Archive for February 1st, 2008

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent center Didier “DJ” Ilunga-Mbenga to a second 10-day contract, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

Mbenga, a 7-foot, 220 pound native of the Congo, signed his first 10-day contract with the Lakers on January 21st averaging 1.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 6.8 minutes in 4 games.  Earlier in the season, Mbenga 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 99 career games including two starts, Mbenga is averaging 1.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.48 blocked shots in 5.4 minutes.

The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired forward Pau Gasol in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. The Lakers will also receive the Grizzlies second round draft choice in 2010. In exchange Memphis will receive forward Kwame Brown, guard Javaris Crittenton, guard Aaron McKie (who the Lakers signed earlier today), the draft rights to Marc Gasol and first round picks in 2008 and 2010.

Gasol, a 7th year player out of Spain, is averaging 18.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.44 blocked shots per game this season. The 27 year old 7’0” forward/center has career averages of 18.8 points and 8.6 rebounds. A 2006 NBA All-Star and 2001-02 NBA Rookie of the Year, Gasol also won a gold medal with Spain at the 2006 FIBA World Championships while being named tournament MVP.

“We’re extremely pleased to be able to make this trade.” said Kupchak. “Pau is a proven player of all-star caliber in this league who can score and rebound and he’s still a young player. We feel this move strengthens our team in the short term as well as the long term.”

More quotes, more info about each player, and our reaction to the trade is here.

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they have re-assigned rookie Ian Mahinmi to the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League (D-League).

Mahinmi, a 6-11, 230-pound center was recalled by the Spurs on Jan. 28 but did not see any action in his most recent stint with the Silver and Black.  For the season he has appeared in six games for the Spurs, averaging 3.5 points in 3.8 minutes per contest.  Mahinmi finished with a season-high 12 points and two blocks in 12 minutes of action vs. Milwaukee on Nov. 11.

In 24 games with the Toros, Mahinmi is averaging 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.20 blocks in 30.4 minutes. He currently leads the D-League in field goal percentage, shooting .644 (154-239) from the field.  He set career-highs with 32 points and 17 rebounds in a 90-79 win at Utah on Dec. 21.  Mahinmi tied his points-high with 32 points at Tulsa on Jan. 27.

Mahinmi will be available tonight when the Toros take on the Utah Flash at 7 p.m. at the Austin Convention Center.

The Milwaukee Bucks have recalled guard Ramon Sessions from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League (D-League), General Manager Larry Harris announced today. Sessions was assigned to the D-League on November 8, 2007.

Sessions appeared in 24 games (17 starts) with Tulsa, averaging a team-high 21.1 points (6th in the D-League), a team-high 7.6 assists (3rd in the D-League) and 6.5 rebounds (19th in the D-League) in 36.2 minutes per contest. His points, rebounds and assists add up to 35.2 per game, eighth in the league. Sessions is the only player to be named the D-League Performer of the Week twice this season, claiming the award on November 26, 2007 and January 28, 2008.

A 6-3 guard out of Nevada, Sessions was the 56th overall selection by the Bucks in the 2007 NBA Draft. He has been on assignment in Tulsa for the entire D-League season. He was joined by Bucks teammate David Noel on January 20. Sessions played in five preseason games with the Bucks, averaging 1.4 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 7.0 minutes of action.

The NBA Development League also includes the Albuquerque Thunderbirds (N.M.), Anaheim Arsenal (CA), Austin Toros (TX), Bakersfield Jam (CA), Colorado 14ers (Broomfield), Dakota Wizards (Bismarck, N.D.), Fort Wayne Mad Ants (IN), Idaho Stampede (Boise), Iowa Energy (Des Moines), Los Angeles D-Fenders (CA), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (TX), Sioux Falls Skyforce (S.D.) and Utah Flash (Provo).

Byron Scott to coach West All-Stars

New Orleans Hornets Head Coach Byron Scott will coach the Western Conference All-Stars for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, to be played on Sunday, Feb. 17, at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans. Scott will join Boston’s Doc Rivers, who earned head coaching honors for the Eastern Conference All-Stars on Jan. 21, when the Celtics defeated New York, 109-93.

With Dallas’ 96-90 loss tonight to Boston, Scott and the Hornets (32-13, .711) clinched the best winning percentage in the conference through Feb. 3, earning him the spot as head coach of the West All-Stars. Scott’s achievement marks the 10th time in NBA All-Star history that a coach will be on his home court and the first time since Paul Westphal (Phoenix) in 1995.

Head coaches for the East and West All-Star teams are based on teams with the best winning percentage in each conference. Last year’s coaches – Phoenix Head Coach Mike D’Antoni and Washington Head Coach Eddie Jordan – are not eligible to coach in the 2008 All-Star Game.

This season marks Scott’s fourth year as head coach of the Hornets. Scott joined the Hornets on May 28, 2004 after three-and-a-half seasons in New Jersey, where he guided the Nets to The Finals following the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. In 2002, Scott coached the East All-Stars in Philadelphia, making this his second appearance as an All-Star head coach.

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