Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is "healthy" and has arrived at Disney World for the NBA season restart, coach Doc Rivers has confirmed.

Leonard did not fly to Orlando with his Clippers team-mates on Wednesday after being excused due to a family matter.

Speaking on Saturday, Rivers said the All-Star forward was going through the quarantine procedure put in place as part of the protocols to combat the risk of coronavirus.

"Kawhi, he is here, he is going through the protocol," Rivers said, with Leonard now expected to quarantine for two days.

ESPN reported on July 2 that the Clippers had to close their team facility following a positive test for COVID-19, but Rivers says all the players in Orlando are fit, including Paul George, who had been recovering from shoulder surgery.

"I think everybody's healthy, that is a great thing," he said. "Guys were not as healthy in training camp at the beginning of this year.

"Now we got Paul George healthy, we have Kawhi healthy, we don't have a guy that's injured right now, knock on wood. Hope that continues."

Rivers also addressed controversy around Missouri senator Josh Hawley, who wrote to NBA commissioner Adam Silver to question why players will be allowed to wear jerseys with social justice messaging rather than slogans "Support our Troops", "Back the Blue" or "free Hong Kong".

"They always try to turn it into the military or the police," Rivers said. "There's no league that does more for the military than the NBA. But how about that senator? I'll make up a challenge. We will do things for the troops as long as he acknowledges Black Lives Matter. I think that would be really cool for him to do.

"It's funny, whenever we talk about justice, people try to change the message. Colin Kaepernick kneels, it had nothing to do with the troops. It had to do with social injustice. And everyone tries to change the narrative. How about staying on what we're talking about and dealing with that instead of trying to trick us or change or trick your constituents? How about being real?

"I guarantee you that we have done more for the military than probably that senator. And I guarantee you this, we are going to do things for Black Lives Matter, how about him? Maybe he should join into that."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said on Saturday he will not wear a social justice message on his jersey during the NBA's season restart in Orlando, Florida.

Most NBA players have picked a social justice message to wear on the back of their jerseys starting later this month, but James is one of the few that declined to display one.

"It's no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players," James said on a video conference call.

"I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It's just something that didn't seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal."

The NBA and Players Association agreed on several messages for jerseys, including Black Lives Matter, Say Their Names, Vote, I Can't Breathe and Equality. 

"Everything that I do has a purpose, has a meaning," James said. "I don't need to have something on the back of my jersey for people to understand my mission or know what I'm about and what I'm here to do."

James and the Lakers begin the season restart in the second game of an opening-night doubleheader against the Clippers on July 30.

The Lakers lead the Western Conference with a 49-14 record, 5.5 games ahead of the Clippers.

The Brooklyn Nets signed former number two overall pick Michael Beasley to fill out their depleted roster.

The team confirmed the signing with a statement on Thursday, calling Beasley a "substitute player".

Beasley has not played in an NBA game since February of last season but did play in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Guangdong Southern Tigers later in 2019.

The signing comes one day after the Nets added another veteran, shooting guard Jamal Crawford, as Brooklyn attempt to field a competitive roster for the NBA's 22-team restart in Orlando, Florida, later this month.

Beasley, 31, and Crawford, 40, have been added as many of the Nets' best players are either recovering from injury or have opted out of the league's restart due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Center DeAndre Jordan, forward Taurean Prince and guard Spencer Dinwiddie have tested positive for COVID-19 and said they will not be joining the team in Orlando. Forward Wilson Chandler has also opted out, saying, "the health and wellbeing of my family has to come first".

Kevin Durant has yet to play in a Nets uniform as he continues to recover from a ruptured Achilles tendon, while Kyrie Irving was shut down for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery on March 3.

With several key players out, center Jarrett Allen and swingmen Caris LeVert and Joe Harris will be the team's focal points when they take the court on July 31.

The Nets are 30-34 this season and enter the eight-game seeding schedule seventh in the Eastern Conference, one-half game ahead of the Orlando Magic and six games ahead of the equally depleted Washington Wizards.

Beasley has averaged 12.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 609 career NBA games.

After being selected second overall in the 2008 NBA Draft behind Derrick Rose, Beasley has had a journeyman career with the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.

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.

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." 

 

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