At least four teams are asking the NBA to have players travel directly to the league’s proposed “campus” site to resume training rather than having them first come to the clubs’ home cities, ESPN reported Friday. The NBA reportedly is looking at using one or a few venues to house multiple teams ahead of a […]
At least four teams are asking the NBA to have players travel directly to the league’s proposed “campus” site to resume training rather than having them first come to the clubs’ home cities, ESPN reported Friday.
The NBA reportedly is looking at using one or a few venues to house multiple teams ahead of a resumption of play amid the coronavirus pandemic. Orlando and Las Vegas have been mentioned prominently as candidates to host teams in a bubble-like environment in which all players and staffers would receive regular COVID-19 tests.
At issue is the plan for teams whose areas have been hard hit by the pandemic.
According to ESPN, as part of a Thursday call with NBA general managers, the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors were among the teams who stated their desire to avoid having players come back to their usual team training sites.
In theory, some players might need a quarantine period of up to 14 days before they would begin training at team facilities. They then might be subject to another quarantine stretch when the team heads to the site where it would resume games.
Per the report, the NBA general managers discussed multiple restart options on Thursday. Continuing the regular season with all 30 teams ahead of the playoffs reportedly remains a possibility, as is a revised playoff format with a play-in round expanding the postseason field.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein tweeted Friday that the NBA is also leaning toward limiting teams’ traveling parties to the “campus” environment to a total of 35 players, coaches and staffers. Typical NBA road-trip parties feature more than 50 people.
The NBA suspended its season March 11 when Utah Jazz All-Star centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Teams have played between 63 and 67 games in the 82-game regular
Raptors forward Malcolm Miller hasn’t had basketball in his hands with a hoop in front of him in over two months. Read More
The slow process of the NBA’s return in Toronto begins in the practice gym — Toronto Sun Raptors forward Malcolm Miller hasn’t had basketball in his hands with a hoop in front of him in over two months. So when word came that the Raptors, in conjunction with health officials and local government, had hammered out an agreement that would see the Raptors be able to safely use their practice facility in limited fashion, Miller was the first one requesting entry. Monday morning he and assistant coach Brittni Donaldson entered the OVO Athletic Centre, were checked in by a single security officer, had their temperature taken by an on-site health official and then filled out a health form before entering the gym. Once in the gym it was only Donaldson and Miller. The Raptors, under NBA guidelines could have up to as many as four players in the gym at one time to adhere to social distancing mandates, but in an effort to be as careful as possible, the team has opted to allow just one player in at a time with just one on-court coach. That could change in the coming days, but for now, that’s the format. For an hour Donaldson put Miller through his paces working on his shooting, his ball handling and not much else for the time being given how long it has been since Miller was actually able to do any basketball activity and the fact that with only two people in the gym, options are limited. Still, Miller couldn’t say enough about the opportunity. “It definitely felt strange,” Miller, the third-year forward said of the experience. “I missed it. It was a good experience just to have the basketball in your hands, feel the basketball and just get back to the game you love, even in a different format. It’s still a good experience.” For Donaldson there was no trepidation re-entering the working environment that has been closed off to her for more than two months because of the on-going pandemic. She saw the process unfold as the team prepared to safely start bringing their team back to work and she felt fully secure returning to work. “It’s all completely voluntary for everybody,” she said for both the players and the coaches. “I think we’ve been in contact with everybody in the organization from the top down about this possibility happening, about the facility possibly opening. We’ve covered all of our bases, we’ve been really deliberate about making sure everybody feels safe and we’re taking the extra precautionary steps to go above and beyond even what the NBA mandated. We’re only allowing one player in the gym at a time, we’re not allowing the players to bring their phones in, for example. I felt a sense of comfort just for the work our organization has done logistically to make this as smooth, organized a process as possible.” Miller, whose off-season home is in Gaithersberg, Maryland chose to remain in Toronto since the league shut down back in early March because there wasn’t the access to a private gym or facility where he could work out. He stayed in Toronto and got his workouts in at home whether that was his own P90X program or the group yoga sessions via video the Raptors do a couple of mornings a week. He also has the stationary bike the team delivered to this Toronto digs and a bench and weights. But he had no where to actually get up shots or play basketball so on Monday, while just a small step in the broader scheme of a return to work, was still very big for him. “I wouldn’t say it was a race but I definitely requested to be first,” he said of getting his time in the re-opened team practice gym. “I like to always be in there early, get my work done. Been heavy on the piano and into video games (lately) so that gives me a little extra time for that. “Just trying to get back to a normal routine,” he said. “During the season, we’d come into the gym before 11 o’clock, before 12 o’clock to get our work in so I’m just trying to make it feel as normal as possible.” Miller says the plan is to take advantage of the opportunity four or five times a week. Again this is strictly voluntary. Teams cannot pressure players into these workouts. Chris Paul, president of the Players’ Association took care of that when he mentioned it to commissioner Adam Silver on a conference call last week. Silver at the time said such a move by any team would be “disheartening” and assured Paul and the rest of the players on the call that he would reiterate this to all team management groups. Miller said he was surprised how quickly his jumper came back but admitted his dribbling skills (his handle) wasn’t quite what it had been before the pandemic shut down sports worldwide. As it stands right now about half the team is in Toronto and as of Wednesday about half of those had decided to take the opportunity to get some shots up. That could change at any point. “I think that’s kind of fluid, you know, It’s kind of day by day,” Donaldson said. “We take a poll of who would be interested in coming in and we try to put out a schedule but obviously it’s all voluntary, there’s no pressure, no repercussions if somebody doesn’t want to come in. We’re just trying to keep a rolling a schedule and keep it as organized as possible.”
erence Davis no longer needs a vet standing over him telling him what to do.
Technically still a rookie until the season is mothballed, if it comes to that, Davis is diligently putting himself though daily workouts in the hopes that there is still a playoff schedule to be played in this his rookie year that was suspended by the Coronavirus pandemic.
He’s been doing it every day since the league shut its doors seven weeks ago and the way he speaks, he’ll be following that routine until those doors are re-opened.
Davis spent 14 days in quarantine in Toronto after the league suspended the schedule. A few days after that he and another Raptors’ rookie, Dewan Hernandez, arranged for the use of a private gym in Miami and made their way there.
He left those workouts recently to return home to Mississippi to be with his 10-month-old son. But he’s been fortunate enough to obtain time there too in a private gym where he gets in workouts with a trainer and a rebounder.
All of it is done with an eye towards being ready to perform at his peak when play does resume, should the time come, and live up to the high expectations of his veteran teammates.
“I really want the veteran guys to be able to trust someone like me in a game in the playoffs,” Davis said. “I’m a rookie, so obviously I don’t know what’s to come in the playoffs — I’ve never been in the playoffs — but I want Fred (VanVleet), I want Kyle (Lowry), I want these guys to be able to trust me when I get in the game in the playoffs — if I get in the game during the playoffs.
“So that’s why I’m in the gym right now, that’s why I’ve been in the gym everyday at 12:00 getting weights in,” he said. “I want to be in the best shape and I just want to be able to be trusted so I can show those guys that I’m ready to be part of you guys.”
On a conference call with the media that cover the Raptors on a daily basis, Davis revealed he came into the season fully expecting to spend at least half the year in the G-League. Instead he dressed for all 64 games of the Raptors’ season, the only Raptor to do that and second to only Coby White of the Chicago Bulls among all rookies in the league. White appeared in 65 games, one more than Davis.
Fact of the matter is Davis has little left to prove to his teammates. He is already very much part of those guys and they do trust him. You see it when they don’t hesitate to get him the ball behind the three point line. As a rookie he’s open more than his veteran teammates might be but he’s shown his teammates that he can deliver hitting that three pointer on just under 40% of his attempts.
And yes there have been times when Davis screws up, as every rookie does. But it’s the good rookies like Davis who learn from those mistakes and take ownership of them and do their best to make sure those mistakes aren’t repeated.
Davis has shown this to all his teammates time and again this season and earned his place among them.
The 14-day self-quarantine period sounds like it was the toughest part of this pandemic thus far for Davis.
He was in Toronto without a basketball and just a bike and some weights to keep him occupied.
It’s why he was so eager to head down to Miami with teammate Dewan Hernandez as soon as those 14 days were up.
“We were able to get in a private gym,” Davis explained. “Dewan knew a guy in a private gym, so I was just getting out of quarantine, I was in quarantine for 14 days, I haven’t touched a basketball, so I’m excited to touch a basketball, get in a gym because, like I said, this is what we do, this is what I love to do, this is my job, so that’s what drove me to go to Florida.”
Davis like everyone in the league these days is unsure of when his next game will come, but he’ll stay ready.
And should the time come that the thought of letting down his veterans isn’t enough to motivate him to stay locked in and stay ready, Davis has another huge incentive in his 10-month old son that arrived six days before the draft.
“He has motivated me to be the best that I could possibly be,” Davis said.
A big hiring by the Chicago Bulls, aimed at starting the process of restoring that franchise to glory, could have reverberations north of the border too.
The Bulls have agreed to a deal with Arturas Karnisovas to be the team’s executive vice-president of basketball operations, according to numerous reports. Karnisovas spent seven years with the Denver Nuggets, first as assistant general manager, before being elevated to GM under president Tim Connelly. Karnisovas helped build Denver into a top team in the Western Conference and previously worked for the Houston Rockets and the NBA’s basketball operations department.
The connection to the Raptors comes from his playing days. Karnisovas, a former European Player of the Year, played for Lithuania (winners of bronze medals in both 1992 and 1996, with help from Karnisovas) against the Dream Team in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and was a star for Seton Hall, including for two years alongside Nick Nurse’s lead assistant with the Raptors, Adrian Griffin, who replaced Karnisovas as Seton Hall’s top player after he graduated. Both are members of Seton Hall’s hall of fame.
The Raptors denied the Bulls permission to speak with general manager Bobby Webster for the job that eventually went to Karnisovas, but it isn’t expected they would stand in the way of a promotion and homecoming for Griffin, who played for the Bulls and was an assistant coach there from 2010 to 2015. The team, whether it’s Nurse, other coaches, or the front office, has long touted his future as a head coach.
“I mean, he is awesome,” fellow Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren told a few beat writers in February, ironically before the entire staff went to Chicago, for the NBA all-star weekend.
“He has a great demeanour, he’s going to be a great head coach in the NBA,” Bjorkgren said. “He’s got a nice calming presence about him when he’s showing film to the team when he’s talking to the team. So just his overall feel and approach and knowing how to talk to the players is probably his number one strength.”
Don’t call Chris Boucher one of those ‘Covidiots.’
He has nothing like the idiotic partiers down south who went ahead full-bore on Spring Break, despite the spreading COVID-19 pandemic. Or the Snowbirds who returned to Canada and immediately went shopping like it was business as usual.
Yes, Boucher, a third-year big man with the Toronto Raptors, would be the first to tell you that he shouldn’t have gone to a downtown grocery store on March 12, but he thought in the moment it was OK because he had tested negative for COVID-19.
“What really happened to me was just that for a minute I needed to get stuff for me to survive, really. Like I didn’t have nothing and I didn’t want to trust Uber Eats or anything and all that, especially knowing the way the virus was spreading,” Boucher told English and French-speaking reporters on a conference call on Wednesday afternoon.
“So I got my test and they were saying that I was negative. So now I know that I can’t do nothing to people so I just wanted to get my groceries done. It’s not like I wanted to be seen. Somebody just took a picture, knew where I was. It’s unfortunate,” Boucher said.
Toronto had played the Utah Jazz only days earlier and all the players had been tested and ordered into self-isolation.
“I can’t do nothing, but that’s not something I was trying to do. Nobody wants to get that virus. I don’t want to give it to nobody if I had it. Definitely I should have just stayed home and that’s why I felt like I had to apologize because, even if I knew that I didn’t have it, it’s not acceptable,” said Boucher, who was born in Saint Lucia, but moved to Montreal when he was five and was raised there.
Since completing protocols, Boucher has been following procedures, trying to stay in shape and stave off boredom while also worrying about relatives he can’t go and see since he’s stuck in Toronto.
“Basically, it’s really hard. I don’t have family close, my family is in Montreal, so Toronto is kind of where I had to stay for the whole time, just trying to figure things out. Sometimes it could be something real easy like (toilet paper) or Lysols or stuff to clean the house, stuff like that. That’s when you realize that (you’re not) going outside,” he said.
Boucher commended the Raptors for doing their best to check in on their players.
“With (video), you actually can lift with Jonny (Lee), our strength and conditioning coaches. I have done a lot of that. The team did a good job to make sure that doctors can call us every day to make sure we’re OK. The rest of it is really a lot of figuring out how it will work when we get busy. Because after like two weeks, you’re like, vacation or not, pandemic now, you just want to be doing something,” Boucher said.
Boucher managed to turn some heads during his third NBA season, particularly with his superb work on the offensive glass and his rim protecting skills. He also has not shied away from launching three-pointers, and though he only shot 28% from out there, he’s a good free-throw shooter (80%) and it’s easy to see his long-range accuracy improving.
It was only a few games before the NBA shut down that Boucher went off in Phoenix for 19 points and 15 rebounds, along with 7-for-8 work at the free-throw line. Once he focused on being an energy player and going out and trying to make things happen in limited bursts, Boucher began to emerge as a potential NBA contributor.
Asked by Postmedia what he feels like he has proven this season, Boucher had a quick answer.
“That I can play. Obviously, there’s a lot of stuff that I can get better at, but I think that my technique I was able to show right out of the door and kind of find ways to help the team win,” he said.
“I think that’s what’s most important. That I could be effective in the game. I think I’ve learned that.”
The Raptors initially brought Boucher in before the 2018-19 season as a two-way player. He would go on to win the NBA G League’s MVP and defensive player of the year awards and, in Feb. 2019, his two-way contract was converted to a standard NBA deal. That contract has an option for the Raptors to extend Boucher a qualifying offer for next season for just under $2 million US, but he’s not looking ahead at this point.
“I mean, at the end of the day, we don’t know what’s gonna happen. You (the reporters on the call) and me are both clueless right now, so at this point I’m just trying to focus on health and making sure my family’s good. I stay online just to watch news about the NBA so hopefully we can finish the season and if not, well, I’ll have to think about a lot of stuff.
“I knew this (contract) stuff was coming, so, obviously, it’s gonna be a process, but for me right now that’s not what I’m thinking about. There’s way more important things to be thinking about right now.”