2021 NBA Media Week

Media Day roundup: Simmons trade request confirmed; Williamson (foot surgery) out

Keep up with the latest news from around the NBA as players and teams close in on the start of training camp.

From NBA.com Staff

The NBA’s 2021-22 preseason camps opened Monday, with Media Week tipping off in the lead-up to the start of the preseason on Oct. 3. The league’s 75th anniversary season begins on Oct. 19.

> Watch: Media Day Interviews

Below is the latest news and notable quotes from players and coaches as the interviews roll on.


Monday

Reports: Nuggets agree to extend Porter Jr. (Read More)

After scooping up — and developing — a potential star due to injury concerns during the 2018 NBA Draft, the Nuggets have reportedly locked in forward Michael Porter Jr. for another five seasons. Porter Jr. averaged 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in his second season on the floor, shooting 44.5% and 52.4% overall.

–11:41 a.m. (Updated 4:55 p.m.)

Kawhi explains lengthy extension with LA

Kawhi Leonard, who considered maxing out his free agency leverage with a “1-and-1” extension — a guaranteed year, followed by a player option — opted instead for a four-year deal. Monday, he explained that recovering from a partially torn ACL, suffered during the 2021 NBA playoffs in July, factored heavily into the decision.

A return to action this season is possible, but Leonard acknowledged he likely wouldn’t have accepted the risk on a shorter deal.

 

–2:48 p.m.

Rockets’ Wall appears while awaiting trade

As the Houston Rockets attempt to find a trade destination for John Wall, he’s focused on helping the team any way he can.

“My job here is to be a mentor,” Wall said.

The veteran isn’t expected to play for the Rockets while they search for a trade for the guard. General manager Rafael Stone said they aren’t looking to buy out Wall’s contract but want to find a suitable trade.

“We’re looking at what can we find that works for everybody … for the long term,” Stone said.

Wall said it will be “very tough” not to play while the Rockets find him a new team, but he knows that this plan is what’s best for him.

–2:48 p.m.

Warriors’ Green excused for personal reasons

Though Draymond Green won’t be present for Warriors Media Day, it’s “an excused personal absence”, said Warriors GM & President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers.

–1:43 p.m.

Kyrie (protocols) virtually joins Media Day in Brooklyn (Read More)

Nets star guard Kyrie Irving, rather than appear at Monday’s Media Day in Brooklyn, participated via Zoom due to New York City’s health and safety protocols. He repeatedly asked for privacy when pressed about his vaccination status.

Because of New York coronavirus regulations, all Nets players must be vaccinated in order to practice or play in home games.

Irving says his status will be cleared up at the appropriate time.

Kevin Durant quickly quashed any thought of it impacting team unity, telling reporters he wasn’t concerned about Irving’s availability. “We trust in Kyrie and I expect us to have our whole team at some point.” Backcourt mate James Harden acknowledged “Kyrie is a huge part of what we do.”

–10:14 a.m. (Updated 1:21 p.m.)

Harden to wait before deciding on extension

While Kevin Durant has already inked an extension to stretch his stay in Brooklyn beyond the initial deal he signed in July 2019, teammate James Harden — traded to the Nets in January after more than 8 years with the Rockets — plans to take his time before signing.

–11:41 a.m.

Zion Williamson recovering from foot surgery (Read More)

In an unexpected announcement, Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations
David Griffin says Zion Williamson “should be back” by the regular season after offseason surgery for a fractured right foot. The injury was to his fifth metatarsal, and though he “isn’t likely” to play in the preseason, rehab schedule should set him up for opening night.

Williamson later said he also expected to be playing by the opener, and that he loves playing in New Orleans: “I don’t wanna be anywhere else.”

–11:26 a.m. (Updated 12:30 p.m.)

 

Morey confirms Simmons’ trade request

The 76ers confirmed a key part of a long-reported saga, with President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey acknowledging Ben Simmons asked for a trade, and that the team is “disappointed” he hasn’t reported to camp. Yet even as Morey admitted it had been several weeks since they’ve talked, he also pointed to a few notable recent situations in which players and teams moved forward following a trade demand, like quarterback Aaron Rodgers reuniting with the Green Bay Packers.

Coach Doc Rivers said no one has defended Simmons more than he has and will enter camp “with hopes that we do have Ben at some point.”

Simmons, the No. 1 pick of the 2016 draft and a three-time All-Star, requested a trade in the offseason. He took the brunt of the blame for the top-seeded Sixers’ second-round exit in last season’s playoffs. He shot 34% from the free-throw line in the postseason and was reluctant to attempt a shot from anywhere on the floor late in games. That led to him spending critical minutes on the bench.

Simmons has $147 million and four years left on his contract. Simmons could be suspended or fined each day he misses camp.

–11:11 a.m.

Celtics’ coach Udoka (protocols) in isolation

New Celtics coach Ime Udoka has a breakthrough case of COVID-19 and participated in the team’s media day on Monday through Zoom.

Celtics spokesman Christian Megliola said the coach, who is vaccinated, was asymptomatic and in the last day of his 10-day quarantine. Udoka is expected to be in person with the team when training camp starts on Tuesday, Megliola said.

–11:05 a.m.

David Letterman makes media moves

The New York media always rolls deep enough to provide a few surprises among the Media Week festivities, and Monday’s setup in Brooklyn proved no different, with legendary comedian David Letterman posting up among the scribes. He tipped off the presser with a series of questions to Kevin Durant, clarifying why he’s known as “KD” (it’s … pretty evident?) and what percentage of his effort Durant plans to offer on court (not zero).

–10:25 a.m.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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