NBA

Kings lose De'Aaron Fox to ankle sprain, OUT vs. Trail Blazers

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Kings lose De'Aaron Fox to ankle sprain, OUT vs. Trail Blazers

When the Sacramento Kings suit up against the Portland Trail Blazers Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center, they will be without their starting point guard De'Aaron Fox. 

An MRI conducted Monday afternoon confirmed that Fox sustained a left ankle sprain at the end of practice on Monday. According to Jason Jones of The Athletic, it is a Grade 3 sprain.

The Kings announced he will be re-evaluated in 3-4 weeks. 

Entering his third year in the NBA, Fox has accrued averages of 18.2 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and 0.8 steals in nine games this season.

The Kings are winners of three of their last four games, and had an offensive rating of 118.4, which led the NBA during that stretch. 

With Fox out of the lineup, the Kings will look to Cory Joseph and Yogi Ferrell to handle the load of ball-handling responsibilities. 

The Kings will also be without second-year forward Marvin Bagley III, who sustained a broken thumb during the Kings’ season opener back on October 23rd. 

It's time for the NBA to practice what they preach in the case of Delonte West

It's time for the NBA to practice what they preach in the case of Delonte West

The NBA made a lot of news over the summer as the league pressed forward with new mental health initiatives. 

The league was trying to be forward-thinking with its approach to mental health and announced prior to the 2019 season that all teams would be required to have a licensed mental health professional on staff. 

It was a big step forward for the league and in line with a program set forth by the NBA Players Association in 2018. 

In recent years, high profile players have come forward with their struggles with mental health, helping to normalize these issues. DeMar DeRozan, Channing Frye, and most notably Kevin Love have all shared their stories. 

NBC Sports even produced a touching documentary over the summer titled "Headstrong: Mental Health and Sports." The documentary chronicled numerous athletes and their battles with depression and other mental health issues.

Here at NBC Sports Northwest, we did our own vignettes to help support the series, where Channing Frye was kind enough to share his story with us.

Frye's story is a feel-good one. He has recovered to the best of his ability and is now using his struggles as a way to help those in need. But coming through the other side of the dark tunnel is not always the ending we get. 

This is where we are today. 

Monday afternoon, a video circulated around the internet of former NBA star Delonte West being beaten in the middle of the street and incoherently yelling at police officers with his hands handcuffed behind his back.

He was shirtless, disheveled, and presumably homeless. The video was shocking and saddening. A man once on top of the NBA world sharing the court with NBA greats had reached the lowest of lows.

I share the video below not to poke fun at West, like so many trolls decided was a good idea on social media. I do it, though it may be uncomfortable to watch, to bring awareness to just how crippling mental health issues can truly be. 

[Langugage Disclaimer-- This video is not suitable for all audiences]

People on social media want to point to drugs and alcohol, or any other scapegoat, but those aren't the true issue.

Mental health is.

And West has a long document battle with it.

In 2008, West had an altercation with a referee during a team scrimmage, an incident that prompted him to get help for depression and a "mood disorder" he had been battling for years. 

Via a 2008 ESPN article:

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Delonte West contemplated quitting before leaving the team's training camp to seek help for depression and "a mood disorder" he has been battling his entire life.

West, who recently signed a two-year contract with Cleveland, said he removed himself from the team to "get my thoughts back together." He missed three preseason games during his absence from Oct. 4-15.

"I felt a feeling of anger and I just wanted to throw it all away and quit the team," he said.

The 25-year-old candidly discussed his condition following practice on Friday. West said he had been troubled by his behavior toward a high school referee during a scrimmage at the Cavs' training facility on Oct. 3. West took out his frustrations on the official, and said the incident was a warning signal for him to seek treatment to combat an illness that has troubled him for years.

"I needed help," he said.

West went on to have a great season with Cavs, but the wheels started to fall off shortly thereafter. He was arrested and pled guilty to two counts of weapons possession and was sentenced to eight months of home detention.

He signed with the Mavericks in December of 2011, was suspended twice for "conduct detrimental to the team," and was waived in October of 2012. He never played in the NBA again. 

Now, instead of making headlines for his skills on the hardwood, he makes headlines sitting on a concrete sidewalk. 

As West falls deeper into the abyss, the NBA sits idle. Will they offer a helping hand? They should...but their record shows otherwise.

Take Royce White, drafted by the Houston Rockets in 2012. White had battled anxiety his entire life. It was well documented. This anxiety led to a severe fear of flying. He struggled with the rigors of the NBA travel schedule and never played a single game with the Rockets. White says the league wasn't ready to help someone with a mental health issue.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, White said, "I said at [age] 21 to the NBA that I think mental health is the most important issue of our time and that the mind is the start and finish...Not only did they not have a response or argument — as if there’s a defensible argument — but the fans that are endeared with the game of basketball and sport, in general, provided an argument for them.” 

White was eventually cut by the Rockets for failing to fulfill his contract. The once-promising star never played a single game in the NBA.

The NBA failed White, but in the time since it has been much more accommodating to its players and their battles with mental health. However, the focus tend sto be on players currently in the NBA. What about players from the past?

If the NBA really wants to be progressive they need to not only help players when they are in uniform and making the league billions of dollars, but they need to also help them long after they decide to hang up the sneakers. 

White and West are just two of the former players that could use the NBA and its resources. Who's to stay there aren't countless more that have fought their battles in private, thinking they had no one to lean on? 

Just simply being there can be the difference between life and death. 

Delonte West needs help.

He needs help that very few can provide. The NBA has the capability to be a savior. It's time they finally practice what they preach. 

I leave you with this, a message from West's former teammate and close friend, Jameer Nelson. 

It's time for the NBA to step up and help players... not just the ones that are helping make money right now. 

 

Al-Farouq Aminu has surgery, could be done for season

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Al-Farouq Aminu has surgery, could be done for season

Former Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu underwent successful surgery Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Orlando Magic announced.

He will be reevaluated in approximately 12 weeks.

Aminu tore his meniscus at the end of November and was sidelined when the Magic came to Portland on December 20th. He suffered a setback in last month and ultimately opted for surgery.  

Reportedly, Aminu could be sidelined for the remainder of the season depending on how he responds to treatment. The 12-week timeline pushes his return to the beginning of April. If the Magic are far out of playoff contention, it wouldn't make sense to bring him back.

How David Stern will be remembered in the Pacific Northwest

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How David Stern will be remembered in the Pacific Northwest

The passing of former NBA Commissioner David Stern naturally brings about reflections on his impact on his league and on the Pacific Northwest.
And it must be said that for all Stern did to make the NBA a major factor on the world’s sports stage, there are memories of his tenure in this part of the country that are not positive.
In Seattle, he is blamed, in part, for the Sonics leaving Seattle. Stern engaged in a public feud with various government officials there and alienated taxpayers with his insistence on a new arena for the team. And there is still plenty of bitterness to this day, of course, about that franchise’s move to Oklahoma City.
Stern got off on the wrong foot with Trail Blazer fans in his first year as commissioner. In 1984, he levied a shocking $250,000 fine against the franchise – at that point the largest fine in league history – for allegedly tampering with then-draft prospects Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon.
There are some who have also blamed Stern over the years for Portland’s failed attempts at playing host to the NBA All-Star Game, although it has never been established that he had anything to do with that.
Stern ruled the league with an iron hand, but his legacy will always be guiding the league from a big-league afterthought to a rising power. When he took over as commissioner, the league was still having playoff games tape-delayed by major TV networks, not paying large player salaries and overall, not generating big revenues. When he came to power, the NBA was generating revenue estimated at around $160 million a year and when he retired, that figure was up to an estimated $5.5 billion.
He also spearheaded the movement to make the game more international in scope, with all the profits and attention that went with it. The league fought behind the scenes for its players to be eligible for the Olympics and world championships and that was credited with eventually sparking the influx of foreign players into the league – beginning, of course, with the first Dream Team.
He also pioneered a marketing tactic that put more attention on individual superstars, rather than teams.
It wasn’t so much the Lakers vs. the Celtics, anymore, but Bird vs. Magic. And that tactic didn’t always sit well with Portlanders, either – but perhaps it would have had the team picked Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant in the draft.
On a personal level, Stern tended to look at me with a degree of wariness and skepticism – because I was often asking him questions about the location of his All-Star Game and the perceived big-market bias by his referees. This magnified after Kerry Eggers and I broke what became a major story about NBA referees being investigated by the IRS for cashing in first-class airline tickets and not paying income taxes on the money they earned from that.
But I do believe he was always fair with me and I was stunned when, on my very first day as a radio talk-show host early in this century, he called on-air from his limo in New York to wish me luck with my new job.
There is little doubt that he will go down in history as one of the great commissioners and leaders of any sports league. People within the league often called him “King David” or simply “the dictator” but there is no question that, on the whole, he led the league in the right direction.
And all NBA cities should forever be grateful for that.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern passes away

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Former NBA commissioner David Stern passes away

Sad news out of the NBA today, as it has been reported that former commissioner David Stern has passed away. He was 77.

Stern suffered a brain hemorrhage on December 12. He underwent emergency surgery and would remain in the hospital in serious condition. 

After nearly a month fighting for life, Stern lost the battle. 

Stern was widely regarded as one of the best commissioners in sports and his time as the head of the NBA led the league to global heights it had never experienced before. He helped the league get its feet in Europe, leading to the influx of European players to the league. He helped create the WNBA, giving female basketball stars a chance to continue playing the game professionally, and truly took the NBA from a local game to a global game.

The NBA has offices all around the world, is televised and streamed in over 200 countries and territories in over 40 languages, and it was the first professional sports league in the United States to play a regular-season game outside North America. All thanks to Stern. 

During his tenure, six different teams relocated (Kings, Clippers, Sonics/Thunder, Hornets/Pelicans, Nets, and Grizzlies) while seven new teams joined the league via expansion (Timberwolves, Heat, Hornets, Raptors, Magic, Grizzlies, and Bobcats).   

All the accomplishments and growth of the game under his watch led to Stern being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.

Stern spent nearly 50 years associated with the NBA, 30 of those as the man in charge. He will be greatly missed. 

Evan Turner plays Rock Paper Scissors from Hawks bench, remains a national treasure

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Evan Turner plays Rock Paper Scissors from Hawks bench, remains a national treasure

Evan Turner is a national treasure. He really is. 

During his three seasons with the Blazers, he was a gem. Always good for a laugh or a viral moment. 

From a dump truck in his pool, to Instagram storytime live from the toilet, to flipping the bird in Denver, and rocking the cradle on Westbrook. Turner was legendary. 

Now with the Hawks, Turner has missed multiple games with various injuries. He once again did not suit up when Atlanta traveled to Brooklyn to take on the Nets. However, he still got a game in - A game of rock, paper, scissors. 

A fan seated directly across from for the Hawks bench was able to get Turner's attention and in the middle of basketball action, the pair managed a round of the classic hand game.

Please, for all that is good in the world, never change ET. You are the gift that keeps on giving.

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win over the Warriors

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win over the Warriors

The Blazers welcomed the Warriors to town, but it wasn't the Warriors we are used to.

Kevin Durant is now in Brooklyn, and Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are on the injured list. But the didn't stop Draymond Green and company from pushing the Blazers for four quarters. 

The Warriors jumped out to the early 9-2 lead before Damian Lillard made them pump the brakes. 

The Blazers' star scored 16 points in the first quarter alone, adding five assists as well.  The teams battled from there, with the Warriors taking the lead back with 48 seconds left in the first half, only for Lillard to give the lead back to Portland 15 seconds later. Thought the Warriors kept it close, the Blazers never trailed again. 

Hassan Whiteside pulled down a season-high 23 rebounds, two off his career-high 25, and dropped 16 points for another double-double. 

Damian Lillard finished with a game-high 31 points, and after combining for 80 points against the Suns the Blazers big three of Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony combined for 78 against the Warriors. 

The Blazers picked up the win and moved one step closer to .500. 

Final Score: Blazers 122 - Warriors 112. 


QUOTABLES:

Damian Lillard on pulling out the victory:

We started the game how we wanted to start. I thought our energy was right, we was focused and they made a run, like every team is capable of and usually they do. They had some guys out there that could score the ball so it was expected, but like you said, we was able to weather the storm by just doing the things we needed to do. I think defensively, we just would tighten up when we needed to tighten up. Offensively, we tightened up when we needed to tighten up. Especially down the stretch, when the game was really on the line, we did all the things necessary to win.

Coach Stotts on Anthony Tolliver:

I liked the way he played. Anthony, unfortunately a lot of times, people just look at shooting, but he always brings energy, he always knows where he’s supposed to be, he’s in good defensive positions, and he brings experience to the court at both ends.

Hassan Whiteside on importance of the win:

I think early in the season, we had lost to them so I think it was early, we had lost to a couple teams like that that wasn’t doing as well. But as the season went on, we’ve got to come out here and execute and I think we’re better as a team than when we played them last time at execution and our identity. We know each other a lot better.

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Pat Connaughton caught up in Cameo drama

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Pat Connaughton caught up in Cameo drama

Former Trail Blazers guard and current member of the Milwaukee Bucks Pat Connaughton issued an apology on Twitter Sunday after a video message he posted to Cameo, which included anti-police sentiment.

For those who aren't familiar with Cameo, it is an online service that allows fans to purchase personalized video greetings from high-profile personalities, which includes athletes from across all sports, including the NBA.  The personalities charge different rates for their greetings; Connaughton's sells for $75. Athletes are then given a script to read from the customer and that video is sent to the purchaser, but is also viewable on the Cameo website. 

Connaughton recorded the message paid for by a customer named "Team For Blue Line."

His message goes as follows: 

Hey thin blue line, have a great holiday season. We only back you when you come to the Fiserv. We don't take much overall pride in the blue. Remember Brad, yeah, it was us. Have a blessed holiday once again. Sincerely, the team.

The Facebook page 'Support Our Blue' originally posted the Cameo video, which has since been deleted. 

Connaughton issued a public apology on Twitter Sunday in response to the Cameo video.

"I am very sorry for the Cameo video I taped the other day. I have always supported the police 100 percent, I have several relatives who are police officers, and am grateful to all of the officers who protect us everyday. Based off how the app works, the script I read was provided to me by a Cameo customer and I recorded the message without doing my due diligence to find out what it meant. While someone with obvious bad intentions was behind this request, I should have first researched what I was being asked to read. I deeply apologize."

Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry retweeted Connaughton's apology.

When asked about the incident by local media Sunday morning, Lasry said the team was aware of the video and looking into it.

The issue at hand appears to be a running spat between Lasry and the Support the Blue Facebook page after Lasry publicly came out in support of Colin Kaepernick, which Support the Blue perceived as anti-police. 

Connaughton unfortunately got caught up in the feud and has owned up to his involvement. 

The Trail Blazers host the Bucks on January 11th.

Former Blazer Al-Farouq Aminu out indefinitely

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Former Blazer Al-Farouq Aminu out indefinitely

Former Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu will miss considerable time after it was revealed he has a torn meniscus. 

More from Woj: 

In 18 games this season, Aminu is averaging 4.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in roughly 21 minutes a game. 

 

Blazers finding their footing ahead of extended homestand

Blazers finding their footing ahead of extended homestand

There was a sense of optimism floating out of the Trail Blazers locker room on Wednesday night. Not the defiant and perhaps misplaced optimism of a team on a losing skid saying the right things while playing the wrong way.

This wasn’t hope by default. It was a genuine confidence emanating from a team that maybe -- maybe -- has found its footing, and could be heading in the right direction after drawn out of early season stumbles.

Carmelo Anthony made his home debut in Wednesday’s 136-119 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. All five Blazers starters scored in double figures for just the second time this season, and also the second game in a row. The Blazers blitzed a lesser team from the opening tip and won going away, a rare occurrence in the team’s 7-12 start to the season.

The optimism in the locker room wasn't necessarily new, but for the first time perhaps all season it didn't feel forced.

“I think we’re just realizing winning is not easy,” Damian Lillard said. “Early in the season we came and I think we just kinda expected things to happen. We didn’t have the swagger, and the attitude, and the mentality of a winning team for 48 minutes at least. I think the last few games we’ve had that. We haven’t played the top teams in the league, but it’s the style we’ve been able to play. It’s sustainable and it’s something that can work against every team. I think that’s a great start.”

Portland has won two straight against Chicago (6-13) and Oklahoma City (6-11), both of which are headed for the lottery. But even against weaker competition the Blazers look sharper and Anthony has undeniably been a catalyst. He had 25 points and eight rebounds in the win at Chicago and had 19 points against Oklahoma City.

His presence clearly makes things easier for the rest of the Blazers roster. Hassan Whiteside has more space to maneuver with four shooters in the starting lineup and Lillard and CJ McCollum have another option to shoulder some of the scoring load. The Melo effect has helped the back half of the rotation, too. Kent Bazemore has been recast as a bench spark plug instead of needed secondary scorer, Anfernee Simons has a much more reasonable role as the third option on a second unit with McCollum and Anthony, while Nassir Little’s role as high energy wrecking ball has been reduced from 25 minute-a-night cameo down to ten or 12. Anthony Tolliver and Mario Hezonja, who have both struggled mightily, have been pushed out of the rotation altogether.

Anthony has changed the tenor of the locker room and the feel of the team on the court, and now the Blazers have an opportunity in front of them to scramble back into the playoff picture after their brutal start to the season. Eleven of their next 15 games are at home, including seven home games against teams that are currently under .500 and two meetings with the 8-8 Suns. That stretch starts with Friday's home game against Chicago, which Portland just throttled 117-94 on Monday.

December is a prove-it month for the Blazers. If they are still several games in the red in January, the good vibes that followed Wednesday victory will be long gone. The Blazers have a chance to rescue their season over the next 15 games, and they are finally starting to look like a team that might be able to actually do that.

“Knowing that we’re coming home and that we’re playing better,” Damian Lillard said. “I think it’s on everybody’s mind like okay, it’s a great opportunity for us to kind of get ourselves back into it and take care of our home floor. Even though we haven’t been great at home, at some point it has to turn because our work has continued, we’ve been positive, we continue to believe in ourselves. So, I think we’re starting to turn that corner.”