The NBA is gearing up for a return next month, and the expectation is that we will have playoff basketball. As the Western Conference’s elite teams prepare for the return of the season, we take a look at the most critical question that will define each team’s chances at contending for a championship.
(You can find the biggest questions facing the Eastern Conference’s top teams here)
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread rapidly around the globe, the NBA officially has yet another confirmed case.
On Thursday, the Denver Nuggets announced that a member of their organization has tested positive for COVID-19. The person experienced symptoms on March 16 and is now in self-isolation and being cared for by team doctors.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 19, 2020
The Nuggets are now the fourth NBA team to have had someone test positive for the coronavirus. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was the first in the league, and he recently said he has been feeling better by the day. Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive, and Detroit Pistons center Christian Wood later became the first known case for a team other than Utah. Then on Tuesday, the Brooklyn Nets announced that four players had tested positive, and Kevin Durant revealed publicly that he was among them.
The lack of available tests has been an issue with the coronavirus outbreak, but several NBA teams have been testing players using private resources. That could be why we are seeing so many positive tests in the NBA, as there are likely thousands of other cases across the world that simply have not been diagnosed.
Troy Daniels already appears to have a new home after securing his release from the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Daniels is finalizing a deal with the Denver Nuggets now that he has been released by the Lakers.
Free agent guard Troy Daniels is finalizing a deal with Denver, league sources tell ESPN. His agent Mark Bartelstein of @PrioritySports worked out a release with Lakers, and Daniels cleared waivers today.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 4, 2020
Daniels is a 39.7 percent shooter from three-point range, so he’ll help the Nuggets there. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t look like he’ll have a particularly big role. Denver has plenty of guards, and Daniels probably slots in toward the end of the bench as an emergency or blowout option, much like Jordan McRae did in his brief stint with the Nuggets.
Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone was not impressed with his team’s performance Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Malone ripped into his team after the Nuggets’ 132-103 loss to the Clippers, saying his team was “awful” and even calling them “soft.”
“We were soft tonight from beginning to end,” Malone said, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN. “They didn’t feel us on either end. They got whatever they wanted. We couldn’t run offense because they took us out of our stuff, and we just allowed them to do it for 48 minutes. They’re a good team, but I’m just very disappointed in our competitive spirit and our effort.
“They sent a message. They came out and hit us in the mouth and we never responded, and that’s the most disappointing thing about it. We came into this game thinking it was just going to be a standard NBA game. They approached this game like something was on the line, and you could tell a difference from the jump ball all the way until the final buzzer.”
The Nuggets and Clippers have the same 40-19 record as they vie for the second spot in the Western Conference standings, but Malone clearly feels the two teams aren’t at the same level mentally. He might be able to take some heart from the fact that the Clippers have reportedly had some chemistry issues this season and it clearly didn’t impact them in this one. Perhaps Malone can use this as a wake-up call for his team.
The Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets have completed a massive trade that saw 12 players switch teams.
The highlight of the deal is Clint Capela going to Atlanta and Robert Covington going to Houston, but there are plenty of other players involved.
Here is the rundown on what each team is getting and giving up:
Get: Robert Covington, Jordan Bell
Give Up: Clint Capela, first-round pick, Nene, Gerald Green
Get: Clint Capela, Nene
Give Up: Evan Turner, First-round pick
Get: Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner, Hawks first-round pick via Nets
Give Up: Robert Covington, Jordan Bell, Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh
Get: Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, Keita Bates-Diop, Gerald Green, first-round pick from Houston
Give Up: Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Juancho Hernangomez
The Rockets got Covington and moved Capela. Covington allows them to play small, and Capela was a weak spot in the playoffs. The move drops Houston below the luxury tax, which is something they wanted to accomplish. Houston has two open roster spots now.
Atlanta is now getting a big man to help strengthen their roster and give Trae Young another weapon. They also dumped Turner’s salary.
Minnesota’s big loss is Covington, but they did add a draft pick. The pick comes with the following conditions:
About that 1st-round pick Wolves are getting in tonight's trade from Hawks via Nets in a deal from last summer: 2020 1st round pick protected 1-14 in 2020, 2021 & 2022. There are other conditions if not conveyed by 2022.
— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) February 5, 2020
For Denver, both Beasley and Hernangomez sought trades, so they have moved on from them and added a pick, Napier and a few others.
In terms of total players involved, this is the largest NBA deal since the Patrick Ewing to Seattle trade in 2000, per Bobby Marks.
Michael Malone has earned a well-deserved contract extension with the Denver Nuggets.
For the second time in just over a year, Malone has signed a new deal with Denver, the team announced Tuesday.
Terms were not disclosed, but according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the deal runs through the 2022-23 season.
Malone certainly deserves the plaudits. The team has increased its win percentage in every season under him, and he’s off to a 21-8 start in 2019-20 after winning 54 games last season. The next step is likely further advancement in the playoffs. Last year was the firs ttime Denver made the playoffs under Malone, and they fell in seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Malone looks well-positioned to keep the momentum going in Denver. He’s confident and a great quote, too, suggesting the future is bright for the Nuggets.
Seth Curry was one of several players who received a technical foul late in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night, and he clearly has no regrets over the way he reacted.
Curry was trying to help a teammate up when Denver’s Will Barton took exception to a slight shove, and the two came face to face. Officials and other players came over to break things up, at which point Barton appeared to deliberately poke Curry in the eye.
Will Barton vs. Seth Curry ❗️ pic.twitter.com/WyTI6yQqhp
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) May 10, 2019
Barton, Curry, Torrey Craig and Zach Collins all ended up receiving technical fouls, but it certainly seemed like the eye poke was the greatest offense. While speaking with reporters after the game, Curry called the Nuggets “frontrunners” and said they have “some sassy dudes over there.”
Seth Curry on the Barton eye poke: "He waited for a few people to get in between us, and when a few people were in between us he put his finger in my eye. I can't allow people to put their fingers in my eye. That's real sassy. They got some sassy dudes over there. Frontrunners."
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) May 10, 2019
It’s hard to blame Curry for being upset, and it will be interesting to see if the NBA hands out additional discipline to Barton for the eye poke. The Blazers and Nuggets are set to face off in Game 7 in Denver on Sunday.