According to the Associated Press, Pacers guard Brandon Rush has been suspended five games for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.
As Mike Wells noted on Twitter, Rush’s suspension means that this is the third time he has failed a drug test. In response to the suspension, Pacers president Larry Bird said “we will do what we can to help Brandon going forward.”
As Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds pointed out earlier today, this is exactly the kind of news the Pacers didn’t want right now:
The team spent the past several years in salary cap hell, and the ultimate payoff of living in that limbo of mediocrity was supposed to be having a team that could “restore the pride” and transform the Pacers into a team of citizens who fans could once again root for without feeling dirty. Management has spent the past several summers drafting mature, NBA-ready players, who while perhaps lacking the tremendous upside potential of some of their peers, would be men of character that the people of Indiana could be proud to applaud.
With Lance Stephenson, they deviated from that course and got a PR blackeye. And with this recent trouble for Brandon, someone who supposedly epitomized that ideal, they have gotten another one.
So it’s back to familiar territory: damage control.
A quick look at the NBA’s drug policy reveals that the drug Rush tested positive for was almost certainly marijuana — testing positive for cocaine, opiates, PCP, or amphetamines results in a dismissal from the NBA, while Marijuana only carries a five-game suspension after a third failed test. It’s technically possible that this is Rush’s first failed PED test, but the league is generally good about distinguishing PED suspensions from “regular” drug suspensions.
Obviously, casual marijuana is hardly grounds for hysteria in this day and age. But whether or not you believe Rush’s use of marijuana kept him from doing his job to the best of his abilities, getting caught on three separate occasions certainly did. Forget about what Marijuana is or isn’t — the fact is that Rush made a series of decisions that led to a five-game suspension and a PR hit for the last team in the NBA that needs a PR hit right now.
DeMarcus Cousins had a bitter exit from the Kings, but that won’t be the last they see of him.
Cousins’ Pelicans will host Sacramento tomorrow night.
Not that Cousins rushed to talk about the matchup.
Justin Verrier of ESPN:
Cousins is pretty funny when joking with the media, and his smile is contagious. Just listen to all the laughs Cousins generates as he goes through his shtick.
Bonus points to Cousins for eventually breaking down and providing real answers. Some of his relationships in Sacramento were clearly meaningful to him, and he wanted to acknowledge those — even if he’d prefer just to get past this awkward game and all the talk it invites.
Lauri Markkanen is 7-foot and made 42% of his 3-pointers this season.
That combination alone will have NBA teams drooling, and the Arizona freshman will capitalize.
Evan Daniels of Scout:
Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen is declaring for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent, multiple sources told Scout.
Markkanen seems pretty certain to get picked in the lottery, likely in the top 10.
Calling him a good shooter for his height undersells him. It’s not just he shoots so efficiently from deep, it’s that he can generate 3-pointers in so many ways — pick-and-pops, spot-ups, off off-ball screens and even running pick-and-rolls himself. Having the height to shoot over defenders is his most noticeable asset, but don’t undersell his mobility.
Markkanen also finishes well at the rim and offensively rebounds at extremely impressive clip for someone who spends so much time on the perimeter. Those interior skills instill belief he will eventually become a suitable defender.
There are a couple red flags. He’s old for a freshman, turning 20 before the draft. He leaves plenty to be desired defensively, especially due to his lack of strength.
But his size and shooting are tantalizing. That’s plenty for now.
Watch for Collin Sexton in the 2018 NBA draft.
In the meantime, the Alabama commit had all eyes — include Dwyane Wade‘s — on him with this pass in the McDonald’s All-American Game last night.
Carmelo Anthony scored just nine points on 12 shots in the Knicks loss to the Heat last night — well below his season averages of 22 points on 19 shots per game.
Anthony, via Ian Begley of ESPN:
“I see the writing on the wall. I see what it is,” Anthony said late Wednesday night. “I see what they’re trying to do, and it’s just me accepting that. That’s what puts me at peace. Just knowing and understanding how things work. I’m at peace with that.”
Is Anthony talking about just the Knicks’ final dozen games of this season, when they’re clearly interesting in testing less-proven players? Or is he referring to his entire tenure in New York?
Anthony has said he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause if the Knicks want to rebuild, and they’ll reportedly try again to trade him this offseason. Perhaps, this is Anthony indicating he’s warming up to the idea of allowing a trade.
Anthony’s and Kristaps Porzingis‘ timelines are barely compatible, if at all. It’d make sense for the Knicks to go in a different direction.
Could Anthony be at peace with that?