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The Toronto Raptors’ Norman Powell and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in April.

Powell helped the Raptors to a 6-2 record behind averages of 15.3 points (tops in the Eastern Conference), 4.4 rebounds (seventh), 2.5 assists (tied-fifth) and 1.4 steals (third). He scored in double figures in six of eight games and shot 54.8 percent from the field. In Toronto’s regular-season finale, Powell scored a career-high 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting (including 5-of-6 from three-point range) and added nine rebounds and five assists during the Raptors’ 103-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Towns becomes the first player to sweep a season of Kia NBA Rookie of the Month awards since the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard in 2012-13. In April, Towns helped the Timberwolves to a 4-3 mark as he led all rookies in scoring (18.9 ppg), rebounding ( 11.7 rpg), blocks (1.7 bpg) and minutes (35.6 mpg). Towns capped his first NBA season with his 51st double-double (third most in the NBA) when he tallied 28 points and 14 rebounds during Minnesota’s 144-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on April 13.

Other nominees for the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month were Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay, New York’s Jerian Grant, Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Utah’s Trey Lyles.

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden today were named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in April.

James, who captured his third consecutive monthly honor, led the Eastern Conference in scoring (28.8 ppg) while shooting 65.6 percent from the field (second in the East), including a conference-best 56.3 percent (9-for-16) from three-point range. He added 8.4 rebounds and 7.8 assists (third in the East) in a conference-high 36.9 minutes. James scored at least 30 points in three of his five games, including a 34-point performance against the Hawks on April 11, when the Cavs clinched the top seed in the East playoffs with a 109-94 victory. He also grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds in a 110-108 overtime win over the Hawks on April 1.

Harden led the NBA in scoring (34.8 ppg) as the Rockets closed the season 4-2 to secure the final playoff spot in the West. He shot 49.3 percent from the field and ranked fifth in the West in three-point shooting at 51.7 percent (30-for-58). Harden also ranked fifth in the conference in assists (7.2 apg) and second in minutes (38.9 mpg). He scored at least 30 points in five of six games and hit the 40-point mark twice. On April 13, he scored 38 points as the Rockets clinched a playoff berth by defeating the Sacramento Kings 116-81.

Other nominees for the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Indiana’s Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Jamal Crawford, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Phoenix’s Mirza Teletovic, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Washington’s John Wall.

Denver Nuggets General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced a number of title changes today.

Jared Jeffries, who joined Denver’s front office during the summer of 2013 following an impressive 11-year NBA career, is now the team’s Director of Pro Personnel. The Indiana University alum’s previous title was Pro Personnel Scout.

Tommy Balcetis has been named Director of Analytics after serving as Manager of Analytics since coming to Denver in 2013. Before arriving in Denver he spent two years as an analyst for Fidelity Investments and one year working in the NBA League office in London after graduating from Harvard University.

Scott Howard joined the Nuggets’ front office prior to the 2015-16 season and now holds the title of Director of College Scouting. He came to Denver after serving as the Director of Scouting for the Charlotte Hornets franchise since 2008.

Additionally, coming into the 2015-16 season, Arturas Karnisovas received a new title of Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations.

On the basketball side, Steve Hess will now hold the title of Director of Performance/Assistant Coach and Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. The Ithaca College graduate is one of just six trainers worldwide on the Under Armour training council, is the official spokesperson for the National Sports Center for the Disabled and is a member of NBA Team Fit. The upcoming 2016-17 season will be his 20th with the Denver Nuggets organization.

Felipe Eichenberger also has a new title of Associate Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. He joined the Denver Nuggets in 2011 as the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach. The Sao Paulo, Brazil native attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University where he was a four-year member of the basketball team and graduated with his degree in health and sports science. He also recently received his Masters in Kinesiology.

The Denver Nuggets have promoted Herb Livsey to Lead Scout, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.

“Herb is the definition of a basketball lifer. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more dedicated and knowledgeable about the game of basketball,” said Connelly. “Herb is one of the most well respected scouts in all of basketball and our organization is very fortunate to continue to have him as a resource.”

Livsey has been a scout with the Nuggets since the start of the 2008-09 season. Prior to arriving in Denver, he was a scout for the Atlanta Hawks from 2004 to 2008 and a scout for the Portland Trail Blazers from 1998 to 2004. He also served as the director of player development for the Continental Basketball Association from 1996 to 1998.

Washington Wizards not keeping Randy Wittman as head coach

The Washington Wizards announced today that they will not pick up the option on the contract of Head Coach Randy Wittman.

“There were high internal and external expectations for this team coming into this season based on the momentum we had generated over the previous two years,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “Unfortunately, the inconsistency of the team’s performance and effort, particularly on our home court, did not allow us to meet those expectations and we decided a coaching change was needed.”

Wittman was originally promoted to head coach on January 24, 2012, and compiled a 178-199 (.472) overall record in four-and-a-half seasons with the Wizards. During his tenure, the team advanced to the second round of the playoffs twice (2014 and 2015).

“Randy should be commended for the job he did in taking over as head coach during a very difficult time for our franchise and for helping to establish a culture and identity that led to success,” said Grunfeld. “This was a very tough decision on a personal level, and we wish Randy and his family the best moving forward.”

Sacramento Kings not keeping George Karl as head coach

The Sacramento Kings announced today that George Karl will not be retained as head coach for the 2016-17 season, according to Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Vlade Divac.

“After evaluating the team’s performance this season, I determined it was necessary to move forward with a new voice from the head coaching position,” said Divac. “I have a great deal of respect and admiration for George and his accomplishments throughout his nearly 30 years in the NBA. On behalf of everyone in the Kings organization, I thank him for the contributions made during his time in Sacramento and wish him good fortune in the future.”

Hired on February 17, 2015, Karl compiled a 44-68 record in one and a half seasons in Sacramento. Overall, he ranks fifth all-time in NBA annals with 1,175 head coaching victories through 27 seasons in Cleveland (1984-86), Golden State (1986-88), Seattle (1991-98), Milwaukee (1998-2003), Denver (2004-2013) and Sacramento (2015-16).

Ryan Gomes named D-League Impact Player of the Year

Los Angeles D-Fenders forward Ryan Gomes was today named the 2015-16 NBA Development League Impact Player of the Year, as voted on by the league’s 19 head coaches. The award recognizes a player who joined an NBA D-League team after Nov. 26, 2015, and made the greatest contribution to his team’s success following that in-season acquisition.

Gomes (6-7, 245, Providence) joined the D-Fenders, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers, on Jan. 7, 2016, and played his first game on Jan. 9, 19 games into the 2015-16 season. He appeared in the team’s next 31 games (28 starts), averaging 18.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 32.0 minutes. He scored in double figures 28 times, including two 30-plus point outings, and recorded nine double-doubles.

Gomes helped the D-Fenders to a 27-23 regular-season record and the fourth overall seed in the NBA D-League Western Conference Playoffs. The team defeated the Reno Bighorns 2-1 in the Conference Semifinals and will face the Austin Spurs in the best-of-three Conference Finals.

An eight-year NBA veteran, Gomes was selected by the Boston Celtics in the second round (50th overall pick) of the 2005 NBA Draft. Gomes owns NBA career averages of 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 27.6 minutes in 487 games with the Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Pistons sign Lorenzo Brown

The Detroit Pistons have signed guard Lorenzo Brown to a contract.

Brown, a 6-5, 189-pound guard, signed two 10-day contracts with the Pistons this season (March 18 and March 28) but did not appear in a game with Detroit. He also signed to two 10-day contracts with the Phoenix Suns earlier this season and averaged 2.5 points, 1.4 assists, 0.9 rebounds and 7.6 minutes in eight games.

A native of Roswell, GA, Brown holds NBA averages of 3.3 points, 2.3 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 13.2 minutes in 63 career games with the Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns.

Brown was a second-round selection (52nd overall) by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2013 NBA Draft. Prior to his two 10-day stints with the Pistons, he played for the Detroit Pistons NBA Developmental League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive. In 25 contests with the Drive, he averaged 18.3 points, 5.9 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals.

Cleveland Cavaliers sign Dahntay Jones

Cleveland Cavaliers sign Dahntay Jones

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard Dahntay Jones, who will wear jersey number 30 for the Cavaliers and will be eligible for the playoffs.

Jones (6-6, 225) appeared in 43 games (39 starts) for the Grand Rapids Drive of the NBA Development League this season, averaging 15.7 points on .546 shooting from the field, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 35.7 minutes. He also shot .546 from the field, .413 from the three-point line and .851 from the charity stripe with Grand Rapids.

Originally selected as the 20th overall pick out of Duke University by the Boston Celtics in the 2003 NBA Draft, Jones has played in 622 games (157 starts) over his 11-year NBA career. He holds career averages of 5.4 points and 1.7 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game with Memphis, Sacramento, Denver, Indiana, Dallas, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Clippers. The 6-6 guard has also appeared in 49 NBA playoff games (16 starts) with averages of 4.1 points and 1.3 rebounds in 11.1 minutes.

The NBA Development League, the Phoenix Suns and the Town of Prescott Valley, Ariz., announced today that the Suns have acquired the Bakersfield Jam and are relocating the team to Prescott Valley. The Suns become the 15th NBA team to own and operate its NBA D-League affiliate.

The team will be known as the Northern Arizona Suns and will play a 24-game home schedule at the 5,100-seat Prescott Valley Event Center (PVEC) beginning with the 2016-17 season.

“Today’s announcement is exciting not only to have the Phoenix Suns join the ranks of NBA D-League owners, but also to welcome Prescott Valley to the NBA D-League family of communities,” said NBA D-League President Malcolm Turner. “I’m looking forward to watching the Northern Arizona Suns take the court in November.”

The Bakersfield Jam has served as the Suns’ single-affiliate NBA D-League team the past two seasons, with the NBA franchise running basketball operations. The Suns will now assume business operations for the organization, with the new team serving as an extension of the Phoenix Suns’ brand in northern Arizona.
“We are thrilled to bring professional basketball to the Town of Prescott Valley,” said Suns President Jason Rowley. “In addition to the basketball advantages of our D-League affiliate being close to home, today’s announcement creates endless opportunities to strengthen the connection with our fans in northern Arizona.”

Suns interim head coach Earl Watson and assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren both began their coaching careers in the NBA D-League, while six members of the current Suns team have NBA D-League experience. The team has assigned 15 players to the NBA D-League since 2001.

“We’re happy to have an organization the quality of the Phoenix Suns in our community and region,” said Prescott Valley Mayor Harvey Skoog. “It’s an exciting thing to bring the Suns’ brand and legacy to Prescott Valley.”

Launched in 2001, the NBA D-League has expanded from an eight-team league to a record 22 teams for the 2016-17 season. All 19 teams for the 2015-16 season were singly affiliated with an NBA parent club, a first for the NBA D-League, and the three teams joining the NBA D-League for 2016-17 are owned by the Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls.

Heat sign Dorell Wright

Heat sign Dorell Wright

The NBA playoffs start soon, and the Miami HEAT today added depth and experience with the signing of forward Dorell Wright.

Wright spent last season in Beijing, China with the North Control appearing in 37 games averaging 24.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.03 steals while shooting 43.8 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from three-point range and 84.8 percent from the foul line. He posted 13 30-point games, including six-straight to end the season, and tallied at least 40 points on four occasions, including a season-high 48 against the DongGuan Leopards on February 3. He has appeared in 549 career NBA games (222 starts) and averaged 8.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 22.4 minutes while shooting 42.4 percent from the field, 36.5 percent from three-point range and 80.6 percent from the foul line. He led the league in three-point field goals made (194) during the 2010-11 season and has appeared in 15 career postseason games averaging 3.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game.

Wright, who spent his first six seasons in Miami, and was a member of the HEAT’s 2006 NBA Championship team, was originally drafted by the HEAT in the first round (19th overall) in the 2004 NBA Draft and appeared in 211 games (56 starts) with Miami averaging 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 19.5 minutes while shooting 46.1 percent from the field, 34.4 percent from three-point rage and 80.6 percent from the foul line.

Wright will wear number 11.

Canton Charge point guard Quinn Cook today was named the 2015-16 NBA Development League Rookie of the Year. The award, voted on by the league’s 19 head coaches, recognizes the first-year professional who most significantly contributed to his team’s success during the season.

Cook (6-2, 179, Duke) led the Charge to a 31-19 season by averaging team highs of 19.6 points and 5.4 assists to go with 3.9 rebounds in 43 games (37 starts). He shot 47 percent from the field and connected on a team-high 86 three-pointers.

A 2016 NBA D-League All-Star, Cook led Canton in scoring 19 times and assists 21 times. He scored in double figures 40 times, including four games with at least 30 points, and helped the Charge secure the Eastern Conference’s third seed in the 2016 NBA D-League Playoffs.

Undrafted in 2015 after a four-year career at Duke, Cook was a member of the Blue Devils’ NCAA Championship team during his senior season in 2014-15.

Jrue Holiday undergoes surgery for orbital wall fracture

The New Orleans Pelicans today announced that guard Jrue Holiday underwent successful surgery to repair an orbital wall fracture on his right eye. The timetable for his return is 6-8 weeks. Holiday is expected to make a full recovery prior to the 2016-17 season.

Holiday (6-4, 205) appeared in 65 games (23 starts) this season while averaging 16.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.4 steals. The UCLA product has appeared in 437 games (370 starts) and holds career averages of 14.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.5 steals.

NBA records set by the Warriors so far

NBA records set by the Warriors so far

The Golden State Warriors (now 72-9, with one game left to play) achieved several league milestones with Sunday’s road win against the Spurs, most notably matching the 1995-96 Bulls (72-10) for the most victories in an NBA regular season.

In addition, the Warriors set an NBA record for most road wins in a season (34). It is now guaranteed that they will become the first team in league history to go a full season without losing to the same team twice, and also guaranteed that they will become the first team to go through a season without losing two games in a row.

The stage is now set for Wednesday, when the Warriors will try for an NBA-record 73rd victory in their regular-season finale against the Grizzlies at Oracle Arena. ESPN will televise the game at 10:30 p.m. ET, while Kobe Bryant’s final game in the league will air on ESPN2.

– NBA News

Big night in NBA West Playoff race

Big night in NBA West Playoff race

The Eastern Conference’s eight playoff teams are now known. In the Western Conference, two postseason spots remain up for grabs. The Mavericks can clinch one of those spots if they defeat the Jazz tonight in Utah (9 p.m. ET, NBA LEAGUE PASS) or if the Rockets lose to the Timberwolves in Minnesota (8 p.m., NBA LP). Utah can clinch a postseason spot if it beats the Mavericks and Houston loses to Minnesota. If the Jazz wins and the Rockets lose, Houston would be eliminated from playoff contention. Also tonight, the Cavaliers can clinch the best record in the East with a victory over the Hawks in Cleveland (7 p.m., NBA TV).

– NBA News

Boston Celtics sign guard John Holland

Celtics sign John Holland

The Boston Celtics signed guard John Holland today.

The 6’5” guard has appeared in 37 regular season contests for the NBA Development League Canton Charge this year and has averaged 16.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 30.2 minutes per game. He shot 52.0 percent from the floor, 36.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.2 percent from the free-throw line during the regular season. During the 2015-16 D-League Playoffs, Holland has averaged 28.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and shot 62.5 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from the three-point line.

Holland, the 40th Gatorade D-League call-up this season, was named the America East Conference Player of the Year as a Boston University senior when he led the Terriers to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. He finished his collegiate career as just the second player in America East history with at least 2,000 points, 700 rebounds and 200 steals.

A native of the Bronx, New York, Holland has played professionally in France, Spain and Turkey, and was in training camp with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.

Paul Millsap, NBA Players of Week

Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, April 4 through Sunday, April 10.

Millsap helped the Hawks to a 3-0 week, which included wins over the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics. He averaged 19.0 points, led the league in both rebounds (15.7 rpg) and blocks (4.33 bpg), and posted point-rebound double-doubles in all three contests. On April 9, Millsap’s 31-point, 16-rebound, five-block performance lifted Atlanta to a 118-107 win over Boston and moved the Hawks one game ahead of the Celtics for the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Karl-Anthony Towns wins nba player of week

Towns led the Timberwolves to a 3-0 week, which included wins over the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers. He averaged 21.3 points (seventh in the Western Conference), 10.3 rebounds (tied-sixth) and 1.67 blocks (tied-sixth). On April 9, Towns made the game-winning shot with 1.8 seconds remaining during the Timberwolves’ 106-105 win over the Trail Blazers.

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, Detroit’s Reggie Jackson, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Jamal Crawford.

Warriors now have 72 wins

The 2015 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors earned their 72nd win of the 2015-16 season with Sunday’s 92-86 road victory over the San Antonio Spurs, matching the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ NBA record for most wins in a single season.

With Sunday’s win, the Warriors finished the season with a 34-7 (.829) record on the road, establishing an NBA record for most road wins in a single season. At 72-9 (.889) on the season, Golden State has become the first team in NBA history to reach 63 games above the .500 mark. The Warriors snapped a 33-game regular-season road losing streak against the Spurs, earning their first regular-season win at San Antonio since Feb. 14, 1997. Golden State improved to 16-1 (.941) this season against teams with a winning percentage of .600 or better.

Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr, who is in his second year at the helm, was a key reserve on the record-setting Bulls team.

Miami Heat sign Briante Weber

The Miami Heat have signed guard Briante Weber. He will wear jersey number 12.

Originally signed by the HEAT earlier this season on October 19 and then waived on October 24, Weber appeared in 28 regular season games (nine starts) this season with the HEAT’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, and averaged 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.11 steals and 28.8 minutes while shooting 46.9 percent from the field, 40.8 percent from three-point range and 72.5 percent from the foul line.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, “Although he recently completed a 10-day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, Weber is playoff eligible because 10-day contracts do not count against the ban on playoff eligibility for players with other NBA teams after March 1.”

Among NBA D-League leaders, he finished third in defensive rating (99.5) and fourth in steals per game. He recently helped the Skyforce complete the 2-0 series sweep of the Westchester Knicks in the first round of the NBA D-League playoffs after scoring 21 points, grabbing five rebounds and recording five steals in a, 112-105, victory on April 8.

Earlier this season, he signed a 10-day contract with Memphis on March 11 and appeared in six games (four starts) with the Grizzlies averaging 4.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.50 steals in 27.7 minutes while shooting 34.2 percent from the field and 75 percent from the foul line. He scored in double-figures twice and led the team in steals and blocks once each.

Weber played all four seasons at Virginia Commonwealth finishing as VCU’s all-time career steals leader (374), shattering the previous 29-year old record by 117, capping his career third on the NCAA’s steals list, just 12 shy from becoming the all-time career leader before missing the final 10 games of his senior season due to injury.

Philadelphia 76ers Managing General Partner Josh Harris announced today that the team has named Bryan Colangelo as President of Basketball Operations.

As part of the transition, Jerry Colangelo will relinquish the role of Chairman of Basketball Operations and remains as a special advisor to Harris.

Colangelo most recently served as President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors from 2006 to 2013. In his first full season at the helm of the Raptors (2006-07), the team saw a 20-win improvement from the previous year and tied a then franchise-high with 47 wins. Colangelo was named 2007 NBA Executive of the Year.

One of only three executives to win the award with two different franchises, Colangelo was also named NBA Executive of the Year in 2005 with the Phoenix Suns. After Colangelo’s offseason acquisition of point guard Steve Nash, who would go on to win back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player awards in 2005 and 2006, the Suns notched a 62-20 regular season record and an appearance in the Western Conference Finals.

During his tenure with Toronto, Colangelo drafted current Raptors DeMar DeRozan (ninth overall, 2009), Jonas Valanciunas (fifth overall, 2011) and Terrence Ross (eighth overall, 2012). During the 2012 offseason, Colangelo dealt for point guard Kyle Lowry, who would be named an NBA All-Star in 2015 and 2016.

Over the span of 15 years with the Suns organization, Colangelo drafted NBA All-Stars Michael Finley (21st overall, 1995), Steve Nash (15th overall, 1996), Shawn Marion (ninth overall, 1999) and Amar’e Stoudemire (ninth overall, 2002).

All told, his teams have appeared in the NBA Playoffs 11 times and have captured four division championships in his 18 seasons as a general manager.

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