With most of the world still sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA news cycle continues to sludge along at an Eddy Curry-like pace. Nevertheless, I thought it was a good time to bring back the infamous “Cup of Canis” (inspired by our friend Eric in Madison) to discuss some of the bigger story lines from this past week.
In their latest attempt to engage the national fan base and give people something to watch (other than replays of historic games), the NBA and ESPN announced this week that they had finalized a plan to televise a shooting competition between various NBA and WNBA stars, including Chris Paul, Trae Young, Mike Conley, Zach LaVine, Tamika Catchings, Chauncey Billups, Allie Quigley, and Paul Pierce.
According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski, all eight players will be filmed competing at their home locations (some indoor and some outdoor courts) and will compete shot-for-shot, just like the standard game is played on playgrounds. The first-round matchups will be televised this Sunday on ESPN (7pm EST), with the semifinals and championship taking place a week later on April 16 on ESPN (9pm EST).
While I commend the league for continuing to be innovative during these challenging times, I for one will watch exactly zero seconds of this event, and would much rather spend my time either 1) watching replays of actual sporting events or 2) just play HORSE in my apartment against my fiancé.
Show Me the Money
The other (sort of) major basketball story from this past week involved the continued negotiations between the NBA and NBPA about possibly withholding a percentage of the players salaries on upcoming payment dates.
NBA will pay players full checks on April 15, league tell teams in a memo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 9, 2020
As Woj tweeted early Thursday morning, it looks like players will indeed receive their full paychecks next week (April 15); however, the following paycheck date (May 1) is still being negotiated between the two sides. As sports leagues (and the world as a whole) continue to practice social distancing and live that #QuarantineLife, this is all becoming more and more common for businesses to face difficult payroll decisions, and the NBA is no different.
None of this really signals anything good or bad in terms of when we might expect the NBA to return back to “normal.” In an interview earlier this week, Adam Silver said it was far too premature to really make any decisions until around May 1, in order to get a better sense of how the country (and world) are responding to the pandemic, how available testing is, etc. With the NBA’s schedule still in limbo, the next major event on the league calendar is the NBA Draft Lottery, which is tentatively scheduled to be held on Tuesday, May 19.
Speaking of Drafts...
The 2020 WNBA Draft is officially one week away, for the first time in league history, the event will air on the worldwide leader’s primary platform (ESPN) rather than ESPN2 or ESPNU. The Minnesota Lynx currently hold the 6th and 16th pick in the three round draft, and I would expect them to be aggressive as they continue to reshape their roster after a somewhat tumultuous offseason.
Oregon Duck star Sabrina Ionescu is the clear-cut favorite to go #1 to the New York Liberty, meaning the Dallas Wings are essentially already on the clock. A lot of really talented players will be looking to get their name called Friday night (including Sabrina’s Oregon teammate Satou Sabally, Lauren Cox, Megan Walker, and Tyasha Harris), and things should get interesting with Dallas owning two picks in the top five.
Other than all of THAT, it’s been another very quiet week in the professional basketball world. The Wolves did hold media availability the other day, and apart from getting a healthy update on some of our favorite media members’ current hair styles, there wasn’t a lot of “breaking” news to be found. Our beloved Jordan McLaughlin did celebrate his 24th birthday on Thursday, and the Wolves re-clinched a spot in the 2018 NBA Playoffs by once again defeating the Denver Nuggets in the now infamous “loser leaves town” Game 82.
Have a great weekend everyone!