OHL Commissioner David Branch discusses upcoming season
October 30 2020
Can Jamal Murray’s historical play in the bubble be sustained next season and beyond? Will he become an All-Star?
HoopsHype posed those questions to two general managers, one executive and three scouts to get the answers.
“I think All-Star is likely, but I would argue he’s been playing at All-NBA borderline superstar level in the bubble,” one Eastern Conference general manager told HoopsHype. “That level I’m not sure about.”
Murray shot 50.5 percent from the field, 45.3 percent from three-point range and 89.7 percent from the foul line this postseason. How good are those numbers? Since the NBA added three-pointers in the 1979-80 season, only Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Malcolm Brogdon have shot 50-40-90 over a full season.
“I don’t know if he can shoot this consistently over time, but he’s still a very good player,” one Western Conference scout told HoopsHype. “He’s probably a guy who can be an All-Star, but not a game-changer like this like a superstar level. I’m not sure he can do that consistently. Maybe he can, he’s still young, but I’d bet a little lower than what he’s doing right now.”
In Game 4, Murray displayed a new bag of tricks in his scoring repertoire with an off-balance left-handed floater, a high-arching one-handed fall away shot over Anthony Davis, and an up-and-under layup that drew comparisons to Michael Jordan.
After leading the league in playoff minutes, and battling through a right knee contusion in Game 5, another Eastern Conference general manager believes Murray’s bubble play is sustainable and could be a preview of him scratching the surface of his potential.
“I expect him to continue to get better,” the general manager told HoopsHype. “His confidence should be through the roof going into next season. He can score so many ways. He doesn’t have the pressure to create for others since they play through (Nikola) Jokic.”
Murray proved to be a willing passer averaging 6.6 assists in the playoffs, but his mentality has always been scorer-first. Murray dropped 20 or more points in seven straight playoff games. The last Nugget to do this in a single postseason was Carmelo Anthony in 2009.
“He’s an All-Star for years to come in my book,” one Eastern Conference scout told HoopsHype. “I forget which game it was, but in last year’s playoffs, he scored like 21 straight points to beat the Spurs in a game. He has a high-level skill and confidence with a green light.”
“It’s been pretty impressive,” another Western Conference scout told HoopsHype. “I feel it will springboard him into the All-Star conversation each year. He’ll make it, maybe just not every year.”
Next season, Murray begins his five-year, $170 million maximum-salary contract extension, so All-Star expectations are certainly warranted given his play in the bubble and upcoming paycheck.
While Murray is now on the verge of realizing his potential, the groundwork was laid several years ago while he was in high school. According to one Eastern Conference executive, Murray’s All-Star foundation was built while learning from a Canadian legend and playing against older competition.
“I don’t think it’s a fluke at all,” the executive told HoopsHype. “I saw him work out with Nash the year before he went to Kentucky and saw the talent then. It’s just a matter of time for him, not if, in my opinion. I’m happy that it’s coming together for him. During that time, he was a high school graduate going at Cory Joseph and CJ McCollum after Canadian National team practices.”
Those workouts with Nash, Joseph and McCollum raised Murray’s game rapidly. The former Kentucky Wildcat became the second Canadian to win MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic International Game in 2013. Two years later, Murray scored a game-high 30 points and was named MVP of the Nike Hoop Summit.
Soon, the Canadian guard could add some hardware for his country in the Olympics as well.
“He’s really becoming a superstar in the league,” Toronto Raptors and Canadian National team coach Nick Nurse said. The coach added all signs point to Murray playing for Canada.
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto
The Ontario Hockey League intends to make its return on Feb. 4, but how that return will look in practice may need to be different from what fans and players are accustomed to.
On Friday, shortly after the Ontario provincial government reaffirmed its stance that bodychecking and deliberate physical contact would not take place during sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic, OHL commissioner David Branch said the league will follow the results of scientific studies in crafting its return-to-play plan, but did not align his position fully with the province’s mandate.
“If there’s studies that really, clearly state that body contact is a contributor to the spread of the virus, then obviously we’ll have to look at it,” Branch said during an appearance on Sportsnet 590 THE FAN’s Writers Bloc. “But we’ve not looked at it yet.”
Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of sport, made clear in her Friday announcement solidifying the bodychecking ban, and in subsequent follow-up Tweets on the topic, that the mandate was an important part of playing sport during the COVID-19 era — and was not negotiable.
“Not just in the OHL, not just in hockey in general, but in all sports,” MacLeod said during a speech delivered to the Empire Club of Canada. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we have to take those public health precautions.”
According to Ontario’s “Framework For Reopening Our Province Stage 3,” a publicly available document released by the province that outlines best-practices for individuals and organizations during this stage of Ontario’s pandemic response, “prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports” is not permitted.
“Our public health officials have been clear,” MacLeod wrote on Twitter. “Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports is not permitted. We will continue to work with [the OHL] on a safe return to play.”
OHL Commissioner David Branch discusses upcoming season
October 30 2020
The document goes on to say that in team sports where body contact between players is an integral component of the sport, or commonly occurs while engaged in the sport, those sports will not be permitted unless the way they’re played can be modified to prevent prolonged or deliberate physical contact.
“I suspect [the OHL] will have to modify their play until there is a vaccine or at the very least public health clearance that we have contained the spread of COVID-19,” MacLeod said on Friday.
In the summer, Ontario hosted the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, using Toronto as one of its hub cities, and did not require rule changes that would prevent prolonged or deliberate physical contact. The success of the NHL’s model — a sequestered bubble to limit exposure and remove travel risks, rigorous testing and contact tracing — would be challenging, if not impossible, for a league like the OHL to afford.
Ontario’s confirmation that bodychecking in the OHL would be subject to its reopening mandates comes as daily, reported COVID-19 cases hover near all-time highs.
Over the past seven days, the province has seen a daily average of nearly 900 new cases, according to publicly available tracking data.
“This isn’t politics and hockey,” MacLeod tweeted. “It is a global pandemic and we are guided by healthcare policy to mitigate against the spread of a deadly virus.”
It is not clear at this time how the policy banning “prolonged or deliberate physical contact” would impact other, non-bodychecking elements of hockey games such as battles for the puck along the boards.
Earlier this month, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League resumed play without any modifications to its rules. Its schedule has been disrupted by several COVID-19 outbreaks among teams, as well as provincial restrictions on travel.
The challenge the league experienced, in part, helped solidify Ontario’s decision that bodychecking cannot take place, MacLeod said. According to Branch, that policy decision has not factored into the OHL’s return-to-play planning to this point.
“We haven’t even contemplated that, quite frankly,” Branch said. “At the end of the day, so much of what we’re attempting to do is provide the opportunity for our players to get back on the ice. We have to take them into consideration here and what’s best for their development, their ongoing development.”
The Ontario Hockey League will not have bodychecking this coming season, according to Lisa MacLeod.
Ontario’s minister of sport said Friday afternoon in a speech delivered to the Empire Club of Canada that removing purposeful physical contact is a necessity for all sports in the province to slow the spread of COVID-19
“Not just in the OHL, not just in hockey in general, but in all sports,” said MacLeod. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we have to take those public health precautions.”
The OHL announced on Thursday that it plans to start a shortened season on Feb. 4, the last of Canada’s three major junior leagues to release a schedule.
WATCH | MacLeod says bodychecking barred from OHL:
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season started earlier this month, but the schedule has been affected by several COVID-19 outbreaks as well as provincial government restrictions. After play was restricted to Maritimes Division teams the past two weeks, some Quebec teams are scheduled to resume play this weekend.
MacLeod said the decision to ban bodychecking was influenced by the outbreaks in the QMJHL.
“I suspect [the OHL] will have to modify their play until there is a vaccine or at the very least public health clearance that we have contained the spread of COVID-19,” said MacLeod.
The MPP for Nepean said she normally has no problem with physical play in the sport, but the pandemic is an exceptional circumstance.
“I have done a lot of work on concussion awareness so I do take very seriously the safety but if done appropriately in regular times I wouldn’t,” MacLeod said.
NEW YORK — The Wilpon family’s control of the New York Mets neared its end after 34 years when Major League Baseball owners voted Friday to approve the sale of the team to billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.
The vote was 26-4, a person familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the balloting was not announced. Cohen needed 75% approval.
The transfer from the Wilpon and Katz families values the franchise at between $2.4 billion and $2.45 billion, a record for a baseball team that tops the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt to Guggenheim Baseball Management in 2012. The Mets sale is likely to close within 10 days.
Cohen pledged to inject about $9.5 million in additional payments this off-season for pandemic-hit employees.
“I am humbled that MLB’s owners have approved me to be the next owner of the New York Mets,” Cohen said in a statement. “Owning a team is a great privilege and an awesome responsibility.”
An entity controlled by Cohen will own 95% of the franchise, and the Wilpon and Katz families will retain 5% of the team.
Former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson will return as team president.
“My family and I are lifelong Mets fans, so we’re really excited about this,” Cohen said. “With free agency starting Sunday night, we will be working towards a quick close.”
Cohen said all Mets employees, including unionized groundskeepers, security guards and engineers, will receive restored pre-pandemic salaries as of Sunday that reverse 5-30% salary cuts begun in March. He valued the restoration at over $7 million.
A seasonal relief fund will start Sunday and run through opening day for about 1,000 Citi Field employees of subcontractors that makes each eligible for $500 monthly, a commitment of about $2.5 million.
Cohen pledged to “dramatically increase” giving by the Mets Foundation and to prioritize not-for-profits and causes in the Citi Field area. He agreed to donate $17.5 million to programs developed by New York City to make grants to area small businesses through the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Cohen made his announcement as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city does not object to the sale. The city had the right to review the proposed transfer of the lease of Citi Field, the Mets’ home since 2009.
The current Mets ownership group is headed by Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law Saul Katz and Wilpon’s son, Jeff, the team’s chief operating officer. Fred Wilpon turns 84 on Nov. 22 and Katz is 81.
“We appreciate Fred’s decades of service to league committees and the governance of the game,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Steve will bring his lifelong passion for the Mets to the stewardship of his hometown team, and he will be joined by highly respected baseball leadership as well. I believe that Steve will work hard to deliver a team in which Mets fans can take pride.”
The 64-year-old Cohen is CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management. He first bought an 8% limited partnership stake in the Mets in 2012 for $40 million.
“I know that Steve Cohen and his family share the same passion we’ve had for the Mets and for this city,” Fred Wilpon said in a statement. “Steve will continue, and will build upon, this organization’s longstanding commitment to the support of our community, and of those in need, which is especially important at this time. He shares the view that Saul, Jeff and I have long held, that ownership of the Mets is a public trust.”
The publisher Doubleday & Co. bought the Mets on Jan. 24, 1980, from the family of founding owner Joan Payson for $21.1 million, with the company owning 95% of the team and Wilpon controlling 5%.
When Doubleday & Co. was sold to Bertelsmann AG, the publisher sold its shares of the team on Nov. 14, 1986, for $80.75 million to Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, who became 50-50 owners.
Wilpon and his Sterling Equities partners completed his buyout of Doubleday on Aug. 23, 2002, ending what had become an acrimonious partnership. Under the original appraisal, Doubleday would have received $137.9 million — half the team’s $391 million value after accounting for debt. Wilpon sued, and the sides then settled.
The Mets failed to win any titles under the Wilpons’ time of sole control and their final dozen years were hampered by financial losses from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
“It has been a privilege and honour for our families to have been a part of this great franchise for the past 40 years,” Fred Wilpon said. “We would like to express our deep appreciation for our loyal and passionate fans, who have consistently supported this organization through the years. We’d also like to thank the many great players, managers, coaches and dedicated employees with whom we’ve been privileged to work with through the years.”
Cohen controlled SAC Capital Advisors, which in 2013 pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. SAC agreed to pay a $900 million fine and forfeit another $900 million to the federal government, though $616 million that SAC companies had already agreed to pay to settle parallel actions by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was to be deducted from the $1.8 billion.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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