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.

Michelle Roberts says if you don’t like player movement blame owners, too

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Last summer was one of the wildest offseasons in NBA history, maybe the wildest, and the headline was player empowerment. Anthony Davis pushed his way to the Lakers, Paul George forced his way out of Oklahoma City to go to the Clippers and join Kawhi Leonard, which soon had Russell Westbrook joining his old teammate James Harden in Houston. It led to frustration by some owners and changes in how the NBA will handle tampering.

Except, by choice is not how most players change teams. While AD or George has the leverage to make a power play — because of their exceptional talent — most of the time players are traded because the owner/team has all the power and can uproot players for whatever reason (basketball reasons sometimes, saving money other times). The stars have free agent options, rotation players much less so in that system.

Michelle Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players’ Association, wants you to remember that it’s not just player power that has led to the increase in player movement, as she told Mark Spears of The Undefeated.

Michele Roberts, told The Undefeated that she believes there is a “double standard” between how stars are viewed when they decide to move on compared with when franchises choose to make a major transaction, adding that team owners “continue to view players as property.”

“If you want to be critical of one, be critical of both,” Roberts said from the NBPA’s offices in Manhattan. “Those of us who made decisions to move, it’s really astounding to even consider what it feels like to be told in the middle of your life you are going to have to move. But that’s the business we’re in. …

“No one seems to spend a lot of time thinking about what it’s like to make those kinds of moves completely involuntarily. You volunteer to play or not play. But, yeah, if it’s still the case that if you think you’ve got to suck it up, player, then, hell, you’ve got to suck it up, team.”

She’s right. From Chris Paul to Blake Griffin, plenty of big stars have been moved against their will. The door swings both ways, but in those cases most fans tended to see why and like what the teams did. Those fans like it less when players do the same thing.

There’s also a classic labor vs. management angle to all this, which has political overtones.

For my money, how one views player movement tends to be part generational and part where you live.

Older fans remember days — or, at least think they remember days — when players stayed with teams for much or all of their career. It’s understandable, fans form a bond with players and want them to stay… while they’re still good and useful, after that fans beg ownership to get the “dead weight off the books.” Players before the late 1980s stayed with teams because they didn’t have a choice — for Bill Russell in the 60s or Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in the 1980s, free agency was not an option. And for every Kobe Bryant that did stay with a team, there were a lot more Wilts and Shaqs, who were traded several times and played with multiple teams.

Younger fans (generally, nothing is universal) are okay with the player movement, sometimes are more fans of a player than a team, and like the action and buzz of all the trades.

Location matters because if you’re in Oklahoma City there’s reason to not like what George did and the era of player empowerment. New Orleans fans can feel the same way (although part of that case is the “supermax” contract that owners wanted but really forced up the timeline on teams and players to make a decision on paying stars). But fans in Los Angeles or wherever players ultimately choose to go will feel differently. Fans want what’s best for their team, but there is no way in the star culture of the NBA to wash away the lure of big markets or of teaming up with another elite player.

The NBA dynamic is different from the NFL’s (for now), but it’s not changing. LeBron James helped usher in an era of player empowerment and it’s the new reality for the NBA, one the best franchises will adapt to rather than fight.

Evan Fournier says that Frank Ntilikina just ‘needs a real opportunity’

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New York Knicks fans haven’t had a lot to cheer for recently. The team traded away Kristaps Porzingis, who is thought to be the franchise cornerstone. Now they move forward with a young core, RJ Barrett, and tons of cap space.

So what does that mean for players who have been around in the Big Apple like Frank Ntilikina?

Based on how Ntilikina played in the 2019 FIBA World Cup for France this year, things might be looking up.

Ntilikina’s statistics weren’t eye-popping, but he was seen as a very solid player in a backcourt that helped propel France to the bronze medal in China.

To that end, fellow countrymen Evan Fournier thinks that all Ntilikina needs is a chance to shine.

Via Twitter:

Ntilikina’s season last year was marred by injuries, and he played in just 43 games. Still, he has the physical tools to be a useful NBA player, and he’s just 21 years old. With the surprisingly low-pressure situation in New York, it’s possible that extended time playing in the World Cup could help aid what Ntilikina is able to produce next season for the Knicks.

Report: Lakers receive DeMarcus Cousins disabled-player exception

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A chance at a championship. LeBron James. Anthony Davis. The Los Angeles market. Great weather.

The Lakers can offer plenty to anyone who gets bought out this season.

Now, the Lakers – who lost DeMarcus Cousins to a torn ACL – get a mechanism to offer post-buyout players more money.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

The exception holds little value presently. It’s worth less than a full-season minimum salary for anyone with more than four years experience.

But minimum-salary and mid-level exceptions decline throughout the season. This exception does not.

So, on March 1, a team with only a minimum slot available can offer a free agent just between $233,459 and $666,546 (depending on the player’s experience level). The Lakers can offer $1.75 million.

This means an NBA-appointed doctor ruled Cousins is “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15. Given that prognosis, the Lakers could open a roster spot by waiving Cousins, who’s on a one-year deal and facing a domestic-violence charge. They’d still keep the exception.

If Cousins can return more quickly than expected, he’d be eligible to play, whether or not the Lakers use the exception.

Damian Lillard says he plans to play for Team USA in 2020 Olympics

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Stephen Curry said he wants to play for Team USA in the 2020 Olympics.

He isn’t the only star point guard eager for Tokyo.

Damian Lillard, via James McKern of news.com.au:

“I plan on being a part of that. I plan on playing,” Lillard said

Though neither Curry nor Lillard played for Team USA in this year’s World Cup, there’s a potentially large difference: Curry never agreed to play. Lillard did then withdrew. USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo indicated particular scorn for players who decommitted.

Of course, Colangelo also wants to win. That might require swallowing his pride and accepting players who withdrew this year. He has talked tough in the past about players who didn’t show his desired devotion to USA Basketball. Lillard got cut in 2014 then missed the 2016 Olympics citing injury. It can be difficult to determine which absences Colangelo forgives.

One factor working against Lillard: The Americans’ point guard pool is deep. Curry rates higher. Kemba Walker earned respect by playing in the World Cup. James Harden (who also withdrew from the World Cup) and Kyrie Irving also factor.

I expect Colangelo to operate on a sliding scale: The better the player, the less prior commitment to USA Basketball necessary. Lillard is an excellent player. We’ll see how far that gets him.

And whether he’ll even want to play next year. The reasons for playing – pride of representing your country, prestige marketing opportunities – are more obvious now. The reasons not to play – injury, fatigue, personal commitments – are more likely to emerge closer to the Games.