Michael Beasley

Beasley sues AAU coach, former agent in one ugly mess


College recruiting is an ugly, dirty business. One most basketball fans just try to ignore it because, well, we love the game and don’t like to see its reputation sullied.

But a lawsuit filed by Timberwolves forward brings it all out in the open, as reported by the Washington Post.

In September Joel Bell, Beasley’s former agent, sued him for wrongful termination. Beasley has countersued and made some strong — but believable — allegations, throwing a number of people under the bus including former Kansas State (and current West Virginia coach) Bob Huggins.

A Maryland-based sports agent and a youth basketball power broker conspired to foster a relationship with NBA player Michael Beasley from the time Beasley was 14 years old with the intent of securing the rights to represent him professionally, according to a civil suit filed by Beasley in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Beasley asserts in his suit that Bell Sports Incorporated President Joel Bell bankrolled Curtis Malone’s nationally recognized DC Assault summer basketball program and that in return Malone felt obliged to steer Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, to Bell for professional representation. Beasley’s suit contends that, along the way, Bell and Malone violated NCAA rules and federal laws governing agent conduct.

Beasley’s countersuit says that Huggins gave another Beasley AAU coach a job as a K-State assistant to make sure he landed Beasley. He accuses Malone of being a “runner” for Bell — a guy who develops relationships with players to steer them to agents, then gets kickbacks. The suit claims a man Malone introduced his mother to paid for her to live near her son at K-State, covering her rent.

Beasley also admits he got illegal benefits. By the way, all of this is still within the NCAA’s statute of limitations on violations.

I have no idea who is in the right in this particular case. But what is proposed here is not out of the question at all. It happens all the time. Not every elite recruit, but a lot of them. More than you want to know.

By the time elite players like Beasley are teenagers people know who they are and that there is potential there. And that is when people start trying to get a piece of what is seen as a commodity. Sometimes it’s family members. Sometimes its AAU coaches. Sometimes it’s agents. Sometimes different groups of them work together.

But the end result is people guiding a teenager to what is best for those around him and not what is best for him.

It’s an ugly, ugly mess. This lawsuit just shined a light on it.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.