What a day. What a wild, crazy, moody day in the NBA. A couple of playoff teams suffered season-altering injuries (or, in Chris Paul’s case, illness), a couple of coaches left, a team president as well, and before the close of business, the most popular star. NBA great took to Twitter. to give the league another headache.
Let’s start from the beginning …
Chris Paul enters NBA health and safety protocols.
This news, first reported by The Athletic, was impressive: Paul, days out of a 25-point effort, 10 assists per game in a four-game sweep over Denver, was out. The Suns later confirmed Paul’s place in the protocols, and while they did not reveal whether Paul had tested positive for COVID-19, a NBA launch hours later announced that a new player had tested positive.
Many questions. The NBA has specific protocols for positive COVID tests. A player must go through a 10-day quarantine or produce two consecutive negative tests within 24 hours, after which the player must undergo a cardiac test. But Paul is vaccinated. Will the NBA adapt its protocols to allow a vaccinated player to return sooner? Suns coach Monty Williams shed little light on Paul’s status (“We hope and pray that we are complete again when we play Game 1,” Williams told reporters), but the Western Conference Finals are set. to start on Sunday. , Paul’s availability is very important.
Donnie Nelson, Mavericks part ways
Let’s be clear: “mutually agree to part ways” is the term the Mavericks chose to describe the separation of the team’s president of basketball operations, who had been the chief basketball executive in Dallas for the past 16 years and a member of the organization for 24 Nelson may have a different story. Earlier in the week, The Athletic detailed a power struggle within the Mavericks organization between Nelson and Haralabos Voulgaris, a sports player hired by the Mavericks in 2018 who has quickly become a trusted advisor to owner Mark Cuban. Nelson, it seems, has lost that power struggle.
Nelson was not perfect. He helped build Dallas’ champion team in 2011, but couldn’t put the pieces around Dirk Nowitzki to win another playoff series, let alone a championship, in the years after. Between 2017 and 2019, the Mavs won no more than 33 games in a season. But Nelson was the driving force behind Dallas’ decision to draft Luka Doncic, who in three seasons is already an NBA superstar. He was a skilled front desk executive. Now Dallas, with Voulgaris seen as something of a shadow DJ, will have to find another.
Kawhi Leonard ruled out of Game 5 with knee pain
This was a bomb. Leonard, who dissected Utah on his way to a 31-point performance in Game 4, would miss a pivotal Game 5 with a knee injury, with no guarantees that he would return during this series. “I just know he has a sprained right knee,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Be optimistic about the situation.” Putting aside how crippling the short-term loss of Leonard is, The Athletic reported that there was concern about an ACL injury. Any tears to Leonard’s ACL at this stage of the season would surely affect his availability next season, perhaps erasing another year within Los Angeles’ championship window. A bad situation with the Clippers could get a lot worse.
Pelicans part ways with Stan Van Gundy
That’s all? Does Van Gundy get a season? A limited training camp shortened by the pandemic, with virtually no practice time in the season? It was no secret that Van Gundy, a notorious foreman, was struggling to connect with the young Pelicans players, particularly Brandon Ingram. And the defense, particularly beyond the three-point line, was not very good. But that the Pelicans cut ties with Van Gundy so quickly was shocking. At a press conference, New Orleans general manager David Griffin outlined the philosophical differences with Van Gundy as to how the Pelicans were going to take the next step in their development.
“We got to a point where it was clear that we didn’t believe philosophically in the way we were going to progress from where we are today to where we want to go,” Griffin said.
Penalty fee. The Pelicans will be an attractive opening, with Ingram and Zion Williamson anchoring a strong young core. But Griffin will have to hire correctly. Coaching stability is important for all young teams. The Pelicans of the Zion Era have not had it.
Wizards and Scott Brooks separate
Brooks, the Wizards coach for the past five seasons, was not fired. His contract expired at the end of the season, and although the property discussed a new deal with the veteran head coach, the two parties were far apart. Brooks did an admirable job in Washington. His roster was constantly injured (John Wall, specifically) or indulged, but Brooks found a way to develop Washington’s young players (Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura) while Bradley Beal became an All-Star and one of the top players. NBA scorers on Brooks’s Watch. This season, it can be argued, it represented some of Brooks’s best work. The Wizards made the trade between John Wall and Russell Westbrook just before training camp, were devastated by COVID problems in January, endured multiple losing streaks … and still rallied in the final weeks of the season to reach the playoffs. Brooks certainly leaves Washington with his credibility as one of the NBA’s top leaders and head coach of player development.
LeBron James destroys the NBA
With the accumulated injuries, James led to social media to express his disgust for the NBA schedule this season.
“Not everyone wanted to hear from me about the start of the season,” James wrote on Twitter. “I knew exactly what would happen. I just wanted to protect the well-being of the players, which is ultimately the PRODUCT AND BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries are not just “PART OF THE GAME.” It is the lack of PURE RIM REST rest before starting over. 8, possibly 9 ALL-STARS have missed Playoff games (the most in league history). This is the best time of year for our league and our fans, but a lot of our favorite players are missing. It’s crazy. If there is one person who knows about the body and how it works throughout the year, it is ME! I speak for the health of all of our players and I hate to see so many injuries this time of year. Sorry, the fans wish they were seeing all of their favorite guys right now. “
In a statement to various media outlets, NBA spokesman Mike Bass disputed James’ claims. “Injury rates were pretty much the same this season as they were in 2019-20, while entry-level and All-Star players missed games due to injuries at rates similar to the past three seasons,” Bass said. “While injuries are an unfortunate reality of our game, we recognize the enormous sacrifices NBA players and teams have made to deal with this pandemic.”
A couple of things here. James’ frustration is not solely directed at the NBA. I was told that James’s relationship with the top officials of the players’ union, including Chris Paul, a longtime friend, has deteriorated. After last season, which for the Lakers ended in mid-October, James was under the impression that the next season wouldn’t start until January, and the Lakers star was irritated by the late-December start, sources told SI. familiar with James’s thinking. James wanted a longer break. I believed in the players necessary a longer break. And he was probably right. They didn’t get it, and part of James blames the union for it. His public criticism of the NBA’s decision to host an All-Star Game last February, a decision negotiated with the union and defended by Paul, is further proof of that.
As for James’s problem with the NBA, remember: the relationship between the league and its players is a partnership. Income related to basketball is divided 50-50. True, the NBA wanted to squeeze a 72-game schedule to fulfill its television contracts. It projected a $ 500 million difference in total revenue between the start of the season in late December and early January. And, yes, the league absolutely wanted to finish the season before the Olympics.
But the players, James, specifically, could have publicly declined. James is, without a doubt, the most powerful player in the NBA. If you didn’t want to start the season in December, it’s impossible to believe you couldn’t have stopped it. But that would have cost the players money. TO lot of money. And judging from the union’s decision to agree to a December start, the vast majority of players didn’t want to do that.
James’s frustration is understandable. The star players in these playoffs are dropping like flies. James himself is out of them in part because Anthony Davis suffered a groin injury. But the players didn’t have a 72-game season dictated. They agreed. And if James was convinced to start the season later, the time to express that opinion was before the season, not when it is ending.
More NBA coverage:
• How the Suns Dominated Pick-and-Roll
• Rudy Gobert’s playoff defense is better than ever
• Kevin Durant’s historic performance raises the nets over the Bucks in Game 5
• The Clippers are showing their amazing depth and versatility against Utah.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.