Archive for June 9th, 2008

Gilbert Arenas opts out of contract

The Washington Post (Ivan Carter) reports: Gilbert Arenas said he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Washington Wizards by filing the necessary paperwork with the league office Friday. The move makes Arenas, who was scheduled to earn $12.8 million next season, an unrestricted free agent. Teams will be able to negotiate with free agents July 1. Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld has repeatedly stated that the team plans to re-sign Arenas and all-star forward Antawn Jamison, who will also be an unrestricted free agent.

InsideHoops.com says: Unless something crazy happens, expect Arenas to re-sign with the Wizards. That’s the general rule of thumb with all star players who become free agents. There are barely any teams in the league with the salary cap space to give them big contracts, aside from their own team and maybe a few others.

The Indiana Pacers announced Monday that Sam Perkins has been named Vice President of Player Relations. Perkins played with the Pacers from 1999 to 2001 and was a member of the 2000 team that went to the NBA Finals.

“As a player, he was a real professional who showed genuine leadership,” said Pacers President of Basketball Larry Bird, who coached Perkins with the Pacers. “He’s a person we all were hoping would come back and help us some day. He’s a good man with many qualities that will help the franchise.”

Since his retirement in 2001, Perkins has been actively involved in a variety of charitable endeavors including Special Olympics; Nothing But Nets in conjunction with the United Nations; Boys and Girls Clubs; Big Brothers; Carolina for Kibera; NBA Cares; Basketball Without Borders and Habitat for Humanity. Perkins is a graduate of North Carolina with a degree in communications. He was a co-captain of the 1984 gold medal-winning Olympic basketball team and he played a total of 15 seasons in the NBA with four different teams.

“I’m looking forward to this opportunity and challenge because in the perspective of the NBA, player development programs are a high priority,” said Perkins.  “For the Pacers, the development of players on and off the court has been made a top priority by the franchise.”

“As a young player in my first couple of years in the league, Sam was a leader on a veteran team and showed myself and the other young guys the correct way to do things,” said Pacers forward Jeff Foster. “I always looked up to Sam for how he represented and conducted himself on and off the court. I’m sure he’ll make a smooth transition into this role.”

New Bulls coach may be Vinny Del Negro

Ticker reports: The Chicago Bulls apparently have settled on Vinny Del Negro as their new head coach. Del Negro, the current assistant general manager of the Phoenix Suns, is prepared to accept a contract offer to coach the Bulls, according to a report posted Monday by the Chicago Tribune. The deal has not been finalized, but the Tribune claimed that the Bulls will formally introduce Del Negro during a news conference at some point this week.

Michael Curry to be new Pistons coach

The Detroit Pistons have called a press conference for Tuesday, June 10 to announce the team’s new head coach.

The AP reports: Michael Curry will be the next coach of the Detroit Pistons after having played for the team and worked as an assistant… Curry agreed to a three-year deal worth $2.5 million a year, with the team holding the option for a fourth season.

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the team has signed Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager Tony DiLeo and Director of Player Personnel Courntey Witte to multi-year contract extensions.  Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed. 

“During my time here, I’ve had a chance to see first-hand the work ethic, time and dedication both Tony and Courtney have invested in this organization,” Stefanski said. “I am not only confident and comfortable that their experience and knowledge will continue to be invaluable assets, but I look forward to working with them as we collectively pursue our goal of bringing a championship to Philadelphia.”

DiLeo is in his 19th season with the 76ers basketball operations department.  After spending four seasons as the Sixers director of player personal (1999-03), he was promoted to his current position in September, 2003.  He is primarily responsible for assisting Stefanski with player procurement through his evaluation of amateur and professional talent, while also supervising the team’s draft effort, and college and professional scouting systems.

During his tenure, DiLeo has been involved in every aspect of the team’s basketball operations, including coaching, scouting and management. Formerly the team’s director of scouting and assistant coach, DiLeo has extensive experience in international basketball, both as a player and coach.  He played and coached in West Germany for 10 seasons before joining the Sixers staff for the 1990-91 season.  He coached the West German men’s and women’s teams from 1979-90, winning nine national titles in the country’s top division.  DiLeo was selected as the West German federation National Coach (1981-85) and the country’s coach of the year in 1987.

Courtney Witte (pronounced Witty) is in his 11th season with 76ers basketball operations department and 22nd overall in the NBA.

After serving as the Sixers director of scouting for two seasons (2001-03), Witte was promoted to his current position in September, 2003.  He will continue to be involved in all aspects of the team’s basketball operations, including the draft night preparation and the coordination of Sixers professional scouting and collegiate player evaluation process.

Witte joined the Sixers prior to the 1998-99 season as a video coordinator and scout after spending 11 seasons with the Indiana Pacers. He served as an assistant coach/director of scouting for the Sixers, after a two-year stint as an assistant coach/head scout.

The Phoenix Suns named Terry Porter the 13th head coach in franchise history, the club announced today.

“We are excited to have Terry as our new head coach,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr.  “He is a strong leader and communicator, as fans of the NBA have seen since his days as a point guard. He is a tough-nosed competitor. Those qualities only enhance his experience as a head coach and assistant and provide a tremendous foundation for him to lead our basketball team.”

In Porter’s 22-year NBA tenure, his teams have made a staggering 20 playoff appearances, including two trips to the NBA Finals (1990, ‘92), six appearances in the conference finals (‘90, ’91, ’92, ’01, ’07, ’08) and eight division championships (’91, ’92, ’99, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’07, ’08).  The former guard’s career spans two seasons as a head coach (Milwaukee), three as an assistant coach (Sacramento, Detroit) and 17 as a player in the NBA (Portland, Minnesota, Miami, San Antonio).  It includes experience under some of the most respected coaches in league history: Jack Ramsay (1985-86), Rick Adelman (1989-94; 2002-03), Flip Saunders (1995-98; 2006-08), Pat Riley (1998-99) and Gregg Popovich (1999-02).

Porter takes the reins of his second NBA team after serving as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.  In his rookie campaign, Porter’s Bucks were the highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference (fourth-highest in the NBA) while committing the East’s fewest turnovers.  Milwaukee earned a playoff berth that season before being defeated by the eventual NBA Champion Detroit Pistons.  The loss of starting point guard T.J. Ford for the entire 2004-05 season limited the club to a 30-52 record the following year.  In two seasons with the Bucks, Porter’s clubs went a combined 71-93 and were an impressive 50-32 at home.

Porter’s wide-ranging basketball expertise is evident on both sides of the floor.  As a player, his teams in Portland (1985-95) and Minnesota (1995-98) ranked in the top four in scoring offense in nine of his first 13 NBA seasons, including a league-best 117.9-point average in 1986-87 with the Trail Blazers.  His last four seasons were spent in Miami (1998-99) and San Antonio (1999-2002) with clubs that each finished in the top three in scoring defense.  As an assistant coach with Sacramento in 2002-03, the Kings finished third in the NBA in scoring offense.  Porter takes the Suns’ helm after serving the last two seasons (2006-08) as an assistant with Detroit, who ranked in the top two in scoring defense both campaigns, and allowed a league-low 90.1 points in 2007-08.

The Milwaukee native is a two-time NBA All-Star (1991, 1993) and won the 1993 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, an honor also earned by Suns legend Kevin Johnson (1990-91) and current guard Steve Nash (2006-07).  In 17 NBA seasons as a player, Porter established career averages of 12.2 points and 5.6 assists in 1,274 games after originally being selected with the 24th overall pick of the 1985 NBA Draft by Portland.  The 6-3 guard retired following the 2002 season with 7,160 career assists, 11th-most in NBA history, including 5,319 assists as a member of the Trail Blazers, which still stands as a franchise record.  Porter also still holds the NBA Finals record for most free-throws made in a single game without a miss (15; June 7, 1990).

The youngest of six children, Porter received his degree in communications from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  In 1999, he was given the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

June 8: Celtics 108, Lakers 102

The AP reports: Trailing Boston by 24 points with less than 8 minutes left, the Lakers got within two before losing 108-102 on Sunday night to the Boston Celtics, who are heading out West feeling a little lucky to have a 2-0 lead in the NBA finals… Only three teams—Boston in 1969, Portland in 1977 and Miami in 2006—have overcome an 0-2 deficit to win the title… Paul Pierce darted around the parquet floor with ease to score 28 points and unknown Leon Powe added 21 as the Celtics held serve at home in these trip-down-memory-lane finals. But coasting to a blowout win, the Celtics nearly blew up… The Lakers trailed 95-71 with 7:55 remaining but used a 31-9 run to pull to 104-102 on two free throws by Bryant with 38.4 seconds left. Pierce, though, made two free throws, then blocked a 3-pointer by Sasha Vujacic, and James Posey made two free throws with 12.6 seconds left to ice it for Boston, which improved to 12-1 at home in the postseason.

Ticker reports: Ray Allen scored 17 points and Kevin Garnett added 17 and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who are now just two wins from their league-best 17th title… Bryant fought early foul trouble but still managed a game-high 30 points and Pau Gasol added 17 for the Lakers, who head home down 2-0 in the best-of-seven matchup, with Game Three set for Tuesday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles… Bryant and the Lakers ran into serious foul trouble in the second. Bryant picked up his third personal with 1:53 remaining in the first half, and his backcourt teammate Derek Fisher followed with his third infraction with 23.9 seconds remaining.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Celtics shot 52.9%, the Lakers 49.4%. The Celtics shot an amazing 9-of-14 three-pointers (Pierce 4-of-4, Ray Allen 3-of-6, James Posey 2-of-3), the Lakers a terrific 47.6% (Sasha Vujacic 2-of-3), Jordan Farmar 3-of-4). Huge: The Celtics had 38 free throw attempts (hitting 27), the Lakers just 10 attempts (hitting all 10). Boston dished 31 assists, L.A. 13.

For the Celtics, Pierce (9-of-16) had 28 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists (plus 5 turnovers). Leon Powe (6-of-7, 9-of-13 free throws) had 21 points off the bench. Garnett (7-of-19) had 17 points and 14 rebounds. Ray Allen (6-of-11) scored 17. Rajon Rondo only scored 4 but dished 16 assists (just 2 turnovers) plus 2 steals.

For the Lakers, Bryant (11-of-23) had 30 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals. Pau Gasol (8-of-12) had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Vladimir Radmanovic (5-of-12) had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Lamar Odom (5-of-11) was contained all night and had 10 points, 8 rebounds and not much else. Derek Fisher needed 8 shots for his 9 points and 3 steals. Farmar scored 9. Vujacic scored 8.

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