I can't believe the NBA left the 'strip club chicken wings' chapter out of the bubble manual

Lou Williams gets dinner at Magic City while out of the bubble for a funeral. Chaos ensues.

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Let’s basketball.

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Lou Williams was one of a few Clippers who left the NBA bubble last week, for a relative’s funeral on Friday. Of course, players have to eat when outside of the bubble. On Thursday night, Lou was photographed by rapper Jack Harlow eating out … at Magic City, the famous Atlanta strip club. The news spread on Saturday as an investigation by the league was reported out.

The upshot is that Lou will face a 10-day quarantine — not as a punishment, but given the risks involved with Williams’s trip. The NBA and their doctors determine the length of quarantines based on out-of-bubble activities and pre-clearance. We actually don’t know for sure whether Magic City or the funeral was a bigger issue leading to the 10-day quarantine — funerals have been major vectors in a couple early outbreaks of the virus. (My condolences to Lou’s family.)

“I was at the strip club because of the chicken wings” is a laugh line excuse. There is, however, some evidence that LouWill is telling the truth here, though. He’s mentioned Magic City is his favorite restaurant before and actually has his own signature flavor of wing coating on the menu. Lemon pepper!

If Lou was in Atlanta for a couple days for a funeral and expected to go back into quarantine in Orlando for the next three months, why wouldn’t he get food from his favorite restaurant in town? The main reason is it’s a famous strip club and news of his visit would be highly likely to exact a backlash.

But hey, he’s Lou Williams. He’ll end up missing the Clippers’ first two seeding phase games, assuming he continues to test negative for coronavirus. L.A. doesn’t have much at stake in the seeding phase given Denver’s own roster issues right now.

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Thibs Is Back

Adrian Wojnarowski is back, and so is Tom Thibodeau. Woj reports that the Knicks are finalizing a 5-year contract to Thibs to become the team’s new head coach. The Knicks interviewed a ton of candidates and took their time as the only NBA team coach-hunting, but still ended up with the first name that really popped up.

There’s a lot to dig into here, between Thibodeau’s tremendous falling-out in Minnesota to New York’s iffy roster situation. Thibs is considered a player development expert, especially based on his work bringing Jimmy Butler into stardom. But Thibodeau had no success doing that with Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota, and in fact might have played a role in damaging Wiggins’ career based on the shenanigans with Butler at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. I mean, the Wolves are still bad, but it’s not like anyone there openly lamented Thibs’ firing. He seems as disliked by the key Wolves players as he was beloved by the Bulls he led.

The Knicks should have no expectations barring major roster upgrades, unlike the Wolves, who had Karl-Anthony Towns and Wiggins. New York has Kevin Knox, R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and a top 2020 pick. No one knows how new front office leader Leon Rose will handle the Knicks’ first free agency period — the typical Knicks play here would be to keep space open for the star-ridden 2021 free agency period, which is now less than a year away.

That would result in an iffy roster for Thibs next year. He’ll get long-term security, it seems, though the Knicks have historically not minded contract length when firing coaches. He’ll certainly get a chance to flex his player development skills again. I’m especially eager to see how Barrett develops, both with this really long lay-off and with a new coach.

WNBA Scores

Saturday

Storm 87, Liberty 71 — Seattle is so good. Welcome back, Breanna Stewart.

Sparks 99, Mercury 76 — Not a great start for Phoenix’s new era. The Merc had 27 turnovers in 87 possessions, basically a turnover every third possession. Brutal! Also, Nneka Ogwumike was basically perfect (21 points on 8/8 shooting, 1 turnover).

Fever 76, Mystics 101 — The reigning champs are missing two major stars and still put up 101 on Indiana on opening day. In her second ever WNBA start, Myisha Hines-Allen stole the show on the league’s opening day.

Sunday

Sun 69, Lynx 77 — Sylvia Fowles!

Sky 88, Aces 86 — Huh, I’ve never known a Sky vs. Aces game to result in late-game excitement. Weird. Las Vegas had a 9-point lead with five minutes to go, but Chicago might be a team of destiny. Courtney Vandersloot to her wife Allie Quigley in the corner for the win. Money.

Wings 95, Dream 105

Schedule

No WNBA action, just the penultimate day of NBA scrimmages (seeding phase is coming Thursday). The scrimmages on national TV are:

Wizards vs. Lakers, 3 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Jazz vs. Nets, 5:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV

Links

Lindsay Gibbs on what it means to have the WNBA wearing Breanna Taylor’s name on their jerseys.

That’s Jonathan Isaac’s music! He’ll play in Orlando’s Monday scrimmage, his first action since New Year’s.

David Thorpe’s early scrimmage takes for TrueHoop. ($)

Exciting announcement from the most creative people I’ve ever worked with.

An update on fake college basketball legend Deke Van’s rookie season with the currently nonexistent Seattle Sonics from my man Ricky O’Donnell.

Curtis Harris on Babe Didrickson’s post-AAU basketball barnstorm in the Pro Hoops History newsletter.

Mike Sykes writes that there won’t be a sneaker of the year.

Be excellent to each other.