Archive for June 21st, 2008

The Salt Lake Tribune (Ross Siler) reports: The official announcement won’t come until Monday, but USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo all but confirmed Friday that the Jazz’s Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams will be making the trip to Beijing as members of the Olympic team.    “They are two highly thought-of candidates to be on the team,” Colangelo said in a phone interview with The Tribune. “We’ve said that all along, but we’re not pre-announcing anything.”    Colangelo confirmed that he would be keeping three point guards on the U.S. roster - expected to be Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Williams - and said he was still in the process of notifying players who were going to be on the 12-man team.

The Tacoma News Tribune (Eric D. Williams) reports: “Although he remains unpopular with fans, former Seattle SuperSonics player and executive Wally Walker’s commitment to keeping professional basketball in his adopted hometown is undeniable. Walker was part of an effort to keep the Sonics, with whom he has been involved for more than 30 years, in Seattle for the long term, even after the ownership group he was part of – led by Howard Schultz – sold the team to Clay Bennett’s group. Attorneys for the Sonics have the documents to prove it. Walker’s role as a consultant for the City of Seattle, and his relationship with a private investment group led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, served as the focus Friday during the trial between the city and the Sonics over terms of the KeyArena lease.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Tom Enlund) writes: “Ersan Ilyasova has been working out at the Bucks practice facility but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he fits into the team’s plans for next season… The 6-foot-9 forward was a Bucks’ second-round draft in 2005 and played in 66 games in 2005-’06, averaging 6.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Last season, he played for the AXA FC Barcelona team in the Spanish League and averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 18 minutes in 22 games. Ilyasova still owns a home in Mequon so he is back in town and, since the Bucks still own his rights, he has been working out at the team’s training facility. But since he has the opportunity to make more money in Spain, he will probably be headed back there next season.”

Pondering Bynum and Gasol

Fox Sports (Randy Hill) writes: “Assuming Andrew Bynum’s knee is sound and a happy contract-extension accord can be achieved, Andrew would provide a lot of what the Lakers require. Bynum, who was on the cusp of becoming a dynamic low-post presence when the injury occurred, may turn into an inside beast. Please mind that dunking-with-authority lesson, Pau Gasol. Ah yes, Pau Gasol. The skilled big man, purloined from the Memphis Grizzlies after Bynum was lost, demonstrated little of the ol’ nastiness needed to deal with the Cs. If he spends a hefty portion of the summer working on functional strength with shoulders a priority, Gasol could make next season a campaign of atonement. There’s nothing like adding a bit more muscle to inspire confidence, swagger and a relatively roughhouse maneuver or two. However, Coach Phil Jackson and his basic triangle set may not be the optimum alignment to maximize the potential created by having two 7-footers on the floor simultaneously. While Gasol is a typical European big man who’s defined by — ahem — finesse, he’s not much of a marksman away from the hoop.”

The East Valley Tribune (Jerry Brown) reports: “Thunder Dan” Majerle said officially joining Terry Porter’s staff as an assistant coach Friday will finally put him back in the game, chasing his goal of a championship while putting him back in the world where he feels most comfortable. “I can’t wait to start,” said Majerle, who joins Bill Cartwright, Alvin Gentry and Igor Kokoskov as Porter’s coaching staff. “I’ve never coached, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and this is the right time and the right team. The chance to stay with this organization, work for a guy I like and respect in Terry and with a team that I think is close to getting over the hump … it’s a perfect situation.” … Porter’s staff includes two former NBA head coaches in Gentry and Cartwright, who will head up the offensive and defensive ends, respectively. But no one on the staff embodies the change in philosophy more than Majerle, whose hustle, desire and preparation mirrored Porter’s career — two guys from small colleges with big dreams and the will to succeed.

Denham Brown a no-show for Team Canada

The Toronto Sun (Ryan Wolstat) reports: Don’t expect to see Denham Brown playing basketball for Canada anytime soon. The former West Hill and Bathurst Heights standout was a shocking no-show as Canada began its preparations for Olympic qualifying in Greece next month with a workout at the Air Canada Centre. Head coach Leo Rautins was surprised Brown did not tell the team beforehand that he wouldn’t be there. “I don’t know where he is,” Rautins said. “We live in an era where I don’t think it’s that hard to communicate.”

The Boston Herald (John Tomase) reports: The Phoenix Suns dealt away the draft rights to Rajon Rondo two years ago, and here’s what they have to show for it: cash. That’s it. Hopefully it was a lot of money, because Rondo may just go down as the steal of the 2006 draft. It’s amazing to think that the 22-year-old starting point guard for the world champion Celtics [team stats] could have been had for so little. On draft day 2006, the C’s sent Cleveland’s 2007 first-round pick, which they acquired for Jiri Welsch, to Phoenix for the rights to Rondo, the 21st overall pick out of Kentucky. A year later, the Suns then shipped that pick (No. 24, Rudy Fernandez) and James Jones to the Trail Blazers for cash considerations.

Mavs assistants to be finalized soon

Mavs Courtside View (Art Garcia) reports: Rick Carlisle is about to fulfill one goal … his coaching staff. Former head coaches Dwane Casey and Terry Stotts are in Dallas finalizing contract details and preparing for next week’s NBA Draft. Mario Elie, one of Avery Johnson’s former assistants, and player development coach Popeye Jones are also expected to remain on staff.

Jeff of says: That’s an absolutely fantastic set of assistants. One of the best staffs in the league that I can think of.

International talent is overrated

The Sporting News (Mike DeCourcy) writes: “You know how many international players appeared for the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals? Zero. They’re supposed to shoot it better in Europe, but only three of the NBA’s top 20 long-distance marksmen were international products. In the past five years, NBA teams have drafted 29 internationally trained players in the first round. Those players combined to produce nine seasons of double-figure scoring for their teams — out of a possible 93 opportunities. Teams might build a better track record drafting from the Rutgers intramural league. “I know the failure rate is high because the failure rate is high for anyone you take in the first round,” Fraschilla says. “You can’t draft on demographics. They’ve got to be judged individually.”

Allen Iverson stays with Nuggets

The Rocky Mountain News (Chris Tomasson) reports: With Friday the deadline for Iverson to opt out of the final year of his contract, the star guard decided not to do so and will return to the Nuggets next season for $20.84 million. The move first was reported by the Rocky Mountain News after Iverson’s agent, Leon Rose, confirmed his client’s intentions in a phone interview. “Things have gone well for him (in Denver),” Rose said of Iverson, traded from Philadelphia in December 2006. “He’s looking forward to taking the team (further).” Iverson’s decision wasn’t a surprise. But his personal manager, Gary Moore, had told the Rocky on May 30 that Iverson’s camp had discussions with the Nuggets about Iverson possibly opting out and signing a multiyear deal.

Trevor Ariza exercises player option

Lakers forward Trevor Ariza exercised a player contract option for the 2008-09 season, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

Ariza, acquired by the Lakers this past season on November 20 in a trade with the Orlando Magic, posted averages of 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.08 steals and 18.0 minutes in 24 games with the Lakers before suffering a fracture of the fourth metatarsal in his right foot January 20 and missing the rest of the regular season and 11 playoff games.

Returning for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, the four-year veteran played in eight total postseason games, recording playoff career-highs in points (6), rebounds (5), steals (1) and blocks (1) in nine minutes during Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Drafted by the New York Knicks with the 43rd overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Ariza is originally from Los Angeles (Westchester High School) and played one season at UCLA prior to entering the NBA.  He averaged 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in his one season at UCLA.

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