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.
Below is the latest news and notable quotes from players and coaches as the interviews roll on.
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.
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., has agreed on a five-year designated max extension that could be worth up to $207 million, his agent Mark Bartelstein of @PrioritySports tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 27, 2021
–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.
Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard on his 3+1 contract: “The best situation for me was to do a 1+1, opt out & then sign a long-term, 5-year deal… I wanted to secure some money & come back if I was able to this year. If I had took the 1+1, I probably would have not played to be cautious.” pic.twitter.com/e5ONn89UZa
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 27, 2021
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.
Stone says Wall and him constantly talk to be on the same page.
“In terms of our communication it’s been easy. The challenge was what works for everyone long term. It’s not like our communication ends today.”
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) September 27, 2021
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.
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.
Bob Myers says Draymond will not be here today. Draymond has "an excused personal absence" and will be here "in the next few days."
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) September 27, 2021
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.”
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) September 27, 2021
–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.
James Harden preaches patience on a potential contract extension with the Nets: “I want to know I’m in the right mindset and know for sure I want to be in Brooklyn, ultimately, for the rest of my career."
— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) September 27, 2021
This sounds promising for the @BrooklynNets. James Harden on a potential contract extension:
"I have talked with Sean and Joe. I don’t see myself anywhere else, honestly. I am taking my time with it, there’s no rush and, I want to bring a championship to the city."
— Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) September 27, 2021
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.”
Says this is why Zion wasn't with the team in Nashville for informals.
Griff says Zion, his family, Trajan and Aaron Nelson met yesterday to discuss a return to play. https://t.co/zZmdcAFvKH
— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) September 27, 2021
–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.
In Philadelphia, Daryl Morey confirms that Ben Simmons reps asked for a trade shortly after the season. "We were not looking to trade him," Morey said. "We're disappointed he is not here."
— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) September 27, 2021
Daryl Morey on if there is any hope for a reconciliation with Ben Simmons. "I think there is a lot of hope." He added that a "thousand pounds of digital ink" was spilled on Aaron Rodgers being traded from Green Bay & he just led the Packers to a comeback victory last night.
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) September 27, 2021
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.
PBO Brad Stevens isn’t concerned about Udoka missing time with the team. Told me, Ime is a guy who connects with people and he has been all in from day 1, making free agent calls from Tokyo at 2am.
— Abby Chin (@tvabby) September 27, 2021
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).
David Letterman just asked Kevin Durant why he’s called KD, what % he’s going to give on the floor, whether he’d play for the Knicks on days that he’s not playing for the Nets, and whether playing against the Pelicans would make him giggle.
KD: “Y’all just let anyone in here.”
— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) September 27, 2021
David Letterman asked Durant why people call him KD 🤣
"My first name is Kevin with a K, and my last name is Durant with a D”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 27, 2021
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.