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Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Jazz forward Joe Ingles may not play even if season resumes

The NBA continues to gain momentum towards a potential resumption of the 2019-20 season, but that may not matter for Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles.

Peter Mitchell of the Australian Associated Press quoted Ingles this week as saying that he is prepared to “walk away, fly to Australia, never play another game in my life, and be very content with it” in order to protect his family. Mitchell notes that Ingles’ wife Renae is pregnant with their third child and his 4-year-old son Jacob has autism and a weakened immune system.

“It’s not worth it,” said Ingles of practicing at the Jazz team facility in a recent appearance on 1280 The Zone in Utah. “I have a gym, I have everything I can do. As for basketball, it’s a bit more difficult, but I think that as we go ahead and find out more information about it, it will be easier to make a decision. But I am in no way willing to risk my children, and Renae, and everything else, to go play basketball.”

Ingles, who was averaging 9.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game this season, is a very vital piece for the Jazz, the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference at the time that play was suspended. The team was also dealt a major blow this week with the news of second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic undergoing season-ending wrist surgery.

When it comes to the NBA resuming play, one location in particular is gaining steam as a possible bubble site to host league activities. But even that proposal would entail risk, and Ingles illustrates the understandable hesitance that many, especially those with families, may have about picking up the season.

Mark Cuban was stunned when Knicks offered Kristaps Porzingis trade

Mark Cuban

The Kristaps Porzingis trade was a shocker when it first happened, and the team that ended up acquiring him even thought so too apparently.

Appearing this week on WFAN’s “Moose and Maggie,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban discussed his team’s move for Porzingis and admitted that he was taken aback when the New York Knicks offered their 7-foot-3 star.

“Very,” said Cuban when asked how stunned he was to receive the offer. “It happens in the NBA. It’s like the James Harden trade. Harden gets traded from OKC to the Rockets and I’m like, damn, why didn’t we even get that offered to us? We weren’t in the mix. Nobody was. It was one phone call and the Rockets said yes. [The Porzingis trade] was our one phone call.

“We already had those conversations before. GMs talk all the time,” Cuban added. “We’re willing to do this if you ever want to give him up … We used to get calls on Dirk [Nowitzki] ‘We’ll give you A,B,C,D,E and F,’ But we’re not trading Dirk ever. [They said], ‘Well, if you do.’ In this case, [the Knicks] changed their mind.”

The Mavs ended up acquiring Porzingis, already a rising All-Star and potential franchise centerpiece when the trade happened in early 2019, for a package based around DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr, and a pair of first-round picks. Also sent to Dallas were Trey Burke, Courtney Lee, and Tim Hardaway Jr, who was the Mavs’ third-leading scorer this season.

While Porzingis was nursing a torn ACL at the time and had been clashing with the Knicks’ front office, the trade does not look any better for them in hindsight. As for the Mavs, to land a one-of-a-kind star like Porzingis just months after drafting another generational talent in Luka Doncic is a touch of good fortune that does not come along too often. If you ask the rest of the NBA too, they were just as surprised as Cuban that Porzingis was available.

Victor Oladipo admits he was not fully healthy when he returned for Pacers

Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo was struggling to regain his rhythm before the NBA season was suspended, and now he admits that he was not quite 100 percent on the court.

In an interview this week with Michael Lee of The Athletic, the Indiana Pacers guard discussed the challenges of returning from his ruptured quad tendon.

“I had a great game. I played well,” Oladipo said of a 27-point outing against Boston in Indiana’s last game prior to the suspension of play in March. “But I’d be lying if I said I was even 80 percent out there.

“I kind of just jumped right in, right in the middle of the year. It was different for me,” he added. “But now I get a chance to kind of reset, restart.”

Oladipo, the two-time All-Star, suffered the quad tear in Jan. 2019. He returned to the court over a full calendar year later and only managed an output of 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists a game in 13 appearances.

The Pacers were the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference at the time of the shutdown, so hopefully Oladipo will still have a chance to salvage his 2019-20 campaign somewhat. Quad tears are a very tricky injury to come back from though, as one fellow NBA star can attest to.

Report: Nets exploring ways to trade for Bradley Beal

Bradley Beal

The Brooklyn Nets are interested in acquiring a third star player to pair with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving this offseason, and one name to keep an eye on is Bradley Beal.

The Nets have had internal discussions about potential ways they could acquire Beal, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports. While the Washington Wizards have not yet indicated whether or not they will entertain trade offers for Beal, the star guard is set to make $29 million next season on a team that is just 24-40 this year.

Beal, 26, has elevated his game since John Wall suffered a torn Achilles last year. Beal is averaging a career-high 30.5 points per game this season, and he clearly is not getting the recognition he deserves. He made it known that he was upset over not being selected for the All-Star Game, so it would not be a shock if he ends up wanting to be traded. However, he said back in March that he will not demand a trade and wants to remain with Washington.

The Nets could make some significant moves this offseason, as they are searching for a new head coach and Kyrie Irving has already hinted that he is unhappy with the team’s roster.

Ja Morant says he deserves Rookie of the Year Award over Zion Williamson

Ja Morant

Zion Williamson probably would have run away with the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award if he didn’t miss the first three months of the season, but his knee injury has seemingly opened the door for Ja Morant to run away with the hardware. While there may be some people who still want Williamson to win it, Morant is giving the nod to himself.

In an appearance on “Take it There with Taylor Rooks” this week, Morant said he doesn’t think the Rookie of the Year race is close. You can see his remarks at around the 1:28 mark below.

“I feel like I’ve done enough. I deserve it,” Morant said. “I feel like my play this year proved all that. I’ve had a great season so far. You know, (the virus) stopped that short a little bit.”

Williamson’s stats are better than Morant’s, but the body of work is nowhere near as complete. Morant is averaging 17.6 points, 6.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 59 games, while Williamson has posted 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2. assists in just 19 games. The sample size simply isn’t large enough.

Williamson recently said he understands that he has not put in enough work to win the Rookie of the Year Award, and he insists he’ll be happy for Morant if Morant wins it. We’re not going to see a Rookie of the Year beef like the one we saw between Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell two years ago.

Daryl Morey thinks Rockets beat Warriors in 2018 without Chris Paul injury

Daryl Morey

The Houston Rockets had the Golden State Warriors on the ropes in 2018, and their GM thinks a single twist of fate kept them from finishing the job.

Appearing this week on FS1’s “The Herd,” Daryl Morey referenced Houston’s near-toppling of the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals that year.

“Really just one of the all-time great teams and a hamstring probably kept us from a title,” said Morey.

Morey is referring to then-Rocket Chris Paul, who suffered a hamstring injury at the end of a Game 5 victory to put Houston up 3-2 in the series. Paul missed the remainder of the conference finals, as the Rockets were trounced in Game 6 and then blew a double-digit second-half lead to lose Game 7 at home as well (an affair that saw them infamously miss 27 straight three-point tries).

The shame is that Morey had built almost the perfect team to dethrone the Warriors — a small-ball steamroller with switchable, three-point shooting wings led by dynamic offensive creators like Paul and James Harden and complemented by the interior energy of Clint Capela. The Rockets may have been the better team that year, and Morey sure felt like they should have won.

While Golden State was also without a key piece in Andre Iguodala that series, Houston’s players feel the same way that Morey does. With the Rockets losing to the Warriors in the postseason again in 2019 and having since parted ways with key members of that team like Paul and Capela, that 2018 run might just have been their best crack at a championship.

Report: Bulls now leaning towards firing Jim Boylen

Jim Boylen

The Chicago Bulls let go of longtime athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka this week, and an even bigger change may be coming next.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Tuesday that Tanaka, who had been the Bulls’ head trainer since 2014, was informed by the organization that his contract would not be renewed. The decision was said to have been made by Chicago’s new head of basketball operations, Arturas Karnisovas.

Cowley also adds that, though ownership wants head coach Jim Boylen back, Karnisovas and new GM Marc Eversley have received enough of a mixed bag of feedback in detailed discussions with players and retained personnel. The feedback has been such that Karnisovas and Eversley are now leaning towards firing Boylen and starting with a new coach of their choosing, Cowley says.

Boylen, who has two years remaining on his deal, has been uninspiring since taking over for the fired Fred Hoiberg in 2018. His .317 winning percentage ranks as the worst in the league among coaches with their current teams.

Recent reports suggested that several top players on the Bulls were among those who wanted to see Boylen ousted. If the departure of Tanaka is any indication, an even greater house-cleaning may be underway in Chicago.