Author: Dan Feldman

Lamar Odom
AP

Report: Lamar Odom not doing well, forgetting his own name

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Doctors reportedly said Lamar Odom would have no chance of leading a normal life if he survived his October drug overdose.

Unfortunately, it seems that’s coming to fruition.

Antoinette Bueno of ET:

“He’s not doing great,” the source says. “His speech is still slurred and he can barely walk on his own yet. He forgets a lot of people’s names — sometimes even his own. He definitely has some memory loss.”

We already knew Odom was facing cognitive issues, but it’s been a couple months, and things still sound bad.

Hopefully, Odom has a positive breakthrough sometime soon.

Report: Ty Lawson’s representatives want him traded from Rockets

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08:  Ty Lawson #3 of the Houston Rockets dribbles against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2015  in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  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 Al Bello/Getty Images)
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The Rockets are reportedly exploring trading Ty Lawson.

But dealing the point guard isn’t necessarily Houston’s prerogative.

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

The key issue: Lawson allowed his $13,213,482 salary for next season to become unguaranteed as a condition of his trade to the Rockets.

That’s a lot of money to miss out on, so it’s understandable Lawson wants to make a last-gasp attempt to play his way into it.

But it’s probably too late.

Lawson is scoring just 5.9 points per game on 32.9% shooting. Houston is 7.7 points per 100 possessions worse when he’s on the court than off. And he has at least one suspension coming and probably another.

Who would trade for him?

Lawson made a huge financial sacrifice to come to Houston. The Rockets probably owe him the courtesy of working with him to explore a trade. It’s not as if he’s helping them, anyway.

But I can’t imagine there’s much of a market. Lawson’s primary value is as a large expiring contract – which means he could get sent to another team that doesn’t play him much, either.

Lawson has gotten just 17 minutes per game in his last dozen games, and that doesn’t even include his DNP-CD. But the way he’s playing, it’s hard to find another team that would definitely play him more. It’s not as if a 38-year-old Jason Terry is a huge obstacle to playing time, but Lawson can’t clear even him.

Unless Lawson plays better, he’ll have a tough time getting a bigger role in Houston or dealt elsewhere. Improved production – not a trade – probably must be Lawson’s next step if he wants a chance of getting his salary guaranteed for next season.

Adam Silver says he hesitated to suspend Rajon Rondo longer to avoid outing Bill Kennedy

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Why did Rajon Rondo receive only a one-game suspension for his his anti-gay outburst against gay referee Bill Kennedy?

It seemed the Kings point guard deserved a stiffer penalty.

In one sense, the NBA was hamstrung by previous rulings. Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah were fined, but not suspended, for using anti-gay slurs in 2011. Rondo’s overall antics granted more leeway, but other considerations shortened Rondo’s suspension.

The timeline was important:

  • Dec. 3: Rondo ejected for staring down Kennedy and then goes off on tirade
  • Dec. 11: NBA suspends Rondo one game for “directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner upon his ejection”
  • Dec. 14: Kennedy comes out publicly as gay

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, via The Vertical Podcast with Woj:

Had I gone let’s say to two games from one game, or even possibly to three games, it would have been clear that something else was going on here, not just what was apparent on TV.

Because I should point out that those who watched the telecast, it’s not apparent at all what Rondo is saying, and it required in addition to the direct interviews of two officials on the floor and of course the referees’ report, an analysis of the tapes by two independent experts to determine that.

But, while Bill Kennedy was known to be gay by many people in the league, Bill Kennedy had never made that very, very personal decision to publicly come out and announce to the world that he was a gay NBA referee.

And my view – just because the chronology here is important. We made the decision to suspend Rondo for one game on Friday. Bill Kennedy’s decision to become public about being gay was not made until Monday, when you released that story. And he did not talk to me until Sunday, to tell me he had made that decision.

So, I have to say, in the back of my mind, I was concerned about that.

It did not seem appropriate to me that I should, by virtue of a bad act by Rajon Rondo, out Bill Kennedy.

Silver’s compassion is laudable. Coming out should have been Kennedy’s decision and his alone.

But there’s another spin: Rondo might have received a lesser suspension because Kennedy, who was open in some circles, hadn’t yet chosen to share his sexual orientation publicly. That doesn’t seem fair.

Of course, not everything can be fair, and Silver’s concerns were accurate. When the league suspended Rondo eight days after the incident, Kurt noted the odd timing. A longer suspension would’ve raised more flags.

Rondo put everyone – especially Kennedy – in a tough spot. I hope Kennedy was comfortable coming out publicly and didn’t feel he had his hand forced. And I hope Rondo understands the gravity of his actions.

Rondo will have to answer for them tonight, when Sacramento visits the Timberwolves for Rondo’s first game back from suspension. He and the Kings should feel fortunate he’s returning so soon.

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in Northern California, you can stream tonight’s Kings-Timberwolves game here.

NBA suspends Ty Lawson two games for DUI

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 14:  Ty Lawson #3 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on December 14, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Rockets 114-108. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Update: NBA had made the suspension official, noting the penalty is for the January incident:

Houston Rockets’ guard Ty Lawson has been suspended for two games without pay for driving while ability impaired, in violation of the law of the State of Colorado, the NBA announced today.

Lawson’s suspension will begin with tomorrow night’s game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers.

 

Ty Lawson has been arrested twice for DUI in 2015 – once in January and once in July.

Lawson recently pled guilty to the January charges, and he must have resolved the July incident. (Correction: Lawson has not resolved the July incident, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN.)

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

It has been a miserable season for Lawson, who lost his starting job and even received a DNP-CD.

The pending suspension was an expected setback. One game Two games per DUI is standard fare once the cases are settled legally.

On the bright side for the Rockets – with Patrick Beverley and Jason Terry – they won’t miss Lawson too much. But that’s obviously a problem in itself.

Clippers, after year of talent upgrades, still facing major bench problems

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 04:  Andre Iguodala #9 of the Golden State Warriors dribbles past Lance Stephenson #1, Blake Griffin #32 and Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers at ORACLE Arena on November 4, 2015 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Jamal Crawford, too long the Clippers’ only reliable reserve, couldn’t believe how much talent president/coach Doc Rivers has added given the team’s salary-cap constraints.

In the last year, Doc has traded for or signed:

  • Austin Rivers, the No. 10 overall pick just three years ago
  • Lance Stephenson, who finished second in 2014 Most Improved Player voting and played at a near-All-Star level that season – at just age 23
  • Paul Pierce, whose lengthy résumé – an All-NBA second team, three All-NBA third teams, 10 All-Star appearances and an NBA Finals MVP – will send him to the Hall of Fame
  • Josh Smith, a Defensive Player of the Year runner-up and multi-time near-All-Star

Crawford, an unapologetic gunner, was so impressed with the haul, he’s even deferring more.

“I’m trying to get them as comfortable as possible, so I’m not being the normal assassin,” Crawford said. “…For years, I’ve been the guy, period. I still am that guy, but we still have more guys to help me out. So, I’m trying to help them out.”

They need it.

The Clippers have four standout players: Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick. When those four share the floor, the Clippers outscore opponents by 14.5 points per 48 minutes. Otherwise, the Clippers get outscored by 5.4 points per 48 minutes.

Relative to every other teams’ most-used quartet, the Clippers’ +14.5 per 48 is second only to the Warriors (+24.4) and a decent step above the third-ranking Thunder (+11.9) and fifth-ranking Spurs (+10.8).

But the Clippers’ -5.4 with other lineups ranks just 24th in league – well behind those other Western Conference contenders. Top-ranked San Antonio (+14.5), second-ranked Golden State (+10.1) and fifth-ranked Oklahoma City (+4.6) continue doing damage once substitutions begin.

Simply, the Clippers look like a Western Conference contender when Griffin, Paul, Jordan and Redick share the court. Otherwise – even relative to other teams’  backup-infused units – the Clippers look like a lottery team.

The Clippers’ 19.9-per-48-minutes point difference from their their most-used quartet (+14.5) to their other lineups (-5.4) is the largest drop in the NBA. Here’s how each team’s performance with its most-used quartet on the floor (solid) changes when it goes to other lineups (faded):

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Team Most-used quartet Quartet +/- per 48 minutes Other lineups +/- per 48 minutes Difference
LAC Griffin-Jordan-Paul-Redick +14.5 -5.4 +19.9
NOP Anderson-Davis-Gordon-Smith +10.7 -8.5 +19.2
DET Caldwell-Pope-Drummond-Jackson-Morris +11.3 -7.8 +19.1
SAC Cousins-Gay-McLemore-Rondo +9.6 -5.2 +14.9
GSW Barnes-Curry-Green-Thompson +24.4 +10.1 +14.3
DAL Matthews-Nowitzki-Pachulia-Williams +7.5 -2.9 +10.4
POR Aminu-Lillard-McCollum-Plumlee +5.5 -4.4 +9.9
HOU Ariza-Beverley-Harden-Howard +6.1 -3.5 +9.6
MIL Antetokounmpo-Carter-Williams-Middleton-Monroe +0.2 -8.0 +8.2
OKC Adams-Durant-Ibaka-Westbrook +11.9 +4.6 +7.3
PHO Bledsoe-Knight-Morris-Tucker +2.9 -2.1 +5.0
MIN Garnett-Rubio-Towns-Wiggins +1.7 -2.5 +4.2
ATL Horford-Korver-Millsap-Teague +3.4 -0.4 +3.7
UTA Favors-Hayward-Hood-Neto +2.2 -1.5 +3.7
BRK Jack-Johnson-Lopez-Young -5.4 -7.5 +2.1
CHA Batum-Jefferson-Walker-Williams +5.4 +3.7 +1.7
NYK Anthony-Calderon-Lopez-Porzingis -1.6 -1.7 +0.1
CHI Butler-Gasol-Rose-Snell +1.8 +1.9 -0.2
BOS Crowder-Johnson-Sullinger-Thomas +3.8 +4.0 -0.2
WAS Beal-Gortat-Porter-Wall -6.0 -4.3 -1.7
DEN Faried-Gallinari-Harris-Mudiay -5.9 -4.1 -1.8
LAL Clarkson-Hibbert-Randle-Russell -11.6 -8.7 -3.0
SAS Duncan-Green-Leonard-Parker +10.8 +14.5 -3.7
TOR Carroll-DeRozan-Lowry-Scola +0.1 +4.2 -4.1
MEM Allen-Conley-Gasol-Randolph -8.6 -3.6 -5.0
MIA Bosh-Dragic-Wade-Whiteside -2.7 +4.2 -7.0
ORL Fournier-Harris-Payton-Vucevic -2.9 +4.3 -7.3
CLE James-Love-Mozgov-Williams -2.9 +7.6 -10.5
IND Ellis-George-Hill-Mahinmi -4.5 +8.9 -13.4
PHI Grant-McConnell-Okafor-Stauskas -28.6 -10.6 -18.0

Remarkably, it doesn’t matter whom the Clippers play with Griffin, Paul, Jordan and Redick. It always works.

Three players – Luc Mbah a Moute, Stephenson and Wesley Johnson – have started multiple games with the quartet. Each five-man lineup has produced offensive/defensive/net ratings near the Warriors’ overall marks (113.1/97.8/+15.3).

Here’s how the Clippers have performed with their big four and:

  • Mbah a Moute: 109.7/96.8/+12.9
  • Stephenson: 115.0/97.3/+17.7
  • Johnson: 113.6/96.7/+-16.9

Here’s how that compares to the overall ratings of the other Western Conference contenders – Warriors (113.1/97.8/+15.3), Spurs (106.1/92/+14.1) and Thunder(107.7/99.9/+7.9). The bounds are set to the NBA’s best and worst offensive and defensive ratings, and the axes represent the median marks

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The Clippers’ defense is excellent with their big four, and their offense is literally off the charts.

Doc appreciates having a unit he can count on.

“That helps, but we want two,” Doc said. “And we’re working on that.”

It’ll take more work than the Clippers hoped, though that wasn’t entirely unpredictable.

You can scroll up to see the optimistic view of the newcomers, but there was certainly another outlook.

Austin needed significant improvement just to become a viable NBA player, though he thinks much more highly of himself and too often plays like it. The Hornets seemed fed up with Stephenson from nearly the moment they signed him. Pierce is 38 years old. Smith was so unproductive in Detroit, the Pistons ate more than $30 million to waive him.

Doc has tried multiple solutions – playing all the reserves together, staggering when Griffin, Paul, Jordan and Redick sit and even recently giving Stephenson a DNP-CD. The results have all been similar: The Clippers look uncomfortable playing together whenever reserves infiltrate the lineup.

Maybe that will get better with time. Griffin, Paul, Jordan and Redick didn’t immediately click to this degree. Now, those four mesh seamlessly, their styles complementing each other. Stephenson, Smith and Pierce have the varied skill sets to find ways to help  – if they put their minds to it. It doesn’t help that Smith is in a contract year, and Stephenson faces the likelihood of having his 2016-17 team option declined.

The 16-10 Clippers can get by in the regular season like this, but this isn’t a recipe for playoff success. In the postseason, their most important question could become: How much playing time can Griffin, Paul, Jordan and Redick handle before fatigue causes their performance to decline? The answer, after a round or maaaaybe even two, will almost certainly be “not enough.”

Still, the Warriors have been so dominant when they use their best players – even more so than the Clippers. Unless Golden State comes back down to earth, it might not even matter if the Clippers’ reserves make tremendous strides.

But for the Clippers to have any chance of winning big in May and June, they need to find a rotation – not just a four-man unit – that works. Despite all their efforts, they’re still not close.