Friday, January 15, 2010

NBA News and Notes

The two major stories in the NBA right now are the Gilbert Arenas gun charge saga and #1 draft pick Blake Griffin having season ending surgery.

From the moment the Clippers won the draft lottery last year we all should of known that this was the beginning of the end of Blake Griffin. Even someone who was a "can't miss" product like Blake is still cursed by the Clippers. I was expecting big things from Blake as a rookie but we will just have to wait until next year.

Here is the full story from CBS Sports:

LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin's first season with the Los Angeles Clippers is over before it even began.
Griffin will have surgery on his broken left kneecap, keeping the No. 1 draft pick out for at least more four months, the eternally star-crossed Clippers announced in a statement Wednesday.

Griffin hasn't played a regular-season game yet for the Clippers after injuring his kneecap in their final preseason game Oct. 23, wincing in pain as he landed after a dunk. After resting the stress fracture for several weeks, the former Oklahoma star recently increased his workload in rehabilitation by running on a treadmill.

But the power forward recently developed pain in his knee while jumping in a pool, and an examination Tuesday revealed his recovery wasn't progressing properly.

"It's a little disappointing, because he brings so much to the table," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said on a conference call. "As a group, we're coming together better all the time, and adding that talent to our lineup was something we were looking forward to."

After a loss in Memphis on Tuesday, the Clippers will play at New Orleans on Wednesday night before returning to Los Angeles for a road game against the Lakers on Friday. Dunleavy hadn't spoken to his team since learning Griffin won't be back until next season.

"I think the reaction is going to be one of disappointment, but he hasn't been here all year," Dunleavy said. "We've just got to move forward and do what we were planning on doing anyway -making the playoffs."

Being the top pick hasn't been such an honor in recent NBA Drafts. Griffin is the second No. 1 selection in the past three years to miss his entire first season with an injury.

Greg Oden, the Ohio State center chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007, had microfracture surgery on his right knee three months after the draft. Last month, Oden also broke his left kneecap and was lost for the rest of this season.

Griffin was the consensus college player of the year with 22.7 points and an NCAA-best 14.4 rebounds per game last season for the Sooners, and the Clippers eagerly chose him in last June's draft.

Griffin averaged 13.7 points and 8.1 rebounds during the preseason, and coach Mike Dunleavy and his new teammates all expected him to be a major part of their comeback season. Instead, Griffin has never been fully healthy in Los Angeles, even straining his right shoulder during summer league play in Las Vegas.

The pool exercises were part of the last hurdles to be cleared before Griffin could rejoin the Clippers in practice. He has been a constant presence at Clippers games and in film sessions during his injury.

"Blake learned a lot off the court [during his injury]," Dunleavy said. "He's been very much in tune with everything we're doing, and he's just going to continue in that mode. I think he'll come back next season more prepared."

Griffin's woes sadly can't be surprising to fans of a team with just two winning seasons in the last 30 years and just one playoff series victory since moving to town in 1984.

The Clippers also have a long history of disappointing draft picks, including a pair of No. 1 overall choices that didn't dazzle.

Danny Manning played just 26 games in his rookie season in 1988-89 after tearing his knee ligament and undergoing surgery, though he eventually became an All-Star before fleeing town. Michael Olowokandi, the top pick in 1998, played just 45 games in his rookie season, and he wasn't much help even when healthy during five underachieving seasons.

Dunleavy also said leading scorer Chris Kaman wouldn't play against New Orleans. Kaman, averaging 20.4 points and 9.4 rebounds, had an MRI exam after apparently aggravating his sore lower back during warmups in Memphis.


Here is the Gilbert Arenas story:

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was charged with felony gun possession on Thursday in connection with a Dec. 21 locker room confrontation with a teammate.

Prosecutors charged Arenas with one count of carrying a pistol without a license, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The charges were filed in D.C. Superior Court in an "information," a document that generally signals a plea deal.

Arenas is scheduled to appear on Friday before a judge. Arenas' lawyer had no immediate comment. The NBA declined to comment.

The Wizards said in a statement that they were aware of the charge and were carefully following the legal process.

Arenas, who has been suspended indefinitely by the NBA pending the investigation, has said he kept multiple guns in his locker at the Verizon Center. The 28-year-old three-time All-Star said he wanted to keep them away from his children and didn't know it was illegal.

He says he took them out of the locker on Dec. 21 in a "misguided effort to play a joke" on a teammate.

League officials have said the locker-room incident stemmed from a card-game dispute between Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton on a plane trip two days earlier.

At least seven Wizards players and coach Flip Saunders have appeared before a grand jury or been questioned by authorities.

There are multiple conflicting reports about what happened in the locker room. It's unclear what role Crittenton played in the incident and whether he had a gun. He has kept a low profile and has said he did nothing wrong.

Earlier Thursday, police searched for a gun at Crittenton's Virginia apartment but did not seize any evidence, according to court documents. Police were specifically looking for a silver or chrome-colored semiautomatic handgun with a black handle. A search warrant indicated police are investigating crimes including brandishing a weapon and violating the District of Columbia's gun laws.

Crittenton's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Crittenton was there during the search.

Crittenton has been excused by the team from practices and games while authorities investigate.

After the investigation became public, Arenas repeatedly joked about it on Twitter. Last week, he was photographed pointing his index fingers at teammates as if he were firing a pair of guns during an on-court huddle before a game at Philadelphia.

The outcome of the legal process will have profound implications for Arenas' future in the NBA and with the Wizards specifically. Possession of a gun at an NBA arena is a violation of the league's collective bargaining agreement. Commissioner David Stern was particularly upset that Arenas joked about the matter and said that Arenas' conduct will "ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse.

"The Wizards could also attempt to invoke the morals clause found in standard NBA contracts and void the remainder of the six-year, $111 million deal Arenas signed in the summer of 2008. Arenas has played in only 34 games since signing the contract because of a knee injury and the guns-related suspension. He was averaging 22.6 points and 7.2 assists this season for the Wizards, who are in last place in the NBA's Southeast Division.

My Outlook:

Both stories are unfortnate for both teams who each had playoff aspirations going into the season. Right now Washington is buried at the bottom of the tough Southeast Division while the Clippers still have an outside shot at a playoff spot. They are currently 12th in the Western Conference with a record of 17-20 and are 4 games behind the 8th seeded Utah Jazz.

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