Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant says he got stronger during NBA break

Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant has reportedly added strength to his frame. Here’s reporting:

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, the Rookie of the Year front-runner, feels like he’s ready to take off after making physical improvements during the NBA’s hiatus.

Morant, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, said he added 12 pounds during the three-plus-month break. He also believes his right knee, which was repaired in a minor arthroscopic surgery last June, is stronger now than it has been throughout a rookie campaign highlighted by spectacular dunks…

“I’m stronger, can absorb contact and those things,” Morant said.

Morant is still the favorite to win NBA Rookie of the Year. Zion Williamson is also a fantastic rookie but his season got off to a very late start due to injury, and now with league play shortened, Morant clearly deserves the award.

Seeing Morant stonger is just yet another fun thing to look forward to during the NBA’s restart, which if all goes according to plan is exactly four weeks away.

Marv Albert will reportedly not be on site when NBA resumes at Disney

Everyone’s concern regarding the NBA restart this summer at Disney World in Orlando is safety. This is especially true of any coaches, executives or other staff who are high up in the years department. Here’s the New York Post reporting on an NBA broadcasting legend:

Marv Albert, arguably the greatest NBA play-by-player of all-time, will not be part of TNT’s on-site coverage when the NBA resumes its season in July at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., The Post has learned.

Albert, 79, has been the longtime lead voice for Turner, but will not be a part of the coverage with the NBA planning to have its national announcers on site in the league’s bubble.

COVID-19 has impacted people of all ages, but has been more dire for those 65 years and older.

It’ll be interesting to see how many broadcasters do go and what the setup is. Broadcasting can certainly be done remotely, but it’s tricky if the broadcaster is in their own home, as opposed to a professional studio. But of course, safety always comes first.

Former NBA referee and current Senior VP of Referee Operations Joe Borgia retires

Joe Borgia, a former NBA official and current Senior Vice President, Referee Operations, announced his retirement today following a celebrated 32-year NBA career.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to officiate at the top of our profession and then transition to a role committed to the advancement and improvement of our officials,” said Borgia. “I am especially proud of the NBA Replay Center. Its continued evolution in improving our game is an example of the dedication the NBA’s Referee Operations department has to excellence and innovation.”

Borgia was instrumental in the design and development of the NBA Replay Center, which opened with the 2014-15 season. The state-of-the-art facility, based in Secaucus, N.J., has been a groundbreaking tool to enhance the performance of NBA referees and to accelerate the replay review process.

For five seasons from 2014-19, Borgia was the main point of contact for the NBA Replay Center. This season, he refocused his efforts on the newly created Coach’s Challenge. As he did with the Replay Center, Borgia developed the rules and handled the execution for the Coach’s Challenge, which was approved by the NBA Board of Governors for use during the 2019-20 season.

“Joe’s imprint on the NBA and contributions to a multitude of officiating platforms will be lasting,” said Byron Spruell, President, League Operations. “We thank him for his leadership, passion and committed service to the game, and wish him the best in his retirement.”

Borgia was hired to the NBA referee staff in 1988. He officiated 10 seasons before an injury forced him to retire in 1998. He joined the basketball and referee operations department in 1999.

He served as the NBA’s rules interpreter for more than 15 years, creating training videos and interpreting the rules of the game for officials, teams, broadcasters and media. Borgia made many in-game and postgame appearances on network television to give broadcasters and viewers clarity on rules interpretation and officiating calls. He was also instrumental in converting the NBA’s recruitment and development of officials from the Continental Basketball Association to the NBA’s D-League (currently the NBA G League).

On the court, Borgia worked two of the most famous games in NBA history: the highest-scoring game (Detroit Pistons at Denver Nuggets, 186-184 on Dec. 13, 1983) and the longest modern-day game (Seattle SuperSonics at Milwaukee Bucks, which lasted five overtimes, on Nov. 9, 1989).

Borgia is the son of the late Sid Borgia, a legendary referee who officiated in the NBA for 20 years beginning in 1946. Sid Borgia also served as supervisor of officials during the latter years of his career.

Nuggets players begin mandatory coronavirus testing

Most teams around the league — specifically the 22 that have been invited by the NBA to resume the 2019-20 season at Disney in Florida — will be going through something similar to what is described below by the Denver Post:

Tuesday marks the most formal operations the NBA has seen since the coronavirus abruptly forced a stoppage in play more than 100 days ago.

All Nuggets players and staffers will undergo mandatory coronavirus testing beginning Tuesday, which includes a high-sensitivity PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and a high-sensitivity serology/antibody test. Players, team staffers and even Nuggets officials who aren’t planning on traveling to Orlando to resume the season must undergo the testing.

PCR testing (nasal swabs) will be conducted every other day for the duration of the season, in addition to daily health monitoring such as temperature checks. The antibody test will be repeated in the event of a positive test.

It’s crunch time. We’re now in a crucial period. It’s certainly quite possible that over the next few days, some players likely will test positive for coronavirus. If it’s managed correctly, such results won’t hinder the league’s attempt to resume play in late July as planned.

Raptors preparing to resume NBA season

The Toronto Raptors announced Monday that they will prepare for a resumption to the 2019-20 NBA season in Fort Myers, Florida.

The Raptors are one of 22 teams the NBA is including in their plans to play a handful of regular season games leading into what will hopefully be a full 2020 playoffs.

Select players and staff will depart from Toronto today. The Raptors will remain in the Fort Myers area until entering the NBA Campus at Disney, near Orlando, in early July for the remainder of the season.

In keeping with NBA and team safety protocols, there will be no group workouts during this phase of return to play, and strict protocols have been designed to ensure this initial level of access will take place in a safe, controlled, and healthy way.

Group workouts will only begin once teams have reported to the NBA Campus at Disney.

Wizards forward Davis Bertans reportedly will not rejoin Wizards in Disney quarantine bubble

As the NBA attempts to restart play in late July at the single-site location of Disney Wide World of Sports in Orlando, individual players must decide if they want to be involved. Presumably, most do want to play — or else the Players Union likely would have stated so by now. But certainly some players on the 22 teams the NBA is including in their return-to-play plan, for various reasons, may not want to participate. Here’s the Washington Post reporting:

Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans, the team’s best three-point shooter and its prized upcoming free agent, will not play in Orlando when the NBA season resumes July 30.

Bertans has opted to end his season after the long hiatus from playing, according to several people with knowledge of his plans.

Bertans, who has not practiced for months since the NBA shut down in mid-March amid the coronavirus pandemic, felt that attempting to come back and play would “not be the smartest thing to do,” according to a person familiar with his mind-set. Bertans, 27, is expected to be one of the top players in the upcoming free agent class and is the Wizards’ highest priority to re-sign.

We’re now already in late June, which means if other players don’t plan to participate, chances are their wishes will become public very soon, likely in the next few days.

Warriors forward Eric Paschall says Stephen Curry never stops moving

Everyone knows that Warriors guard Stephen Curry is an awesome player, but it’s always fun to hear the precise wording other players choose to use when discussing him and other greats. Especially when it’s a teammate sharing their particularly unique perspective. Here’s NBC Sports Bay Area reporting:

Eric Paschall didn’t get to share the floor with Steph Curry a lot during his rookie season, as the Warriors star played just five games after breaking his non-shooting hand in October.

But that doesn’t mean the Villanova product didn’t get an up-close look at how true greatness works and operates. In the mere five games that Paschall played with Curry, he was able to see what makes the Warriors star so hard to defend.

“He does not stop moving,” Paschall told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck on “The Full 48.” “It’s kind of crazy, like, you just see him like, move, move, move, move, move. It kind of messes you up because you’re not used to it especially as a rookie but when you play with him you start to understand where he’s going and what the plays are. I felt like I ended up getting an understanding and seeing what it’s like to play with him and it’s pretty fun.”

Eyes will be back on the Warriors during the 2020-21 offseason. It’ll be a pivotal free agency period for a squad that is back to revolving around famous trio Steph, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, plus Andrew Wiggins, who was acquired last season. Paschall was a big bright spot for the Warriors last season, and should certainly be in the rotation going forward. But more roster work is needed heading into 2020-21 if the team aims to be true championship contenders once again.

Knicks head coaching job candidates

The Knicks need a new head coach. Whoever gets the job will be in a rebuilding situation, and presumably focused primarily on developing young talent, because that’ll be a more realistic goal than one that involves racking up lots of wins. It’s a high-profile job, regardless of the players on the roster. New York City and the Knicks will always be in a spotlight.

Here’s the New York Post:

Leon Rose and the Knicks are widening their net for prospective head coaches, adding fresh names to an experienced pool that has grown to seven known candidates.

Having already been linked to established names such as favorite Tom Thibodeau, former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, interim coach Mike Miller and former Knicks coach Mike Woodson, they are now planning to interview a trio of assistant coaches: Ime Udoka of the 76ers, Pat Delany of the Magic and Chris Fleming of the Bulls, according to The Athletic and ESPN…

The 62-year-old Thibodeau, who previously coached the Timberwolves and the Bulls, is considered the front-runner for the job.

The Knicks this past season were led in scoring by forward Marcus Morris (19.6 PPG), forward Julius Randle (19.5 PPG) and rookie shooting guard RJ Barrett (14.3 PPG).

The team’s primary young talent is Barrett and center Mitchell Robinson.

Expect the Knicks to at least attempt big moves in the free agency department. Many of the team’s best players last season were on short-term contracts. Much of the roster is subject to change.

Bill Russell responds to Kendrick Perkins on most athlete NBA player ever

Here’s reporting on a fun interaction between NBA legend Bill Russell and retired player Kendrick Perkins:

Bill Russell led the Celtics to 11 NBA championships, and also won a 1956 gold medal with the U.S. men’s basketball team. He’s also not afraid to make his own case when the discussion of “most athletic player in NBA history” is brought up.

After fellow former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins tweeted his opinion that LeBron James is the league’s most athletic player ever, Russell responded.

“In ’56 I could have made the Olympics in high jump but turned it down to play basketball instead,” Russell reminded Perkins.

While a student at the University of San Francisco, Russell competed in several track and field events, excelling in the 400 meters and the high jump…

Perkins reacted to Russell with a new realization: He agreed.

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver likes to use a flip phone

Here’s the Arizona Republic reporting on Phoenix Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver’s regular use of a flip phone, as opposed to something a bit more technical and modern:

Sarver recently revealed why he chooses to use a flip phone in an interview with the Suns’ Lindsey Smith in a recent entry of the team’s video production: The Outlet.

“I know, people make fun of that,” Sarver said during the interview. “Here’s the honest reason. The honest reason is I don’t want to have a device on me that I can get on the internet and I can look at emails, because it is too distracting. And for someone like me who has a little ADD, if I am with people, I need to be with people. I can’t be constantly looking at my phone. Listen, the technology of these phones and everything are great, they do a lot of stuff, but they also sometimes can interfere with your ability to have one-on-one conversation in meetings.”

The larger point here is worth considering. Whatever your prime focus is during a given moment, whether something fun like watching basketball or serious like a business deal, it’s always effective to eliminate additional distractions.