Wednesday June 16 saw Wednesday June 2 and said hold my beer.
If you don’t fully remember what happened in the basketball world exactly two weeks ago (weird, but okay), let me remind you: Mike Krzyzewski announced that he would retire after next season, Danny Ainge has left the Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens has been promoted to general manager and Joel Embiid has had an MCL tear.
To be fair, we’ve been living quite a bit of life since then … specifically in the hours since 9am ET today.
If the NBA were my internet, I would have unplugged and attempted to restart the router hours ago. But seeing as that’s not how it works, instead, I’m going to regale you with the events of a wild day in the association so you too can jump into tonight’s playoff action ( Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz) slightly overwhelmed.
9:10 a.m. ET: Chris Paul placed in NBA health and safety protocols
The collective NBA high we were reaching after Kevin Durant’s otherworldly performance on Tuesday night (49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists) fell apart as sources confirmed that the Phoenix Suns point guard, Chris Paul, was absent indefinitely after entering NBA health and safety protocols. The league’s coronavirus-related mandatory isolation period schedule puts the star’s availability for the Western Conference Finals at risk.
In a four-game Denver Nuggets sweep, Paul, 36, averaged 25.5 points on 61.8 percent shots, 58.3 percent on 3, 100 percent on the free throw line, more an assist from 41 to 5 report. Health and safety protocols mark the most recent hurdle in a history of playoff woes for Point God that brought the Suns out of the dark this season just a year after being banned, I mean, traded. to Oklahoma City from Houston.
9:12 a.m. ET: Kawhi Leonard out for Game 5
Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst have announced that Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will miss Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Utah Jazz with a right knee injury and may be out for the remainder of the series. Sources told ESPN that more imaging needs to be done to determine the severity of the ligament sprain after the swelling subsides, but there is “no timeline for its return.”
Other than Kevin Durant in the East, no one has been more impressive this playoffs. In the first round, Leonard became the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 to score 200 points and shoot 60% or better in a single streak. In four games against the Jazz, he averaged 27.3 points and 7.5 rebounds. To say the Claw is critical to the Clippers’ success in the playoffs would be an understatement.
11:02 a.m.ET: Stan Van Gundy with the New Orleans Pelicans
Here for a long time, not long? After a season at the helm in New Orleans, Stan Van Gundy is the Pelicans’ head coach. Its limited tenure with the franchise was disappointing as the team ended a dismal 31-41 last season and failed to make it to the Western Conference play-in tournament.
New Orleans was Van Gundy’s fourth stop as NBA head coach and his first since his absence the previous two seasons. Van Gundy enjoyed success in his first two saves in Miami (.605 winning percentage) and Orlando (.657). However, he has only enjoyed one winning season in four years with the Detroit Pistons from 2014 to 2018. Van Gundy joins Nate Bjorkgren as coaches who parted ways with their teams after being hired before the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the fifth time in the past 30 seasons that several teams have changed coaches who were with the franchise only one season.
11:34 a.m. ET: Scott Brooks and Wizards go their separate ways
The Washington Wizards have announced that they will not be extending coach Scott Brooks’ contract, which expired after their first-round loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Sources told Adrian Wojnarowski that the two sides have not reached an agreement on a new deal.
Last month, Brooks led the Wizards to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons despite a 34-38 season. In five seasons, Brooks – who was hired in hopes of luring home Washington-area native Kevin Durant to play for the Wiz Kids (spoiler alert: this did not happen) – was 183 -207 with three playoff appearances, including making the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2016-17.
2:22 p.m. ET: Donnie Nelson as President of Mavs Basketball Operations
It’s the end of an era for the Dallas Mavericks as the team announced that longtime president of basketball operations and general manager Donnie Nelson were out after 24 seasons with the franchise. Nelson has been widely credited with researching and encouraging the two biggest acquisitions in Mavericks history: draft-day trades for Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic 20 years apart.
According to sources, Nelson’s departure comes after internal friction over the growing influence over decision-making of Mavericks’ director of quantitative research and development, Haralabos Voulgaris. Sources explained that the former professional player was hired by the Mavs in 2018 and reported directly to owner Mark Cuban and communicated directly with coach Rick Carlisle over Nelson’s objections.
2:53 p.m. ET: LaMelo Ball named Rookie of the Year
LaVar Ball tried to tell us how it was going to be. Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball was named Rookie of the Year, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski. The younger brother Ball’s journey was unconventional, as LaMelo traveled the world to begin his professional career before bringing his talents to the NBA. But his first season was undeniably special. Ball has averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game for Charlotte this season, shooting 35.2% from a 3-point range and was an immediate factor for that the Hornets play winning basketball in a way not common to rookies.
Despite all of this, fellow Rookie of the Year finalist Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves was far from convinced Ball deserved the honor. As this tweet shows:
– Anthony Edwards (@theantedwards_) June 16, 2021
… Hey, I can’t fault Edwards for wanting to win.
In contrast, Ball’s teammates seemed happy with the selection:
I told you https://t.co/wTtQDhfYxf
– Miles Bridges (@MilesBridges) June 16, 2021
– PJ Washington (@PJWashington) June 16, 2021