Nuggets president: Ty Lawson smelled of alcohol at practice going years back

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Ty Lawson was arrested for DUI earlier this month.

Notice the ‘2’ at the end. The sad ‘2’ automatically appeared, because we also had a post in January with the identical headline: “Report: Ty Lawson arrested for DUI.”

Lawson reportedly admitted to a previous DUI in Missouri, and he also pleaded guilty to a drinking-and-driving offense while at North Carolina.

Those were just the start of Lawson’s alcohol problems, according to Nuggets president Josh Kroenke.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Kroenke told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday in a phone interview that the Nuggets had been privately trying to help Lawson with his issues for “the past couple of years” and that there had been problems for a long time.

Kroenke said he had repeated conversations with Lawson about his “life struggles,” adding that Lawson often said he would attempt to fix his issues but he could “never fully shake them.”

“He always had an affinity for burning the candle at both ends,” Kroenke said. “We want to give our players freedom to be young guys as well. We’re not going to be drill sergeants. But we want our guys to be able to handle their personal lives on their own.

“Ty … there were times when he was better than others. But the problems have been there for several years, going back to when we were having a lot of on-court success. I don’t want to go back too far. There were just a lot of times where you were at practice and you just know. You could smell it. You know there is probably deeper issues than he would probably let on.”

This could be true. I tend to believe it is.

But Kroenke has incentive to smear Lawson, because the Nuggets just traded the point guard for a low return given Lawson’s talent.

The less people think of Lawson, the more they’ll approve of Denver’s deal. Getting a protected first-round pick and a couple decent players might not be so bad if Lawson’s problems run as deep as Kroenke says.

This also casts doubt into my theory a chance to play for the contender-level Rockets will help Lawson clean up his act. If he were drinking too much even when the Nuggets were winning, his personal and work problems might not be as related as I thought. Lawson was clearly unhappy in Denver last year. If that’s not what led to his alcohol issues, he and the Rockets must address the real source.

Hopefully, that process has already begun.

Report: NBA ‘snitch’ hotline receiving multiple tips

NBA snitch hotline
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When the NBA created a hotline for players to anonymously report violations inside the bubble, numerous questions emerged. How often would it get used? What consequences would told-on players face? Would other players resent how often Chris Paul called?

Some answers are emerging.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Kings center Richaun Holmes and Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo are each quarantined after breaking protocols. It’s unclear how their violations were detected.

Yes, there is a culture against snitching. That this report is snitching about snitching is truly something.

But there’s too much at stake – health of hundreds of people and a lot of money – to take these protocols lightly. Everyone at the NBA’s Disney World campus is entrusting their safety (and, for players, whose salaries are tied to revenue, livelihood) to those around them. It’s important everyone involved acts responsibly.

Kings forward Harrison Barnes tests positive for coronavirus

Kings forward Harrison Barnes
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The Kings have been hit especially hard by coronavirus.

Buddy Hield, Jabari Parker and Alex Len all tested positive. Richaun Holmes is quarantined after violating the NBA’s bubble protocols at Disney World.

And now Harrison Barnes reveals he was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Harrison Barnes:

Presumably, Barnes was among the 19 players the NBA announced tested positive for coronavirus in July in home markets.

“Primarily asymptomatic” is a strange assessment. Does Barnes mean he’s mildly symptomatic?

The Kings already faced an uphill climb for making the playoffs. At best, several of their players are falling behind in training. At worst, Sacramento will have its rotation depleted when games begin.

Hopefully, Barnes recovers and joins the team as he hopes. He has a personal stake in it. Even during the lengthy hiatus, Barnes stuck with his pledge not to shave or cut his hair until the Kings reach .500 (or, as he amended it, make the playoffs) or the season ends.

Report: Pacers star Victor Oladipo’s remaining salary in dispute

Pacers star Victor Oladipo
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Among the continuing 22 NBA teams, players not playing in the resumption at Disney World essentially fall into two categories:

Pacers star Victor Oladipo lands in the gray area.

Oladipo, who returned from a year-long absence shortly before the season got suspended in March, said he was sitting out due to elevated risk of injury during a quick buildup. But he also traveled with the team to Orlando and is even practicing so well, Indiana is reportedly becoming increasingly optimistic he’ll play.

Is Oladipo healthy enough to play?

At stake for Oladipo:

  • $2,763,158 if the Pacers get swept in the first round
  • $2,993,421 if they play exactly five playoff games
  • $3,223,684 if they play six or more playoff games

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The union believes Oladipo, who went to Orlando with the Pacers and then cleared quarantine so he could practice, should be paid his remaining salary, sources said.

The league, largely in an effort to set a precedent in case other players who are deemed healthy want to leave Orlando and no longer play, believes Oladipo has opted out and should not be paid, sources said. His public comments about feeling healthy has only solidified the league’s position on the matter, sources said.

The Pacers support Oladipo’s decision and are willing to pay him the salary whether he plays or not, sources said.

Presumably, if Oladipo plays, he’ll get paid like anyone else playing in the resumption. This controversy lingers only if Oladipo doesn’t play.

It’s unsurprising the Pacers don’t want to pick this fight with their star player, especially as he approaches 2021 free agency. Trying to avoid alienating their own players but not necessarily eager to pay for services not rendered, teams collectively want the league to handle these issues.

If teams had ample discretion, the Wizards might have said Davis Bertans – who chose to sit out – had some lingering injury. NBA players are rarely perfectly healthy. There’s always some physical issue to point to. Bertans will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and they want to re-sign him. What an easy way to build goodwill – and maybe even get a discount on Bertans’ next contract.

Obviously, the league doesn’t want those type of shenanigans. That’s why on outside rulings on players’ health can be important.

Oladipo might not be the only borderline case:

Oladipo’s situation might take care of itself if he decides to play. But the league might inquire more deeply into other situations.

Report: Rockets star James Harden ‘feeling fine,’ might travel with Russell Westbrook

Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook
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When Russell Westbrook revealed he had coronavirus, speculation immediately turned to the Rockets’ other star who also didn’t travel with the team to Disney World.

James Harden is “feeling fine,” working out and might travel with Westbrook to Orlando, according to Shams Charania of Stadium:

Was Harden also diagnosed with coronavirus? Is he just waiting for his friend before entering the restrictive bubble? Is there another issue?

These questions beget even more questions.

If both players have coronavirus, they won’t necessarily recover on the same day. Would the first to get cleared wait for the other? Or is traveling together just an idea in case it works out?

If Harden is fully healthy and just waiting for Westbrook, how do their teammates inside the bubble feel about that? Those already at Disney World are spending more time away from friends and family in less-than-ideal conditions.

If there’s another issue… who knows?

The lack of transparency around the situation only invites rumors and guesses.

At least it’s good news that Harden feels fine.