In-development Timberwolves would benefit if season continues

The NBA is currently deciding how to proceed regarding resuming play, possibly as early as mid or late July. It sounds increasingly likely that at the very least, we’ll hopefully get a 2019-20 postseason.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune:

If the Wolves are part of a restart, though, the main benefit would be a chance for the revamped Wolves — who dramatically made over their roster a month before the shutdown, adding D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and a host of other players — to play together and gather momentum toward next season.

We’re all rooting for NBA play to resume. Which will only happen if the world in and out of sports becomes more and more safe.

Dallas Mavericks practice facility will open May 28

The Dallas Mavericks, in compliance with NBA guidance and working closely with team medical professionals, will open their practice facility for voluntary player workouts beginning Thursday, May 28.

Mavericks players may choose to access the practice facility as per protocols established by the NBA and local health officials.

All Mavericks facilities remain closed to non-essential staff, media and the public until further notice.

Three Bulls players who could benefit from the NBA resuming the 2019-20 season

NBA play has been on hold since mid March. In the next week or two, we could get word on if the 2019-20 season will resume, possibly by late July. Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting on some Bulls players who might benefit from regular season play resuming, as opposed to being cancelled:

Three Bulls that would most benefit from a restart:

1. Coby White — The rookie is unbeaten as the starting point guard, earning the nod against Cleveland just before the coronavirus shutdown hit the NBA. Five to 10 more games could at least show the new front office that White does have solid enough point guard skills that they could look at a different position when the draft does take place.

2. Lauri Markkanen — Last we left the 7-foot enigma, he was unhappy with the current structure of his own organization. That was reported by multiple media outlets, including the Sun-Times. A big part of that structure has changed in the front office, however, and more could be on the way with the coaching staff.

3. Otto Porter Jr. — The veteran forward makes the Bulls better when he plays. The record and stats back that up. The problem is he has seldom played since being acquired last season, and needs to start showing some reliability.

The Bulls were nowhere near a playoff team this season. But one idea being floated around is a play-in tournament that might give all 30 squads a shot at the postseason.

Dwyane Wade has some advice for NFL quarterback Tua Tagovailoa

Advice on being a pro athlete from retired NBA star Dwyane Wade is worth listening to. Even if it’s for a guy who plays football. Here’s the Miami Herald reporting:

The three-time champion wasn’t drafted to “save the franchise,” but expectations certainly changed after the Heat’s first title in 2006. Throw in the two that he won in the early 2010s and there’s an argument that Tua Tagovailoa should strive to emulate Wade rather than Dan Marino.

But greatness can easily be hindered if you get caught up in the glitz and glamour of Miami. In a recent conversation with ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe, Wade advised 22-year-old quarterback to focus on winning first rather than what the city has to offer.

“Put your head down and go to work. The city of Miami is going to be there, the nightlife is going to be there, the endorsements and all of those things — get your money but don’t let those things take away from your main goal and purpose,” Wade told ESPN. “… Football right now for you in that city is the most important thing. Everything else will come as you win”

Famed Miami nightlife is both a gift and a curse. Depending on how much you take advantage of it, and when you have to wake up for work the next day.

Knicks hire Brock Aller, Walt Perrin and Frank Zanin; sign Scott Perry to extension

The New York Knicks made following hirings today: Brock Aller as vice president, basketball and strategic planning, Walt Perrin as assistant general manager in college scouting, and Frank Zanin as assistant general manager in pro scouting.

The Knicks also signed general manager Scott Perry to extension, through the 2020-21 season.

“We have assembled a diverse front office comprised of highly regarded and experienced basketball executives who have influenced some of the most successful players and organizations in the league,” Knicks President Leon Rose said. “These additions will complement the structure we already have in place and assist us in acquiring talent and developing strategies to build a team our fans can be proud of.”

Per the New York Post, “the hirings of Aller, Perrin and Zanin puts the futures of current basketball operations staffers Gerald Madkins, Harold Ellis and capologist Michael Arcieri in serious doubt. Their contracts expire in August and all were hired by Perry — with Ellis known as a key hard-working facilitator in trade talks. It is all but assured player developmental chief Craig Robinson is on the way out too. Robinson was added by former president Steve Mills as they are both former Princeton teammates.”

Aller joins the Knicks after spending seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers in various roles. After four seasons as the team’s senior director, strategic planning, he was named senior director of basketball operations for the Cavaliers in July 2017. Aller played a key front office role in the Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship run, which ended Cleveland’s major league championship drought after 52 years. Prior to his time in Cleveland, Aller spent nine years (2005-14) in Detroit working directly with Dan Gilbert and Cavaliers ownership as a liaison and advisor on business and basketball operations.

Perrin joins the Knicks after spending 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz, the last 12 years as vice president of player personnel. Perrin’s responsibilities included evaluating players on all levels and assisting the general manager with potential player acquisitions. Perrin assisted the Jazz in drafting All-Stars such as Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Deron Williams. He also acquired All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in separate draft day trades with the Denver Nuggets. During Perrin’s tenure, Utah won three divisional titles and qualified for the playoffs nine times, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2006-07. Prior to joining the Jazz, Perrin spent time with the Detroit Pistons (1993-02) and Minnesota Timberwolves (1991-93) in various roles including assistant coach and director of scouting.

Zanin joins the Knicks after three years as a pro scout with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He previously served as the assistant general manager for the Brooklyn Nets (2013-16), where he began his tenure with the team as a pro personnel scout (2010-12) and then director of player procurement (2012-13). In his four seasons with Brooklyn/New Jersey the Nets qualified for the playoffs three times. Prior to joining the Nets, he spent nine seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers in a variety of roles including video intern (1999-00), video coordinator (2000-03), advance scout/assistant coach (2003-06) and pro personnel scout (2006-08). During his tenure with Philadelphia the 76ers made the playoffs six times including advancing to the NBA Finals in 2001.

Pelicans just outside playoffs in NBA West

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Here’s the New Orleans Times-Picayune on the Pelicans’ situation, which right now involves missing the playoffs unless the regular season does resume. Which it might, unless the league decides to go straight to the playoffs. Unless, of course, the remainder of 2019-20 gets cancelled. All of those options are on the table, for now.

The Pelicans — who at 28-36 are in 10th place in the Western Conference — are rooting for anything that doesn’t involve going straight to the postseason. They trail the Memphis Grizzlies, who are in eighth place, by 3½ games.

Earlier this month, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said he is hopeful that his team would get enough games “to do some damage in.”

“We want to play meaningful games, and if we can be put in that position, we’d be grateful,” Griffin said. “I think it will be difficult for the league to have us come back into the facility and get ready for – let’s call it a month to get physically ready, and then play only a week or two weeks of games. So I think unless they’re able to give us a full schedule, they won’t have us come back.”

The league is currently examining a plan to resume action possibly in July, possibly, in a single location: Disney Wide World of Sports, in Orlando. A decision on that should come in the next few weeks.

A look back at the 76ers trade for Wilt Chamberlain

Here’s NBC Sports Philly with their take on what might be the best trade in 76ers team history:

Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann, Lee Shaffer and cash to the San Francisco Warriors for Wilt Chamberlain:

Shaffer retired shortly after the trade, while Dierking and Neumann both had some solid NBA years left. Neither player, however, was in Chamberlain’s stratosphere. Chamberlain averaged 27.6 points, 23.9 rebounds and 6.8 assists in three-plus seasons as a Sixer, winning the championship in 1967. He probably shouldn’t have been dealt for anything less than multiple All-Stars — or perhaps an All-Star and a heap of first-round picks — but the Warriors were struggling financially and gave up a player who’d led the league in scoring for five consecutive seasons.

It would be cool for more Wilt footage to pop up someday, somehow.

Pro sports teams in New York now allowed to hold training camps

Normal life in and out of sports has been largely put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s the New York Post reporting some New York state-wide news:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to get professional sports going again in New York took another step forward Sunday.

Cuomo said during a press conference at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh that as of Sunday, professional sports leagues can begin holding training camps in New York, as leagues work on their plans to resume play amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” Cuomo said.

Such re-openings need to be done carefully and methodically. Of course, pro sports teams know this, and have been preparing and planning for a while now.

Former NBA All-Star and legendary Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has died

The Utah Jazz have issued the following statement and background information in response to the passing of NBA and Jazz legend Jerry Sloan earlier this morning due to complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia at the age of 78:

From the Utah Jazz:

“Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz. He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organization and we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss. We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise.

“Our Hall of Fame coach for 23 years, Jerry had a tremendous impact on the Jazz franchise as expressed by his banner hanging in the arena rafters. His 1,223 Jazz coaching wins, 20 trips to the NBA Playoffs and two NBA Finals appearances are remarkable achievements. His hard-nosed approach only made him more beloved. Even after his retirement, his presence at Jazz games always brought a roaring response from the crowd.

“Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization. He will be greatly missed. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Tammy, the entire Sloan family and all who knew and loved him.”

From the Miller Family:

“It was an honor and a privilege to have one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history coaching our team. We have appreciated our relationship with Jerry and acknowledge his dedication to and passion for the Utah Jazz. He has left an enduring legacy with this franchise and our family. The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans. We pray his family will find solace and comfort in Jerry’s life. The Miller family and Jazz organization will be proud to honor him with a permanent tribute.”

Background:

A 2009 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Sloan spent 23 seasons as the head coach of the Jazz (1988-2011), finishing his career with the third most wins in NBA history (1,221-803), sixth best winning percentage (.603) all-time (min. 500 wins), two NBA Finals appearances (1997 and 1998) and seven division titles. He also guided the Jazz to 16 consecutive winning seasons and thirteen 50-win seasons. Sloan’s teams made 20 trips to the NBA Playoffs (19 with Utah: 1989-2003, ’07-10) and his 98 playoff wins are the sixth most in NBA history.

Sloan ranks second on the NBA’s all-time list for consecutive games coached with one franchise (1,809), and also owns the second most wins with one team (1,127). Sloan is one of just seven coaches in league history to win at least 50 games in 10 different seasons (Rick Adelman, Don Nelson, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich and George Karl). Sloan’s 16 consecutive winning seasons (1988-2004) are fourth-most all-time (Popovich-22, Jackson-20, Riley-19) and he joined Popovich (22), Jackson (11) and Red Auerbach (11) as the only four coaches in NBA history to have 10 straight winning seasons with one team. Sloan was the first coach to ever win 1,000 games with one franchise and was the fifth coach in NBA history to record 1,000 career wins.

After leading the Jazz to a 42-40 record in 2003-04 in the first season following the departures of John Stockton and Karl Malone, Sloan was selected by The Sporting News as the NBA Coach of the Year as voted on by his NBA peers, and was runner-up for the Red Auerbach NBA Coach of the Year as voted by a panel of national media that covers the NBA. He also finished second in NBA Coach of the Year balloting in 2006-07. He was named NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month 10 times during his career. In 2016, Sloan was honored at halftime of that night’s NBA Finals Game 3 in Cleveland as the co-recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Basketball Coaches Association (along with former Celtics coach K.C. Jones).

Sloan worked for the Jazz organization for 34 years as either head coach, assistant, scout or senior basketball adviser. Sloan started with the Jazz as a scout (1983-84), became an assistant coach to Frank Layden on Nov. 19, 1984, and was named the sixth head coach in franchise history on December 9, 1988, when Layden resigned. Twenty-three seasons and 1,809 games later, Sloan finished his career as the Jazz’s winningest coach based on both wins and winning percentage (1,127-682, .623). The longest tenured coach with one franchise in all of major professional sports at the time of his retirement, there were 245 NBA head coaching changes during his Jazz coaching career. Sloan coached 133 different players during his tenure as head coach of the Jazz.

Sloan’s banner at Vivint Smart Home arena hangs next to five of his former players whose numbers are retired: Mark Eaton (53), Darrell Griffith (35), Jeff Hornacek (14), Karl Malone (32) and John Stockton (12); his former head coach and general manager Frank Layden (1); longtime Jazz owner Larry H. Miller (9), legendary broadcaster “Hot” Rod Hundley (3051) and former Jazz players Adrian Dantley (4) and Pete Maravich (7).

A veteran of the NBA as a player and coach for more than 45 years, prior to joining the Jazz, Sloan coached the Chicago Bulls for three seasons (1979-82) and was a two-time NBA All-Star as a player (1967, 1969) over 11 NBA seasons with Chicago and Baltimore (1965-76). Sloan became the first player in Bulls’ history to have his number retired when the franchise retired his No. 4 jersey on Feb. 17, 1978.

Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf released the following statement after the passing of Jerry Sloan:

“Jerry Sloan was ‘The Original Bull’ whose tenacious defense and nightly hustle on the court represented the franchise and epitomized the city of Chicago. Jerry was the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s, and very appropriately, his uniform No. 4 was the first jersey retired by the team. A great player and a Hall-of-Fame NBA coach, most importantly, Jerry was a great person. Our sympathies go out to the Sloan family and all his many fans.”

Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich issued the following statement regarding the passing of Jerry Sloan:

“It’s a sad day for all of us who knew Jerry Sloan. Not only on the basketball court but, more importantly, as a human being. He was genuine and true. And that is rare. He was a mentor for me from afar until I got to know him. A man who suffered no fools, he possessed a humor, often disguised, and had a heart as big as the prairie.”

Knicks legend Willis Reed holds a special place in team history

Everyone knows that center Willis Reed is one of the most important players in New York Knicks history. But there’s also one very specific accomplishment that separates him from the team’s other former greats. Heres’ the New York Post:

The 1 and only… Knick to win MVP of the NBA Finals: Willis Reed

The Time: May 8 1970; May 10, 1973.

The Background: The Knicks, despite being a charter member of the NBA, had never won a championship despite being in the Finals three straight years (1951, ’52, ’53), losing twice to George Mikan’s Minneapolis Lakers and once to the Rochester Royals (featuring a point guard named Red Holzman). The Knicks also lost NBA Finals trips in 1972, ’94 and ’99).

Clyde Frazier deserves a very honorary head-nod here, as the article goes on to point out.

New Yorkers look forward to the day when it isn’t just Reed who has won this honor.