Roy Tarpley and How He Got Banned From the NBA for Drinking

The date was November 28th, 1964. Lyndon Baines Johnson was still President, the Vietnam War was starting to spark mass protests and riots, and Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics were on their way to a seventh straight championship. And somewhere in the Big Apple – New York, New York – a young boy by the name of Roy James Tarpley was born.

Skip to 18 years later, at the University of Michigan, Roy Tarpley’s averaging just nine minutes a game. But after 13 games off the bench the next season, it was decided that he’d been doing well enough that he would be the starting center for Michigan from then on.

And they would not change their mind. He proved them right by averaging a solid 12 and eight his sophomore year, before increasing those numbers significantly to 19 and 10 for his junior season, being named Big Ten Player of the Year.

Despite being a consensus top-five pick and seeing lots of suggestions to leave early though, he stayed for his senior season, which… well, it wasn’t the right move.

His numbers went down and he fell down to pick #7, but that’s still a very high slot in the draft.

One thing that definitely was a shame from his time at Michigan though: they never made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament, despite the fact that they spent one year as a one seed and one as a two seed.

As I said earlier, he went on to be picked seventh, by the Dallas Mavericks, sandwiched between the Suns’ choice of William Bedford and the Cavaliers’ of Ron Harper.

The Dallas Mavericks had only existed for six years before he joined the team, but at this point, they were in a very good place. They’d made the playoffs the last three years with winning records, and the last three top ten picks that they’d gotten were Dale Ellis, Sam Perkins, and Detlef Schrempf. Three players who all turned out to have very good careers.

Tarpley didn’t start out amazing certainly – he averaged just seven points and seven rebounds in limited minutes off the bench, only starting one game and playing 18 minutes per game; in the playoffs though, he made himself known with averages of 13 points and 10 rebounds throughout their series against the Sonics, including a game where he had 25 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks.

And that absolutely translated into a great sophomore season. While most players seem to have a sophomore slump, he won Sixth Man of the Year, averaged 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds in 28 minutes per game off the bench, plus an assist, a steal, and a block per game.

If you want to refer to advanced stats, he had the highest total rebound percentage and highest offensive rebound percentage in the entire league, and this team, which was led by Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman, managed to come just one game away from the finals, losing in seven games to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

In the offseason, the Lakers would actually offer a trade of James Worthy for Roy Tarpley, straight up, but the Mavericks would turn them down, and that ended up being a very bad mistake for the Mavs, as, just 13 games into the season, Tarpley would be suspended for almost the entire year for cocaine use.

But he served his time outside of the league and came back a much better player for the last six games of the year.

He averaged, in what’s obviously a very small sample size, around 23 points, 13 rebounds, two steals, and a block, and with the team revamped with Adrian Dantley there instead of Aguirre the next year, it seemed again like things might actually be looking up for Dallas.

And for Roy, as he was able to be a starter this season. In the first game of the season, he has 23 points, 17 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks, and things were really looking up.

But then, just five games later, he blew it. He was arrested in Dallas on charges of driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest, and he ended up being suspended by the league for another half season.

He came back for the second half of the year and balled out, but this was starting to become a problem and a pattern.

Then, five games into the next year- this one actually wasn’t a substance abuse thing! – he tore his ACL. So he misses the entire season again.

But then, with the season almost over, in March, he is caught drunk driving. Again.

This didn’t actually get him banned from the league yet; just another suspension. The “three strikes, you’re out” rule was in place at the time, but they only counted the drug issues and the drinking issues separately. So with one drug violation and alcohol violations, it didn’t count as his third strike.

The third strike would be in the preseason of the next year, when he flat out refused to even take a drug test. And that automatically led the NBA to assume he was guilty, upon which he was officially banned from the NBA.

He went overseas and became an absolute sensation in Greece, leading Aris to win the EuroLeague and Olympiacos to make it to the EuroLeague final, but, unhappy with the level of competition and the level of pay (that probably didn’t lead to the same level of drugs and alcohol as his US contracts did), he decided in 1994 that he was going to try to come back to the NBA and play for the Mavericks again.

And he did succeed in getting reinstated!

A bit heavier than he was three years prior, Tarpley was repurposed from a power forward to a center and came off the bench, but he had a very solid season, averagin around 12 and eight.

The Mavericks even resigned him to a long-term contract.

But he couldn’t report to training camp the next year or play for quite a while at the start of the season because of some severe pancreas problems (which were brought to him likely because of his alcohol problem), and in December, when he showed up for a practice, the team’s trainers believed that he’d been having alcohol still, and that violated the terms that he’d agreed to upon his reinstatement to the league.

He got banned from the NBA at this point, for a second time – this time permanently – literally just for drinking alcohol at all this time.

He’d go on to play ten more years overseas and in semi-professional leagues in the US, but the story of Roy Tarpley in always going to be one of a “what if”.

Just over four years ago, Roy Tarpley passed away on January 9th, 2015, because of liver failure.

That is, of course, a disease that has very serious correlations to drinking problems.

Urban Klavžar: The Next Luka Dončić

In professional sports, teams are always looking for the next ________. And in no league does that statement seem to be more true than in the NBA.

The next MJ? DeShawn Stevenson.

The next Larry Bird? Adam Morrison.

The next Arvydas Sabonis? Andrea Bargnani.

The next Kobe Bryant? Brandon Roy.

The next Kevin Durant? Brandon Ingram.

I think you get my point. Anyways, the latest young star that everyone is looking to get their own version of is Luka Dončić. As a rookie, he’s coming out of the gates firing on all cylinders, and he looks to be the future of the league.

So, naturally, it’s time to look for the next Dončić.

First off, I want to point out the obvious. DeShawn Stevenson never became Kobe, Bargnani came nowhere near Sabonis, and Ingram is only capable of showing near Durant’s ability for approximately one quarter per month.

These prophecies that people give to players before they even set foot in the league always fall flat.

With that in mind, please proceed to ignore that entirely as I hype up a 14-year-old’s NBA prospects.

Urban Klavžar may just be 14, but he’s already a somewhat well-known name throughout Europe. He made headlines toward the end of last season when he managed to score 14 points in just two minutes, and very quickly after that, made his move to Real Madrid.

The obvious comparison there is being in Real Madrid’s youth academy from a young age, as a young Slovenian perimeter stud.

Klavžar plays point guard, and at 6’1″ already at his young age, could easily grow to be a very lengthy player for a guard who could end up able to use his height to his advantage.

He has a lethal jumper from all distances and is extremely quick on his feet, making him extremely hard for opponents to gameplan for defensively.

He participated in the FIBA U-16 European Championship this past summer, representing his country, and he earned plenty of attention despite his team’s struggles. Slovenia finished in a disappointing 13th place.

Klavžar scored 11.9 points per game along with dishing out 2.1 assists. He particularly impressed in a game against Montenegro in which he scored 21 points with 3-5 shooting from deep, pulling down five rebounds, assisting five times, and also picking up two steals.

This is obviously way too early to realistically claim he’s the next Luka Dončić, but he’s the guy I’m betting my stakes on at this point.

Trade Recap: Ariza to Washington, Oubre to Phoenix

Yesterday around 10 PM eastern time we got the news that Trevor Ariza was finally leaving Phoenix, heading back to the Capitol for his second stint as a Washington Wizard.

It took just 28 minutes for Adrian Wojnarowski to reveal the full details of the trade. Memphis was involved as well, as a third team in the deal. With Ariza heading to Washington, Kelly Oubre would go to the Grizzlies, and Austin Rivers, along with Grizzlies role players Wayne Selden and Dillon Brooks, would join the Phoenix Suns.

Wait, never mind. That’s not right.

With Ariza heading to Washington, Kelly Oubre would go to the Grizzlies, and Austin Rivers, along with Grizzlies role players Wayne Selden and MarShon Brooks, would join the Phoenix Suns.

Woj must’ve messed up for once or something.

Or maybe the NBA’s just a soap opera full of hilarious idiots, like it has been all year.

See, the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies never once talked to each other as this trade was being figured out. James Jones never talked to Chris Wallace and Robert Sarver never talked to Robert Pera. I don’t know how, considering an NBA trade generally takes weeks of contact between front offices and general managers and scouts, but somehow this deal was thrown together so quickly that the two teams never talked directly and instead used Washington as a go-between the whole time.

The Suns wanted Dillon Brooks. The Wizards told the Grizzlies the Suns wanted Brooks. They presumably forgot to include the “Dillon” part of Dillon Brooks, because the Grizzlies then tried to send MarShon Brooks to Phoenix.

The Grizzlies refused to part with Dillon. The Suns refused to bring in MarShon instead of Dillon.

No trade.

The Lakers tried to get involved again. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope wasn’t enough for Phoenix. Josh Hart was too much for the Lakers to be willing to give up. In the end it didn’t matter anyways, because Robert Sarver refused to let James Jones and the rest of the front office do a deal with the Lakers at all because he’s upset about how the Lakers acquired Tyson Chandler from them.

So, back to Washington, they simplified the deal and sent Oubre and Rivers to Phoenix for Ariza.

Losing Oubre in this trade makes this an interesting decision on the part of the Wizards. Even though it feels like he’s been in the league forever, he’s still only 23, and having improved every year of his career so far, it feels like he could have a major role in the league for years to come.

Coach Brooks has been openly been critical of him though throughout his time at Washington, particularly about his inconsistent effort on defense.

In Phoenix, he has a chance to take Ariza’s spot in the starting five and steal potential minutes away from Josh Jackson, who’s driven Suns fans crazy with his backwards development from last season. On a team that’s not especially focused on winning, he’ll get lots more opportunities offensively than he was on a panicking Washington team that can’t seem to get things to work despite the presence of two all-star caliber players.

It’s odd that the Wizards are making this move too frankly. It seems unlikely that they’ll be able to recover to any real extent this season, and Ariza’s only an upgrade over Oubre in the short term. Yes, he’s an expiring large contract, but so was Rivers.

He is a well-known veteran leader who already has a relationship with John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter, from his first stint at the team. That locker room presence is something that matters more than people realize, which the Wizards currently don’t have to any extent. He’s matured a lot from when his main role was intentionally injuring opponents.

Austin Rivers didn’t have the best of times in Washington. It was a situation that, frankly, was never going to work out for him. There’s too many other different guards and it’s far too different of a system from what he’s succeeded in before. I don’t know how they ever thought it was going to work.

Considering Elie Okobo and De’Anthony Melton are their only point guards right now, there’s a good chance we’ll see Rivers and Devin Booker on the floor together in the backcourt. As the season slides further away from them, he’ll almost certainly be given extended playing time down the stretch once tank season begins.

Now we wait for the notice that the Suns actually wanted to acquire Doc Rivers instead.

Joakim Noah Signs With Memphis

Shams Charania reported today that Joakim Noah had finally agreed to sign with the Memphis Grizzlies after weeks of talks between the two sides.

This may be the best fit in the league for Noah right now.

After the way he played during his time in New York, it can be easy to forget just how good he was just a few years ago. After a long period of time without any centers proving to be able to be the primary facilitator for a team, he became the first one since Arvydas Sabonis and Vlade Divac to do so and truly excel.

It was just five short years ago that Noah was playing the best basketball of his career. In wake of yet another Derrick Rose injury that season, which limited their star man to just 10 games, Noah took over on both sides of the ball.

He had a stretch of 18 straight games with over ten rebounds, and also once had three straight games with over ten assists. As a center.

That March he had 120 assists in 16 games. He ended the month with per game averages of 14.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.9 blocks, and 1.7 steals.

He ended the next month with a Defensive Player of the Year award. And with 322 points toward the MVP vote.

That placed him at fourth. For MVP. Four and a half years ago.

The three guys that fell directly behind him were James Harden, Stephen Curry, and Chris Paul.

The next year, Jimmy Butler broke out and became the team’s consensus first option.

Pau Gasol was added, and returned to an all-star-level form that he hadn’t been in since the Lakers were winning championships.

And Rose played more games than he had in the previous three years combined. Granted, that was still barely half the season, but it was enough to make an impact. An impact that would change the course of Joakim Noah’s career.

With actual offensive options on the team at this point, Noah’s game fell off a cliff. He still tried to play the role of facilitator, but with much less touches than he’d had in recent seasons, that meant his scoring would suffer drastically.

Add in the floor spacing between him and Pau being different than they had been him and Boozer, and causing his efficiency to drop too, plus a 13.4% drop in free throw percentage, and it all adds up to his points per game nearly cutting in half.

The next year he was benched in favor of playing Nikola Mirotić at the four and sliding Gasol over to Noah’s center position.

Then came the injuries. I suppose it didn’t matter that he was coming off the bench considering he only played 29 games that year before shoulder surgery ruled him out for the year.

For whatever reason, the Knicks decided to vastly overpay him. Already an unpopular signing at the time, his time in Manhattan went much worse than it was even expected to.

Season one ended with a knee injury, another shoulder surgery that would keep him out up to six months, and a twenty game drug suspension.

Season two ended with forty minutes played, without setting foot on the court since January 23rd, and having been banished from the team for months.

One waiving later, that leads us to today, signing with Memphis.

Don’t be surprised if he actually gets playing time there.

The Grizzlies are one of the more surprising teams this year, although it does seem like they’re beginning to crash back down to earth.

They also are a team that has no backup center.

So far this year, Jaren Jackson‘s been filling that role. The main problem with that is that he’s also their starting power forward. Ivan Rabb can play a bit of center, but that’s not his primary position either, and there’s also the fact that he’s not really in their rotation.

In fact, they’re in such a desperate situation that they have actually spent time this year with Wayne Selden playing power forward and Kyle Anderson at center at times when both Marc Gasol and Jackson needed to rest, with JaMychal Green having been out with a fractured jaw.

Essentially, among starting centers this year, there are three tiers when it comes to ball-handling and facilitation. Top of the list is Jokić, easily. There’s only two other centers that really even rival him as the best passing center ever, and that would be Sabonis and Wilt Chamberlain.

The other two tiers are more debatable, but I would say placing Gasol and Nikola Vucević in tier two and Al Horford and DeMarcus Cousins in tier three is probably the solution most people would come to.

Why I mention this is because it means that the Grizzlies offense is already built to have a facilitating center, unlike most teams. This would make it much easier for a player like Noah to fit in quickly. He doesn’t need to learn how to fit in with an offense that doesn’t cater toward the way he plays.

In fact, the situation in Memphis will amplify everything good about him, while hopefully minimizing his problem areas. He’ll obviously never be the player he was, but, in the right situation, he can manage to last a couple more years in the league.

Plus, people won’t be screaming into the ether about his contract anymore, now that the Knicks are paying him ten times as much to not be on their team as the Grizzlies are to have him on theirs.

NBA Trade Rumors

The Wizards Are A Train Wreck, So Here Are Some Trade Scenarios

A couple summers ago, when I returned from a vacation in South Dakota and Wyoming, I ended up stuck in the Idaho Falls Airport for almost ten hours after my plane was supposed to have left.

At one point, the airport staff realized that we’d been waiting so long that they needed to feed us, so they ordered a pizza.

45 minutes passed before they realized they’d somehow accidentally ordered the pizza from Richmond, Virginia, over 2,000 miles away.

Long story short, the pizza never got there.

The Washington Wizards are this tiny, sh*tty airport, and John Wall is the pizza that everyone was really happy about at first when it got ordered, until it never really got there.

And now here they are, sitting at 11th in the Eastern Conference, and having finished as the eighth seed last year, despite having, on paper, enough talent to compete for home court advantage.

Which means it’s time to break it up. Let’s look at some ways they could do just that.

 

Option 1: Fire Ernie Grunfeld

This should be more of a must than just an option at this point. They haven’t had any real success during his time in the front office, and when Grunfeld was hired, Christian Laettner was still on the team. Christian Laettner is now 49 years old.

Considering he hasn’t been able to create a successful team in over 15 years on the job, it’s frankly ridiculous that he hasn’t already been fired by now.

 

Option 2: Trade John Wall

Washington receives: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma 

Los Angeles Lakers receives: John Wall

L.A. is, of course, connected with John Wall as a possible destination, because L.A. is connected with everyone as a possible destination. People are clamoring for another big name to be added alongside LeBron, and it’s certainly a possibility. The Wizards would get two young players who both already play at a very high level, and the Lakers would add another star to help LeBron turn this into a contending team.

Washington receives:  T.J Warren, Elie Okobo

Phoenix receives: John Wall

Phoenix badly needs a point guard, and this is their opportunity. In order to convince the Wizards to part with their star man though, they would certainly have to give up a couple young assets. Warren could be a borderline all-star in the right situation, and Okobo would be a necessary addition into the trade because the Wizards would definitely ask for the young up-and-coming point guard in return.

Washington receives: Jamal Murray, Miles Plumlee

Denver receives: John Wall

Denver could be a bit of a ‘sleeper’ destination for Wall in case of a trade, as this team is underwhelming despite having a team that should be able to do some real damage. Adding Wall could give them a second main guy that could launch them closer to contention sooner rather than later.

Option 3: Trade Bradley Beal

Washington receives: Jeremy Lamb, Malik Monk, Marvin Williams, 2019 1st Round Pick (top 10 protected)

Charlotte receives: Bradley Beal

If the start of the year has proven anything, it’s that Kemba badly needs help in Charlotte if he’s going to stay there. Teaming up him and Beal could be a dangerous backcourt duo. Washington would get back the expiring contracts of Williams and Lamb, which could help them retool over the summer, and young assets for the future in the form of Monk and a first round pick.

Washington receives: Khris Middleton, John Henson 

Milwaukee receives: Bradley Beal, Jeff Green, 2nd Round Pick

Milwaukee would surround Giannis Antetokounmpo with guys who can space the floor very effectively in this case, which is something they badly need if he’s going to continue to fail to develop a shot. With this option, Washington would simply be replacing Beal with another of the league’s best two-guards, and if Middleton could fit into the system quickly, they would be able to turn around their season this year in a way that none of the other options make probable.

Washington receives: Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley

Los Angeles Clippers receives: Bradley Beal, Thomas Bryant

Bradley and Beverley have expensive, expiring contracts this offseason, and it could clear up a lot of cap space for free agency to pull the trigger on this one. The Clippers are already overachieving, and while a move this big does risk potentially messing up chemistry, Beal would be a clear number one option for them and it would certainly be worth pulling the trigger.

Option 4: Trade Otto Porter

Washington receives: Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, 2020 1st Round Pick (Protected 1-24)

Portland receives: Otto Porter

Portland needs an upgrade at small forward unless they plan on getting swept in the first round again. Going from Harkless to Porter while getting rid of Meyers Leonard’s contract makes it worth giving up a protected first, and with Meyers Leonard playing surprisingly well this year, bringing him in as a stretch big could be an interesting experiment.

Washington receives: Jabari Parker, Cameron Payne

Chicago receives: Otto Porter

Chicago actually as far away from being a playoff team as it might seem, and having someone with the length and versatility of Porter playing the three could be the piece that gets them there. Parker is already disappointing many Chicago fans, but in Washington he would be comfortably in the role of sixth man, and could seriously help out their bench.

Washington receives: Dennis Schroder, Jerami Grant

Oklahoma City receives: Otto Porter, Jeff Green, Two 2nd Round Picks

Again a trade that Washington would consider mostly to strengthen their bench, Oklahoma City is in ‘win now’ mode, but they just aren’t quite good enough to get over the hump into legitimate contention. A player like Porter would be a huge addition to a team in their situation.