Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said he will not be turning off his phone during the NBA postseason amid the coronavirus pandemic.

James usually imposes a social-media blackout for the playoffs – the three-time champion staying away from Twitter and Instagram between April and June in his quest for NBA glory.

But the COVID-19 crisis has changed those plans, James determined to stay in contact with his family while he and the Lakers are based in the Orlando bubble for the league's restart.

The NBA has been postponed since March due to coronavirus, but the 2019-20 season will resume on Thursday, with the Lakers facing rivals the Los Angeles Clippers at Walt Disney Resort.

"It's definitely going to have a different mindset, different feel to it," James said on a video conference call on Tuesday.

"I won't be turning my phone off during this run. I can't afford to. I have to continue to check in with my family every single day."

James, who was averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Western Conference-leading Lakers prior to the postponement, added: "Making sure everything is still going well, especially in the uncertainty of what 2020 has brought to all of us. So I can't afford to do that, just lose direct contact with everybody."

"The communication can always be consistent and the leadership can always be consistent, and that's one thing I've always had control over," the four-time MVP and 35-year-old continued.

"But you can't replicate actual presence when you're waking up and you're in the living room or you're in the kitchen, or you're outside playing with your kids or playing with your daughter, playing video games with your boys or working out with your boys. You can't replicate that. I'm not there.

"But [wife] Savannah is a beast at what she does: That's controlling the home and being that rock for our family. So I'm not worried about that. But you definitely, you have that miss factor when you miss your family, you miss your kids and things of that nature.

"But I thank Steve Jobs a lot and the team at Apple for having FaceTime, because that is a beautiful thing to have, especially during a time like this."

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis could sit out Thursday's NBA return against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers due to an eye injury.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said All-Star Davis is considered "day-to-day" after he was poked in the eye during Saturday's scrimmage against the Orlando Magic.

Davis did not participate in practice on Tuesday as the Lakers prepare for the 2019-20 season to resume via a 22-team format in Orlando, Florida after the league was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"He's day-to-day, and while he's still dealing with discomfort there is some concern that he could potentially not play Thursday," Vogel told reporters via a video conference on Tuesday.

"But we're hopeful that he does, and we'll see how that plays out. He's going to continue to be evaluated each day."

Davis left the 119-112 victory over the Magic at Walt Disney Resort, having put up nine points and 10 rebounds.

The 27-year-old was averaging 26.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the Western Conference-leading Lakers prior to the postponement.

"I don't know if I'm allowed to really get into the details of it, other than that's what they told me to report," Vogel added. "So that's all I can give you."

Giannis Antetokounmpo starred as the Milwaukee Bucks lost on Monday, while the Los Angeles Clippers also went down in a scrimmage game.

Antetokounmpo scored 30 points to go with eight rebounds in a 124-103 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans.

JJ Redick led the Pelicans with 20 points in just over 15 minutes off the bench.

It was the Bucks' final scrimmage game before they restart their NBA season against the Boston Celtics on Friday.

Also playing their final scrimmage, the Clippers – also considered championship contenders – were edged 106-102 by the Sacramento Kings.

Paul George (19 points) was solid, while Kawhi Leonard went six-of-22 from the field for his 17 points.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers posted a 123-116 victory over the Washington Wizards.

LeBron James' remarkable consistency and the way he has silenced his detractors are the main arguments why he should be the NBA's MVP, says Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis.

It was decided the 2019-20 award would be decided on performances prior to the league's suspension in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Superstar James, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and others in the conversation will consequently not have the opportunity to enhance their claims when the season resumes at the NBA's bubble at Walt Disney Resort.

Prior to the NBA being halted, 35-year-old James was averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Davis has had a close-up view of playing with James and thinks his team-mate has strong claims for the prize. 

"The thing's he's doing at his age [make it a good argument]," Davis told reporters of James, who is a four-time MVP. 

"He's playing probably one of his best years, we're the top team in the west, the things he's able to do on the floor, especially when everyone says he's washed and should hang it up and all these things he came back with a dominant performance.

"Then just to be in the race at his age, this part of his career, for me to see it every night, and on a consistent basis, not just three or four games here, he does it every night, he's been doing it all his career, it's a good argument for him to be MVP."

Davis is in also in the race for individual honours, with the 27-year-old among the favourites for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Asked to assess his own chances, he said: "I don't have a case. 

"I let my team-mates decide and the fans decide, but I just go out there and play hard every night. 

"My biggest impact that I think I have is defensively. I love playing defense, I love stopping other players, making it tough on other players, so that's my case in a nutshell.

"But I'm pretty sure coach has some good things, and I'm pretty sure if you guys ask LeBron he'll have a whole list for you guys. 

"I just go out there and try to be great and lead my team on the defensive end, and the guys get better each and every night."

Giannis Antetokounmpo insists his main focus is on improving his game and lifting the NBA title with Milwaukee Bucks, rather than winning more individual honours.

The 25-year-old was named the league's Most Valuable Player last season, becoming the first Bucks player to win the accolade since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1974.

And he looks poised to make it back-to-back MVP triumphs thanks to some incredible displays before the campaign was suspended by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

The voting for the MVP and other individual regular-season awards is over ahead of the July 30 restart, with "seeding games" not being included to ensure a fair process.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James made his claim for a fifth Maurice Podoloff Trophy by declaring he knows what he is capable of, but biggest challenger Antetokounmpo is not focused on the award.

"I know there's going to be a lot talk about the MVP award. That's not my main focus," he told a news conference on Tuesday when asked about James' comments.

"I've got to get better, win games, help my team play good basketball, try to win the big trophy - the last time we did that was 1971."

Antetokounmpo was averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game when the NBA was suspended amid the COVID-19 crisis.

And the reigning MVP admits he has been working on his game during the lockdown, having previously stunned fans by claiming he did not own a basketball hoop at his home.

"Anybody out there that thought I didn't have access to a gym, they don't really know me," he said. "I just said that trying to get a little ahead of the competition."

The Bucks are in action against San Antonio Spurs on Thursday - their first action in four months - and Antetokounmpo is in line to feature after recovering from a knee injury.

"What I want to do is basically just try to get in shape and get in basketball shape," he said. "It doesn't matter how long I play. 

"If I play 10 minutes, 15 minutes, the whole game, I'm just gonna go as hard as I can because eventually when the season starts again and the play-offs start, that's what I got to do. 

"So you know, as long as I'm on the court, I'm just going to go as hard as I can."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said he is not bothered by the decision to end the NBA's MVP race before the season resumes in Orlando.

The 2019-20 MVP will be determined based on games played up to when the league was suspended in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

That means the likes of James and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will not have a chance to further stake their claims as the NBA prepares to return via a 22-team format at Walt Disney Resort on July 30.

James, however, told reporters on Monday: "I'm not disappointed because things happen. You control what you can control, and I can't control that.

"As far as the MVP race, I think that I've shown what I'm capable of doing. Not only individually but from a team's perspective, us being number one in the West."

The Lakers had played 63 of the 82-game regular season when the campaign was halted, Los Angeles boasting a Western Conference-best 49-14 record, with James leading the way.

After a difficult first season in Los Angeles, James had returned to his brilliant best for the Lakers in 2019-20 – the veteran's performances catapulting him into the mix for a fifth MVP award.

At the time of the NBA suspending the league, James had been averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Lakers.

James, whose Lakers restart their campaign against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30, added: "There was a lot of conversation about, 'LeBron can do those things in the East, but if he ever came to the West, what could he do?'.

"So I heard all of that. To be able to have our team at the top of the Western Conference and playing the way that we were playing at that time and the way I was playing, it's definitely a good feeling."

The Los Angeles Lakers will be without Rajon Rondo for six to eight weeks after the veteran backup point guard sustained a fracture to his right thumb in practice on Sunday. 

Rondo averaged 7.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 48 games with Los Angeles before the league was suspended on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Lakers, who were leading the Western Conference with a 49-14 record at the time, will resume their season on July 30 against the Los Angeles Clippers at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida. 

Rondo could return if the Lakers make a run in the playoffs, which are scheduled to begin on August 17. 

A first-round pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, the 34-year-old Rondo has averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 873 career regular-season games. He has earned four All-Star selections and been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team twice. 

Rondo won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in his second season in the league in 2007-08. He has averaged 14.0 points, 9.3 assists and 6.1 rebounds in 105 career playoff games. 

The Lakers will also be without starting guard Avery Bradley for the NBA's restart after he opted out due to concerns over the coronavirus. Bradley averaged 8.6 points in 49 games this season. 

Following the lead of his fellow All-Star Los Angeles Lakers team-mate LeBron James, Anthony Davis said he will wear his last name on the back of his jersey instead of a social justice message when the NBA restarts its season in Orlando later this month.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday in a conference call following the Lakers' practice at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Davis said he chose to use his name over one of the NBA's 29 approved social justice slogans to continue to honour his family.

"I was kind of torn between the two," the seven-time All-Star said.

"I just think my last name is something that is very important to me, and social justice as well. But [I'm] just holding my family name and representing the name on the back to go through this process ... and people who have been with me through my entire career to help me get to this point."

James, one of the league's more outspoken players on the topic of racial inequality, said on Saturday that the available messages "didn't seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal".

"Everything that I do has a purpose, has a meaning," the four-time NBA MVP 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."

Davis stressed his support of the social justice initiatives the NBA has planned when it returns from a hiatus of more than four months due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

"We'll have a ton of ways to represent what we stand for," he said.

Davis is averaging team-highs of 26.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game for a Lakers team that enter the restart with a 5.5-game lead over cross-town rivals the Clippers for the best record in the Western Conference. The teams will face one another in the second game of an opening-night doubleheader when the league resumes play on July 30.

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.

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

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."

Los Angeles Lakers vice-president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka believes the NBA restart in the Orlando bubble will be a "mental test".

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.

"I think Orlando itself is going to be as much of a mental test as it is a physical test just because of the extraordinary circumstances there," Pelinka said on a video conference call on Tuesday.

"I think a team like ours, that has such a strong togetherness component, will have an advantage at that part. This team of guys love being together and love playing together. I think that's the significant part of the [first] 63 games."

Pelinka, whose Lakers will be without Avery Bradley after he opted out of the restart, added: "We have put a ton of thought into the mental part of this journey. It is going to be as much as a physical grind as it's going to be a mental grind.

"And I think the mental component might even be more paramount. And so, yes ... we have mental wellness people on staff here and we've been working with them on developing a protocol to address some of the concerns that are going to come up from an extended time away from family or an extended time living in a city that's not your home."

The Lakers had gone 8-2 after the All-Star break, with James and team-mate Anthony Davis leading the way for the storied Los Angeles franchise, who have not won a championship since 2010.

"I think that we're in a unique situation where we've had such a strong chemistry, such a strong team chemistry, that I think that platform is going to be seamless in terms of guys jumping on and being part of that identity and chemistry that we already had formed," Pelinka said.

"I don't see that changing at all with the new additions, just because it's such a strong identity."

The NBA officially revealed its schedule for the resumption of the 2019-20 season following the coronavirus-enforced break and opening night features a star rookie and a marquee matchup. 

Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans will face the Utah Jazz at the Disney World complex near Orlando, Florida on July 30 in the first game of the resumed season, which will consist of a 22-team format.

The second game of the nationally televised doubleheader has LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers facing Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers.  

The opening game will come more than four months after the season was paused on March 11 after Utah's Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to test positive for COVID-19.

On Friday, the league officially completed talks with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) on the terms for restarting the season, paving the way for the 88-game schedule of what are being called seeding games between 22 teams to be released. 

"We're coming back because sports matter in our society," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. "They bring people together when they need it most."

Each team will play eight "seeding" games that will take place in a 16-day span before ending on August 14.

The league will then begin a typical playoff format with the NBA Finals set to begin September 30 and ending no later than October 13. 

Excluding the opening night of the restart, there will be between four to seven games each day spread across three different courts. 

Games will start as early as 13:00 (local time) on weekdays, 12:30 on weekends and ending with 21:00 starts.  

Several players have opted out of the restart plan with reasons related to the coronavirus, while others – including the Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic, Sacramento Kings team-mates Jabari Parker and Alex Len and the Indiana Pacers' Malcolm Brogdon have tested positive.  

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