In an attempt to look on the bright side of Flip Saunders’ draft night debacle, I’ve observed Shabazz Muhammad has distanced himself from his dad. Not an easy thing to do; extricate yourself from your birth agent’s influence.
Now that Muhammad is preparing to make the long-anticipated jump from college to the pros, he is telling his famously involved — and occasionally trouble-making — father to take a seat on the bench. Muhammad said the two had a conversation last month setting new ground rules for their relationship going forward.
“I talk to him now as a dad,” Muhammad said on Friday after being introduced as one of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ two first-round draft picks. “He’s not really in my basketball (life) anymore.
“I still love the guy. I talk to him about basketball and life. But he doesn’t really come around with basketball anymore. I think that’s the appropriate thing to do. It’s really helping me out a lot.”
So there’s that. Theory being, Shabazz was stressed with the pressures of leading UCLA, being the man, or whatever, with his dad backseat driving the whole time.
Then there’s this take from nba.com on a summer league outing, and the positives kind of go to jelly…
When Muhammad arrived at UCLA last year, he was expected to help lead the Bruins back to glory. But he had to sit out the first three games of the season and repay $1,600 in impermissible benefits after the NCAA and UCLA found Muhammad accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina — travel arrangements made by his father, Ron Holmes.
It was also revealed in a Los Angeles Times story in March that Holmes shaved a year off of his son’s age when he was young to give Muhammad an advantage against younger competition on the summer AAU circuit and in high school. Holmes also ran into trouble of his own with the law.
Minnesota summer league coach David Adelman, son of Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman, said the team’s first-round draft pick may find things easier in the NBA.
“In some ways,” Adelman said, “I hope this is kind of a breath of fresh of air, like: ‘You’ve made it, you’re in the NBA and now let’s just learn the NBA game and get better every day and there’s nothing to prove.’ We just want him to get better every day. His attitude has been very forthright and he just wants to learn.”
Adelman said Muhammad needs to improve his physicality and ball handling.
“In the NBA, the guys, they range from being so big, or so quick, or so physical,” Adelman said. “And every night you have to have a different game in how you play. I think that’s something that’s going to grow. I think he’s always been the strongest guy, and a lot of guys are like that when they come into the NBA. Now it’s a matter of how do you change up your game night to night with the matchups you have.”
Adelman doesn’t regret drawing up that late inbound play for Muhammad — the one that gave the Suns a victory.
“I think Shabazz has been through a lot the last year, where this is just one day and he’ll forget about it,” Adelman said. “We gave him the ball because we trust him. … It was unfortunate; he lost control of the ball. That stuff happens to better and worse players than him. It’s a summer league; he’s going to learn a lot from it.”