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  • Report: NBA targets Dec. 1 training camp start date
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 27, 2020

    The NBA offseason could end on December 1 under a proposed 2020-21 schedule that would include starting the regular season on Christmas Day.

    • Members of the NBA Board of Governors are discussing the feasibility of a short free agency period following the Nov. 18 draft with training camps starting Dec. 1, according to multiple reports.

      The proposal, in part, is a response to the league's reported $1.5 billion financial shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including loss of in-stadium revenue, the costs of staging the NBA restart near Orlando and diminished additional revenue streams.

      According to the New York Times, the proposal being considered includes 72 regular-season games instead of the usual 82.

      The NBA was on hiatus from March 11 until mid-July, when teams in playoff contention reported to Florida. The postseason ended Oct. 11 with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the Larry O'Brien championship trophy.

      --Field Level Media

  • L.A. celebrations likely added to spread of COVID, agency says
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 27, 2020

    With Los Angeles hoping to celebrate another major sports title in a matter of days, the city might be paying a price for one earlier in the month.

    • As the Lakers progressed through four rounds of playoffs, culminating in the NBA title on Oct. 11, the Los Angeles County Department of Health says it's highly that fans gathering to watch the games -- and then taking to the streets to celebrate -- played a role in the county's surge of COVID-19 cases.

      The Dodgers, who lead the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 in the best-of-seven World Series, have two chances to clinch their own title, the first coming Tuesday night in Game 6. If the Rays win, Game 7 would be Wednesday night.

      Going back to early October, Los Angeles County has seen its average number of new daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 rise from 900 to 1,200.

      "It is impossible to determine the exact exposures that contributed to this increase," the agency said Monday in a statement published by USA Today. "However, it is highly likely that gatherings to watch and/or celebrate the Lakers, along with any other gatherings that occurred 2-3 weeks ago where people weren't wearing face coverings and were in close contact with each other, contributed to the rise in LA County cases."

      The traditional victory parade and organized public celebrations were not held because of the pandemic, although more than 1,000 people swarmed the area around Staples Center to celebrate the Lakers' clinching win in Game 6.

      "As fans continue to watch and celebrate the mighty LA sport teams, we are mindful that if individuals are not adhering to the health officer order requirements of distancing, infection control and masking, cases will continue to rise which, unfortunately, not only leads to increased illness and deaths, but also slows down our recovery journey," the agency added in the statement.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Clippers hire Heat's Craig as assistant coach
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 26, 2020

    The Los Angeles Clippers hired Dan Craig as an assistant coach on Monday, according to a Miami Herald report, as he joins the staff of new head coach Tyronn Lue.

    • Craig has worked in various roles for the Miami Heat since 2003, leaving for a short stint in 2015-16 to become head coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the development G-League. Craig, 40, returned in 2016 to resume his role as a Heat assistant coach under head coach Erik Spoelstra.

      Lue officially was promoted to Clippers head coach last Tuesday after serving as an assistant under Doc Rivers, who left the team by mutual agreement. The Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs in the second round by the Denver Nuggets.

      According to the New York Times, Kenny Atkinson and Chauncey Billups are likely to join Lue's staff as well. Billups, who has served as the Clippers' color commentator on television broadcasts, reportedly interviewed for the coaching position on Monday. Larry Drew also is expected to join the Clippers in an assistant role.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: NBA fell $1.5B short of revenue projection
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 24, 2020

    The NBA, which was the first pro league to suspend play amid the COVID-19 pandemic, made $1.5 billion less than it projected last season due to the pandemic and other factors, according to an Associated Press report.

    • The league shut down March 11, then returned to finish a shortened season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

      That restricted access, all-inclusive bubble, which was run at an estimated cost of $200 million, was one of the factors that hit the NBA's bottom line.

      Other factors were the initial shutdown, the loss of 171 regular-season games, the lack of attendance for games in the bubble and China's decision to not show games after an October tweet by former Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong.

      The league's Board of Governors is currently meeting to discuss the start date for the 2020-21 season, potential fan attendance and possibly a shortened schedule., with a push to start the 2020-21 NBA season by Christmas apparently gaining momentum.

      The Athletic reported Friday that the NBA is targeting a Dec. 22 start date and a 72-game regular season that would finish before the start of the 2021 Summer Olympics, which are set to begin on July 23 in Tokyo.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Nets hiring Stoudemire as assistant coach
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 23, 2020

    Six-time All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire is joining former teammate Steve Nash's coaching staff with the Brooklyn Nets, The Athletic reported Friday.

    • Nash, who was hired to coach the Nets in September, starred alongside Stoudemire with the Phoenix Suns for six seasons from 2004-10.

      Stoudemire, 37, will focus on player development in his role as an assistant coach, per the report.

      Stoudemire last played in the NBA during the 2015-16 season. He scored 15,994 points in 846 games with the Suns, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Christmas start to 2020-21 gaining steam
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 23, 2020

    A push to start the 2020-21 NBA season by Christmas is gaining momentum, multiple outlets reported Friday.

    • A start date was just one item on the agenda at Friday's meeting of the league's Board of Governors, along with discussions about fan attendance amid the pandemic and the possibility of playing fewer than 82 games, ESPN reported.

      The Athletic reported Friday that the NBA is targeting a Dec. 22 start date and a 72-game regular season that would finish before the start of the 2021 Summer Olympics, which are set to begin on July 23 in Tokyo.

      Last month, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his "best guess" was that the season wouldn't start until early 2021.

      The NBA has made a vow that players would get at least an eight-week notice before the start of the season. Oct. 30 would be exactly eight weeks before Christmas Day.

      "The goal for us next season is to play a standard season, 82-game season and playoffs. In home arenas, in front of fans," Silver said.

      The NBA became the first pro league to suspend play amid the COVID-19 pandemic, doing so on March 11. The league finished a shortened season in a bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA draft will be strictly online
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 22, 2020

    The NBA draft will be an online-only affair on Nov. 18, the league and ESPN announced Thursday.

    • The first-round selections will be revealed by NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the second-round picks will be unveiled by deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, with both men at ESPN's studios in Bristol, Conn.

      Players will be shown throughout the broadcast through video connections.

      The event had been scheduled to be held in June at the Barclays Center in New York, but the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the 2019-20 season into the summer. With the regular season concluding in a "bubble" at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando and the playoffs conducted at the same place, the Los Angeles Lakers won the championship on Oct. 11.

      The draft lottery was postponed from May 19 to Aug. 20, and the Minnesota Timberwolves won the right to select No. 1 overall.

      Draft experts believe 6-foot-5 Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, 6-7 point guard LaMelo Ball and 7-1 center James Wiseman are the top prospects. Ball played professionally in Lithuania and New Zealand before he became eligible for the NBA draft. Wiseman briefly played for the University of Memphis before eligibility issues caused him to leave school.

      --Field Level Media

  • Celtics C Theis undergoes knee surgery
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis had an arthroscopic procedure performed on his left knee, the team announced Wednesday, but he is expected to be ready for training camp.

    • The surgery, handled by team physician Dr. Tony Schena at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, was deemed successful in the removal of "a loose body" in the knee.

      Theis, 28, is coming off his best statistical season in his third year in the NBA, as he averaged 9.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in 65 games (64 starts). The German native had only started five games combined over his first two seasons.

      After winning three German league titles overseas. Theis signed as an international free agent with the Celtics in July 2017. He has 69 starts in his 194 career games, averaging 6.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and nearly a block per game.

      Theis averaged 8.9 points and 7.1 rebounds during 2020 playoffs for the Celtics. Boston's run ended with a Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

      --Field Level Media

  • Pelicans tab Stan Van Gundy as head coach
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    Stan Van Gundy has agreed to become the next head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, ESPN reported on Wednesday.

    • The Athletic reported that Van Gundy will sign a four-year deal with the Pelicans.

      There was no official word from the Pelicans, but Van Gundy confirmed the reports on social media.

      "I'm excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team," he posted on Twitter. "It will be an honor to work with our players and to work for Mrs. Benson and David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, their staff and the great people of New Orleans. I can't wait to talk to our players and get the process started."

      The reports come one day after the Indiana Pacers came to terms with former Toronto Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren on their vacant head coaching position.

      The Pelicans met with Van Gundy, 61, last week for the head coaching position that was vacant after the team fired Alvin Gentry in August.

      New Orleans lost six of eight games in the bubble to finish the season with a 30-42 record, good for 13th in the Western Conference.

      The Pelicans' coaching vacancy, however, is intriguing thanks to young talent such as 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, 20, and NBA Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram, 23. New Orleans also has the 13th overall selection in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.

      Van Gundy has 12 years of experience as a head coach: three years in Miami, five in Orlando and four in Detroit. His most successful run came with the Magic, whom he led to a 259-135 mark from 2007-12 while guiding the team to the playoffs each season. The 2008-09 Magic advanced to the NBA Finals.

      Overall, Van Gundy is 523-384 in his career with eight playoff appearances in his 12 seasons. His last season was 2017-18, when he led the Pistons to a 39-43 record. Van Gundy was also president of basketball operations in Detroit.

      --Field Level Media

  • Timberwolves pondering No. 1 pick
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    The Minnesota Timberwolves are continuing to weigh their options for the No. 1 overall draft pick.

    • Unlike last year, when Zion Williamson was the clear choice for the first pick for the New Orleans Pelicans, the Timberwolves have yet to identify their cornerstone player of the future.

      The draft is set for Nov. 18 -- delayed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic.

      "There's no guy that has separated himself from the pack from public or external view, but I'm very confident that as we go through this process, the talent will rise to the top and we'll be confident about identifying one guy as the best guy, the best talented player with the most upside and most ability for our organization," Gersson Rosas, the team's director of basketball operations, said Wednesday.

      The most recent mock drafts have pegged either 6-foot-5 guard Anthony Edwards, who played one season at Georgia, or 6-7 point guard LaMelo Ball as the Wolves' pick. Another mock draft has Minnesota trading out of the No. 1 pick and moving down to draft 7-1 center James Wiseman.

      Ball skipped college and went straight to the National Basketball League of Australia. Wiseman played three games as a freshman at Memphis, was suspended by the NCAA over eligibility issues, then withdrew from school to prepare for the draft.

      "We feel good about the talent at the top," Rosas said.

      Minnesota, which finished the 2019-20 season at 19-45, also holds the No. 17 and 33 picks in the draft. The Timberwolves last selected first in draft in 2015, picking Karl-Anthony Towns. He's averaged 22.7 points and 11.8 rebounds over 358 career games with the team.

      The Timberwolves have made the playoffs once in the past 16 seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Clippers officially hire Lue as head coach
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    Five days after reports emerged that Tyronn Lue was finalizing a deal to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, the team confirmed the move Tuesday.

    • While the Clippers didn't announce the terms of the contract, multiple media outlets reported last week that the sides were hammering out a five-year deal. The team will introduce Lue at a news conference Wednesday morning.

      Lue most recently was the Clippers' top assistant coach under Doc Rivers, who was fired on Sept. 29 after Los Angeles squandered a 3-1 lead and dropped a second-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.

      Lue, 43, was the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers when they won the NBA championship with LeBron James in 2016. Lue posted a 128-83 record over parts of four seasons in Cleveland.

      Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said in a statement, "Ty has been where we want to go. He is a championship head coach with an extraordinary feel for the game and the people who play it. He's one of the great minds in our league, and he's able to impart his vision to others, because he connects with everybody he meets.

      "We conducted a thorough search and spoke with fantastic candidates. We found that the best choice for our team was already in our building. As head coach, Ty will put a unique imprint on the organization, and drive us to new heights."

      Lue added in a statement, "The pieces we need are in place -- committed ownership, smart management, and elite talent, on and off the court, in the NBA's best market. My familiarity with the organization, particularly (team owner Steve Ballmer) and Lawrence, confirmed this is where I want to be.

      "We have work to do to become champions, but we have the motivation, the tools, and the support to get there. I'm excited to get started."

      Led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers finished second in the Western Conference in 2019-20 at 49-23, then dispatched the Dallas Mavericks in six games during the first round of the playoffs. In the second round against Denver, Los Angeles led by double digits in each of the final three games but lost them all.

      Following the Game 7 loss to the Nuggets, Clippers guard Lou Williams stated that the team had a chemistry issue.

      Lue played point guard for seven NBA teams during an 11-year career, averaging 8.5 points and 3.1 assists. He was part of the Los Angeles Lakers' 2000-01 championship team.

      Multiple media outlets reported last week that Chauncey Billups would serve as Lue's lead assistant, but the Clippers didn't confirm that news Tuesday. Billups had interviewed for the head-coaching role.

      Rivers was hired to be the Philadelphia 76ers' head coach five days after being fired by the Clippers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Pacers tab Bjorkgren as head coach
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    The Indiana Pacers named Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach on Tuesday.

    • Bjorkgren spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.

      Bjorkgren, 45, coached in the G League before joining the Phoenix Suns in 2015-16, where he served as an assistant coach and player development coordinator.

      "We are very pleased and excited to have Nate as our new coach," said Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers president of basketball operations.

      "This was an extensive and thorough search, and when we reached the conclusion, we felt strongly Nate is the right coach for us at the right time. He comes from a winning background, has experienced championship success, is innovative and his communication skills along with his positivity are tremendous. We all look forward to a long, successful partnership in helping the Pacers move forward."

      Bjorkgren said in a statement that he is looking forward to his new opportunity with the Pacers.

      "I am honored to take on the role as head coach of the Indiana Pacers," Bjorkgren said. "This is something I have prepared for during my career. I want to thank Kevin, Chad (Buchanan, general manager), Kelly (Krauskopf, assistant general manager), Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh and Herb and Steve Simon for this opportunity. I also want to thank Nick Nurse for giving me my first professional coaching job 14 years ago.

      "I'm looking forward to working with this great team to achieve our goal as NBA champions."

      Bjorkgren will take over the position formally held by Nate McMillan, who was fired in August after four seasons with Indiana.

      The Pacers parted ways with McMillan after the team was swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.

      McMillan amassed a 183-136 record but was just 3-16 in the playoffs with the Pacers after leading them to the playoffs all four seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Caldwell-Pope, Rondo expected to decline player options
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 15, 2020

    The Los Angeles Lakers were able to conquer the bubble, and the field in the NBA Playoffs.

    • Their next challenge will be free agency.

      The Athletic reported Thursday that guards Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are expected to decline player options -- worth $2.7 million and $8.5 million respectively -- for the 2020-21 season.

      Also on Thursday, The Athletic reported that center Anthony Davis plans to opt out of his $28.7 million player option for next season and re-sign with the Lakers.

      Both Caldwell-Pope and Rondo could re-sign with the Lakers, as Los Angeles may look to keep most of its core intact after winning its 17th NBA championship on Sunday.

      Caldwell-Pope, 27, just finished his seventh NBA season, and third with the Lakers. He's averaged 11.6 points per game during his 539-game NBA career, and this season shot a personal best 38.5 percent from 3-point range. Caldwell-Pope was L.A.'s third-leading scorer in The Finals with 12.8 points per game, checking in behind superstars LeBron James and Davis.

      Rondo, a four-time All-Star and now two-time NBA champion, also helped his stock in the playoffs as he became the Lakers' second-best distributor and gave James a break from orchestrating the offense.

      Rondo, 34, has averaged 10.2 points and 8.3 assists per game over his 14-year NBA career, which has spanned six different franchises including the Boston Celtics (2006-14), the Dallas Mavericks (2014-15), the Sacramento Kings (2015-16), the Chicago Bulls (2016-17), the New Orleans Pelicans (2017-18) and the Lakers (2018-20).

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Lue finalizing five-year deal to coach Clippers
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 15, 2020

    Tyronn Lue is finalizing a five-year deal to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, ESPN and The Athletic reported Thursday.

    • Chauncey Billups would be Lue's lead assistant, per the reports. Billups interviewed for the head coaching post earlier this week.

      Lue was the lead assistant to former head coach Doc Rivers, fired last month after the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to lose the second-round playoff series to the Denver Nuggets.

      Lue, 43, won an NBA title as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron James in 2016. Lue finished with a 128-83 record in parts of four seasons with the Cavs.

      The Clippers were viewed as massive disappointments in the NBA playoffs due to the collapse against the Nuggets.

      The final three setbacks were ugly as Los Angeles led by as many as 16, 19 and 12 points, respectively, in the losses.

      The Clippers were forecasted to contend for the NBA title after landing All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the summer of 2019.

      But the team was reportedly dealing with chemistry issues during their postseason stay at the "bubble" near Orlando. Veteran guard Lou Williams publicly cited the chemistry as an issue after the Game 7 loss to the Nuggets.

      Rivers was hired by the Philadelphia 76ers five days after being fired by the Clippers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rockets GM Morey steps down
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 15, 2020

    Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey announced Thursday that he will step down on Nov. 1 after 13 seasons at the helm of the franchise.

    • Executive vice president of basketball operations Rafael Stone was promoted to general manager.

      "For me, it was just a great run," Morey told ESPN. "Personally, the timing worked for me. My youngest son just graduated from high school, and it was just the right time to see what's next with family and other potential things in the future. It just felt like the right time."

      Morey plans to remain with the team as an adviser, assisting in the search to find a replacement for head coach Mike D'Antoni. The club has been interviewing candidates to replace D'Antoni with Stone playing a big role in those discussions.

      Morey is considering moving on from sports, according to ESPN.

      Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta told ESPN, "He had always said, 'I'm not going to be here forever,' and, 'At some point, I might want to go back to the East Coast.' I didn't think it was going to happen. I knew that this was that year, but Daryl's been here (almost) 15 years. I was surprised, but yet I remembered the previous conversations. He's reminded me of that a few times."

      The Rockets have the longest streak of consecutive playoff appearances in the NBA at eight.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Davis plans to opt out, re-sign with Lakers
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 15, 2020

    Center Anthony Davis plans to opt out of his $28.7 million player option for next season and re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, The Athletic reported Thursday.

    • Davis will meet with his agent, Rich Paul, in the coming weeks to come up with a multi-year contract term best-suited for the 27-year-old megastar, per the report.

      Davis averaged 26.1 points in his first year with the Lakers, which ended last week with another NBA title for the franchise but the first for the eight-year player out of Kentucky.

      Davis is averaging 24.0 points and 10.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game for his career.

      Davis and the Lakers have been installed as early favorites to repeat as NBA champions in 2021.

      --Field Level Media

  • LaMelo Ball signs shoe deal with Puma, not dad's company
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 14, 2020

    Breaking from the family business, NBA draft prospect LaMelo Ball signed a shoe deal with Puma on Wednesday.

    • Puma plans to make the 19-year-old one of its primary basketball endorsers, as Ball is expected to be among the first players chosen in the Nov. 18 NBA draft.

      Ball had received his own signature "MB1" shoe from Big Baller Brand, run by his father LaVar, when he was 16.

      "I am really excited to be joining the Puma family," Ball said in a statement, according to ESPN. "I believe the brand is the perfect partner for me because Puma will allow me to just be myself. I want to be 100 percent authentic, whether that's playing basketball or showing off my personal style, and that's what I want to do with Puma."

      LaMelo Ball played professionally in Lithuania and New Zealand the past two years before becoming eligible for the NBA draft.

      Puma had been out of the basketball shoe market for two decades before returning in 2018. Other Puma endorsers include Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. and New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett.

      LaMelo Ball's brother, 22-year old Lonzo, is a guard for the New Orleans Pelicans. Lonzo Ball doesn't have a current shoe endorsement contract, according to USA Today.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Cassell interviews with Clippers
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 14, 2020

    Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell interviewed for the head coaching vacancy, ESPN reported Wednesday.

    • Cassell's interview to replace Doc Rivers was Tuesday, per the report. Cassell had been an assistant under Rivers for six years.

      Tyronn Lue, Rivers' top assistant, was thought to be the frontrunner to replace Rivers, who was fired last month after the Clippers squandered a 3-1 second-round series lead to the Denver Nuggets. However, ESPN reported earlier this week that Lue's candidacy is gaining steam in Houston, where the Rockets are in the process of replacing Mike D'Antoni.

      Former Cleveland Cavaliers floor general Mike Brown reportedly impressed at his interview for the Clippers post, and Jeff Van Gundy has been linked to the opening as well.

      Cassell, 50, has been an assistant coach in the league for 10 years after a 15-year playing career with eight different teams.

      The Clippers were viewed as massive disappointments in the NBA playoffs due to the collapse against the Nuggets.

      The final three setbacks were ugly as Los Angeles led by as many as 16, 19 and 12 points, respectively, in the losses.

      The Clippers were forecasted to contend for the NBA title after landing All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the summer of 2019.

      But the team was reportedly dealing with chemistry issues during their postseason stay at the "bubble" near Orlando. Veteran guard Lou Williams publicly cited the chemistry as an issue after the Game 7 loss to the Nuggets.

      Rivers was hired by the Philadelphia 76ers five days after being fired by the Clippers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Stan Van Gundy, Lue among Pelicans' candidates
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 14, 2020

    Former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy met with the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday and has emerged as one of four finalists for the club's head coaching vacancy, ESPN reported Tuesday.

    • The report also said that Tyronn Lue, who led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA championship, will meet with the Pelicans this week as one of the four favorites for the job. The report did not name the other two finalists.

      The Pelicans fired Alvin Gentry in August after the club failed to make the NBA playoffs while concluding the regular season in the bubble near Orlando. New Orleans finished the season 30-42 (going 2-6 in the bubble), good for 13th in the Western Conference. Nonetheless, the Pelicans have perhaps the most intriguing coaching vacancy right now thanks to young talent such as 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, 20, and NBA Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram, 23.

      Van Gundy, 61, has 12 years of experience as a head coach: three years in Miami, five in Orlando and four in Detroit. His most successful run came with the Magic, whom he led to a 259-135 mark from 2007-12 while guiding the team to the playoffs each season. The 2008-09 Magic advanced to the NBA Finals.

      Overall, Van Gundy is 523-384 in his career with eight playoff appearances in his 12 seasons. His last season was 2017-18, when he led the Pistons to a 39-43 record. Van Gundy was also president of basketball operations in Detroit.

      One thing that could work in Lue's favor is his experience with Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin. The latter was the general manager of the Cavaliers when Lue led the team to the 2016 NBA title.

      Lue was 211-128 over parts of four seasons (including two full seasons) in Cleveland. The Cavs made the NBA Finals in each of his first three seasons with the team, with the championship coming in his third year. The following offseason, LeBron James left Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers, and Lue was fired after an 0-6 start with the Cavaliers.

      Lue spent this season as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, and he is believed to be a strong contender for the head coach openings with the Clippers and the Houston Rockets.

      --Field Level Media

  • Former 76ers coach Brown resigns as Aussie coach ahead of Olympics
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 13, 2020

    Former Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown resigned as the head coach of Team Australia, citing both professional and personal reasons.

    • Brown was scheduled to coach the team, known as the Australian Boomers, in the rescheduled Olympics next summer in Tokyo. Instead, he told Basketball Australia that he no longer can fulfill the job.

      "The uncertainties around the direction of my professional future unfortunately mean that I cannot commit to the time and preparation that this job deserves and requires," Brown, 59, said. "The difficulties around traveling internationally with my family during the pandemic have also contributed to my decision."

      The 76ers fired Brown on Aug. 24, a day after the Sixers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Celtics in a four-game sweep. Brown led the Sixers to the playoffs the past three seasons and spent seven seasons in Philadelphia, overseeing their rebuilding process.

      With the delayed start to the next season, the NBA likely still will be in action during the Olympics, which are scheduled to start July 23. Should he land a job on an NBA coaching staff this offseason, he wouldn't be available to helm the Australian team.

      Before his time in the NBA, Brown spent several years in Australia's National Basketball League, coaching 278 games. He also served as an assistant coach with the Boomers and was head coach of Boomers in the 2012 London Olympics, where they lost in the quarterfinals to the United States.

      He was named coach of the Boomers again in late 2019 to lead the team in Tokyo this year before the Olympics were postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Rockets to interview Jeff Van Gundy
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 13, 2020

    Houston is scheduled to interview former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy for their coaching vacancy on Wednesday, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

    • The Rockets, who parted ways with Mike D'Antoni last month after four seasons, interviewed Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue on Monday.

      The Times also said the team planned to interview Rockets assistant John Lucas after Van Gundy.

      The 58-year-old Van Gundy hasn't coached in the NBA since Houston fired him after the 2006-07 season. Since then he has been coaching with the United States men's national team and working in broadcasting as an analyst with ESPN.

      Van Gundy coached the New York Knicks from 1996-2001, compiling a 248-172 (.590) record and leading them to the NBA Finals in 1999. He posted a 182-146 record with the Rockets from 2003-07, losing in the first round of the playoffs three times.

      Houston finished 44-28 in 2019-20 and lost to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in five games during the second round of the playoffs.

      --Field Level Media

  • Lakers' victory party on hold because of pandemic
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 12, 2020

    A public celebration of the Los Angeles Lakers' 17th NBA title will have to wait because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    • Los Angeles County still has a moratorium on large gatherings, meaning no victory parade will be held anytime soon to cheer LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of their Lakers teammates.

      The Lakers won the NBA championship on Sunday night with a 106-93 win over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the finals. James led the Lakers with 28 points.

      Neither the team nor the city have announced any plans to celebrate the players as they return home from the NBA bubble near Orlando, Fla.

      A crowd estimated at more than 2,000 gathered near Staples Center Sunday night, and at least 76 people were arrested on suspicion of vandalism, unlawful assembly and failure to disperse, the Los Angeles Times reported.

      This is the first NBA championship for the Lakers since 2010, when Kobe Bryant guided the team to the fifth title of his era.

      The Lakers dedicated their championship to Bryant, who was killed along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in January.

      --Field Level Media

  • Lakers crowned, bubble closed: Where does NBA go from here?
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 12, 2020

    LeBron James and the Lakers closed the book on the most unbelievable season in the history of the NBA.

    • Los Angeles returns home from the NBA bubble near Orlando with the franchise's 17th championship but only questions and uncertainty are left for the league's other 29 teams.

      Following a four-month layoff without games or full practices, the NBA completed the postseason and wrapped up a season that began a year earlier on Sunday night with Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

      Commissioner Adam Silver readily admits he has no worldly idea when the next NBA game will take place.

      First thoughts were late November or Christmas Day, but Silver said last month in an interview with CNN the likelihood of a regular season starting before January 2021 was highly unlikely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

      "Nothing has really changed in this virus, as far as I know," Silver said. "In fact, I think in the majority of states right now, cases are ticking back up again. There's predictions of a combination of flu and coronavirus season. People are moving back indoors. In some cases, people have COVID fatigue and aren't following the same protocols. In many ways we're looking at a lot of the same factors we looked at determining what to do this season."

      Billions in revenue were lost by the NBA and details remain to be sorted out this offseason, including the start of free agency and the amount teams might have available to spend under the revamped salary cap.

      "Everything -- everything -- we're doing exists outside the current collective bargaining agreement," Silver said.

      NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has called on both sides to "resist temptations" to be greedy and settle on a solution, for at least next season, that helps both sides. The NBA had profits of $8 billion prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Not knowing which variables might be resolved -- such as in-person attendance -- bring doubt as to how quickly the two sides can settle on a structure for the coming months.

      The salary cap was $109 million for the just-completed season, and projections include lowering the cap for one season by as much as $30 million per team.

      A solution to hold the cap at the same number for one year has player and owner support.

      To get there, more questions need to be answered, especially for the upcoming free agency class and incoming draft class. The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for Nov. 18.

      The Minnesota Timberwolves have the No. 1 overall pick, followed by the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks.

      Typically, free agency begins one week after the draft.

      Some of the top players potentially available in free agency this offseason hold player options with their current teams. That includes Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, Cavaliers forward Andre Dummond, Blazers center Hassan Whiteside and Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr.

      Roberts said her feel is that the 2021 NBA season will begin in late January or February, giving players who advanced into the playoffs more time to recover physically and mentally.

      Several league officials have said the goal is to play 82 regular-season games in home markets with fans present. But that decision might not be the NBA's to make.

      Silver said last week that the NBA would consider another bubble or campus environment after what was widely hailed as a health success from a COVID-19 standpoint.

      --Field Level Media

  • Lakers installed as early 2021 title favorites
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 12, 2020

    The Los Angeles Lakers have been installed as early favorites to repeat as NBA champions in 2021.

    • Fresh off their win over the Miami Heat in Game 6 on Sunday night to win the franchise's 17th title, the Lakers were listed as 2021 favorites by most sportsbooks, including PointsBet (+375) and SportsBetting.com (+400).

      Their city showdown against the Clippers never materialized in the bubble with the Clippers eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the conference semifinals. But the Clippers are still the second betting favorites for next season at +425 by PointsBet and +600 by SportsBetting.com.

      The Milwaukee Bucks also suffered an early exit, as the heavy Eastern Conference favorites entering the playoffs were bounced by Miami in the semifinals. Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming off his second consecutive league MVP award and the Bucks are being offered at +650 by PointsBet.

      That's just ahead of the Golden State Warriors (+750), who missed the playoffs this year but are anticipating the healthy return of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson next season. The Warriors also hold the No. 2 pick in next month's NBA draft and are expected to land one of a handful of highly-rated prospects, or potential trade the pick to land an experienced veteran to pair with Curry and Thompson.

      The expected bounce-back by the Warriors has them being offered at +700 by SportsBetting.com, ahead of the Bucks (+1000).

      The Brooklyn Nets are being offered at +1000 by PointsBet and +1200 by SportsBetting.com as they prepared for the return of Kevin Durant, who sat out his first season in Brooklyn while recovering from a torn Achilles. That puts them in the thick of the Eastern Conference hunt, with the Boston Celtics (+1200) and Heat (+1300) right behind Brooklyn in PointsBet's title odds.

      The Western Conference again figures to be a tight battle. DraftKings is offering the Lakers as +175 favorites to repeat as conference champions, followed by the Clippers (+225), Warriors (+400) and Nuggets (+900).

      The Bucks top the Eastern Conference odds at +200, followed by the Nets (+300), Heat (+350) and Celtics (+400). Meanwhile, the once-proud New York Knicks can be had at +30000, tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons for the longest Eastern Conference winner odds by the sportsbook.

      2021 NBA title odds (PointsBet)

      Los Angeles Lakers: +375

      Los Angeles Clippers: +425

      Milwaukee Bucks: +650

      Golden State Warriors: +750

      Brooklyn Nets: +1000

      Boston Celtics: +1200

      Miami Heat: +1300

      Toronto Raptors: +1700

      Denver Nuggets: +2000

      Houston Rockets: +2200

      Dallas Mavericks: +2500

      Philadelphia 76ers: +3000

      Portland Trail Blazers: +3500

      Utah Jazz: +4000

      New Orleans Pelicans: +5000

      Oklahoma City Thunder: +6600

      Phoenix Suns: +6600

      Atlanta Hawks: +10000

      Chicago Bulls: +10000

      Indiana Pacers: +10000

      Memphis Grizzlies: +10000

      Washington Wizards: +15000

      Minnesota Timberwolves: +20000

      Orlando Magic: +20000

      Sacramento Kings: +25000

      San Antonio Spurs: +25000

      Charlotte Hornets: +30000

      Cleveland Cavaliers: +35000

      Detroit Pistons: +35000

      New York Knicks: +35000

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Heat activate G Dragic for Game 6
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, October 11, 2020

    Despite originally being listed as doubtful for Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat activated guard Goran Dragic, who has a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, The Athletic reported.

    • Dragic has been a key component to the Heat's offense, scoring 20.9 points per game in 15 playoff contests before the NBA Finals began. He then played 15 minutes in Game 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers and scored six points before his foot injury occurred.

      Dragic has not seen any action in the Finals since, with Jimmy Butler able to keep the team's title chances alive by leading the team on both sides of the floor. The Heat trailed 3-2 headed into Sunday night's contest.

      Dragic, 34, averaged 16.2 points with 5.1 assists in 59 games this season. His only two starts of the regular season came in the final two games he played, before he started all 15 games in the playoffs.

      In 12 seasons, Dragic has scored 13.9 points per game with 4.8 assists. He has started 511 of his 817 career games for the Phoenix Suns (2008-11, 2012-15), Houston Rockets (2011-12) and the Heat, who he joined in 2015.

      --Field Level Media