How Larry Sanders’ marijuana suspension cured his injury

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In mid-March, the Bucks said Larry Sanders would miss the rest of the season due to a broke eye socket.

Last week, the NBA suspended Sanders five games for testing positive for marijuana.

After the drug test – nay, because of the drug test – the Bucks cleared Sanders to play.

Talk about the power of medicinal marijuana.

When Sanders was suspended, it was presumed he’d serve the penalty during the first five games of next season. The clock doesn’t start until a player is active.

But the Bucks want Sanders to serve the suspension this season, while they’re headed toward the No. 1 seed in the lottery. Next season, when there’s at least a chance they can make the playoffs, they’d rather have Sanders available.

Of course, this confirms the Bucks aren’t as interested in winning this season. (Call that tanking if you wish. I would.) Otherwise, they’d have Sanders available as soon as he were healthy enough to play. Even in a miserable season, he tops the end-of-bench alternative.

So, how did Milwaukee get away with this switcheroo?

Tom Ziller of SB Nation:

It turns out there’s a process by which players are physically cleared to play by the team and an independent league-appointed doctor before suspensions can be served. What happened in this case, according to a league official: the Bucks’ team doctor cleared Sanders, and sent his evaluation to the NBA. League officials reviewed and accepted the team doctor’s conclusion. Then an independent physician contracted by the league examined Sanders and confirmed the team doctor’s conclusion that Sanders is physically able to play.

After all of that, the NBA agreed that Sanders could be activated and begin serving his suspension.

Sanders began serving his suspension against the Pacers last night, and with four more Milwaukee games remaining this season, he’ll be in the clear next season.

It’s really a win for all parties.

The Bucks get a contributor when they want him to help them win, not while they’re competing for better lottery odds.

By serving his suspension this season – while he’s still on his rookie contract and before his four-year, $44 million extension kicks in – Sanders will forfeit just $138,789 in salary. Next season, it would have been $500,000. That’s a cool $361,211 staying in Sanders’ pocket.

And the league avoids harshly enforcing what increasingly seems like an antiquated penalty for using a substance now legalized in two states (and probably more soon). Sanders wasn’t playing again this season, so he wasn’t risking harming his team, either – except as it applies to this rule.

Which, it turns out, isn’t as strict as it appeared.

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.

 

 

Video of Kawhi Leonard struggling to board team plane concerning

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The San Antonio Spurs have been very tight lipped about how serious Kawhi Leonard‘s ongoing quadriceps issue is. He hasn’t played in the preseason or now the start of the regular season, with no timetable for his return. Part of that is the nature of the Spurs organization, but it leads to the feeling there is something more there.

Now surfaces this video of Leonard gingerly, slowly making his way up some stairs to the team plane, and it’s concerning.

To be fair, there is a real lack of context here, but according to the San Antonio Express-News, he had just come out of a rehab session. That means he might have been especially sore (and could have been iced up for the flight).

Still, this video makes one think it could be a while longer before we see Leonard back on the floor for San Antonio. (By the way over the past three seasons, including this one, the Spurs are 15-4 when Leonard sits. They will be fine short term.)