You asked questions on twitter, time to answer them

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Welcome to a new feature here at PBT, where we answer your twitter questions regarding basketball, food, comics and just about everything else. Well, no food questions this week but maybe in the future. Basically, if you ask it we’ll try to answer it.

I admit to stealing this column idea from Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra, so the first question ties in to an occasional HBT topic.

Q. In honor of Calcaterra, I’m contractually obligated to ask for your thoughts on Aquaman. (@hurricanept)

I know bald bloggers are supposed to stick together. And I love reading Calcaterra and his baseball brilliance, plus ability throw high and hard at Gleeman. But dude is flat out wrong about Aquaman. Maybe because Craig is stuck in the 1970s, maybe because he fears the color orange, or most likely because he loves seafood and desperately wishes he could talk to fish. He’s just jealous.

People blame Aquaman but he isn’t the problem — he is the King of Atlantis, can speak to fish and control the oceans. Those are bleeping awesome powers unless you live in Nebraska. The problem is Aquaman has been written poorly, especially back in Craig’s ‘70s. For me, the Peter David Aquaman of the 1990s flat out rocked. Anyone with a harpoon hand has my vote. He was an Arthurian warrior king on a quest. He had a mission. So, you know, that storyline died. But Aquaman can be great in the right hands.

And when they make an Aquaman movie, Adrian Grenier must play the lead or I will be disappointed.

Q. If there is a season, will the Bulls have a chance to tinker with the roster? We’re still a player or two away. (@JTILLMAN9693)

Hey, you agree with Dwyane Wade, he says you are just one player away, too. What Bulls fan doesn’t want to agree with Wade? By the way, I’d say one starter and some depth, actually, but I think we’re all basically on the same page here.

What player? Has to be a wing player who can create shots and take pressure off of Derrick Rose. If you’re up for a little gamble on health (and his recovery), maybe Caron Butler is a guy to make a run at. Also depends on who is on the trade block once we see the new CBA.

As for time to tinker, NBA post-lockout history says yes but not much. Back in 1999, training camps and free agency were condensed into one hectic month. My guess is we will see something like that again, and the front offices that come in with the best preparation and think fastest on their feet can get some steals and deals. The question becomes, is that the Bulls front office? I have my doubts, but we shall see.

Q. Are the Lakers the most annoying team in the world, or second, behind the Yankees? (@ZachLowe_SI)

Fifth. The list goes: 1) New York Yankees (I think we all agree on that, even Yankee fans); 2) USC Football; 3) Boston Celtics; 4) Manchester United; 5) Lakers (Sorry Zach).

Q. Do you see the Pistons parting ways with Ben Gordon? (@WhatRobSaid)

Frankly, that should be up to Lawrence Frank. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.) Gordon can put the rock in the hole efficiently, and that is a valuable commodity, but he needs to be put in situations that suit his skill set (good spot up shooter, can create in isolation, works well off the ball). Nothing with Jon Kuester ever seemed to fit. So, to paraphrase John Lennon, “give Frank a chance.” But if Gordon is still square peg round hole, then you should try to move him. There will be some interest out there, but not as much as Pistons fans dream.

Q. Is it ever appropriate to wear socks with crocs? (@dailythunder)

Mario Batali does it and he seems fat and happy. So, if it makes you fat and happy — and you never want to get laid again — go for it.

Q. What’s wrong with including some provision for games missed to injury in new CBA? Like 50% pay for injured games lost? (@jazzingitup)

A couple of things, really. One is that accidents are what your insurance industry friends would call “acts of god.” Most of the time. Sometimes there are conditioning issues or whatever, but most of the time injuries are like what happened to Blake Griffin (throws down a dunk lands normally and his knee just doesn’t like it so he misses a full season). That’s part of the risk to players and should they lose money because of such a fluke?

More importantly, if a player gets paid more for playing, they will rush back and play through pain. Good you say, and you might be right if it’s the playoffs. But what if it is February against Minnesota? Do you want a player to rush back to make more money and in doing so suffer a longer term injury? It does not benefit the team.

Also, remember that for big contracts teams have insurance against injuries, so they don’t fork over all that cash.

Kobe Bryant in Big3 next year? One league co-founder says yes.

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Ice Cube — the hip-hop legend, actor, and co-founder of the Big3 — knows Kobe Bryant, because he’s Ice Cube and everyone wants to know him. Cube has said every time he sees Kobe he tries to get the former Laker to join the Big3, and every time Kobe shoots him down.

But Friday, Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz said he expects Kobe will play in the league next year.

It was during a conference call to promote the Big3 title game (this Friday night in Brooklyn, and broadcast on Fox at 8p.m.). Myself and other media on that call did a double take (if you can do that on a phone call). Everyone else on the call from the Big3 let it die.

This came after last weekend when a reporter asked Stephen Jackson if Kobe could handle the Big3, to which Jackson offered to slap the reporter then basically begged Bryant to join the league

.Don’t bet on it happening.

First, Kwatinetz says a lot of things and has grand ambitions for the league, as he should, but what he says also should be taken with plenty of salt. This year more name stars did jump in — Amar’e Stoudemire, Nate Robinson, Metta World Peace — but Kobe would be another level (or three). The league would love to land him (or Kevin Garnett, or Paul Pierce) but so far that level of recent star has eluded the Big3. Someday that likely will change.

But not with Kobe.

Kobe was as well prepared for life after basketball as any NBA player ever can be. He’s got other interests and threw himself into those — he won an Oscar — plus has kept his toes in the NBA waters talking to and working out with young players such as Jaylen Brown. Also, he’s done a film breakdown series for ESPN. He’s spent more time with his family. All of which is to say, he may miss basketball but he’s got a full plate.

Ice Cube will keep asking Kobe, and one should never say never. But until Kobe comes out and says he’s in, don’t bet on seeing this happen.

 

Marcus Morris smoked marijuana to deal with anxiety while with Pistons

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When the Suns traded Marcus Morris to the Pistons, he called it “betrayal.”

It wasn’t that, but it’s also worth understanding why he felt that way – and what it means in a greater context.

Marcus signed a below-market contract extension to stay with his twin brother Markieff Morris in Phoenix. That was foolish, because it made Marcus more tradable – and the Suns dealt him. Marcus just didn’t understand enough about how the NBA operated.

Why did he make that error? At least in part because he was blinded by a very understandable loyalty to Markieff.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

When the twins were in high school, their house burned down with their family cat trapped inside. Their mother, Angel, moved them and their brother Blake into a small home in Hunting Park with their maternal grandparents, a tight squeeze for teenage boys who would grow to be nearly 6-foot-10. They lived in the basement and slept on a mattress, with no heat and a ceiling that was only 6½ feet high, which made it impossible for them to fully stand up. Yet they were grateful, because at least they had family who cared. Only one in 20 of their friends had a father around — the twins’ dad was nowhere to be seen, either — and their mother worked long hours so she could pay for their basketball shoes and something to eat at supper. The twins leaned on each other for companionship, solace and courage.

“We were just trying to survive every day,” Marcus says. “As a kid, it’s fun for a minute. You don’t see yourself in any danger. Once you become a teenager, you’re unprotected. Now you’re a target. If you’re wearing some Jordans, they’re coming for you. There were plenty of times I had to protect myself. You walk out the door every day looking around, watching your back, just trying to stay out of the line of fire.

“You see shootings, pistol whippings. One wrong decision, one wrong word, and it escalates so quickly into a full-blown war. It’s like that in Philly. You’re trapped in a box. Your opportunity is so small, so once a person gets ahold of something, they protect it with their life. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t lived it.

“We just walked out stressed all the time. I said to my brother once, ‘You know, this is no way to live.'”

The Morris’ situation is unique, but it’s not totally atypical. The black experience in America has always been subject to large amounts of violence. Redlining continues to keep black people in more violent neighborhoods with more poverty, worse schools and harsher policing – elements that continue the cycle.

Those stressors contribute to mental-health issues, and if the NBA – whose players are predominantly black – is concerned about mental health, it can’t ignore this greater context.

The Suns didn’t sound like they empathized. Marcus began his pro career in Houston, and it didn’t sound like Rockets general manager Daryl Morey – who doesn’t have the best track record of discussing mental health – knew how to relate to Marcus, either. MacMullan:

That summer, he refused to go to Houston for offseason workouts and wouldn’t answer calls from the Rockets’ staff. “[Rockets general manager] Daryl Morey is telling me, ‘You’re hurting your career,’ but I was thinking, ‘Well, you guys are hurting my career,'” Morris recalls. “I didn’t trust them. I didn’t trust anybody.”

The results weren’t better in Detroit, either. MacMullan:

Morris couldn’t sleep because his mind was racing all the time. The Pistons tried to make him feel welcome, but he wasn’t very responsive. He was often up all night replaying a missed shot or a mistake on the floor, and his play was suffering. He seriously considered quitting, but what would he do? Go back to Philly? That notion led to more anxiety, more stress. He tried sleeping pills. He smoked marijuana. Nothing granted him peace.

I’m very curious how this will be received. White coaches Steve Kerr and Phil Jackson admitted to smoking marijuana to help with pain after back surgeries, and people were generally understanding. Black player Larry Sanders – trying to cope with anxiety, depression and mood disorders – essentially got run out of the league for using marijuana and espousing its benefits.

White people get more benefit of the doubt on drug use. Physical pain is taken more seriously than mental pain.

Marijuana isn’t the answer for everyone dealing with anxiety and stress, because there is no single answer for everyone. But criminalizing marijuana – banned legally in many places and by the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement – isn’t the answer. The appropriateness of marijuana for NBA players should be explored.

Perhaps it will be as we remove the stigma around mental health. Players like Marcus Morris opening up about their issues is a huge step forward – and especially important one considering the NBA’s majority-black demographics.

It sounds as if Morris is getting far better help from the Celtics. I highly recommend reading MacMullan’s full article for more on that and how mental health and race intersect as it pertains to the NBA.

NBA rookies agree on little, but Trae Young’s shooting and playmaking supremacy comes closest

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You might see stories today about Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr.‘s peers picking him to have the best career among this rookie class. After all, he was the top vote-getter in that category in the NBA’s annual rookie survey.

But 87% of polled rookies chose someone else. That Carter’s 13% of votes led means only so much.

That was the story throughout the survey.

The leaders for predicted Rookie of the Year (tie between Suns’ Deandre Ayton and Cavaliers’ Collin Sexton), biggest steal based on where he was drafted (Timberwolves’ Keita Bates-Diop), most athletic (76ers’ Zhaire Smith) and best defender (Grizzlies’ Jevon Carter) each received less than 30% of the vote in their category. In other words, more than two-thirds of polled players picked a rookie other than the leader in each category.

The exceptions: best shooter (Hawks’ Trae Young at 47%) and best playmaker (Young at 35%). But even he didn’t get a majority of votes. Still, I appreciate many of his peers recognizing his passing ability. That’s his best skill, not the deep shooting that draws so much attention.

Report: Mavericks awaiting potential NBA punishment due to predatory work environment

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The Mavericks’ investigation into their predatory work environment is progressing more slowly than some expected.

The latest holdup?

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:

The investigation into the Mavericks’ front-office scandal remains in idle, awaiting input and possible sanctions from the NBA as well as ensuring that details in the investigators’ report are double-checked, sources said Monday.

The hope is that the results can be made public next week. But there is no firm timetable.

Hopefully, the Mavericks identify and fix problems in their organization. No employees should be subject to sexual harassment. That’s most important.

But there will also be a close eye on how the league responds, specifically whether penalties affect the team on the court. NBA fans won’t see the most significant changes in Dallas. Most Mavericks employees are out of sight, out of mind. But fans will watch the players perform, and forfeited draft picks or anything like that will draw more attention.