There are plenty of storylines still lingering: James Harden’s trade request has not yet been granted and the 2023 MVP, Joel Embiid, could be watching other Eastern Conference contender’s moves closely.
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Along with the host of new faces in new places, Victor Wembanyama, the most anticipated NBA Draft pick in recent memory, is about to embark on his rookie season with the San Antonio Spurs. The 2023 draft class is stacked with talent as the next generation of stars start to form.
The 2023-24 season unofficially started Monday as the majority of NBA teams reported to training camp and participated in their annual media days. Follow Yahoo Sports for updates from around the league.
Damian Lillard shares prank from OG Anunoby
Before things were settled with Damian Lillard’s move to Milwaukee, he was on high alert for an update. It seems Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby took advantage Lillard being on edge for amusement.
“I was on the phone, and I just got a random text from OG like, ‘Welcome to Toronto,'” Lillard told Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes.
Lillard immediately called Anunoby, who went as far as ignoring the call for dramatic effect. He eventually called back in laughter.
The prank Raptors forward OG Anunoby pulled on Bucks star Damian Lillard that shocked him days before actual trade: “Welcome to Toronto.” pic.twitter.com/kSJ4WAAIKv
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 3, 2023
Anunoby is “always messing around,” according to Lillard. The pair trained together this summer and now share a conference.
Lonzo Ball determined to play again
Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is focused on getting back on the court after multiple knee surgeries sidelined him from a promising chapter in his career.
“I definitely plan on playing again,” Ball told reporters. “After surgery three, I feel like it’s going well so far — no setbacks. So for me, it’s just keep my head up, just keep doing the work.”
He had a cartilage transplant in March, which was the third procedure he underwent for his left knee about a year. He is now almost halfway through the rehab process from the most recent operation, he said Monday. He hasn’t played an NBA game since Jan. 14, 2022, and is set to miss his second consecutive season. But the former No. 2 overall pick is keeping a positive mindset. Ball is “only 25” and “everything happens for a reason,” he added in his comments about the injury.
Jusuf Nurkić uses question to address guns in America
The Phoenix Suns acquired Jusuf Nurkić from the Trail Blazers in the multi-way trade that sent Damian Lillard to Milwaukee. While the Bosnian player was vocal about his excitement regarding the move, he didn’t shy away from a more serious topic during media day.
Nurkić was candid in response to a seemingly light hearted question about confusing aspects of the American experience. “I still don’t know why everybody has so many guns,” he said.
The NBA veteran joined the league in 2014 and played three seasons with the Denver Nuggets before spending the last seven years in Portland.
“I feel like, I still don’t understand to this day, because I feel the kids should be safe in our schools,” he added. “I think personally, when you see even the fake guns on social media and kids in schools it’s a bad thing and sometimes you can’t control certain things with this media, all the social media we have platforms, but I think our kids, if we can, secure them the better world going forward it will definitely be without guns.”
LeBron James reveals Bronny had surgery after cardiac arrest
LeBron James revealed Monday that his son, Bronny, had surgery this summer after he experienced cardiac arrest at a basketball workout with USC.
James didn’t provide details on the procedure or when it took place, but did share that Bronny was recovering well from the incident and he expects his son to play for USC this season.
“Bronny’s doing extremely well,” James told reporters at Lakers media day. “He’s begun his rehab process to get back on the floor this season with his teammates and USC — the successful surgery that he had. But he’s on the up and up.
“Definitely a whirlwind and a lot of emotions for our family this summer. But the best thing we have is each other. … We’re happy to see where he is today and we look forward to seeing what his future still has in store for him.”
Although Ja Morant will miss the first 25 games of the season while serving his suspension, the Memphis Grizzlies star will be allowed to travel with the team and participate fully in practice.
Grizzlies general manager Zach Kleiman confirmed Monday during the team’s media day that Morant — who was suspended 25 games for conduct detrimental to the league after displaying a handgun on multiple Instagram Live videos last season — won’t have to be away from the team until he can return.
“I think it’s great for Ja, and I think it’s great for the group that he can be with us day-to-day,” Kleiman said, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “The NBA basically has said that as long as Ja continues to stay on track, he’s going to be clear to participate in all private team activities, so practices, shootarounds, traveling with the team. He’s not going to be with us, obviously, for preseason games and the first 25, but we’ll see him out there and we can’t wait to have him back Game 26.”
Kevin Porter Jr. was not at the Houston Rockets’ media day Monday. The guard won’t be joining the team for training camp nor the preseason, either.
For the first time since Porter was arrested in New York last month for an alleged domestic assault and strangulation, coach Ime Udoka and general manager Rafael Stone took questions about the situation. That was when Stone informed the media that Porter’s tenure with the Rockets is over.
Porter is due back in a Manhattan court Oct. 16, as his criminal proceedings are ongoing.
“The allegations against him are deeply troubling,” Stone said. “Going back a few weeks, as soon as I heard the allegations, I informed his representatives that he could not be part of the Houston Rockets. He has not been with the team or around it since that time.”
James Harden skips the 76ers media day
The race to see who blinks first in the James Harden and Philadelphia 76ers saga wages on. In the most recent episode, the point guard skipped the team’s media day Monday, as he continues to seek a trade away from the franchise.
This is all a part of the ugly battle going on between Harden and 76ers’ president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, as their relationship has broken down.
In August, it was reported the team no longer sought a trade for the star. Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill reported last month that another thing to keep tabs on — if there’s an extended game of chicken between the two sides — could be the morale of 76ers’ star center Joel Embiid.
Jimmy Butler stuns with new look at Heat media day
Jimmy Butler’s offseason didn’t go as planned.
Spurs signing Devin Vassell to $146M extension as they turn page to future with Victor Wembanyama
After spending several seasons in the tank, the San Antonio Spurs are looking to the future.
The Spurs have agreed with fourth-year wing Devin Vassell on a five-year, $146 million contract extension, Vassell’s agents told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal secures Vassell’s place alongside rookie Victor Wembanyama as part of San Antonio’s long-term plans to return to championship contention.
Cam Johnson to miss start of training camp
The Brooklyn Nets announced Monday that Cam Johnson will be out to start training camp. During an on-court workout last week, the forward strained his left hamstring.
Hornets partner with Mr. Beast on new jersey patch
The Charlotte Hornets are partnering with popular YouTuber Mr. Beast on a jersey patch for the 2023-24 NBA season. The patch will appear on the left side of the jersey, across from the NBA logo.
It marks the first time an NBA team has partnered with a social-media influencer.
The Charlotte Hornets are launching a jersey patch partnership with YouTube and social media sensation Mr. Beast, a first between an influencer and an NBA franchise pic.twitter.com/3XYduRwYFY
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 2, 2023
Mr. Beast is among the most popular content creators on YouTube. He was 188 million subscribers on his main YouTube channel and routinely gets hundreds of millions of views on each of his videos.
Zion Williamson in great shape entering 2023-24 season
New Orleans Pelicans big man Zion Williamson took his training routine to a whole new level this offseason. Pelicans executive David Griffin said this was the first time Williamson hired people to take care of his body during the offseason.
Griffin added that it’s the first time Williamson has “taken his profession seriously” when it comes to offseason workouts.
Griff says Zion has hired independent people to help him take care of his body: “This is the first summer Zion has taken his profession seriously in that regard”
— Shamit Dua (@FearTheBrown) October 2, 2023
Williamson played in just 29 games last season due to injuries. He produced at a high level when healthy, averaging 26 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Chauncey Billups excited for Damian Lillard in Milwaukee
Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups has nothing bad to say about Damian Lillard’s departure from the franchise. Billups said he can’t wait to see what Lillard does with his new organization, noting it was “the best team [Lillard has] ever been on.”
Chauncey Billups: “Dame’s in a position where he’s on the best team he’s ever been on. I’m really excited for him.”
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) October 2, 2023
Lillard asked for a trade from the Trail Blazers in the offseason. The team granted his wish Wednesday, dealing him to the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee fans came out in force to greet Lillard on Saturday, when he arrived at the Bucks’ arena.