Some believed the Minnesota Timberwolves got a steal when they selected Shabazz Muhammad with the last pick in this year’s lottery. The former top prospect has some off-court problems, sure, but most believed he’d be fine as long as he was able to keep his nose clean at the next level.
That unfortunately hasn’t been the case for Muhammad, however. The 20-year-old UCLA product struggled at the NBA Summer League for the Timberwolves and didn’t help himself by being the only player kicked out of this year’s NBA Rookie Transition Program. The violation was minor — he reportedly had a female guest in his room that wasn’t pre-approved by the faculty — but it was just the latest in what’s been a tough year for the former Bruin.
And, if it doesn’t get better soon, things could get worse: New general manager Flip Saunders was pretty blunt when talking with KFAN’s Dan Barreiro regarding the Muhammad situation:
“In our league, you have to be disciplined and being ‘disciplined’ is being able to adhere to whatever rules are given and you gotta abide by the rules,” Saunders said on the local radio host’s show. “So that’s been disappointing. But when I talk to him, he’s either gonna learn the rules and learn to abide by things with the big boys or he’s gonna really quick learn a geography class: where Des Moines is in the NBDL down in Iowa.”
The idea of using the D-League as punishment isn’t a good one — I’ve argued that many times in many places in the past — but playing for the Iowa Energy might be just what Muhammad needs in order to get a reality check. Players in the D-League isn’t for the mentally weak and the veterans that have scratched and clawed just to get into the world’s most-scouted league would likely put a target on the back of a player many considered to be a potential top pick during his younger years.
If Muhammad is assigned to the D-League and thrives with the reality check, it’ll be worth it and likely a humbling experience. If he takes the assignment as punishment and blows it off, however, it’ll be one more bad step in a career that’s beginning to have too many for a 20-year-old rookie.
The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.
Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.
On offensive problems:
I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball
On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:
He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.
On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:
We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.
Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.
But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.
Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.
Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.
He’d appreciate them getting this message.
Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.
So, um, did he have offseason surgery?
Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.
We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?