The Weekside: Mr. Smith Goes to Los Angeles

Nov 21, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith (6) shows emotion against the Atlanta Hawks in the third quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith (6) shows emotion against the Atlanta Hawks in the third quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
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nba the weekside
nba the weekside /

Words With Friends

This week’s five must-read articles about the NBA. Excerpts here — click through to read the full piece.

1. Vin Baker’s advice for Ty Lawson: ‘Make your life your priority’
by Marc Spears, Yahoo Sports

"After alcohol use ruined his own NBA career, four-time All-Star Vin Baker would like to talk to troubled Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson, whose playing days are now in jeopardy after yet another DUI arrest. “I wish I could reach out to him,” Baker told Yahoo Sports. “I would just give him encouragement no matter where he is at with it. It’s a fight, it’s real and it’s not to be taken lightly. The unfortunate thing sometimes is you have to take a step back from what you’ve been doing your whole life to deal with something that is life-threatening. It’s like, ‘I got to get back to play.’ You got to get right first.”"

2. The conflict of interest concern with agents representing players and coaches
by Zach Lowe, Grantland

"The National Basketball Players Association is considering a crackdown on the practice of agents representing both coaches and players, and it may come to a resolution on the issue when its executive committee meets later this month in Las Vegas, according to several sources … The loudest agitators for stricter enforcement are agents who represent only coaches and executives, and smaller agencies that claim that bigger fish leverage their connections with coaches and GMs to lure players. “There could be problems with some agents using the fact that they represent a coach as a hiring tool,” [players union head Michelle] Roberts says."

3. Caron Butler calls sergeant ‘guardian angel’ for decision in 1998 drug raid
by Peter Jackel, The Journal Times

"Before the NBA, before the accolades and many donations to his hometown, Caron Butler was a kid with a criminal record and, on one January day, 15.3 grams of crack cocaine in the garage. And Detective Rick Geller held his future in his hands … It would have been so easy, so routine, for Geller to dismiss Butler’s story, charge him with drug possession and throw him into the scrapyard of lost souls. Instead, Geller chose to notice the burns on Butler’s hands, which he injured while making a modest wage at an area Burger King restaurant. Drug dealers aren’t going to bother with menial employment when they can make countless times that much money working in the shadows of streets."

4. For Frédéric Weis, Boos Began a Greater Struggle
by Sam Borden, New York Times

"By January 2008, Weis hit bottom. Shortly after New Year’s Day, he decided he wanted to “stop it all,” as he said. And so he took the box of sleeping pills, drove to the rest stop in Biarritz and closed his eyes. About 10 hours after he swallowed the pills, Weis woke up. For several minutes, he was confused and could not figure out where he was or what had happened. Then he saw the empty box and felt what he described as a “surprising” relief. He had failed, and for once, this made him happy."

5. How NBA’s free-agency morality play screws over the players
by Robert Silverman, The Guardian

"You’ll never see it suggested that [owners] inking a player for pennies on the dollar is dishonorable or a disservice, or that the Spurs’ offseason cost-cutting is just as “selfish” behavior as that of any maxed-out star. They’ve brilliantly framed the manipulation of a system – the collective bargaining agreement – that artificially suppresses wages and incentivizes screwing over labor as a greater good. It works because fans have a vested interest in a front office’s ability to act in a manner that is adversarial to labor, and don’t really give a fig if NBA stars, even in this bullish basketball market, remain royally underpaid  …  As long as that’s the case, for all of the time and energy spent fussing over offseason winners and losers, there’s really only one party that comes out on top: the owners, because they’re playing a rigged game."

Next: Offseason Chatter