NBA notebook: Pelicans’ Williamson plans to play Tuesday


New Orleans rookie standout Zion Williamson said he plans to play Tuesday when the Pelicans host the Portland Trail Blazers.

Williamson missed Saturday’s game against the Indiana Pacers due to a sprained left ankle but returned to practice on Monday. He told reporters afterward that he will be back in the lineup.

Williamson suffered the injury against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, and the team suggested that he sit against the Pacers.

“They just told me longevity, the bigger picture, more long-term,” Williamson said. “They’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m just learning. I’m just following their guidance.”

—Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo proudly announced the birth of his first child — Liam Charles Antetokounmpo — a perfect excuse for not being able to play that night’s game against the Sacramento Kings.

“Liam Charles Antetokounmpo in the house,” the NBA’s reigning MVP posted on Twitter on Monday, covering his baby boy’s real face with an animated version.

The Bucks listed that Antetokounmpo was out for personal reasons, and coach Mike Budenholzer offered little reaction, saying, “We’re excited for him,” before adding in jest, “I have no comment just in case it’s a false Twitter account.”

—LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden are among the 44 finalists for the 12 spots on the 2020 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team.

USA Basketball announced the candidates, and they include nine members of the United States’ 2016 Olympic team and seven from the 2012 squad. Both teams won gold medals.

The roster will be announced later this year. The 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo from July 24 to Aug. 9. The men’s basketball gold medal game is Aug. 8. All 44 finalists have international or USA Basketball National Team experience. James, a three-time Olympic medalist, has the most international experience with 68 games played.

—Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon was ruled out for Tuesday night’s home game against the Boston Celtics, with the 12-year veteran expected to return after the NBA All-Star break.

Head coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters that Gordon, who is averaging 15.3 points per game, continues to be bothered by a lower left leg contusion that forced him to miss Sunday’s loss against the Utah Jazz. The matchup against Boston is Houston’s final game before the All-Star break. The Rockets return Feb. 20 at the Golden State Warriors.

Gordon, 31, has already missed 25 games in 2019-20, his most in a season since the 2015-16 campaign. He was out for 22 straight games after undergoing right knee surgery in November. In 11 previous years in the league, he has played more than 70 games in a season just twice.

—The sheriff’s deputy who alleges Masai Ujiri assaulted him following Toronto’s Game 6 victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals on June 13 is now suing the Raptors general manager, according to multiple reports.

In the suit filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, deputy Alan Strickland and his wife Kelly are seeking a jury trial and asking for damages greater than $75,000, along with medical and incidental expenses (both accrued and in the future), loss of earnings, prejudgment interest, property damage and legal fees.

Alan Strickland — whose name to this point had not been made public — alleges Ujiri struck him in the face and chest as the GM attempted to make it to the court following the Raptors’ championship-clinching win at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Strickland was working security at the arena for Game 6. According to previous reports, Strickland stated that Ujiri did not show proper credentials to go onto the area of the court he was trying to access.

—Field Level Media