Delonte West can’t attend White House ceremony, goes on Twitter rant against media

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Wow, there hasn’t really been a lot of Delonte West news this year, has there? Things have been pretty quiet. Yup, guess he’s put all that drama behi… oh. OK, maybe not.

So first off, a pretty good quote from West, who it turns out thanks to his weapons charge from several years ago, you know, the one where he had a bunch of weaponry stuffed in a guitar case strapped to his back on the highway while he was riding a three-wheeled motorcycle, that one, can’t attend the White House on Monday along with his Mavericks teammates who are celebrating their championship. (Well, kind of. The former Mavericks won’t be there, and considering how much of an impact J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler had to do with last year’s playoffs… that’s a little weird. But whatever, this happens every year.)

From the Star-Telegram:

“I’m banned from going to the White House, so I’m not going to make it,’’ West said after tonight’s 96-81 win over the New Orleans Hornets. “But I’m going home to D.C., I’m just not allowed to go to the White House.

“That’s what happens when you make bad decisions in your life. You can’t go to the White House.’’

via Full-Court Press: West wont be going to the White House.

Oh, well that’s a pretty mature and reasonable thing to say. Good on Delonte for taking responsibility for his actions. I guess he’s put all that nonsense behind him, can more effectively manage his condition, and we can all move on.

Oh. No. 

West went on a Twitter rampage Saturday night, after apparently someone in the locker room was asking questions that didn’t pertain to basketball. The tweets have since been deleted, but Mavs Moneyball captured them. They’re explicit, so consider yourself warned. Part one, and part two.

For those of you keeping score:

  • He says he has to sleep in his car because he can’t get apartment complexes in Dallas to approve him because of things they read on the internet.
  • He says he is, in fact, not our (expletive) side show.
  • Most notably, he pins the media’s portrayal of his little armed excursion on the fact that he’s making the league minimum: “Since that incident… went from starting on a 60+(win) team, supposed to make 5-8 (million) a year… now makin (league minimum). “
  • Then he starts talking about how the league minimum of $800,000 isn’t really all that much because of lawyer fees, agent fees, league fines, escrow, and his divorce settlement.
  • And finally he takes a pretty nasty shot at a media member who’s fairly respected by pretty much anyone who’s ever met him.

He then went back and apologized to the Mavericks for making it sound like he wasn’t appreciative of his contract, and said he would play for free if he had to.

Then on Saturday morning, West was back at it again. Apparently part of it has to do with someone asking about the thing about being banned and how he felt it made him come across as arrogant, when in fact he’s remorseful over his decisions. West apparently was just sad because he felt he could have made the president laugh. West did follow up by saying he doesn’t blame all the media, just a handful. For what it’s worth, the media member in question, who didn’t write the offending article, I might add, said that he wished West nothing but the best, and was clearly hurt by the comments.

So there’s that.

OK, look, I’m a media member. And the only thing worse than someone who partakes in the often-times blatantly agenda-driven pieces of media that come out, especially in sports, is someone who decides to get all holier than thou on everyone else in the industry. But this situation is really unfortunate on all sides.

West doesn’t deserve to be treated as a side show, particularly because one of the primary causes of his long-term behavior is a pretty serious mental condition that is extremely difficult to live with. West struggles with being bipolar. If you’ve had any experience with it, you know how hard that is for someone to deal with who isn’t being asked questions about their behavior all the time. And the reality is that it’s easy to make jokes about him, without considering how serious his problems are. We’re removed from athletes and rarely do we ever actually treat them as fully formed, three-dimensional, flesh and blood and mind and soul individuals, instead of cardboard cutouts on a television screen. Bloggers get nailed with that accusation more than any.

But you can be empathetic to West’s condition and what he’s gone through in his life and still say “Come on, man.” First off, no one wins with him taking this to Twitter. None. He has an agent. All he has to do is have that agent call the writer to express his thoughts. If he wants to instead set the record straight on how he feels about the White House trip, but doesn’t want to go to the same writer, he can have his pick. Most national writers are going to be all ears for an interview with a player of that nature. He’s got a better chance of having his thoughts considered in a full feature than blasting them out in 140 characters.

Because the result is that West comes across as someone upset because he’s only making $300,000 after those expenses this year, that he’s someone who was unfairly victimized by the media when what brought about the criticism was a series of decisions on his part. It’s not that that’s who West is. His attempts Sunday morning to clarify show that. He’s not blaming everyone in the media. He was just sad and upset as being portrayed as someone who didn’t care about the trip to the White House. But it’s these brash events where he lashes out that allow for people to take an overly simplistic, undeveloped view of him and to crack jokes, instead of considering the full weight of both what he’s chosen to share about his life and his condition.

No one wins in this. Especially not West.

Kawhi Leonard’s uncle denies rift with Spurs

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Kawhi Leonard is reportedly disconnected from the Spurs amid his injury problems.

Spurs general manager R.C. Buford already denied that in the initial report. Now, someone is adding a denial from the player’s side.

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, says there is no tension between the two parties.

“There is nothing true to that story,” Robertson told the Express-News hours after the story published. “Kawhi’s camp and the Spurs are how they’ve always been – doing the right thing for the team and the right thing for Kawhi.”

This is all so strange. ESPN’s report was vague about the source of the disconnect, and the Leonard-San Antonio relationship previously seemed strong.

If there’s a problem between Leonard and the Spurs, at least it doesn’t rise to the level where he’s airing his grievances publicly on the record. But both Leonard and the team are famously private, so that means only so much. I doubt either side would publicly admit to an issue if one did exist.

Spencer Dinwiddie, after facing threat of being forgotten by NBA, flourishing with Nets

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DETROIT – Spencer Dinwiddie looked like he might be finished in the NBA.

Major ACL injury at Colorado? He declared for the 2014 draft while still recovering.

Slipping to the second round? He drew confidence in being the Pistons’ first pick that year and the initial selection of the Stan Van Gundy era in Detroit.

Barely playing with the Pistons in two seasons? He engineered a trade to the Bulls, who needed a backup point guard and had roster room then played well for Chicago’s summer-league team.

But the Bulls traded for Michael Carter-Williams just before the season and waived Dinwiddie, who signed in the D-League. For the first time in years, the player who believed since he was 4 years old he’d make the NBA was neither in the league nor on track to reach it.

Then, the Nets called.

They weren’t offering much – $100,000 guaranteed in exchange for Dinwiddie signing a three-year minimum contract in December 2017. If he lasted a month, the rest of his salary that season ($726,672) would become guaranteed. But the remaining two seasons would remain up to Brooklyn. If Dinwiddie flopped, he’d get waived with a small payout. If he exceeded expectations, he’d be stuck on a cheap contract for years.

“A lot of people don’t make it out of the D-League,” Dinwiddie said. “Or, if I don’t sign it, then what if nobody picks me up? Am I still down there? Am I overseas right now?

“It’s very easy to be forgotten about in this league. There’s a lot of good players all over the world that, whatever reason, didn’t hit off right off the bat, and their careers paid the price for it.

“I was told that there was no other opportunity. There was no other option. So, obviously I wanted to be in the NBA. So, I signed.”

Much to Brooklyn’s benefit. And maybe Dinwiddie’s.

Dinwiddie played relatively well in a narrow role last season, doing enough to show he belonged in the NBA. This year, he’s making his case as an NBA starter.

After injuries to Jeremy Lin and D'Angelo Russell, Dinwiddie became the Nets’ starting point guard. Tasked with greater responsibility, Dinwiddie is playing his best basketball. He averages 13.4 points and 6.4 assists per game, but those marks don’t quite show how he has steadied an erratic team.

Dinwiddie ranks No. 18 overall in real plus-minus – behind only potential All-Stars, Robert Covington, and Tyus Jones and ahead of Karl-Anthony Towns, Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Andre Drummond, Paul George and Kristaps Porzingis. That isn’t to say Dinwiddie is as good as those stars. But that his production holds its own in such elite company is also revelatory.

Especially considering Dinwiddie’s contract.

He ranks third in real plus-minus among players on minimum salaries, behind only Nikola Jokic and Tyus Jones:

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This makes Dinwiddie an intriguing trade candidate in advance of next month’s deadline.

How helpful would it be to have a credible starting-caliber point guard making just the minimum this year and next? That’d free so much money – below the salary cap and/or luxury-tax line – to spend on other positions.

The Nets aren’t positioned to take advantage. They’re still below the cap and, still recovering from years of lost draft picks, not ready to build a competitive roster. They also might want to tank next season, as they’ll finally keep their own first-rounder in 2019. Plus, Russell is acclimating back into the rotation, and Lin should return next season.

If Dinwiddie no longer fits in Brooklyn, in a sudden reversal, numerous teams should covet him. He’s not sweating whether he gets moved, but whatever happens, it won’t change how he views the Nets.

“I’m forever indebted to Brooklyn for giving me this opportunity,” Dinwiddie said.

Of course, the Nets could keep him. They’re trying to build a culture, and continuity matters for that. They’d also be positioned to extend his contract next December, two years from when he initially signed (as would a team that trades for him).

Dinwiddie’s max extension would follow the same format as Josh Richardson‘s with the Heat and Norman Powell‘s with the Raptors – which were each worth $42 million over four years – though a rising salary cap will lift Dinwiddie’s max slightly. Perhaps, Dinwiddie could get more in unrestricted free agency in 2019. But for someone set to earn around the minimum his first four seasons, an extension would provide nice security.

Dinwiddie isn’t holding his breath for a payday in December, though.

“You know how long a year is?” Dinwiddie said. “A year in the NBA is an eternity. Anything can happen.”

Just look at Dinwiddie’s last year.

“When we first got him, he was really not a confident player,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Very timid to make plays.”

Now, he’s hitting gamewinners, including one at Detroit on Sunday:

Did that one mean more to him?

“I’ve kind of tip-toed around it. Let’s just be real here,” Dinwiddie said. “I start my career off here. For lack of a better word, I was essentially cut. So how would y’all feel?”

This wasn’t the caretaking point guard the Pistons and Bulls gave up on. Dinwiddie was holding court in the visiting locker room, assured he belonged.

The 6-foot-6 point guard plays with an even keel, steadily using his size advantage offensively and defensively. He’s not flashy, and this doesn’t appear fluky. A sudden jump in 3-point shooting is the easiest way a prolonged hot stretch can be mistaken for a meaningful breakthrough, but Dinwiddie is shooting just 34% from beyond the arc – below his mark last year (38%) and below league average. A high 3-point attempt rate makes his outside shooting helpful, and that’s something he can more easily control than whether the ball goes in.

A more aggressive shot hunter, Dinwiddie can develop as a passer next. Among 284 players who qualify for the assist-per-game lead, Dinwiddie ranks third in assist-to-turnover ratio, behind only Tomas Satoransky and Shelvin Mack. The leaderboard, with assists and turnovers per game noted:

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While that’s helpful in some ways, especially on the young and up-tempo Nets, Dinwiddie doesn’t often enough create quality looks through his passing. He takes what the defense gives him and nothing more.

“He’s not a high-risk guy,” Atkinson said. “It’s just not his personality.”

It’s the same mindset that contributed to Dinwiddie accepting Brooklyn’s team-friendly offer last season.

The Nets couldn’t be happier with the results. Dinwiddie is aware he lost a potential opportunity to prove himself then hit free agency sooner, but he chalks up any thoughts of regret to looking through the lens of 20-20 hindsight.

And no matter what happens through the rest of his minimum contract, he’ll always have Sunday, when he got revenge against the Pistons.

“No hard feelings,” Dinwiddie said before breaking into a slight grin, “especially after a win.”

Jordan Clarkson on Lakers’ win over Knicks: ‘We just kept the foot on their nut and just kept pushing’

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The Lakers outscored the Knicks by one in the first quarter, three in the second quarter, four in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth quarter en route to a 127-107 victory yesterday.

What’s one way to describe that?

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson in his on-court, post-game interview:

We just kept the foot on their nut and just kept pushing.

That quote is obviously fantastic on its own. Making it better: The NBA published it!

Video of the key moment is above.

Report: Kawhi Leonard disconnected from Spurs

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Spurs star Kawhi Leonard missed most of the season with a vexing quad injury, returned, went out with a shoulder injury and is now sidelined indefinitely with the quad injury.

San Antonio (30-18) has played well without Leonard, but apparently this saga has taken a toll behind the scenes.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

Months of discord centering on elements of treatment, rehabilitation and timetables for return from a right quadriceps injury have had a chilling impact on San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard’s relationship with the franchise and coaching staff, league sources told ESPN.

Under president and coach Gregg Popovich and general manager RC Buford, the Spurs have a two decades-long history of strong relationships with star players, but multiple sources describe Leonard and his camp as “distant” and “disconnected” from the organization.

Beyond the current rehab for the right quadriceps injury that has caused Leonard, an All-NBA forward, to miss most of the regular season, there is work to be done to repair what has been until now a successful partnership.

In an interview with ESPN, Buford rejected the reporting of turbulence between the franchise and Leonard.

This is extremely vague. Leonard has always looked like a dutiful follower in the Spurs’ strong Popovich-led culture. Is this just frustration from injuries? Frustration from injuries causing other minor issues to boil over? Something else major entirely?

The Spurs spent big on long-term contracts for Pau Gasol and Patty Mills last summer, arguably jeopardizing Leonard’s chances of winning another title in San Antonio. Leonard is an elite two-way player in his prime (at least when healthy), and the Spurs were seemingly locking into a team that will likely top out at very good, not great.

So, what’s going on with Leonard now? Aldridge’s situation might be illustrative. Everyone in San Antonio denied a problem, as the Spurs are doing now. But Popovich revealed a couple weeks ago that Aldridge requested a trade. Popovich didn’t panic, though. He met with Aldridge, communicated and found a workable solution. The same can and probably will happen with Leonard.

But that’s no guarantee, and Leonard can opt out next year. Until this is settled, it’s a huge issue with potential to shake up typically stable San Antonio – and maybe beyond.