Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard reportedly did not travel with his team-mates to Orlando for the NBA's season restart but is expected to arrive in a few days. 

Leonard was reportedly not on the team flight to the Orlando area in Florida, where the 2019-20 campaign will resume at the Disney World complex after the season was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A two-time NBA Finals MVP, Leonard is believed to have an excused absence from the Clippers as he tends to a family matter. 

The Clippers are scheduled to spend Thursday and Friday satisfying quarantine requirements and will play their first game on July 30 against rivals the Los Angeles Lakers in the second game of a re-opening doubleheader. 

Leonard led the Clippers with 26.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and ranked second with 5.0 assists per game when the NBA season was put on hold amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The Clippers are second in the Western Conference with a 44-20 record, five and a half games behind the Lakers.    

San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills announced on Wednesday he will donate all the money he earns during the NBA restart in Orlando to Black Lives Matter organisations.

Mills, who is from Australia, becomes the second NBA player in three days to announce he will be donating the remainder of his 2019-20 salary to social justice causes after the Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard pledged approximately $700,000 to Breathe Again on Monday. 

"I'm proud to say I'm taking every cent earned from these eight games that we're playing, which for me will turn out to be $1,017,818.54, and donating that directly back to the Black Lives Matter Australia, Black Deaths in Custody and to a recent campaign that's called We Got You - dedicated to ending racism in sport in Australia," Mills said in a video posted by the Spurs.

"I'm playing in Orlando because I don't want to leave any money on the table that could be going directly to Black communities."

An 11-year veteran, Mills is averaging a career-best 11.7 points and is now the second-leading scorer on San Antonio's roster after LaMarcus Aldridge announced a month ago he will miss the rest of the season following right shoulder surgery. 

The Spurs had the Western Conference's 12th-best record at 27-36 when the season was halted in mid-March, good enough to be one of 22 teams invited to Orlando to finish the season. They have made the playoffs every year since the 1997-98 season, but sit four games back of the eighth-placed Memphis Grizzlies with eight games scheduled.

An unidentified Orlando Magic player tested positive for coronavirus, while guard Markelle Fultz did not travel with the team for the NBA's season restart due to a personal issue. 

The 2019-20 NBA season is set to resume via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to the COVID-19 crisis in March.

Magic general manger Jeff Weltman said an unnamed player that contracted coronavirus during the NBA's final round of mandatory testing on June 23 is going through the league's quarantine protocols.  

"That player, I'm not at liberty to speak about it, is following protocol and we're hoping he can join us shortly," Weltman said on a videoconference call on Tuesday.

Fultz, meanwhile, was excused from the Magic and is expected to join the team when he can while adhering to the NBA's re-entry rules.   

Former number one pick Fultz ranked fifth on the Magic with an average of 12.1 points and first with 5.2 assists per game when the NBA season was suspended on March 12.  

No team have a shorter distance to travel than the Magic for the season restart at the Walt Disney complex in Orlando, where the franchise will recommence their campaign against the Brooklyn Nets on July 31.

"I think guys are excited," Weltman said. "They are optimistic. As the details become more apparent to everyone, I think the comfort level with the ability to maintain the health and safety of everyone involved has risen to a very high level.

"Today [Tuesday] everyone was in good spirits and they are looking forward to getting back to work."

The Magic are eighth in the Eastern Conference, half a game behind the Nets and five and a half games ahead of the ninth-placed Washington Wizards. 

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said he can carry the championship hopefuls as the league prepares to return following the coronavirus-enforced break.

The 2019-20 NBA season is set to restart via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to COVID-19 in March.

All eyes will be on three-time All-Star center Embiid when the NBA returns following the coronavirus pandemic.

Philadelphia will recommence against Eastern Conference rivals the Indiana Pacers, who share identical 39-26 records to be fifth and sixth respectively, on August 1.

Embiid, who had been averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this season, insisted the 76ers' offense should go through him.

"I know what I'm capable of, and I know what my team-mates think of me," Embiid said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

"I know I'm capable of carrying the team, so it's all about me being assertive. If I feel like I'm not getting the ball, I just got to talk to them and do what I have to do.

"But at the end of the day, I should never be in a position to complain about getting the ball, just because of who I am.

"I believe I can carry the team, and I believe being able to do that, I just got to take matters into my own hands. And obviously, I need to be in positions where I feel comfortable, and I believe my team-mates are going to help."

The 76ers – 14 games behind the Eastern Conference and NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) – are also set to be boosted by the return of fellow All-Star Ben Simmons.

Simmons has been sidelined since February due to a back injury, while there continues to be doubts over whether the Australian and Embiid can coexist in Philadelphia due to their contrasting styles.

"We're going to need him," Embiid said. "It's a team game. I'm going to do my best to keep helping him and create some space for him, and we all got to do the same thing just to help each other.

"At the end of the day, it's all about winning a championship, and I feel like he has the right mindset, that's what he wants to do. I know one thing about him, he wants to win, and he's going to do what it takes to win. So whatever we're going to need him to do, that's what he has to do."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is concerned positive coronavirus tests may penetrate the Orlando bubble ahead of the league's planned return.

The 2019-20 NBA season is set to restart via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to COVID-19 in March.

However, there are concerns after Brooklyn Nets star Spencer Dinwiddie returned a second positive test for coronavirus – ruling him out of the season.

While Silver expects COVID-19 cases, he told Fortune Brainstorm Health: "We won't be surprised when they first come down to Orlando if we have some additional players test positive.

"What would be most concerning is once players enter this campus and then go through our quarantine period, then if they were to test positive or if we were to have any positive tests, we would know we would have an issue."

"We would know that there's, in essence, a hole in our bubble or that our quarantine or our campus is not working in some way," Silver added. "So that would be very concerning."

"We began testing all our teams roughly two weeks ago and as we reported we had a significant number of positive cases," he said. "I think that is more a representation of what is happening around the country."

"So on paper, and dealing with our experts, this should work. But we shall see. I'm confident based on the positive cases we are seeing from our players and the general public around the country that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus in part because we are going to be doing daily testing.

"But again, this virus has humbled many, so I am not going to express any higher level of confidence than we are following the protocols, and we hope it works as we designed it."

Silver continued: "I think we do have the ability to trace, of course to try to understand where that positive case came from.

"We can actually analyse the virus itself and try to track whether there is more than one case, if it's, in essence, the same virus and same genetic variation of the virus that is passed from one player to another or two people have gotten it on the campus independently. So those are all things that we are looking at.

"Certainly if we had any sort of significant spread within our campus, we would be shut down again."

The Milwaukee Bucks led the NBA with a 53-12 record prior to the league's postponement.

July 30 will see the New Orleans Pelicans-Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers-Los Angeles Clippers headline the NBA's comeback.

Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie will not play when the NBA season resumes in Orlando after a second positive test for coronavirus. 

The 27-year-old had been enjoying a breakout season, averaging career bests of 20.6 points, 6.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds while playing in all 64 games before the campaign was halted due to the global pandemic. 

"After another positive test yesterday and considering the symptoms, BrooklynNets, team doctors and I have decided that it would be in the best interest for me and the team that I do not play in Orlando,” Dinwiddie tweeted Tuesday.

"I will be supporting the guys every step of the way!"

With Kevin Durant missing the entire 2019-20 season due to a torn Achilles tendon and injuries limiting Kyrie Irving to just 20 games, Dinwiddie had been carrying the Nets, leading the team in scoring in 35 games and in assists in 43. 

The Nets (30-34) owned a half-game lead over the eighth-place Orlando Magic when the season was paused in mid-March.

However, they will now be without Dinwiddie, Durant, Irving, DeAndre Jordan and Wilson Chandler when the season restarts at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex outside of Orlando. 

Bradley Beal will not play for the Washington Wizards when the 2019-20 NBA season resumes in Florida because of a right rotator cuff injury. 

Beal had been bothered by the injured shoulder since mid-January but had not missed any games before the season was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic in March. 

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard, however, said the team is worried that the guard will not be able to get back to full speed coming out of the lengthy stoppage and could suffer further damage.

"Bradley did everything possible to be ready to play, but after closely monitoring his individual workouts we came to the conclusion that it was best for him to sit out the upcoming games in Orlando and avoid the risk of further injury," Sheppard said.

"Although he was able to play through the majority of the season with the injury, the layoff from March until now did not leave any of us feeling comfortable that he would have enough time to be ready to perform at the extremely high level we are all accustomed to seeing and agreed that not participating in the games in Orlando was the right decision."

Beal was flourishing on the court before the season went on pause, averaging 35.5 points in his final 23 games – including back-to-back 50-point performances late in February.

His average of a career-best 30.5 points per game on the season trailed only the Houston Rockets' James Harden's scoring average of 34.4. 

"This was a difficult decision and one that I did not take lightly as the leader of this team," Beal said.

"I wanted to help my team-mates compete for a playoff spot in Orlando, but also understand that this will be best for all of us in the long term. I appreciate the support of my team-mates, the fans and the entire organization and look forward to returning next season to continue the progress we have made."

The Wizards had the Eastern Conference’s ninth-best record at 24-40 at the time the season went on pause, but were five and a half games back of the eighth-place Orlando Magic with only eight games to catch them in the NBA's restart at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex outside of Orlando. 

Dwight Howard has confirmed he will play for the Los Angeles Lakers when the NBA season resumes later this month.

The 2019-20 campaign will recommence on July 30 with a 22-team tournament in Orlando, Florida following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Last month, Lakers center Howard said the return of basketball would "only be a distraction" from the fight against social and racial injustice in the wake of protests across the world following the death of George Floyd in May.

Howard's agent admitted he was unsure if the eight-time All-Star would take part in the Orlando tournament, yet the Lakers center now intends to finish the campaign and donate the remainder of his salary to the 'Breathe Again' campaign.

"Yes, I will be joining my team in Orlando," Howard told CNN.

"I have a contractual obligation to my team-mates, to my fans, the Lakers, the organisation and everyone, but at the same time, I also have an obligation to my family and to my community.

"We will be getting a lot of work done here in Atlanta and around the nation as far as making sure people don't forget about us and what's going on in our communities."

On the importance of donating his salary, Howard added: "During my time in the bubble, I will use that time to talk about Breathe Again, and I'm going to use my salary - all the money, the paychecks that I'll be getting from going down in the bubble - to help push this Breathe Again [initiative], push our movement and just make sure that people don't forget about what's going on in our society."

The 49-14 Lakers have already confirmed their spot in the NBA post-season and have the best record in the Western Conference.

Howard, the first overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, is yet to win a championship ring.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James congratulated Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes on his record-setting contract extension.

Mahomes will remain in Kansas City through the 2031 season after signing a mammoth new deal reportedly worth up to $503million, including $477m in guaranteed mechanisms.

The contract is the largest in North American professional sports history, surpassing the 12-year, $426.5m deal Mike Trout signed with MLB franchise the Los Angeles Angels in 2019. 

Mahomes – the 2018 NFL MVP – had two years remaining on the rookie contract he signed after being taken by Kansas City with the 10th overall pick of the 2017 draft. 

James, who has won three NBA championships and four MVP awards, used social media to congratulate the 24-year-old star.

"Congrats brother!!!! Let me borrow $5," James wrote in an Instagram story on Monday.

After sitting behind veteran Alex Smith as a rookie in 2017, Mahomes took the NFL by storm the following year in his first season as a starter.

The Texas Tech product threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns, tied for the second-most in a single season in league history, while leading the Chiefs to a 12-4 record and earning NFL MVP honours. He joined Peyton Manning (2013) as the only players with 5,000 passing yards and 50 touchdown passes in a season.  

Mahomes followed up by leading the Chiefs to their first NFL championship in 50 years with a 31-20 come-from-behind victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV in February.

The 24-year-old threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter as Kansas City scored 21 unanswered points to overturn a 20-10 deficit, and was selected as the youngest MVP in Super Bowl history. 

Mahomes, who is 24-7 as a starter in regular-season games and 4-1 in the postseason, currently owns league records for passer rating (108.9) and passing yards per game (302.4) among quarterbacks with at least 25 career starts.

The NBA announced the schedule for scrimmage games to take place before the season restarts following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Basketball came to a halt in the United States and Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, but the 2019-20 NBA campaign is set to resume on July 30.

Orlando's Disney World complex will host 22 teams, with the Los Angeles Lakers headlining the league's comeback against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30 after the New Orleans Pelicans face the Utah Jazz on the same day.

Prior to the NBA returning, all 22 teams in Orlando will play three inter-squad scrimmages between July 22 and July 28.

Kawhi Leonard's Clippers will play the Orlando Magic on July 22, with the Washington Wizards-Denver Nuggets, Pelicans-Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings-Miami Heat scrimmages also taking place that day.

The Milwaukee Bucks led the NBA with a 53-12 record prior to the coronavirus crisis, ahead of the Lakers (49-14), defending champions the Toronto Raptors (46-18) and Clippers.

 

Scrimmage schedule:

Wednesday, July 22

Orlando Magic v Los Angeles Clippers
Washington Wizards v Denver Nuggets
New Orleans Pelicans v Brooklyn Nets
Sacramento Kings v Miami Heat

Thursday, July 23

San Antonio Spurs v Milwaukee Bucks
Portland Trail Blazers v Indiana Pacers
Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix Suns v Utah Jazz

Friday, July 24

Memphis Grizzlies v Philadelphia 76ers
Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics
Houston Rockets v Toronto Raptors

Saturday, July 25

Los Angeles Lakers v Orlando Magic
Milwaukee Bucks v Sacramento Kings
Miami Heat v Utah Jazz
Brooklyn Nets v San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers v Washington Wizards
Denver Nuggets v New Orleans Pelicans

Sunday, July 26

Philadelphia 76ers v Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix Suns v Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks
Portland Trail Blazers v Toronto Raptors
Houston Rockets v Memphis Grizzlies

Monday, July 27

Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Lakers
Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers
Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets
Orlando Magic v Denver Nuggets
New Orleans Pelicans v Milwaukee Bucks

Tuesdays, July 28 

Memphis Grizzlies v Miami Heat
Toronto Raptors v Phoenix Suns
San Antonio Spurs v Indiana Pacers
Oklahoma City Thunder v Portland Trail Blazers
Boston Celtics v Houston Rockets
Dallas Mavericks v Philadelphia 76ers

Serge Ibaka warned the Toronto Raptors are "locked in" and ready to defend their NBA title following the coronavirus-enforced break.

The NBA season is set to resume on July 30 after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

Orlando's Disney World complex will host 22 teams, with the Los Angeles Lakers headlining the league's comeback against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30 after the New Orleans Pelicans face the Utah Jazz on the same day.

Defending champions the Raptors – second in the Eastern Conference and trailing the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) with a 46-18 record – will restart their season against the Lakers on August 1.

Raptors star Ibaka said his team-mates are ready to return, telling reporters via a conference call on Saturday: "I saw just how everyone is in great shape. 

"They came here in great shape and as soon as we got here everyone was starting to put in work.

"I've been in the league for 11 years. You can see when people's locked in and they are ready mentally, and when they are not.

"So I can tell you right now, mentally, everybody is ready. Everybody is ready."

Ibaka, who helped the Raptors win their first championship last season, added: "It's been a little bit weird [this season] with everything that's going on. But one thing we know is that it's over.

"Whatever happened last season is over, and we've got to try to put our mindset so that it's ready to go for this one.

"We know it's going to be hard, it's going to be a challenge, and everyone is going to come for us because we are the champs, so we have to be ready."

Meanwhile, the 30-year-old center admitted he is worried about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Florida.

"Honestly it's really concerning," he said. "Hopefully everybody has to follow the rules, every player, when we get in the bubble in Orlando, we can respect all the notes that they're going to give us.

"But I have my daughter who lives here in Orlando, and it's kind of scary a little bit. It's something where you have to make sure you look at it."

Star guard Victor Oladipo has chosen not to join the Indiana Pacers for the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season in Orlando, Florida, saying that he would not be comfortable playing.  

Oladipo announced his decision on Friday in an article with The Athletic.  

The two-time All-Star – who has played just 13 games this season after taking the floor only 36 times in 2018-19 – cited his lengthy injury history when explaining why he has opted out of the rest of the season.  

"I feel like I'm at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 percent," Oladipo said. 

"With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can't get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing." 

The Pacers are fifth in the Eastern Conference at 39-26 this season as they prepare for the NBA's 22-team plan to finish the 2019-20 season in Orlando starting on July 30. 

The first of Indiana's eight seeding games is on August 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers.  

The team is also without guard Jeremy Lamb, who tore the ACL in his left knee in February.  

"I really want to play, and as a competitor and team-mate this is tearing me apart," Oladipo said. 

"I have to be smart and this decision hasn't been easy, but I truly believe continuing the course I'm on and getting fully healthy for the 2020-21 season is the right decision for me." 

The second overall pick in the 2013 draft, Oladipo's best season was his first with the Pacers, averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals over 75 games in 2017-18.  

It looked as if Oladipo had finally blossomed into a player worthy of his draft slot but rupturing tendons in his quadriceps twice has prevented the 28-year-old from making consistent contributions over the last two seasons.  

Oladipo joins a growing list of players who have opted out of the restart, including Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans, Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley and Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza.  

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward said he will exit the NBA's bubble in Florida for the birth of his next child if his team is still playing at that stage of the league's revised season. 

Hayward's wife is due to give birth to the couple's fourth child in September. The NBA's current plans for its restart have the Eastern Conference semi-finals beginning no later than August 30 and the conference finals starting by September 15. 

At the time of the NBA's stoppage on March 11 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Boston occupied the third seed in the East, three games behind the first-place Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division.  

"There'll be a time if and when we're down [in Orlando] and she's going to have the baby, I'm for sure going to be with her," Hayward said of his wife, Robyn. "We'll have to cross that bridge when we get there." 

The NBA has put in stipulations for players who have received permission to leave the Walt Disney World Resort complex. If a player is gone for less than seven days and continues to test negatively for COVID-19, he would be required to quarantine for four days after returning. 

"I know the NBA has a protocol for that type of thing, and hopefully I can do the quarantining and testing the appropriate amount of time and then be back with the boys," he said.  

Hayward was in the midst of his best season with the Celtics at the time of the league's shutdown. The former Utah Jazz star is averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 39.2 percent from three-point range in 2019-20.  

The 30-year-old added that the time off has been beneficial for him physically, but admitted that he still deals with occasional pain in his left foot. Hayward fractured his left ankle in the 2017-18 season opener, his first game as a Celtic after leaving the Jazz to sign a four-year max contract. 

"Everything is definitely a lot better. There is no doubt about that," said Hayward. "For sure, I'm feeling great, it's just the foot still is a little sore. It is what it is." 

 

San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan expressed his displeasure with the rules the NBA has put in place for the resumption of the season following the coronavirus-enforced break.

The NBA is set to resume via a 22-team format at Orlando's Disney World complex on July 30 after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis in March.

The league included a 113-page health and safety handbook as part of its restart plan later this month in Orlando. It covers a wide array of topics such as social distancing outside of games and practices to prohibiting doubles in ping-pong (table tennis).

"The ping-pong this is ridiculous, to be honest," Spurs guard DeRozan said on Thursday. "Guys can't do this, but we can do this and battle over each other? That part just don't make no sense to me.

"I got through 10 lines of the handbook and just put it down because it became so frustrating and overwhelming at times, because you just never thought you'd be in a situation of something like this. So it's hard to process."

Another area of concern for DeRozan specifically is the mental well-being of the players.

DeRozan has been a vocal advocate for players' mental health and the isolated nature of the bubble could be a challenge for players from a mental standpoint.

"It's tough. You're taking guys that have been with their families every single day for the last few months and all of a sudden, separating everybody into this one confined space and taking away a lot of the joyful things we do outside of basketball that we won't be able to do," the four-time All-Star said. "It'll be something for every single player when it comes to mental health."

DeRozan is not the first player to voice his feelings over the NBA's restart plan.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard jokingly said on Wednesday that some players will break rules in the league's handbook, despite warnings or restrictions.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal said during a videoconference call that living in the bubble will be challenging for players used to having few rules on the road.

San Antonio head to Orlando in 12th place in the Western Conference, four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot.

Anthony Davis believes the Los Angeles Lakers have a higher chance of winning the NBA championship thanks to the coronavirus-enforced break.

The NBA season is set to resume on July 30 after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Orlando's Disney World complex will host 22 teams, with LeBron James' Lakers headlining the league's comeback against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30 after the New Orleans Pelicans face the Utah Jazz on the same day.

The Lakers topped the Western Conference with a 49-14 record prior to the COVID-19 crisis and All-Star Davis feels the storied Los Angeles franchise are primed to claim their first NBA ring since 2010.

"Actually, I think our chances are higher just because we're all rested and we're all ready to go," Davis told reporters via a videoconference call on Thursday.

"If anything, our chances got higher and it's going to be about just who wants it more."

Davis added: "It's been good for me to kind of let some of them lingering injuries I had towards the time when the NBA stopped to kind of recover and heal and get back into the best version of myself.

"I feel 100 per cent healthy. Well, I don't feel, I am [100 per cent healthy]. I feel like I'm ready. Ready to go."

The Lakers had gone 8-2 after the All-Star break, with James and team-mate Davis leading the way.

Davis was averaging 26.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.5 steals per game prior to the postponement.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said: "[When] you're on the floor, you have an opportunity to grow and your team has an opportunity to grow.

"When we get to Orlando, it'll be the next step in that process and his journey in this season as a Laker. We look forward to seeing – hopefully the best is yet to come."

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