Tim Donaghy, publisher split ways

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donaghy.jpgDisgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy and the publisher of his book, “Personal Foul,” will no longer be working together, according to Dan Devine of Yahoo! Sports. The book had been published by a company called VTi, but VTi CEO Shawna Vercher stated in an email that her company has “decided to terminate our relationship with Mr. Donaghy and will no longer be representing him as a client.” As for the book itself, the first edition has been “retired” and VTi “will not be distributing it in the future.” In his own email, Donaghy said that Four Daughters LLC will be publishing the second edition of his book. The book garnered a lot of attention because of Donaghy’s claim that it contained data about which referees have specific vendettas or biases that effect the outcome of a game. Most of the specific biases Donaghy mentions in the book were shown to not statistically exist by Henry Abbott and Kevin Arnovitz in a report last year. 

Donaghy and Vercher are telling very different stories about why their business relationship ended. According to Donaghy, the dispute is strictly financial — he claims that he has asked Vercher many times to “see where the money went” from the sales of the book, only to be denied that information, and that he “hasn’t received a dime” from book sales. 
Vercher gave very different reasons for why her company decided to terminate their relationship with Donaghy:
Vercher told BDL the relationship had broken down “over the last couple of months, coming to a boil over the last week or so,” when she alleges Donaghy began making “threats of violence.”
“He threatened to come here,” Vercher said, claiming that the prospect of Donaghy appearing at VTi’s Largo, Fla., offices in search of royalties (which she says were not yet available, terming the fiscal turnaround “not a fast process”) rankled her employees and frightened her.
“He mentioned that someone was going to come up here and get me, that they knew where I live,” Vercher said. “He made mention of his ties to members of the Gambino crime family, saying that they were active in our area.”
As the alleged threats against herself, her employees and her business escalated, Vercher said, she made the decision to cut the cord “for safety reasons.”

Donaghy vehemently denies Vercher’s claims, and stated that she is trying to profit off of his disgraced reputation. This will all become clearer in the next week or so, as Vercher has been served with a subpoena requiring that she present an accurate accounting of the total sales of “Personal Foul.” Meanwhile, Vercher will be seeking an order of protection in a Florida court, and claims to have evidence of some of the threats Donaghy has made against her. We’ll see how this all turns out. 

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told NBCSports.com. The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.