The Brooklyn Nets have suspended Kyrie Irving for a minimum of five games based on his Tweet promoting an antisemitic film, then his reaction afterward. The Nets also have laid out a six-step path for him to return to playing.
Those steps have raised eyebrows among other players around the league and the players’ union is considering an appeal, NBPA vice president Jaylen Brown told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“I’m expecting the NBPA to appeal the suspension from Brooklyn. The terms, etc., that went into his return. The terms for his return, they seem like a lot, and a lot of the players expressed discomfort with the terms…
“He made a mistake. He posted something. There was no distinction. Maybe we can move forward, but the terms in which he has to fulfill to return, I think not just speaking for me, speaking as a vice president from a lot of our players, we didn’t agree with the terms that was required for him to come back and we’re waiting for this Tuesday meeting to happen to see what comes of it. But we’ll go from there. That’s all I’ll say.”
Irving is a member of the players’ union executive committee.
The six steps are for Irving to apologize for his Tweet and condemn the movie he promoted (Irving did apologize on Instagram, but the Nets also want him to apologize verbally while meeting with the media). He agreed to donate $500,000 to anti-hate causes, meeting another criterion. He also has to undergo sensitivity training, antisemitic training, meet with Jewish leaders and meet with Nets owner Joe Tsai. Marc Stein reports Irving will meet with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver later this week.
There are players around the league who feel a couple of those steps were chosen by the Nets because Irving would not fulfill them, allowing the team not to pay him and possibly look to trade him (although his trade value is rock bottom), or even release him. Those steps are more extensive but not out of line with what the Heat fined Meyers Leonard for the use of an antisemitic slur on Twitch while playing a video game.
Team suspensions can be appealed to an arbitrator (in this case, because the suspension will cost Irving nearly $1.3 million).
In a trade season on simmer (at best), the eyes of the league are on the Toronto Raptors — they can turn the market to a boil with just a couple of moves. Will a team currently stuck in the middle — somewhere Masai Ujiri will not let the team live — will make a dramatic move to pivot at the trade deadline?
Probably not, but nothing is off the table. Here is the latest on where things stand with them, according to a report from Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
• Fred VanVleet is a name that interests other teams, but the Raptors are likelier to reach an extension with the 29-year-old point guard after the season than to move him.
Fred VanVleet’s apparent trade candidacy seems far more rooted in his down performance this season, as the smaller guard approaches his 29th birthday, than the front office’s willingness to part with such a central team leader.
Both VanVleet and the Raptors agreed to shelve extension talks until after the season. Fischer estimates something in the Kyle Lowry extension range — three years, $100 million — although that may be a bit high after a down season (18.2 points per game, but more disturbingly on 37.6% shooting overall). Then again, a Tyler Herro contract (four years, $130 million) could come together. If the Raptors and VanVleet cannot reach a deal before July 1, expect the Suns and Magic to be among the teams interested in the free agent.
• The guy other teams hope will become available is OG Anunoby. Don’t bet on it. He has been maybe the best perimeter defender in the league and the Raptors see him as a core part of the future.
Meanwhile, Raptors officials have left rival front offices with the impression, sources said, it would take a haul at least in the ballpark of Atlanta’s offseason price for Dejounte Murray — multiple unprotected first round picks — for Toronto to even consider parting with OG Anunoby, a known favorite of Ujiri.
• Pascal Siakam — an All-NBA player — would shake up the market but it seems unlikely to be available. If he is, this would require a near Harden-level haul to get a deal done (more of a summer move than a deadline one).
• The Raptor most likely to be traded: Gary Trent Jr.
Trent appears to be the most likely Raptor to be traded, and by a wide margin. Various rival executives are under the impression Toronto will even search to move Trent before the deadline, as Trent is positioned to decline next season’s $18.5 million player option and test free agency. Early indications are that Trent will be seeking upward of $25 million in average annual value before the 2023-24 campaign begins.
Trent is the kind of player in demand around the league — a wing who can both defend and knock down 3s — but whoever trades for him has to know they can re-sign and keep him this summer.
Much like the Bulls, a lot of teams are watching to see if the Raptors’ front office decides to do something bold at the trade deadline. The smart money is on the smaller, Trent move only, but teams are watching and will make calls.
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks promoted Kyle Korver to assistant general manager as they continue to remodel their front office.
The move comes less than one month after Travis Schlenk stepped down as team president on Dec. 21 and general manager Landry Fields assumed control of daily operations. Schlenk was named to an advisory position.
Fields was promoted to general manager last year. His new role was announced before the Hawks’ game Monday against the Miami Heat.
Korver joined the Hawks in July 2022 as director of player affairs and development. He spent the 2021-22 season as a player development assistant with the Brooklyn Nets.
Korver played almost five seasons with Atlanta (2012-17) and was an All-Star in 2015.
“Kyle has brought a great perspective and voice to our group after seamlessly making the transition from playing to coaching to the front office,” Fields said in a statement released by the team.
“Moving forward, I’m excited to have him even more involved with the day-to-day management and direction of our basketball operations group.”
Fields and Korver are working with principal owner Tony Ressler’s son, Nick Ressler, the director of basketball and business operations, in the new management team.
Korver played in 17 seasons with Philadelphia, Utah, Chicago, Atlanta, Cleveland and Milwaukee. He ranks fifth in NBA history with 2,450 3-pointers.
LOS ANGELES — Sometimes, it is this simple:
Sunday, LeBron James was +19 in a game the Lakers lost by one.
Monday, LeBron was +19 again — and scored a season-high 48 points — in a game the Lakers won by eight (over the team on an 11-game losing streak).
It’s tempting to say the Lakers go as LeBron goes, but that’s not accurate. He has been brilliant, bringing it every night in the season he turned 38— he’s a deserving All-Star starter who reached a historic scoring milestone on Sunday night.
On too many nights, LeBron is not enough.
At least until Anthony Davis returns. That could come as early as the end of this month — according to Jaren Greenberg of NBA TV — or early next month (according to Shams Charania of The Athletic).
LeBron has dragged the Lakers to an 8-8 record without Davis, but it’s obvious watching them how much he is missed. Officially, coach Darvin Ham said there is no timeline, and when asked what he needs to see, “Just ramp up the on court stuff, getting him running up and down. Right now, he’s basically been regulated to stay in the half court but just once we see him running and then coming in the following day, just to see how his body responds — his foot in particular how that response — to just an increased workload within the workout.”
Anthony Davis is out getting a little pregame sweat in. Darvin Ham said there is no timeline for his return yet, he’s limited to work in the halfcourt and hasn’t been running fullcourt yet. pic.twitter.com/wH0fD7gKD2
— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) January 16, 2023
For now, the Lakers are the LeBron James show.
LeBron was enough on Martin Luther King Day when he poured in 48 on the Rockets.
LeBron dropped a season-high in the Lakers W.
— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2023
“I think it’s historic, man,” Ham said postgame. “On a lot of different levels. For him to be at this point in his career and still be able to produce at the level at which he’s producing, I think all of us just being able to witness it, be a part of it, it shows his competitive spirit. His no quit mentality.”
It was the second night of a back-to-back and there had been speculation LeBron would get the night off (he was listed as questionable due to a sore ankle much of the day). LeBron admitted he was worn down from the previous night’s game, but played anyway.
“I could have very easily took tonight off, but I don’t feel like the momentum of our ball club could use me taking a night off tonight,” LeBron said, referring to the team’s three-game losing streak coming in. “I don’t feel like I wanted to sit on that loss to Philly last night, I wanted to get that out of my tastebuds and see if we could win a ballgame tonight.”
LeBron’s best wasn’t enough one night before. Or the game before that.
Sunday against the 76ers, LeBron was the best player on the court — 35 points plus 10 assists — yet, when the Lakers had the chance to win down one but with the ball in the final seconds, LeBron never touched the rock. Russell Westbrook decided to isolate on Joel Embiid.
“We got a stop, gave ourselves a chance to win the game, we didn’t,” a frustrated LeBron said postgame in the locker room after the Lakers lost to the Sixers.
It was much the same story a couple of nights earlier in a double-overtime loss.
“I thought Bron was phenomenal, you know, really playing downhill playing the right way, running off the ball,” Ham said after the Mavericks game. “Really finding guys as well. I thought he was really, really good.”
LeBron having to carry these Lakers is starting to become overshadowed by the narrative of him chasing history.
He made history Sunday with a 20-foot straight-on jumper midway through the first quarter, meaning LeBron became only the second player in the NBA to reach 38,000 points.
HISTORY MADE 👑
LeBron James becomes only the second player in NBA history to score 38,000 career points. pic.twitter.com/uqLckZ9LY0
— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2023
LeBron is now 316 points shy of the NBA’s all-time scoring record — a record once thought unbreakable — held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. LeBron is on pace to break the record in the first couple weeks of February, although it’s possible the drama drags out until after the All-Star break (the Lakers’ first game after the break is at home against the Warriors).
That’s the show, the distraction to the fact the Lakers are four games below .500 and staring up in the standings at the play-in midseason. LeBron has done all he could to keep the Lakers in the postseason mix, both with Davis in and out of the lineup. He has carried this team for the past month, and it appears the Cavalry is coming (in the form of Davis, and maybe a trade).
It won’t be enough to get LeBron and the Lakers where they want to go. But it will be better than this. LeBron deserves the help.
One of the season’s better stories is John Wall‘s return. He had played 40 games over the three seasons prior to this due to a combination of injuries and being in Houston at the wrong time. This season he has been solid in a backup role with the Clippers, averaging 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds a game, being a quality floor general with the reserves.
However, the Clippers need a spark — and their two best players to be on the court consistently, but that’s another issue entirely — and Shams Charania of The Athletic reports they are willing to trade Wall to get it in the form of a backup big.
The Clippers are searching for depth in the frontcourt and have discussed guard John Wall in potential deals, league sources say. Behind Ivica Zubac, the Clippers have relied heavily on two-way big man Moses Brown but have also looked into a more accomplished center.
The Clippers also reportedly have interest in Jazz point guard Mike Conley, which would change the pecking order at the one in L.A.
Wall is making $6.5 million on a two-year contract with the Clippers (his $6.8 million is a team option).
There are name bigs available such as Jakob Poeltl or John Collins, but the Clippers might be looking more at someone like Nerlens Noel (also reportedly available from the Pistons, and the Clippers could get him with Wall and a player on a minimum).
Halfway into the fourth season of the Kawhi Leonard/Paul George era with the Clippers, there is still a “let’s see what we’ve got when everyone is healthy” feeling around this team, but at this point are we ever going to see it? If we do later this year, will it be with enough time to build good habits, such as sharp defensive rotations that they will need in the postseason — this is not a “flip the switch” team with a reservoir of good habits they can dip into (like the Warriors), the Clippers have never built that with this unit. There are games, even stretches of games with Leonard playing where you can see the potential of this team, but at this point it’s hard to imagine them sustaining that level.
A trade would help bring a spark, even if it’s just for a backup big man. But it will take more than that in Los Angeles, where the Clippers will head into the summer with some big questions to answer — starting with what to do with Wall.
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