Barring cancelations and the like due to the coronavirus, the 49-game NBA preseason schedule begins Friday and runs through December 19. Each NBA team will play a minimum of two and a maximum of four games and every team will play at least one home game and one road game in the preseason. Again, though, COVID-19 may have a say in that. Mybookie will offer NBA odds on each game.
What To Expect Of NBA Preseason | 2020 NBA Expert Analysis
No question that the biggest story line right now is whether Houston Rockets superstar James Harden will even report to training camp, much less play in the preseason alongside new teammate John Wall – who was acquired last week in trade for Russell Westbrook.
Harden is yet to report to camp but did take a coronavirus test at the Toyota Center in Houston on Tuesday as part of the league’s protocol to return to play, according to new Rockets coach Stephen Silas confirmed. Harden has been seen on social media partying it up of late in Las Vegas. The NBA has not announced any disciplinary action due to Harden’s violations of the league’s COVID-19 protocols, which require players to quarantine except for essential activities and team-sanctioned workouts and forbid players from attending parties and clubs.
Harden would prefer to traded to Brooklyn to play with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but also would be open to a deal to Philadelphia, he said.
New Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager for the previous 13 seasons, has said he has no intention to break up the Sixers’ All-Star duo of center Joel Embiid and guard/forward Ben Simmons.
Houston is scheduled to open the preseason on Friday at Chicago, which will be the Bulls head coaching debut of former Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan. Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls’ executive vice president of basketball operations, aggressively pursued Donovan after the coach left the Oklahoma City by selling Donovan on a partnership and vision for a talented young roster and a chance to lead one of the league’s anchor franchises.
Donovan, 55, was the National Basketball Coaches Association’s co-Coach of the Year with the Milwaukee Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer for 2019-20. The NBA’s coaches vote on the award.
Five Games To Tip Off Preseason
There are five games on Friday in addition to Rockets at Bulls. They are: Magic at Hawks, Knicks at Pistons, Clippers at Lakers and Kings at Trail Blazers.
Atlanta was one of the NBA’s busiest teams in free agency in landing the likes of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn. The Hawks are all-in on making the playoffs this year to appease All-Star guard Trae Young.
To that end, Atlanta acquired Houston big man Clint Capela at the trade deadline last season but he never played for the Hawks due to a heel injury. He should debut Friday. Capela averaged 13.9 points, 13.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 62.9 percent from the field for Houston.
Needless to say, Clippers at Lakers is the marquee game of the opening night of the preseason, but I wouldn’t expect to see much of the likes of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis or LeBron James in this preseason because those guys were just in the Orlando bubble a few months ago. The Lakers are yet to “officially” decide what they will do with James during the preseason but James has hinted he won’t play at all.
Coach Frank Vogel had this to say about LeBron playing before the regular season: “We’ll see. We don’t want to underdo it where he’s not ready to play in real games. But we obviously don’t want to overdo it.”
New Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Tuesday that George and Leonard have looked “phenomenal” and have participated in every drill at training camp thus far, but they are going to barely play, either.
On Saturday, one game to watch is Phoenix at Utah – will new Suns point guard Chris Paul play? Normally, a player of his age and stature wouldn’t in the preseason but he’s learning a new team after the deal from Oklahoma City. The Suns went 8-0 inside the Orlando bubble and now have the perfect player to pair with Devin Booker. The Jazz have changed little from last season, bringing back 11 players from their 2019-20 roster – including their entire starting lineup.
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