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Former Gonzaga stars await resumption of NBA season

Washington’s Rui Hachimura  passes the ball against Miami’s Kelly Olynyk during a March 8 game. (Nick Wass / Associated Press)
Washington’s Rui Hachimura passes the ball against Miami’s Kelly Olynyk during a March 8 game. (Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Several former Gonzaga Bulldogs are close to resuming their NBA seasons.

The NBA board of governors approved plans for a 22-team restart in late July at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida. The players union is expected to approve the plan Friday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Nine former Zags – Kelly Olynyk, Domantas Sabonis, Zach Collins, Johnathan Williams, Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell Jr. and Jeremy Pargo – have played in NBA games this season. Twenty players in program history have NBA experience.

GU products will return for the stretch run of the playoff chase when games resume July 31. Teams will play eight regular-season games prior to the playoffs, which will conclude no later than Oct. 10.

The 22 teams include 16 that were in playoff position and six squads within six games of a playoff berth before play was suspended March 11 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The eight-game slate – it’s unclear if they will be classified as regular-season games – will help determine playoff seeding. From there, the league could have a play-in tournament for the final spot in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference postseason fields.

Olynyk is averaging 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds for the Miami Heat in his seventh NBA season. Sabonis, averaging 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the Indiana Pacers, made his first All-Star game roster.

The fourth-place Heat (41-24) and fifth-place Pacers (39-26) would meet in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs if they remain in those positions in the standings.

Hachimura is contributing 13.4 points and 6.0 rebounds in his rookie season with the Washington Wizards. The 6-foot-8 forward is shooting 48% from the field and 83% at the free-throw line. He missed 23 games with a groin injury.

Williams, who played in 24 games for the Los Angeles Lakers last season, was added to the injury-riddled Wizards’ roster in late December and played in 11 games, starting five. He’s produced 12.4 points and 9.1 rebounds in 17 games for G League Capital City.

The Wizards face long odds to make the playoffs. They trail eighth-place Orlando by 5 1/2 games and seventh-place Brooklyn by six games.

Williams-Goss has played in nine games for Utah (42-23), which is fourth in the Western Conference, one game in front of Oklahoma City.

Clarke is putting up strong numbers – 12.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in just 21.7 minutes per game – in his rookie season for the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies are 3 1/2 games in front of Portland, Sacramento and New Orleans. The Trail Blazers are expected to have the services of Collins, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in the third game of the season that required surgery.

Eight-year veteran Aron Baynes, a former Washington State standout, is enjoying his best season statistically (11.5 points, 5.6 boards) for Phoenix, which trails Memphis by six games

If four games or less separate the eighth- and ninth-place teams in either conference at the conclusion of the regular season, they’ll face a play-in round to determine the final playoff berth. The eighth-place team would need one win over No. 9 to secure the spot while the ninth-place team would need two wins.

Roughly 15% of what would have been the full NBA regular season won’t be played, which means players stand to lose around $600 million in salary. How that process will work is among the issues that the league and union are still working to solve.

The season is over for the Golden State Warriors (15-50). Former WSU standout Klay Thompson, a three-time NBA champion and five-time All-Star, sat out the season while recovering from a torn ACL in last year’s NBA Finals.

Pargo averaged 8.3 points and 2.7 assists in three appearances with the Warriors. Pargo last played in an NBA game in 2013. Fellow Chicago native Norvell joined Pargo at times in the backcourt, chipping in 3.3 points in three February games. Norvell played in two October games for the Lakers.

Pargo and Norvell also were teammates on the Warriors’ G League affiliate Santa Cruz. The G League, suspended since March, canceled the remainder of its season.

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