Delonte West pushing car

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.

John Stockton working with Bucks point guards at training camp

SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 30:  John Stockton #12 of the Utah Jazz dribbles in Game five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Sacramento Kings during the 2003 NBA Playoffs at Arco Arena on April 30, 2003 in Sacramento, California.  The Kings won 111-91.  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: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
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The Bucks are coached by one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Jason Kidd. But Kidd invited another legend of the position to camp to work with his point guards. John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals, was at Bucks practice on Thursday working with Michael Carter-Williams, Matthew Dellavedova and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Not a bad person to learn from, especially since the Bucks have one of the weakest point-guard positions in the league.

Blake Griffin says he’s working on improving his three-point shot

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots a jumper over Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during a 100-99 loss to the Thunder at Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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2016-17 is going to be a big year for Blake Griffin. He missed much of last season with a quad injury and a broken hand stemming from a punching incident, and he has the ability to opt out of his contract next summer. When Griffin was healthy, he was his usual All-Star self for the Clippers, but he played just 35 games. He’s healthy now, at the start of training camp, and he says he wants to improve his three-point shot.

From Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:

“I want to be someone who shoots from there confidently, for sure,” Griffin said after Thursday’s practice at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center. “A lot of us power forwards, our strength is inside or our versatility. You look at the best power forwards, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus (Aldridge), Draymond (Green) … they can all shoot but they can all put the ball on the floor and they can all score inside. I don’t necessarily think falling in love with the 3-point shot is a good idea, but shooting it confidently from there is great.”

Not only has Griffin not hit his threes in his career (his overall mark from beyond the arc is an awful 27.1 percent) but he doesn’t take very many of them. The most threes he’s ever shot in a season is 44 in 2013-14, and he hit 12 of them. Griffin is only 27, so he’s theoretically not done improving as a player, but it’s hard to imagine a dramatic jump this far along when that hasn’t been a part of his game at all to this point.

 

Steve Kerr endorses shorter preseason to limit back-to-backs

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors speaks to members of the media after being defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. 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 Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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There are too many preseason games. The NBA has its reasons for playing them — namely, to allow for games in non-NBA markets — and sometimes they can be valuable for teams to experiment with rotations. But most teams play seven or eight preseason games, which is unnecessary. Warriors coach Steve Kerr agrees, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Connor Letourneau:

“I kind of like the idea that’s been tossed around the last couple summers to start the regular season a little earlier, maybe a week early,” Kerr said Thursday afternoon after Warriors practice. “Play five exhibition games instead of eight. I kind of like that, just so you have fewer back-to-backs in the regular season.”

The NBA has floated the idea in the past of cutting the number of preseason games in order to stretch out the regular season, thereby lessening the burden of travel and back-to-backs. The NBA has made an effort this season to cut down on back-to-backs, and this would be a logical way to do that.

Hornets’ Batum won’t let big contract affect how he plays

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 20: Nicolas Batum #5 of the Charlotte Hornets drives on Joe Johnson #2 of the Miami Heat  during game two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on April 20, 2016 in Miami, Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Nicolas Batum said he isn’t planning to alter how he plays the game after signing a five-year, $120 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets.

And that’s just fine with coach Steve Clifford.

Clifford said Batum doesn’t need to put additional pressure on himself to score just because he’s now the highest-paid player in Hornets history. He told him to play how he plays.

“You don’t change the nature of how you play. I think guys get messed up with that,” Clifford said. “… I don’t think you try to reinvent yourself because the money changed. We gave him the money because he played so well. In my opinion he was an All-Star-caliber player last season when healthy.”

Batum was acquired in a trade with Portland before last season and turned out to be a gem for Charlotte, which won 48 games and tied for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. Batum averaged a career-high 14.9 points and 5.6 assists while becoming one of the team’s top three go-to options.

Batum said he’s learned from experience that it’s not worth putting pressure on himself just because he signed a big contract.

He did in that 2012 after inking a four-year, $46 million deal to remain with the Portland Trail Blazers. While he still played well, he said it was pointless.

“I was a young guy at the time and I didn’t know what to expect,” Batum said. “Now I know. I know what I have to go through right now. I know what the views of the media and the public will be. I know that, and I’m good with it.”

For Batum, pressure no longer enters the equation because the Hornets trust him and believe in him.

“It’s more relief than pressure,” Batum said.

The Hornets made re-signing him their No. 1 priority, offering the Frenchman a huge deal about an hour into the free-agency signing period. Batum also received several offers from other teams shortly after the deadline, which he called flattering.

The 6-foot-8, 200-pound Batum enters the season as Charlotte’s best all-around player and a favorite among teammates.

“Guys are so much more comfortable when he’s out there on the floor because he makes it so much easier at both ends,” forward Marvin Williams said.

Williams said there’s a naturalness to Batum’s game, and he’s incredibly unselfish – he’s always looking for the better shot option.

“He likes to make the assist, and he likes to get everyone involved,” Williams said. “I think that is why so many people like playing with him. It’s why I love playing with him.”

And why Clifford views him as irreplaceable.

When Batum went down in the second half of last season with an ankle injury, the Hornets struggled to find their rhythm.

“He’s not a numbers guy to me,” Clifford said. “People can say, `Well, he’s making this or he’s making that (much money),’ but if he plays at the level he played at last year when he was healthy, we have a chance to be a really good team.”

The Hornets continue to work on 5-on-5 scrimmages extensively during practice as Clifford gets a feel for his team.

But there were several key players missing on Thursday.

Point guard Kemba Walker (knee) and center Cody Zeller (knee) remained out of practice while rehabbing from injuries. Guard Jeremy Lamb did not practice after stepping on a basketball and twisting his ankle, while Brian Roberts was held out after injuring his hamstring when he slipped on some water on the court. Clifford said he hopes to have Lamb and Roberts back in a few days.