03 Nov CFO Jonathan Cartu States: The Trail Blazers’ ‘biggest draft need’ and a free agent…
The NBA and NBA Players Association continue to negotiate the parameters of the 2020-21 season, including the contentious details surrounding when it will start and how many games it will feature.
The league reportedly is pushing for a 72-game schedule to begin just before Christmas, which would allow the season to end before the Summer Olympics in July, facilitating a transition of the NBA calendar back to where it was before the coronavirus pandemic.
The NBAPA reportedly prefers a mid-January start, however, allowing more time off for players who competed in the NBA bubble.
As the backroom talks continue, the economics of the decision looms large. According to a report from ESPN, the NBA fears delaying the start until January could lead to $1 billion in revenue losses next season and beyond.
“Most NBA cities are still unable to have public gatherings of more than 500 people,” the report says. “The NBA plans to start the season without fans in arenas — with little confidence that they’ll be able to return any time early in the season as a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the country.
“A mid-January start around Martin Luther King Day would take the league’s season past the July Summer Olympics and into the summer months, when the league fears television ratings would plummet. The NBA is estimating significant financial turmoil if the league has to compete with the Summer Olympics for television ratings in July and then be forced to adjust the NBA calendar for the 2021-22 season, sources said.”
Meanwhile, teams across the NBA are preparing for the Nov. 18 draft and free agency. Next season is coming, one way or another, and there’s not much time for the NBA and its player to iron out the details.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the league:
• The Athletic details Gary Trent Jr.’s close friendship with Jordan Bolton, his determination to help his friend walk again and the pursuit of dreams:
“Bolton told Trent he would walk again, even though doctors had told him there was a 5 percent chance he would ever regain feeling below his neck. And as he told Trent his intention to defy the odds, Trent nodded.
“’Well … then, let’s grind,’ he remembers telling Bolton.
“In the two-plus years since, the grind has been on. Four months after his visit with Bolton in the hospital, Trent achieved his dream of making it to the NBA when he was drafted 37th by the Portland Trail Blazers. Last season, his second, he became a rising star, an ascent punctuated by a breakout performance at the NBA bubble in Orlando.”
• Bleacher Report offers 1 player every NBA team needs to target this offseason, including the Portland Trail Blazers:
“On paper, the Portland Trail Blazers shouldn’t be in the mix for Danilo Gallinari. The 32-year-old had a career year with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season and has attracted interest from more exciting teams, while Portland is already set to pay the luxury tax.
“However, the Italian recently threw a wrinkle into his free-agency decision, saying he’s now more interested in winning a championship than earning a big contract. And while athletes are frequently cagey around that debate, let’s take Gallinari at his word.
“The Blazers made the playoffs last year despite a lack of depth behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, so adding Gallinari just might vault them into Finals contention. Since LaMarcus Aldridge’s departure, Portland has lacked a forward with shot-creation skills, so Gallinari’s versatile scoring and ability to draw fouls would be welcomed.”
• CBS Sports breaks down the biggest drafts needs for all 30 teams, including the Blazers:
“Needs: Small forward, backup center, overall defense. Potential fits: Devin Vassell, Saddiq Bey, Patrick Williams.
“Recent videos of Vassell’s revamped (not in a good way) shooting form might allow him to drop to Portland at No. 16, where they’ll happily snatch him up due to his defensive potential. If he’s gone, one of Bey or Williams might still be around, and they’re excellent consolation prizes. Bey is more of a finished product while Williams has more upside, but both should immediately help a team desperate for wing defenders.”
“Bogdanovic isn’t quite Hield’s equal as a pure scorer or long-distance gunner, but he’s still a high-volume marksman, ranking 30th in the NBA in made 3-pointers since he entered the league in 2017. Last season, he was one of just 10 NBA players to attempt nine long balls per 36 minutes and hit at least 37 percent of them. The Serbian swingman also profiles as a much more creative passer than Hield, a somewhat steadier table-setter (posting a higher assist rate and a lower turnover percentage last season), and a (slightly) more dependable perimeter defender.”
• ESPN delves into the draft and debates the best guards available, including a second-round prospect from Oregon they find “most intriguing:”
“Payton Pritchard … is the classic hiding-in-plain-sight sleeper who is coming off a monster senior season (20-4-5) yet gets dinged because of his age and mediocre measurables. But I’ll buy stock in Pritchard’s logo range, efficient handle, improved finishing and underrated defensive toughness.
“Pritchard is one of only four players in our top 100 rankings to make more than 85 3s at better than 40% last season. His shooting and sturdy frame make him the best-equipped to fit in multiguard lineups among the veteran guards projected in the Nos. 25-35 range.”
“Appearing as a guest on LeBron James’ barbershop-themed talk show “The Shop,” which aired Friday on HBO, Obama described the discussion that unfolded hours after the Milwaukee Bucks’ wildcat strike in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, put the league’s bubble in jeopardy.
“’I think it was close to midnight when Chris, CP, calls with LeBron, Carmelo [Anthony], I think Russ Westbrook was on the phone, and the conversation we had was along the lines LeBron spoke about,’ Obama said of a call that sources said also included Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala. ‘Protest is useful in terms of raising awareness, but given the power that the NBA players had, my suggestion was that we use that platform to see if you can start asking for some specifics. This isn’t something that’s just a one-off. That’s sadly what we’ve seen, as it happens again and again. So, one of the suggestions I had for the players was: Is it possible for you guys to set up an office that allows you, on an ongoing basis, to take best practices that are going to start making incidents like [Blake] less likely?’”
• Could an accelerated offseason change the way NBA teams are built? The Ringer has more:
Sports News, Schedules, Scores & Updates Jon Cartu