LOS ANGELES — Lakers assistant coach Lionel Hollins will not join the team when it flies to Orlando, Florida next week for the restart to the NBA season, a league source confirmed to ESPN on Friday.
Hollins was deemed a higher-risk individual due to underlying medical conditions, the source told ESPN. He will not be present in Orlando but will continue to be an essential member of the team and participate on coach Frank Vogel’s staff remotely.
Without specifically mentioning Hollins by name, Vogel said it was a “fairly miserable experience” putting together the Lakers’ 36-person traveling party list that had to be submitted to the league this week.
“There are several members of our staff that we’re not going to be able to bring into the bubble that, quite frankly, we need in the bubble,” Vogel told reporters Thursday. “But the environment just doesn’t allow us to do that and that’s just part of the pandemic life and the situation we’re in.” Hollins exclusion from Orlando was earlier reported by Yahoo Sports.
This is not the first instance of bubble trouble for the Lakers, the No. 1 team in the Western Conference. They are already bracing for starting guard Avery Bradley’s absence in Orlando — he cited potential COVID-19 concerns for his 6-year-old son and a continued focus on community efforts — and are awaiting Dwight Howard’s finalized plans to join the team, as they work with Howard, his agent, the NBA and the NBA Players Association to find a workable path for him to report separately to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Hollins, 66, joined the Lakers last summer after being hired, along with Jason Kidd, by Vogel as veteran NBA minds with previous head coaching experience.
Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager, Rob Pelinka, was asked earlier this week about what considerations the team was making in figuring out their travel participants.
“I think our level of care for every individual, for every player, for every member of our staff, needs to be at the highest possible level,” Pelinka said Tuesday. “And I think that’s our goal is that everyone deserves the highest standard of medical care and safety. That’s the way we’re looking at it as an organization is every person, regardless of their circumstance, deserves 10 out of 10 attention to detail, care and measures around safety as we venture into what we are with the Orlando restart.”
According to a league memo distributed to all 30 teams last month and acquired by ESPN, a higher-risk staff member who is not deemed “protected” by their team — meaning, the team makes the decision to exclude the individual from their traveling party for the good of that individual’s health — will be seen by a league-appointed physician and will be required to sign a release and a “covenant not to sue agreement” in order to be allowed in the bubble, if the league physician signs off.
The league physician can block the staff member’s inclusion, however, after gathering information and the physician’s decision will be “final, binding and unappealable,” according to the memo.
Hollins, a one-time All-Star who won a championship as a player with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977, entered the league as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns in 1988-89 and later became the head coach for the Grizzlies (as the interim in Vancouver and later the full-fledged head coach in Memphis) and also served as head coach for the Brooklyn Nets.
Nets (+19) shock Bucks for largest NBA point spread upset since 1993
The Brooklyn Nets just shocked the bubble with the largest NBA upset point spread-wise since 1993.
The Nets, who closed as consensus 19-point underdogs, defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 119-116 Tuesday in Orlando, Florida. According to ESPN Stats and Information research, it’s the largest upset point spread-wise since the Dallas Mavericks beat the Seattle Supersonics as 19.5-point underdogs on April 4, 1993.
The Bucks were looking to lock up the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs but still elected to rest some starters down the stretch against a depleted Brooklyn roster.
In addition to injured stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Waller-Prince each opted out of the conclusion of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and likely would-be starters Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert were ruled out ahead of Tuesday’s matinee.
Garrett Temple was the only Brooklyn starter with more than four starts this season. The other four starters — Lance Thomas, Rodjon Kurucs, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Tyler Johnson — combined to start seven games this season.
Brooklyn’s makeshift roster resulted in the 19-point spread, the largest line since the 2017-18 season when the Rockets were 19-point favorites against the New York Knicks. Still, the underdog Nets took a 94-88 lead into the fourth quarter and held on with Temple hitting a jumper with 7.3 seconds left to help finish off the Bucks.
In the past 30 seasons, teams favored by 19 or more were 49-2 straight-up entering Tuesday’s game.
There were a few believers in Brooklyn at the betting windows, but not many. Sportsbook operator BetMGM reported taking a $600 money-line bet on the Nets at 13-1 odds, resulting in a $7,800 profit. The majority of the action was on the Bucks to win straight-up.
At sportsbook PointsBet, 94% of the money bet on the moneyline was on the Bucks. PointsBet communications director Patrick Eichner told ESPN that there were a “significant number” of $1,000 money-line bets on Milwaukee at -3,000 odds. The $1,000 bets would have won just over $32 each.
ESPN Stats and Information researcher Ryan Satsky contributed to this report.
NBA campus intel – Schedule and live updates for Day 6 of seeding games
Today, as the Celtics and Heat square off inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort, things aren’t quite at the fever pitch they were when Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were squaring off with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But the Celtics and Heat are stationed in third and fourth place in the Eastern Conference, respectively, and are well-positioned to return to battling in the playoffs on a regular basis for years to come.
The Heat entered the offseason having missed the playoffs for a second straight season, and winning just one playoff series since James left as a free agent in 2014. They had little cap space, and it was hard to see how they would create any.
Then they made two franchise-altering moves in the span of a few weeks — shipping Hassan Whiteside to Portland, creating room for Bam Adebayo to step into the starting lineup, and sending Josh Richardson to Philadelphia in a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler. Adebayo became an All-Star and one of the NBA’s most versatile big men, while Butler has perfectly assimilated into Miami’s culture. Combine that with the development of young players such as Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, and the Heat have plenty to be excited about — including the likely cap space to chase after Giannis Antetokounmpo after next season.
Boston also was coming off a disappointing season, culminating in a five-game playoff loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and the departures of both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford a short time later. But the arrival of Kemba Walker in Irving’s place provided stability that the franchise desperately needed — and allowed the team’s young wings, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, to thrive. Gordon Hayward has also quietly returned to near the All-Star level he was at before suffering a gruesome leg injury in his first game as a Celtic in 2017.
Boston is fairly entrenched in the third seed, currently 2.5 games ahead of the Heat, and there’s less of a need to fight for positioning since home-court advantage is no longer a factor. While there’s still a chance Miami could overtake Boston for the No. 3 seed, this game is more a glimpse into the potential future of the East. And that vision provides a lot for both teams to like. — Tim Bontemps
Here’s the latest on the standings, the games to watch Tuesday and Wednesday, plus everything you need to know. Check back here for highlights and updates throughout the day.
Jamal Crawford available for Nets
After sitting out the Brooklyn Nets’ first two seeding games, 40-year-old guard Jamal Crawford will be available to play Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Crawford hasn’t played an NBA game since scoring 51 points for the Phoenix Suns on April 9, 2019. The Bucks, meanwhile, will get guards Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton back today as well. Both will play limited minutes after having missed Milwaukee’s first two seeding games.
“We want to gradually build their conditioning,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game.
Tuesday’s must-see games
Two teams badly in need of a win in Florida. The Kings come into this game on the heels of two straight losses that probably cost them any chance at the postseason — so it will be interesting to see how motivated they are to play in a game against a Mavericks team that has let two winnable games slide right through their fingertips. For the Kings to get back on track, they need more from Buddy Hield. He comes into Tuesday’s game shooting just 7-for-26 over his first two games. The Mavs could use more from Tim Hardaway Jr., who was just 1-for-12 in Sunday’s loss to the Suns. — Nick Friedell
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat | 6:30 p.m. ET
This sets up to be one of the most intense matchups on the campus. The Celtics got a much-needed win over a rejuvenated Trail Blazers team Sunday, and the Heat have looked hungry and deep in their first two games. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 64 points against the Blazers, but expect Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler to help slow down Boston’s perimeter movement early if he is available. — Friedell
There will be plenty of points — lots of points — in what figures to be one of the highest-scoring affairs of the month. These two top-five offenses score at will, but a key factor will be how well Portland can use center Jusuf Nurkic and his height advantage against the Houston microball lineup. — Friedell
Of the six games on Tuesday, five of them involve at least one team fighting for a playoff spot. The Magic have a half-game game lead over the Nets to maintain the No. 7 seed but face a challenge in the Pacers and will be without Jonathan Isaac for the rest of the season. Brooklyn has a chance to catch Orlando on Tuesday, but it faces the No. 1 Bucks without Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris.
The Kings, three games behind the No. 8 seed, are looking to avoid an 0-3 start, but will face a Mavericks team looking to do the same. The Suns are 2-0 in Orlando but still at the bottom of the West standings. They are not likely to gain any ground on Tuesday as they take on the Clippers.
The Blazers moved into the No. 9 seed after the Spurs’ loss to the Sixers on Monday, but they’ll need to beat the Rockets on Tuesday to maintain that positioning. That’s a tall task, given that Houston is off to a 2-0 start with wins over the Mavericks and Bucks.
8. Memphis Grizzlies | 32-36 (.471) | —
9. Portland Trail Blazers | 30-38 (.441) | 2.0 GB
10. San Antonio Spurs | 29-37 (.439) | 2.0 GB
11. New Orleans Pelicans | 29-38 (.433) | 2.5 GB
12. Sacramento Kings | 28-38 (.424) | 3.0 GB
13. Phoenix Suns | 28-39 (.418) | 3.5 GB
Wednesday’s must-see games
After losing their first three games inside the bubble, it’s suddenly desperation time for the Grizzlies. Ja Morant may not have liked the idea of a play-in tournament when it looked like Memphis would be the No. 8 seed, but it seems likely his tune will change if the Grizzlies fall to No. 9. — Bontemps
The Thunder appeared to be on their way to a second straight victory, only to collapse and eventually lose to the Nuggets in overtime Monday. They’ll look to bounce back against the Lakers in what could potentially be a Western Conference semifinals preview. — Bontemps
Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics | 9 p.m. ET
The Nets are going to sit Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris against Milwaukee on Tuesday, so they should likely play the second game of the back-to-back against the Celtics on Wednesday. Even with them, though, Brooklyn is severely undermanned. Boston will also be playing the second game of a back-to-back, however, so it might also rest a few guys. — Bontemps
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Analysis and intel
Our NBA experts weigh in on the biggest trends after the first weekend of basketball.
The Raptors and Rockets both upset top teams, while the Spurs and Blazers fight for the No. 8 seed in the West.
Toronto remains horribly under the radar in this year’s title race. That needs to change.
Why some NBA coaches love the new casual look — and some don’t
When the Miami Heat promoted Erik Spoelstra out of the video room and into an assistant coaching position, there was one problem: Spoelstra owned no suits. The league’s dress code for coaches, codified in a memo sent before the season, mandates every coach wear a dress shirt (or “dress sweater”) and sport coat.
Pat Riley, Spoelstra’s boss and one of the all-time sports fashion plates, lent Spoelstra several of his Armani suits. Riley is taller than Spoelstra, with broader shoulders. “Pat’s suits were huge,” Spoelstra said. “It was almost like they had football pads in the shoulders. I looked like the dude from the Talking Heads video.”
Spoelstra has improved his style game over two decades on Miami’s bench, but he didn’t have to bring any suits to the NBA’s campus at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The National Basketball Coaches Association polled its members and found heavy support for a more casual look in Orlando: polo shirts, slacks, and sneakers. The association took its findings to the league office, which approved the casual style for the NBA’s restart, said Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, president of the NBCA.
Spoelstra is almost afraid to say it out loud, but he prefers the polo look. “Pat would be shocked,” Spoelstra said. “There is so much less to think about. I feel more mobile. The thing I hate most about suits is wearing dress shoes.” Several head coaches echoed Spoelstra’s remark about how the casual look simplifies sartorial decision-making — and packing, a constant headache during normal times.
Spoelstra’s turn marks an important win for Team Casual, which feels it is gaining momentum in the bubble for more lasting change. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, the elder statesman among head coaches, has wondered aloud — including in his role as head coach of Team USA in international play, where the polo look rules — why coaches in sweaty gyms must wear suits. Some pro-suit coaches were wary of proclaiming their allegiance and standing against a beloved mentor to so many.
Frank Vogel, head coach of the Lakers, followed the same path out of the video room as Spoelstra. Before his first game as a graduate assistant under Rick Pitino at the University of Kentucky, Vogel was scribbling scouting tips on the white board when Pitino approached. “You’re not wearing that, are you?” Pitino asked him.
Vogel was wearing his only suit — a graduation gift from his parents. He told Pitino he was going to wear it for each game, and change out shirts and ties to avoid detection. Pitino would not have it. He invited Vogel to his house that night, and gave him 15 suits — Armanis and Brionis — plus the number for his tailor, Vogel recalled.
Vogel remains on Team Suit. “It’s the Pitino family tree,” he said. Vogel has joked that he wants to be “the Dan Reeves of the bubble,” a reference to the former head coach of the NFL’s Denver Broncos, New York Giants, and Atlanta Falcons — who often favored suits in a mostly non-suit sport..
The coaches’ association has taken periodic polls, most recently two seasons ago, and found “overwhelming support” for suits over polos, Carlisle said. Carlisle spent two years as an assistant with the New Jersey Nets under Chuck Daly, perhaps the most fashion-forward head coach in NBA history. Daly had a sponsorship deal with Hugo Boss. On one road trip, he invited Carlisle to a Hugo Boss outlet for a shopping spree. “It was the nicest stuff I had ever had to that point,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle has never even gone without a tie in an NBA (non-bubble version) game, he said: “If I ever did that, Chuck would roll over in his grave.” Carlisle is perhaps the most powerful voice on Team Suit. “The legacy of guys like Chuck Daly, Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens — that is a big part of this,” he said
Daly directed Alvin Gentry, now the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, to his pet suit shop outside Detroit when Gentry became head coach of the Pistons in the late 1990s, Gentry said. “I thought I had really made it,” he said. But in the bubble, Gentry has shifted to Team Casual, he said.
The late Flip Saunders’ careful attention to sideline style rubbed off on his son, Ryan, now the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. “I like my suits,” Saunders said. “I learned that from my dad. You feel good if you feel like you look good.”
But watching Orlando from afar, Saunders has felt the stirrings of rebellion. “After being in quarantine and not even putting on jeans for six months, I’m leaning toward basketball casual,” he said. “My dad would have a fit.”
Other notable backers of the polo look: Boston’s Brad Stevens, Denver’s Michael Malone, Orlando’s Steve Clifford, Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, Charlotte’s James Borrego, Sacramento’s Luke Walton, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, and Washington’s Scott Brooks. (Kerr was so passionate, he requested his name appear on this list in larger font — John Hancock-style.) “I was against [polos], but now that I’m down to my summer weight, I love them,” Brooks said. Most of the above coaches said they would support carrying over the look to the normal NBA environment.
“With the coaches all matching, I think we maintain the professional look,” Walton said.
Dwane Casey, head coach of the Pistons, likes both looks and would prefer coaches get to choose each game. Brett Brown, head coach of the Sixers, leans Team Casual but is open to a middle ground. The Sixers have ordered custom dress shirts — non-polos — for the playoffs in Orlando, he said. “I’m a Jeep-and-dog guy from Maine,” Brown said. “When I was young, I cared more. Now whatever suit is closest to my hands, I just throw in the suitcase. There is a real disdain for packing.” (Brown has also served as head coach of Australia’s national team, so he is comfortable in the polo look, he said.)
“I told my kids I’d be a better coach in polos,” Borrego said. “There are so many fewer decisions to make.” (Sam Hinkie, the former president of basketball operations of the Sixers, famously bought a huge supply of blue blazers to combat “decision fatigue.”)
J.B. Bickerstaff, whose father, Bernie, coached in the NBA for 40 years, is a traditionalist. “The history of the suit means something,” he said. Others on Team Suit include Toronto’s Nick Nurse; Atlanta’s Lloyd Pierce; and Chicago’s Jim Boylen.
Quin Snyder, head coach of the Utah Jazz, pitched the notion of intra-staff suit uniformity, which is not uncommon in European leagues. When Snyder was an assistant at the powerhouse CSKA Moscow earlier this decade, Ettore Messina, then CSKA’s head coach, outfitted the entire coaching staff in the same suit and tie for each game. “And Ettore has great taste,” Snyder said. (Messina confirmed, via text, that he indeed has great taste.)
“What we did at CSKA provides an element of professionalism and also captures the pragmatic component of not having to overthink,” Snyder said.
That system would prevent each individual coach from showing off his or her style. (In a memo sent to teams in October, the league for the first time detailed a dress code for female coaches — though it is very brief. “Each female coach must wear business attire,” it reads. “Athletic shoes, sandals, flip-flops, and work boots are prohibited.”)
One of Saunders’ assistants — Saunders won’t name him — has already expressed concern about potentially losing stylistic independence, Saunders said. Mike Brown, Kerr’s lead assistant and the former head coach of the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers, picks every element of his outfit for every game and tracks his choices so he doesn’t wear the same outfit twice against the same opponent, he said.
“I have a whole process,” Brown said. “I like guys being able to show their personalities with their suit games.”
But like Vogel and Spoelstra, Brown remembers being a young assistant short on cash. In the 1990s, he hunted deals at K&G Fashion Superstore, which sometimes offered specials that included a suit, shirt, and tie for $99, Brown said.
Starting in 2008, the coaches association struck a deal with Men’s Wearhouse to outfit head coaches in Joseph Abboud suits. The full deal did not apply to assistants, though they received a discount — plus shoes and belts as part of smaller deals, per previous reports. (The Men’s Wearhouse deal expired after last season, sources said.)
Uniformity across teams matters, too. Even several pro-polo coaches conceded it might look awkward for a suit staff to face a polo staff. “There is a visual extreme,” Carlisle said. “One staff looks like they are at a wedding, and the other looks like they are about to tee off.”
A few polo backers worried short-sleeved versions would leave them shivering in the league’s chillier arenas. They wondered about the possibility of long-sleeved polos.
There is almost unanimous agreement the polo look makes sense for the less formal environment in Orlando, which many compared to the NBA’s Summer League — another polo event. Some on Team Casual might get cold feet about transferring the look to normal games. Others aren’t passionate enough to repel an offensive from Team Suit.
But the Orlando bubble has emboldened Team Casual.
“Maybe this experience will give it some momentum,” Malone said.
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