March 21, 2020, 4:04 pm
Welcome back, Hoop Ballers, to our International Spotlight weekly feature that will try to shed some hope during the dark times that humanity is facing right now with the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA was the first major league to pretty much shut down its operations and most Europeans league followed immediately while Asian countries are bouncing back and are in the process of figuring out the logistics of resuming their basketball activities. Here is the current situation around the world.
EuroLeague, the Europe-wide, top-tier level professional basketball club competition that has long established itself as the benchmark for basketball outside the NBA, was expected to have games played up until last Thursday when a basketball player from Spain’s Real Madrid tested positive for the disease. The unfortunate news forced the organization to immediately announce the suspension of all its tournaments (the EuroLeague and the Eurocup). In previous days, the EuroLeague Players Association had asked for the tournament to stop, even though several games were scheduled to be played behind closed doors.
EuroLeague basketball will now closely monitor any further developments to verify whether they allow the suspension to be reverted but the future of the season is up in the air after the major impact that the virus has already had in Spain and Italy, two of the biggest members of the tournament, with five of the 18 participants from these two countries.
Meanwhile, Panathinaikos and Hall of Fame head coach Pick Pitino agreed to end their cooperation in light of COVID-19. Pitino returned to the United States last week and, soon after, decided to continue his career next season at Iona College in New York, ending what is the coach’s second stint with the club.
Similarly, FIBA’s Board of Directors decided to indefinitely cancel the FIBA Europe Cup, which was in the Final Four stage, and to indefinitely suspend all games of the competitions organized by FIBA Europe (EuroLeague Women, EuroCup Women and FIBA Champions League). Following requests by a number of national federations and as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic can grow significantly, the Board also agreed to monitor (and decide by April) any possible rescheduling or relocation of all upcoming summer events.
The 18 clubs of the Spanish League held a meeting this past Monday and reached a unanimous decision to suspend the season until April 24th. The competition had already been postponed prior to this meeting for a couple days but without a set date and official agreement from the clubs about the further progress of the season. The next meeting will be held on March 23rd.
Antonio Martin, the president of the ACB, said that “the clubs are still intent on restarting the competition and completing the 2019/20 Endesa season as long as the situation and time allows.”
The VTB includes the top-tier Russian clubs plus the top winning teams from Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. The league has now been suspended until April 10th in order to prevent the COVID-19 outbreak. In case the restrictions are lifted or lessened after April 10, the league believes it will be ready to play the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.
Italy’s Serie A was the first time to call off games on March 8th after Lombardy and 14 other provinces were quarantined due to the epidemic. All sports competitions have been suspended until the first week of April but with Italy having been hit hard by the virus it looks highly unlikely that games will be resuming any time soon.
In France, all the activities organized by the National Basketball League between March 12th and March 31st have also been postponed but the LNB is determined to resume and complete the championships for the 2019-2020 season.
The Israel Winner Basketball League suspended the 2019/20 campaign indefinitely as of Tuesday due to the coronavirus with no date set for its return to action. The league office issued a statement to explain their decision to not set a date as to when the league would go back to regular operations. The league’s decision to not end the season or set a date of return would allow the foreign players a chance to go home to be with their families during this challenging time throughout the world.
ABA League, with teams from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia and North Macedonia, also announced on Thursday the suspension of its competitions until further notice.
In Germany, BBL league officials announced that games are indefinitely suspended, while teams will meet within the next 14 days “to discuss the current situation and possible scenarios and options.”
In Greece, the league’s board of directors unanimously voted to suspend the competition until further notice.
Meanwhile, as March Madness is canceled, the NBA postponed through mid-May (at least), and virtually every other major domestic European hoops league, including the EuroLeague and the EuroCup, has suspended games, the BSL held a full slate games with closed doors and no fans on Sunday and another game this past Tuesday!
Not surprisingly, more than a half-dozen players around the league declined to play due to concerns about the virus, including former NBA guards Shane Larkin and Aaron Harrison (Hornets, Mavericks). Eventually, Turkey suspended its basketball, soccer and volleyball leagues due to the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday. Unfortunately, some members and staff of Fenerbahce have been showing symptoms and today, on Saturday the 21st of March, the entire team was put into quarantine while awaiting the results of their tests.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic forced the Lithuanian Basketball League to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season and Zalgiris Kaunas was crowned as the champion. Disagreements between agents and Lithuanian teams are emerging, as the decision to cancel the season caught the players and their representatives off guard. Teams will very likely try to avoid paying the players for the remaining months of the season citing force majeure and other minor leagues, in Belgium, Bosnia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Ireland and Cyprus have decided to also end their season early.
Meanwhile in Asia
On the other side of the globe though, the Chinese Basketball Association, which has been on hiatus since late January, is slowly getting ready to resume action in the upcoming weeks, demanding that all US players return to China and threatening to ban them for up to three years if they don’t honor their contracts.
Players are expected to report to their local clubs this week in order to begin a mandatory two-week quarantine period, while games are expected to be played starting April 15th in two cities, Dongguan and Qingdao, behind closed doors before moving on to the playoffs.
South Korea and Japan are also moving to the same direction and it seems very likely that hoop fans worldwide will have to tune in to Asia in order to watch some much-needed live basketball action again.
Thank you for reading our little update on the basketball leagues worldwide and please stay home and stay safe until things get back to normal. Follow all our news posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.
March 27, 2020, 8:36 pmKillian HayesSG, International
Killian Hayes, a highly touted 18-year old point guard who has played three years professionally in France and Germany, has declared for the 2020 NBA draft after submitting the paperwork to the NBA league office.
Measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Hayes has been on scouts' radars for quite some time after riding some very impressive YouTube highlight videos to prospect relevancy. In his most recent season, with ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, Hayes averaged 12.8 PTS, 6.2 AST, 2.3 REB and 1.5 STL while seeing his NBA draft stock rise as a result. He is a very talented shooter and it is seemingly more and more likely that Hayes will see his name called in the lottery when draft night arrives.
March 27, 2020, 8:24 pmPatrick WilliamsSF, College
Patrick Williams, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound small forward out of Florida State, has declared for the 2020 NBA draft after a shortened freshman season off the bench, averaging 9.2 PTS, 4.0 REB and 1.0 AST while not starting a single game for a deep Seminoles squad.
The intriguing aspect of Williams' draft aspirations lies in his dimensions; particularly his 7-foot wingspan. He had modest numbers but that can largely be attributed to how deep their rotation was in 2019-20, similar to fellow 'Nole Devin Vassell, who also declared for the draft recently. Williams has incredible athleticism and has made himself into an intriguing prospect who could find himself landing in the first round if his draft stock maintains momentum.
Source: Patrick Williams on Twitter
March 27, 2020, 12:14 pmRudy GobertC, Utah Jazz
The Utah Department of Health has cleared both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, meaning they no longer pose a risk of infection to others.
Both Gobert and Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19, and although Gobert mentioned that he briefly lost his senses of taste and smell, the duo seems to be fully recovered. This is great news as we wait for word on when or if the NBA season will be able to continue.
Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter
March 26, 2020, 4:11 pmReggie BullockSG-SF, New York Knicks
Reggie Bullock will likely return to the Knicks for another season, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
If the Knicks chose not to bring back Bullock for next year, the team would suffer a $1M cap hit. That means that bringing him back for another season will only have a cap hit of $3.2M. That amount is only 2 percent of the projected salary cap for next season. The Knicks appear to be focused on creating cap flexibility for future years in the hopes that they can land some big-name free agents. Continue to monitor this situation as it develops but it appears likely that Bullock will be in a Knicks uniform for at least one more season.
Source: The New York Post
March 26, 2020, 3:57 pmDamyean DotsonSG, New York Knicks
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Damyean Dotson's time with the Knicks could come to an end after this season and the Jazz, Bucks and Warriors are among the teams that are expected to have interest in signing Dotson for the 2020-21 campaign.
Dotson saw his role with the Knicks evaporate towards the end of the season as he received a DNP-CD for eight of the Knicks' final nine contests. Interim head coach, Mike Miller, chose to play veterans Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock over the 25-year-old that they drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft. Dotson will look to land in a situation that will give him a more consistent role as a three-and-D wing as he enters his fourth season in the association.
Source: The New York Post
March 25, 2020, 11:12 pmMalik FittsSF, College
Malik Fitts announced on Twitter that he is declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Fitts was the second leading scorer for a Saint Marys' team that was top-10 in offensive efficiency. He averaged 16.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting .472 from the field and .408 from beyond the arc. Fitts is an under-the-radar draft prospect who will likely be a second-round pick at best. He is likely to have a limited role if he makes an NBA roster next season, but his 3-point efficiency and steals are two fantasy skills that translate well from college to the pros. He could be a threes and steals specialist if he gets minutes in the upper-20s.
Source: Malik Fitts on Twitter
March 25, 2020, 9:11 pmJae CrowderPF, Miami Heat
Jae Crowder said that Miami "felt like home" and he always wanted to play for the Heat.
Crowder is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and he is making it clear that he would prefer to remain in a Heat uniform next season. Crowder has played 28.7 minutes per game as a member of the Heat and has posted top-80 value during that stretch. Despite his great play so far in Miami he will likely fall into a more reduced role next season if he were to return. Crowder's best outcome for his fantasy value would be to sign with a rebuilding team where he can play big minutes as a veteran, similar to his role in Memphis this season.
Source: Anthony Chiang on Twitter
March 25, 2020, 6:37 pmChristian WoodPF, Detroit Pistons
Christian Wood has fully recovered from the coronavirus, according to James Edwards III.
Wood only showed the mildest of symptoms prior to the NBA season being suspended two weeks ago. The NBA has chosen to suspend play in the hopes that the virus will not spread as quickly. It is still unclear when the NBA will resume or if they will even play out the rest of the regular season. However, it is a good sign to see people recovering from the virus and the hope is that we stop seeing players who contract the illness.
Source: James Edwards III on Twitter
March 25, 2020, 3:54 pmJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
Candace Buckner of the Washington Post reported that John Wall (left Achilles) will not return for the remainder of the 2019-20 season despite the hiatus.
Wall has missed all of the 2019-20 season so far and was only able to play in 73 games over the prior two seasons due to a variety of injuries. The Wizards' GM, Tommy Sheppard, told Buckner in an interview regarding Wall's availability going forward, “We’re very anxious to see John Wall in uniform next year. I don’t think any of this changes that.” We'll have to wait until next season to see Wall return to the court even when/if the NBA season resumes later on this calendar year.
Source: The Washington Post
March 24, 2020, 11:37 pmKenyon Martin Jr.PF, College
Kenyon Martin Jr., forward from IMG Academy, has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft.
You guessed it, Kenyon Martin Jr. is the son of 2000 NBA Draft first pick Kenyon Martin Sr. He is eligible for draft after a year at IMG since he graduated from Sierra Canyon High School a year ago. Martin had committed to Vanderbilt last May before heading to IMG Academy. This year's draft order looks to be more unpredictable than most, so based on Martin's athleticism and pedigree, he has a shot to make some noise on draft night.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter