Archive for January, 2008

Pistons bench not stepping up

The Detroit Free Press (Jamie Samuelsen) reports: The Pistons are in a mini-slump, losers of three of their last four. What’s different about them recently that wasn’t showing up when they won 11 in a row? The bench is the first thing that really jumps out at me. They only accounted for five points in the overtime loss to the Kings on Friday night. When you feature a starting five that only has two consistent scoring threats in Hamilton and Billups, you do need the bench to be consistent and it hasn’t been lately.

Lakers forward Trevor Ariza suffered a fracture of the fourth metatarsal in his right foot yesterday at practice, it was announced by the team.
 After an examination this morning by Dr. Ken Jung, a foot specialist with the Kerlan- Jobe Orthopaedic Group, it is estimated that Ariza will be out approximately eight weeks.
 Ariza, acquired by the Lakers on November 20 in a trade with the Orlando Magic, is averaging 5.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 15.6 minutes.

Lakers sign DJ Mbenga

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent center Didier “DJ” Ilunga-Mbenga to a 10-day contract, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
 Mbenga, a 7-foot, 220 pound native of the Congo, signed with the Golden State Warriors November 17 after spending three seasons with the Dallas Mavericks prior to their request for waivers on him October 30. In 16 games with the Warriors prior to his release January 6, Mbenga averaged 1.2 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.63 blocked shots in 8.1 minutes.
 After signing with Dallas as a rookie free agent in 2004, Mbenga, 27, played 79 games over three seasons with the Mavericks, totaling 106 points, 75 rebounds and 35 blocked shots in 374 minutes. In his rookie year of 2004-05, he averaged 4.10 blocks per 48 minutes played while improving to 5.00 blocks per 48 minutes in 2005-06. In 2006-07 he was limited to just 21 games after missing the first 16 games of the year with a left foot tendon strain and suffering a torn right ACL 2/7/07 vs. Memphis.
 In 95 career games including two starts, Mbenga is averaging 1.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.47 blocked shots in 5.3 minutes.
 The Lakers roster now stands at 15.

Trevor Ariza breaks bone in foot

The Los Angeles Times (Mike Bresnahan) reports: Forward Trevor Ariza was diagnosed with a fractured bone in his right foot after hurting it today at practice. Ariza will see foot specialist Kenneth Jung on Monday, at which point a timetable for his return will be determined. It was unclear exactly how Ariza injured the fourth metatarsal in his foot, but he apparently came down on someone’s foot.

Spurs re-sign Jeremy Richardson

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they have re-signed guard/forward Jeremy Richardson. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Richardson has appeared in three games for the Spurs where he averaged 1.7 points in 3:23 minutes. He was originally signed on 1/10.

The 6-7, 195-pound Richardson was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies on 12/20. He did not register a point in three games with Grizzlies and was waived on 1/7.

Prior to joining the Grizzlies, Richardson was with the Fort Wayne Mad Antz in the NBA Development League. He was averaging a league-high 28.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.63 steals in 41.5 minutes in eight games. The 23-year-old spent the 2007 preseason with the Miami Heat before being cut on 10/29.

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The Memphis Grizzlies signed forward Bobby Jones to a second 10-day contract, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

Jones, who signed his first 10-day contract on January 10, has appeared in five games (two starts) with Memphis, averaging 7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.00 steals in 19.2 minutes.

In only his fourth game with the club, Jones made his first start this season vs. Seattle on Jan. 18 and posted career highs in points (20), rebounds (13), assists (7), steals (3) and minutes played (40) in a 124-100 victory over the SuperSonics at FedExForum.

The 6-7, 215-pound sophomore forward began the season with the Denver Nuggets, where he averaged 3.3 points and 1.4 rebounds in 23 games (no starts) before he was waived on Jan. 7.

The Compton, California native appeared in 44 games in his rookie season with Philadelphia in 2006-07, and started five of the final six games, where the 24-year-old averaged 9.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.20 steals on 53.8 percent shooting in 27.2 minutes per game.

Bucks assign David Noel to D-League

Milwaukee Bucks General Manager Larry Harris announced today that the team has assigned forward/guard David Noel (6-6, 230) to the Tulsa 66ers (Okla.) of the NBA Development League. Tulsa is led by Head Coach Joey Meyer and has served as the Bucks D-League affiliate since the 2005-06 season.  He’ll join Bucks rookie guard Ramon Sessions (6-3, 190), who is currently assigned to Tulsa.

“This is an opportunity for David to see regular minutes in game conditions that he wouldn’t necessarily receive in Milwaukee,” said Harris. “We are encouraged with how well Ramon has performed in Tulsa and are looking forward to seeing David’s continued progress in the D-League, too.”

Currently in his second NBA season, Noel has not appeared in a game for the Bucks this season, having missed 27 games with a right wrist injury and been inactive (11 games) or a coach’s decision (two games) for the other 13 contests this season for Milwaukee.  As a rookie, Noel appeared in 68 games for the Bucks and averaged 2.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 assist per contest.

Sessions, 21, was selected by the Bucks with the 56th overall pick in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft and was assigned to Tulsa on November 8, 2007.  In 21 games for the 66ers, Sessions has averaged 19.9 points (13th in NBDL), 6.3 rebounds (T-21th) and 7.0 assists (T-4th).  He also earned D-League Performer of the Week over the first weekend of the D-League schedule by posting 30.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists in two Tulsa victories.  Sessions played three seasons at the University of Nevada as a point guard and earned Second Team All-WAC honors during his junior season, in addition to being a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. During the 2006-07 season, he was third on the team in scoring (12.3), second in rebounding (4.7) and first in assists (4.7, second in the WAC).

Atlanta Hawks guard Anthony Johnson has been suspended for one game without pay, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations. Johnson was assessed a Flagrant Foul, Penalty Two and ejected for flagrantly fouling Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors by striking him in the head with a forearm.

The incident occurred with 41.3 remaining in the second period of Atlanta’s 89-78 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday, Jan. 18 at Air Canada Centre. Johnson will serve the suspension when the Hawks host the Portland Trail Blazers at Phillips Arena on Jan. 21.

Barbosa victim of trade hoax

The East Valley Tribune reports: By the end of the day, Leandro Barbosa was laughing about a practical joke that had him scurrying around the team’s Beverly Hills hotel Thursday. But for a while, a phone hoax that had Barbosa believing he was traded to the New York Knicks was no laughing matter. Barbosa, who made the mistake of registering under his own name, was in his room when he received an anonymous phone call “informing him” of a trade, and telling him he needed to meet Suns general manager Steve Kerr in the hotel lobby.

Jermaine O’Neal out at least 2 weeks

Pacers forward Jermaine O’Neal will miss a minimum of two weeks, starting with Saturday night’s home game against Sacramento, due to a bone bruise on his left knee.

In 33 games this season the 6-11, 260-pound O’Neal has averaged 15.3 points (just 44.3% shooting), 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 blocks.

Hornets still struggling to draw fans

The Hornets are one of my favorite teams in the league to watch. And it isn’t just due to Chris Paul. The entire squad plays beautiful, intelligent basketball, and it’s pleasing to the eye. But the team had lousy fan support in New Orleans even before Katrina messed the city up, and now, even with increased effort from the team to put fans in the seats, Hornets home games are half empty. The New Orleans Times Picayune (John Reid) reports:

Despite the team’s asserted promotional push, a 26-12 record and an amended lease agreement that gives owner George Shinn an opt-out option if the team fails to draw an average of 14,735 fans a game through next season, only 9,882 showed for Wednesday night’s game against the Sonics. Hornets officials are not expecting to see a significant spike at the turnstile for tonight’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats at the New Orleans Arena. The low attendance has caught the attention of NBA Commissioner David Stern, who pushed for the team’s return to New Orleans after it played two seasons in Oklahoma City. “Given the play of the team on the court, I would hope that it would be rewarded by more fan support,” Stern said Thursday. “I’m disappointed in the number, but you know it may take a little time.” Wednesday’s crowd was the fourth-smallest to see a game at the Arena this season. But in the latest attendance count, the Hornets moved from last place to 29th with a 12,205-per-game average. Indiana now ranks last with an 11,960-per-game average after 18 games.

I think it’s safe to say that the Hornets will move again, eventually. Regardless, if I lived in N’awlins I’d see them live as often as I could.



The Golden State Warriors have signed guard C.J. Watson to a second 10-day contract prior to this evening’s game against the Chicago Bulls, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Mullin announced today.

Watson, who signed his first 10-day with the Warriors on January 8, has appeared in five games with Golden State, averaging 4.4 points and 2.0 assists in 14.8 minutes.  Watson began the season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League, where he averaged 26.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.38 steals in 38.1 minutes per contest. At the time of his call-up ranked third in the D-League in scoring and fifth in assists. He was named the NBA Development League Player of the Month for December.

Mike Conley stepping up

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports: Griz rookie point guard Mike Conley is averaging 15 points on 50 percent shooting (11-of-22), 2.5 rebounds and seven assists over the past two games. … Of the Grizzlies’ last four games (0-4), two have been decided by three points or less (at Sacramento on Jan. 10 and at Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday) and another was decided in overtime (vs. Cleveland on Tuesday). … Pau Gasol is averaging 27.7 points on 63.2 percent shooting (36-of-57) to go with 13.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 blocks in the past three games. In his last 17 games, Gasol is averaging 21.2 points and 10.3 rebounds.

This is local news for the NYC area:

MSG, a premier sports and entertainment network, will partner with NBC4 HD in New York to air the New York Knicks game against the Boston Celtics on Monday, January 21 at 1:00 p.m.

The matchup will be produced by MSG and air in high-definition. MSG announcers will call the action, with Mike Breen on play-by-play and Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier serving as analyst. After the game concludes on NBC4 HD, a half-hour post-game show will air on MSG followed by an “In 60″ version of the matchup.

New York Knicks basketball is directed by Howie Singer and produced by Spencer Julien. Jeff Filippi serves as coordinating producer for the Knicks.

The Los Angeles Clippers signed guard Guillermo Diaz to a second consecutive 10-day contract today. Signed to his first 10-day contract on Jan. 8, Diaz has appeared in one game grabbing one rebound in five minutes of action.

Diaz was the NBA’s ninth call-up from the NBA Development League and played with the Anaheim Arsenal this season.

In 14 games with Anaheim, Diaz tallied 16.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game while connecting on 75-of-154 field goals (.487) and 72-of-84 free throws (.857).

Diaz, the Clippers’ second round selection (52nd overall) in the 2006 NBA Draft, averaged 5.7 points and 1.7 assists in seven contests for the Clippers during the 2007 preseason. Diaz was waived by the Clippers on October 25th, prior to the start of the regular season.

Diaz spent the 2006-07 season in the Czech Republic, where he averaged 20.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 15 games for CEZ Basketball Nymburk. He also played in five games with AEP Olimpiada Patron in the Greek League in 2007, tallying 13.0 points per game.

A 6’2” native from Puerto Rico, Diaz contributed 10.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in five games for the Clippers entry in the 2007 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

In three years at the University of Miami, Diaz tallied 15.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Diaz led Miami in scoring as a sophomore and a junior and was named to the All-ACC Second Team following both of those seasons. NewsWire — Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced a ground-breaking expansion of the longest-running league/network programming partnership in professional sports, through which the companies will jointly manage a portfolio of the NBA’s digital businesses that TBS, Inc. will operate out of its Atlanta production facility. The new domestic digital rights relationship, will allow TBS, Inc. and the NBA to further enrich the fan experience through NBA assets that complement the current NBA programming airing on Turner’s TNT. The partnership will be fully effective for the 2008-09 NBA season and run through the 2015-16 season.

David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting Sales, Inc. and president of Turner Sports, and Adam Silver, NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO, will jointly manage the venture and will appoint a General Manager responsible for the oversight of the NBA digital businesses.

Under the new agreement:

- TBS, Inc. will assume responsibility for programming, marketing and technical operations of NBA TV, the league’s 24-hour digital television network;

- TBS, Inc. will host and operate the Network, which includes, and;

- TBS, Inc. will operate NBA League Pass, the league’s out-of-market game package, and the NBA’s broadband and wireless businesses;

- TBS, Inc. and the NBA will jointly sell advertising for all of the digital assets;

- On-air talent from the Emmy Award-winning NBA on TNT and TNT’s Inside the NBA will appear on NBA TV;
NBA Entertainment, the league’s award-winning production and programming arm based in Secaucus, N.J., will continue to provide content for all of the NBA’s digital businesses.

“This expansion of the longstanding programming relationship between our company and the NBA represents a new strategic business model, and an innovative template for growth,” said Levy. “Turner Broadcasting’s operation of NBA Digital expands the growing Turner digital portfolio and provides the NBA industry-leading digital resources and expertise with which to grow its brand. We’re pleased to deepen our professional relationship with the league, and to pioneer a new success model for the digital age that will create an even richer experience for NBA fans.”

“We think the best way to optimize our suite of digital and television assets in the U.S. is with a media company that can provide us with the scale, expertise and resources to enhance and grow these properties,” said Silver. “Our longtime media partner Turner is an innovative industry leader and our expanded relationship will create opportunities to better serve our fans.”

The current TNT-NBA national television agreement extends their partnership through 2016, for a record 32 years. Turner’s TNT airs 52 regular-season games exclusively on Thursday nights in prime time; airs more than 40 Playoff games; and airs the annual All-Star Game and All-Star Saturday events exclusively. In addition, TNT NBA Overtime, a broadband feature on, streams TNT-televised games, highlights and related programming live, delayed and on-demand.

Another honor for the New Jersey Nets’ guard:

USA Basketball reports: In recognition of his outstanding play and leadership on the 2007 USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team, USA Basketball today announced that New Jersey Nets’ all-star guard Jason Kidd has been named the 2007 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. Kidd helped lead the 2007 USA Men’s Senior National Team to a gold medal and 10-0 record at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, he averaged a team second best (tie) 4.6 assists a game to help the USA secure its berth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“I am very honored to receive this award from USA Basketball,” Kidd said. “I want to thank my teammates and coaches, and to express my gratitude in being selected to represent my country. On behalf of my teammates, we look forward to the challenge that awaits in Beijing.”

Starting in nine of the USA’s 10 games, Kidd added a team third best 1.3 steals per game, 3.3 rebounds per game and 1.8 points per game to go with his team second best assist output. He tied or led the team in assists four times, and his unselfish play was evidenced by a 6-of-10 field goal tally and a 62.5 percent (5-8 3pt FGs) shooting performance from 3-point throughout the 10-game competition.

Among all 2007 FIBA Americas Championship competitors, Kidd ranked first in assist-to-turnover ratio (9.20), second in 3-point field goal percentage and tied for third in assists. was in Madison Square Garden Tuesday as the Knicks hosted the Washington Wizards. Before the game, Antawn Jamison talked about how the Wizards have regrouped during the 28 games since Gilbert Arenas last played. During that stretch, Washington has astounded naysayers by posting a 17-11 record, and now trail before the Orlando Magic by just 1 1/2 games in the Southeast Division.

“Now that Gilbert is not with us, Caron [Butler] has kept this team together -the leader that he is, and the All-Star that he is. It was a beautiful performance by him last night [against the Celtics, in the second of their home-and home series]. Not too many guys could’ve done that. Every opportunity, every situation, he has found a way to get it done. And, he’s having fun, also.

“Caron’s a vocal guy, and tough-minded- and he has got everyone’s attention. We had an opportunity to win a game, and he didn’t want us to give anything less than 100% on the court.

“When Gilbert, Caron and myself [are on the floor], we try to rely on our offense, and not our defense, to win games. We’ll come down the court, and take some quick shots. Play an up-tempo style of basketball. Without Gilbert, we can’t do that.

“We know we must have quality possessions, and take quality shots. And have our opponents play a little more defensively than normal. In the past, it was [all about] our offense. Now, we’re relying more on our defense. That has been the biggest difference.

“We’re in a very unique situation. We have two other guys, besides Gilbert, who have been to All-Star games [Butler and himself], guys with playoff experience, and one guy has won a [championship] ring [Antonio Daniels]. We have a good set of veterans who can tackle these challenges. The thing has helped us is that when we were without Gilbert and Caron during the playoffs last season, a lot of guys, who wouldn’t have normally played, did. So, when [Gilbert] went down again [he is recovering from left knee surgery] -and we know he’s gonna be out for a while- it gave some guys an opportunity to show people what they can do.

“But, we are still a quality team, and [can make a difference] in the conference.”

Wizards-Knicks connections

Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld was formerly the Knicks’ top personnel executive from 1991-99…  Knicks forward Jared Jeffries was drafted by Washington 11th overall in 2002…  Eddie Jordan was an assistant coach in New Jersey when current Knicks guard Stephon Marbury was a Net…  Antonio Daniels was teammates with Knicks forward Zach Randolph in Portland in 2002-03…  Daniels and Knicks forward Malik Rose were teammates in San Antonio from 1998-2002…  Daniels and Jerome James were teammates in Seattle from 2003-05.

Pacers tidbits

Tying his season-high, Jermaine O’Neal blocked six shots at Golden State on Sunday, Jan. 13. That was his 14th straight game with at least two blocked shots and he is now seventh in the NBA with an average of 2.31 blocks per game.

With his two steals at Phoenix on Tuesday, Jan. 9, Jamaal Tinsley became just the sixth player in franchise history with 650 steals in his career. With his three thefts in the next game at Sacramento, he moved ahead of Billy Knight for fifth place on the franchise’s all-time career list.

Against the Warriors, the Pacers had nine steals, their season-high fifth straight game with at least nine thefts. For the season, Indiana is ninth in the league, and fourth in the Eastern Conference, with an average of 7.84 steals per game.

In tying their season-high 14 steals at Sacramento, the Pacers had five players with at least two steals each. That was just the third time this season, and second time in three games, that the Pacers have had more than three players with at least two steals. Indiana had four players with two steals apiece at Utah, Jan. 8.

The Pacers outscored the Warriors, 19-16, at the foul line at Golden State, Jan. 13, ending a streak of 22 straight games in which the Pacers had not outscored its opponent from the free throw line.

The Pacers fielded their eighth different starting lineup of 2007-08, and their 28th since the start of 2006-07, when Kareem Rush was inserted at guard for the game at Sacramento, Jan. 12. In that starting combination Mike Dunleavy moved to forward and Jermaine O’Neal started at center.

The NBA announced on Friday, Jan. 12, that David Harrison of the Indiana Pacers had been suspended without pay for five games for violating  the  terms  of  the  NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.  Harrison’s suspension began with the game at Sacramento, Jan. 12.

In the fourth and final update before All-Star starters are announced, which was released on Thursday, Jan. 10, Jermaine O’Neal was seventh among Eastern Conference centers with 143,026 votes. Balloting will continue through Jan. 20 and there are several promotions planned for the games at Conseco Fieldhouse between now and then. Among those promotions will be autograph sessions for fans that turn in a required number of completed ballots. The All-Star starters will be announced during an NBA double-header on TNT Thursday, Jan. 24.

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