated every aspect of the league for nearly a decade, with their drama as much as with the on-court havoc they caused, but the partnership was dissolved in acrimony when the Lakers decided it was untenable to keep orbiting the team around O’Neal and traded him to Miami in July 2004. There will always be a sense that these two divorced prematurely and could have won more together.James and Davis so far have a harmony that O’Neal and Bryant scarcely achieved. It’s still the honeymoon phase, with no guarantee things stay this way, but the Lakers also have their two biggest stars under contract together through 2022-23. The outlook is rather rosy — as long as they stay healthy. (Davis, as we speak, is nursing some nagging discomfort in his right leg and foot.)It’s important to remember the circumstances when making your assessments. O’Neal hadn’t won an N.B.A. championship and was still reasonably young himself, at 24, when he was paired with Bryant, then the most ambitious teenager in basketball history. James and Davis not only have games that mesh together beautifully, as offensive fulcrum and defensive anchor, but they came together when they were clearly ready to team up.James is in the later stages of his career and, with his legacy secure, has willingly ceded a chunk of the spotlight to Davis that might have been much harder to share in his 20s. Davis couldn’t carry New Orleans to glory as the face of that franchise and has clearly reveled in the boost he gets from James’s presence to unlock his full potential.Q: Why did the Nets feel compelled to give away so much in the James Harden trade? Couldn’t this transaction have gone forward without including Cleveland and Jarrett Allen? — Tom Cartelli (Milford, N.J.)Stein: No chance.The three future first-round draft picks that the Nets parted with were the headliner trade assets they used to win the Harden sweepstakes, but they were not going to have any shot at constructing a workable deal without including both Caris LeVert and Allen. Rather than keep Allen, Houston routed him to the Cavaliers for another first-round pick (Milwaukee’s 2021 first-rounder) and to reduce the Rockets’ luxury-tax bill.Harden’s incoming $41,254,920 salary required the Nets to send out a minimum of $32,923,936 to make the salary-cap math work. Allen’s $3,909,902 salary didn’t make much of a dent into that figure, but combining him with another blossoming talent in LeVert at $16,203,704, those three first-round picks and the rights for Houston to swap first-rounders in four additional drafts enabled the Nets to outbid Philadelphia and Boston.Q: Given the potential voter fatigue with the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo this season and Luka Doncic’s Mavericks off to a slow start, could we see someone in his 30s win the Most Valuable Player Award for the first time in 15 years? Steve Nash was the last to win the award in his 30s in 2006. — David Anderson (Raleigh, N.C.)Stein: You’re onto something for sure. Denver’s Nikola Jokic (26 on Feb. 19) and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (27 in March) are at the forefront of the M.V.P. race with roughly one-third of the regular season complete, but there are more 30-somethings in the conversation than players in their 20s.The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (36), Golden State’s Stephen Curry (33 in March) and the Nets’ Kevin Durant (32) would be in my top five with Jokic and Embiid if voting ended today.The duel between Curry (57 points) and Doncic (42 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds) Saturday night in a 134-132 victory for Dallas was one of the games of the season so far — and reminded you that Curry is back to his best after missing almost all of last season with a broken hand.(The Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, in case you’re wondering, turns 30 in June.)17The Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz (20-5) are making 17 3-pointers per game — which puts them on pace for a league record. The 2018-19 Houston Rockets made 16.1 3s per game to set the record, according to Stathead.70.2For all the justified praised we heaped on the Lakers’ Anthony Davis last week for how perfectly he complemented LeBron James, there’s no avoiding one prime area of slippage in his game this season: Davis is shooting a career-worst 70.2 percent from the free-throw line. He shot a career-best 84.6 percent last season.2Jeremy Lin of the Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State’s affiliate) and Nik Stauskas of the Raptors 905 (Toronto’s affiliate) were the only two N.B.A. veterans allocated to the G League team of their choosing via the N.B.A. developmental league’s new veteran selection rule — which is also known unofficially as “the Jeremy Lin rule.” The G League’s 20th season opens Wednesday with 18 teams playing in a restricted-access zone at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., similar to last summer’s N.B.A. bubble.5We’re down to just five teams that have not faced a game postponement through the season’s opening seven weeks. That group includes both New York teams (Knicks and Nets), both Los Angeles teams (Lakers and Clippers) and Toronto (which is playing its home games in Tampa, Fla.).3Atlanta appears poised host to the All-Star Game for the third time. It was the host city in 1978 (when my beloved Randy Smith of the Buffalo Braves won most valuable player honors) and in 2003.Hit me up anytime on Twitter (@TheSteinLine) or Facebook (@MarcSteinNBA) or Instagram (@thesteinline). Send any other feedback to marcstein-newsletter@nytimes.com.

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Basketball, Derrick, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Rose, Trades (Sports)
Knicks Nearing Trade for Derrick Rose


The Knicks are finalizing a trade to reacquire the former N.B.A. All-Star guard Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons, according to two people briefed on the transaction. The deal will reunite Rose with Tom Thibodeau, who coached Rose in Minnesota and Chicago and now leads the Knicks.The trade, which will send the out-of-favor guard Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round draft pick to Detroit for Rose, was nearing completion on Sunday, according to the people, who were not authorized to discuss the trade publicly. The Athletic first reported the looming agreement.Rose, 32, is a decade removed from his Most Valuable Player Award-winning season with the Chicago Bulls in 2010-11. He has rebounded from a serious knee injury during the 2012 playoffs to establish himself as a productive scoring guard off the bench. Rose spent one tumultuous season with the Knicks, in 2016-17, and is known to be a favorite of Thibodeau, who coached him for five seasons in Chicago and parts of two seasons in Minnesota.The Knicks lack scoring punch in the backcourt, and Rose averaged 14.2 points and 4.2 assists in 15 games this season for the rebuilding Pistons before he and Detroit management mutually agreed recently that he would sit out until the team could trade him.Thibodeau, who has shown more comfort playing veteran players, will face the immediate riddle of how to blend Rose with the promising rookie Immanuel Quickley, who is already popular with Knicks fans. Quickley is off to a strong start (12.4 points in just 19 minutes per game) after he was selected out of Kentucky with the 25th overall pick in the draft in November.When asked Sunday about his reputation for preferring veterans, Thibodeau tried to brush off the question by reminding reporters that Rose was playing for him at age 22 when he achieved his greatest success.“Derrick Rose is the youngest M.V.P. in the history of the league,” Thibodeau said. “So I don’t worry about that stuff.”Rose will join the veteran forward Taj Gibson, whom the Knicks re-signed last month after waiving him in November, in playing under Thibodeau in all three of his stops as an N.B.A. head coach. The Knicks, at 11-14 after losing to Miami on Sunday, hold the East’s No. 8 seed and have exceeded expectations in Thibodeau’s first season.Smith’s brief time with the Knicks was a major disappointment. The Dallas Mavericks drafted him with the No. 9 overall pick in 2017, and he was initially billed as the centerpiece of the team’s much-debated trade in January 2019 that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas from the Knicks. Smith, now 23, has appeared in just three of the Knicks’ 25 games this season. It had become so clear he had no future in New York that he recently asked to be sent to the Knicks’ G League affiliate to be able to work on his game.Rose’s ties to the Knicks go beyond his relationship with Thibodeau. He played at the University of Memphis for John Calipari, who now coaches at Kentucky and is close with the Knicks’ president, Leon Rose, and his top aide, William Wesley. Four former Kentucky players are on the Knicks’ roster.Rose averaged 18 points per game in his lone Knicks season. In 2016, during the preseason, he traveled to Los Angeles several times to testify in a civil case in which he was accused of sexual assault. He was found not liable. He also left the team abruptly on a game day in January of that season and had season-ending knee surgery in April 2017.

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Antetokounmpo, Basketball, Brooklyn Nets, Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Durant, Giannis (1994- ), James, Kawhi, Kevin, LeBron, Leonard, National Basketball Assn
Growing Chorus of N.B.A. Stars Boos League’s Virus Strategy


On Jan. 12, the league and the players’ union announced new health protocols to deal with a rash of game postponements. Among the new rules, players and staff have been directed to remain at their homes or hotels when on the road except for team activities and essential tasks. After a recent game between the Miami Heat and the Nets, a security official interrupted Nets guard Kyrie Irving’s attempt to exchange jerseys with the Heat’s Bam Adebayo — much to the bafflement of Irving. (Irving slipped a jersey to Adebayo after their next game two days later.)Others players have weighed in on the All-Star game as well. On Friday, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, who was selected to his first All-Star team last season, said: “I feel like, for the most part, they have done a great job of trying to keep us safe,” referring to the league, “though you can’t control everything. But I do understand the concerns about it, especially in Atlanta.”His teammate Kemba Walker, a four-time All Star, told reporters on Friday that he agreed with James.“He’s a smart man,” Walker said. “He’s been around. He’s a leader. A lot of things he says are correct. He feels the way he feels. I’m probably going to be on vacation.”Earlier in the week, De’Aaron Fox, the top guard on the Sacramento Kings, said holding the game would be “stupid.”“If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, then what’s the point of bringing the All-Star game back?” Fox told reporters. “Obviously, money makes the world go ’round so it is what it is.”For the moment, the N.B.A.’s virus-related game postponements have died down. The most recent one was on Monday, when the Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets were supposed to play in Denver. Two days later, the league said in its weekly report that no new players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The week before there had been one case, a sharp reduction from the 27 reported over the two weeks prior. In January, several teams were missing multiple players because of infections and contact tracing, but now most teams are no longer missing anyone for that reason.N.B.A. players — like much of the country — are under enormous mental strain, as Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors said in a podcast interview that was posted on Friday. He said this season has been particularly difficult with longer days as a result of daily testing and restrictions in the league’s protocols.

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