Dallas Mavericks center/power forward Kristaps Porzingis has been fined $50,000 for violating the rule prohibiting players from going into bars, clubs, lounges or similar establishments, the league office announced Tuesday.
Porzingis violated the rule when he attended a club on Sunday but will not miss any games due to the infraction, according to the league’s statement.
Sources told ESPN that Porzingis, who has been fully vaccinated, briefly visited a Los Angeles strip club.
“In consultation with medical experts, and based on all facts and circumstances, it was determined that his attendance did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19 and therefore no quarantine is necessary,” the NBA’s statement read, in part.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was found to be in breach of the NBA’s health and safety protocols last week but was not fined or suspended for attending a promotional event for a tequila brand he backs.
“While we understand the inclination to compare [Porzingis’] incident to protocol violations by other players, including LeBron James, those facts are very different,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said Tuesday. “LeBron briefly attended an outdoor event related to an individual commercial activity where everyone was either required to be vaccinated or return a negative Covid test. The league reviews each potential protocol violation on a case-by-case basis, and determines quarantines and imposes discipline based on the individual facts and circumstances of each matter.”
NBA draft 2021 — How to watch, trade talks, the latest mock draft and all the insider intel
The 2021 NBA draft has finally arrived! Who’s rising? Who’s falling? Will the Detroit Pistons take Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham at No. 1? Is Cunningham more Khris Middleton … or Luka Doncic? Where will USC big man Evan Mobley get selected? Will the Oklahoma City Thunder begin to spend its considerable draft capital? Who is this year’s Draymond Green or Nikola Jokic? What last-minute offer could turn every draft board upside down? (Could happen!)
So many questions. So many answers to come.
Here is everything you need to know, from how to watch the draft-night festivities to the full draft order, from scouting reports of all the top prospects and their likely landing spots to the latest intel, trade rumors, analysis and projections. Our experts will reveal the draft’s most NBA-ready prospects, as well as the players with the highest ceilings and highest bust factors.
All the action is set to go down at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET. Watch on ABC/ESPN/ESPN+.
How to watch the 2021 NBA draft
Who are the top NBA draft prospects?
This class features a four-player top tier that includes 6-foot-8 point guard Cade Cunningham, G League Ignite shooting guard Jalen Green, USC center Evan Mobley and Gonzaga star Jalen Suggs.
Rounding out the top 10, per Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz’s top 100 prospects:
Jonathan Kuminga | PF | G League Ignite
Scottie Barnes | F | Florida State
Davion Mitchell | PG | Baylor
James Bouknight | SG | UConn
Keon Johnson | SG | Tennessee
Franz Wagner | SF | Michigan
Where are the top NBA draft prospects expected to land?
Cunningham spent Monday and Tuesday in Detroit, per Givony, and, though it was a light workout, the former Cowboys star did nothing to diminish his standing within the Pistons organization.
Get the latest intel in Givony’s mock draft, which will be continuously updated until the start of the draft.
What are the big NBA trades to watch?
On Monday, NBA trade season officially began, with a deal that will send Memphis center Jonas Valanciunas and the 17th pick in this year’s draft to New Orleans in exchange for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe and two future first-rounds picks, including the 10th pick on Thursday.
Kevin Pelton grades the trade here.
As expected, NBA’s play-in tournament will return at least one more season with same format
The NBA’s play-in tournament is back for at least one more season.
As expected, the league’s board of governors gave approval Tuesday to the plan that would bring back the event in April 2022. The format will be the same as it was this past season: The teams that finish seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th in each conference will play to determine the No. 7 and No. 8 playoff seeds.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had said on multiple occasions in recent weeks that he expected the play-in to return. It was utilized this past season for the first time on an experimental basis.
In other board of governors news Tuesday:
The play-in tournament being back crystallizes the schedule for next season. It was already known that training camps would open Sept. 28 and the regular season on Oct. 19. With the play-in, that now means the regular season ends April 10, 2022.
The play-in tournament will be April 12-15, the playoffs will begin April 16, and the 2022 NBA Finals are scheduled to begin June 2 — back in their customary spot for the first time since 2019.
The latest possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals would be June 19, and the 2022 NBA Draft is slated for June 23.
Teams have been working under the assumption of that schedule for several weeks.
Two-way players will receive half of the minimum salary next season, or roughly $463,000. They will be permitted to be active for 50 games next season.
Teams can have 15 players active for each game next season, with no more than 17 under contract.
Perfect time to represent Nigeria for Utah Jazz’s Miye Oni
Miye Oni‘s favourite Nigerian food is pounded yam with egusi soup served with oxtail.
That is as Nigerian a dish as you are likely to get, especially the oxtail part. It is a dish that can be found in classy restaurants and run-down bucks alike, and is a staple in most Nigerian homes.
Oni can understand the Yoruba language and while his “ese o” is spoken with an American accent, there is no doubt that he was raised in a Nigerian home with Nigerian values.
He cannot speak pidgin English, but having Burna Boy and Wizkid among his favorite musicians more than make up for that.
Oni, like most other children of first-generation Nigerian immigrants, has been a target of the Nigeria basketball federation as they seek to rebuild the program around NBA talent.
But things gained impetus with the appointment of Golden State Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown in 2019. His outreach, profile and willingness to scout, persuade and cajole has accelerated the process and convinced the likes of Oni, Jahlil Okafor and others to commit to the Nigeria national team.
But the Jazz guard tells ESPN it was more a question of when, not if, for him.
“It just wasn’t the right time,” he said. “Things didn’t work out then. But now is the perfect time and I’m ready to represent Nigeria in the Tokyo Olympics.”
And now that it has finally happened, he says pulling on that green and white strip was immensely important for his parents.
“They were really proud. It’s important to them. They always teach me about Nigerian culture and everything like that. So it’s been important to them and something I dreamed of and something that my whole family is excited for.”
Oni made his competitive debut for D’Tigers as they went down 67-84 in a bruising battle against Australia in their opening game of the Olympics. But disappointed as he was by the result, it was overshadowed by something bigger — the pride of representing the motherland.
“To me, it meant the world,” Oni said. “My mother was born there, the country my father has lived in. I’ve been there. It means a lot to me and my family, that we carry that pride everywhere we go.
“So just being able to represent this country, with all this rich history, and really try to make this country proud, means a lot to me.”
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Nigeria’s ambition going to Tokyo was to medal. Coach Brown has made that very clear and the players have bought into the goal. But losing against Australia, especially after two exhibition wins against the USA and Argentina, gave the team a reality check. They now have to push the reset button.
“Every game is going to be a war and a challenge. That is what we expected and that has not not changed,” Oni said.
“We just have to play our hardest and not really worry about our opponent, just worry about what we can control and play our hardest to execute where coach wants us to and put us in a good position to win every game.”
In those two exhibition wins, the team overpowered number one-ranked Team USA and followed that up with another smothering performance against number three-ranked Argentina. But the displays showed different sides of the offensive and defensive arsenal Brown has assembled.
“Just our athleticism overall. We are long, athletic, fast. As Nigerians that’s what our strength is always going to be.
“So we can get to the rim and defend. But I think once we come together as a group, and really start clicking, we can really be special.”
If they do succeed in getting on that podium, it will be a first for an African nation. But being first is not new to the Nigerian basketball team, especially in these last few years. They became the first African team to qualify for the Olympic Games from World Cup play, and also became the first African team to beat Team USA.
And with potentially more NBA class talent still to be added in the future, the prospects of Nigerian basketball are promising.
For Oni, all he wants to do is contribute to making history with D’Tigers.
“I always play hard and I always play the right way with the intensity, the effort, I’m always going to give my all and just trying to make the right plays every time I step on the court and do what our coach asks me to do, I feel like I could play a lot of different ways. So just whatever the team needs, and whatever coach asks me to do, I’ll do that and step up from my team.”
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