Great news: West's season has been quiet

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Delonte West is completely unique in every conceivable way. Beyond his personality, though, West’s life has some equally unique — at least by NBA standards — challenges; West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a fact which became public in the aftermath of a pretty bizarre incident involving West, a motorcycle, and three guns.

The memory of that event is easy to recall. After all, West was arrested just prior to this season, and the details are certainly memorable. His arrest and his diagnosis, though, have slipped out of NBA consciousness without incident. There hasn’t been a series of Pullitzer-winning pieces about West’s struggle with his disorder and daily victories in spite of it. It’s not because those victories and struggles aren’t there, but because West and the Cleveland Cavaliers have handled West’s specific case perfectly.

From Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The Cavs, who look to continue their eight-game winning streak when they close their trip against the San Antonio Spurs tonight, have enjoyed plenty of successes during this season. But perhaps a major, if overlooked, accomplishment is the team effort that has helped West become more balanced emotionally. That includes work West has done himself.

…The team has constantly protected West, who has declined all interviews since media day in September. There is little or no talk of his ongoing battle with a mood disorder, which West has said is bi-polar disorder. There is no mention of West’s pending court case in Maryland on gun charges. Just a quiet but diligent following of a process that West’s teammates, West’s doctors and West himself follow on a daily basis.

…West still has rough days and there almost certainly with be more to come. But getting West mostly stabilized and playing well again has so far been a remarkable accomplishment by a wide range of team officials and doctors.

That includes the management done by general manager Danny Ferry, head coach Mike Brown and his assistant coaches, athletic trainer Max Benton, director of team security Marvin Cross and several other doctors and therapists who have worked with West privately on an intense level.

“He’s got a nice support staff around him,” Brown said. “Including some other people behind the scenes. There’s a lot of support there for him and there will continue to be. He’s a part of our family and we take a lot of pride in trying to take care of everybody.”

There have been plenty of situations where NBA teams appear to mishandle atypical situations, but the Cavs not only appear to be reacting appropriately in terms of giving West the support he needs, but also in protecting him from extended media coverage. There will eventually be a day for West’s story to be documented, and to an extent it already is. But the additional probing and questioning that comes with significant media coverage probably isn’t something West needs to be dealing with right now. Thanks to the Cavs’ understanding of the situation, he doesn’t have to.  

Byron Scott isn’t thinking about next year’s draft

Byron Scott

A month into the season, the Lakers the only team in the Western Conference that can absolutely be written out of any hopes of playoff contention. They’re in an awkward position with the upcoming draft: they still need talent long-term, and they owe their pick to the Sixers if it’s outside of the top three. Not surprisingly, Byron Scott isn’t thinking about it at all.

Via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

With the Lakers fielding the NBA’s second-worst record, how much effort will the franchise put in retaining its top-3 protected draft pick?

“I don’t think about that whatsoever,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I probably won’t until April. That’s something I can’t control.”

The Lakers are in a precarious position. They appear likely bad enough to lose a lot of games. But will they lose enough to land in the top three? Otherwise, the Lakers owe Philadelphia their first-round pick as part of the Steve Nash trade.

“It’s impossible to think about the team, try to get our young guys better, the team better and also thinking about a pick,” Scott said. “That’s six months away and you might not even get it.”

Given Scott’s mentality, it’s not at all surprising that he isn’t thinking about the draft. But with his insistence on playing Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams more crunch-time minutes on this dismal Lakers team than D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, it’s pretty laughable that he talks about wanting to develop their young players.

Scott may not be thinking about the draft, but with the position the franchise is in and the likelihood that they lose their pick, he should be.

Report: Jahlil Okafor stopped for driving 108 MPH three weeks ago

Jahlil Okafor, Derrick Favors

Jahlil Okafor‘s first month in the NBA has been eventful for all the wrong reasons. Early Thanksgiving morning, he was caught on video getting into a fight with a heckler in Boston. Then, a report surfaced of another altercation from October, in which Okafor apparently had a gun pulled on him. Now, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Okafor was recently pulled over in Philadelphia for driving 108 miles per hour:

Four sources independently confirmed to The Inquirer the 76ers center was pulled over on the Ben Franklin Bridge around three weeks ago for 108 miles per hour. Anything over 40 m.p.h. is considered reckless driving.

108 miles per hour in a 40-mile zone isn’t a minor speeding infraction—it’s incredibly dangerous. It might be possible to write off any of these incidents by themselves—particularly the one where he had a gun pulled on him, which doesn’t seem to have been his fault at all. But together, the Boston incident and this speeding report aren’t a good look at all for Okafor. He’s had a solid start to the year for the Sixers, but off the court has been another story.

Harrison Barnes could be out “a few weeks” with ankle injury

Harrison Barnes
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The Warriors’ Friday night 135-116 win over the Suns was bittersweet: Harrison Barnes suffered a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and left for the remainder of the game. He missed Saturday night’s blowout win over the Kings as well, which extended the Warriors’ best-ever start to the season to 18-0.

Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton didn’t have an answer for how long Barnes will be out, but he said it could be a few weeks.

Via’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss:

“He’s being evaluated [Saturday]. We haven’t gotten the results back yet,” interim head coach Luke Walton told reporters before Saturday’s game. “It’s all speculation. It could be a few weeks. It could be a week.

“We’re not going to rush him back because we want to be healthy for later in the season and we don’t want lingering injures, so we’ll have him take his time.”

Losing a starter is never good news, but the silver lining for the Warriors is that they have enough depth and enough of a cushion to be able to take their time and not rush Barnes back. Saturday night, Walton opted to keep Andre Iguodala in his usual sixth-man role and instead start the little-used Brandon Rush in Barnes’ place. Rush responded with a 16-point performance, shooting 4-of-5 from the three-point line. If they can keep getting that kind of production out of their reserves, the Warriors will be able to withstand the loss of Barnes just fine.

Emmanuel Mudiay with the no-look, behind-the-head assist (VIDEO)

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Emmanuel Mudiay is still a work in progress on the court — he’s a rookie, what did you expect? — but he has the court vision and flair you cannot teach.

As evidence, I present this pass from Saturday night, where in transition Mudiay goes with the no-look, behind-the-head dish to Darrell Arthur for the dunk.

The Nuggets dropped this game to the Mavericks 92-81 and have lost six in a row.