Archive for August, 2008

Hawks sign Flip Murray

Seeking to add additional depth to its backcourt, the Atlanta Hawks General Manager Rick Sund announced today that the club has signed free agent guard Ronald “Flip” Murray to a contract. Per team policy, no other details were released.

“By signing Flip, it provides us with another experienced player who has the ability to play multiple positions for us,” said Sund. “Because of his versatility, he will be a valuable asset for us as a reserve, and we look forward to the contributions he’ll bring this season.”

A 6-3, 197-pound combo (point/shooting) guard, Murray is a six-year veteran who last played for the Indiana Pacers. He saw action in 23 games after he was signed a mid-season free agent (March 1) following his release from the Detroit Pistons, and he averaged 11.0 points and 3.5 assists (.425 FG%, .389 3FG%, .754 FT%) in those contests.

He started the final 15 games at point guard for the Pacers last season during their playoff push (Indiana went 10-5 during that stretch), and he averaged 11.0 ppg (.439 FG%, .450 3FG%, .703 FT%) in his 17 overall starts with Indiana.

In a season-and-a-half with the Pistons (88 games, 2006-07 and ’07-08), Murray tallied 6.9 ppg and 2.9 apg (.406 FG%, .694 FT%).

He brings career marks of 9.3 points, 2.4 assists and 2.0 rebounds to the Hawks, having played for five teams (Milwaukee, Seattle, Cleveland, Detroit and Indiana) over his six seasons. In addition, Murray has played in 29 postseason games with totals of 5.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg and 1.4 apg.

The NCAA Division II Player of the Year during his senior season at Shaw University, Murray was selected in the second round of the 2002 Draft by the Bucks. He saw limited action as a rookie and was traded during that year (along with Ray Allen, Kevin Ollie and a conditional 2003 first-round pick) to the Sonics (for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason), where he developed into a scoring threat one year later (2003-04) while subbing for Allen who missed 26 games due to injury. Murray turned in 12.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg and 2.5 apg in 82 contests (18 starts) and connected on .425 FG% and .715 FT%.

He spent two more seasons with the Sonics before being traded to the Cavaliers during the 2005-06 campaign, and he scored 13.5 points in 28 games in helping Cleveland reach the playoffs. He recorded his career-best playoff numbers that year, with 8.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 1.6 apg.

James Gist signs in Italy

The San Antonio Express-News (Mike Monroe) reports: James Gist, the power forward from Maryland the Spurs made the 57th selection in the 2008 draft, signed a contract Monday to play for Angelico Biella, according to the Italian League team’s Web site. Gist, 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds, played well for the Spurs’ summer league team in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. However, he likely would have spent most of the season with the Spurs’ D-League team in Austin had he signed an NBA contract. By playing in Italy, Gist can get significant playing time without costing the Spurs a roster spot.

Jaycee Carroll signs in Italy

The Salt Lake Tribune (Sunnie Redhouse) reports: After a month of the NBA summer league, Jaycee Carroll has decided to play professional basketball in Italy. The Utah State graduate signed a one-year contract to play with Siviglia Wear Teramo, an A1 Italian professional basketball team. He will report to the team on Aug. 25.    Carroll said the decision came after many conversations with his agent and basketball organizations. “We were looking at every option that we had,” Carroll said. “We were thinking that an NBA team was going to make an offer.” But none did. Nothing solid anyway.

Dan Dickau signs in Italy

“It will be a great experience, both living-wise and basketball-wise,” Dickau told The Columbian newspaper.

“The free agency was kind of slow,” said Dickau to The Columbian. “We kept looking at the NBA, and nothing was coming forward. So I said, ‘Let’s look at all our options and decide what’s best.’ ” … “This doesn’t close my NBA career by any stretch,” Dickau said. “I just felt that right now, this was the best thing for me.”

Euroleague.net reports: Avellino signed veteran point guard Dan Dickau to be its starting playmaker, the club announced Tuesday. Dickau (183, 29) will make his Euroleague debut with Avellino, which is also playing in Europe’s top club competition for the first time. He arrives from the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, where he averaged 5.3 points and 2.6 assists in 67 games last season.

Rafer Alston charged with DWI

The AP reports: Houston Rockets point guard Rafer Alston is due in court Thursday for an arraignment on a misdemeanor drunken driving charge. Alston, 32, was arrested about 2:30 a.m. last Thursday and released on a $500 bond, police records show… Last August, Alston was charged with misdemeanor assault and public intoxication in Houston after a confrontation with a parking-lot attendant. About three weeks later, he was arrested in New York City after an alleged altercation in a nightclub, although charges in that case were later dropped.

InsideHoops.com says: Damn, Rafer, don’t mess up! NYC-area people, not to mention Rockets fans, streetball, fans, etc., are watching. Don’t let them, or yourself, down!

Atlanta has added some fringe bench talent. Both of the following players will have to fight very hard to stay in the league. Here’s the news:

The Atlanta Hawks have signed free agents Thomas Gardner and Othello Hunter to contracts, it was announced today by General Manager Rick Sund. Per team policy, terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

“Both players played well in our mini-camp and summer league,” said Sund. “Thomas is a solid shooter with range, who has the ability to score in bunches. Othello is an athletic power forward who runs the floor really well.”

A 6-5 guard, Gardner averaged a team-high 16.3 ppg (sixth in the tourney), along with 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg and 1.5 spg during the Rocky Mountain Revue, hitting .480 FGs (.467 3FGs) and .750 FTs. The Missouri product played in four games last season with the Chicago Bulls, averaging 5.3 ppg and 1.0 rpg.

During the 2006-07 campaign, Gardner saw action in Belgium with Verviers-Pepinster, and helped lead the club to the Belgian Cup semifinals. He played three seasons at Mizzou, tallying 19.7 ppg as a junior for the Tigers. Thomas Earl Gardner was born February 8, 1985 in Portland, Oregon.

Hunter, an undrafted rookie big man from Ohio State, put up 13.2 ppg, a team-best 6.2 rpg, 2.0 apg and 1.2 spg in five Hawks summer league contests. He played in 76 career games for the Buckeyes, averaging 7.8 ppg and 5.5 rpg (.583 FG%). Nearly half of his 415 career rebounds were on the offensive glass (178).

He finished second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage as a senior (.596), and equaled the seventh-best single-season mark in OSU history. Tegba Othello Hunter was born May 28, 1986 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“We saw Thomas play last year, and monitored him with the Bulls and overseas,” said Hawks’ Assistant GM/Director of Player Personnel David Pendergraft. “He was one of the first guys we invited to our summer program, and he really performed well. He’s a shot maker who can add a spark off our bench.”

“We really liked the progression Othello has made, from Ohio State to Portsmouth to Orlando, and continuing in our mini-camp and summer league,” Pendergraft said. “His competitiveness, athleticism and professionalism have impressed us, and if he continues to advance, he has a chance to be an asset to our organization.”

Atlanta Hawks 2008-09 season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting www.hawks.com or calling 1-866-715-1500.  The Hawks, a member of the National Basketball Association since 1949, play in the Southeast Division, along with the Charlotte Bobcats, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.

The Oklahoma City NBA franchise acquired guard Kyle Weaver in a trade with the Charlotte Bobcats, it was announced today by the team’s General Manager Sam Presti. Weaver was selected 38th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Bobcats. In exchange for Weaver, Oklahoma City sent New Jersey’s 2009 2nd round pick to Charlotte. Oklahoma City held New Jersey’s second round pick following a July 2006 trade which sent Mikki Moore to the Nets.

“We’re pleased to add Kyle Weaver to our organization,” Presti said. “He is a young player with a defensive mentality and team-first approach to the game. We are excited to add these qualities to our team in Oklahoma City.”

Weaver was named Second Team All-Pac 10 as a senior at Washington State University. He was also named to the conference All-Defensive team and earned All-Pac 10 honors as a junior. He is the first player in Pac-10 history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists, 175 steals and 75 blocked shots in a career. He finished his collegiate career ranked second in assists in Washington State history with 465, third in steals with 188, seventh in blocked shots with 93 and 17th in scoring with 1,162 points. He also participated with USA Basketball in the 2007 Pan American Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In four years at Washington State University, Weaver led the Cougars to a 75-50 overall record. In his junior and senior seasons, the Cougars went 52-17 overall including two trips to the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars went to the Sweet Sixteen in his senior season in last year’s tournament where Weaver averaged 13.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists in three tournament games.

Pistons re-sign Walter Herrmann

The Pistons roster has looked incomplete all summer because it lacked a long-haired, thinner version of Fabio. However, as of yesterday, that need has been met. Here’s the news:

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced Monday that the club has re-signed forward Walter Herrmann to a contract.  Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to re-sign Walter Herrmann,” said Dumars.  “Walter is a player with tremendous work ethic and showed last year that he is a player that can contribute to this team.”

Herrmann, 29, was acquired by the Pistons on December 14, 2007 along with Primoz Brezec in a trade that sent Nazr Mohammed to the Charlotte Bobcats.  He appeared in 45 games last season with Charlotte and Detroit, averaging 3.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 8.2 minutes per game.  In 17 games with Charlotte, Herrmann averaged 4.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 10.2 minutes per game. He played in 28 games with Detroit (no starts) and averaged 3.0 points and 1.3 rebounds in 7.1 minutes per game.  The 6-9, 229-pound forward scored a season-high 16 points (6-15 FG, 2-5 3FG, 2-2 FT) in a season-high 33 minutes at Orlando (11/23).

Herrmann was not drafted by an NBA franchise and signed with Charlotte as a free agent on September 11, 2006.  He played six seasons of professional basketball in his native Argentina and four seasons in Spain.  Herrmann averaged 9.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 48 games during the 2006-07 season with the Bobcats.  He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team and was named Eastern Conference T-Mobile Rookie of the Month for games played in March.  He scored in double figures in 17 of the last 18 games of the season, averaging 17.9 points per game on 58.2% shooting over that span.

OKC team to play preseason game in Tulsa

Oklahoma’s first glimpse at its new NBA team comes on Oct. 13 when the team plays a preseason game against the Houston Rockets at the new BOK Center in downtown Tulsa. Although the Oklahoma City franchise will technically be the visiting team for the game against the Rockets, it will be the first time they will play in the state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma City’s full preseason schedule will be released later this week.

“Tulsa is an important part of Oklahoma’s NBA success and the BOK Center is an important part of Tulsa’s future,” said Clay Bennett, chairman of the Oklahoma City franchise. “We are thrilled that Tulsa and its new first class arena are able to host the first chance for fans in Oklahoma to see their new team on the court. The people of Tulsa have shown that they are committed to making the NBA work in Oklahoma, and having the chance to host a preseason game this year is a direct result of their commitment and excitement.”

Bennett made the announcement at the BOK Center joined by Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor and BOK Center General Manager John Bolton.

Team USA getting wild media attention

As an international sports media superstar and the founder of InsideHoops.com, I understand the lifestyle of an NBA player. Each day I’m forced to hide from millions of adoring fans as I spend my day with a revolving door of supermodel girlfriends. The biggest challenge I had this week was choosing which of my 37 cars to give away to the Victoria’s Secrets model I just had to break up with due to simply not having enough time to fit her into my busy schedule.

(Actually, my job does provide tons of lifestyle perks, but, needless to say, the above is a SLIGHT exaggeration. For example, I only have 24 cars, not 37.)

With all that accurate stuff said, here’s a picture of the media frenzy in Beijing, China as reporters interviewed some Team USA players. Click this picture link.

What’s wild is, there were probably tons of other TV camera guys and reporters looking to join those giant hurdles who were simply unable to, or else those groups would have been way bigger.

Melo not happy Nuggets gave Camby away

Carmelo Anthony finally had some comments on the Nuggets trading Marcus Camby, the team’s center and key rebounder, shot-blocker and defender, away to the Clippers for nothing more than salary cap flexibility. He isn’t too pleased.

The Rocky Mountain News (Chris Tomasson) reports: “Yeah, it was really disappointing,” Carmelo Anthony said at the Olympics in Beijing. “But I don’t really have no comment on the Nuggets right now. I’m here in Beijing.” … “I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Anthony said of the Nuggets having left him in the dark.

As expected, Atlanta Hawks General Manager Rick Sund announced tonight that the club has retained forward Josh Smith and matched the offer sheet of the Memphis Grizzlies, which according to several newspapers was approximately a five-year, $58 million contract.

The offer is a good value for the ultra-versatile, still-improving Smith.

It was a tough market for free agency, though the same can be said for almost every season. Each year, only a few teams have enough space under the salary cap to make a big offer to a player that they aren’t re-signing from their own team. And for the last week or two now, the Grizzlies were the only team to make a real offer to any of the select-few remaining restricted free agents.

The really good unrestricted free agents all signed deals earlier on in the free agency period.

“Tonight, the Hawks organization received an offer sheet from the Memphis Grizzlies for Josh Smith,” said Sund. “We are happy to announce that we will match their offer sheet.  Ownership, management and the team are happy to have Josh return as a member of the Hawks.  We look forward to training camp in October and we will continue to look at additional opportunities to improve our roster.”

Smith, whom the Hawks drafted with the 17th pick overall in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft, has finished second in the NBA in blocks per game in each of the past two years and averaged team-highs in blocks per game (2.80) and steals per game (1.57), while also ranking second on the Hawks in points per game (17.2), rebounds per game (8.2) and assists per game (3.4) in 81 appearances last season.

The 22-year-old forward from Oak Hill Academy (VA) and College Park (GA) has averaged 13.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.5 blocks in 307 career games with the Hawks, and during last May’s first round series, Smith recorded 15.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.86 blocks in helping the eighth-seeded Hawks to a decisive seventh game in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the eventual NBA world champion Boston Celtics.

Memphis Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced Friday that the club has signed restricted free agent Josh Smith to an offer sheet.  Per team policy, terms of the offer sheet were not disclosed.

Under the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Atlanta Hawks will have seven days to match the Grizzlies’ offer to Smith, who has played all four years of his NBA career for the Hawks.

Smith, 22, has finished second in the NBA in blocks per game in each of the past two years and averaged team-highs in blocks per game (2.80) and steals per game (1.57) while also ranking second on the Hawks in points per game (17.2), rebounds per game (8.2) and assists per game (3.4) in 81 appearances last season.

The 6-9, 235-pound forward averaged 15.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.86 blocks in helping the eighth-seeded Hawks push the eventual NBA Champion Boston Celtics to a decisive seventh game in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk Champion in 2005, Smith owns career averages of 13.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.5 blocks in 307 career games over four seasons with Atlanta, who drafted Smith 17th overall in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft out of Oak Hill Academy (VA).

The Memphis Grizzlies have renounced their rights to free agents Casey Jacobsen and Andre Brown, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced Friday.

Jacobsen, a 6-6, 198-pound guard, averaged 2.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 53 games last season with the Grizzlies. The four-year NBA veteran, who signed with Memphis on July 24, 2007, owns career averages of 5.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 287 games with the Phoenix Suns, the New Orleans Hornets and Memphis.

Brown, a 6-9, 245-pound forward, posted 3.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 33 games for Memphis last season. The two-year NBA veteran, who signed with Memphis on July 20, 2007, holds career averages of 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 71 games with the Seattle SuperSonics and Memphis.

Per the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, a renounced player no longer counts toward team salary, so teams use renouncement to gain additional cap room. After renouncing a player, the team is still permitted to re-sign such player, but the team must either have enough salary cap room to fit the salary, or sign the player using the Minimum Salary exception. After renouncing a player, a team can still trade the player in a sign-and-trade agreement.

By Jeff: The Memphis Commercial-Appeal reported that the Grizzlies gave Hawks free agent forward Josh Smith an offer sheet, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that he actually signed it. The deal, according to the AJC, is for five years and $58 million.

If that’s all true, once it’s official, the Hawks will have 7 days to match the offer, and I’d say they will definitely do it.

The Grizzlies are smart for doing this. Smith and Rudy Gay would make a talented, extremely athletic and very exciting frontcourt. And they didn’t overpay. So, the Hawks can’t be too upset that they’ll be forced to match the offer, because it’s less than a player like Smith would hope to get for his first big, long-term contract.

The Hawks aren’t sold on Smith as a true franchise player to build around. They see him more of a super-versatile, ultra-talented supporting player, which is why they weren’t offering him a big contract. With that said, they should match the offer, and again, I expect that they will.

Fan discussion about this news is here. Join in, or just read reactions.

Jason Smith tears ACL in left knee

Jason Smith, a very athletic big forward who definitely helped the 76ers a lot last season and was a very useful, but not absolutely essential piece of Philly’s success, has torn the ACL in his left knee. Usually, that means missing an entire season. It’s really too bad. Smith makes any roster better. Philly will have to replace him. Here’s the full news release:

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that center Jason Smith suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during normal basketball activity on Wednesday.

Smith was examined by team Physician Dr. Jack McPhilemy on Thursday evening and will receive a second opinion from Dr. Dave Altchek in the coming weeks.

No timetable has been set for his return. Additional updates will be provided when they become available.

A product of Colorado State University, Smith appeared in 76 games during his rookie season and averaged 4.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 14.5 minutes per game. In the playoffs, Smith appeared in all six games and posted averages of 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 13.7 minutes per game. In the recently completed Las Vegas Summer League, Smith appeared in five games and averaged 18.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 30.6 minutes per game.

The following is a statement from Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski regarding the injury to Sixers center Jason Smith: “It’s unfortunate that this happened, but Jason is resilient and he’ll receive the best treatment available,” Stefanski said. “I was there, along with Coach Cheeks and Tony DiLeo, when the injury occurred, which was during a routine, five-on-five drill at an NBA-approved camp held in Las Vegas. There was no contact made with Jason when he suffered the injury. “At this point, we will continue to explore all available options in order to add an additional big man to our roster.”

Euroleague.net reports: Lottomatica Roma added another piece to its revamped frontcourt by signing Angelo Gigli to a three-year deal. Gigli (25, 209) arrives from Benetton Treviso, where he spent the past two years. The big man was born in South Africa, but grew up in the Italian capital from age 2.

It’s always nice when pro athletes who do wacky, stupid, illegal stuff get a chance to right their wrongs.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune (Jimmy Smith) reports: Hornets forward Rasual Butler can avoid prosecution for felony weapons charges in Dade County if he successfully completes four pre-trial conditions arranged by his attorneys and the district attorney’s office in Miami… Butler must donate $500, which is equal to the charge’s appropriate fine, to the “Do the Right Thing” program for kids in the Miami community, perform 50 hours of community service in Dade County, take and complete an appropriate weapons education program in which he will be taught the safe and appropriate handling of a firearm, and renews his personal firearm license, which had lapsed.

The Dallas Morning News (Brandon George) reports:  Dallas Mavericks’ fans will have to wait a while to see 2008 second-round draft pick Shan Foster knocking down 3-pointers at American Airlines Center. Foster, a 6-6 guard from Vanderbilt, has signed a one-year contract with a team in Europe and will play overseas next season, Mavericks president Donnie Nelson said Thursday in an e-mail. Nelson, who is in China serving as an assistant coach for China’s men’s Olympic basketball team, didn’t specify the team Foster signed with. The Mavericks still retain Foster’s NBA rights.

Clippers sign Jason Williams

The Clippers have had an interesting summer. Elton Brand and Corey Maggette are gone. They signed Baron Davis, got Marcus Camby basically for free in a trade, and added Eric Gordon in the Draft. But with Davis, Jason Hart and Mike Taylor, it seemed the point guard spot was filled, but apparently not, as Davis now has a terrific backup in former Heat PG Jason Williams. The Los Angeles Times reports that the deal is just for one year. Though J-Will has looked pretty washed up recently, maybe he has something left. He certainly should be decent in limited minutes, like 3 per quarter or so. So Taylor may be gone.

Here’s the news:

The Los Angeles Clippers today signed free agent guard Jason Williams, according to Vice President of Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not announced.

A veteran of 10 NBA seasons, Williams joins the Clippers after playing the last three years for Miami, where he helped the Heat to the 2006 NBA Championship. Williams, 32, has played in 679 career regular season games and averaged 11.4 points, 6.3 assists and 2.4 rebounds for a total of three teams. The six-foot-one, 180 pound point guard has also started and played in 53 career playoff contests, averaging 9.8 points, 3.7 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 0.9 steals.

“Jason is an experienced and proven player,” Baylor said. “He is a terrific ball handler with great passing ability and court vision.”

Playing alongside new Clippers teammate Ricky Davis with the Heat last season, Williams averaged 8.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 28.1 minutes while appearing in 67 games. The West Virginia native finished eighth in the league with a 3.37 assists per turnover ratio and 12th with a 0.91 steals per turnover ratio.

“We are excited to add Jason to our squad,” Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy said. “He brings added veteran leadership and playoff experience to our backcourt.”

Drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 1998 following his junior year at the University of Florida, Williams was named to the 1999 NBA All-Rookie Team following an electrifying first season that saw him average 12.8 points and 6.0 assists. Over the next nine seasons, Williams has emerged as one of the most dependable point guards in the NBA, averaging double-figures in scoring and at least five assists per game in eight of his ten years in the league.

Williams moved to Memphis for the 2001-02 season and over the next four seasons became the Grizzlies all-time assists leader and all-time leader in three-point field goals attempted. Williams joined Miami prior to the 2005-06 season that ended with an NBA Championship.

The Clippers new-look roster now stands at 14 players as Los Angeles has revamped its roster by adding a total of 10 new faces for the 2008-09 season.

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