Archive for July 23rd, 2008

Australian basketball icon Andrew Gaze was today appointed to the interim board responsible for the merger between Basketball Australia and the NBL, and the overall reform of the sport in Australia.

As Australia’s best known and one of its most successful basketball identities, Gaze is expected to bring a unique perspective to the board. While his insights as a player will undoubtedly be of benefit, it is his commercial and community level experience that will likely generate tangible outcomes for the sport.

Since his retirement in 2005 Gaze has remained a passionate advocate for the sport, playing a central role in the development of grass roots basketball, both as coach of the junior Melbourne Tigers and through his work across a number of community and junior development programs.

“Basketball has been a driving force in my life since an early age, and I have been lucky enough to build a career out of it both as a player and off the court,” said Mr Gaze.

“I am confident my past experience will allow me to make a positive contribution to the review process and I look forward to being part of this exciting new phase in the sport’s development,” said Gaze.

Despite recent setbacks at the national level Gaze believes Australian basketball is in a strong position, and sees a bright future for the sport.

“Basketball is booming at a community level with more than 600,000 people participating in the sport and numbers continuing to grow,” stated Gaze 

“Internationally, Australia is currently ranked 2nd of 213 playing nations on the International Basketball Federation rankings, as a result of the performances of our senior, youth and junior teams, and our four national teams look set to be strong competitors at the Olympics and Paralympics in August and September.”

“The challenge now is to bridge the gap between the grassroots and our world-class national teams and I am confident that the introduction of a single, streamlined structure for basketball will ensure a bright future for the sport in Australia.

“The board recognises that changes are needed, and are committed to making the hard decisions,” said Gaze.  “The results of the independent review will provide us with the managerial and financial blueprint needed to cement basketball’s place as a major spectator and participant sport.”

Gaze’s involvement follows the recent appointment to the board of high profile business identities David Thodey, Group Managing Director for Telstra Enterprise and Government and Diane Sias, Group Executive, Westpac Business & Technology Solutions & Services and the announcement of Basketball Australia Chief Executive Scott Derwin as Interim CEO.

“Andrew is uniquely placed to contribute to the reform as he has seen all sides and stages of the basketball journey first hand, from its fledgling amateur days to its position as a professional national competition consistently producing world-class players,” said Chairman Mr Thodey.

“His appointment is welcomed by the interim board and a strong vote of confidence in our plans for the future of the sport.”

The second stage of the independent report commissioned by the NBL, Basketball Australia and the Australian Sports Commission was completed on 30 June. The Interim Board is expected to announce the revised governance and management structure and future business plan for the sport on 11 October following consultation with key stakeholders.

Guards J.R. Smith, a restricted free agent who played the last two seasons for the Denver Nuggets, and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City NBA), the No. 4 draft choice in the 2008 NBA Draft,will join the 2008 USA Basketball Select Team for the squad’s final day of training against the 2008 USA Men’s Senior National Team, USA Basketball announced today.

Previously announced members of the USA Basketball Select Team roster include: LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers); Jerryd Bayless (Portland Trail Blazers); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City NBA); Jeff Green (Oklahoma City NBA); Luther Head (Houston Rockets); Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks); Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers); Robin Lopez (Phoenix Suns); Kevin Love (Minnestoa Timberwolves); Kevin Martin (Sacramento Kings); O.J. Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies); Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) and Rodney Stuckey (Detroit Pistons).

As was the case last summer, Oklahoma City head coach P.J. Carlesimo, who served as an assistant with the 1992 U.S. Olympic “Dream Team” and who has been a head or assistant coach of six other USA Basketball teams, is serving as head coach of the USA Select Team and assisting Carlesimo for a second straight summer is Toronto Raptors assistant coach Jay Triano.

Wolves want combo guard

The Minneapolis Star Tribune (Jerry Zgoda) reports: Kevin McHale said he’d like to add a combo guard who can serve as a third point guard, but said he doesn’t currently consider it a pressing issue. He said he’d consider one of the team’s summer league guards — Blake Ahearn looked most like a combo guard from a group that included Drew Neitzel, Pooh Jeter and Bryce Taylor — for that spot when those players decide in the coming weeks whether they will play in Europe or the United States.

Celtics re-sign Eddie House

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have re-signed guard Eddie House. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.

“I am excited to have Eddie back this year,” said Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ Executive Director of Basketball Operations/General Manager. “Everyone knows how big Eddie was for us in the Finals this year, and we think Eddie will continue to be a key contributor as we work to win Banner 18.”

House, a 6’1”, 175lb sharp-shooting guard, shot 39 percent from three-point range last season, including 41.2 percent during the NBA Finals, during which he scored nine points in the second half of the Celtics’ record-setting Game 4 comeback win in Los Angeles on June 12th. In his eighth year in the league, Eddie scored in double figures 23 times last season while averaging less than one turnover per game.

The Los Angeles Clippers acquired guard Jason Hart from the Utah Jazz in exchange for Brevin Knight, Vice President of Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor announced today.

With the addition of Hart, the Clippers boast a revamped roster which currently features six new players, including two-time All-Star Baron Davis, two-time All-Defensive First Team member Marcus Camby and the seventh overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft, Indiana product Eric Gordon.

“We are glad to have Jason back with us,” Baylor said. “He played an important role for us when he was here previously, and we think he will be a valuable component this time as well.”

A seven-year NBA veteran, Hart is a native Los Angeleno and attended Inglewood High School. He rejoins the Clippers after appearing in 57 games for the Utah Jazz last season. The 30-year old point guard split the 2006-07 season with Sacramento and the Clippers, playing in 23 games and averaging 9.0 points and 4.0 assists for Los Angeles.

Hart brings back to Los Angeles career averages of 5.2 points, 2.4 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 297 games. He has appeared in a combined 12 playoff games with the Spurs (2003-04) and Kings (2005-06), averaging 2.7 points. The former Inglewood High School star signed with the Jazz as a free agent prior to the 2007-08 season and averaged 2.9 points, 1.5 assists and 1.0 rebounds last year with Utah.

The 6-3, 180 pound point guard enjoyed his best professional season in 2004-05 with Charlotte, appearing in 74 games and averaging 9.5 points, 5.0 assists and 1.1 rebounds per game. The onetime Syracuse University standout began his NBA career with Milwaukee after the Bucks drafted him with the 49th selection of the second round in the 2000 NBA Draft. Hart played in one game with the Bucks during his rookie season.

A native of Livingston, N.J., Knight attended Seton Hall Prep in East Orange, N.J., before playing four seasons at Stanford University (1993-97), where he was a First Team All-American as a senior and won the 1997 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s most outstanding senior male collegian under six feet tall.

Knight also has his own foundation called Assist by Knight (http://asssistbyknight.org), established in 2002, which focuses on life-enriching activities for disadvantaged youth. 

Spurs sign Anthony Tolliver

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they signed forward Anthony Tolliver.  Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The 6-8, 240-pound Tolliver played on the Spurs summer league teams in Las Vegas and at the Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City.  He averaged 12.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in 23.0 minutes while shooting .571 (12-21) from the field and .615 (8-13) from beyond the arc in three games in Las Vegas.   At the Rocky Mountain Revue Tolliver appeared in all four games, averaging 11.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 26.5 minutes while knocking down 53.3 percent (8-15) of his shots form beyond the arc.

Last season Tolliver played for the Iowa Energy in the NBA Development League.  He appeared in 25 games averaging, 11.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in 27.4 minutes per game while shooting .509 (112-220) from the field.  Prior to joining the Energy Tolliver was in training camp with Cleveland Cavaliers and appeared in three games before being waived.

Tolliver spent four seasons at Creighton University where he averaged 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in 124 career games.  As a senior, he averaged 13.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 blocks in 33 games and was named first-team All-MVC after being the league’s only player to rank in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots per game.  Tolliver was also named a Senior CLASS Award All-American and a Second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American. 

Hawks GM Rick Sund on Josh Childress signing to play in Greece:

“We were informed this morning by Josh Childress’ representatives that he has signed with Olympiakos in Greece, and we want to wish him the absolute best with his future career in FIBA.

“We have a great deal of respect for Josh and appreciate his contributions to our franchise.  We were very comfortable when we began this process that if Josh were to play in the NBA, he would remain with the Hawks.  This is a unique situation with Greece, and to my knowledge it is believed to be the highest contract ever awarded in Euroleague history.

“We feel we presented a very fair and competitive offer to keep him in Atlanta, and we will now move forward with the options we have to improve our roster.”

Suns minority owner Sidney Craig dies

Jenny Craig Inc. Co-Founder and former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board Sidney Craig, who with his wife Jenny built the largest and most successful centre-based weight loss company in the world, died on Monday, July 21st.  He was 76.  Sid Craig is survived by his wife, their five children and 13 grandchildren.

“Sid was a true pioneer in the weight loss industry having been involved for over 40 years. Together, he and Jenny built the strong foundation of our Company’s values, culture, and mission of improving people’s lives by helping them lose weight and keep it off.   I personally feel so very fortunate to have known such a talented and generous mentor and friend.  He will be dearly missed,” said CEO Patti Larchet.

Born March 22, 1932 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Craig came from a family of three children.  His career began in the mid-1950s as a part-time instructor and entrepreneur at Arthur Murray Dance Studios, where Sid purchased five studio franchises over time.  Upon the company’s takeover, he was elected to the new Board of Directors.

In the 1970s, he would own a stake in a small chain of salons before forming a new corporation of ladies figure control salons, Body Contour, Inc. and positioned it for rapid expansion including the New Orleans market where he met Jenny Guidroz Bourcq, who would soon become his National Director of Operations and, in 1979, his wife.

In her 2004 autobiography, “The Jenny Craig Story: How One Woman Changes Millions of Lives,” Jenny said “Sid … has the charisma of a Jack Kennedy, the intelligence of an Alan Greenspan, the creative mind of a Steven Spielberg, and the humor of a Jackie Mason, along with the good looks of a Clark Gable.”

“I’ve learned that everyone has a soul mate somewhere, and if we’re lucky enough to find them to share our life with, then we are more fortunate than most.  I thank God every day for allowing me to find mine.  Sid has enriched my life in more ways than I can count.”

In 1982, the Craigs sold their interest in the 200+center Body Contour, Inc, moved to Melbourne, Australia, and developed Jenny Craig Inc, a chain of weight loss centres whose comprehensive approach emphasized health, moderation and long-term weight maintenance.

A marketing expert, Sid boosted the young weight management company into overnight success when he placed live advertisements on “New Faces”, Australia’s top talent show, earning Jenny Craig Inc. the 14th-highest company name recognition in the country.

Sid’s leadership built Jenny Craig, Inc. from a small Australian company into a multi-national business with 655 Centres operating in four countries.  In 2006, Nestlé purchased Jenny Craig Inc. for $600 million.

An avid sportsman, Sid and Jenny Craig purchased a 237-acre thoroughbred horse racing stables, breeding operation and training center in Rancho Santa Fe, California in 1995.  They also own a minority partnership in the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association.   An active car enthusiast, Sid collected classic cars previously owned by high profile celebrities and political figures including Franklin D Roosevelt’s touring limousine, Dean Martin, and Al Capone among many others.  Sid especially enjoyed the history behind his cars; which was the prime motivation behind each purchase.

In April 2007, Sid and Jenny were awarded the Horatio Alger Award in Washington D.C.  It was the first time in the organization’s 60-year history that the award was presented to a couple.  Sid considered that to be one of the highlights of his career.

Philanthropically, Sid and Jenny Craig have contributed their support to organizations such as San Diego Hospice, Easter Seals, United Way/CHAD, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In 1992, Sid Craig pledged millions to CSUF for the School of Business and Administrative Sciences, which was renamed The Sid Craig School of Business.  In 1996, Sid and Jenny Craig committed another very large donation to the University of San Diego, which was used to build the Jenny Craig Pavilion, a multi-use sports pavilion that was dedicated in October 2000.

The Craigs were quick to come to the aid of Hurricane Katrina victims as one of the largest donors.  They were among the first to respond to the needs of fire victims in San Diego, where they reside. Their support and concern for the disadvantaged was their way of giving back in appreciation for their many blessings.

Suns sign Matt Barnes

The Phoenix Suns have signed free-agent forward Matt Barnes to a one-year contract, the club announced yesterday.

“We’re excited to add a player of Matt’s caliber to our roster,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr.  “He has a chance to have a big impact on our team.  His athleticism and versatility at both ends of the court will be important for us along with his playoff experience.”

The 6-7, 226-pound forward joins the Suns after a two-season stint with the Golden State Warriors in which he averaged 8.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 149 games in 2006-07 and 2007-08.  Barnes enjoyed a career year with the Warriors in 2006-07, averaging a personal-best 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists during the regular season.  The 28-year-old Barnes played a key role in Golden State’s historic upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, tallying 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 11 games.

The UCLA product is a career 43.8-percent shooter from the field, including 32.4 percent from three-point range.  Barnes shot 33.8 percent from long range the last two seasons with the Warriors, where he made 159 of his 169 career three-pointers.

Barnes joins his sixth NBA team after spending time with the L.A. Clippers (2003-04), Sacramento Kings (2004-05), Philadelphia 76ers (2004-05, 2005-06), New York Knicks (2005-06) and Warriors.  He owns career averages of 6.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 286 NBA games.

Originally selected by the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round (46th overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft but traded that day to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Barnes is one of many NBA success stories that began their professional careers in the NBA Development League.  The five-year veteran spent the 2002-03 season with the Fayetteville Patriots of the D-League, where he averaged 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 50 games.

The Santa Clara, California-native attended Del Campo High School in Sacramento.

The Suns’ roster currently stands at 11 players.

Nets trade Marcus Williams to Warriors

The New Jersey Nets have traded third-year guard Marcus Williams to the Golden State Warriors for future draft considerations, Nets President Rod Thorn announced Tuesday.

“Marcus is a good, young ballplayer with outstanding skills,” said Thorn.  “This transaction allows us to acquire another future asset, and we wish Marcus the best in his basketball future.”

Williams, 22, was a member of the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team with New Jersey following the 2006-07 campaign, when he averaged 6.8 points and 3.3 assists in 79 games (16.6 mpg).  He was selected to play with the rookie squad in the 2007 Rookie Challenge during All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas and his season assist total (260) represented the third-most all-time for a Nets’ first-year player. His rookie season was highlighted by a career-high 27 point performance against the Suns in Phoenix (11/24/06).

“We are happy to add a player like Marcus to our roster,” said Mullin.  “We felt that we needed to acquire another point guard and a player who is capable of running our offense and expanding our depth. We feel that Marcus can contribute to our cause next season.”

Last season (2007-08), Williams averaged 5.9 points and 2.6 assists in 53 games with the Nets (16.1 mpg), highlighted by a season-high 25 point performance 2/20 vs. Chicago and career-best 13 assist outing 2/23 vs. Indiana.  Additionally, the 6’3” guard averaged 11.7 points and 4.6 assists in 17 outings last season when logging at least 20 minutes. He missed the first 23 games of the campaign due to a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

The first round selection the Nets obtained from Golden State will either be lottery protected 1-14 in 2011, lottery protected 1-11 in 2012 or lottery protected 1-10 in 2013. If the Nets do not use any of these picks, the Nets will receive Golden State’s second round picks in 2013 and 2015.

Raptors front office promotions

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday that the following changes have been made to the structure of the basketball operations department:

Maurizio Gherardini (formerly Vice President/Assistant General Manager) has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations. Since joining the Raptors prior to the 2006-07 season, Gherardini’s knowledge and vast international experience have been instrumental in helping facilitate a multitude of transactions involving both domestic and international players.

Marc Eversley (formerly Director of Basketball Operations) has been promoted to Assistant General Manager, Player Development. Eversley who joined the Raptors prior to the 2006-07 season will continue to play an integral role in off-court development and relationship management of the players.

Masai Ujiri (formerly Director of Global Scouting) has been promoted to Assistant General Manager, Player Personnel. Since joining the front office in July of last year, Ujiri has played a key role in the player procurement process, including all aspects of scouting, talent assessment and related data management.

Jim Kelly (formerly Director of Player Personnel), entering his 15th season with the team, has been promoted to Senior Director of Player Personnel. In addition to his prominent scouting role of all college, professional and international prospects, Kelly has managed the team’s recent free agent camps, draft workouts and summer league team.

Steve Fruitman (formerly Director of Basketball Finance) has been promoted to Senior Director of Basketball Administration. Fruitman’s extensive knowledge of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, insurance programs and other related business complexities have made him invaluable to the organization.

Micah Nori (formerly Advance Scout) has been promoted to Director of NBA Scouting. Nori, entering his 11th season with Toronto, will take over the management of the video scouting/editing suite and will continue to serve as the interface with the coaching staff as it relates to advance (opponent) scouting.

Raptors President and General Manager, Bryan Colangelo said, “We have assembled an exemplary front office and all of these individuals deserve to be recognized as key contributors to our successes on and off the court.”

OKC team gets practice facility

Oklahoma City’s new NBA team has reached an agreement in principle to purchase the Performance Sports Center building in north Oklahoma City to use as its temporary home for practice and basketball operations offices, team officials announced today. The 30,000 square foot facility will serve as the team’s practice facility until a permanent one is constructed at a still to be determined location.

“We were quite impressed with what Performance Sports Center was able to offer for our temporary needs.  The NBA size court and weight and training facilities are efficient for us in the interim ” said team General Manager Sam Presti. “It’s an excellent location and we feel our players, coaches and staff will fit in well there. The Oklahoma City area offered several good facilities but we decided this best met our needs,” Presti said.

The facility will require some minor improvements to meet temporary team needs and NBA specifications including changes to the locker rooms, training area, office space, meeting rooms and media room. The team plans to move in once the improvements are made, which should be by the time training camp opens in late September. The City of Oklahoma City is assisting in providing the temporary facility.

Presti added it’s more than just a place to practice basketball. “This is a very important piece of our basketball operations. It’s the players’ office, where they spend a great deal of time practicing, conditioning and continuing to develop as a team.”

Timberwolves re-sign Sebastian Telfair

Minnesota Timberwolves Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale today announced the team has re-signed free-agent guard Sebastian Telfair. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Sebastian showed a lot of growth as a point guard and decision-maker last season and bringing him back was a priority for us this offseason,” McHale said. “He gives us another experienced playmaker in the backcourt and I look forward to his continued development.”

The Timberwolves acquired Telfair on July 31, 2007 in a trade with Boston. In his lone season with Minnesota, the 6-0 guard averaged 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and a career-high 5.9 assists per game, finishing the season ranked 10th in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.20-to-1). Telfair appeared in 60 games for the Wolves, starting 51, before missing the final 21 contests with a sprained left ankle.

Originally selected by Portland with the 13th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Telfair played two seasons with the Blazers before being dealt to Boston in a draft-night trade on June 28, 2006. In his four seasons with the Blazers, Celtics and Wolves, Telfair has appeared in 274 games, posting career averages of 7.8 points, 1.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

Celtics re-sign Tony Allen

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have re-signed guard Tony Allen.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Allen, a 6’4”, 213lb guard, has spent his entire four year career with the Celtics after being drafted with the 25th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.  The former Oklahoma State Cowboy recorded career highs in minutes (1373), assists (114) and points (494) in 75 games last season as he worked to return from his January 2007 knee injury.  Allen posted averages of 6.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game during the 2007-08 campaign.  In his 11 starts last season Allen averaged 9.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.45 steals in 29.2 minutes per game including a 16 point performance in a 110-91 victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles on December 31, 2007.  The Celtics had a 9-2 record in games that Allen started last season.  Allen has posted career averages of 7.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.01 steals in 236 career games.

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