The NBA announced the schedule for scrimmage games to take place before the season restarts following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Basketball came to a halt in the United States and Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, but the 2019-20 NBA campaign is set to resume on July 30.

Orlando's Disney World complex will host 22 teams, with the Los Angeles Lakers headlining the league's comeback against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30 after the New Orleans Pelicans face the Utah Jazz on the same day.

Prior to the NBA returning, all 22 teams in Orlando will play three inter-squad scrimmages between July 22 and July 28.

Kawhi Leonard's Clippers will play the Orlando Magic on July 22, with the Washington Wizards-Denver Nuggets, Pelicans-Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings-Miami Heat scrimmages also taking place that day.

The Milwaukee Bucks led the NBA with a 53-12 record prior to the coronavirus crisis, ahead of the Lakers (49-14), defending champions the Toronto Raptors (46-18) and Clippers.

 

Scrimmage schedule:

Wednesday, July 22

Orlando Magic v Los Angeles Clippers
Washington Wizards v Denver Nuggets
New Orleans Pelicans v Brooklyn Nets
Sacramento Kings v Miami Heat

Thursday, July 23

San Antonio Spurs v Milwaukee Bucks
Portland Trail Blazers v Indiana Pacers
Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix Suns v Utah Jazz

Friday, July 24

Memphis Grizzlies v Philadelphia 76ers
Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics
Houston Rockets v Toronto Raptors

Saturday, July 25

Los Angeles Lakers v Orlando Magic
Milwaukee Bucks v Sacramento Kings
Miami Heat v Utah Jazz
Brooklyn Nets v San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers v Washington Wizards
Denver Nuggets v New Orleans Pelicans

Sunday, July 26

Philadelphia 76ers v Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix Suns v Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks
Portland Trail Blazers v Toronto Raptors
Houston Rockets v Memphis Grizzlies

Monday, July 27

Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Lakers
Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers
Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets
Orlando Magic v Denver Nuggets
New Orleans Pelicans v Milwaukee Bucks

Tuesdays, July 28 

Memphis Grizzlies v Miami Heat
Toronto Raptors v Phoenix Suns
San Antonio Spurs v Indiana Pacers
Oklahoma City Thunder v Portland Trail Blazers
Boston Celtics v Houston Rockets
Dallas Mavericks v Philadelphia 76ers

Brooklyn Nets center DeAndre Jordan announced on Monday he has tested positive for coronavirus and will not join the team in Orlando when the NBA resumes its season in late July. 

Jordan's revelation came hours after team-mate Spencer Dinwiddie told The Athletic he tested positive for COVID-19. The point guard said he has yet to determine whether he will take part in the restart. 

"Found out last night and confirmed again today that I've tested positive for Covid while being back in [the Brooklyn] market. As a result of this, I will not be in Orlando for the resumption of the season," Jordan wrote on Twitter. 

The 31-year-old was a key reserve for the Nets prior to the NBA's suspension of the season in March and leads the team in rebounding at 10.0 per game.  

Dinwiddie, who also said he contracted the virus while working out in New York and added that he has experienced symptoms such as a fever and chest tightness, is averaging career highs of 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game. His scoring average ranks second among Brooklyn players behind only Kyrie Irving, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in early March. 

The Nets also announced during the stoppage that star forward Kevin Durant will not return this season as he continues to rehab a torn Achilles tendon he suffered with the Golden State Warriors during the 2019 NBA Finals. The two-time Finals MVP was also one of four Nets players to test positive for COVID-19 in April, though he has since been declared symptom-free. 

In addition to Durant, Irving, Jordan and possibly Dinwiddie, Brooklyn will be without Wilson Chandler after the veteran forward told ESPN on Sunday he will not play in Orlando due to health and family reasons.

The Nets will enter the resumption holding the number seven seed in the Eastern Conference and are six games ahead of the ninth-placed Washington Wizards.

Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie announced on Monday he has tested positive for coronavirus and is uncertain to join the team in Orlando for next month's restart of the NBA season.

Dinwiddie confirmed his diagnosis in an interview with The Athletic and added that he has experienced symptoms related to COVID-19.

Per NBA medical protocols that have been established during the restart plan, he will be put into quarantine for at least 10 days and must pass at least two retests before being permitted to rejoin the Nets.

"Originally, we were supposed to be one of the teams to enter the Orlando bubble early, but training camp got switched back to New York and unfortunately I am now positive," he said. "Given that I have experienced symptoms, including fever and chest tightness, it is unclear on whether or not I'll be able to participate in Orlando."

Dinwiddie had planned on playing when the Nets resume their season July 31 at the Walt Disney World Complex and said he initially tested negative for the virus after returning to New York to take part in workouts.

"I was ready and prepared to rejoin my team-mates as we were to be an early entry team in the resumed season," Dinwiddie said. "I flew private to return to New York, passed multiple COVID-19 tests over my first several days in New York and was able to participate in a couple of practices within the first week."

Prior to the season's stoppage on March 11, Dinwiddie was averaging career highs of 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game to help the Nets maintain a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference despite injuries to stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Brooklyn enter the restart seventh in the East and six games ahead of the ninth-placed Washington Wizards.

Neither Durant nor Irving are expected to return this season, and ESPN reported on Sunday that veteran forward Wilson Chandler informed the Nets he will not take part in the restart due to health and family reasons.

It is unclear if Dinwiddie is one of the 16 unidentified players the NBA announced last week were positive for COVID-19 during preliminary testing for the season's resumption. Other players who have either revealed they tested positive or reportedly done so include Denver Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic, Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. and three Sacramento Kings – Buddy Hield, Jabari Parker and Alex Len.

Brooklyn Nets veteran Wilson Chandler has opted to sit out the NBA's season restart, prioritising the health of his family amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA has been suspended since March, but the 2019-20 campaign is scheduled to resume at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida next month.

Brooklyn are set to return to action against the Orlando Magic on July 31, however, Nets forward Chandler will not be involved.

"As difficult as it will be to not be with my team-mates, the health and wellbeing of my family has to come first," Chandler told ESPN on Sunday.

"Thank you to the Nets organisation for understanding and supporting me in this decision, and I will be watching and rooting for our team in Orlando."

The Nets were seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 30-34 record prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Chandler, who joined the Nets at the start of the season, had been averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for Brooklyn in 2019-20.

The season will officially resume on July 30, with the New Orleans Pelicans playing the Utah Jazz and LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers taking on Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers.

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant is the latest sports star to invest in a Major League Soccer team.

The 10-time NBA All-Star has acquired a five per cent ownership stake in Philadelphia Union, with an option to purchase an additional five per cent in the near future.

''I've always been a soccer fan and have wanted to get into it in a meaningful way. My team and I felt an instant connection with the Philadelphia Union ownership and staff and their vision for a partnership,'' Durant said in a statement on Monday.

''While you won't get to see me at games for now, my team and I will be taking an active role in the community, where I can help give back to Chester [Pennsylvania] and Philadelphia.''

Durant is the second former NBA MVP to invest in an MLS team, with the Houston Rockets' James Harden owning a stake in Houston Dynamo. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also owns a stake in Seattle Sounders.

The MLS season, which has been on pause since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is set to restart on July 8 with a 26-team tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida.

The NBA season is also slated to resume at Disney World at the end of July.

Durant, however, has said he will not play when the season resumes as he continues his recovery from the Achilles tendon tear he sustained with the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

 

Kevin Durant made it clear on Friday that he will not make his Brooklyn Nets debut if the NBA season restarts.

Durant ruptured an Achilles tendon a year ago for the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

There was speculation that he could return with the league forced to suspend operations for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Durant ruled out returning this season, meaning his Nets debut will have to wait until 2020-21.

Speaking to The Undefeated, Durant said: "I don't plan on playing at all.

"We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season."

The 10-time All-Star announced his decision to sign a four-year, $164million deal with the Nets in June last year.

Durant also had COVID-19 earlier this year.

A trip to Orlando, Florida is overwhelmingly a more popular travel destination than Milwaukee, Wisconsin for most American families.

NBA teams share that sentiment.

The NBA has approved its return-to-play plan, which will send 22 teams to the Walt Disney Resort near Orlando. All the games and practices will take place at the Disney complex after the NBA's Board of Governors approved proposals for a restart from the coronavirus-enforced break.

The teams invited to Florida are the 16 that held playoff spots when the season was halted on March 11, plus the six teams within six games of eighth place in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

While having all the games at one location terminates travel and should cut down on some fatigue, it will provide a new challenge – likely playing games in empty gyms without the noise of the crowd.

A lack of crowd noise may be the biggest obstacle for the players, challenging their mettle. They will have to take part in crucial games and within these games, face critical possessions without getting any adrenaline rush from either the roar of the fans they would experience at their home arena or the chorus of boos from a hostile crowd when they are on the road.

For the teams, they are now pretty much all on equal footing. Those that had been dominating for the right to earn home-court advantage for the playoffs no longer have such an advantage.

When the season went on pause nearly three months ago, the Milwaukee Bucks owned the NBA's best record at 53-12. The Bucks are obviously an excellent team, boasting the league's highest-scoring offense behind reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, but some of their success stems from their ability to easily dispatch of foes when they visited Milwaukee.

The Bucks have only lost two of their 30 games at Fiserv Forum since the calendar flipped to November. And both of those defeats came at the hands of West clubs – the Dallas Mavericks on December 16 and Denver Nuggets on January 31. They have gone 18-1 in Milwaukee against the East this season with the lone blemish coming in overtime to the Miami Heat in their home opener on October 26.

By continuing to defend home court against East teams, the Bucks appeared to have a relatively clear path to reach the NBA Finals, but now their opponents will no longer be making that dreaded trip to Milwaukee. 

Miami, meanwhile, is a hotter destination than Milwaukee – both literally and figuratively – and the Heat climbed to the top of the Southeast Division behind the strength of a 27-5 record in Miami – the third-best home record in the NBA.

The Heat, however, no longer will have the luxury of welcoming visitors to South Beach and its nightlife, instead playing the rest of their games in the more family-friendly environment provided by Mickey Mouse.

Only one team has compiled a better home record than the Bucks and Heat this season, and that has been perhaps one of the most perplexing teams of all time.

The Philadelphia 76ers have gone 29-2 at home, but if the playoffs started today they would not be hosting a first-round series. Thanks to an inability to win on the road where they have gone 10-24, the Sixers are in sixth place in the East. 

Philly has a .935 winning percentage at home and a .294 winning percentage on the road. That decrease of .641 in winning percentage from home to road is the largest difference since the NBA expanded to 14 teams in 1968-69. 

Seeing as there has been no rational explanation as to how a team can play so well at home and so poorly on the road, it is anyone's guess how the Sixers will fare in Orlando.

While teams will be missing out on having games at their own arenas and players will no longer have the creature comforts that come with home games, a handful of teams that are heading to Orlando had slightly better records on the road than at home before the season paused.

Playing these games on neutral courts, likely without fans, in Orlando does not exactly correlate to playing road games in intense visiting arenas in front of raucous playoff crowds, but the Dallas Mavericks (plus-.077 winning percentage from road to home games), Los Angeles Lakers (plus-.071), New Orleans Pelicans (plus-.063), Phoenix Suns (plus-.062) and Oklahoma City Thunder (plus-.039) all have higher winning percentages on the road than at home.

Of those five teams, only the Mavericks, Lakers and Thunder posted winning records both on the road and at home. 

When the season went on pause, the only teams with road winning percentages over .700 were perhaps the three favourites to win the title – the Lakers (.813 road winning percentage), the Bucks (.735) and defending champions the Toronto Raptors (.719). 

No big surprise, but the ability to win on the road and perform under pressure in adverse conditions bodes well for a team's championship aspirations. 

While these will not be road games, they will certainly be adverse conditions. Likely the most obscure these players have ever experienced.

After a gruelling 82-game regular season, April is usually an exciting time for NBA players and fans.

This time of year is typically headlined by playoff basketball, but the coronavirus pandemic has brought the NBA and sport to a standstill globally.

The NBA has been suspended since March 11 – halting the regular season and putting the playoffs on ice amid COVID-19 as the high-flying Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers vie for supremacy.

 

As the NBA waits for the threat of COVID-19 to subside, and for normal life to return, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

Having simulated the rest of the regular season to produce projected final standings, the goal was to see how the postseason would pan out too.

The Stats Perform model takes proprietary data and creates an offensive and defensive rating for each team.

Those ratings are paired with the team's opponent and adjusts it for each team's pace. In addition, the home team gets a slight boost for home-court advantage.

The model uses this information to calculate a projected score for both teams. The winners receive a victory in the race for the Larry O'Brien Trophy – this was done for every game in the playoffs. So, here are the results…

 

BUCKS, LAKERS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND

Like last season, the Bucks earned the best regular-season record heading into the postseason. Milwaukee swept the Detroit Pistons in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2019 and the Bucks match that feat this year, albeit against the Orlando Magic. After one-point wins in the first two games, Milwaukee cruise into the Conference semi-finals – winning 112-106 and 113-93.

Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13, Western Conference pacesetters the Lakers blitz the Memphis Grizzlies 4-0 – highlighted by a 118-89 blowout in Game 2. The Los Angeles Clippers faded at the end of the regular season as they dropped down into the fourth seed, but the Lakers' neighbours prove too good for the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook had one foot in the second round but the Houston Rockets – who ended the regular season on a 15-3 run to claim the third seed – lose four straight games to the Utah Jazz in the west. Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks – back in the playoffs following a three-season absence – win three games in a row to take down the second-seeded Denver Nuggets 4-2.

For the second time in three years, the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat meet in the east's first round and the latter prevail 4-2 as Jimmy Butler has the last laugh against his former team. The Boston Celtics also see off the Indiana Pacers by the same scoreline.

No Kawhi Leonard, no worries for defending champions the Toronto Raptors, who only drop one game in a comprehensive 4-1 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

LEBRON MATCHES EARLIEST PLAYOFF EXIT

Hopes were high for LeBron James but the Lakers are upstaged by cross-town rivals the Clippers in six games. The Lakers level the series at 2-2 but the Clippers reel off back-to-back victories in a matchup where the margin does not drop below 10 points. It equals the earliest exit of James' playoff career, having reached the Finals in each of his past eight trips to the postseason.

Staying in the Western Conference and the Mavericks advance to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2011 – when they won the title – by rallying past the Utah Jazz. After dropping the first two games, Dallas win four on the bounce. The Mavericks' run, however, ends at the hands of the Clippers just shy of the NBA Finals, edged 4-3.

The Bucks fell short of a trip to the big dance last season, but Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee get the job done this time around by topping the Heat and Raptors in the east. A 130-96 Game 1 rout sets the tone for the Bucks, who beat Miami inside six games.

The Raptors are no match for the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, losing 4-1. Toronto's exit snaps a streak of four straight seasons in which the defending champions returned to the Finals the following year. The last team to win the title and then not reach the showpiece series the following season were the San Antonio Spurs, who claimed the championship in 2014.

 

CLIPPERS MAKE HISTORY BUT FALL TO BUCKS

It is a landmark moment for the Clippers, who feature in the NBA Finals for the first time in their history. In the four major US sports – NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL – the Clippers are the oldest franchise that have never progressed to the championship round, having played their first NBA game in 1970.

However, the Bucks spoil the party as they end the longest title drought in the NBA courtesy of a 4-2 triumph on the biggest stage. The Golden State Warriors held the record for the longest gap between championships – 40 years – but Milwaukee reign supreme for the first time since 1971, ending their 49-year wait.

Milwaukee and Los Angeles split the opening two games before the Bucks win two on the bounce to eventually claim a second NBA crown. Milwaukee's success also continues a common theme in the league, with five of the past eight champions having boasted the best regular-season record and won the title in the same year.

Now is typically the time when the grind of the NBA's regular season is winding down and 16 teams start to gear up for the playoffs.

However, the coronavirus pandemic brought the league to a halt in March, delaying the best period of the campaign considerably.

With every team having at least 15 games left to play, the postseason picture is far from being completed.

The Los Angeles Lakers are the only team in the Western Conference to have secured their place in the playoffs, where the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are also guaranteed to feature due to their performances in the East.

With only the Golden State Warriors out of contention, 25 teams still have a mathematical chance of keeping their seasons alive.

 

As the NBA waits for the threat of COVID-19 to subside, and for normal life to return, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

The goal was to simulate how the regular season would pan out if all outstanding games were played now, producing the final standings in both conferences.

The Stats Perform model takes proprietary data and creates an offensive and defensive rating for each team.

Those ratings are paired with the team's opponent and adjusts it for each team's pace. In addition, the home team gets a slight boost for home-field advantage.

The model uses this information to calculate a projected score for both teams. The victors get another win to their season total – this was done for every remaining game in the regular season. So, without further ado, let's find out the results...

 

NO BUCKING THE TREND

Unsurprisingly the Bucks hang on to the one seed in the Eastern Conference, with our model predicting they will go 13-4 in their remaining fixtures to finish with a 66-16 record.

Despite Milwaukee matching their best regular-season performance in history to book a first-round clash in the playoffs with the Orlando Magic, there was one hiccup for reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his team-mates – a shock 111-110 loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the only change to the top eight from the current standings, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Indiana Pacers to the five seed, meaning they draw the Miami Heat in the first round of the postseason for the second time in three years. The Pacers must take on the Celtics as a consequence.

The Brooklyn Nets (39-43) and Magic (38-44) advance despite having losing records – it is the first time since 1988 that more than one team under .500 made the playoffs. The Raptors await the Nets in the first round.

At the foot of the East is the Detroit Pistons, who closed out the season on a 4-12 run to finish with a 24-58 record.

In our simulation the Raptors claimed a 152-96 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Only 12 matches in NBA history have seen a bigger margin of victory.

CLIPPERS FADE, WARRIORS THE WORST

The Lakers hold off the competition to top the Western Conference and at 64-18 claim their best record since the Kobe Bryant era. Their reward is a first-round meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies.

For the Los Angeles Clippers it is a different story. They fall victim to strong finishes from the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets and slip to fourth, pitting Paul George - and Chris Paul - against his former team the Oklahoma City Thunder in round one.

The Nuggets take second and get the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs after losing just one of their final 17 games, while the Rockets go 15-3 to get the three seed. Awaiting Mike D'Antoni's team in the postseason is the Utah Jazz, who slipped to sixth after going 8-10 down the stretch.

The Grizzlies ensure New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson's first playoff appearance will have to wait until 2021 at the earliest, while the Portland Trail Blazers miss the postseason for the first time since 2013.

A 22-60 record means the Warriors finish the regular season with the worst record in the NBA.

 

GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR SUNS, WIZARDS

While the final standings were taken from the first simulation, the outcome of the regular season was simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in the playoffs.

The resulting data suggests the Grizzlies defied the odds by reaching the postseason, having only done so in 41.1 per cent of the simulations.

The Magic and Nets both had a success rate above 99 per cent, while the Washington Wizards (0.05 per cent) and the Phoenix Suns (0.04 per cent) are the biggest outsiders.

In addition to the Warriors, the model did not project the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls, Hawks or Cavaliers making the postseason once.

A NEW DYNASTY?

The Stats Perform AI team also used the predicted final standings to simulate the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery to find out which team received the first overall pick.

There was finally some good news for Warriors fans, with Golden State drawn first.

With Stephen Curry back from injury and Klay Thompson set to return next season, the No.1 pick would put Steve Kerr's team in a good position to challenge in the playoffs again.

The Hawks jump up to third in our simulation, while the Bulls have to settle for the seventh pick for the fourth consecutive year.

After taking Williamson first overall in 2019, the Pelicans get the final lottery selection here.

Full lottery results:

1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Detroit Pistons
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
6. New York Knicks
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Charlotte Hornets
9. Phoenix Suns
10. San Antonio Spurs
11. Sacramento Kings
12. Washington Wizards
13. Portland Trail Blazers
14. New Orleans Pelicans

The NBA is contributing one million surgical masks to New York to help fight coronavirus, working with the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and China's consul general Huang Ping.

New York has been hit hard by coronavirus, with more than 3,500 deaths and the number of recorded cases exceeding 113,000.

In collaboration with the Knicks, Nets and Huang, the NBA is moving to help New York's workers.

"The @NBA is contributing 1 million desperately needed surgical masks for New York's essential workers in collaboration with @nyknicks, @BrooklynNets and China's Consul General Huang Ping," governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

"New York thanks you. We are beyond grateful for this gift of critically needed PPE."

The NBA season was suspended last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on Saturday, United States president Donald Trump was unsure about when sport would resume in the country, but said he thinks it will be "sooner rather than later".

Brooklyn Nets superstar and top seed Kevin Durant was upset in the opening round of the NBA 2K20 tournament on Friday.

With the NBA postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, a charity tournament has been put together to raise money in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament will receive $100,000 to give to charity, but Durant was a high-profile casualty on the opening day.

In the first matchup, two-time NBA champion Durant used the Los Angeles Clippers but lost to 16th seed and Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr.

Jones' Milwaukee Bucks topped Durant's Clippers 78-62 to advance to the quarter-finals.

The tournament, aired on ESPN, will run through to April 11.

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant will lead a field of 16 in an NBA 2K20 charity tournament to raise money amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With the NBA postponed due to COVID-19, players have time on their hands, so a select group will go head-to-head in the virtual world, starting Friday on ESPN.

The winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament, which runs through to April 11, will receive $100,000 to give to a charity in support of the coronavirus relief efforts.

Durant is the top seed, ahead of Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Hassan Whiteside (Portland Trail Blazers), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets), Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards), Patrick Beverley (Los Angeles Clippers), Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings) and Derrick Jones Jr. (Miami Heat).

"We're thrilled to partner with the NBA and NBPA to bring basketball back to fans throughout the world and to help those in need during these uncertain times," said Jason Argent, 2K senior vice-president, sports strategy and licensing.

"Entertainment, especially sports, has the ability to bring communities together – including athletes, fans and families – and we hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament."

"We are excited to tip off the first 'NBA 2K Players Tournament' in partnership with the NBPA and 2K, continuing an ongoing effort to stay connected with NBA fans around the world, while also giving back in this time of need," said Matt Holt, NBA SVP of global partnerships.

Players' seeding is based on their NBA 2K rating, with two-time champion Durant 96 overall in the video game.

Durant, who contracted COVID-19 and has been recovering from an Achilles injury, will open the tournament against Jones on Friday.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is donating $323,000 and meals to charities during the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has brought sport to a standstill across the world, while people are struggling financially as various clubs and organisations reduce costs.

There have been over 16,400 coronavirus deaths globally, with more than 540 of those in the United States.

Irving, a 2016 NBA champion and six-time All-Star, used social media on Monday to announce that he is partnering up with Feeding America – a non-profit organisation – and City Harvest in New York City.

"Thank you all for the birthday love, I'm extremely grateful for the support," Irving wrote in an Instagram post. "Seeing the effects of COVID-19 reach our loved ones, our schools, our jobs, and access to food has really impacted me.

"I am excited to partner with @feedingamerica and @lineagelogistics to launch the Share A Meal campaign to help marginalised communities get the food resources they require during this time, and to work with our local partner @cityharvestnyc to distribute 250k meals to my neighbors in need across the NY area. In addition to that I am donating $323k to Feeding America and @lineagelogistics will match $200k of what we raise together. 

"I am asking my fans, friends, family and partners to join me in helping our communities by donating at the link in my bio. Thank you to everyone on the front line working to keep all of us safe, healthy, and fed. Together we can change the world one small gesture at a time."

National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) executive director Michele Roberts said it would be "irresponsible" for players not be tested for coronavirus as she took aim at the United States government.

NBA teams have been criticised after the Brooklyn Nets revealed four players – including superstar Kevin Durant – contracted COVID-19 amid the pandemic.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio questioned the Nets, insisting "tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick" as the world struggles to contain the virus, which has claimed more than 8,900 lives globally.

The Nets defended testing players on Wednesday – citing the use of a private laboratory – while the Oklahoma City Thunder insisted they did not use state resources following the news that all players and staffers returned negative results for coronavirus.

"There's nothing irresponsible – if you've got that information [that you've been exposed] – about trying to get the tests," Roberts told ESPN.

"The problem that more of us can't get the tests – and I'm not apologetic about saying it – in my view, that rests at the foot of the federal government. They were responsible for making sure we were protected in that regard, and I think they failed.

"We shouldn't be fighting about this now ... but once this is done and we get through it, and we will, let's figure out who screwed up and fix that."

The NBA has been on hiatus since Utah Jazz pair Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19.

The Jazz were scheduled to face the Oklahoma City Thunder before it was postponed on March 11, prompting the suspension of the league.

The Brooklyn Nets defended testing players for coronavirus following backlash, while United States president Donald Trump addressed concerns that professional athletes and well-connected people are receiving priority amid the pandemic.

NBA franchise the Nets were heavily criticised on Tuesday after announcing four players – including injured superstar Kevin Durant – contracted COVID-19.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio took aim at the Nets, insisting "tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick" as the world struggles to contain the virus, which has claimed more than 8,900 lives globally.

The Nets responded to the criticism on Wednesday, with their statement reading: "As we learned NBA players on other teams had tested positive for COVID-19, we noticed that several of our players and staff had symptoms.

"Based on this information, and the judgment that all of our players are subject to high exposure due to the close physical nature of basketball, the communal nature of teams and the possibility of an accelerated spread from team to team, our medical experts advised that our players get tested.

"We sourced the tests through a private company and paid for them ourselves because we did not want to impact access to CDC's public resources. Using the test results, we were able to take immediate precautions and strictly isolate the players who tested positive.

"If we had waited for players to exhibit symptoms, they might have continued to pose a risk to their family, friends and the public. Our hope is that by drawing attention to the critical need for testing asymptomatic positive carriers, we can begin to contain the spread and save lives. We believe it is not only the right thing to do for our players and their families, it is the responsible thing to do from a medical and epidemiological standpoint."

US leader Trump was also asked about the issue during his news conference midweek.

Quizzed on whether "the well-connected go to the front of the line" for coronavirus testing, Trump replied: "No, I wouldn't say so. But perhaps that's the story of life. That does happen on occasion, and I've noticed where people have been tested fairly quickly."

The NBA has been on hiatus since Utah Jazz pair Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19.

The Jazz were scheduled to face the Oklahoma City Thunder before it was postponed on March 11, prompting the suspension of the league.

Oklahoma City, on Wednesday, announced that all players and staffers returned negative results for COVID-19.

"Recognising the stress on the state of Oklahoma's medical system, the Thunder did not use state resources and chose an alternative path for testing of its personnel," the Thunder said in a statement.

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