NBA’s dire threat to Simmons mentor

As Australian sporting leagues seem ever more optimistic they can get back on the field, the league that started the coronavirus shutdown — the NBA — appears to be looking at cancelling the rest of the season.

The NBA suspended the season on March 12 when Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for the virus.

It hit close to home and the NBA was followed by an avalanche of sports shutting up shop for an indefinite period.

While some put a wishful date on a return, the NBA appeared shut down for the long run.

There has been some talk of creative solutions to getting through the season but several players have contracted the coronavirus including stars Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell and Marcus Smart to name a few.

The league’s biggest star LeBron James has also slammed the idea of playing in front of empty stands and it is very unlikely the US would open the doors to the public with the nation being ravaged by the disease, including 1300 deaths in a single day on Saturday, the deadliest day for any nation of the crisis.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has shown strong leadership during the shutdown.Source:AFP

While no official word has come out of the NBA on whether it would return, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said the NBA is pessimistic about a restart for the 2019-2020 season as it may cancel the year and start fresh in 2020-2021.

“I’ve talked to both sides of this issue and it is clear the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down,” he told SportsCentre. “Now, they don’t have to do that yet, and the way they’re negotiating, they’re leaving themselves an option either way … they are not having talks about how to restart the league.

“They are having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now.”

The issue has come to a head as the Chinese Basketball Association was preparing to return, before fears over asymptomatic carriers were potentially causing a second wave in China.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been discussing a return but only when given an “all clear” from public health officials.

On conference call with Trump and pro sports leaders today, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke of a possible return to play once there was an "all clear" from public health officials, sources familiar with call tell ESPN. https://t.co/Y78SfF4534

However, the league is reportedly looking at doing a H-O-R-S-E competition including several high-profile players while in isolation.

While the concerns are for the health of players and officials, it could mean the end of Australian Boomers coach Brett Brown at the Philadelphia 76ers, according to CBS News.

In a story titled “Why Brett Brown might have coached his last game for the 76ers if the NBA season is cancelled”, Brad Botkin reported that Brown may be the scapegoat for the underachieving Philadelphia.

Brown has been a strong ally for Aussie superstar Ben Simmons, defending his star from the incessant questions over the 22-year-old’s reluctance from shooting three-pointers.

Ben Simmons listens to instructions from 76ers coach Brett Brown.Source:Getty Images

While the 76ers were favourites to be among the top teams in the Eastern conference, the side was sitting in sixth with a 39-26 record and were NBA analysts’ favourite whipping boys.

With the likes of All-Star duo Simmons and Joel Embiid, the side were labelled “soft” by legends Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal in early February amid plenty of criticism for the side.

But after a back injury saw Simmons sidelined, potentially for the season, it left the 76ers short a superstar.

Originally set to return on April 3, it would have been just two weeks before the playoffs.

Botkin said while if the 76ers could have caught fire, an underdone Simmons would have made it hard and left Brown on the outer.

“Win a few playoff series, and a disappointing regular season becomes an afterthought and Brown might keep his job,” he wrote.

“But they have to get that opportunity to play again, and you could argue that's looking increasingly unlikely with every day that passes.

“If the playoffs don't happen, or if they do and the Sixers are bounced early, it's hard to imagine Brown coming back as the coach next season. Reasonable minds can disagree on the degree of blame he deserves for Philly's relative underachievement.”

Botkin also says while Brown hasn’t been perfect, he could end up being the fall guy for the 76ers without having a final chance to get Philadelphia its first championship in 37 years.

Meanwhile, Simmons has been keeping busy, setting up a “The Philly Pledge”. It’s a one-stop shop for people wanting to donate to COVID-19 relief efforts.

Simmons and his team researched the best non-profit charities and will get the money to the right places in Philadelphia.

In the first week, the saw $350,000 donated in 1700 donations.

The City of Philadelphia has shown its true colors! So far there have been over 1700 individual donations (starting at $25) which have contributed to over $350,000 in donations to help OUR city. That’s neighbors helping neighbors. Let’s keep it going and spreading the word ❤️ pic.twitter.com/VbbpQSSQIQ

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