Nuggets president: Ty Lawson smelled of alcohol at practice going years back

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Ty Lawson was arrested for DUI earlier this month.

Notice the ‘2’ at the end. The sad ‘2’ automatically appeared, because we also had a post in January with the identical headline: “Report: Ty Lawson arrested for DUI.”

Lawson reportedly admitted to a previous DUI in Missouri, and he also pleaded guilty to a drinking-and-driving offense while at North Carolina.

Those were just the start of Lawson’s alcohol problems, according to Nuggets president Josh Kroenke.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Kroenke told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday in a phone interview that the Nuggets had been privately trying to help Lawson with his issues for “the past couple of years” and that there had been problems for a long time.

Kroenke said he had repeated conversations with Lawson about his “life struggles,” adding that Lawson often said he would attempt to fix his issues but he could “never fully shake them.”

“He always had an affinity for burning the candle at both ends,” Kroenke said. “We want to give our players freedom to be young guys as well. We’re not going to be drill sergeants. But we want our guys to be able to handle their personal lives on their own.

“Ty … there were times when he was better than others. But the problems have been there for several years, going back to when we were having a lot of on-court success. I don’t want to go back too far. There were just a lot of times where you were at practice and you just know. You could smell it. You know there is probably deeper issues than he would probably let on.”

This could be true. I tend to believe it is.

But Kroenke has incentive to smear Lawson, because the Nuggets just traded the point guard for a low return given Lawson’s talent.

The less people think of Lawson, the more they’ll approve of Denver’s deal. Getting a protected first-round pick and a couple decent players might not be so bad if Lawson’s problems run as deep as Kroenke says.

This also casts doubt into my theory a chance to play for the contender-level Rockets will help Lawson clean up his act. If he were drinking too much even when the Nuggets were winning, his personal and work problems might not be as related as I thought. Lawson was clearly unhappy in Denver last year. If that’s not what led to his alcohol issues, he and the Rockets must address the real source.

Hopefully, that process has already begun.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.