Asked About N.B.A., China Spat, Trump Instead Blasts Kerr and Popovich

President Trump declined to criticize China’s handling of a free speech dispute with the N.B.A. on Wednesday, instead opting to blast two basketball coaches who have spoken out against the president in the past.

“They have to work out their own situation,” Trump said of the escalating dispute between the league and China, where two exhibition games were in danger of being canceled because of the country’s anger over a tweet from a Houston Rockets executive who expressed support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The issue touches on a familiar situation for American businesses trying to prosper in China: working with a government that does not tolerate dissent. When asked about the situation, Trump instead called out Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr and San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, both of whom have been highly critical of Trump throughout his presidency.

“I watched this guy, Steve Kerr, and he was like a little boy who was so scared to be even answering the question,” Trump said, referring to Kerr declining to take a stance on an issue that could threaten the N.B.A.’s business in China, where the Warriors are the most popular team. “He couldn’t answer the question. He was shaking. ‘Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know.’ He didn’t know how to answer the question. And yet he’ll talk about the United States very badly.”

Trump then targeted Popovich, who criticized Trump when asked about the dispute on Tuesday night.

“I watched Popovich. Sort of the same thing but he didn’t look quite as scared actually,” Trump said. “But they talk badly about the United States, but when it talks about China, they don’t want to say anything bad. I thought it was pretty sad actually. It’ll be very interesting.”

Trump accused Kerr and Popovich of “pandering to China,” and suggested that they didn’t “respect” the United States. Popovich, a former member of the Air Force, was the head coach of the U.S.A. men’s basketball team this summer, when it played in the world championships in China. Kerr was his assistant.

“And yet to our own country, they don’t — it’s like they don’t respect it,” Trump told reporters in an event from the Roosevelt Room, following the signing of an executive order. “I said, ‘What a difference?’ Isn’t it sad?”

Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, was more critical of China during an interview with PBS Newshour that aired on Wednesday.

“I think American businesses have the right to make the decisions that they make, as long as they’re lawful,” Pompeo said. “They will have to make their own business decisions, but I think not only what we saw this week, but this has been going on for some time; I think American businesses are waking up to the risks that attend to their company.”

Pompeo continued: “It may seem that it makes profit in the short run, but the cost, the reputational cost of these companies, I think, will prove to be higher and higher as Beijing’s long arm reaches out to them and destroys their capacity for them.”

Representatives for the Warriors, the Spurs and the league did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump became the highest profile politician to weigh in on an unusual international row that began last Friday, when the general manager of the Rockets, Daryl Morey, posted and quickly deleted an image on Twitter that carried a slogan used by Hong Kong protesters, right as the league was preparing to play two exhibition games there a week later. For several months, demonstrators in the region have accused the Communist government of attempting to limit civil liberties. Backlash from the mainland came quickly.

Several Chinese companies began to cut ties with the Rockets, as did the Chinese Basketball Association, which is led by Yao Ming, the former Rockets star. On Sunday, the league issued a written statement that was roundly condemned by several politicians in the United States, both Republicans and Democrats. The league called the reaction to Morey’s tweet “regrettable” and said that “the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them.” Critics in the United States accused the league of caving to an authoritarian government.

The N.B.A. found itself in a defensive position — having to balance its public image as a sports league that encouraged political expression with the millions of revenue dollars at stake in China. Morey tried to clean up his comments, saying that said he did not intend to “cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China.” On Tuesday, Adam Silver, the N.B.A.’s commissioner, issued a new statement and spoke at a news conference where he more firmly stood behind Morey, saying the league would not hinder the free speech rights of players and employees, even if it meant consequences for the sport.

Several community events with the league and Chinese television broadcasts of the game were canceled and the fate of the two contests — scheduled for Thursday and Saturday between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers — is up in the air.

On Wednesday, several lawmakers sent a letter to Silver calling on the N.B.A. to “suspend NBA activities in China until government-controlled broadcasters and government-controlled commercial sponsors end their boycott of NBA activities.” The signees included a bipartisan group of lawmakers who rarely agree, including Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Democrats like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

The backlash extended to other basketball figures. James Harden, one of the best players in the N.B.A and a Rockets star, apologized to China and was criticized. Other figures, like Kerr, who is typically outspoken on politics, declined to comment. “It’s a really bizarre international story and I don’t know what to make of it,” Kerr said. “So it’s something I’m reading about just like everybody is but I’m not going to comment further than that.”

Popovich, however, praised Silver’s response on Tuesday, saying: “He came out strongly for freedom of speech today. I felt great again. He’s been a heck of a leader in that respect and very courageous.”

Popovich followed up by throwing a shot at Trump. “Then you compare it to what we’ve had to live through the past three years, it’s a big difference. A big gap there, leadership-wise and courage-wise,” Popovich said.

Stephen Curry, the Warriors star, joked to reporters that he had to “welcome Steve to the club.” Curry himself has been a past target of Trump’s ire. But besides that, Curry declined to weigh in, calling it “an interesting situation” and adding, “I don’t know that history well enough to kind of speak on it or to form an opinion yet.”

Trump’s own comments on Hong Kong have been limited. In August, Trump said in a tweet, “China is not our problem, though Hong Kong is not helping.” He followed up with, “Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!” He also referred to President Xi Jinping of China as a “great leader” and the next day said, “If President Xi would meet directly and personally with the protesters, there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem. I have no doubt!”

Last week, Trump tweeted a congratulatory message to China: “Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!”

It is not surprising that Trump, known for punching at his critics harshly, would bash Kerr and Popovich, given their past comments about him.

In July, Kerr tweeted, “Come on members of Congress, call out the president for his racist tweets this morning. Show some leadership. It’s the job you were elected to do,” in reference to Trump’s social media posts telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their own countries.

Popovich has also repeatedly criticized Trump, referring to him as a “bully” shortly after the 2016 election, and adding, “You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.”

N.B.A. Free Agency Updates: Signings, Trades and More

N.B.A. free agents used to spend days, even weeks, weighing where to sign deals after the new league year began in July. There were half-secret meetings and street sightings. One year, fans waited a week just to sit through a free agent’s special TV announcement. It was a big decision.

This year has been something else entirely. Kevin Durant kicked things off with an Instagram announcement minutes into free agency on Sunday, and Kawhi Leonard reportedly sent word that he was taking the day off from decision-making. The night only got weirder from there. And the chaos is far from over.

Wildest Day 1 ever in NBA free-agent history … #clinched

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 1, 2019

Here is a broad look at many of the pending deals that have been reported by The New York Times, the players and a range of news media, including ESPN, The Athletic and Yahoo Sports on the first two days of N.B.A. free agency. As of 6 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, free agents and teams were allowed to negotiate and announce their intentions, but no deals can become official until a moratorium period ends on Saturday.

Durant announced plans to sign a maximum contract with the Nets.

Kyrie Irving intends to sign with the Nets, too. So does DeAndre Jordan.

Kemba Walker will leave the Charlotte Hornets for the Boston Celtics.

The Knicks are sorry to disappoint fans; they plan to sign Julius Randle and Taj Gibson.

ImageJimmy Butler is expected to end up with the Miami Heat on a max deal — a fresh face for fans after Dwyane Wade’s retirement.

CreditMichael Reaves/Getty Images

Jimmy ButlerMiami Heat

As part of a sign-and-trade that will send Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, Butler will end up under Pat Riley’s auspices with the Heat. It’s not immediately clear what the final terms of the trade are, but Butler will most likely join the core of players like Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow to make a run at the playoffs, which Miami missed last year. This will be Butler’s third team in two years, after he forced his way out of Minnesota to land in Philadelphia last season. He is a four-time All-Star and a top defender, and he has made two All-N.B.A. third teams.

D’Angelo Russell — Golden State Warriors: four years, $117 million

Andre Iguodala — Memphis Grizzlies (trade)

Terry Rozier — Charlotte Hornets: three years, $58 million

Al HorfordPhiladelphia 76ers: Four years, $97 million guaranteed and $12 million in bonuses

Horford’s mystery team was finally revealed. He’s leaving the Celtics for their division rival, the Sixers, according to ESPN. The move constitutes another blow to Boston, which was reportedly trying to rework its cap situation to keep Horford. It wasn’t enough. Instead, Horford will take his veteran leadership and inside presence and join Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris as the Sixers reload to try to make the finals.

Trevor Ariza — Sacramento Kings: two years, $25 million

Al-Farouq Aminu — Orlando Magic: three years, $29 million

Jeremy Lamb — Indiana Pacers: three years, $31.5 million

Ricky RubioPhoenix Suns: Three years, $51 million

Rubio is bound for Phoenix, according to The Athletic. His presence should help remove some of the point guard pressures from Devin Booker and allow Booker to play more away from the ball. Rubio, 28, is a pass-first guard who spent the last two seasons with the Utah Jazz. But after the Jazz acquired Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies, Rubio was left to pursue another team in free agency. The Suns need all the help (and veteran leadership) they can get after finishing with the worst record in the Western Conference.

Garrett Temple — Nets: two years, $10 million

Thaddeus Young — Chicago Bulls: three years, $41 million

Dewayne Dedmon — Sacramento Kings: three years, $41 million

Image

CreditNathan Denette/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Malcolm BrogdonIndiana Pacers: Four years, $85 million

After spending the first three seasons of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, Brogdon agreed to terms with the Indiana Pacers through a sign-and-trade, according to The Athletic. The Pacers were in need of point guard depth after Darren Collison made the surprise announcement that he was retiring, and Brogdon has all the tools to be a solid player — if he can stay healthy. He missed the first half of the Bucks’ postseason run with a plantar fascia tear in his right foot. He averaged 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game last season.

Bobby Portis — Knicks: two years, $31 million

Danuel House — Houston Rockets: three years, $11.1 million

Bojan Bogdanovic — Utah Jazz: four years, $73 million

J.J. RedickNew Orleans Pelicans: two years, $26.5 million

Redick, 35, who is one of the league’s best shooters, is leaving the 76ers after two years for the Pelicans, according to ESPN. He will head to New Orleans, where he’ll provide veteran leadership to a team in the middle of a radical remake with the pending trade of Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. And Redick will be the beneficiary of passes from one of the most hyped players in recent history: Zion Williamson.

DeMarre Carroll — San Antonio Spurs: two years, $13 million

Derrick Favors — New Orleans Pelicans

Robin Lopez — Milwaukee Bucks: Two years

Derrick RoseDetroit Pistons: Two years, $15 million

Rose, a former Most Valuable Player Award winner, committed to a two-year deal. His career has been marred by injuries, but he experienced a sort of renaissance last season with the Timberwolves, including a memorable 50-point game against the Jazz. He’ll be joining a Pistons team fronted by Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson.

Image

CreditEzra Shaw/Getty Images

Klay ThompsonGolden State Warriors: Five years, $190 million

Thompson is nearing completion on a five-year deal to remain with Golden State, according to three people familiar with the negotiations. The Warriors were eager to re-sign Thompson, even though he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the N.B.A. finals and could miss all of the 2019-20 season. Losing Kevin Durant to the Nets may have made striking a deal with Thompson more of an imperative, but the Warriors were going to offer him a max deal regardless of Durant’s decision. Thompson, one of the very best shooters in league history, has been a core member of the Warriors throughout their five-year run, helping them win three championships. Last season, he was named to his first all-defensive team in addition to averaging 21.5 points while shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from 3-point range.

Damian Lillard — Portland Trail Blazers: extension

Harrison Barnes — Sacramento Kings: four years, $85 million

Dwight Powell — Dallas Mavericks: three years, $33 million

Khris MiddletonMilwaukee Bucks: five years, $178 million

Middleton, a sharpshooting swingman who made his first All-Star game last season, will be returning to Milwaukee, citing what he called “unfinished business” in a first-person article written for ESPN. Middleton, 27, has come a long way since he was drafted in the second round in 2012 by the Detroit Pistons. He has become a core part of the Bucks as they have risen to prominence on the shoulders of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Rodney Hood — Portland Trail Blazers: two years, $16 million

Jamal Murray — Denver Nuggets: extension

Mike Scott — Philadelphia 76ers: two years, $9.8 million

Kristaps PorzingisDallas Mavericks: five-year, $158 million extension

Porzingis, who was once thought to be the future of the Knicks, received a maximum contract extension from Dallas in the early hours of free agency. He has been recovering from a knee injury that he sustained in 2018, meaning the deal comes with risks for Dallas. But if he can stay healthy, Porzingis, at his dynamic best, will be a formidable force next to Luka Doncic. .

Ben Simmons — Philadelphia 76ers: extension

Terrence Ross — Orlando Magic: four years, $54 million

Patrick Beverley — Los Angeles Clippers: three years, $40 million

Image

CreditChris Szagola/Associated Press

Tobias HarrisPhiladelphia 76ers: five years, $180 million

Harris, a versatile swingman, is returning to Philadelphia. After acquiring Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers in a midseason deal, the 76ers loved his production. In 27 regular-season games with Philadelphia, Harris averaged 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds. Harris, who will turn 27 in July, explained his decision in a first-person essay on ESPN, saying he had unfinished business with the 76ers. “I’m ready to commit to a long-term vision of bringing a title to Philadelphia,” he wrote.

Jonas ValanciunasMemphis Grizzlies: three years, $45 million

Valanciunas is coming back to Memphis. The big man, who was traded to the Grizzlies by Toronto as part of the Marc Gasol deal, agreed to a three-year deal, according to ESPN. Valanciunas turned down his player option for next year, which would have netted him $17.6 million, and instead negotiated a new, longer-term deal. The Grizzlies are about to commence a rebuilding process, after trading away Mike Conley, a longtime franchise cornerstone. Valanciunas, along with Jaren Jackson and the newly drafted Ja Morant will, for now, be the future.

Nicola VucevicOrlando Magic: four years, $100 million

After the best season of his career, Vucevic agreed to re-sign with the Magic. Vucevic, a 28-year-old center, averaged career-highs in points (20.8) and rebounds (12) in leading the Magic to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. He has spent the past seven seasons in Orlando, and has developed a reliable perimeter game to go along with his bruising abilities in the paint. Last season, he shot 36.4 percent from 3-point range, making him a multidimensional threat.

George Hill and Brook LopezMilwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are bringing back Lopez (four years, $52 million) and Hill (three years, $29 million) to keep a big part of their core intact after finishing with the N.B.A.’s best record. Lopez, who was a back-to-the-basket center in a former life, emerged as an invaluable floor space in Milwaukee, where more than half of his field-goal attempts came from 3-point range. And the Bucks needed to re-sign Hill as a low-cost alternative at point guard after Malcolm Brogdon left for Indiana.

N.B.A. Free Agency Tracker: What Happened on Days 1 and 2

N.B.A. free agents used to spend days, even weeks, weighing where to sign deals after the new league year began in July. There were half-secret meetings and street sightings. One year, fans waited a week just to sit through a free agent’s special TV announcement. It was a big decision.

This year has been something else entirely. Kevin Durant kicked things off with an Instagram announcement minutes into free agency on Sunday, and Kawhi Leonard reportedly sent word that he was taking the day off from decision-making. The night only got weirder from there. And the chaos is far from over.

Wildest Day 1 ever in NBA free-agent history … #clinched

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 1, 2019

Here is a broad look at many of the pending deals that have been reported by The New York Times, the players and a range of news media, including ESPN, The Athletic and Yahoo Sports on the first two days of N.B.A. free agency. As of 6 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, free agents and teams were allowed to negotiate and announce their intentions, but no deals can become official until a moratorium period ends on Saturday.

Durant announced plans to sign a maximum contract with the Nets.

Kyrie Irving intends to sign with the Nets, too. So does DeAndre Jordan.

Kemba Walker will leave the Charlotte Hornets for the Boston Celtics.

The Knicks are sorry to disappoint fans; they plan to sign Julius Randle and Taj Gibson.

ImageJimmy Butler is expected to end up with the Miami Heat on a max deal — a fresh face for fans after Dwyane Wade’s retirement.

CreditMichael Reaves/Getty Images

Jimmy ButlerMiami Heat

As part of a sign-and-trade that will send Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, Butler will end up under Pat Riley’s auspices with the Heat. It’s not immediately clear what the final terms of the trade are, but Butler will most likely join the core of players like Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow to make a run at the playoffs, which Miami missed last year. This will be Butler’s third team in two years, after he forced his way out of Minnesota to land in Philadelphia last season. He is a four-time All-Star and a top defender, and he has made two All-N.B.A. third teams.

D’Angelo Russell — Golden State Warriors: four years, $117 million

Andre Iguodala — Memphis Grizzlies (trade)

Terry Rozier — Charlotte Hornets: three years, $58 million

Al HorfordPhiladelphia 76ers: Four years, $97 million guaranteed and $12 million in bonuses

Horford’s mystery team was finally revealed. He’s leaving the Celtics for their division rival, the Sixers, according to ESPN. The move constitutes another blow to Boston, which was reportedly trying to rework its cap situation to keep Horford. It wasn’t enough. Instead, Horford will take his veteran leadership and inside presence and join Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris as the Sixers reload to try to make the finals.

Trevor Ariza — Sacramento Kings: two years, $25 million

Al-Farouq Aminu — Orlando Magic: three years, $29 million

Jeremy Lamb — Indiana Pacers: three years, $31.5 million

Ricky RubioPhoenix Suns: Three years, $51 million

Rubio is bound for Phoenix, according to The Athletic. His presence should help remove some of the point guard pressures from Devin Booker and allow Booker to play more away from the ball. Rubio, 28, is a pass-first guard who spent the last two seasons with the Utah Jazz. But after the Jazz acquired Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies, Rubio was left to pursue another team in free agency. The Suns need all the help (and veteran leadership) they can get after finishing with the worst record in the Western Conference.

Garrett Temple — Nets: two years, $10 million

Thaddeus Young — Chicago Bulls: three years, $41 million

Dewayne Dedmon — Sacramento Kings: three years, $41 million

Image

CreditNathan Denette/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Malcolm BrogdonIndiana Pacers: Four years, $85 million

After spending the first three seasons of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, Brogdon agreed to terms with the Indiana Pacers through a sign-and-trade, according to The Athletic. The Pacers were in need of point guard depth after Darren Collison made the surprise announcement that he was retiring, and Brogdon has all the tools to be a solid player — if he can stay healthy. He missed the first half of the Bucks’ postseason run with a plantar fascia tear in his right foot. He averaged 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game last season.

Bobby Portis — Knicks: two years, $31 million

Danuel House — Houston Rockets: three years, $11.1 million

Bojan Bogdanovic — Utah Jazz: four years, $73 million

J.J. RedickNew Orleans Pelicans: two years, $26.5 million

Redick, 35, who is one of the league’s best shooters, is leaving the 76ers after two years for the Pelicans, according to ESPN. He will head to New Orleans, where he’ll provide veteran leadership to a team in the middle of a radical remake with the pending trade of Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. And Redick will be the beneficiary of passes from one of the most hyped players in recent history: Zion Williamson.

DeMarre Carroll — San Antonio Spurs: two years, $13 million

Derrick Favors — New Orleans Pelicans

Robin Lopez — Milwaukee Bucks: Two years

Derrick RoseDetroit Pistons: Two years, $15 million

Rose, a former Most Valuable Player Award winner, committed to a two-year deal. His career has been marred by injuries, but he experienced a sort of renaissance last season with the Timberwolves, including a memorable 50-point game against the Jazz. He’ll be joining a Pistons team fronted by Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson.

Image

CreditEzra Shaw/Getty Images

Klay ThompsonGolden State Warriors: Five years, $190 million

Thompson is nearing completion on a five-year deal to remain with Golden State, according to three people familiar with the negotiations. The Warriors were eager to re-sign Thompson, even though he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the N.B.A. finals and could miss all of the 2019-20 season. Losing Kevin Durant to the Nets may have made striking a deal with Thompson more of an imperative, but the Warriors were going to offer him a max deal regardless of Durant’s decision. Thompson, one of the very best shooters in league history, has been a core member of the Warriors throughout their five-year run, helping them win three championships. Last season, he was named to his first all-defensive team in addition to averaging 21.5 points while shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from 3-point range.

Damian Lillard — Portland Trail Blazers: extension

Harrison Barnes — Sacramento Kings: four years, $85 million

Dwight Powell — Dallas Mavericks: three years, $33 million

Khris MiddletonMilwaukee Bucks: five years, $178 million

Middleton, a sharpshooting swingman who made his first All-Star game last season, will be returning to Milwaukee, citing what he called “unfinished business” in a first-person article written for ESPN. Middleton, 27, has come a long way since he was drafted in the second round in 2012 by the Detroit Pistons. He has become a core part of the Bucks as they have risen to prominence on the shoulders of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Rodney Hood — Portland Trail Blazers: two years, $16 million

Jamal Murray — Denver Nuggets: extension

Mike Scott — Philadelphia 76ers: two years, $9.8 million

Kristaps PorzingisDallas Mavericks: five-year, $158 million extension

Porzingis, who was once thought to be the future of the Knicks, received a maximum contract extension from Dallas in the early hours of free agency. He has been recovering from a knee injury that he sustained in 2018, meaning the deal comes with risks for Dallas. But if he can stay healthy, Porzingis, at his dynamic best, will be a formidable force next to Luka Doncic. .

Ben Simmons — Philadelphia 76ers: extension

Terrence Ross — Orlando Magic: four years, $54 million

Patrick Beverley — Los Angeles Clippers: three years, $40 million

Image

CreditChris Szagola/Associated Press

Tobias HarrisPhiladelphia 76ers: five years, $180 million

Harris, a versatile swingman, is returning to Philadelphia. After acquiring Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers in a midseason deal, the 76ers loved his production. In 27 regular-season games with Philadelphia, Harris averaged 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds. Harris, who will turn 27 in July, explained his decision in a first-person essay on ESPN, saying he had unfinished business with the 76ers. “I’m ready to commit to a long-term vision of bringing a title to Philadelphia,” he wrote.

Jonas ValanciunasMemphis Grizzlies: three years, $45 million

Valanciunas is coming back to Memphis. The big man, who was traded to the Grizzlies by Toronto as part of the Marc Gasol deal, agreed to a three-year deal, according to ESPN. Valanciunas turned down his player option for next year, which would have netted him $17.6 million, and instead negotiated a new, longer-term deal. The Grizzlies are about to commence a rebuilding process, after trading away Mike Conley, a longtime franchise cornerstone. Valanciunas, along with Jaren Jackson and the newly drafted Ja Morant will, for now, be the future.

Nicola VucevicOrlando Magic: four years, $100 million

After the best season of his career, Vucevic agreed to re-sign with the Magic. Vucevic, a 28-year-old center, averaged career-highs in points (20.8) and rebounds (12) in leading the Magic to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. He has spent the past seven seasons in Orlando, and has developed a reliable perimeter game to go along with his bruising abilities in the paint. Last season, he shot 36.4 percent from 3-point range, making him a multidimensional threat.

George Hill and Brook LopezMilwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are bringing back Lopez (four years, $52 million) and Hill (three years, $29 million) to keep a big part of their core intact after finishing with the N.B.A.’s best record. Lopez, who was a back-to-the-basket center in a former life, emerged as an invaluable floor space in Milwaukee, where more than half of his field-goal attempts came from 3-point range. And the Bucks needed to re-sign Hill as a low-cost alternative at point guard after Malcolm Brogdon left for Indiana.

Helicopters, Cap Spikes and the Decision: The N.B.A.’s Wildest Off-Seasons

Kawhi Leonard proved to be the biggest difference-maker that changed hands last off-season. Will he have that distinction again this year?CreditCreditFrank Gunn/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

June 29, 2019

So many marquee names. So much money for teams to spend. This Sunday, starting at 6 p.m. Eastern Time, the N.B.A. could witness one of the wildest off-seasons in league history.

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers are trying to lure Kawhi Leonard out of Canada after he just led the Toronto Raptors to the championship. Kevin Durant is considering the Knicks and the Nets, as well as the Clippers, along with a return to the Golden State Warriors.

Boston’s Kyrie Irving, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton join Leonard — plus the injured but still deeply coveted duo of Durant and Klay Thompson from the Warriors — as the headliners in a deep free-agent class. It’s a lot to track — especially with nine teams expected to have at least $30 million in salary-cap space and roughly 200 other free agents in a league that offers only 450 full-time jobs.

The forecast for considerable movement is promising, given the go-for-it sentiment that has infected numerous front offices. The league’s sudden lack of a clear-cut favorite for the first time since Golden State’s championship run began in 2015 — provided Leonard decides not to return to Toronto — invites daring and deal-making.

Just don’t forget that the bar is rather high for any summer to go down as an all-timer, thanks to the N.B.A.’s reputation for transactional bedlam. To refresh you on how competitive this category can be, here are five standout off-seasons that set the standard for chaos:

ImageShaquille O’Neal took a break from his duties for Team U.S.A. at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to hold a news conference announcing his signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.

CreditMichael Gagne/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images

For all the anticipation that the July marketplace generates in the modern N.B.A., we have yet to see an off-season that can match 1996 for leaguewide madness.

The Knicks signed Allan Houston and traded for Larry Johnson. Michael Jordan re-signed with the Chicago Bulls on a one-year, $30.4 million contract — lavish compensation at the time. The Miami Heat handed out the league’s first-ever contract exceeding $100 million, to Alonzo Mourning, then saw their seven-year, $98 million contract with Juwan Howard voided by the league for violating salary cap rules, sending Howard back to Washington. In mid-August, after things had died down, Phoenix dealt Charles Barkley to Houston.

But all of that was the (deep) undercard to Shaquille O’Neal’s first foray into free agency. Jerry West, then the Los Angeles Lakers’ general manager, persuaded the representatives for Kobe Bryant, 17, to insist that their client would play abroad if he wasn’t allowed to join the Lakers. Then West also traded Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Bryant’s draft rights. That created nearly $5 million in extra salary-cap space.

On July 11, 1996, Charlotte and the Lakers finalized the Bryant trade. Seven days later, after West had created another $2 million-plus in cap space by trading Anthony Peeler and George Lynch to the Vancouver Grizzlies, O’Neal agreed to a seven-year, $120 million contract to leave Penny Hardaway and the Orlando Magic for the Lakers.

Shaq has maintained that an infamous Orlando Sentinel poll just two days before he committed to the Lakers sealed his decision to leave; 91.3 percent of more than 5,000 respondents had said he wasn’t worth a seven-year, $115 million deal. The Magic had gone 60-22 in the 1995-96 season, O’Neal’s last in Orlando. They have not won 60 games in a season since.

Image

CreditBarton Silverman/The New York Times

When the Golden State Warriors followed a 73-win season in 2016 by signing Kevin Durant, there was an outcry that the Warriors were ruining basketball by hoarding superstars.

Often forgotten is that a similar scenario nearly played out with the San Antonio Spurs in the summer of 2003 — except the howling was muted in an era that predated social media and the proliferation of sports TV debate shows.

The Spurs’ response to beating the Nets in the 2003 finals was to stage one of the most ornate free-agent recruiting efforts ever to try to sign the Nets’ franchise star, Jason Kidd. The Spurs put up Kidd at a fancy golf resort in San Antonio in a nod to his other favorite sport, leading to multiple sightings of news helicopters overhead.

The Nets, though, won Kidd over after he returned to New Jersey. Duncan, the All-Star big man, and Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich made a trip East to continue lobbying Kidd, but the future Hall of Fame point guard ultimately decided to stay with the team he had just led to back-to-back finals appearances.

Image

CreditDoug Benc/Getty Images

It was a line that not only defined an off-season but that will likely follow LeBron James well beyond retirement: “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.”

He said it as part a widely panned television event conceived to give the best basketball player of his generation, and a native son of Akron, Ohio, an unparalleled platform to announce that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat. That James took advantage of the enormous interest in his decision to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club was largely lost as people wrote him off as egotistic and debated whether his plan, to join forces with Dwyane Wade and, later, Chris Bosh on a South Beach superteam, was an insult to the stars of the past who tried to beat their friends rather than join them.

It didn’t calm things down any that the league’s new-age Big Three, seemingly assembled by the players themselves as much as by Pat Riley, Miami’s team president, subsequently held a welcoming parade at American Airlines Arena. They came out in their uniforms, Bosh flexed and yelled, and James promised “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven …” championships.

Significant money was doled out to Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and David Lee, but none of the other deals that summer could compare to Miami’s machinations.

The league’s Player Power era, with James as the foremost star, was officially underway. N.B.A. off-seasons would never be the same — as James showed us again in 2014 when he left South Beach to go back home to the Cavaliers.

Image

CreditEzra Shaw/Getty Images

Had the Warriors won the 2016 finals, chances are Durant never joins them. But, as any N.B.A. fan knows, they blew a 3-1 lead and lost to LeBron’s Cavaliers. Even so, Golden State also needed the good fortune of a mammoth cap spike. A huge increase in the league’s new television contract and the players’ union’s refusal to let the league infuse the money gradually hiked the salary cap by a whopping $24.1 million. That enabled the Warriors to sign a superstar they wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise — and it also led to a leaguewide spending spree that is rarely remembered fondly.

The Lakers committed $137 million to Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov. The Knicks gave $122 million to Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee. Several more questionable deals were signed, which made the major paydays to franchise stalwarts such as Mike Conley (five years, $153 million from Memphis), DeMar DeRozan (five years, $139 million from Toronto) and Bradley Beal (five years, $128 million from Washington) seem reasonable by comparison.

Image

CreditNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It was a summer of dramatic change and reckless spending. Wade left the Heat for the Chicago Bulls, Duncan retired, and Derrick Rose, to much mockery, declared the Knicks to be a “superteam.” Durant’s decision to sign with the Warriors, which he made public in a July 4 article published via the Players Tribune, naturally overshadowed it all.

Image

CreditDan Hamilton/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

It should have been the most seismic move of the off-season, but speculation that LeBron James would join the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent had been rampant for so long — and the decision was made so quickly — that it was hard to feign surprise when the deal was announced on July 1.

Then the Lakers were upstaged twice.

On the day after James’s commitment to L.A., news broke that DeMarcus Cousins, the former All-Star center who was working his way back from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, was joining the Warriors on a one-year bargain contract worth just $5.3 million.

Image

CreditBen Margot/Associated Press

The Cousins signing, to many, presumably made the 2018-19 season a foregone conclusion.

But a different deal decided the season. Masai Ujiri, president of the Toronto Raptors, shocked the N.B.A. by trading away his franchise star, DeMar DeRozan, in a mid-July swap that netted Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. It seemed to be an enormous risk, with the Raptors coming off a 59-win season. Also both players Ujiri acquired were, effectively, rentals. On top of that, Leonard’s health was in doubt after he sat out nearly all of the 2017-18 season in San Antonio.

But Ujiri’s off-season dice rolls, which also included his decision to replace Coach Dwane Casey, led to Toronto’s first title. James, for the first since 2005, missed the playoffs entirely.

Stephen Curry Finally Gets Some Rest (but Only From Basketball)

Stephen Curry woke up sore on Thursday.

He had good reason: It had been only a week since his Golden State Warriors lost a grueling N.B.A. finals series to the Toronto Raptors.

In the last five seasons, Curry has played in 93 playoff games, adding more than the equivalent of a full 82-game regular season to his workload. He said he had not picked up a basketball since his team’s Game 6 loss and did not plan to play competitively for another month or so. He has to recover from what he called “knickknack injuries” and sore legs, which can be masked by the adrenaline of a deep postseason run.

“Your mind is powerful because it keeps you feeling better than you really are,” Curry said.

And this was a season in need of that kind of self-deception.

Just one week removed from what can only be described as a crushing end to his 2018-19 season, Curry invited a New York Times reporter to ride with him for about an hour as he was driven from his home to San Francisco International Airport to fly to Asia for his fifth tour there with Under Armour. From the back of the vehicle — a cross between a stretch limousine and a party bus that resembled a rolling spaceship — Curry spoke at length about the uncertainty of the Warriors heading into next season, his off-court aspirations and his willingness to get involved in politics.

ImageCurry has hosted guests like the 76ers’ Joel Embiid, left, on his YouTube show, “5 Minutes From Home.”

The next several months have much in store for Curry, a 31-year-old basketball savant who, after 10 seasons, is already thinking hard about life after basketball. No, he won’t be making a cameo in LeBron James’s production of “Space Jam 2” (he was asked but said no, citing scheduling issues), but he will probably field a call or two from former President Barack Obama (he said they are in contact about once a month).

He has ramped up projects for his production company, Unanimous Media, which he formed last year with his partners Jeron Smith and Erick Peyton. Its name nods to Curry’s unanimous selection as the league’s most valuable player in 2016.

That was a good year. But Curry will soon encounter one of the biggest challenges of his career on a basketball court, after devastating injuries to his teammates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in the finals that will keep them out for much of next season, if not all of it. That is, of course, if they are re-signed by the Warriors to begin with, since both can be free agents. At this stage of Curry’s career, when he should be able to take a step back and manage his body, he may have to handle an even bigger offensive load.

“I run a lot more than the next guy,” Curry said. “There’s really just an understanding of my training and the things I do to get myself ready. I can withstand that type of output night after night. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to require another level of discipline.”

He will probably not have the option of “load management,” a term that has entered the N.B.A. vocabulary to describe players sitting out regular-season games so they can be fresher for the playoffs. After years of benefiting from a team with exceptional firepower, Curry, one of the greatest offensive players in history, could find himself as the firepower.

Image

Curry said that he could not see himself playing until age 40, but that he wasn’t worried about extra weight in spite of his injury history. He said he was ready to dig deep — even though “I don’t know who our starting lineup is going to be next year.”

“This regular season was the hardest one we’ve ever had in terms of keeping everything together,” Curry said. “Not because of anything more than it’s just mentally challenging to perform at this level every single night. When we got to the playoffs, it was the most fun I think we’ve had, minus the injuries, obviously. That was tough all the way across the board.

“But it was as fun, if not more, than years past. Because one, we were challenged. Two, there was a constant communication in the locker room like, ‘Yo, this is what we live for.’”

They ended the season on their home floor, at Oracle Arena, but it was the Raptors who were celebrating a championship. Then the scene suddenly changed. As Toronto’s players and their family and friends flooded the court, Masai Ujiri, the Raptors’ president, was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy who would not let him on the court because he said he did not have the proper credential. (The police said Ujiri, who is black, struck a white officer in the face, though some bystanders have disputed this account; prosecutors are investigating the incident.)

“You know what’s crazy? I saw him after,” Curry said, referring to Ujiri. “I didn’t know anything about this situation. But looking back, I saw his face and I could tell something had happened.”

Image

Curry said he had seen cellphone videos from bystanders and read the news reports about the incident.

“If he didn’t do anything wrong, obviously, you’d hope that it was handled in a better fashion,” he said. “Especially for a guy that was going out and trying to celebrate with his team that had done something historical. So I don’t know if that was a white G.M. or whatever, if that’s handled differently. You can always play the what-if game.”

The incident became part of long-running discussions about race and policing in the United States, a topic Curry said he is passionate about along with gun violence. He was an executive producer for “Emanuel,” a Brian Ivie-directed documentary released last week about the 2015 mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C.

In recent years, Curry has been more likely to be political, such as when he spoke out against President Trump in 2017 or when he invited Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, Calif., to be a guest on his YouTube show. He also appeared with Obama at an event in Oakland this year. One of Curry’s partners at Unanimous Media, Smith, worked in the White House’s office of digital strategy under Obama.

But don’t expect Curry to be involved in 2020 campaigning, as James and J.R. Smith, the Cleveland Cavaliers guard, were for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Image

CreditEric McCandless/ABC

“Let’s just say that I don’t have a relationship with anybody that’s running,” Curry said. “Maybe that will develop over time. But I haven’t gotten into that game yet.”

But he did say the stakes of the next presidential election were “extremely high,” “especially with how these last four years have been in terms of exposing a lot of nastiness that still exists in our country.”

Amid the tension in the United States, and even in the locker rooms of the N.B.A., Curry has been working to bring forth family friendly and personally meaningful entertainment through his production company. Curry is an executive producer of “Holey Moley,” a miniature golf reality show that had its television premiere on Thursday night after being promoted relentlessly by ABC during the N.B.A. finals, and was also one for “Breakthrough,” a faith-based drama that premiered around Easter. On YouTube, Curry has “5 Minutes From Home,” his version of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” in which he has hosted guests like the actor Daveed Diggs.

Curry said that he wanted to express the full breadth of his interests and that he could see himself writing scripts down the road. Some of his work has dealt with the lives of college athletes, who he said “definitely should get paid.”

But in the meantime, he is still in the prime of his basketball career. He doesn’t have many of those years left — and discussions about where Curry stands among N.B.A. greats are beginning to intensify. He attracts his fair share of criticism. His playoff failures — if you can call them that — are often cited as evidence that maybe he has always been more flash than substance. He hasn’t been voted the most valuable player in the finals, for example, something critics point at to diminish his accomplishments. Curry is aware of the noise, but he said he didn’t care much for the narratives.

“The only regret I do have is the behind-the-back pass I threw in 2016 in Game 7,” he said, referring to a crucial turnover with just about five minutes left in the game, which the Warriors lost. “That’s literally the only regret I have in terms of how I’ve played, and that comes with wins and losses, right? I’m cool.”

Masai Ujiri Could Be Charged in Altercation After Raptors’ Title Win, Authorities Say

Masai Ujiri, the president of basketball operations and general manager of the Toronto Raptors, may be charged with assault after an altercation with a California sheriff’s deputy late Thursday, shortly after his team won Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals, the authorities said on Friday.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said that it would pursue misdemeanor assault charges against Mr. Ujiri, one of the N.B.A.’s most celebrated front-office executives.

The incident is said to have occurred at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., moments after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors to give Canada its first N.B.A. championship.

Mr. Ujiri made his way to the court to join the celebrating team, but an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy stopped him because he did not have the proper credentials, said Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

The deputy was not aware that Mr. Ujiri was a high-ranking team executive until after the altercation, Sergeant Kelly said.

The sheriff’s office said that Mr. Ujiri tried to push the deputy out of the way. After several shoves back and forth, Mr. Ujiri struck the deputy’s face, according to Sergeant Kelly.

At that point, several others pulled Mr. Ujiri away from the deputy and onto the court.

Journalists posted videos that caught the end of the incident, showing a man pleading with deputies to allow Mr. Ujiri to pass.

Mr. Ujiri was not arrested at the arena. “Instead of creating a more significant incident at this international postgame event, we decided to take the high road and cease and desist,” Sergeant Kelly said.

“What we’re now doing is compiling witness statements and video body cam evidence to submit to the D.A. next week for review,” he added. “It’s up to the D.A. to file charges for misdemeanor assault on a police officer.”

Greg Wiener, a 61-year-old Warriors fan and season ticket holder, told The Associated Press that he witnessed the encounter and did not see Mr. Ujiri strike the deputy in the face. Mr. Wiener said the deputy did not ask for credentials before putting his hand on Mr. Ujiri’s chest and pushing him, at which point Mr. Ujiri shoved back before bystanders intervened, The A.P. reported.

Sergeant Kelly said that security had been heightened because it was the Warriors’ last game at Oracle Arena before the team moves to San Francisco.

“We were told by the N.B.A. and security officials to strictly enforce the credential policy,” Sergeant Kelly said.

The Raptors’ path to the championship was largely orchestrated by Mr. Ujiri, who is Nigerian and one of the few black general managers in a league dominated by black players but largely controlled by white team owners and front-office executives. Mr. Ujiri won the N.B.A.’s executive of the year award in 2013 when he was with the Denver Nuggets.

“We are in contact with the Raptors and local authorities and in the process of gathering more information,” Michael Bass, an N.B.A. spokesman, said on Friday.

The Raptors could not be reached for comment. The Oakland Police Department said it was also investigating the matter.

About the Warriors’ Excess Timeout: It Was Not a Tribute to Chris Webber

[Want more basketball in your inbox? Sign up for Marc Stein’s weekly N.B.A. newsletter here.]

To those familiar with basketball history, the Golden State Warriors’ last-second desperation in Game 6 on Thursday probably spurred a wave of recognition.

With less than 10 seconds left in the game, the Warriors, trailing by a point, had an opportunity to — once again — improbably extend the finals against the Toronto Raptors. Danny Green, the Raptors guard, had just turned the ball over by throwing it away.

Klay Thompson, who had left in the third quarter with a knee injury, was not an option for a depleted Golden State team playing its final game at Oracle Arena. But still, the Warriors had made just enough baskets and just enough defensive stops to have a chance to win. They also still had Stephen Curry, a two-time most valuable player who has hit dramatic shots his whole career.

The last play, as it seemed to have been drawn up by Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, involved a risky cross-court pass from Andre Iguodala to Draymond Green, who somehow wrangled the ball in the low post. Curry got free and caught a pass from Green for an open look.

The 3-pointer bounced off the back of the rim.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. There were still five seconds left. The ball bounced loose. DeMarcus Cousins looked as if he had a shot at the offensive rebound, but he couldn’t get his hands on it — so the ball rolled, and kept rolling, all the way to half-court, where no one could get control. The clock ticked down to one second. Multiple Golden State players dived on the ball and claimed possession. Iguodala, and others, called for a timeout.

Except the Warriors didn’t have any left.

Kerr smiled and put his arm around Curry. It doesn’t happen often, but this is one situation where the punishment is clear: Calling a timeout when you have none is a technical foul. The game was sealed. Canada was about to claim its first N.B.A. championship, while the Golden State dynasty was, fittingly, finally out of time.

The play was reminiscent of one of the most infamous moments in college basketball history: Chris Webber’s calling for a timeout near the end of the 1993 N.C.A.A. championship game. Trapped by North Carolina players in the final seconds of the final, Webber — one of the star’s of Michigan’s so-called Fab Five lineup that year — signaled for a timeout to relieve the pressure.

The Wolverines then, like the Warriors now, didn’t have any.

“Honestly, Golden State deserves a ton of respect for using their final night ever at Oracle Arena to deliver a touching tribute to Warriors legend Chris Webber,” one Twitter user said.

The violation is considered an “excessive timeout,” and a technical foul. But in a strange quirk, the team still gets the timeout. The downside is that the opposing team is awarded a free throw and also gets possession, according to the N.B.A. rule book.

“Following the timeout and free throw attempt, the ball will be awarded to the team which shot the free throw and play shall resume with a throw-in nearest the spot where play was interrupted,” according to the N.B.A.

A team could fake an injury to get the timeout instead. Maybe. But with the ball rolling across the court and the seconds ticking down, not to mention Golden State’s injury streak this postseason, the Warriors may not have wanted to tempt the basketball gods.

Here’s what the rule book says about that:

“If a team has no timeouts remaining and a player is injured and cannot be removed from the playing court during a stoppage of play, no excessive timeout will be charged and play will resume when playing conditions are safe.”

Now, if the Warriors were playing in the 1970s, they might have been able to get away with it. Recall Game 5 of the 1976 N.B.A. Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns, known as one of the greatest games in N.B.A. history. In the second overtime, Paul Westphal called a timeout for Phoenix with one second left. But the Suns were out of them.

John Havlicek had just made what appeared to be a game-winning jumper for the Celtics. At that time, Westphal’s timeout request was a technical foul — a free throw for the other team — but the offending team still got to keep the ball. So after the free throw, the Suns had the ball, trailing by 2 points, and Gar Heard hit a buzzer-beating jumper to send the game to a third overtime. (There was no 3-point line back then.)

The Celtics eventually won, 128-126.

Golden State’s situation wasn’t quite that, but it was not analogous to Webber’s error, either. For one thing, if the timeout wasn’t called, the Warriors would have lost the game right then. The ball was at half-court and there was almost no way to get a shot off in the remaining second. Taking the technical, hoping for free-throw misses and a turnover was the Warriors’ last, best hope.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Kawhi Leonard made the technical free throw, and then hit two more after he was fouled on the inbound play.

At that point, down by 4 with a fraction of a second left, the Warriors were out of something more important: time.

Raptors vs. Warriors Score: Live Updates from Game 6

Image

Toronto’s Kyle Lowry has been hot early, scoring the Raptors’ first 11 points in Game 6.CreditKyle Terada/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Want more basketball in your inbox? Sign up for Marc Stein’s weekly N.B.A. newsletter here.

Alright, we're at the end of one half of great championship ball. Raptors shoot their way to a 3 point lead at halftime, 60 – 57. Lowry with 21. Thompson with 18 for the Warriors. I'm @SopanDeb. See you all in a bit. Read our updates here:https://t.co/jsZHSOYGXV

— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) June 14, 2019

The Raptors were better, the Warriors were scrappier and Toronto went into halftime at Oracle up, 60-57.

The lead honestly felt like it should be much larger for the Raptors. They shot the ball well, they harassed Golden State’s shooters, and they forced 10 turnovers. Kyle Lowry, who scored Toronto’s first 11 points, is up to 21, Pascal Siakam has 13 and Serge Ibaka closed the first half on a tear, repeatedly getting to the basket against Golden State’s small lineup, and has 10 off the bench.

But somehow, some way, the Warriors are staying in the game. Klay Thompson has nearly matched Lowry with 18 points, picking up 8 from the free-throw line, Andre Iguodala has 11, showing off a nice array of dunks, and Draymond Green is being his usual versatile self with 4 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.

The stars of the teams have been a bit quieter. Stephen Curry is being his usual disruptive self with his off-ball movement, but he’s scored just 9 points on 2 of 7 shooting. Kawhi Leonard has 9 points and 2 rebounds and picked up a costly third foul late in the quarter — one that gave Thompson three free points.

Golden State seems to have a choice: Go small to open up the offense (which lets Ibaka dominate inside), or go big to solidify its defense (leaving just one shooter on the court). Neither option is particularly appealing and Toronto, trying to close out a championship on the road, seems to be working to force an advantage no matter what the Warriors choose.

Scott Cacciola: I wrote about Kyle Lowry after he did a lot of little stuff to help the Raptors win Game 1. He did not exactly clutter the box score. Well, he has done everything for Toronto tonight: scoring, passing, leading, steadying. For all the change that the Raptors have undergone in recent seasons to shape themselves into bona fide contender, Lowry has been a constant. And he, more than anyone else in the franchise, with the possible exception of Masai Ujiri, the team’s president of basketball operations, has been through the most, including the many lows. He is doing all he can to try to end this thing tonight, on the highest of highs.

2nd Quarter: Toronto is missing Marc Gasol.

Stephen Curry came back into the game and Golden State went on an immediate 6-0 run to take a lead, 44-43.

The offensive push was all about Curry’s ability to move with and without the ball. He had defenders trailing him all over the court, helping set up two dunks: one by Kevon Looney, and one by Andre Iguodala on a feed from Draymond Green. Curry tossed in a little floater of his own while trying to draw a foul.

The incredible thing for the Raptors is how tight this game is despite Kawhi Leonard having just 4 points and Marc Gasol having just 1. All of their offense has been Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. Leonard can explode at any time, but so far he’s just 2 of 5 from the field and appears to be getting frustrated.

Scott Cacciola: Kawhi Leonard has had a quiet start, but the Raptors have gotten absolutely nothing from Marc Gasol, who’s missed all four of his field-goal attempts and just committed a turnover. It probably goes without saying that the Raptors can’t rely on Kyle Lowry to keep carrying them: Contributions from the likes of Gasol would be welcome.

2nd Quarter: Paging Stephen Curry …

The Warriors went to a big lineup, with Steph Curry out and DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney both in, and while they started the second quarter well they started to fall behind thanks to Toronto’s outside shooting. With the Raptors leading, 43-38, Steve Kerr was forced to take a timeout.

Pascal Siakam hit another 3-pointer, making him 3 of 4 in the game after a stretch coming into the game in which he’d missed 12 straight, and Fred VanVleet is continuing his streak as a great bench scorer, with two 3-pointers in nine minutes of action.

For the Warriors to be able to score against Toronto’s terrific defense, they may not be able to have many stretches in which both Klay Thompson and Curry aren’t on the floor.

The Raptors led 8-0 and 11-2, but at the close of the first quarter their advantage had shrunk to 33-32 thanks to a 7-0 run by Golden State near the end of the period that included a smooth 3-point play by DeMarcus Cousins and a wide-open 3-pointer from Draymond Green.

Kyle Lowry is definitely the story of the game so far, with 15 points after going 4 for 4 from 3-point range, but Klay Thompson has 10, Stephen Curry — after a very quiet start to the game — has 7, and Cousins, who thus far has been making an impact since coming into the game in place of Kevon Looney.

There have already been a combined 22 3-pointers attempted in this game, with both teams trying to bury the other.

1st Quarter: Klay is in Game 6 mode.

Nick Nurse brought in Serge Ibaka and Steve Kerr countered with DeMarcus Cousins, with both teams going for some size shortly before a timeout. So far the Raptors are up 26-22, a lead that seems far too small considering how well they shot the ball early.

Since the 3-pointer explosion from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam, the Golden State response has been a lot of Klay Thompson. He came into the game with a reputation for big Game 6s and he has 10 points in the first quarter. Stephen Curry, meanwhile, has yet to attempt a field goal, and Kawhi Leonard has just 2 points.

1st Quarter: Siakam is off to a better start this time.

Scott Cacciola: Pascal Siakam, a breakout star for Toronto in the playoffs, is coming off a quiet effort in his team’s Game 5 loss: 12 points on 6 of 15 shooting. Before tonight’s game, Coach Nick Nurse was asked about Siakam’s struggles. Nurse said he was not concerned.

“I think he’s proven all playoffs long, and even all season long, that he’s a prime-time player,” Nurse said. “The other night, if you want me to be totally candid, I wasn’t happy with his defensive effort. I thought he just could have done more. He could have been more active.”

Siakam definitely appears more active tonight, on both ends. He’s already got a couple of 3s to help the Raptors to their hot start.

1st Quarter: Andre Iguodala is aggressive early.

At the first timeout the Raptors are up 17-12, having cooled off at a least a little after Kyle Lowry got them off to such an incredible start.

Toronto is 5 of 7 from 3-point range — with two coming from Pascal Siakam who had been struggling — but Golden State is forcing its way to the basket to make up for some early 3s not falling.

Maybe the most notable part of the game for Golden State’s offense is Andre Iguodala looking aggressive and Stephen Curry, so far, being quiet beyond a few free throws.

Scott Cacciola: During the first timeout, they showed a tribute to Kevin Durant on the video board, featuring highlights of the injured star and audio clips from his teammates. A “K-D! K-D!” chant broke out in the crowd. Before the game, several teammates wore warm-up shirts bearing Durant’s name and number, 35.

1st Quarter: Is that really Kyle Lowry?

Kyle Lowry got off to an incredible start to the game, going on a personal 8-0 run with a layup and a pair of 3-pointers. Golden State finally got on the board when Kevon Looney drove to the basket for a dunk, but then Lowry connected again with another 3-pointer giving him 11 for the game. The veteran guard seems on a mission to get this game off to a huge start for Toronto.

Scott Cacciola: It may come as some surprise to viewers at home that the crowd was very loud before the game, this being the N.B.A. finals and all — in addition to it being final game at Oracle Arena. But Kyle Lowry: Crafty Veteran is absolutely taking the life out of this place. It is really quiet. So soon. So suddenly.

Kevon Looney, playing his way through a severe chest injury, started the game at center for Golden State and lost the tip to Toronto’s Marc Gasol. Game 6, the last N.B.A. game at Oracle, is officially underway.

Starting lineups

Warriors/Raptors

Stephen Curry/Kyle Lowry

Klay Thompson/Danny Green

Andre Iguodala/Kawhi Leonard

Draymond Green/Pascal Siakam

Kevon Looney/Marc Gasol

N.B.A. Finals Live Updates: Can the Raptors Close Out the Warriors?

Image

Game 6 is the final night of the season for Oracle Arena, but will it be the end of the Golden State Warriors’ season, too?CreditNathan Denette/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Want more basketball in your inbox? Sign up for Marc Stein’s weekly N.B.A. newsletter here.

Who: The Golden State Warriors vs. the Toronto Raptors

What: Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals; Toronto leads the series, 3-2

Where: Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

When: 9 p.m. Eastern Time tonight

How to watch

In the United States

TV — ABC; Streaming — WatchESPN

In Canada

Kevin Durant’s dramatic comeback only lasted 12 minutes, and it ended in a catastrophic injury, but the superstar forward’s incredible start to Game 5 helped propel the Golden State Warriors to a season-extending victory in Toronto.

Now the Oracle, the N.B.A.’s longest serving arena, will get one more night to shine. After an awkward Game 4 loss there for Golden State, when everyone knew it could be the last game in Oakland but couldn’t be sure, there will be no ambiguity tonight. Whether the Warriors win — pushing the series to a decisive Game 7 in Toronto on Sunday — or lose — ending their season without a championship — after tonight, the Warriors will play their home games at San Francisco’s Chase Center. The Oracle’s farewell party will come without Durant, who had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles’ tendon just yesterday.

For the Raptors, Game 6 is a second chance to clinch the team’s first title. Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and the rest of Toronto’s terrific ensemble cast have, at times, looked dominant in these finals. With Golden State undermanned and emotionally drained, the Raptors could easily take advantage and clinch a championship on the road in an arena in which the Warriors of recent vintage had been nearly unbeatable.

But now the Warriors are beat up. Andre Iguodala is nursing various injuries — he describes most of them as part of being “old” — Stephen Curry is still dealing with a dislocated finger, Klay Thompson has a tender hamstring and Kevon Looney, who is expected to suit up, re-aggravated a cartilage injury in his chest that had the big man playing one-handed for much of Game 5.

But that group, along with the versatile Draymond Green, was able to hold off a late charge from Toronto in Game 5, and knowing this is the last game at Oracle could bring out the players’ best.

Nobody is hotter than Klay Thompson.

Why was Klay Thompson’s absence in Game 3 such a big deal? Because his shot is falling — even better than the five-time All-Star is accustomed to. Thompson is 20 of 35 from 3-point range in the finals, giving him an absurd percentage of 57.1 percent from downtown. By comparison, Stephen Curry, usually the better shooter of the two, is 20 of 56 (35.7 percent) and Toronto’s most prolific outside shooter, Kawhi Leonard, is 14 of 37 (37.8 percent).

Thompson, whose career mark from 3-point range is 41.9 percent, is known for outrageous hot streaks, and beyond the game missed because of a hamstring injury, this whole series has been a hot streak.

Kyle Lowry is quieting the critics.

Kyle Lowry did not have the best reputation when he got to Toronto, and even in the recent past he was questioned for things like conditioning and killer instinct. His maturity has shown up throughout this series. He was a model of restraint in Game 3 when he was shoved by Mark Stevens, a partial owner of the Warriors, and he helped quiet the crowd at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena following the injury to Kevin Durant in Game 5, making his displeasure with their cheering Durant’s misfortune known loud and clear.

He’s even found a way to stay aggressive in the last few games without getting too deep into foul trouble. He was whistled for five fouls in Game 1, and he fouled out of Game 2, but he’s had no more than four fouls in a game since as he does his best, with help from Fred VanVleet, to contain Stephen Curry.

Toronto needs consistency from Kawhi.

Kawhi Leonard’s box score in Game 5 looked fine, with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists, but he was playing well below his typical standards for much of the game, only to flip a switch and become unstoppable in the fourth quarter. What eventually did stop him — and may have cost the Raptors the game — was Coach Nick Nurse calling a timeout in the middle of Leonard’s one-man takeover.

Nurse explained later that if he hadn’t taken the timeout his team would have lost it, but Leonard lost his spark. On the game-sealing 3-pointer by Klay Thompson, it was Leonard who overcommitted on a pump fake, falling helplessly toward the sideline while Thompson nailed a wide-open shot.

Leonard is still averaging 29.8 points and 10.6 rebounds a game in these finals, and would be named most valuable player of the finals if the Raptors hold on to win. But on the road, Toronto will need his production to be more consistent than it was in Game 5.

Draymond Green has been clutch for the Warriors, even without scoring.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson continue to take care of the bulk of Golden State’s scoring, with a combined average of 57.4 points a game in the finals, but Draymond Green does everything else. The power forward and small-ball center is leading his team with averages of 9.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.4 steals a game to go along with 12.8 points. He continues to be tentative with his shot, and has passed up multiple wide-open 3-point attempts in the series, but his passing and his defensive versatility make him the second-most important player on the court for Golden State behind Curry.

Adding to a career full of highlights in playoff games, he helped secure the win in Game 5 by both assisting on Thompson’s go-ahead 3-pointer and subsequently blocking Kyle Lowry’s attempted buzzer beater on the other end.

A Basketball Mecca That Just Needed a Name

Originally called the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, The Oracle opened in 1966 and became the Warriors’ full-time home in 1971.CreditCreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

June 13, 2019

It was the unexpected gift that helped set the stage for one of the greatest runs in N.B.A. history.

On Oct. 20, 2006, the Golden State Warriors announced that Oracle, a Bay Area software behemoth, had purchased the naming rights to the team’s arena. It was the type of deal that is routinely mocked — let us never forget Houston’s Enron Field. But this one was different.

Saddled for 30 years with the moniker Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, the concrete-and-glass temple chugged along with a reputation for boisterous fans and a name so cumbersome that no one quite knew what to call it. An attempt to rebrand it as simply The Arena after an interior overhaul in 1997 took the venue’s name from overly specific to woefully generic, and a two-year period in which it was called the Oakland Arena was at best a mild improvement.

Enter Larry Ellison’s company, which gave the Warriors a modest 10-year deal to call the place the Oracle. It was a corporate name, not unlike the former Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego or Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena or the N.B.A.’s two — (2) — arenas named for American Airlines. But this one, somehow, was cool.

It was not Oracle Arena, at least not to anyone who went there. It was the Oracle, or just Oracle.

Suddenly a team mired in a seemingly endless stretch of basketball irrelevance had a name worthy of its arena, a building that somehow found itself as the longest-tenured venue in the N.B.A. Open two years before Madison Square Garden, and 24 before the league’s third-oldest venue, Target Center in Minneapolis, the Oracle was beloved despite sitting in an ocean-size parking lot in East Oakland. It was a sharp-dressed elder statesman whose fraternal twin, the Coliseum, became known as much for leaking sewage as for its M.L.B. and N.F.L. teams.

Image

Fans greeted the Golden State Warriors returning to the Bay Area after winning the 1975 N.B.A. championship.CreditThe Associated Press

Image

The Warriors were the N.B.A.’s best regular season team in 1975-76, but they lost the Western Conference finals to the Phoenix Suns in a Game 7 in Oakland. They wouldn’t reach the conference finals again until 2015.CreditJohn Storey/Associated Press

Image

The facade of the arena has remained largely unchanged since 1966, but a huge interior renovation in 1997 paved the way for it to eventually become the Oracle.CreditDigital First Media Group/The Mercury News, via Getty Images

The change to the Oracle came four years before Joe Lacob and Peter Guber purchased the Warriors from Chris Cohan and brought a Silicon Valley attitude to an East Bay team. But the deal with a tech giant was the disruption the team needed to start its transition from laughingstock to powerhouse.

Starting with the 2019-20 season, the Warriors will play across the Bay in San Francisco’s Chase Center, a gleaming cash register more suited to a once-in-a-lifetime collection of talent. But it’s worth remembering, as Golden State prepares to face the Toronto Raptors in Thursday’s Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals — the last N.B.A. game at Oracle — that for the majority of the Warriors’ 47 seasons in Oakland, the building and its fans were far more impressive than the team on the court.

Of course, some of those die-hard fans were pushed to the side well in advance of the move to San Francisco. They were fans who rooted for the great teams, like Rick Barry’s 1975 N.B.A. champions, and the fun teams, like Run T.M.C. The fans kept coming, and kept cheering, even when the team was cartoonishly horrible.

They caught the tail end of Nate Thurmond’s brilliant tenure with the franchise, and they adored Chris Mullin, but they cheered just as loudly for Larry Smith and Adonal Foyle. And they promised they were laughing with Manute Bol and not at the lanky giant.

Those fans got their moment in the sun, at least briefly, with the We Believe team in 2007. A national audience took in the overwhelming noise of the arena — in its first season as the Oracle — and saw its crowd power the underdog Warriors to a first-round upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks.

Image

In 2007, the Warriors unexpectedly made the playoffs and advanced to the second round. A national audience got to see just how loud the Oracle could be.CreditSara Wolfram/Getty Images

But that was also the beginning of the end of an era. Thanks to Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes, liking the Warriors — the perpetually awful Warriors — had inexplicably become cool. And with Oakland surrounded by far-wealthier communities, it was only a matter of time before the die-hards were either priced out or confronted with the impossible decision of whether to hold onto their tickets when selling them could turn an outrageous profit. (A pair of floor seats for Thursday’s game sold for more than $100,000 on Tuesday.)

For the Oracle to end up with such a celebrated send-off is a departure from a lifetime in which it usually couldn’t catch a break. Built in 1966, the arena has been Golden State’s home for all but one season since the 1971-72 campaign. The Warriors had won a pair of titles in their Philadelphia days, but it took them until 1975 to win another. And in a move that continues to baffle people, Barry’s team played its home games in that finals at the Cow Palace in Daly City rather than at home in Oakland, because the Coliseum Arena was unavailable: The Ice Follies were in town. Golden State ended up clinching that series at the Washington Bullets’ Capital Centre.

In 1976 the Warriors came back even stronger, finishing as the top team in the N.B.A.’s regular season. But the fans in Oakland saw that promising season go up in smoke with a loss to the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

And that’s when the dark times began. Over the next 38 seasons, the Warriors failed to make the playoffs 29 times, and in the nine seasons they did qualify they never made it out of the second round.

Image

Baron Davis led a basketball resurgence for the Warriors in the mid-2000s, but the team’s newfound success helped lead to die-hard fans being priced out of the team’s arena.CreditJeff Chiu/Associated Press

Image

Celebrities eventually flocked to Oracle — Jay-Z and Beyoncé were at Game 3 of this year’s finals — but E-40, above, an icon of the East Bay hip-hop scene, has been a sideline fixture for years.CreditNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Image

The 2017 finals saw the Warriors finally clinch a title in Oakland, but by then tickets to games at the venue had become outrageously expensive.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

In 2015, when the Warriors finally won another championship, Stephen Curry and the gang clinched at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena. It wasn’t until 2017 that the Warriors, with a Game 5 win over the Cavaliers, won a title on their home court in Oakland.

In all, five of the franchise’s six championships were clinched outside Oakland. If the Warriors are to overcome what was once a three-games-to-one deficit against the Raptors in these finals, to win a third consecutive championship, they will have to do it on the road again.

The future of both Oracle and the Coliseum next door remains up in the air. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas, the Warriors are shifting to San Francisco and the Athletics are trying to build a new stadium on Oakland’s waterfront. There has been talk of a housing development and of trying to use the Oracle and Coliseum land to benefit the surrounding community. But in an overlooked section of an overlooked city, it will fade from the national consciousness. One saving grace is that when they come to tear down the arena some day — and that day will probably come before too long — we will at least know what to call it.

It was the Oracle. And for five years, right at the end, it finally got to be the center of the basketball universe.

Image

Many thought Game 4 of this year’s finals would be the last N.B.A. game at Oracle. A shocking Game 5 victory in Toronto brought the team back for one more night.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times