DeAndre Liggins

Wednesday And-1 links: Updates on Liggins, White domestic violence cases

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points more than Slovenian basketball fans love Goran Dragic right now (he carried them to a EuroBasket win)…

• The details of the incident that led to the DeAndre Liggins domestic assault charges have come out and it is ugly. According to court documents obtained by the Oklahoman, Liggins’ girlfriend said the Thunder player “hit her in the head with his hand and then punched her in the head when she fell on the ground” and all of that in front of their 2-year-old son. After that the woman locker herself in her bedroom but “Liggins reportedly kicked in the door, pushed her down, dropped a fan on her, stomped her with his foot and dropped an Xbox on her head.”

This is all still alleged, but if true the court should not be lenient in this case.

• While we are on this ugly topic, current Sixers Royce White (who has yet to play in the NBA) is under investigation for a domestic violence situation, reports TMZ. I’d say this would hurt White’s chances of ever getting on an NBA court, but I don’t think those chances were all that good anyway.

The business school at Emory University did a study and ranking of the social media equity among NBA teams. The top five (in order): Lakers, Heat, Celtics, Bobcats, Warriors. Dead last are your Los Angeles Clippers.

Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA with a fantastic story on Lamar Odom and why so many people around the league are rooting for him. Very emotional, personal stuff that couldn’t have been easy to write.

• The Kamanetzky Brothers had Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their podcast to talk Kobe Bryant, Mike D’Antoni and all things Lakers. Plus some Big Lebowski. They all wore socks during the making of the podcast, you can decide where for yourself.

Forcing a lot of turnovers on defense doesn’t seem to help your offense as much as you would think (the idea is easy baskets in transition, but not so much).

• The smart bloggers over at Sports Illustrated take a look at the bubble playoff teams out there now. I’m with them that I think the Lakers miss the cut because their defense will be bad.

• Make of this whatever you want, but know he will get teased about this in the Nuggets locker room.

• Landry Fields is still trying to rehab from his elbow injury and as part of that has restructured his shot.

• Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the team trying to build a new arena for the Kings in Sacramento announced Wednesday a new deal with the area construction unions on getting the project build. For those of you who love bureaucratic jargon it is a “Community Workforce and Training Agreement” and it covers the hiring and oversight of the more than 3,000 workers expected on the project. Part of the deal is that 60% of construction workers and 70% of apprentices get hired from the City of Sacramento and surrounding region. Which seems fair. This is all just another sign that project is moving along well.

• Andre Drummond is dating Jennette McCurdy. If you don’t know who McCurdy is, go ask your tween daughter.

• Here’s a long look at the future salary obligations of the 76ers, and how much room GM Sam Hinkie could have going forward. I think this takes an optimistic attitude, for example I think the Sixers may well let Evan Turner become a restricted free agent then keep him at a lower price (he might be wise to take the qualifying offer rather than the pay cut).

• Over at TrueHoop, they have been taking a long look at ways to reduce tanking (know now tanking is going to be a big story the second half of this coming season). There are ideas such as the ludicrous tournament of non-playoff teams, but I still think the best way is to say every team that doesn’t make the playoffs has the same chance in the lottery — last season in the East the nine-seed Sixers and 15-seed Magic would have the same lottery odds. That way, no reason to be super terrible. Nothing will eliminate tanking (even in my scenario this season the 8 seed team may try to tank into the lottery rather than just get crushed by the Heat/Thunder/whoever are the top seeds) but this will stop some teams from dumping all talent to get as bad as they can.

• For the second straight year, Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas was  named the 2012 FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year.

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.