Archive for March 4th, 2008

Pistons sign Theo Ratliff

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has signed center Theo Ratliff. 

“We are pleased to add Theo Ratliff to our roster,” said Dumars.  “Theo will give us a solid veteran presence in the locker room and add depth to our front line.  Having started his career here in Detroit, he understands the culture of our organization and what is expected.”

Ratliff was waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 29.  In his first year with the Wolves, he appeared in 10 games (six starts) this season and posted averages of 6.3 points (.511 FG%), 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 21.4 minutes per game. He missed 45 games due to soreness in his right knee, and underwent arthroscopic surgery on Dec. 18.

The 13-year NBA veteran began his career in Detroit, playing two-plus seasons (1995-97), averaging 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 175 games.  In 689 NBA contests with Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Portland, Boston and Minnesota, he has career averages of 8.0 points (.497 FG%), 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.

Celtics sign Sam Cassell

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed guard Sam Cassell.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A terrific aging point guard with an engaging personality and sweet mid-range jump-shot, Cassell is expected to play back-up behind starting point guard Rajon Rondo.
 
Cassell, a 6’3”, 193 pound guard, is in his 15th season in the NBA. Cassell was averaging 12.8 points and 4.7 assists in 25.4 minutes per game this season for the Los Angeles Clippers in 38 games. The former All-Star has appeared in 115 career post-season games and has posted career averages of 13.6 points and 4.9 assists in his playoff career.  Cassell has posted career averages of 15.9 points, 6.0 assists and 1.07 steals in 976 career games.

Gordan Giricek joins Suns

As expected thanks to a zillion newspaper reports saying it was going to happen, the Suns have signed Gordan Giricek. No word if Giricek will invite Jazz coach Jerry Sloan to his house to celebrate.

Giricek isn’t exactly a speed demon, but the dude can shoot. He shot a career-best 42.6 percent from beyond the arc in 2006-07 with the Jazz and owns a 36.7-percent career three-point average. And in the 24 playoff games he’s played, Giricek has hit 46.3% of his threes.

The Phoenix Suns signed forward Linton Johnson to a second 10-day contract yesterday, the team announced.

The 6-8, 205-pound Johnson signed his first 10-day contract with the Suns on Feb. 22, 2008.  The four-year NBA veteran has averaged 2.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 10.0 minutes in four games with Phoenix.

The Suns (39-20) sit just 2.5 games out of the top spot in the highly-competitive Western Conference and tonight kick-off their two-game road swing through Portland and Denver by taking on the Trail Blazers (31-29) at the Rose Garden.  Slated to tip-off at 8 p.m. Phoenix time, the game can be seen on My45 or heard on Sports 620 KTAR.

Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas has returned to practice. Here’s what he said today:

Gilbert Arenas on practice: “It felt good. I was surprised about my wind…I wasn’t as tired as I thought I was going to be. I was just excited to get out there and play basketball.”

Gilbert Arenas on his knee: “My knee is fine so far. We’ll see how it acts tomorrow after a day of rest.”

Gilbert Arenas on regaining his confidence: “Little by little it comes back, the more you play, the more you interact on the floor, the more you watch. Just to go out there and do things you are used to doing…you just have to get your confidence back little by little.”

Gilbert Arenas on the team’s potential with a healthy roster: “We know how good we are. We showed it last year when we were blowing teams out and playing great basketball. They are still playing great basketball without me and Caron (Butler), and that shows a lot.”

And here’s Wizards coach Eddie Jordan:

Eddie Jordan on today’s practice: “It was great…the guys were active and were into it. Gilbert (Arenas) had a good first practice, and Etan (Thomas) practiced today and had some physical contact.”

Eddie Jordan on Gilbert Arenas: “We are trying to allow him to come into practice and do a lot of non-contact drills, and when we do get into contact, we want to allow him to see where the contact is coming from. So we limited back screens and pick-and-roll screens when he can’t see it. We want him to react to seeing a screen coming, and as we move along we will get him in more normal situations. I thought he handled it well.”

More from Eddie Jordan on Arenas: “What was great was that Gil brings energy. His passing was phenomenal. The way he found people with his passing was phenomenal. His team got a lot of easy baskets in practice, not just Antawn (Jamison) and Brendan (Haywood), but also (Oleksiy) Pecherov and Dominic (McGuire).”

Eddie Jordan on the Orlando Magic: “They are a good team and I hope that we have some kryptonite somewhere in our lineup, because Superman (Dwight Howard) is pretty good, and they have a good supporting cast around him. They are good all the way around and they have a good coaching staff, so it is going to be a great challenge for us.”

Fiba.com reports: China national team center Wang Zhizhi has decided to postpone a knee operation until after the Beijing Olympics. The 30-year-old, who experienced pain in his knee this season with Bayi, travelled to the United States after Bayi’s CBA play-off exit and doctors discovered the big man has a bone spur that needs to be removed. Having surgery now would leave the 2.14m Wang needing two to three months of recovery time, causing him to miss the first part of China’s intensive training ahead of the Olympics.

Kapono forgot how to hit threes

The Toronto Sun (Steve Buffery) reports: Jason  Kapono still is among the NBA leaders in three-point percentage, having nailed 50 threes in 99 attempts (51%). But in the past 19 games, he has been a complete non-factor from beyond the arc, and that has the Raptors faithful wondering why general manager Bryan Colangelo went out and signed the former UCLA star to such a long-term deal. Kapono has not made a basket from three-point range in 11 straight games. His last three-point shot made came on Feb. 4 in Miami, when he went 1-for-2.

Pistons to honor Jack McCloskey

Jack McCloskey, General Manager of the Detroit Pistons from 1979 to 1992, and the architect of the Bad Boys’ two World Championship teams in 1989 and 1990, will be honored in a retirement ceremony at halftime on March 29 versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. A banner with his name will be raised to the rafters that night, the team announced today.

McCloskey, nicknamed “Trader Jack” for his many astute trades during his tenure as the clubs’ GM, assembled the Pistons’ teams, which brought two NBA World Championships here in 1989 and 1990. Jack’s banner will join Owner Bill Davidson, Coach Chuck Daly, and players Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson and Joe Dumars from that era who previously were honored. From earlier Pistons’ teams, both Dave Bing and Bob Lanier had their numbers retired.

The Pistons’ teams assembled by McCloskey made nine straight playoff appearances, with five straight trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, three NBA Finals, and those two World Championships.

In the draft McCloskey, would select a pair of future Hall of Famers in Isiah Thomas (1981) and Joe Dumars (1985). Then in 1986 he drafted both Dennis Rodman and John Salley. But his nickname “Trader Jack” was acquired because of the shrewd trades he pulled off with other NBA teams. Most notably, Jack traded for Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie Johnson. Later McCloskey acquired Rick Mahorn, James Edwards and Mark Aguirre, all via the trade route. That group of players would comprise the World Championship Teams of 1989 and 1990. McCloskey would hire another future Hall of Famer Chuck Daly in 1983, and he would coach the Bad Boys.

During the halftime ceremony on March 29 versus the Cavaliers, among those to honor the former Pistons’ General Manager will be, former coach Chuck Daly, current Pistons’ President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars, WNBA Detroit Shock Head Coach Bill Laimbeer, Shock Assistant Coach Rick Mahorn, and the “Microwave” Vinnie Johnson.

Chris Andersen reinstated to NBA

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association today granted the request of Chris Andersen to be reinstated as an NBA player, after Andersen was expelled from the league on January 27, 2006, for testing positive for a prohibited substance under the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

The rights to Andersen’s playing services belong to the New Orleans Hornets, provided that the team tenders a player contract to Andersen within the next 30 days. If the Hornets do not make such a tender, Andersen will become an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any team.

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have reassigned rookie guard Gabe Pruitt to their NBA Development League affiliate Utah Flash.  Pruitt is the team’s fourth assignment to the NBA Development League this season and the third time for Pruitt.
 
Pruitt was averaging 2.0 points in 5.7 minutes per game at the time of the assignment.  The 6’4 guard had appeared in nine games since his recall from the Flash on December 13, 2007. 

Pruitt scored a career-high seven points in his first game returning to the Celtics from the Flash on December 14, 2007 against the Milwaukee Bucks in five minutes of play.

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