Archive for July 29th, 2008

Nets will keep rights to Krstic

The New York Post reports: While Nenad Krstic plays for Triumph of Moscow in Russia after accepting a 2-year deal worth $5.7 million (closer to $10 mil because of the lack of taxes), the Nets will give him a qualifying offer each year in order to retain his NBA right, team president Rod Thorn said. “We’ll see what happens but eventually I think he’ll go wherever he can get the best deal,” Thorn said. “For now, this was the best deal for him.” The Nets tried to beat the Tuesday midnight deadline and work a deal. They had concrete offers but losing Krstic left them at 15 contracts and they did not want to take anything back in terms of players. Chicago and Memphis were definitely in the mix.

Raptors keep their TV analysts

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday that Jack Armstrong and Leo Rautins will return as the colour analysts on the team’s television broadcasts for the 2008-09 season. They will join Matt Devlin, who was named July 9 as the team’s new television play-by-play announcer.

“These two broadcasters will bring Raptors fans the in-depth analysis that they have come to expect on all of our game broadcasts,” said Chris Hebb, senior vice-president of broadcast and content for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. “They have the experience and knowledge to deliver a compelling story every night and we are thrilled to have them returning to the fold.”

The upcoming season marks Armstrong’s 11th with the organization and the 14th for Rautins. Armstrong will serve as the analyst on all TSN games and appear regularly on SportsCentre as the network’s NBA Insider. Rautins will handle the duties for contests on CBC and The Score, while working alongside Rod Black as studio analyst on TSN’s NBA Studio shows. Both Armstrong and Rautins will continue to add their expertise to various programs on Raptors NBA TV, including pre- and post-game analysis.

Armstrong and Devlin have worked together in the past calling NCAA and WNBA games. Armstrong began his broadcasting career as a radio analyst for the Raptors following a successful 14-year coaching career at the collegiate level.

In addition to his duties with the Raptors, Armstrong is a regular NBA commentator in Canada and a television analyst for NCAA basketball on CSTV, Comcast, Empire Sports Network, Fox Sports, MASN TV, New York/MSG, ESPN’s regional coverage and the Atlantic 10 Conference TV Network. His commentating also extended to the WNBA where he worked for MSG on New York Liberty telecasts for two seasons.

Rautins has been on the Canadian basketball scene for almost 30 years as a player, broadcaster and ambassador of the game. In addition to his broadcasting portfolio, Rautins is the head coach of the Canadian Senior Men’s National Basketball Team.

A 23-year veteran of television, radio and newspaper journalism, Rautins has worked Syracuse University basketball games on both radio and TV and has also broadcast NCAA, NBA, and NBDL basketball for ESPN, ESPN 2, and ESPN Regional. Rautins covered the 1994 World Championships for CTV.

Rautins graduated with honours from the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse in 1983. His broadcasting career tipped off as radio analyst for Syracuse basketball and as a CBC radio broadcaster announcing games from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Timberwolves re-sign Ryan Gomes

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

“We’re really happy to have re-signed Ryan. He was one of our most consistent performers last year, and one of our top priorities this offseason was keeping him in a Wolves uniform,” McHale said. “Ryan is the consummate professional and a great asset to our organization both on the court and in the community.”

The Timberwolves acquired Gomes on July 31, 2007 in a trade with Boston. In his lone season with Minnesota, the 6-7, 250-pound forward averaged career highs with 12.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, including a career-high 35-point effort against Golden State on Jan. 21. For the first time in his career, Gomes appeared in all 82 games for the Wolves, starting 74 (including the final 58 contests). Originally selected by Boston with the 50th overall pick (second round) in the 2005 NBA Draft, Gomes has appeared in 216 NBA games, posting career averages of 11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

InsideHoops.com says: Gomes is a good fill-in-the-blanks forward to bring off a bench. The man works hard and is a smart player.

Hawks sign Maurice Evans

The Atlanta Hawks today signed guard/forward Maurice Evans to a contract, according to General Manager Rick Sund.  Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to add a veteran player with Mo’s talents and experience to our squad,” said Sund.  “He is a quality defender who gives us a physical and athletic presence, whether it’s serving as a starter or coming off the bench.  We are getting a solid player who is coming off his best statistical season, and who also has the talents to spread things on offense with his three-point shooting ability.”

In 75 games with the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic last season, Evans finished with averages of 8.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 23 minutes of action.  He began the year with Los Angeles, and was traded after seven games (along with Brian Cook) for Trevor Ariza on November 20 (Evans finished with 4.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg and 1.7 apg in 13.7 mpg).  With the Magic, Evans scored 9.3 points, grabbed 3.1 boards and dished out one assist per game in 68 contests (23.9 mpg), while shooting .489 FGs and .396 from three-point range.  In addition, he established career-bests in virtually every statistical category – points, FG%, 3FG%, rebounds and minutes played, as well as games started (47).  Evans also scored a career-high 27 points on 11-of-16 FGs in an April 15 game at Atlanta.

A player with past playoff experience, most recently with the Orlando Magic, Evans recorded 9.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg and 0.7 apg in 10 games this past postseason, while shooting 50.7% from the field and .417 from three-point range.

“Evans’ addition is a great pickup for us,” Woodson said.  “He brings a lot of experience to the Hawks, and he is an excellent shooter and tough defensive player who we’re happy to add to our team.”

The undrafted 6-5, 220-pounder, who is considered a strong, athletic defender, brings career averages of 7.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.9 assists (.453 FG%, .366 3FG%, .766 FT%) after five NBA seasons.  Evans signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Timberwolves (2001-02), where he played on 10 games.  In 2002, he moved to Greece to play for Olympiakos, and in the following season (2003-04), he played for Italian powerhouse Benetton Basket Treviso (which won the Italian Cup).

Following that season Evans made the Sacramento Kings roster (2004-05) and became a rotation player.  He started 11 of 65 games, and played 19 minutes per game, contributing 6.4 ppg (.442 FG%).  In 2005-06, he was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Pistons and scored 5.2 points in 14.2 mpg (.452 FG%, .371 3FG%, .800 FT%) and a career-high 80 games.

In June 2006, the Pistons traded Evans to the Los Angeles Lakers for the draft rights to Cheick Samb.  A backup to Kobe Bryant, he saw action in 76 contests (with 10 starts) and scored a then-career-best 8.4 ppg to go along with 2.9 rpg and 1.0 apg.  Upon his move to Orlando, Evans was inserted into the starting lineup at shooting guard, contributing to the team’s Southeast Division title this year and landing the third-seed in 2008 Eastern Conference Playoffs.

The New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that guard Taurean Green and guard/forward Bobby Jones have been waived. Both had been acquired on Monday from Denver, along with a 2010 second-round draft choice, for forward Renaldo Balkman and cash considerations.

I think Green will very likely get picked up by another team in the near future. Jones also belongs in the league, but isn’t a lock to return right away. Both can help a team’s deep bench.

Sixers sign Kareem Rush

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the team has signed free agent guard Kareem Rush. Per team policy, terms of the agreement are not disclosed.

“As we continue to build our team, we’re fortunate that we were able to sign a player as talented as Kareem Rush,” Stefanski said. “We feel his abilities on both ends of the floor and his range as a three-point shooter will be assets to us this season.”

In five NBA seasons, Rush (6-6/215) has appeared in 314 games with 77 starts, averaging 6.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 18.1 minutes per game while shooting 40.2% from the floor, 36.0% from 3-point range and 69.8% from the line. Rush has also played a total of 31 playoff games, averaging 3.6 points while shooting 39.3% from 3-point range.

Last season, Rush saw action in 71 games with 15 starts for Indiana, averaging 8.3 points, a career-high 2.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 21.2 minutes per game. After not hitting more than 57 3-pointers in any of his first four NBA seasons, Rush drilled 102 3-pointers in 2007-08 on a career-high 38.9% shooting. He recorded at least two made three-pointers in 33 games, including three or more 13 times. Andre Iguodala led the Sixers in games with multiple three-pointers made last season with 30.

Rush was originally selected by Toronto with the 20th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft before his rights were traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. In his second season, the Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals with Rush averaging 14.3 minutes per game playing alongside Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal and Gary Payton. In the deciding Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals vs. Minnesota, Rush hit six three-pointers en route to scoring a playoff career-high 18 points.

In December of 2004, the Lakers traded Rush to the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, where he would average 10.7 points over the next season and a half. Rush signed as a free agent with Seattle in October of 2006, but was hindered by a groin injury and was waived before appearing in a game. In January, he joined Lietuvos Rytas of Vilnius, Lithuania was later named the ULEB Cup’s Import Player of the Year and All-ULEB Cup First Team by Eurobasket.com.

Rush played all three of his collegiate seasons at the University of Missouri, earning All-American Honorable Mention his sophomore and junior seasons. His older brother, JaRon, played basketball at UCLA and his younger brother, Brandon, won the NCAA Championship with Kansas back in April and was the 13th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

NBA promotes Chris Granger to senior VP

The NBA announced today that Chris Granger has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Team Marketing and Business Operations, reporting to NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO Adam Silver.

Granger, who most recently served as NBA Senior Vice President, Team Business Development, will be responsible for advising the NBA, WNBA and D-League teams on all sales and marketing initiatives, including ticket sales, season ticket retention and sponsorship development.  Effective August 11, Granger will assume the responsibilities of Scott O’Neil, who earlier today was named President, Madison Square Garden Sports, where he will oversee all aspects of business operations for its three sports teams: the Knicks, the Rangers and the Liberty.

Chris Heck, NBA Senior Vice President, Team Business Operations, who oversees the development of best practices in team sponsorship, ticket sales and marketing functions, will also take on additional responsibilities including the oversight of NBA Canada. He will report to Granger.

“Chris Granger has extensive knowledge in league and team operations and provides a wealth of talent and expertise to the NBA,” said Silver.  “He will continue to build upon Scott’s success at serving our teams and helping to grow their businesses.”

Granger, 37, joined the NBA in June 1999 and has held management roles in Human Resources and Team Marketing and Business Operations. Prior to joining the NBA, he held multiple resort management positions within The Walt Disney Company. Granger received his MBA from Yale University and his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

Heck joined the NBA in May 2004 managing the NBA’s Team Sponsorship Development group. Prior to joining the NBA, Heck worked with the Villanova Athletic Department as Vice President and General Manager for marketing rights holder, ISP. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University and serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

Magic waive James Augustine

The Orlando Magic have waived forward James Augustine, General Manager Otis Smith announced today.

Augustine (6’10”, 235, 2/27/84) played in 25 games last season for Orlando, averaging 1.6 ppg. and 1.2 rpg. in 6.0 minpg.  He also appeared in one playoff game, tallying two points and one rebound in two minutes on May 7 vs. Detroit.  Augustine tallied career-highs of eight points and five rebounds in 18 minutes on Apr. 16 vs. Washington.

Augustine appeared in 27 games during his NBA career, all with the Magic, averaging 1.6 ppg. and 1.2 rpg. in 5.8 minpg. over two seasons.  He was originally selected by Orlando in the second round (41st overall) of the 2006 NBA Draft.

Scott O’Neil has been named president, Madison Square Garden (MSG) Sports, it was announced today by Hank Ratner, vice chairman, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision Systems Corporation. The announcement signals a management reorganization at the Garden designed to maximize business expansion and growth opportunities.

“Madison Square Garden is in a period of unprecedented growth - unlike any in our illustrious history - and it is imperative that we have the strongest and deepest management team in place to drive our strategic plans,” said Mr. Ratner. “We are pleased that Scott has joined our leadership group and are confident he will be a tremendous asset to MSG. He has outstanding expertise in sports business, a proven track record of effective management across a variety of disciplines, including sponsorship and ticket sales, as well as the ability to achieve aggressive growth objectives – all of which will be crucial to our continued success.”

In his role as President, MSG Sports, Mr. O’Neil will oversee all aspects of business operations for the three sports teams, the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Liberty, as well as the Sports Properties area, which includes college and high school basketball, boxing, track & field and all other sports events. He will also oversee sponsorship sales for the teams, Arena and all arena events. In addition, Mr. O’Neil will focus on expanding the Garden’s portfolio of events, franchises and properties. As part of the reorganization, Steve Mills becomes president, business operations, MSG Sports Teams, reporting to Mr. O’Neil.

Mr. O’Neil comes to Madison Square Garden from the National Basketball Association, where, as senior vice president, he oversaw the league’s team marketing and business operations, advising NBA and WNBA teams on ticket sales and service, sponsorship development, and marketing. In addition, he oversaw the NBA’s Canadian business and the NBA Development League. Prior to joining the NBA, Mr. O’Neil oversaw the launch of HoopsTV, and honed his sales and marketing expertise with the Philadelphia Eagles and New Jersey Nets.

“Madison Square Garden is an organization unlike any other. Joining this outstanding management team, in the world’s most famous arena, is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Mr. O’Neil. “I am looking forward to continuing to drive the expansion and growth of the sports properties, while building upon the business success of the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty, some of the most iconic brands in sports. My experience working with David Stern and Adam Silver at the NBA and their relentless pursuit of perfection has prepared me well for this opportunity.”

Mr. O’Neil, 38, was named to Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame, and was named one of the nation’s top marketing executives under 40 by Advertising Age (2006). He holds a degree in Marketing from Villanova University and M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

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