Vander Blue wins D-League MVP award

Vander Blue wins D-League MVP award

Los Angeles D-Fenders guard Vander Blue has been named the 2016-17 NBA Development League Most Valuable Player in a vote by the league’s 22 head coaches, it was announced today.

Blue (6-4, 200) played in 47 games (46 starts) for the D-Fenders this season, averaging 24.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game while finishing as the league’s third-leading scorer. The former Marquette standout led Los Angeles to a Western Conference-best 34-16 record on the season before becoming the first player in team history to win the league’s top individual honor.

An NBA D-League All-Star in each of his three seasons with the D-Fenders, Blue scored in double figures in all but one of his contests this season, hitting the 20-point mark 39 times throughout the 2016-17 campaign. He was named the NBA D-League Player of the Week on December 26 and January 30.

Blue’s latest season adds to what has been a record-breaking career ­as he leads the D-Fenders in all-time points and rebounds. Blue’s 4,058 career point total ranks third in D-League history, and his 22.5 scoring average is good for the second-best career average in the league. He set league records in single-game free throws made (23) and attempted (27) this season, also finishing the year with a new league record in makes from the charity stripe (363).

Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who was part of the big Trail Blazers turnaround that took place when he arrived from the team in trade from the Nuggets, has a fracture in his leg but is returning much earlier than anticipated and will be playing hurt against the Warriors. Here’s CSNNW reporting:

From doubtful to starting! The Bosnian Beast is back!

The Trail Blazers announced Nurkić will play in Game 3 vs. the Golden State Warriors at the Moda Center Saturday night.

Nurkic fractured fibula in his right leg on March 28th and was expected to miss at least two weeks before he was re-assessed.

Before the series, Nurkić told reporters, “if it was up to me I’d play right now.”

Blake Griffin injury update

Blake Griffin injury update

The L.A. Clippers announced that forward Blake Griffin will miss the remainder of the 2017 NBA Playoffs with an injury to the plantar plate of his right big toe suffered during the Clippers’ 111-106 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round Playoff series.

Griffin will be re-evaluated upon the team’s return to Los Angeles and will see foot and ankle specialist Dr. Richard Ferkel.

Griffin averaged 21.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 61 regular season games in 2016-17, and averaged 25.0 points per game in the first two games of the Clippers’ Playoff series vs. the Jazz.

Yet another Blake Griffin injury, at the worst possible time. The Clippers will be without their star power forward for the remainder of the playoffs. Here’s the LA Times reporting:

Blake Griffin out for remainder of NBA playoffs

This season will finish similar to the last, with a sidelined Blake Griffin on the bench in street clothes.

Only this isn’t the same old story for the Clippers.

The most critical offseason in the franchise’s history has come early, courtesy of news that Griffin will miss the remainder of the playoffs because of damage to the plantar plate on his big right toe.

Chris Paul and Doc Rivers promised the Clippers will be ready to take on Utah Jazz in Game 4 of their opening-round playoff series Sunday, but this is something more far-reaching than that.

The Clippers are staring ahead into the unknown.

Here’s the Bay Area News Group reporting on the Warriors, who will be missing some key pieces tonight but still have everybody they should need to look like their usual selves:

No Steve Kerr or Kevin Durant tonight for Warriors

The Warriors will be without their coach and star small forward for Game 3 in Portland on Saturday night, plus a pair of other rotation pieces.

Steve Kerr will not coach because of an illness. Kevin Durant will be sidelined for a second straight game because of a calf strain, the team announced. Matt Barnes (foot sprain) and Shaun Livingston (hand contusion) also remain out.

The Sacramento Kings today hired Scott Perry as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, according to General Manager Vlade Divac.

Perry will report directly to Divac and assist in all aspects of the day-to-day operation of the Kings front office, including roster management and development, player personnel matters, scouting strategy and free agency negotiations.

“I’m thrilled that Scott will be joining our front office team,” said Divac. “His extensive experience in the league and management talents will help build on our progress as we work to develop a winning franchise.”

Perry joins Sacramento’s front office after serving the last five seasons in a similar capacity with the Orlando Magic. Prior to his time in central Florida, Perry spent parts of 12 seasons with the Pistons as a collegiate scout (2000-02), director of player personnel (2002-2007) and later as Vice President of Basketball Operations (2008-12). Detroit reached the Eastern Conference Finals on six occasions (2003-08), made consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals (2004 and 2005) and won the NBA Title in 2004 during Perry’s tenure. He also served as the Seattle Supersonics assistant general manager in the 2007-08 season, during which the franchise drafted Kevin Durant No. 2 overall.

Before entering the NBA executive ranks, Perry spent three seasons as head basketball coach at Eastern Kentucky University (1997-2000) and nine years as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan, UC Berkeley and Detroit Mercy.

The former Wayne State University Warrior was a captain and all-conference player his senior season (1986). He also suited up for the University of Oregon as a freshman after being recruited by NBA coach Jim O’Brien and former NBA executive Stu Jackson.

Rajon Rondo injured: broken thumb

Rajon Rondo injured: broken thumb

Just when things were looking up for the Chicago Bulls, surprisingly up 2-0 in their postseason series against the No. 1 East seed Boston Celtics, guard Rajon Rondo has been lost to injury.

Rondo injured his right hand in Game 2 at Boston on Tuesday night, and underwent a subsequent exam and x-rays that confirmed a thumb fracture.

Surgery is not required for this injury, and he is out indefinitely.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “Jerian Grant will start in Rondo’s place. “My teammates have confidence in me,” he said Friday. Jimmy Butler will be the primary ballhandler. “I’ve been doing it all year,” Butler said.”

Delaware 87ers guard Devondrick Walker has been named the 2017 NBA Development League Most Improved Player, as voted on by the league’s 22 head coaches. The award honors the player who demonstrated the most significant improvement during the 2016-17 NBA D-League season.

In his third season in the NBA D-League and his first with the 87ers, Walker (6-5, 205) appeared in 48 games, averaging 12.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He was acquired by the 87ers in a trade with the Westchester Knicks on Dec. 14, 2016.

Walker’s best month was January, when he averaged 14.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Five of his six 20-point games came after December, including a career-high 24 points in a 131-125 loss to the Maine Red Claws on Feb. 4. Walker also tallied at least 17 points in 12 games this season, with 10 of those performances coming after December.

Walker played for Westchester during the 2015-16 season before joining Delaware in December. In 2014-15, Walker spent time with the Austin Spurs, helping them reach the Western Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA D-League Playoffs.

Kings hire Luke Bornn as VP of Strategy and Analytics

The Sacramento Kings today announced the hiring of Luke Bornn as Vice President of Strategy and Analytics.

Bornn joins the Kings organization after most recently serving as Head of Analytics for A.S. Roma of the Italian Serie A Football League, where he worked closely with managers, coaches and sports scientists to measure and evaluate athletes and performance. Concurrent with his tenure at Roma, the British Columbia native has served as a visiting scholar and professor at Harvard University in the Department of Statistics.

In his new role with Sacramento, Bornn will report directly to Vice President and General Manager Vlade Divac and employ expertise in data engineering and collection to empower basketball operations personnel with relevant information valuable in decision making processes regarding roster compilation, player evaluation and overall strategy. The material gleaned from Bornn’s data infrastructure will also assist the team’s training staff in analyzing information received via wearable technology.

Over the coming weeks, Bornn will work with Divac and the front office to add some of the sharpest minds in the field of statistical sciences to augment the analytics department and continue building a database accessible to players, coaches and basketball operations personnel.

In addition to his academic acumen and professorships at Harvard and Simon Fraser University, Bornn is a frequent contributor to the field of sports analytics, authoring articles for the Journal for Quantitative Analysis, the Annals of Applied Statistics and the Journal of the American Statistical Association—providing insights on basketball related topics such as NCAA Tournament forecasting, predicting possession outcomes in NBA contests and the spatial anatomy of defensive success.

Justise Winslow is an intriguing young player for the Heat, but he still has a long way to go to prove himself as a starter-level player who can be counted on in a big-time situations. Here’s the Miami Herald with more:

Justise Winslow shooting ability still a work in progress

Two NBA scouts insisted over the past several months that even though he’s a terrific defender and smart player, Winslow would need to become a more efficient perimeter shooter to become a quality starter on a good team.

And Heat people strongly believed that was going to happen this season after his work last summer with shooting coach Rob Fodor.

But injuries derailed his season, and his 7 for 35 three-point shooting in 18 games wasn’t a fair gauge because a wrist injury affected him before the season-ending shoulder surgery.

“It held me back a little bit,” Winslow said when asked whether the troublesome wrist hurt his ability to incorporate Fodor’s mechanical changes.

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, whose marriage to entertainment personality La La is reportedly coming to an end:

Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony is about to lose the only ring he’s ever had in New York.

The Knicks forward and his wife of seven years, La La Anthony, are calling it quits, according to reports.

La La, 37, moved out of their home into her own New York apartment and the couple no longer live together, TMZ said.

2017 BIG3 basketball league game schedule

The BIG3, the new pro 3-on-3 basketball league founded by Ice Cube, released their full 10-week city-by-city season game schedule today.

As previously mentioned, all of the league’s teams will play one game per week, and at each city, all of the league’s teams will play one game. It’s essentially a weekly 3-on-3 tour. Here’s where the BIG3 will play.

2017 BIG3 SEASON SCHEDULE

·         June 25: Barclays Center | Brooklyn, New York

·         July 2: Spectrum Center | Charlotte, North Carolina

·         July 9: BOK Center | Tulsa, Oklahoma

·         July 16: Wells Fargo Center | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

·         July 23: Bridgestone Arena | Nashville, Tennessee

·         July 30: American Airlines Center | Dallas, Texas

·         August 6: Rupp Arena | Lexington, Kentucky

·         August 13: Staples Center | Los Angeles, California

·         August 20: Key Arena | Seattle, Washington (Playoffs)

·         August 26: T-Mobile Arena | Las Vegas, Nevada (Championship Finals)

Shortly before the start of the playoffs, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas found out some tragic personal news. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting:

Isiah Thomas plays through personal tragedy

Just one day after losing his sister in a tragic car crash, NBA star Isaiah Thomas chose to play with the Boston Celtics in their first playoff game. Although he was clearly devastated, sobbing on the bench before the game, Thomas had a longtime friend and teammate supporting him.

Fellow Celtics player Avery Bradley was spotted putting his arm around the 28-year-old point guard as he cried during the pregame shoot around. The two athletes grew up together in Tacoma, Washington, before becoming NBA teammates.

After learning that his 22-year-old sister, Chyna J. Thomas, died in a one-car crash in Tacoma early on Saturday morning, the basketball player opted to play on Sunday. He ended up scoring 33 points, although the team lost to the Chicago Bulls.

“It says a lot about him,” Bradley said after the game, according to NBA.com.

Chris Bosh still hopes to resume NBA career

Here’s the Miami Herald with the latest on Chris Bosh, who is technically still a member of the Heat but whose NBA career is currently in limbo:

Chris Bosh still hopes to resume NBA play

He hasn’t been around the team all season, not since he failed a physical in the preseason following his third blood-clotting episode since he was first hospitalized with one after the All-Star break in 2015.

But Bosh did speak to Larry King recently. In clips from an interview on “Larry King Now” on the Ora.tv digital network posted Sunday night, Bosh said he still believes he will return to the NBA one day, but made no promises it will happen.

He also sounded much more at peace than he had in the past about Pat Riley’s decision back in September to no longer work towards his return and to eventually recoup the 11-time All-Star’s $25.2 million salary cap hold for next season, giving the Heat money it can spend elsewhere to improve the team.

“I understand what they have to do as a team,” said Bosh, who is signed through the 2018-19 season. “It is a business. I know we as athletes and owners and people involved with the NBA never want to say that it’s a business and things like that. It is a business. And hurt does come in with that. But, as president of the Miami Heat, I understand what he has to do.”

Rudy Gobert suffers knee injury

The Utah Jazz enjoyed a big win in Game 1 of their first round playoff series in L.A. against the Clippers, but their star center suffered a knee injury just seconds into the game. Here’s the Deseret News reporting:

Rudy Gobert suffers knee injury

The Utah Jazz’s first playoff game in five years couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.

It couldn’t have had a better finish — well, almost.

Despite playing all but 17 seconds without defensive terror Rudy Gobert, the Jazz took a 1-0 first-round series lead over the Los Angles Clippers with a shocking 97-95 win at Staples Center after veteran forward Joe Johnson dropped in a stunning game-winning floater at the buzzer…

Seconds into the organization’s first playoff game since 2012, Hayward made a pass that sailed way above Gobert’s head into the Staples Center crowd.

It wasn’t a bad pass. Normally, in fact, the pass would’ve been right on target.

Problem was, Gobert wasn’t standing up. The 7-foot-1 center was crawling on the court in agony, having just injured his left knee while setting a screen for Hayward.

NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts released the following statement regarding the recent comments by Knicks President Phil Jackson on Carmelo Anthony: “We voiced with the Commissioner today our view on the inappropriate comments by Knicks President Phil Jackson. If players under contract cannot, under threat of league discipline, speak openly about their desire to be employed elsewhere, we expect management to adhere to the same standards. The door swings both ways when it comes to demonstrating loyalty and respect.”

That’s the end of the statement.

To catch you up with what the Players Union is referencing, the New York Post yesterday reported that “in a wide-ranging 49-minute press conference, Jackson said he made his intention clear in his “not-contentious” exit meeting with Anthony, who has a no-trade clause in his contract that has two years and $54 million remaining. “We have not been able to win with him on the court at this time,’’ Jackson said in his first remarks to the local media since Sept. 23. “I think the direction with our team is he’s a player who will be better off somewhere else and using his talents somewhere where he can win or chase that championships.”

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George and LA Clippers guard Chris Paul today were named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in April.

George averaged an NBA-high 32.8 points and added 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists as the Pacers went 5-1 in April to clinch a playoff spot for the sixth time in seven seasons. He scored at least 30 points in four of six games, including a season-high 43 points in a 135-130 double-overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 2. The 26-year-old forward shot 54.8 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range for the month. He also finished third in the NBA in steals with 2.17 per game. George and the Pacers will visit the Cavaliers on Saturday, April 15 for Game 1 of a first-round postseason series (3 p.m. ET, ABC).

Paul led the Clippers to a 5-0 month behind averages of 21.2 points, 9.8 assists (fourth in the NBA) and 5.0 rebounds, helping LA clinch the fourth seed in the Western Conference and secure home-court advantage against the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. The 31-year-old guard shot 54.4 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from three-point range and went 22-for-22 from the free throw line in April. He finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a 98-87 road win against the San Antonio Spurs on April 8. The Clippers, who have made the playoffs a franchise-record six consecutive seasons since acquiring Paul, will host the Jazz in Game 1 on April 15 (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Here is a recap of April for George and Paul:

Paul George, Indiana Pacers
April 4 vs. Toronto: Notched 35 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in a 108-90 victory against the Raptors.
April 6 vs. Milwaukee: Finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and five steals in a 104-89 win over the Bucks.
April 12 vs. Atlanta: Made five three-pointers on his way to 32 points and added 11 rebounds in a 104-86 victory over the Hawks.

Chris Paul, LA Clippers
April 1 vs. L.A. Lakers: Recorded 29 points, 12 assists and four rebounds in a 115-104 win against the Lakers.
April 5 vs. Dallas: Registered 22 points, 11 assists and three rebounds in a 112-101 win over the Mavericks.
April 10 vs. Houston: Contributed 19 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals in a 125-96 victory against the Rockets.

Other nominees for the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month were Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Cleveland’s LeBron James, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Houston’s James Harden, the Clippers’ Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Utah’s Gordon Hayward.

The Indiana Pacers’ Nate McMillan and the LA Clippers’ Doc Rivers today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, respectively, for games played in April.

McMillan guided the Pacers to a 5-1 record during April, tied for the best mark in the Eastern Conference. Indiana closed the month and the regular season with five consecutive victories to secure the seventh playoff seed in the East. For the month, the Pacers ranked third in the NBA in scoring (115.5 ppg) and fourth in field goal percentage (50.1) and point differential (plus-11.7). Indiana’s only defeat was a 135-130 double-overtime loss to its first-round postseason opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Game 1 of the series is Saturday, April 15 at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.

Behind Rivers, the Clippers went 5-0 in April to finish as the NBA’s only undefeated team for the month and extend their regular-season-ending winning streak to seven games. LA outscored its opponents by a league-best 16.4 points per game and led the NBA in field goal percentage (51.5). On the final day of the regular season, the Clippers defeated the Sacramento Kings 115-95 to clinch the fourth playoff seed in the Western Conference. The Clippers will host the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of their first-round series on April 15 at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month were Boston’s Brad Stevens, Chicago’s Fred Hoiberg, Denver’s Michael Malone, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Luke Walton, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, Portland’s Terry Stotts, Toronto’s Dwane Casey and Utah’s Quin Snyder.

The New York Knicks’ Willy Hernangomez and the Phoenix Suns’ Tyler Ulis today were named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in April.

Hernangomez, the 35th pick in NBA Draft 2015 presented by State Farm, led all Eastern Conference rookies in rebounding (8.5 rpg) and ranked second in scoring (12.5 ppg). He was also fourth in assists (3.0 apg), steals (1.17 spg) and field goal percentage (49.2). The 6-11 center from Spain scored in double figures in four of six games and recorded two double-doubles. On April 9, Hernangomez matched his career highs with 24 points, five assists and three steals and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 110-97 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Ulis, the 34th pick in NBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm, paced all rookies with 20.7 points and 6.8 assists per game. The 5-10 guard, who shot 48.5 percent from the field for the month, scored at least 20 points in four of six games. On April 2, he registered the highest-scoring game by a rookie this season, finishing with 34 points to go with nine assists and a career-high nine rebounds in a 123-116 loss to the Houston Rockets. Ulis also posted 20 points and 10 assists in a 124-111 win over the Dallas Mavericks on April 9.

Here is a recap of April for Hernangomez and Ulis:

Willy Hernangomez, New York Knicks
April 4 vs. Chicago: Finished with eight points, nine rebounds and three assists in a 100-91 victory over the Bulls.
April 7 @ Memphis: Contributed 11 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals in a 101-88 loss to the Grizzlies.
April 9 vs. Toronto: Posted 24 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals in a 110-97 loss to the Raptors.

Tyler Ulis, Phoenix Suns
April 2 vs. Houston: Notched a near triple-double with 34 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a 123-116 loss to the Rockets.
April 9 vs. Dallas: Recorded a double-double of 20 points and 10 assists in a 124-111 victory over the Mavericks.
April 11 @ Sacramento: Registered 27 points, six assists and four rebounds in a 129-104 loss to the Kings.

Other nominees for the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month were Brooklyn’s Caris LeVert, Denver’s Jamal Murray, Detroit’s Henry Ellenson, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram, New Orleans’ Cheick Diallo, Philadelphia’s Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Dario Saric, Phoenix’s Marquese Chriss and Sacramento’s Buddy Hield and Skal Labissiere.

Maine Red Claws forward Abdel Nader today was named the 2016-17 NBA Development League Rookie of the Year. The award, voted on by the league’s 22 head coaches, recognizes the first-year professional who most significantly contributed to his team’s success during the season.

Nader (6-7, Iowa State) averaged 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 40 games, propelling the Red Claws to a 29-21 record and the Eastern Conference’s second seed in the 2017 NBA D-League Playoffs. In addition to shooting 44.6 percent from the floor, Nader recorded a team-high 99 three-pointers.

Nader led the Red Claws in scoring 16 times, logged five games with at least 30 points and posted three point-rebound double-doubles to help the Red Claws capture their third consecutive Atlantic Division title. The 23-year-old tallied 16 points, four rebounds and four assists in this year’s NBA D-League All-Star Game in New Orleans.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Nader is the first internationally-born player to be named NBA D-League Rookie of the Year and the third Red Claws player to earn the honor. Selected by the Boston Celtics with the 58th overall pick in NBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm, the Celtics hold Nader’s Draft rights.

Nader will be presented with the 2016-17 NBA D-League Rookie of the Year trophy prior to the Red Claws’ Eastern Conference Finals game against Raptors 905 on Sunday, April 16 at the Portland Exposition Building in Portland, Maine.

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