The 2022–23 NBA season is just around the corner with almost every team holding its Media Day activities on Monday.
A lot has happened—and was thought to be happening—since the Warriors defeated the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Nets star Kevin Durant requested a trade, but then elected to stay in Brooklyn … for now. The Jazz traded both of their former franchise centerpieces, with Rudy Gobert now with the Timberwolves and Donovan Mitchell now a Cavalier. Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver announced his intention to sell the teams following a months-long investigation, one week after NBA commissioner Adam Silver dealt him a one-year ban and $10 million fine. And just last week, Boston announced that coach Ime Udoka has been suspended for the season for what the franchise termed “a violation of team policies.”
The NBA’s first preseason game is on Friday, Sept. 30, when the Warriors face off against the Jazz in Japan, and the Clippers play Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana in Seattle. The regular season then begins on Tuesday, Oct. 18, when the 76ers visit the Celtics and the Lakers play the reigning champion Warriors.
But before any of that can get underway, players and coaches will face the media. We’re keeping track of the highlights here:
Jaylen Brown Says Celtics ‘Shocked’ By Udoka Situation
Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown said he hasn’t talked with Ime Udoka since the team announced the year-long suspension of the coach last week.
“We were all shocked with what’s going on, a little confused,” Brown said.
ESPN reported last week that Udoka had an intimate relationship with a female member of the franchise, with the team saying in a statement announcing Udoka’s one-year suspension that the coach had a “violation of team policies.”
On Friday, owner Wyc Grousbeck and team president Brad Stevens both did not provide specifics of the case that their hired legal team had investigated, and what team policies Udoka had violated. “I am concerned about the situation and its impact on everybody in the Celtics’ organization,” Grousbeck said.
Stevens declined to answer whether Udoka would be able to have contact with members of the organization during his suspension. It also is unclear if he will be permitted to return to the organization once his suspension concludes.
Udoka, a former Nets and Spurs assistant, led the Celtics to the Finals in his first-season as the team’s coach. Joe Mazzulla will serve as Boston’s interim head coach as a result of Udoka’s suspension.
On Monday, Mazzulla described the situation as “unfortunate” and said he wants to give people within the organization time and space to “feel” and “heal.”
“The most important thing for me is making sure that the players and myself are on the same page,” he said.
Zion Feels ‘At My Best’ Entering New Season
After missing all of last season, Zion Williamson appeared excited to return to on-court action. “I feel like I’m at my best right now. Feel like I’m moving faster, jumping higher. I feel great,” he said.
He missed all of last season due to a foot injury, bringing his total to 141 missed games in three years. But when healthy, he has starred, making the All-Star game in 2021 while averaging 27 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Suns GM James Jones Says Forthcoming Sarver Sale Brings ‘Some Closure’
Suns general manager James Jones said he is in agreement with owner Robert Sarver’s decision to sell the team, adding that that Sarver’s plan brings “some closure” to the situation the franchise has been dealing with.
Last Wednesday Sarver announced that he had begun the process of selling both the Suns and Mercury. He had been suspended for one year and fined $10 million after an NBA investigation found he used the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others.” Plus, according to the investigation commissioned by the NBA, Sarver also displayed “instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees,” including “sex-related comments” and inappropriate comments about employees’ appearances.
Suns star guard Chris Paul said Monday that he had talked with NBA commissioner Adam Silver about Sarver’s punishment. Paul had already been publicly critical of the punishment, writing on Twitter that Sarver’s conduct especially towards women is unacceptable and must never be repeated.
“I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior.”
Jones also said he stood by his statement from last year about the allegations regarding Sarver “not being the Robert Sarver” he knows, but added that was only his experience. He said he hopes to use his position to protect people lower in the organization moving forward.
Harden Gives His Thoughts on the Eagles’ Hot Start, and is All Smiles With Embiid
The Eagles are off to a 3–0 start to the NFL season, with quarterback Jalen Hurts looking like one of the league’s early MVP favorites. Hurts’s hot start has captured the eye of at least one 76ers star.
“Jalen Hurts looks really, really good,” Harden said Monday.
The team’s star guard, who conducted his press conference alongside Joel Embiid, acknowledged his hamstring injury was still not right last season, and that led him into some tough times.
“Mentally, it was very, very difficult for me,” Harden said, referring to the past couple seasons dealing with injuries. “A lot of dark moments, which I’ve never really went through.”
Harden and Embiid seemed upbeat as they fielded questions together. Harden said he had lost 100 pounds this offseason. And when Embiid was about his offseason training, he joked that he “was chilling on the couch.” Plus, when the star center was asked about the “drama” to open last season, Embiid again took a light-hearted tact.
“What drama? I don’t remember that,” he said.
Ben Simmons Says ‘the Plan’ is to Play Right Away This Season
The Nets won’t have to wait long into this season to have Ben Simmons make his debut with the franchise. Simmons confirmed that he is healthy and ready to play, both physically and mentally, to open the season.
The three-time All-Star was acquired last February in a deal that sent James Harden to the 76ers. But he did not play for either team last season and underwent back surgery in April.
In an appearance on “The Old Man and the Three” podcast which aired last week, Simmons told hosts JJ Redick and Tommy Alter that he tried “to do the right thing” by trying to get back on the court prior to last season, with the 76ers. But, he added, that he felt many within the Philadelphia organization didn’t support him as he struggled with his mental health.
The Nets went 44–38 last season and were swept in the first-round by the Celtics.
Kyrie Says ‘Stigma’ Related to Vaccination Status Impacted Potential Trade Options, Past Contract Talks
Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving said Monday that his vaccination status impacted contract talks he had with the team entering last season. Irving said that the team was “supposed to have all that figured out before training camp last year,” but didn’t because of his status, becoming a “tough pill to swallow.”
Irving, as a result, opted into the final year of his four-year contract with the Nets in late June, but he and the Nets did not reach an agreement on a maximum contract extension.
He has until the end of June 2023 to negotiate an extension before becoming a free-agent.
He added Monday that he had other options about other teams who were interested in acquiring him, “but not many,” he added.
“The stigma, whether or not I want to play, whether I’m gonna be committed to the team. Which I thought were really unfair at times,” he said.
KD Says He’s ’Not Disappointed’ Nets Didn’t Trade Him
Kevin Durant is back in Brooklyn to open the season, despite requesting a trade early in the offseason. Durant said that he was “not disappointed” he wasn’t moved, and said of his trade request that there was a lot of uncertainty around the franchise last year and that the extension he agreed to was done with the idea he would play with Kyrie Irving and James Harden going forward.
Durant requested a trade from the Nets on June 30, but in mid-August, after weeks of negotiation and reports of an ultimatum— Durant reportedly told owner Joe Tsai to choose between him or coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks—,the two announced that they decided to “move forward with our partnership.”
On Monday, he did say he liked the roster Marks put together heading into the 2022-23 season. Among the moves, Brooklyn added forward T.J. Warren in free agency and traded for forward Royce O’Neale
“Coming here, we still had a great team,” Durant said.
Gregg Popovich Provides an Honest Assessment of His Team
A Yearly Tradition for the Hornets
This past July, Ball played in NBA Summer League with Charlotte for the second consecutive summer. Last October, they also signed LiAngelo before releasing him a day later.
Jimmy Butler Debuts a New Hairdo and Discusses a Position He Doesn’t Want to Play
Heat forward Jimmy Butler showed up to Miami’s media day with a new look.
“It’s still up to debate if I’m going to keep my hair like this,” Butler said. “They’re not extensions. Who knows? I’m trying out a lot of new looks.”
Expect another look come Opening Night, however, as Butler told Turner Sports’ Taylor Rooks his dreadlocks would be gone by the start of the season.
Butler was also asked if he would consider playing the power forward position this year, but said “I don’t play the four.”
“I could play the four, yes,” he did add. “If they absolutely need me to play the four, I could yes. If they absolutely wanted to have a conversation about playing the four, I could yes. But I’m not playing the four.”
He might be forced into such a role, however, as the Heat’s current roster has a number of centers (like Bam Adebayo, Omer Yurtseven, and Dewayne Dedmon) and a lot of wings, with little in between.
Warriors Talk Title Repeat
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala could enter rarified air depending on how this season goes. “You think of the players who have won five championships,” Thompson said. “It’s such a short list. And to have the opportunity, just the opportunity to be able to do that is so special.”
For the first time in three seasons, Golden State enters a season with its core fully healthy. The team had a relatively quiet offseason—at least compared to other title contenders—but they reshaped their bench, losing Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Damion Lee and Juan Toscano-Anderson in free agency, while adding JaMychal Green, Donte DiVincenzo and rookie Patrick Baldwin Jr.
Stephen Curry Discusses Silver, Sarver
Speaking publicly for the first time after Sarver announced he is beginning the process of selling both teams, Curry said, “I think the outcome was exactly what should have happened.
“Honestly, I thought with the punishment that was handed down, it would have dragged out a little longer. But I’m glad we got to a point where hopefully the team is up for sale sooner than later and can kind of move on knowing that’s where it should be.”
He added that he had private conversations with commissioner Adam Silver regarding the punishment the league issued Sarver.
Giannis reveals who he thinks is the best player in the league
Who is the NBA’s best player entering the 2022–23 season?
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo provided thoughts on who he thinks is at the top of the league during Milwaukee’s media day. His answer: Stephen Curry.
“I think the best player in the world is the person that is the last man standing. It’s the person that takes his team to the Finals, the finish line and helps them win the game … that’s how I view it. I believe the best player in the world is Steph Curry.”
After taking home both league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2020, and a championship in 2021, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season to the Celtics. The star forward also finished third in MVP voting, averaging 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
“I got jealous of Golden State, seeing them in the parade and the ESPYs,” he said. “You know that feeling now. You know what is getting stripped away from you.”
The Bucks will likely open this season short-handed as three-time All-Star guard Khris Middleton underwent offseason wrist surgery. “Hopefully soon after [the start of the season],” Middleton said of his possible return date. The injury is distinct from the one that kept him out of almost all of Milwaukee’s postseason run last spring. He had suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee in Game 2 of the Bucks’ first-round series against the Bulls.
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