Brandon Rush given five-game suspension for violating NBA's drug policy

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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: 
This is ridiculous.
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. 

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?