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Morning Coffee – Wed, Mar 18

Should MLSE enter the toilet paper business?

Q&A: Alvin Williams talks NBA suspension, Vince’s last game –

What’s your level of interest in following the day-to-day on goings of the NBA season? How much does this impact you, if at all?

I’m watching. Keeping in tune. Just as a fan, I keep in tune. And my other business, having a wealth-advisory firm (Procapita) geared toward athletes, I gotta stay in tune with who’s who and what they’re doing and where they are.

Have you been in contact with any NBA players since the shutdown?

Only Kyle Lowry. He’s a very close friend of mine. I love him to death. Once all this stuff happened, he just finished playing Utah. I reached out to him, asked if he was alright and made sure he was…. He said he was OK and everything was alright…. That was the only person that I’ve talked to. I haven’t talked to him since [the Raptors went into self-isolation].

You were a second-year player during the 1998–99 lockout. As a young guy who was relatively unestablished, how did you handle the inactivity compared to some of your veteran Raptors teammates?

It affects a young player a lot of ways. As a young player, you think you’re invincible and think you’re going to play forever. You’re also eager to go out there and play, especially if you’re playing well and things are going your way individually, or as a team. You want to get back out there and play, but you don’t think of the ramifications of what’s going on. The older player, they may have children, they may have a family. Your priorities and your focus shift a little bit [when you get older]. But as a younger player, man, you probably just want to get out there and play. You might think it’s not that big of a deal.

When you’re young, you don’t understand everything that comes with this side of the business and the ramifications to your health. There’s an eagerness, but hopefully, [in today’s case] there’s an understanding of why things are taking place.

Athletes are pretty regimented. Can you give me insight into the mindset of an NBA player whose structured routine is now potentially in flux?

You might have some players who are happy that there’s a break…. [In my case,] the whole season was really curt short, but we never expected for it to go that long. We always prepared to go right back to work. I’m sure the players aren’t expecting it to go that long. Even though the information is out there where it possibly can. But I’m sure as a player, you are just uncertain and you just try to keep yourself prepared as much as possible, because when the bell rings, you have to be ready to answer it.

COVID-19: What’s next for the 2019-20 NBA season and the Toronto Raptors – Raptors HQ

“We’ll Settle for This” Scenario: Truncated Season and Playoffs
If we can contain the coronavirus by June, the NBA could play a truncated regular season — say, eight games, or maybe even as little as four games, all against the division, to minimize travel — and the jump into a playoffs, perhaps with the first (and second?) round being best-of-five. This gives teams a little time to warm up, maybe gives the final playoff seedings a little drama, and wraps everything up in about two months. It’s not ideal, but, it’s better than nothing.

What it means for the Raptors: Given the, ah, fragility of the Raptors this year, anything truncated probably wouldn’t work out so well for them! But, this scenario at least gives them the opportunity to defend the title

Likelihood of happening: 40%. If the NBA comes back, I believe this is the most likely scenario. Perhaps not exactly like described above, but some shortened finish to the season to wrap it up, and still have time for offseason activities and a not-too-late start to 2020-21.

“This Would be Trouble” Scenario: Playoffs Only
The NBA could skip the end of the regular season, finalize seeds based on current standings, and jump right into a full playoffs (or, again, perhaps a best-of-five round one). I think this would be terrible, because the actual first round games themselves would be terrible as teams get back into shape. Who wants to watch basketball that looks like the preseason in the playoffs? And given the demands of the playoffs, on bodies that aren’t in shape, injuries would be through the roof. (Although… rust, combined with a short round one could lead to some fun upsets!)

What it means for the Raptors: Hate to say it, but this might mean a first-round exit for a rusty Raps team — especially if they’re playing a Nets team that might have Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant in uniform.

Likelihood of happening: 30%. I don’t think the NBA wants to skip the regular season, but the playoffs are the most important thing, and timing might force their hands.

Sportsnet and TSN wrestle with lineups, programming and life without live sports – The Athletic

Bryan Hayes, the host of OverDrive, on TSN 1050, was not in studio as the afternoon drive show eased onto the air Monday. He was not even in the city, as it turned out, because like so many around Toronto, he had begun the week working from home.

Specifically, he was under quarantine.

“I’ve never done this before,” Hayes told his audience.

He had recently returned from Florida and was following guidelines established to help limit the spread of COVID-19, which meant he was broadcasting from his home in suburban Brooklin, Ont. Hayes was appearing via Skype, while co-hosts Mark Roe and Jamie McLennan were in studio.

“You look magnificent,” McLennan said, “but blink twice if you’re being held against your own will.”

“This is the weirdest experience,” Hayes said. “I have Roots track pants on … that I do not intend on taking off for two weeks.”

Sports have been postponed. Every major North American league has either paused or cancelled games in the face of a pandemic, and it is increasingly unclear when they might return. Sports networks — both television and radio — are still on the air, and they are still wrestling with the new normal.

With no live sports, the programming calendars have been decimated. There have been reports of part-time and freelance staff being laid off at both TSN and Sportsnet. More changes are also coming to the way live programming is produced at both Canadian networks.

Sportsnet has already (temporarily) ceased all live in-house production.

“Our primary focus remains the well-being of our employees, while we continue to serve sports fans during this unprecedented time,” Sportsnet said in a release issued on Monday.

How the NBA coronavirus suspension impacts every team in the Eastern Conference

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

No team in the NBA had been hotter than the Raptors the past two months. Toronto had gone a league-best 21-4, including winning 15 straight at one point, since Jan. 13. Doing so had allowed Toronto to establish a firm grip on the East’s second seed — all while, like Boston, having a rotating cast of players be sidelined by various ailments.

What an extended layoff could mean

Toronto has, despite its success, desperately needed a chance to get its full roster healthy for a playoff run. This gap in the schedule should allow the Raptors to do that. Given how much confidence this team already has, thanks to its run to the championship last season, the opportunity to get healthy will make Toronto more hopeful of making another deep playoff run.

Kevin Durant among four Nets players to test positive for coronavirus

Kevin Durant is among the four Brooklyn Nets players to test positive for the coronavirus, ESPN confirmed on Tuesday.

“Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine,” Durant told The Athletic, adding that he is feeling fine and not showing any symptoms. “We’re going to get through this.”

The Nets did not identify any players and said Tuesday that of the four players, only one is exhibiting symptoms. All four are isolated and are undergoing medical care from team physicians, the Nets said in a statement.

Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the player who has symptoms experienced aches when he woke up Tuesday.

Sources told Wojnarowski that the Nets had players tested by a private company, and that the team paid out of pocket, after they had returned from San Francisco last week. The test results came back Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Lakers will get tested Wednesday after learning of the Nets’ positive tests, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. The Lakers were the last opponents of the Nets last week before games were suspended.

The four Nets players join Utah Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and the Pistons’ Christian Wood as NBA players known to have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The Nets did not play the Jazz or the Pistons over the last two weeks of the season, which was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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