Around the Association: COVID Concerns, Steph Goes for History, Ankle Breakers, Kyrie’s Return(?), More

Under normal circumstances, I’d be pretty bummed that the Bulls game was banged tonight. But given the full-blown COVID outbreak in the Chicago locker room, I’ll gladly take that trade. The Bulls really needed to take this week off and begin to get some of their roster back before they take on the Lakers on Sunday evening.

The NBA is seeing COVID cases trend in the wrong direction of late, and the Bulls aren’t the only team dealing with it right now. But before we get into the mud on the COVID front, there’s a heck of a potential comeback story building in Grand Rapids.

•   After missing nearly all of the 2020-21 NBA season and most of the past five seasons, Isaiah Thomas is on the comeback trail after signing a contract with the Grand Rapid Gold, the G League affiliate of the Denver Nuggets this week.

•   Thomas played 40 games for the Washington Wizards in the pandemic shortened 2019-20 season but played just 44 games over the previous three seasons with the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Cleveland Cavaliers. Back in Thomas’s final season in Boston, the guard averaged 28.9 points per game.

•   Thomas spoke with Shams Charania about his motives behind the comeback attempt, his desire for another shot, his hip procedure, and his belief that he can still make an impact at the NBA level.

•   The Chicago Bulls aren’t the only team in the NBA (despite being the worst-affected team) with COVID concerns this week. The Brooklyn Nets are dealing with an outbreak of their own with LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Bembry, Jevon Carter, James Johnson, and Paul Millsap all hitting the NBA’s Health & Safety Protocols.

•   As we know, the NBA granted the decimated Bulls a pause this week by canceling their scheduled contests with the Detroit Pistons (tonight) and Toronto Raptors (Thursday). If teams continue to see large numbers of positive tests swell throughout their roster, I believe that the NBA will do the same for them.

•   The Bulls are next scheduled to play on Sunday evening against the Los Angeles Lakers, at which point they could have Coby White, Javonte Green, DeMar DeRozan, and Derrick Jones Jr. back in the lineup. The NBA moved the game from 2:30 pm (ct) to 7:00 pm (ct) to allow more time for the Bulls to get their roster in order.

•   Circling back to the Nets, they’re potentially on the verge of getting some help in the form of Kyrie Irving.

•   Shams reports that the Nets have a renewed sense of optimism that Irving will return to the team this season. However, it’s still unclear whether that return will come by way of Irving getting vaccinated to be in accordance with the State of New York’s vaccination mandate, or whether that means that the Nets will allow Irving to play in road games with the team and remain unvaccinated, an option the organization seemed dead-set against just a couple of months ago.

•   Shams also discusses the latest on the Ben Simmons front in his latest column at The Athletic. It looks like Philly is looking at multi-team trades to get Simmons out of town now, and the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, and Cleveland Cavaliers are among the teams interested in Simmons.

•   I find it hard to believe that a handful of those teams would be able to pull off a deal for Simmons if Philadelphia’s asking price remains sky-high. The Indiana Pacers were reportedly close to hitting the reset button as recently as last week, and I guess it’s possible they’re looking at Simmons to be the cornerstone of that rebuild. But would the 76ers want what they have to offer (the Pacers’ best trade chips are two big men who would make for an odd fit next to Joel Embiid)? As for the Timberwolves and Cavaliers, they seem like they could be missing the All-Star talent to send in return for Simmons. The Lakers have Westbrook and LeBron and very little cap space, and Portland has already said they’re not trading Damian Lillard for Simmons. Conversely, Philly has said that they’re not interested in C.J. McCollum as the headliner from Portland. I can’t see Simmons moving soon unless the 76ers are ready to take drastically less than what they initially valued him at in trade talks. And, hey, maybe they are!

•  Speaking of Portland …

•   Steph Curry needs just two three-pointers to break Ray Allen’s all-time record tonight against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. But it’s going to cost you a pretty penny if you want to watch it live.

•   With prices starting at nearly $500 a ticket and going for up to $11,000 for a single courtside seat, it’ll be almost impossible to see Curry break the record if you aren’t a season ticket holder or a fan who already had tickets purchased for this game. The second-hand ticket market for this game is BONKERS!

•   Trae Young body bagged Josh Christopher last night:

 

•   Who doesn’t like a good ankle-breaker video when it’s Lauri Markkanen getting absolutely shook by Kyle Lowry?

•   With no Bulls game tonight due to the cancellation, you can tune into the Warriors-Knicks game and watch Curry make NBA history!

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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