How the NBA coronavirus suspension impacts every team in the Western Conference

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The NBA has suspended its season due to the spread of the coronavirus, and commissioner Adam Silver has stated the hiatus will last at least 30 days. On Sunday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported owners and executives are bracing for the possibility of mid-to-late June as a best-case scenario for a return.

As the league discusses its next steps, including if and when the 2019-20 season can resume, what could the suspension mean for each franchise?

Our NBA experts are breaking down where each team stood as the league pressed the pause button, and what an extended layoff could mean — starting with the Western Conference. On Tuesday, we will examine the impact on East teams.

Note: The order of teams is based on current conference standings.

MORE: Inside the tense few hours that changed the NBA

Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 49-14

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

“The Lake Show [is] the best team in the world right now,” Lakers center JaVale McGee said after his team went 2-0 against the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers at Staples Center. Within days of his statement, the world changed. After leading the West all season, the Lakers found another gear in the weeks before the hiatus, avenging losses not just to the Bucks and Clippers, but to the Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, winning 13 of their past 16. LeBron James was making a legitimate run at MVP, averaging 30 points on 55.1% shooting, 9.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds since the All-Star break; Anthony Davis was cementing himself as a leader in the Defensive Player of the Year race. They were looking like a title favorite.

What an extended layoff could mean

With James 35 years old and playing in his 17th season on a left groin that still gets sore from time to time stemming from the tear he suffered last season, there’s a potential benefit that comes with the time off should the Lakers make a deep playoff run. Then again, Lakers coach Frank Vogel will have to wait to integrate new pieces in Markieff Morris and Dion Waiters. And the Lakers will have to recalibrate the rhythm they were just tapping into.

— Dave McMenamin

LA Clippers
Record: 44-20

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

The hiatus came when the Clippers were beginning to feel the healthiest they’ve been all season, while building major confidence and momentum in a season full of inconsistency. They had won seven of eight, including a six-game winning streak that saw them dominate the likes of the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets. Their only loss was to the Lakers, who became the first team to beat the Clippers when they were at full strength this season. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were learning each other in a long stretch of games together, Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson were learning their new roles, and Doc Rivers was tinkering with a 10-deep rotation.

What an extended layoff could mean

Health has been a major concern this season. While Leonard had played in 11 straight games and George had played in eight straight when the season was paused, the time off will give Leonard (knee) and George (shoulders, hamstring) more rest if and when play resumes. The time off will also help Lou Williams (sore calf) and Patrick Beverley (groin) get stronger, as the Clippers have had very little practice time this season due to injuries and schedule. If teams can resume practicing before a potential restart, the Clippers will benefit tremendously from the extra time on court before making a playoff run.

— Ohm Youngmisuk

NBA season suspended

The NBA announced that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 2019-20 season would be suspended effective March 12. What we know and don’t know »

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Denver Nuggets
Record: 43-22

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

The last couple of weeks were rocky for the Nuggets. They played the last game before the announcement of the league’s suspension of play, and have the taste of a 16-point loss to Dallas lingering. Since Feb. 12, they are 5-6, with equal opportunity losses to both high-level teams (Lakers, Clippers, Thunder, Mavs) and baffling duds against bottom-dwellers (Cavs, Warriors). Before the Dallas game, coach Mike Malone was calling out his team (again) asking who they are, and who they want to be.

What an extended layoff could mean

After an attrition-filled January, the Nuggets had just finally gotten healthy recently. But there was certainly a smoothing process going on. The best way to figure it out is to play through it, but some time away could help Denver reset. It might’ve been as much of a focus issue as anything else, with them being a top-tier Western team stuck in the doldrums of the season, eager for the playoffs to start. Depending on how the season restarts, a little urgency could be a good thing for Denver.

— Royce Young

Utah Jazz
Record: 41-23

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

The Jazz had plenty of challenges before the franchise’s pair of All-Stars became public faces of the coronavirus crisis that has spread across the world and has finally hit the U.S. Since a 19-2 run, Utah has had a five-game losing streak, a four-game winning streak, a four-game losing streak, a five-game losing streak and a loss in its last game. Utah’s formerly dominant defense ranks 23rd in efficiency (115.2 points allowed per 100 possessions) since the All-Star break.

What an extended layoff could mean

The top priorities, obviously, are the recoveries of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell after they tested positive for COVID-19. Given their physical condition, both are expected to fully recover and be ready to play if the season resumes after a 30-day minimum suspension. It’s not as clear whether the relationship between Utah’s two franchise cornerstones will fully recover if Mitchell holds a grudge due to Gobert’s admittedly “careless” behavior that endangered others.

— Tim MacMahon

Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 40-24

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

If the ball had actually gone up on Wednesday against the Jazz, the game was going to be — improbably, from the Thunder side of things at least — for the current 4-seed in the West. It’s not that the Thunder had been surging; they just had continued to plod along, winning 71.7% of their games since Dec.1 while other teams rode the wave of inconsistency.

What an extended layoff could mean

Time off will allow the Thunder to return fully intact, with rookie power forward Darius Bazley (knee bruise) likely to be available. It could also reopen the door for Andre Roberson, who hasn’t played in an NBA game in two years after multiple setbacks from a ruptured patellar tendon but who was making progress in recent weeks toward a possible return. But with how well the Thunder play together, and the chemistry the team has, there will no doubt be some lost momentum.

— Young

Houston Rockets
Record: 40-24

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

“I told you hopefully last game we’d hit rock bottom,” coach Mike D’Antoni said after the Rockets rallied from a double-digit, second-half deficit at home to snap a four-game losing streak with a win over the Timberwolves. “Well, I can see it from where we are.” All the momentum the Rockets created after committing to small ball had screeched to a halt. A popular theory around the league: The toll of being undersized was showing in the Rockets’ poor 3-point shooting and defensive struggles.

What an extended layoff could mean

James Harden and P.J. Tucker, the only two 30-somethings among the top 10 minutes leaders this season, definitely look like they could benefit from a break. Harden’s efficiency has plummeted over the past two months, as he’s shooting only 40.0% from the floor and 31.0% from 3-point range since Jan. 1. Tucker had a team-worst negative-64 plus-minus during the Rockets’ 1-4 funk. Maybe Eric Gordon, who missed six weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery earlier in the season, can work his way into shape during the time off.

— MacMahon

Dallas Mavericks
Record: 40-27

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

In the wake of the season being suspended, coach Rick Carlisle called the short-handed Mavs’ victory over the Nuggets “one of the best regular-season wins I’ve been a part of.” It allowed the Mavs to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season. Kristaps Porzingis had the best five-week stretch of his career, averaging 27.7 points with a true shooting percentage of 64.6% over 13 games. But Porzingis had consecutive nine-point performances (7-of-32 shooting) in his last two games before sitting out the win over Denver due to a back-to-back.

What an extended layoff could mean

Luka Doncic’s battered body can heal. He has twice missed stretches because of sprains to his right ankle, which has continued to bother him. A left thumb sprain has been more problematic recently, causing him to miss one game a day after his 21st birthday. Doncic played the past two games with a sprained right wrist. Two other starters — shooting guard Seth Curry (ankle) and power forward Dorian Finney-Smith (hip) — have also been sidelined recently by relatively minor injuries.

— MacMahon

Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 32-33

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

Memphis managed to keep its head above water after stumbling out of the All-Star break with a five-game losing streak — and losing core pieces Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) and Brandon Clarke (quadriceps) to injuries during that stretch. The Grizzlies have won four of six games since then to maintain a firm grasp of eighth place in the West. Center Jonas Valanciunas (19.0 points and 15.7 rebounds per game over his past six) has stepped up to take some pressure off Rookie of the Year front-runner Ja Morant.

What an extended layoff could mean

It could give the Grizzlies some resemblance of a training camp with Justise Winslow, their prized trade acquisition who has been recovering from a back injury that has sidelined him almost all of the season. Winslow was on the verge of making his Memphis debut when the season was shut down. Jackson was days away from returning. Clarke should be recovered from his injury, as well, when or if the season resumes.

— MacMahon

Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 29-37

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

Portland was merely staying afloat in the Western Conference playoff race. Back-to-back losses over the weekend at Phoenix and home against Sacramento dropped the Blazers 3.5 games back of the Grizzlies for the eighth and final spot in the West. However, a win over the Suns on Tuesday in their most impressive performance since Damian Lillard returned from a groin strain helped Portland stay in a three-way tie for ninth.

What an extended layoff could mean

The Blazers might benefit more than any other team from postponing the stretch run. Portland was planning to get center Jusuf Nurkic back on March 15, nearly a year after he suffered a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula, while power forward Zach Collins is also working back from shoulder surgery. It’s possible Collins could join Nurkic on the court when the NBA resumes play. Additional rest surely also will help Lillard avoid a recurrence of his groin injury.

— Kevin Pelton

New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 28-36

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

The Pelicans, like several other teams in the Western Conference, were making their final push for the playoffs. New Orleans had won eight of its past 13 games and were looking at a favorable schedule over the league’s final month. In that span, Zion Williamson was averaging 25.9 points per game on 61.0% shooting, while Lonzo Ball was averaging 14.2 points while shooting 46.3% from deep.

What an extended layoff could mean

JJ Redick (hamstring) will likely be healthy by the time the season resumes, and that could mean a near-complete roster for New Orleans — outside of Darius Miller’s Achilles injury — for the first time all season. The Pelicans were 3.5 games back of the eighth seed when the season was suspended, and the hiatus could give time for the starting lineup of Ball, Williamson, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and Derrick Favors even more time to come together for the final stretch. That quintet has a league-best 26.3 net rating of the 35 lineups with at least 225 minutes played.

— Andrew Lopez

Sacramento Kings
Record: 28-36

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

After struggling to find a rhythm for most of the season, the Kings finally seemed to be playing some of their best basketball of the year prior to the suspension. They had won seven of their past 10 games and were just 3.5 games from the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. De’Aaron Fox was in the midst of nice stretch, averaging 23.4 points a game over his past nine contests.

What an extended layoff could mean

After searching so hard for their momentum this year, the break comes at a bad time for Luke Walton’s young team. Sacramento’s recent hot play came on the heels of Walton’s decision to bring Hield off the bench. Marvin Bagley III has played only 13 games this season and is currently dealing with a left mid-foot sprain. The Undefeated’s Marc Spears reported earlier this week that he hadn’t been ruled out for the season yet. This stoppage gives him time to finally get back on the floor. If Bagley can return and give the Kings some productive minutes, the organization might be able to push for its first playoff berth since 2004.

— Nick Friedell

San Antonio Spurs
Record: 27-36

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

San Antonio had lost five of its past seven games before coming away with an impressive 119-109 win over the Dallas Mavericks on March 10. The Spurs were 12th in the Western Conference standings but only a half-game back of the ninth spot and four games back of Memphis for the eighth seed. Critical games against the Grizzlies and the New Orleans Pelicans were next up on the slate before the suspension.

What an extended layoff could mean

Minor injuries to starting guard Dejounte Murray (calf) and reserve guard Lonnie Walker IV (shin) should be cleared up by then, and the team should also have center Jakob Poeltl (knee) back, as well, for the stretch of games. Time off will also be beneficial to veterans DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge returned against the Mavericks after missing the previous six games with a shoulder strain.

— Lopez

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Phoenix Suns
Record: 26-39

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

The Suns are a mediocre NBA team that’s just not good enough to compete for the Western Conference playoffs. Monty Williams has the team playing harder, but this year is a wash, and the Suns are already looking forward to summertime transactions and building a better team for next year.

What an extended layoff could mean

From a basketball perspective, not much. This season started off nicely, but in the end, the Suns didn’t compete for the postseason. That could change next season, if they can build around All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker and center Deandre Ayton with a good draft and solid free-agency moves.

— Kirk Goldsberry

Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 19-45

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season

Since remaking their roster with a series of trades leading up to last month’s deadline, the Timberwolves have been more potent offensively thanks to improved shooting. However, they were struggling to stop anyone, ranking 29th in defensive rating since Feb. 10. Minnesota is just 3-9 in the 12 games played by newcomer D’Angelo Russell.

What an extended layoff could mean

The layoff could mean a return for All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns, who fractured his left wrist just before the All-Star break. Minnesota announced on March 6 that Towns would miss a minimum of two more weeks with the injury, a timetable that should put him back on the court well before games resume. Additionally, head coach Ryan Saunders will presumably have more practice time to integrate the eight players the Wolves acquired at the deadline.

— Pelton

Golden State Warriors
Record: 15-50

Where they stood when the NBA suspended the season
The Warriors came into the stoppage in the midst of one of their best stretches of the season — impressive given that they came in with a league-worst 15-50 record. Steve Kerr’s group was 3-3 over its past six games and was on the verge of getting Stephen Curry — out with the flu after returning briefly from a broken left hand — back again for the final month of the season. Rookie Eric Paschall was finding his stride again, and the organization was excited about the idea of seeing how Curry worked with new acquisition Andrew Wiggins.

What an extended layoff could mean

The good news for the Warriors is that things can’t get much worse than they’ve already been this year. They never had much momentum and have been rotating 10-day contract players in and out of the roster. The break allows Curry and his teammates to get fully healthy again and get some badly needed practice time, if allowed by the league. (Warriors staffers have been told to work from home for at least the next two weeks, and Warriors players can work out individually inside the team’s facility if they would like — but they are not required to do so.)

— Friedell

Source: espn.com

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