Ryan Anderson excited to reach 2nd round

Here’s the Houston Chronicle with some insight on Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, who isn’t used to reaching the second round of the playoffs and is obviously excited about it:

Ryan Anderson excited to reach 2nd round

Rockets forward Ryan Anderson found himself in the second round for just the second time in his career, having advanced past the first round in his first playoff experience, but never since.

Anderson reached the second round with the 2009-10 Orlando Magic, but lost in six games to the Boston Celtics, the eventual Eastern Conference champions. Back in the second round, Anderson, a nine-year veteran, sought to appreciate the opportunity that has not come often.

Raptors introduce Wayne Embry Fellowship

The Raptors are introducing the Wayne Embry Fellowship, which will give one Canadian applicant each year the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in a professional basketball operations environment.

The team will begin accepting applications for the inaugural Wayne Embry Fellowship which will take place from July, 2017 until July, 2018 and will provide a paid position to gain exposure in every area of basketball operations with the Toronto Raptors.

“It has been incredible to see the development of so many players from Canada over the years thanks to their exposure to the NBA since the birth of the Raptors,” said Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri. “We have also seen some real stars develop off the court during that time and the Wayne Embry Fellowship is meant to give even more people the chance to learn this side of the business and build a career in the front office of a NBA team. Wayne Embry is a man who helped break barriers and create opportunities for many people during his long and successful career, including myself, and this program is another example of that.”

The Wayne Embry Fellowship with the Raptors will consist of a year-long paid position with the team involving time spent in all areas of basketball operations to provide exposure to all facets of the inner-workings of a NBA team, including coaching, scouting, team services, player development, medical, financial, equipment, travel and the NBA Gatorade League (NBA G-League).

Each rotation within the program will include a mentor and specific responsibilities as they learn the role that each department plays in the organization. The fellow will also have the opportunity to gain event operations experience at NBA Summer League, the NBA G-League Showcase and Basketball without Borders global camp held during NBA All-Star Weekend. Travel and accommodations for these events will be covered by the organization as part of the Fellowship experience.

“It has been very rewarding for everyone in the Raptors organization to see the growth of the game in Canada over the years, but a successful franchise also requires the contributions of so many people behind the scenes,” said Wayne Embry. “This program is the chance to create opportunity for people who dream about a career in basketball but not might otherwise have the chance to develop the necessary experience.”
Applicants are asked to submit a video no longer than two minutes by Friday, May 19, 2017 that answers the following questions: “How are you uniquely qualified for this fellowship through your Perseverance, Persistence, Preparation, Passion, Perception and/or Pride?” and “Why do you want this fellowship opportunity?”

As part of the application process, finalists for the position will travel to Toronto early in June for an in-person meeting with Wayne Embry and interviews with a panel of Raptors executives.

Raptors eliminate Bucks from NBA Playoffs

Thursday night in Milwaukee, the Raptors beat the Bucks 92-89 to win Game 6 and the first round playoff series. Toronto will now play the Cavs, with Game 1 scheduled for Monday in Cleveland. Here’s the Toronto Sun reporting on tonight’s series-clinching victory:

The real test came in the second half when the Raptors had built the lead up to 25 and looked home and cooled out only to watch the Bucks chip away at the lead as the Raptors offence, which had been running so efficiently bogged down like it never has before. The ball wasn’t just sticking. It was stuck and it stayed that way for the final half of the third quarter and the first eight or nine minutes of the fourth.

The run was 34-7 and if panic didn’t set in it was moments away from doing so.

“I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden they woke up, made a great run and took over the game, had the momentum, had the crowd behind them,” Patrick Patterson said. “We were just discombobulated. A little too selfish on the offensive end, not communicating on the defensive side and they took advantage of that.”

Keeping the panic from overtaking the entire Raptors team was no easy feat and took just about every voice on the bench.

The team leaders, DeRozan and Lowry, were getting plenty of credit for that but so too was Cory Joseph, the only guy outside of Serge Ibaka who has taken an NBA playoff run all the way to its final game.

Jamal Murray undergoes surgery

Jamal Murray undergoes surgery

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has undergone successful surgery to repair core muscle-related injuries, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.

The surgery was performed by Dr. William Meyers at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia.

Murray averaged 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists while being the only Nuggets player to appear in all 82 games (10 starts) this season. He was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in October and November after kicking off his NBA career by averaging 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists through his first 18 games. Murray also took home the MVP award for the 2017 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge after posting a game-high 36 points (9-14 3FG) and a game-high 11 assists in a 150-141 Team World victory.

Murray will resume basketball related activities this summer and is expected to be at full-strength when the Nuggets open training camp this fall.

Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting on Under Armor’s Stephen Curry basketball, which apparently isn’t selling well.

Stephen Curry’s signature basketball shoe has been the target of plenty mockery. Thursday morning, on the company’s earnings call, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank admitted that he wasn’t pleased with the reception to the Curry 3.

“As we launched the Curry 3 late last year, our expectations continued to run high,” Plank said. “And while the 3 played very well on court for Stephen Curry and our athletes, a sluggish signature market and a warm consumer reception led to softer-than-expected results.”

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to have surgery

Here’s the Denver Post with an update on a young Nuggets guard:

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to have surgery

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray will have surgery Thursday to address a “couple of injuries,” general manager Tim Connelly said during a radio appearance on Altitude 950 AM on Wednesday afternoon.

Murray, who averaged 9.9 points during his rookie season, played part of the season with a sports hernia. Connelly didn’t reveal the issues the guard’s surgery would address. Murray, the only member of the team to play all 82 games last season, routinely downplayed any injuries or pain he was experiencing late in the year.

George Hill clutch from FT line for Jazz

Here’s the Desert News reporting on the Jazz and their first round playoff series vs the Clippers:

George Hill clutch from FT line for Jazz

Despite being an 80 percent free-throw shooter during the regular season, George Hill came into Tuesday night’s playoff game in Los Angeles as the fifth-best foul shooter for the Jazz during the playoffs. So perhaps he was a good choice for the Clippers to put at the line in the closing seconds with the Jazz clinging to precarious leads.

Hill went to the line with 10.8 seconds left and the Jazz up by three points and again with 4.0 seconds left and his team up by two. In both cases, Hill coolly swished both free throws to allow the Jazz to hang on for a 96-92 victory.

Afterward, Hill said he welcomed the opportunity to be put on the line in a pressurized situation and said he goes through it every day in practice.

“Most definitely — we have a shooting competition every day in practice to see who’s the best free-throw shooter,” he said. “We’ve got a belt that we give out to the best free-throw shooter for the month. It’s been in my locker, Gordon’s locker and Joe Ingles’ locker most of the year. So we take a challenge in that.”

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.

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