Wednesday And-1 links: Updates on Liggins, White domestic violence cases

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points more than Slovenian basketball fans love Goran Dragic right now (he carried them to a EuroBasket win)…

• The details of the incident that led to the DeAndre Liggins domestic assault charges have come out and it is ugly. According to court documents obtained by the Oklahoman, Liggins’ girlfriend said the Thunder player “hit her in the head with his hand and then punched her in the head when she fell on the ground” and all of that in front of their 2-year-old son. After that the woman locker herself in her bedroom but “Liggins reportedly kicked in the door, pushed her down, dropped a fan on her, stomped her with his foot and dropped an Xbox on her head.”

This is all still alleged, but if true the court should not be lenient in this case.

• While we are on this ugly topic, current Sixers Royce White (who has yet to play in the NBA) is under investigation for a domestic violence situation, reports TMZ. I’d say this would hurt White’s chances of ever getting on an NBA court, but I don’t think those chances were all that good anyway.

The business school at Emory University did a study and ranking of the social media equity among NBA teams. The top five (in order): Lakers, Heat, Celtics, Bobcats, Warriors. Dead last are your Los Angeles Clippers.

Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA with a fantastic story on Lamar Odom and why so many people around the league are rooting for him. Very emotional, personal stuff that couldn’t have been easy to write.

• The Kamanetzky Brothers had Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their podcast to talk Kobe Bryant, Mike D’Antoni and all things Lakers. Plus some Big Lebowski. They all wore socks during the making of the podcast, you can decide where for yourself.

Forcing a lot of turnovers on defense doesn’t seem to help your offense as much as you would think (the idea is easy baskets in transition, but not so much).

• The smart bloggers over at Sports Illustrated take a look at the bubble playoff teams out there now. I’m with them that I think the Lakers miss the cut because their defense will be bad.

• Make of this whatever you want, but know he will get teased about this in the Nuggets locker room.

• Landry Fields is still trying to rehab from his elbow injury and as part of that has restructured his shot.

• Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the team trying to build a new arena for the Kings in Sacramento announced Wednesday a new deal with the area construction unions on getting the project build. For those of you who love bureaucratic jargon it is a “Community Workforce and Training Agreement” and it covers the hiring and oversight of the more than 3,000 workers expected on the project. Part of the deal is that 60% of construction workers and 70% of apprentices get hired from the City of Sacramento and surrounding region. Which seems fair. This is all just another sign that project is moving along well.

• Andre Drummond is dating Jennette McCurdy. If you don’t know who McCurdy is, go ask your tween daughter.

• Here’s a long look at the future salary obligations of the 76ers, and how much room GM Sam Hinkie could have going forward. I think this takes an optimistic attitude, for example I think the Sixers may well let Evan Turner become a restricted free agent then keep him at a lower price (he might be wise to take the qualifying offer rather than the pay cut).

• Over at TrueHoop, they have been taking a long look at ways to reduce tanking (know now tanking is going to be a big story the second half of this coming season). There are ideas such as the ludicrous tournament of non-playoff teams, but I still think the best way is to say every team that doesn’t make the playoffs has the same chance in the lottery — last season in the East the nine-seed Sixers and 15-seed Magic would have the same lottery odds. That way, no reason to be super terrible. Nothing will eliminate tanking (even in my scenario this season the 8 seed team may try to tank into the lottery rather than just get crushed by the Heat/Thunder/whoever are the top seeds) but this will stop some teams from dumping all talent to get as bad as they can.

• For the second straight year, Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas was  named the 2012 FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year.

LeBron James, Doc Rivers, others around NBA react to, participate in protests

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The NBA family spoke out loudly and quickly in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer.

Protests have erupted nationwide following Floyd’s death, and the NBA family is commenting on — and in the case of some players, participating in — those protests. That includes the biggest name in the sport today, LeBron James.

Pistons’ coach Dwane Casey made a powerful statement recently, and on Sunday Doc Rivers released this statement through the Clippers.

A number of players have been involved in the protest, including Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie of the Timberwolves, who were with former NBA player Stephen Jackson — a childhood friend of Floyd’s — during a protest in Minnesota.

The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to help lead a peaceful protest that started at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park. He was joined by the Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon.

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Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a brilliant op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times that talked about where the rage of the riots comes from in the black community.

“Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.

“So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.”

And all this is just the tip of the iceberg of involvement of the NBA family, just like the protests are the tip of the iceberg of the frustration felt in black communities around the nation.

Jonas Valanciunas on return: “It’s kind of like coming back from the summer”

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Memphis is in when the NBA returns, and in whatever form it returns. The Grizzlies had earned the eighth seed in the West behind the standout play of rookie Ja Morant, and if the NBA goes with a play-in format for the final playoff seeds (as expected), there will be teams gunning for that slot.

Memphis’ veteran big man Jonas Valanciunas will be ready, he told Michael Wallace at the team’s official website. Valanciunas spent time in Memphis and Miami during the lockdown, checking in with family back in Lithuania, but is back in the gym getting up shots. He described the return process this way.

“It’s kind of like coming back from the summer. We’ve had two-and-a-half months off. But then again, I play with the (Lithuania) National Team every summer, so it’s not like you always have so much time off every summer. So it’s sort of like coming back and getting ready for training camp again, to get back in shape and into game rhythm. It’s unusual, with guys wearing masks and stuff, but it is sort of like getting yourself ready for training camp right now.

A lot of players feel the same way, that this was sort of like an offseason (just one where they couldn’t get in the gym and work on a specific skill or weakness). Now things are ramping up again. This is why players want a handful of games before the playoffs (or play-in tournament) start, to get their legs under them.

Memphis will have strong teams, and more veteran units, coming for their playoff spot in the form of Portland and New Orleans. Valanciunas says the Grizzlies will be ready.

We’re really motivated. We don’t need to find extra motivation. We’re young. We want to establish our names and build as a unit.

It’s going to be a unique format when the NBA returns, in what has been a season turned upside down. That, however, can be a bonding experience for this young Grizzlies team, something that makes them better faster.

Some NBA players reportedly expect families can’t come to Orlando until September

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Nothing is set in stone until the owners vote on Thursday, but the NBA’s return likely will have teams reporting to the “bubble” (or campus, or whatever term of art the league ends up using) in Orlando in mid-July. Games would start July 31 and run into late September and maybe even October.

For players, that’s a long time to be stuck in a hotel without seeing family or loved ones, so families joining the players has long been part of the plan. Except, now comes a note from Tim Reynolds at the AP that some players think their families may not be able to join them until deep into the postseason.

The smaller the bubble, the easier it is to maintain with extensive testing, which is why not all 30 teams are expected to be invited and the size of team traveling parties will be smaller. It has been expected that families wouldn’t be invited to join players at least until after the first round of the playoffs (when a lot of players left).

However, if games start July 31 and the league plans to play a couple of weeks of regular-season games, followed by a play-in tournament for the final playoff spot, then it will be September by the time the NBA gets to a final eight teams. Which will have players separated from their families for a couple of months.

It’s easy to understand the players’ frustrations with that. No matter what direction Adam Silver goes with this restart, there are going to be some unhappy teams and players.

 

Sixers head into playoffs with healthy Ben Simmons but new, untested starting five

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Philadelphia heads into the NBA’s restart — in whatever format it takes — as a team that, on the surface, benefits some from the break.

Ben Simmons was expected to return from his back issues in time for the playoffs, but it was going to be close, and he wouldn’t be fully rested and ready. Now, the All-Star is healthy and not the only player trying to shake off the rust from a long break. That’s 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.2 assists a game, and some strong defense back in the lineup.

But that lineup has never really fit together this season in Philadelphia, which is why heading into the restart playoffs the Sixers will have a new one.

Philly is expected to roll out a starting five of Simmons, Shake Milton, Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson, and Tobias Harris, reports The Athletic’s Derek Bodner. That lineup has played zero minutes together this season (Milton hit his groove with the team late and by that point Embiid and Simmons were battling injuries). Learning chemistry on the fly in what will be, at best, a shortened and condensed regular season before the playoffs start, is a tough way to go.

It’s also the right move, Milton brings the shooting and floor spacing this roster needs. Philly had envisioned Al Horford as a floor-spacing four (who could spell Embiid at the five), but it hasn’t worked out. When Simmons, Embiid and Horford have been on the court this season, the team has scored less than a point per possession (defensively, they also gave up less than a point per possession, the Sixers basically played their opponents even in those minutes). It hasn’t meshed.

When Milton, Simmons, and Embiid have played together this season — in limited minutes and different situations than the one proposed — the offense has been only slightly better and the defense has been a mess. That’s likely not the case with Richardson and Harris on the court, but nobody knows exactly how this will work. It looks good on paper, but we’ve thought that all season about the 76ers.

Which makes Philadephia one of the most interesting teams to watch when games restart. All season long this team has not lived up to expectations (for which coach Brett Brown’s seat is very hot, even if blame for the roster issues should go higher up the ladder). Now comes a real test. If the 76ers suddenly get it together they become a real threat to the Bucks in the East (if the league keeps an East/West format). Or, this could be the latest Sixers lineup to fall short.

Either way, they become must-watch television.