Former Rockets GM Daryl Morey praises James Harden in newspaper ad

By Erin Walsh  |  Last updated 10/18/20

Daryl Morey stepped down from his position as general manager of the Houston Rockets on Thursday after 13 seasons, saying it was the “right time” to do so. 

Morey’s resignation won’t go into effect until Nov. 1 as he continues to help Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta in the franchise’s search for a new head coach. Still, his time in the organization is winding down, and Morey took the time to thank the numerous amount of people who helped him during his tenure with the team. 

The 48-year-old took out a full-page ad in the Houston Chronicle for Sunday’s paper and saved his highest praise for James Harden, who he says changed his life. 

“James Harden changed my life,” Morey wrote in bold print. “An entire page could be dedicated just to James. He not only transformed my life but also revolutionized the game of basketball — and continues to do so — like almost no one has before. The game is played differently because of James, and on every playground in the world, the next generation of talent is studying and imitating his game.”

Clippers promote Tyronn Lue to head coach with five-year deal

Originally posted on Hoops Rumors | By Luke Adams | Last updated 10/15/20

The Clippers and assistant Tyronn Lue have agreed to a deal that will promote him to fill the team’s head coaching vacancy and lock him up to a new five-year contract, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Lue was the Clippers’ lead assistant under head coach Doc Rivers during the 2019-20 season. When Rivers and the Clippers parted ways last month, Lue immediately emerged as the front-runner to fill the newly opened head coaching position.

A former head coach in Cleveland, Lue compiled a 128-83 (.607) regular-season record during two full seasons and parts of two others with the Cavs. He led the team to three straight appearances in the NBA Finals, including a championship in his first season as head coach in 2016.

Lue’s championship résumé and his familiarity with the Clippers players were presumably major factors in the team’s decision to promote him to replace Rivers. Wojnarowski previously reported that Lue’s understanding of the pressures of the job was important for Los Angeles. He was also said to have the support of “prominent players” on the roster.

Lue was nearly hired in 2019 by the Lakers but couldn’t reach an agreement with the club on the terms of a deal, prompting the franchise to turn to Frank Vogel. Now, after the Lakers won a championship and the Clippers flamed out two rounds earlier, Lue will be tasked with leading Los Angeles’ other team to title contention. He won’t have much room for error, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both eligible to reach free agency during the 2021 offseason.

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NBA targeting Martin Luther King Jr. Day for start of 2020-21 season?

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 10/14/20

The Los Angeles Lakers are the NBA champions after beating the Miami Heat in six games at Walt Disney World. With the 2019-20 season finally over, the NBA has begun preparations for the 2020-21 campaign. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver revealed recently that the original Dec. 1 target start date isn’t happening. According to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, the league now is targeting Jan. 18 for the start of next season, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

MLK Day seems like a logical choice for the start of the 2020-21 campaign, especially given the emphasis put on the Black Lives Matter movement in Orlando this past season. MLK Day has become an important event on the NBA calendar, and it presents an easy way for the league to turn opening night into something memorable. 

Silver is reportedly planning to give teams eight weeks notice ahead of the start of the season, Hollinger adds, so we could know the official start date as soon as Nov. 23. 

After deciding on a start date, the NBA will meet more challenges of actually designing the season schedule. Things like how many games, if fans will be allowed to attend, COVID-19 restrictions and much more will need to be ironed out. 

Simply put, the league still has a lot of work to do before next season can begin. The 2020 NBA Draft is set for Nov. 18, with free agency to follow. Before we know it, teams will be back on the court. 

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LeBron James wins fourth NBA Finals MVP Award

Originally posted on Hoops Rumors | By Luke Adams | Last updated 10/11/20

Superstar forward LeBron James has been named the Most Valuable Player of the 2020 NBA Finals, as the Lakers clinched the 17th title in franchise history on Sunday night with a 106-93 win over Miami in Game 6.

It’s the fourth championship and the fourth Finals MVP Award for James, who previously earned the honor in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat, and again in 2016 with the Cavaliers.

Entering this series, James had been one of five players in NBA history to earn at least three Finals MVP awards. Now he’s one of just two players to earn that honor four or more times — Michael Jordan won the award six times. James is also the first player in NBA history to be named Finals MVP with three separate teams.

While Anthony Davis had a monster series for the Lakers, anchoring the defense and averaging 25.0 PPG, James led Los Angeles in points, rebounds and assists, making him the obvious choice for the MVP award.

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Billy Donovan, Thunder part ways after five seasons

Originally posted on Hoops Rumors | By Alex Kirschenbaum | Last updated 9/8/20

Thunder head coach Billy Donovan, whose contract with Oklahoma City expired after his team was eliminated in the playoffs this season, will not be returning to the club for the 2020-21 season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The team issued a press release confirming that the two sides have mutually agreed to part ways.

After Donovan and his representatives could not come to terms on a new deal with the Thunder, both sides opted to move on. As ESPN’s Royce Young tweets, the break-up is more about the two sides not aligning on a long-term fit than any strong desire to make a change.

“We had planned to sit down at the end of the season and discuss the best way to move forward for both of us,” general manager Sam Presti said in a statement on Donovan. “After those discussions, it became apparent that we couldn’t provide him the information on the future direction of the team over the next several seasons to give him the level of clarity that he understandably desires at this stage of his career. Therefore, we close this chapter and reflect fondly on all that he has given to the team, organization and community.”

The fact that the club’s front office, led by Presti, anticipates an eventual rebuild helped put a damper on contract talks, Wojnarowski tweets. The Oklahoma City roster features several veterans that the team could soon be looking to move for future assets, especially with league revenues suffering as the coronavirus pandemic continues, Woj notes (Twitter link).

When the Thunder traded All-Stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the summer of 2019, expectations for the team were lower than they had been at any point in Donovan’s tenure with the club, and there was a league-wide belief that an OKC rebuild was imminent.

However, Donovan and new additions Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder to a 44-28 record in 2019/20, good for the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. The team eventually lost Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs to former Thunder MVP Westbrook and the Rockets.

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NBA announces 2019-20 All-Defensive teams

Originally posted on Hoops Rumors | By Alex Kirschenbaum | Last updated 9/8/20

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2019-20 season. Not surprisingly, Defensive Player of the Year (and possible repeat MVP) Giannis Antetokounmpo was mentioned as the leading vote-getter with 195 total points. Players receive two points per First Team vote and one point per Second Team vote.

This is the Bucks forward’s second consecutive appearance on the All-NBA First Team. Antetokounmpo was listed on 98 of 100 ballots from the 100 broadcasters and writers who comprised this year’s voting panel. Ninety-seven of those ballots awarded him a First Team vote.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis received the second-most votes this season, for a total tally of 187 points (including 87 First Team votes). Sixers guard Ben Simmons tallied 185 points with the third-most votes this year. Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the 2018 and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, netted the fourth-most votes this season, with 95 total (85 First Team), for 180 total points. Celtics guard Marcus Smart rounded out the All-Defensive First Team with 152 points, including 57 First Team votes.

Gobert’s inclusion into the All-Defensive First Team has earned him a $500,000 bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Antetokounmpo’s Bucks teammates Brook Lopez (67 points) and Eric Bledsoe (59 points) each made the All-Defensive Second Team.

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team:

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Giannis Antetokounmpo goes down, but Bucks rise up

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports By Steve DelVecchio | Last updated 9/6/20

Giannis Antetokounmpo appeared to aggravate his right ankle injury early in Game 4 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat on Sunday, and the reigning NBA MVP will not return.

Antetokounmpo landed awkwardly on his right foot while driving to the basket early in the second quarter. He immediately dropped to the floor and clutched his ankle area in pain. He could barely put weight on his right leg when he limped off the court, but he was fouled on the play. Giannis had to return to the game to shoot his free throws, otherwise he would have been automatically ineligible for the remainder.

As it turns out, Antetokounmpo will not return anyway. The Bucks announced that he has been ruled out with a sprained ankle.

Antetokounmpo had 19 points in just 11 minutes prior to exiting. He looked explosive early on after entering the game questionable to play. Giannis expressed a desire to play more minutes after he was limited in Game 3, but he’ll now need his teammates to keep Milwaukee’s championship hopes alive without him.

The Bucks kept their season alive with a 118-115 victory. Game 5 is Tuesday night.

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Hall of Famer Steve Nash hired as Brooklyn Nets head coach

By Blake Harper | Last updated 9/3/20

Steve Nash has agreed to a four-year deal to become the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets had been searching for their next head coach since parting ways with Kenny Atkinson in February. Team owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks reportedly had been “aggressive in recruiting Nash” despite the former point guard having no experience as a coach. 

During his time in the NBA, Nash was widely considered one of the savviest players in the league, as he was consistently able to lead highest-scoring, efficient offenses. The two-time MVP had apparently resisted coaching until now, but coaching a team as talented as the Nets proved too enticing to resist.

Even before the Nash hiring, the Nets were among the most promising teams in the NBA heading into next season with Kevin Durant set to return to the court after missing this entire season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Durant will be teaming up with Kyrie Irving, who is one of the most skilled ball-handlers since Nash. The duo is expected to immediately make Brooklyn a contender in the Eastern Conference. 

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Watch: Raptors’ OG Anunoby hits game-winning three-pointer at buzzer

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Larry Brown | Last updated 9/3/20

OG Anunoby made a monster shot for the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night to help his team avoid a major hole in the playoffs.

Anunoby sunk a three-pointer at the buzzer to lift Toronto to a 104-103 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals game in Orlando. Kyle Lowry threw a pass over the arms of giant Tacko Fall, and Anunoby was able to get off the shot in under 0.5 seconds.

What a shot.

The Raptors were facing the possibility of falling behind 3-0 in the series until Anunoby made the clutch shot. Now Toronto is in a more manageable position of being down 2-1.

Anunoby had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the game with three 3-pointers. What an absolutely clutch shot by the Indiana product.

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Clippers’ Marcus Morris fined $35K for foul on Luka Doncic that led to ejection

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports By Steve DelVecchio | Last updated 9/2/20

Marcus Morris was ejected from Game 6 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks on Sunday for a hard foul on Luka Doncic, and the play also resulted in a fine.

The NBA announced on Wednesday that Morris has been fined $35,000 for “recklessly striking” Doncic. The league also took into consideration that Morris has been disciplined for on-court altercations in the past.

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