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TODAY'S NBA RUMORS

Updated Friday, October 23, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. ET

The NBA's board of governors is meeting Friday and is discussing possible changes to plans for the 2020-21 season, including starting as quickly as possible, playing fewer than 82 games and not waiting for fans to be permitted to all league arenas, sources told ESPN. There has been some discussion among owners about starting as soon as Christmas Day to take advantage of that historically prime NBA showcase, sources said. Numerous teams contacted by ESPN over the past several days weren't sure such a timeline was feasible. Others have been pushing for a start around Martin Luther King Day weekend in mid-January, sources said. ESPN.com

The league also continues to discuss tournament and play-in scenarios. The NBA has long planned to use the upcoming 75th anniversary season in 2021-22 to experiment with new revenue-generating formats. However, after using a play-in tournament in the Orlando bubble, the league could revisit the option for next season. ESPN.com

Oct. 30 is setting up to be a key date. The NBA and NBPA agreed that day would be the deadline to complete ongoing discussions on modifications to the collective bargaining agreement for the 2020-21 season, a date that requires the league or union to provide 45 days' notice if either decides to terminate the CBA -- a scenario that sources continue to believe is a remote possibility. ESPN.com

Six NBA championship rings that commemorate the Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s have sold individually for a combined value of $255,840. The bling originally belonged to longtime Bulls security guard John Capps, who had been with the organization from 1966 until his death in 2018. He also appeared in the Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” that debuted earlier this year. Chicago Sun Times

MAIN MORNING STORIES

The 2020 NBA draft on Nov. 18 will be held virtually and hosted from ESPN's studios in Bristol, Connecticut, the NBA and ESPN announced Thursday. ESPN.com

Shaq says if the Clippers ever want to win an NBA championship, they gotta ship Paul George’s ass outta Los Angeles ... like now!! Some background ... after landing Leonard and PG last season, the Clips were favorites to win an NBA title in 2020 ... but ended up getting bounced by the Denver Nuggets in the 2nd round of the playoffs. TMZ.com

Nate Robinson will enter the ring that night for a six-round bout against famed YouTuber Jake Paul (1-0, 1 KO) on the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. undercard. Robinson's camp started at the end of August and is expected to wrap almost a week and a half before the fight date. His team includes strength and conditioning coach Chris Denina -- who typically works with Robinson in the mornings -- and boxing trainer Francisco "Paco" Reyes of Tenochtitlan Boxing Club in Renton, Washington. Reyes oversees the evening sessions. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY

Pritchard, in a Zoom introduction with new Indiana head coach Nate Bjorkgren, said Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis are progressing well through their various ailments. Oladipo, who is still recovering from a ruptured right quad tendon in 2019 that affected his health even when the Pacers returned for the NBA restart, is "full-out cleared," Pritchard said. Pritchard continued that Sabonis is progressing, but that plantar fasciitis requires time to heal. Indy Star



NBA RUMORS FROM WEDNESDAY

Stan Van Gundy has agreed to a multiyear deal to become the next head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, sources told ESPN on Wednesday. Van Gundy, the former Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons head coach, becomes the seventh coach in Pelicans franchise history. ESPN.com

New Orleans could opt to extend guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart once the league year starts; both of them took steps forward in their development last season. ESPN.com

New Orleans also has the No. 13 pick in the upcoming 2020 draft as well as three second-round picks (No. 39, 43 and 60). That's only the beginning of the Pelicans' future draft assets. They still own the Los Angeles Lakers' picks in either 2021 (protected 8-30) or 2022 (unprotected), 2023 (pick swap) and either 2024 or 2025, with New Orleans able to defer a 2024 pick swap one year. ESPN.com

The 2020 NBA draft is less than a month away, but the Minnesota Timberwolves still don't see a can't-miss guy to take with the No. 1 pick. After months of planning to make the top pick for the second time in franchise history, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas is confident that the team will identify that player by Nov. 18. ESPN.com

Minnesota (19-45) also holds the 17th and 33rd draft picks after missing the postseason for the second consecutive season. ESPN.com

California will let fans back in outdoor stadiums for pro sporting events in counties with low coronavirus infection rates, the state's top health official said Tuesday. San Francisco and neighboring Alameda and Santa Clara are the only counties that meet the threshold for pro sports. However, immediately after the announcement, officials in Santa Clara, home to the San Francisco 49ers, issued a statement saying they weren't prepared to allow even a limited number of fans into Levi's Stadium. ESPN.com

It's been nearly 2 weeks since the Lakers won the 'ship ... but the team clearly ain't ready to stop the party yet -- 'cause some of L.A.'s stars hit Hollywood on Tuesday for another celebration! TMZ Sports got footage of Dwight Howard, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Dion Waiters hittin' up Delilah ... and the evening looked awesome. TMZ.com

Wait, is LeBron James now a Los Angeles Dodgers fan? The Los Angeles Lakers superstar, who just won his fourth NBA title, has a fickle relationship with his baseball loyalties. James has long claimed to be a fan of the New York Yankees. "I'm a supporter of winners," James told the New York Post in 2016. "As a kid growing up, I needed inspiration to get out of the situation I was in. I loved the Bulls, Cowboys and loved the Yankees. Those are winning franchises." ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY

The Indiana Pacers have hired Toronto Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach, the team announced via news release. Bjorkgren has spent the last two season with Nick Nurse in Toronto after winning the G-League title together in 2010-11, making him the first assistant coach to win an NBA Finals (Raptors) and an NBA G-League title (Iowa Energy, 2010-11). Indy Star

The 45-year-old Iowa native was an assistant with the Phoenix Suns from 2015-2017 under coaches Jeff Hornacek and Earl Watson. Bjorkgen compiled a 126-74 record as a head coach for four different teams in the G-League. Bjorkgren replaces Nate McMillan, who was fired after four seasons in charge and three first-round sweeps. Indy Star

The other name that’s been floated in trade rumors is two-time Indiana All-Star Victor Oladipo. His contract situation (unrestricted in 2021) makes him a natural candidate to get moved if the Pacers aren’t confident about re-signing him. His trade value, after playing just 55 games over the past two seasons as a result of a ruptured quad, is significantly diminished since the injury.

The most tantalizing “win-now” move for the Nuggets would be to acquire 27-year-old Washington shooting guard Bradley Beal. The league’s No. 2 scorer behind James Harden, Beal represents arguably the juiciest trade chip across the league. But there are several obstacles to Beal landing in Denver. The first is that he’s given no indication he wants to leave Washington, and multiple league sources believe the Wizards don’t want to move him. He has two more seasons before deciding on a 2022-’23 player option, which buys the Wizards time. Not that the Wizards have been in anything other than purgatory the last few seasons, but moving Beal means a full-scale rebuild. Denver Post



NBA RUMORS FROM MONDAY

Minnesota sports columnist and radio personality Sid Hartman, an old-school home team booster who once ran the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers and achieved nearly as much celebrity as some of the athletes he covered, died Sunday. He was 100. Hartman, whose first newspaper column was published in 1945, died surrounded by his family, Star Tribune sports editor Chris Carr said. ESPN.com

"It's a sad day,'' Carr told The Associated Press. "He is the Star Tribune in many ways, at least in the sports department. It speaks to his amazing life that even at 100 and a half years old, he passes away and we still can't believe it.'' He kept up his age-defying pace even after his 100th birthday party on March 15 was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hartman continued to write three columns per week for the Star Tribune as a centenarian, four during football season, and served as co-host of a Sunday morning radio show on WCCO-AM in Minneapolis. ESPN.com

When Daryl Morey resigned as Rockets general manager Thursday, he left many local basketball fans in a sense of stunned mourning. In his 13 seasons as general manager, the Rockets never won a championship, but he always had them competitive - they had the second-best record in the NBA during his tenure - on the cusp of a ring multiple times and always daring to be great by pulling off trades for James Harden, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. Houston Chronicle

On Sunday, Morey thanked those fans, as well as Rockets personnel, by taking out a full-page color ad in the Houston Chronicle. The ad features a 2012 photo of Morey and Harden at Harden's press conference after the Rockets pulled off a trade with Oklahoma City to acquire him. Houston Chronicle



NBA RUMORS FROM SUNDAY

Former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey took out a full-page advertisement in the Houston Chronicle on Sunday to thank the numerous people who helped him during his 13 seasons with the team. But he saved his most effusive praise for Rockets star James Harden, writing, in bold, "James Harden changed my life." "An entire page could be dedicated just to James," Morey wrote. ESPN.com

The NBA and the NBPA, the union that represents the league’s players, are currently negotiating modifications of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, its financial models unequipped for the crippling blows of the global pandemic that are still being absorbed. With the bubble officially bursting with success Monday, the expectation is that talks will intensify next week. LA Times

One of the biggest challenges will be negotiating the terms of next season’s salary cap. That number is typically derived from the league’s revenues, but the pandemic cost the league an estimated $1.5 billion, according to people not authorized to speak publicly, so that formula is untenable. LA Times

A massive salary cap drop would push the overwhelming majority of the league deep into the luxury tax while drying up the free-agent market in an instant at the same time. LA Times

To avoid a significant reduction in the salary cap, the two sides will have to negotiate how much of player salaries will be deferred and put into an escrow account. Last year, the salary cap was set at $109.1 million with the luxury tax kicking in at $132.6 million. LA Times

It’s not exactly a secret that Mike Conley’s first season with the Utah Jazz was not a smooth one, and that his struggles to acclimate — in combination with his large salary — left many fans questioning the team’s decision to acquire him in the first place. That same contingent of critics has been holding onto the slight hope that the veteran point guard will incomprehensibly exercise his early termination option in his contract and thereby forgo the $34.5 million salary he could make this season, though they’re more realistically settling for the “consolation” that he’ll be off the books in another season’s time. Crazy thought, though: What if Conley did opt out, but his marriage with the Jazz continued on a few more years? Salt Lake Tribune



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY

It looks like Carmelo Anthony could be muscling up for a return to the Knicks. In a video and pictures posted Thursday on social media by his New York-based trainer, Chris Brickley, the 36-year-old Anthony can be seen draining 3-pointers at the Summit Gym in Midtown. In one photo, he is shown shirtless and buffed up. NY Post

When the Blazers were eliminated on Aug. 29, the Brooklyn native [Carmelo Anthony] sounded very much like he wanted to re-sign with Portland. NY Post

However, if point guard Chris Paul makes his way to the Knicks via a trade, sources have said Anthony is likely to want to follow. Anthony and Paul are close friends who dreamed of playing together in the NBA and saw their alliance in Houston end prematurely. NY Post

Kevin Garnett recently made public his interest in buying the Wolves from longtime owner Glen Taylor. In July, Garnett posted on social media that he and a group he was affiliated with would like to buy the team after news leaked that Taylor was courting offers for the franchise. But on Thursday, Garnett had no comment about where that stands. Star Tribune

Longtime Rockets personnel scout Brent “B.J.” Johnson, a well-known and popular fixture throughout basketball, died Thursday evening following a bicycle accident in Houston. Johnson was 65. “He was riding his bike and hit a culvert,” Johnson’s wife Claudette said. “There was construction. They are thinking he fell forward and broke his neck because there was no blood.” Houston Chronicle

New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson was the victim of an attempted car theft last Saturday afternoon but was unharmed, Saints spokesman Greg Bensel confirmed. "I can confirm that an incident did occur in Orleans Parish involving Mrs. Benson while she was in her vehicle," Bensel said in a statement. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY

Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton told Yahoo Sports that he is interested in coaching in the NBA and wants it known that he’s passionate about this next phase and is available to join a coaching staff. “I have had conversations in the past about coaching, but the timing wasn’t right. I believe I now am ready to coach,” Payton told Yahoo Sports in a phone interview Thursday night. “A lot of young NBA players are a voice away from reaching their true potential. I would like to join an NBA staff where I can help coach, mentor and guide players toward the hard work, focus and determination needed to become a reliable contributor to a team’s success.” Yahoo Sports



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY

Ty Lue has agreed to a five-year deal to become the next head coach of the LA Clippers, sources told ESPN on Thursday. The Clippers and Lue's representative in the contract talks, Andy Miller, completed negotiations on a deal Thursday afternoon, sources said. The Clippers' search landed on Lue based upon a confidence that his championship pedigree and playoff successes as a head coach in Cleveland, as well as his strong ability to communicate with players, will resonate within a franchise that underachieved in the 2019-2020 season. ESPN.com

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is stepping down, sources told ESPN. In the aftermath of Houston's elimination from the NBA's restart in Orlando, Florida, Morey approached owner Tilman Fertitta with the idea of leaving the job, and the sides quietly worked through an exit agreement to conclude his 13 seasons running the franchise's basketball operations, sources said. ESPN.com

The Rockets are planning to promote executive vice president of basketball operations Rafael Stone to general manager, sources said. Stone has played a significant part in the Rockets' team-building throughout his tenure. Houston is also promoting Eli Witus to assistant general manager, sources said. ESPN.com

Anthony Davis has a number of options this offseason, when he can become a free agent if he opts out of his contract, worth $28.8 million, for next season. Most NBA executives, who are not authorized to speak publicly on Davis’ situation, believe the seven-time All-Star forward’s best course is to opt out and sign a two-year deal with a player option for the second season. LA Times

If he did that, Davis would become a free agent the same time as LeBron James following the 2021-22 season. James will earn $39 million next season and could earn $41 million in ’21-22 — although he does have a player option for that final season. He also could be eligible for a contract extension once the 2020-21 season starts, but James is not expected to sign one. LA Times

Davis also has the option of signing a five-year extension if he opts out. That contract could start at about $40 million per season, but not knowing where the salary cap will be set because of the financial impacts of the pandemic probably means he would not sign a long-term deal. LA Times

Timberwolves: Now Beasley, Hernangomez and McLaughlin are restricted free agents and Johnson has a $16 million player option. “We obviously are very, very happy with the things that we were able to see from those guys that are free agents this summer,” Saunders said. “They’ll continue to be priorities. Gersson, we work closely, and it has been a great partnership of getting guys that fit our time line, fit the system, the style of play that we want to play and guys that fit around Karl and D’Angelo.” Saunders made his name as one of the best development coaches when it came to working with young stars Towns and Wiggins. Star Tribune



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY

New Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan will get to help shape the team’s coaching staff going into next season. The Bulls announced Monday they have parted ways with four assistant coaches: Dean Cooper, Nate Loenser, Roy Rogers and Karen Stack Umlauf. It’s the latest signal the Bulls are committed to making wholesale changes and empowering the new regime to do so. They had picked up a contract option for next season on Loenser in May, Rogers signed a three-year contract last offseason and Stack Umlauf, the first female coach in franchise history, had been with the organization since Jerry Krause hired her to the basketball operations department in 1985. Chicago Tribune

The Sun-Times confirmed that new coach Billy Donovan was also empowered to decide on the rest of the coaching staff, and began that process by letting Roy Rogers, Nate Loenser, Karen Stack Umlauf and Dean Cooper know that he was going in a different direction. The team made it official Monday afternoon. Not only does that open the door for Chicago-born Maurice Cheeks — a long-time Donovan assistant — to return home and join the staff, but continues to back the idea that COO Michael Reinsdorf values getting this reboot of the front office as right as he can rather than worrying about the money he’s spending on it. Chicago Sun-Times

Anthony Davis can become a free agent after the season, but he’s expected to sign a max-level deal this offseason. He’s found his NBA home, and the Lakers are in position to keep contending with an all-time player directly in his prime. These Finals showed that Davis, 27, is the “unicorn” James knows him to be, a player with a silky jumper, a devastating above-the-rim game and every defensive tool in the bag. Even ahead of the Heat by 22 points with just more than four minutes left, Davis fell to the court to slap a loose ball away and cause a shot-clock violation." LA Times Capping the longest season in NBA history with a dominant final flourish, the Los Angeles Lakers won it all for the first time in a decade. Three hundred fifty days after the season began, the Lakers have won the 2019-20 NBA championship. In a 106-93 close-out Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on Sunday, LeBron James logged a triple-double -- 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists -- to win his fourth ring and third championship with three different franchises, while Anthony Davis added 19 points and 15 boards. ESPN.com

The move seemed to give L.A. a boost as the Lakers led 28-20 after the first quarter and by as many as 30 in the first half, as they outscored Miami 36-16 in the second. L.A.'s 28-point halftime lead was the second largest in NBA history -- just below the 30-point lead the Celtics had on the Lakers in Game 1 of the 1985 Finals. In other words, Memorial Day Massacre, meet the Bubble Bloodbath. ESPN.com

This is the Lakers' 17th NBA championship, tying the franchise for the most in league history with the Celtics, who most recently won a title in 2008 by defeating a Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles team. The Lakers last raised the Larry O'Brien Trophy in 2010 -- beating Boston, with Bryant winning Finals MVP. ESPN.com

LeBron James has made it clear that his goal is to surpass Michael Jordan as the greatest player in the history of basketball. On Sunday night, James took a step closer to doing so. James was named the 2020 Finals MVP for leading the Los Angeles Lakers to their first championship in a decade and winning the fourth title of his career, with a 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night. ESPN.com

Winning his fourth Finals MVP award moves him out of a tie with Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal and into second all time -- trailing only Jordan, who won the award six times. James capped his 17th season in the league with a virtuoso run through the postseason, shooting well over 50% from the field while also running the Lakers' offense virtually every possession he was on the court. He also displayed a commitment on the other end of the court, playing a key role in a suffocating defensive unit. ESPN.com

"This is where I belong," Jimmy Butler said. "This is what makes me smile. This is what makes me happy. I wish I could have done it for the city. I wish I could have done it for my teammates, for the organization, but I'm still glad that it happened." Butler thanked the Miami fans and Heat organization in an Instagram post, closing with, "Best believe we will be back." ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM SUNDAY

Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis (right heel contusion) is listed as probable for Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on Sunday. Davis acknowledged on Friday after the Lakers' Game 5 loss to the Heat that he originally suffered the injury during the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets. "It happened in the last series against Denver," Davis said. "I think it was Game 5, if I'm not mistaken. [Andre Iguodala] just reaggravated it. Went out the end of the first [quarter] and it just kind of just wore off and got back to normal. Just kept moving around. Just trying not to sit down. Get that adrenaline going, and I was able to keep going and keep playing." ESPN.com

The NBA upheld the two calls Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel took exception with in L.A.'s 111-108 Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals on Friday, but the league did find two other calls that should have gone the Lakers' way. ESPN.com

In its last two-minute report released Saturday, the NBA announced that Jimmy Butler should have been called for a shooting foul on LeBron James with 1:01 remaining in the fourth quarter for extending his arm and making contact with the side of James' head on a drive to the hoop when L.A. was trailing 105-104. ESPN.com

It also determined that with 28 seconds remaining, Miami's Andre Iguodala should have been called for a defensive three-seconds violation for not clearing the lane when not actively guarding an opponent. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY

With less than 10 seconds left and the Los Angeles Lakers trailing by one Friday, LeBron James appeared to be putting the final touches on a 40-point masterpiece to clinch his fourth NBA title. Draped by seemingly the entire Miami Heat defense, James, who led the league in assists for the first time in his career this season, whipped a pass to a wide-open Danny Green at the top of the key. Green, a two-time champion and 40% career 3-point shooter whose nickname is "Deadshot" because of his reputation as a marksman, was signed by L.A. last offseason for moments such as this one: spacing the floor and capitalizing on James' ability to create shots. ESPN.com

Danny Green let it fly with no defender within 8 feet of him, according to data from Second Spectrum. The ball clanked off the front rim with 7.1 seconds remaining, and Miami held on to win Game 5 111-108, drawing within 3-2 of the Lakers in the NBA Finals. "I mean, if you just look at the play, I was able to draw two defenders below the free throw line and find one of our shooters at the top of the key for a wide-open 3 to win a championship," James said after finishing with a gaudy stat line of 15-for-21 shooting, 13 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. "I trusted him, we trusted him, and it just didn't go." ESPN.com

Butler scored 35 points, 22 in the first half, and notched his second triple-double of the Finals, with 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals. He joined James as the only players with multiple triple-doubles in an NBA Finals. James finished shy of one for the fifth time this series with 13 rebounds and seven assists, while Davis scored 28 points with 12 rebounds. LA Times

It’s been a rough Finals for Danny Green, the veteran two-guard who is one of the few non-LeBron Lakers with championship experience. Green has posted some dreadful shooting games (1-8 in Game 2, 0-6 in Game 3) but in the closing seconds, Green had an opportunity to wash it all away. On L.A.’s final full possession, Miami’s defense collapsed on a driving James, who found Green at the top of the key—without a Heat defender within 15 feet of him. Green’s three was well short. Green was one of the Lakers more high profile offseason signings, when L.A. was frantically filling out its roster after the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes ended. He was brought in because he had a reputation for making shots like that. On Friday, and during much of these playoffs, Green has struggled to live up to it. SI.com

Jimmy Butler will not go down without a fight. The Miami Heat star logged his second triple-double of the NBA Finals, out-dueling Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James down the stretch of a 111-108 victory in Game 5. Butler registered 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, including a pair of go-ahead free throws in the final minute of an instant classic. The only other player to record two triple-doubles in a Finals: LeBron James in 2015. Yahoo Sports

Kristaps Porzingis underwent surgery to address the lateral meniscus injury in his right knee suffered during the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks announced Friday. According to the team's statement, Porzingis will begin rehabilitation immediately with no set timetable to be cleared for basketball activities. ESPN.com

"We're ready for the season to start, next month if it had to," Donovan Mitchell said Friday in an appearance on ESPN's The Jump. "I think we're fired up, and I think that's the proper mindset to have." Because of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic -- which resulted in the NBA having a four-month break in the middle of its schedule and the NBA Finals taking place during what typically is the league's preseason -- next season is unlikely to begin until January, at the earliest. But because of the way Utah's season ended, Mitchell said the Jazz are eager to get back on the floor. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY

“What I’ve learned being a Laker is that the Laker faithful don’t give a damn what you’ve done before,” LeBron James said on Thursday. “… They don’t care about your résumé at all until you become a Laker. Then you’ve got to do it as a Laker, and then they respect you. I’ve learned that.” James will have a chance on Friday to accomplish the only goal that matters to many L.A. fans when the Lakers play the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals with a 3-1 series lead. With one more win, they will secure the franchise’s 17th championship, and the first since Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol led the Lakers to a title over the Boston Celtics in 2010. LA Times

When James signed with the Lakers, his résumé was strong. He had just come off eight consecutive Finals appearances, four each with the Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. He won three championships, three Finals MVP awards and had been named the league’s MVP four times. He’d gone to 14 All-Star games and been named the Associated Press athlete of the year on three occasions. He joined a franchise that had missed the playoffs for six years in a row and was in need of a savior. James picked them and picked that role. LA Times

“I think this is the coolest franchise in the whole NBA,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “The fan base, the history, Southern California. There’s nothing like the L.A. Lakers. It’s been an honor to be a part of it. I hope to add to its history with one more win.” LA Times

Cappie Pondexter has been found and is safe. It ends a bizarre series of events during which the former WNBA Finals MVP was reported as a missing person, found to have been arrested without identifying herself to police and then went missing again after being released from a Los Angeles jail, according to multiple reports. She was eventually located Thursday night and is getting the help she needs from family and friends, according to The Athletic. NY Post

"I'm honest, I've never voted in my life. This is my first time voting." That's Shaquille O'Neal dropping a Shaq-sized bombshell -- confessing he's NEVER voted in an election! ... UNTIL NOW!! "I've never voted before, America," Shaq said this week on Wednesday on The Big Podcast ... "But, now I'm doing all these voting campaigns and ya know one thing I never like to do, is be a hypocrite." TMZ.com



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY

The Miami Heat are one game away from elimination in the NBA Finals, but they remain as confident as ever about their chances to get back into the series against the Los Angeles Lakers and climb out of a 3-1 series hole in Game 5 on Friday night. "We think it's a really competitive series," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday. "We have a purpose of why we're here. We're competing for a title and it's the first team to four wins. There's a lot of different narratives out there -- we don't give a s--- what everybody else thinks. This is everything that we wanted this year, an opportunity to fight for, compete for a title. And that hasn't changed at all through these first games." ESPN.com

Center Bam Adebayo will be on the floor again in Game 5 as he continues to deal with neck and shoulder injuries that have bothered him over the last couple weeks. Adebayo, who missed Games 2 and 3 after suffering a neck strain in Game 1, admitted he was hesitant at the beginning of Game 4 once he got back on the floor, but he is hopeful a few days of rest can get him back on track. ESPN.com

LA Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank has been honored with the NBA Executive of the Year Award, it was announced Thursday. Frank, who helped orchestrate the franchise's biggest offseason by signing Kawhi Leonard as a free agent and trading for Paul George in July 2019, received 10 first-place votes and earned 61 points from a panel of NBA team basketball executives. ESPN.com

Thunder general manager Sam Presti finished second in NBA Executive of the Year voting. Results for the award were released by the league Thursday. Lawrence Frank, the Clippers' president of basketball operations, was named Executive of the Year, as voted on by a panel of team executives across the NBA. Oklahoman

While Game 4’s ratings for Lakers-Heat showed an uptick from the prior three games, viewership on ABC has now set an historic low as the four least-watched finals games in recorded history. Game 4 saw the audience rise to 7.54 million viewers, which was ahead of Game’s 3’s 5.94 million viewers. The Game 3 number set a new low since finals ratings were recorded in 1984, according to Sports Media Watch. NY Post



NBA RUMORS FROM WEDNESDAY

The Miami Heat found themselves closer to whole Tuesday night, but nonetheless find themselves in a whole lot of trouble, now in a deep NBA Finals hole. Even with center Bam Adebayo back in the mix, there still wasn’t enough to hold off the Los Angeles Lakers, with a 102-96 loss at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex dropping them to a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series. Sun Sentinel

While Adebayo was solid in his return, after missing the previous two games with a neck strain, the Heat remained without guard Goran Dragic, who missed his third consecutive game with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. The Heat kept it close throughout, tying it, 83-83, on a Butler layup with 6:27 to play. But, in the end, the Lakers' defense proved too stifling, with the Heat limited to a playoff-low 18 assists. Sun Sentinel

LeBron James led the Lakers with 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, supported by 22 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots from Anthony Davis. Adebayo closed with 15 points and seven rebounds in his return, with the Heat getting 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists from Butler, as well as 21 points from Tyler Herro and 17 from Duncan Robinson. Sun Sentinel

Oh it'd shake up the NBA, alright. Devin Booker for Ben Simmons. Bleacher Report put out another list of potential trades with one being a straight-up deal of all-stars, but this is a one-sided swap in Philadelphia's favor. Booker is a rising superstar who played the best basketball of his career in leading Phoenix to an 8-0 run in the Orlando Bubble. Why would the Suns trade him for someone who is coming off an knee injury in the bubble and seems allergic to shooting 3s when analytics say fire away from deep. Arizona Republic


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