Thunder guard DeAndre Liggins' mugshot. (Photo via Oklahoma County Jail)
Oklahoma City Thunder reserve guard DeAndre Liggins was arrested on Saturday on complaints of "domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and domestic abuse in the presence of a minor." He was released on $8,000 bail and has not yet been formally charged; what comes next for the 25-year-old Kentucky product remains unclear. Based on the harrowing accusations included in a probable cause affidavit filed in Oklahoma County District Court on Tuesday, however, it seems unlikely that we've heard the last of Liggins' legal issues.
From the affidavit, as relayed by Matt Dinger of the Oklahoman:
Jasmine Horton, who describes herself as Liggins' girlfriend, said Liggins hit her in the head with his hand and then punched her in the head when she fell on the ground [...] The couple's 2-year-old son was in the room during the incident at their home [...], she told police.
Horton locked herself in a bedroom before Liggins reportedly kicked in the door, pushed her down, dropped a fan on her, stomped her with his foot and dropped an Xbox on her head, according to the affidavit.
Horton had injuries on her arm and fingers as well as scratches on her back and bruising on her chest, according to the Oklahoma City police officer who wrote the affidavit.
After Liggins' arrest, Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti said the Thunder's brass were "aware of the situation and take this matter seriously," eschewing further comment while still "in the process of gathering more information." He doubled down on Tuesday: “We reiterate the serious nature of this issue. We’re awaiting further information and will have no further comment at this time.”
Again, Liggins has not been formally charged with anything; at the moment, these are merely allegations. They're pretty disturbing allegations, though, the disposition of which could extend into training camp (just a month away) and, depending on how things play out, well beyond.
That, combined with a few other factors, could lead Presti and the Oklahoma City front office to decide that keeping the 6-foot-6 Liggins — a former second-round pick of the Orlando Magic who made 39 appearances for the Thunder last season as a spot-minutes reserve swingman — just isn't worth the trouble, according to Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman:
Later this month, [Liggins] was expected to enter training camp fighting for the 15th and final roster spot.
Already shaping up to be stiff following the draft night additions of Andre Roberson and Steven Adams, the competition for that final spot now includes free agent signee Ryan Gomes and the expected signing of combo guard Diante Garrett.
Liggins, on this team, is practically expendable.
Additionally, because Liggins is on a non-guaranteed contract, he has to make the team to earn his $884,293 league minimum contract. The Thunder could waive him any day and wipe their hands of the alleged situation and Liggins' salary, saving the organization some dollars while also saving it from a distraction.
There is also, of course, the matter of "high standards," "professional conduct" and "championship culture," the sorts of phrases that have been associated with Oklahoma City's branding since the franchise's move from Seattle (which, it's worth remembering, didn't adhere to any of those lofty notions), that have been embodied in the Thunder's NBA existence in the person of standard-bearer Kevin Durant, and that other teams — including, just yesterday, the Phoenix Suns — have long used to rid themselves of problematic players.
It's a bit easier to stand on principle when the black sheep you're shunning happens to play seven minutes a game, of course. But should these awful accusations result in further, potentially protracted legal action, principle and practicality could dovetail to push Liggins off the end of Oklahoma City's bench — and if they're proven true, it's difficult to imagine much argument about it.
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