Shabazz Muhammad prepares to exit, stage right. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad has been sent home from the NBA's Rookie Transition Program "for violating of a rule and bringing a female guest into his hotel room," USA TODAY Sports's Jeff Zillgitt reported Wednesday, citing an anonymous source familiar with the situation:
Muhammad, who also will be fined, was in Florham Park, N.J. for the four-day program which helps rookies transition into the league through a series of seminars, instructions and guest speakers. [...]
Just hours before Muhammad was sent home, players were given the rules for the program, which included no guests unless approved by program administrators.
Muhammad, the No. 14 pick in the draft, will have to return next summer and complete the program with the 2014 draft class and others who have not yet attended.
Kind of a summer bummer that, at least in terms of the RTP, Shabazz now finds himself held back a year. I'd imagine he's had quite enough of that.
It's worth noting that, according to Zillgitt's source, Muhammad wasn't given the boot for doing anything illegal, as was the case when Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat and Darrell Arthur of the Memphis Grizzlies were kicked out in 2008 after being found with marijuana (and women) in their hotel rooms during the rookie program. (Michael Beasley, then Chalmers' teammate with the Heat, was later fined $50,000 after admitting he had been at the scene of the crime but snuck out to avoid getting caught.) Muhammad appears at this point to have just been bounced for being busted breaking a rule, which isn't great, but also isn't the worst and craziest thing in the world.
Also, it's not like the transition program ejection forever doomed Chalmers and Arthur to being viewed as slackers and NBA pariahs. The former has become a valued contributor and starting point guard on back-to-back NBA champions, while the latter has fought through injuries to become a rotation-caliber big man, first for the Memphis Grizzlies and now with the Denver Nuggets. (Beasley, as you might have heard, is doing less great nowadays.)
Still, this is obviously a less-than-ideal development for a player whose introduction to the NBA world included the revelation that he's a year older than everybody thought he was, his father being indicted on federal fraud charges, a subsequent drop to the middle of the first round of the 2013 NBA draft, where his selection was booed by Wolves fans watching the proceedings at the Target Center, and a Summer League performance that, despite efforts to the contrary, didn't do much to change the perception of his game as scoring-dependent, me-first and relatively light on secondary skill sets.
When you're a young player whose maturity and decision-making have already come under as scrutiny as Muhammad's have, every bump in the road to personal development seems more jarring, more telling and more damning. While this could very well wind up being little more than a minuscule footnote in the young swingman's NBA story, the nature of the offense — not only being unable to steer clear of trouble for a three-day event, but getting called out mere hours after having the rules detailed — looks a bit bigger right now, adding a bit more depth to the hole out of which he'll need to climb to establish himself as a reliable professional, both on and off the court, in the minds of many NBA observers.
The removal from the rookie program, which is aimed at preparing incoming first-year players for the myriad off-court issues they may face as they make the move from amateur to professional, seems kind of interesting given a pair of quotes about the program that appeared in an advance story on the RTP by Mark Remme of the Timbewolves' official website — one from Shabazz himself, the other from nine-year NBA veteran Kevin Martin:
Muhammad said he feels the responsibility, but he understands the key to success.
“Just carrying yourself the right way,” he said. “And making sure you’re nice to everybody, because you’re carrying out your brand and it will really help you out as a basketball player, and not only as a basketball player but as a person as well.” [...]
“You have to learn to be an adult,” Martin said. “The NBA has a great program about hanging out with the right people and all that. It all factors into one great event for the rookies. Now it’s time to be an adult.”
You'd imagine the Wolves' brass are hoping Muhammad soon realizes that the best way to "carry out his brand" would be to start making better decisions in the very near future.
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- Shabazz Muhammad