• Hi.

    How are you supposed to start the first edition of a weekly column if you’re just some dude on the Internet that no one has ever heard of? I feel like some kind of a formal introduction is necessary, but I’m probably overthinking it.

    Good morning, my name is Tony Xypteras (Zip-Terrace). I Internet at UPROXX, and I basketball at SB Nations Sacramento Kings site, Sactown Royalty. Our fearless editor here at Hoop Ball, Aaron Bruski, was the only man foolish enough to give me a national NBA platform, so here we are. Welcome to my new weekly doodad entitled Last Week This Morning*. I think the name is pretty self explanatory, weekly NBA recap, blah, blah, blah. Let’s do it.

    *h/t to John Oliver

    Mamba Out

    I’m a Sacramento Kings fan born and raised in the suburbs of Massachusetts, no one on the planet aside from maybe Smush Parker should hate Kobe Bryant more than myself. I’m a fair-weather Celtics fan by osmosis. It’s impossible to live with and around fans of a team in a sport you love, and not have at least a passing rooting interest in what they’re doing.

    As a Kings fan, I hated the Lakers and Kobe Bryant throughout the late 90s and early 00s.  As a fair-weather Celtics supporter, I hated the Lakers and Kobe Bryant throughout the big three era.

    I hated the Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

    I still ‘hate’ the Lakers, and I use that term extremely loose. It’s fun having someone to root against, especially when the team you’re rooting for hasn’t been relevant in a decade. I enjoy NBA basketball just a teeny tiny bit more when the Lakers are good, I’ll admit that.

    The Kobe Bryant finale was weird. I stopped ‘hating’ Kobe as fan when he stopped being a good basketball player (by NBA standards). He was still around, he was still popular, but it’s hard to find that fun hatred when the guy is constantly injured and/or playing horrendous basketball.

    His 60-point performance against the Utah Jazz was awesome and I mean that word literally. I wasn’t rooting for Kobe Bryant, but I can say it was probably the most entertaining regular season basketball game I’ve ever seen. Entertaining, not best. It was a circus, no doubt about it. They had tribute videos for his tribute videos! The Jazz defended him like I defend Donnie, the 70-year old dude who continues to show up for Sunday morning pickup despite how often we tell him he’s ruining it for everyone else. I haven’t paid close enough attention the Lakers this season to say that every team has defended Kobe like he’s a 70-year old man on his last legs, but that is what the Jazz did, and I loved it.

    The NBA is a circus. Snapchat leaks, Fisher vs. Barnes, the 76ers debacle, Shaq’s rap career, Baron Davis in the DLeague, Stephon Marbury eating Vaseline on some hacked together live stream, Linsanity, The Decision, etc. I mean, Jason Williams just had another one of his mixtapes drop and he’s 40 years old. You’re not going to find a steady flow of nonsense like this in any other league, and these are just the several that immediately came to mind.

    I love the circus. I love it just as much as I love the game. It’s at least 50% of the reason why I find the NBA, basketball, and the culture surrounding both the sport and league fascinating. We talk about off court drama just as much as we talk about spectacular on-court performances, and while you have a certain segment of the audience that despises the off-court nonsense, I know I’m not the only person reading every single one of Gilbert Arenas’ bizarre Instagram posts. I can’t be.

    For over a decade, Kobe Bryant was the ringmaster of that aforementioned circus, and Thursday night was his grand finale. I feel like I was just a couple of words away from really nailing that cheesy analogy, but you get my point.

    I have to mention the Colorado stuff, and that mention is about as deep as I’m going to go with it. That isn’t because I’m ‘afraid’ of talking about it, it’s because I’m ignorant to what actually happened throughout that case. When the primary source you can cite on a particular topic is ‘the people I follow on Twitter,’ then I probably don’t know enough about what happened to comment with any conviction.  But I also cringe when people pass over that stuff without at least mentioning it at as part of the Kobe Bryant story.

    I also don’t want to come across as the ‘he did this horrible thing, but man, he was a hell of a player!’ guy. I’m not that guy, and that isn’t the point I’m trying to make.

    I’ll end my Kobe ramblings with this – I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ll miss Kobe Bryant, and I’m too bitter to admire his on-court accomplishments, but I will 100% miss the Kobe Bryant circus.

    73 Wins

    In true national media fashion, I had to bury the Warriors’ record-breaking 73rd win behind my thoughts on Kobe Bryant. I didn’t watch a minute of win 73, and I can’t write a single word about the Warriors that hasn’t already been written, and written better than I ever could. I guess this is my version of a shout out. You can’t have a weekly recap column and not mention that the Warriors won 73 games. Well done, boys.

    I lied; I’ve got one Warriors nugget.

    I was listening to Draymond Green on Bill Simmons’ podcast, and he was talking about their nine losses in excruciating detail. Every loss, why they lost, how they lost, specific plays, etc. It momentarily blew me away, because I’m coming at this interview as a fan of a team that has lost more than 40 games going on a decade. I briefly asked myself how Draymond Green could possibly remember all these losses before I stepped out of my own brain and remember that they only lost nine games. NINE GAMES. Unbelievable. Also, that was a great podcast. You should go listen to it.

    Jersey Ads

    Maybe this is my European descent talking, but I don’t have a huge problem with the NBA electing to run advertisements on NBA jerseys. I understand the argument against, and I would certainly prefer it if they didn’t have ads, but my biggest gripe after admitting to myself that this was inevitable is the size and placement of the NBA’s approved proposal. I’m going to find that small patch on the upper corner extremely distracting, and I know how nonsensical this sounds, but a bigger banner ad in front, similar to a soccer jersey, is a lot more appealing to me from a design perspective. If your going to shove your #brands in my face, don’t be sneaky about it with your tiny patch. Give it to me straight.

    How is a smaller ad more distracting than a bigger ad? I don’t know, it just is.

Fantasy News

  • Andre Iguodala
    SF, Miami Heat

    Andre Iguodala returned to South Florida after living in California since the NBA season was suspended.

    Iguodala returning to the market where his team is could mean that he believes team workouts will begin soon. However, there is no official timetable on when team workouts will begin and Jimmy Butler has yet to return to Miami.

    Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter

  • Zach LaVine
    SG, Chicago Bulls

    K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls were cleared by the Governor of Illinois and are in talks with city officials to open practice facilities on Friday for voluntary workouts that would follow the NBA guidelines.

    The NBA's guidelines currently state that a maximum of four players are allowed in the facility at any given time and there can only be one player per hoop. The Bulls are currently eight games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls may not play again this season given how far behind they are in the standings and the recent reports of proposals to not continue the regular season.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported that the Mavs plan to open their practice facility on Thursday.

    This news would make the Mavs the 23rd team to have their facilities open for "voluntary and socially distanced player workouts". Continue to monitor the wire as we should learn more about the potential of the league resuming in early June.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    On Tuesday afternoon, AmicoHoops reported (via Twitter) that an unidentified NBA GM told them the league has seriously discussed resuming the current NBA season on Wednesday, July 22.

    Nothing has been officially announced, by any means, and this is the first we've heard of specific target date(s) from anyone. It's looking like the continuation of the season will occur in Orlando at Walt Disney World at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, which has accommodations for at least some of what the NBA has planned for a resuming activity. As we have relayed numerous times recently, the next week or two seem to be a likely window for some decisions from Adam Silver and Co. at the NBA league office to start to come down. Stay tuned, hoops fans.

    Source: AmicoHoops on Twitter

  • Damian Lillard
    PG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Damian Lillard announced on Tuesday evening that, in the event of a continuation of the NBA season, he would not be participating if the Blazers are scheduled to play 'meaningless games' with no shot at making the playoffs.

    "If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team. But I'm not going to be participating," Lillard told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday morning. It's hard to blame him, as it is quite easy to see the potential situation from his point of view. There have been countless scenarios tossed around by the league office during the pandemic period, but nothing is set in stone so far. Lillard, for his part, is only interested in returning to action if there exists a legitimate shot for his Blazers to reach the NBA Finals. Fair enough.

    Source: Yahoo! Sports

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    The Sixers, who have their practice facility located in nearby Camden, NJ, will allow voluntary player workouts at the facility beginning on Wednesday, raising the number of NBA teams who have been able to do so to 22.

    The Celtics, Knicks, Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, Mavericks, Spurs and Warriors are the final teams remaining who are unable to return to their practice facilities. The NBA seems to be inching ever so close to, at the very least, announcing a plan for a continuation of the current season. This next week or two should be very eventful on that front.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Clint Capela
    C, Atlanta Hawks

    Hawks GM Travis Schlenk indicated on Tuesday that Clint Capela (right heel, plantar fasciitis) could very well play in the event of an NBA restart.

    "Clint [Capela] says he's feeling better, and there's a possibility that we can get him back on the court," Schlenk said in a phone interview with ESPN. "Practicing and playing five games would be valuable to us." Capela has yet to see the floor for the Hawks since he was acquired at the deadline from the Rockets, and one would have to surmise that he would be under a heavy minutes restriction if the league resumes and if the Hawks deem him healthy enough to give it a go. Still two big "ifs," but this is obviously positive news for the Hawks and potentially for fantasy owners who have managed to stash Capela in an injury slot this long.

    Source: ESPN.com

  • Mohamed Bamba
    C, Orlando Magic

    Magic center Mo Bamba said on Tuesday that he's spent the quarantine period bulking up, self-proclaiming that he's put on close to 30 pounds of muscle.

    Bamba said of his time off, ""I’ve worked my tail off during this quarantine. This is going to sound weird, but I put on probably about 28 pounds since quarantine (started)." He laughed and added that only about 2.5 percent of the weight he's put on is body fat. Bamba, along with many other NBA players, "can’t wait to get back out there and work" which is a great sign for the Magic and their fans. Jonathan Isaac is becoming more and more of a potential option for the team when/if the season is resumed as the days pass, so his presence would limit Bamba's chances on the offensive end of the floor. The team has yet to decide whether or not they want to play Isaac at all the rest of the season, regardless of the rumblings about a restart from the league office. However, this bulk-up on Bamba's part is nonetheless pretty impressive and is certainly noteworthy.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Terry Rozier
    PG, Charlotte Hornets

    The Hornets are the latest team to re-open their facilities, with the Novant Health Training Center set to open up on Tuesday.

    With this, there are only eight teams left to open their practice courts back up, though nobody has been able to engage in any sort of team work yet. Individual workouts are better than no workouts, however, and the league appears to be getting its ducks in a row in terms of returning to play. There's still no firm timelines but things do appear to be heading in the right direction.

    Source: Charlotte Hornets

  • Jon Leuer
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    Jon Leuer has announced his retirement from basketball.

    Injuries completely destroyed Leuer's career, as he played in a combined 49 games over the previous two seasons with zero appearances in the 2019-20 campaign. Leuer's high point came with the Suns, where he averaged 8.5 points to go with 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks and a 38.2 mark from deep. His eight-year career comes to an end, with Leuer saying that his body simply won't let him play at a high level anymore.

    Source: Jon Leuer on Instagram