Author: Dan Feldman

Ty Lawson

Ty Lawson: I wouldn’t have gone to rehab if not court-ordered


Ty Lawson – after two DUI arrests in six months – spent 30 days in rehab this summer.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said he was confident Lawson was getting the help he needed in rehab.

Houston guard James Harden said Lawson left rehab more focused than ever.

As for Lawson himself?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Lawson learned “what triggers are” and “what forces someone to drink,” but says this on his public and private problems with alcohol: “I still honestly don’t think I would’ve had to go in there if it wasn’t court ordered. I just made two dumb mistakes. But I did take things from the [rehabilitation facility].”

Well, four dumb mistakes.

Lawson reportedly told police during his January DUI arrest that he had a previous one in Missouri. He also pleaded guilty to underage drinking in driving while at North Carolina.

And those are only the driving-related dumb mistakes. According to Nuggets president Josh Kroenke, Lawson smelled of alcohol at practice going years back.

At my most generous, I could concede it’s possible Lawson doesn’t have a problem with alcohol and didn’t need the type of rehab he got.

But he definitely has a problem – with drinking and driving.

To get behind the wheel inebriated and put the public at risk is a sickening offense. Lawson should have never done it once. But to face the consequence, to have it made clear what risk you present to strangers – and then do it again? It’s awful and tragic.

Maybe Lawson can control how much he drinks and when. I don’t think that has been the case, but maybe. The disregard he shows for others by driving afterward might be separate from the substance-abuse issue, but it darn sure matters. It gets people killed.

I don’t know whether Lawson needed this type of rehab, but he definitely needed a wakeup call about drinking and driving. Those close to him better make sure he got it.

Joakim Noah wants another chance to start with Pau Gasol

Timofey Mozgov, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah

Last summer, Tom Thibodeau said he considered Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson all starters – even though only two would technically start at power forward and center.

Turns out, Thibodeau’s most effective big man might not have even been on that list. Rookie Nikola Mirotic provided a necessary dose of floor spacing.

That depth could have been a good problem to have.

Instead, Thibodeau started Noah and Gasol and leaned heavily on the pairing. They were far from awful, but with better alternatives buried on the bench, the decision might have contributed to Thibodeau’s firing.

So, will replacement Fred Hoiberg break up Noah and Gasol in the starting lineup?

Noah hopes he has a chance to prove otherwise.

Noah, via Vincent Goodwill of

“I think we should give it an honest evaluation while I’m healthy,” Noah said. “Last year, I wasn’t healthy. Let’s see how it goes and then coaches can make a decision from there.”

Noah was very clearly not fully healthy last year, and that limited his effectiveness. If he can move better, he could cover for Gasol defensively and help space the floor offensively with his passing. But I’m not ready to assume a 30-year-old Noah got spryer after just one summer. He’ll have to prove it.

Even then, starting Mirotic might still be a better choice.

Here’s the offensive rating/defensive rating/net rating for each Bulls big-man combination last season:

  • Noah-Gasol: 103.2/100.4/+2.8 in 1258 minutes
  • Gibson-Gasol: 106.1/102.6/+3.5 in 870 minutes
  • Mirotic-Gibson: 103.7/98.9/+4.8 in 666 minutes
  • Mirotic-Gasol: 103.7/99.3/+4.4 in 653 minutes
  • Mirotic-Noah: 104.7/99.9/+4.8 in 579 minutes
  • Gibson-Noah: 97.3/104.8/-7.4 in 421 minutes

The clear lesson: Mirotic helps. He’s involved in the best three pairings.

But if Gibson-Noah is as bad a combination as it looked last year – though I don’t think it is – starting Mirotic and Gasol could sink Chicago’s bench. What about starting Mirotic and Noah and bringing Gasol and Gibson off the bench? Gasol says he expects his minutes to come down. That could be a way.

Thibodeau faced a difficult choice, and many think he botched it. It’s not any easier for Hoiberg – especially if Noah is healthy.

Hoiberg ought to take Noah’s advice and consider all options, including leaving the starting lineup untouched.

Nuggets coach challenges Kenneth Faried: Play hard, get more shots

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers
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DENVER (AP) Kenneth Faried instantly perked up when his new coach proclaimed the Denver Nuggets would return to their uptempo roots.

The athletic forward nicknamed Manimal can be Manimal again.

Faried is at his best when he’s free to crash the boards, fly around the court and get the crowd – along with his teammates – revved up by his all-out hustle. He felt a bit muzzled in years past, but not so under coach Michael Malone, who believes he’s about to unleash Manimal 2.0.

This version even comes complete with a burgeoning inside game and a work-in-progress jumper. Maybe a little 3-point range, too.

“I don’t want him to forget who he is, the core of Kenneth Faried. That’s a guy who plays harder than anybody else on the floor,” said Malone, who is trying to get Denver back on track after missing the playoffs the last two seasons under Brian Shaw. “If he can do that for us, we’ll reward him and give him touches where he can showcase his offensive development.”

Faried views himself as one of the team’s franchise players, especially nowadays after his best friend Ty Lawson was dealt to Houston. That trade was a tough blow for him, losing the speedy point guard who could feed Faried so effortlessly for those rim-rattling dunks.

“Got to live with it,” said Faried, who averaged 12.6 points and 8.9 rebounds last season.

This helps – the emergence of rookie playmaker Emmanuel Mudiay.

“I’m excited to see how he throws those lobs or pinpoints those passes when he goes through lane and drops them off, just like Ty used to do,” said Faried, a first-round pick in 2011 out of Morehead State. “His court vision is amazing.”

Faried was all smiles earlier in the week. That hasn’t always been the case the last two seasons, when he really wasn’t sure what his role entailed. This season, he knows that he’ll be an integral part of Malone’s team along with Mudiay, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari.

“I’m going to continue to be myself and continue to be the Manimal and try to lead this team by being the Manimal,” said Faried, whose team is coming off a 30-52 season. “I believe we have a chance to make the playoffs this year. … I don’t care what anybody has to stay about it.”

For a change, he feels secure. The 25-year-old Faried knows there are no trade rumors hovering over his head.

“Either you learn how to deal with it or let it defeat you,” Faried said of trade speculation. “At times, I thought, `OK this is going to defeat me.’ Now that I’ve grown, and the Nuggets said, `You’re not going anywhere,’ I’m OK.”

Better than OK, even. He’s already in regular-season shape, checking in at a trim 215 pounds. His legs feel fresh as well, which is understandable.

Before the 2014-15 season, he arrived at training camp after guiding Mike Krzyzewski’s U.S. squad to a championship at the Basketball World Cup. That experience was tiring, but taught him how to be a better leader, which is one of his goals this season.

“Not vocally, but more (through) action,” he said.

Memo to Malone: Faried wouldn’t mind being given the green light to attempt more 3-pointers, either, since he’s been working on them. He went 1-for-6 at a Team USA exhibition game from that distance in August.

“A lot of them were in and out,” cracked Faried, who is 1 for 11 in his career from 3-point land. “Steph Curry didn’t make every shot in the playoffs, did he? Klay Thompson, either. Got to get better. That’s what I’m doing.”

Malone is on board with Faried hoisting more shots – within reason, he quickly cautioned.

“I’m not a big fan of the 3-point shot with Kenneth,” Malone said. “But I’ll tell you this: I believe in rewarding the big man. If he’s doing all the dirty work, we owe it to him giving him the ball every once in a while.”