Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee – Sun, Mar 22

Bad: Billion dollar losses for the NBA. Good: Sprite Zone coming back.

NBA’s Adam Silver seeking answers, which are in short supply

Silver said Saturday the league is considering all options — best-case, worst-case and countless ideas in between — as it tries to come to grips with this new normal. But definitive answers on any front are in short supply.

“It’s too soon to tell what the economic impact will be,” Silver said. “We’ve been analyzing multiple scenarios on a daily if not hourly basis and we’ll continue to review the financial implications. Obviously, it’s not a pretty picture but everyone, regardless of what industry they work in, is in the same boat.”

Saturday marked the 10th full day of the NBA’s shutdown, a stoppage that has cost the league 75 games and counting so far, a total that will reach triple digits on Wednesday and will eventually get to 259 on April 15 — the day the regular season was supposed to end. Play isn’t going to resume by then. The financial losses will be massive and will obviously just keep growing if this season cannot resume or if next season is affected.

“Adam is obviously cautious, cautiously optimistic,” Cleveland forward Kevin Love said earlier in the week. “We don’t know what the future holds but the NBA has been through a lot, we’ve seen a lot and I think we’ll be incredibly resilient. It just might take time.”

Players who are due to get their next paycheck on April 1 will get them. Whether those players will get their April 15 check is in some question; the league can exercise a clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows it to take back 1.08% of each player’s salary for each game missed in certain times — like war, or in this case, a pandemic.

That clause has not been exercised yet since, officially anyway, no game has been canceled.

“We’re exploring all options to resume our season if and when it is safe to do so,” Silver said. “Nothing is off the table.”

Coronavirus could cost NBA $1 billion, bring about record salary cap drop

After his All-Star Weekend address in Chicago last month, Adam Silver was asked whether fallout stemming from Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of protesters in Hong Kong and the subsequent strained business ties with the Chinese government and sponsors might cost the NBA $1 billion in revenue. The Commissioner quickly objected.

“Certainly, [billion-dollar estimates] were never numbers that were coming from league sources,” Silver said. “The magnitude of the loss will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, certainly. Probably less than $400 million. Maybe even less than that.”

But the spread of the novel coronavirus, which forced the NBA to suspend its season last week, presents an even greater financial challenge to the league. It could push the NBA’s revenue hit past the $1 billion threshold, according to team executives and media estimates, should the regular season and postseason be canceled. For a league that had enjoyed a decade of prosperity, the combination of the Hong Kong controversy and the coronavirus crisis represents an unprecedented and wholly unexpected financial challenge.

Consider: Over the past 35 years, the NBA’s salary cap, which is tied directly to the league’s revenue, has shown annual declines just twice and never by more than $2.3 million. Silver’s tenure, meanwhile, has been defined by remarkable growth. When he stepped in as commissioner in February 2014, the salary cap was $58 million. That number has nearly doubled to $109 million this season, thanks in large part to lucrative new media rights deals. The league’s annual revenue now tops $8 billion, more than double what it was a decade ago.

Mounting Tokyo 2020 postponement calls put pressure on defiant Olympic chiefs – CNA

Pressure mounted on Olympic organisers to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games on Saturday (Mar 21) after the powerful US track and field federation urged this summer’s event be pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

USA Track and Field became the latest influential sports body to ask for the Games to be called off after its head Max Siegel “respectfully requested” in a letter that the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) “advocate … for the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo”.

USOPC had said it was too soon to axe the Jul 24 to Aug 9 Games, much like International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Thomas Bach, who said that it would be “premature” to make such a big decision.

“The right and responsible thing to do is to prioritise everyone’s health and safety and appropriately recognise the toll this difficult situation has, and continues to take, on our athletes and their Olympic Games preparations,” wrote Siegel.

USATF joined a growing chorus of calls from sports organisations to push back the Olympics, a day after the country’s swimming federation asked USOPC to back a postponement until 2021.

“We urge the USOPC, as a leader within the Olympic Movement, to use its voice and speak up for the athletes,” USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey said in a letter.

That request for a delay was echoed on Saturday by France’s swimming federation which said that the Games could not be organised properly in the “current context”.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe told AFP Saturday that the sporting world was in “uncharted territory”.

“We have another meeting early next week to discuss the work, given the number of athletes who are struggling to train in various countries due to measures put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” said Coe.

Coronavirus: New test could help sports leagues return sooner – Sports Illustrated

On Saturday, the possibility of real-time COVID-19 testing became much more possible.

Cepheid, a molecular diagnostics company based in California, announced it had received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a diagnostic test that takes only 45 minutes to determine if a person is infected with COVID-19. The test is called “Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2” and it assesses if a person has SARS-CoV-2, the technical name for the virus that causes COVID-19. The test is also conducted at the point-of-care, meaning on the spot and not requiring that samples be sent to a lab for analysis. According to Cepheid, the tests will begin to be shipped next week.

The FDA’s decision to grant emergency use authorization is legally significant. FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn is authorized under section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to permit unapproved medical products, including newly designed medical tests, as well as unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in an emergency to diagnose a life-threatening disease. The requisite emergency condition was likely satisfied on March 13, when President Donald Trump proclaimed a national emergency on account of the outbreak of COVID-19.

The prospect of COVID-19 tests that indicate a result in 45 minutes could save lives, boost public health and restore the public’s confidence. With such results, health care providers could supply much more timely treatment to the infected, who in turn would be quarantined and less likely to infect others. Respirators and other crucial medical equipment to treat the infected could become more efficiently allocated, too. If all goes well, Xpert Xpress could be a real game-changer.

WojPod: Andy Slavitt, Obama healthcare head and founder of U.S. of Care

Andy Slavitt, a former head of healthcare for President Obama and founder of the United States of Care, joins The Woj Pod to discuss the facts surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, what we need to do, what’s coming and how the NBA fits into the conversation.

Inside stories from the Chinese Basketball Association’s coronavirus-induced hiatus

The Chinese Basketball Association was midway through its season, and the Lunar New Year celebration had given the assistant coach of the Guangzhou Loong Lions the time to take a long weekend trip. The CBA traditionally takes a few days off for the holiday. So, off to Turkey he went, and while he was a guest at Fenerbahce’s practice, his phone buzzed.

“Don’t come home,” his CBA team’s group chat said.

Tatalovich, who is from Chicago and previously worked for several NBA teams, was shocked.

“I was like, ‘Am I homeless right now?'” Tatalovich said.

The CBA was the first major sports league to feel the impact of the COVID-19 virus. And because quarantines escalated through the Lunar New Year in late January, many players and coaches out of town for the holiday have not been able to return. There are now more than 118,000 cases and 4,000 deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization. It was officially declared a pandemic on Wednesday.

For the NBA, which is making preparations in the event of a wider spread of the virus in the U.S., what has happened in China is an unsettling look at the fallout from the temporary stoppage of a well-planned and relatively deep-pocketed league.

“I haven’t been home this time of year since I was in high school,” said Andrew Nicholson, a Loong Lions forward who was drafted 19th in 2012 by the Orlando Magic and played in the NBA for five years. “It’s been frustrating, but no one could have expected this, no one can control it.”

How the NBA hiatus and potential lost season affects each Raptors player – The Athletic

Fred VanVleet — Prior to his most recent injury, there were legitimate questions resurfacing as to whether VanVleet could play himself out of Toronto’s price range. It’s not that the Raptors wouldn’t want to keep VanVleet at most any reasonable cost, but with a handful of bad teams flush with cap space and 2021 flexibility a Raptors priority, there’s a theoretical threshold there. If VanVleet returned for a strong close to the season and a playoff push that put to rest any concerns about his viability as a starter in the postseason (as if the Milwaukee and Golden State series didn’t happen), his market would stand to grow.

That could all still happen, but similar to Siakam and his max, a lower salary cap for 2020-21 would mean those other teams have less cap space. If $25 million in space becomes $20 million, is that enough to pry VanVleet from Toronto? Would the awkwardness of this entire season nudge teams toward rolling over cap space to 2021, even if they’re not traditional free agent players? Would VanVleet dare bet on himself one more time with a short-term deal to re-enter a more robust market? (And would the Raptors even be open to that without a legitimate discount?) These are all questions VanVleet’s camp will be pondering while we wait for word on how the 2020 salary cap will be affected by the hiatus.

Raptors’ Drake Reveals How He Will Never Fade Away like Bulls’ Michael Jordan | Heavy.com

Speaking of the single ‘9’, it sticks out due to one of Drake‘s verses. In this particular verse, the Toronto native and Raptors superfan details how like Bulls legend Michael Jordan, he will never fade away.
“All these handouts, man, it’s getting outta hand I’ma start telling n***. Get it how you can. I got it right now, so I’m everybody’s friend,” said Drake. “If I ever lose I bet we never speak again, I made a decision last night, I’d die for it, Just to show the city what it takes to be alive for it.”

He would continue:

First place, first place, man, we can’t be tied for it. I only drove it five times, paid 1.5 for it Keychain go Jang-a-lang, I wanna do major things. MJ in every way, I just don’t fade away,” Drake said.

“Six upside down, it’s a nine now. Like Mannie, like Stunna, man, shit is big time now. And I made a decision last night that I would die for it.”

The Toronto Raptors have one of the funkiest pick-and-roll duos in the NBA | NBA.com Canada | The official site of the NBA

It’s not a surprise that the Toronto Raptors don’t run much offence through Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. While he’s worked his way into the rotation of one of the best teams in the league this season, he’s always been known for his hustle and defensive versatility, not for what he can do with the ball in his hands.

And yet, that hasn’t stopped the Raptors from running the occasional pick-and-roll for him, although the way in which they do it is rather unusual.

Despite being listed at 6-foot-6 and 217 pounds, Hollis-Jefferson operates primarily as a centre on offence, even when he shares the court with either Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol. As a result, he’s often defended by the opposing team’s centre, players such as DeAndre Jordan, Bismack Biyombo, Karl-Anthony Towns and Hassan Whiteside.

The Greatest Raptors Regular Season Performances of All-Time: The Sweet 16 | Toronto Raptors

Welcome back to the only tournament worth caring about this March, as we carry on determining which single-game, regular season performance in Raptors history is in fact the best.

The first round saw its share of upsets. Seven lower-seeds pulled off victories in the fan vote, with only one chalk match-up on tap for the Sweet Sixteen. With that having been said, it’s worth noting the vote disparity in most of the opening round tilts. Only a single first-round match-up — Vince Carters’ 47-point game against the Bucks (43%) vs. DeMar DeRozan’s 42-point, Bull Curse-breaking outing — had a final tally closer than 60-40.

We also said goodbye to most of the one-off entries into the field. Mike James, Charlie Villanueva, Andrea Bargnani, Morris Peterson, Keon Clark, Damon Stoudamire, Lou Williams, Marcus Camby, Amir Johnson, Walt Williams, Ben Uzoh, PJ Tucker, Donyell Marshall and José Calderon all had their hopes of a title dashed quickly and decisively. A field of 23 unique contestants has been cruelly shaved down to just nine, with the franchise’s most beloved stars hanging on to most of the remaining entries. Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry have the most balls left in the hopper, both having won all three of their Round of 32 match-ups, followed by DeRozan, Carter and Pascal Siakam with two each. Terrence Ross, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka and Chris Bosh occupy the four remaining spots.

I’m not here to scold anyone. And outside of openly lobbying for Ross’ 51-point game to win the whole thing I’m not here to influence the vote, but I will use this space to say one thing: there were some severely wronged parties in the opening rounds. Here’s a look at my first-round picks, and the scores at the time of said selections, which did not appreciably change by the time voting closed.

Reliving biggest takeaways from the Toronto Raptors’ bounce back win against Orlando Magic in Game 2 | NBA.com Canada | The official site of the NBA

Lowry is back
Following his Game 1 performance, Kyle Lowry was under severe scrutiny from basketball minds everywhere. His zero-point outing in the Raptors’ home loss was the bud of many jokes and the pressure was on to step up in Game 2.

Lowry wasted no time to make an impact in this one – the All-Star point guard looked back to his old self right out of the gate.

He had 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field and 2-for-4 shooting from the perimeter, eclipsing the number of shot attempts he took in Game 1’s entirety. His passing – which was never an issue in the first game of the series as he finished with eight assists – remained a strength as he dished out four assists in the first two quarters.

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