Weekly Run newsletter: Big NBA news coming tonight?
(Ashley Landis | AP file photo) After wrapping up the 2019-20 season and playoffs in the bubble and Orlando last month, the NBA and its players are now closing in on a deal to begin the ’20-21 campaign on Dec. 22.
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Is basketball about to be back? Looks like we’ll find out tonight.
On Wednesday afternoon, while most of the country was fixated on some ballots or whatever in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, and Georgia (kidding, everyone), other intrepid individuals such as Marc Stein of The New York Times and Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN
were busy looking into an altogether different sort of voting.
According to reports from those three, the league’s Board of Governors and the National Basketball Players Association will be taking separate votes on Thursday to decide whether or not to approve the proposal in place for training camps to get underway Dec. 1 and for the regular season to tip off Dec. 22.
Those same reports indicate that both sides are likely to accept the terms.
But again, we’ll find out for sure Thursday evening.
If this all seems a bit sudden, well it is, to be honest. No less than a week ago, an accord appeared unlikely, both sides seemingly entrenched — the league insisting upon a pre-Christmas start, and the players adamant that it would be too much of a rush, with Martin Luther King Day more appropriate.
So then, what changed in a week?
Apparently two things: 1. The league impressing upon the players the leviathan financial ramifications of starting later, upsetting television partners, playing fewer games, and having NBA players miss the Olympics — collectively representing a potential $500 million to $1 billion lost; and 2. The two sides apparently finding some common ground in the amount of player salaries to be set aside in escrow withholdings while the league ascertains its financial situation.
Anyway, assuming the two sides do in fact agree to terms tonight, we’re in for a rush. We’re less than seven weeks away from the start of the season, and they still have to establish cap and tax lines, conduct the draft, enact free agency, set a schedule, and go through training camp.
This is gonna be interesting.
• Jazz fans' ears perked up on Tuesday when The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo declared on the Bill Simmons podcast that he’d heard that Utah’s favorite ex-player, Gordon Hayward, “does want out” of Boston
, and that he improbably may be inclined to decline his $34M option for the 2020-21 season. Given that Hayward has fallen down the Celtics totem pole, behind Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown, it makes sense to some degree that he’d be looking for more opportunity elsewhere. Then again, given his injury history, is it wise for him to pass up that much money? Russillo’s of the opinion that Hayward may already have a multi-year deal lined up elsewhere. Some Jazz fans have wondered about a potential reunion between Hayward and the team, as he fits Quin Snyder’s system very well. And you might think it’s possible, given that whatever animus there remains between him and ownership would be moot with the impending sale of the team to Ryan Smith. Could the fans forgive him, though? Meanwhile, thing is, the Jazz could only fit him via trade or sign-and-trade, the latter of which would effectively hard-cap them. I think it’s unlikely.
• Another theoretically-available wing who’s piqued Jazz fans' interest is the Pelicans' Jrue Holiday. Shams Charania of The Athletic tweeted Wednesday that New Orleans brass is openly including the two-way guard in trade talks
, and that “several contending teams are pursuing.” Given that Holiday is a solid scorer, an adequate deep-shooter, and a great perimeter defender, of course it makes sense for Utah to kick the tires. But how do you make the deal work? Mike Conley for Holiday and the expiring $7 million deal of Darius Miller gets you there financially, but … what’s New Orleans' incentive to take that
deal? What sweeteners do the Jazz have to entice them? Not many. The roster is largely devoid of super-intriguing young talent, and with the Jazz still on the hook to Memphis for a future first-round pick, they simply don’t have a ton to make it work.
• One more big rumor that Russillo dropped on Simmons' podcast is that “The worst-kept secret in the league is [Devin] Booker already wants out of [Phoenix].” Honestly, I’m skeptical. Did Booker say in 2018, “This is my last year missing the playoffs” and then go on to miss the playoffs in both 2019 and 202)? Yup. But I have a hard time looking at how he and his Suns teammates came together during that 8-0 run through the bubble re-start and ascertaining too much frustration there. Meanwhile, Monty Williams is one of the most-respected coaches in the league. This just seems suspect to me. And if it’s not, what are the Jazz’s chances of getting him? Sorry, peeps — you’e not pairing him with Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt. In fact, in order to land Booker, the Jazz would have give up Donovan. That’s what it’d take. The Suns aren’t gonna accept some pennies-on-the-dollar deal for an emerging star with four years left on his deal. Utah had its chance to get Booker, but opted to draft his Kentucky teammate Trey Lyles instead. Now, that worked out when they flipped Lyles for Mitchell, but still … This ain’t happening. No chance.
I’ve become a bit of a Fleetwood Mac fan in recent years, and Lindsey Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way” is, in my humble opinion, their GOAT song. Which means that it should be untouchable, right? Other artists ought to refrain from covering songs like that, because there’s nowhere to go with it but down. And yet … Have you ever heard what the late Dolores O’Riordan and The Cranberries did with it?
Makes the hair on my arms stand up. Give it a listen and reflect on what a loss it is that her impeccable Irish lilt is no longer with us.