Archive for September, 2008

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that 13-year NBA veteran Aaron McKie has rejoined the franchise as an assistant coach on Maurice Cheeks’ staff.  McKie will also have additional duties in player development.

McKie was originally named a member of the Sixers coaching staff back on Oct. 3, 2007.  Since he never officially retired as a player, his rights still belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers.  The Lakers signed McKie to a contract in order to package him in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol on Feb. 1, 2008.  Although he did not appear in a game, McKie spent the remainder of the season on the Grizzlies roster before being waived on May 9, 2008.

In 793 career games with 287 starts, McKie averaged 7.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.15 steals in 24.2 minutes per game.  He enjoyed his best season as a Sixer in 2000-01, taking home Sixth Man of the Year honors while helping Philadelphia reach the NBA Finals.  That same season, he recorded back-to-back triple-doubles at Sacramento on Dec. 30, 2000 (19 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds) and vs. Atlanta on Jan. 3, 2001 (11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).

McKie, who had his jersey retired at Simon Gratz High School in 2002, also starred at Temple University.  He finished his three-year career with the Owls tied for sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list and was named Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year as a junior in 1993.

Rasheed Wallace now jersey no.30

Michigan Live (A. Sherrod Blakely) reports: Rasheed Wallace is back to wearing jersey No. 30. He gave no particular reason for the change, other than to say that he always planned to return back to wearing the number at some point. A couple of media folks pointed out how Wallace looked to be in great shape. Flashback to the last couple of training camps, and you’ll see that Wallace usually comes to camp in pretty good shape. But maintaining it throughout the course of a season, now that’s another story.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Both teams played hard.

Michigan Live (A. Sherrod Blakely) reports: The announced signing of Alex Acker was interesting. The fact that Detroit signed the 6-foot-5 combo guard isn’t all that unexpected. This guy has been on the cusp of sticking with the team for years. But it is a bit surprising that they guaranteed his contract for the season considering most of his time will likely be spent on the inactive list. Usually teams keep that 15th spot open in case a talented player is unexpectedly waived, or as a cushion to absorb an extra body in a possible trade.

Eddy Curry may come off bench

The New York Post (Marc Berman) reports via blog: Eddy Curry claims he’s in “good shape”, contrary from indications from D’Antoni. Curry is no given to start at center. “I’d be very disappointed,” Curry said. David Lee is a center candidate. “I”m excited about the possibility of playing different positions,” Lee said.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Curry is good for instant offense. If you feed him the ball down low and he immediately tries to score, over and over, he’ll be effective for that stretch. If the Knicks do bring him off the bench, he should get the ball 10 times in a row, try to score all 10 times (unless the defense simply refuses to allow a smart opportunity, of course), and then be sat down.

Chatting with Rasho Nesterovic

Here’s part of an Indianapolis Star interview with Pacers center Rasho Nesterovic

Q: You were born in Slovenia and played in Europe and on national teams. In how many countries have you played basketball?

A: “Lots. I can’t even remember. When I played in Europe, we traveled a lot, and on the national team, we traveled all over the world.”

Q: When you played in Greece, you were given the name Radoslav Makris. Is it common that they give players new names?

A: “A lot of guys that played there, they find a name for you so you can have Greek citizenship. You keep your old name, they just give you another one.”

Q: How did you learn English?

A: “I just picked it up from TV. I’ve been here for 10 years, so I should pick it up.”

Danny Granger up for extension

The Indianapolis Star reports: Danny Granger, the Indiana Pacers’ leading scorer last season, said he doesn’t see his contract situation being a distraction. Granger is entering his fourth year, and the Pacers have until Oct. 31 to sign him to a long-term deal or he becomes a restricted free agent, which means the Pacers have the right to match any offer he might receive next summer. “Whether I sign it now or after, it really doesn’t matter,” the 6-8 swingman said Monday as the team prepared for the start of training camp today. “That’s the way I approach it.”

InsideHoops.com editor says: Granger has proven himself worthy of a decent contract, so he has nothing to worry about. But a source that is only loosely plugged in to the situation tells me the Pacers may look to wait as long as possible to sign Granger for the long-term. Their future is uncertain, and while they do want Granger to be a part of it and fully intend to keep him, maintaining as much salary cap flexibility for as long as possible will help their rebuilding process. So, we’ll see.

Tracy McGrady has multiple injuries

The AP reports: The Houston Rockets, buzzing about the arrival of Ron Artest, already have injury concerns with Tracy McGrady. Houston’s leading scorer said Monday that his left shoulder is arthritic and will require surgery after this season. He also said his left knee is healing slower than expected from surgery in the spring. McGrady sprained his shoulder against Sacramento on March 24, and wore padding to protect it for the rest of the season. He had surgery in May to clear loose tissue in his shoulder and knee. He said his knee is “probably 75-80 percent” healthy and will take another two months to fully heal.

Nets move to Brooklyn delayed again

The New York Daily News (Frank Lombardi) reports: A legal setback could add six months to delays bedeviling the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, its developer acknowledged Monday. But developer Bruce Ratner insisted the project - which is to include a new arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise - “will go forward.” … The new delay is the result of a procedural ruling by the state Appellate Division in Brooklyn denying a motion to toss a lawsuit challenging the project’s use of state eminent domain to acquire private land.

InsideHoops.com editor says: At this rate, the first rookie to play for the Brooklyn Nets by the time they make their move will be C.J. Kidd (eventual grandson of T.J. Kidd, beloved son of former Net Jason Kidd).

Jazz exercise option on Ronnie Brewer

Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor announced today that the team has exercised its fourth-year option on guard Ronnie Brewer for the 2009-10 season.  Per team policy, financial terms were not released.

Originally selected by the Jazz in the first round (14th overall) of the 2006 NBA Draft, Brewer (6-7, 218, Arkansas) has appeared in 132 games (90 starts) over his first two seasons and holds career averages of 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.26 steals in 20.9 minutes per game.   In 2007-08, Brewer increased his numbers over his rookie year in every major statistical category, averaging 12.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.70 steals in 27.5 minutes while starting all 76 games in which he played.  He led the NBA in steals-per-turnover ratio (1.87) and ranked seventh in field goal percentage (.558).  Brewer led the Jazz in both steals and field goal percentage while scoring in double figures on 53 occasions, 46 times more than his rookie year.  He was also selected to compete on the sophomore squad in the 2008 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend.

Kings sign Francisco Garcia to extension

The Sacramento Kings today signed swingman Francisco Garcia to a multi-year contract extension, it was announced by Kings’ President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Garcia, a three-year NBA veteran, amassed career averages of 8.1 points (.440 FGs, .357 3FGs, .792 FTs), 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game through 225 outings with the Kings. His best year, statistically, occurred during the 2007-08 campaign when he averaged 12.3 points (.462 FGs, .391 3FGs, .779 FTs), 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game over 79 contests. Garcia started in 20 games last season (2007-08), averaging 16.4 points (.448 FGs, .370 3FGs, .798 FTs), 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He recorded a career-high 31 points in 35 minutes at Phoenix on November 21, 2007.

Garcia was selected in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Kings as an undergraduate out of Louisville. He enjoyed a three-year career for the Cardinals, averaging 14.4 points (.448 FGs, .369 3FGs, .849 FTs), 3.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.48 steals per game through 98 outings, of which he started 80.

Celtics re-sign Sam Cassell

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have re-signed guard Sam Cassell. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. InsideHoops.com assumes it’s just a one-year deal. Cassell has made several statements in the past suggesting he’ll retire after the season and get into coaching.

Last season it didn’t look like Cassell had much left in the tank. He’ll probably be at the end of the Celtics bench in 2008-09.

Cassell, a 6’3”, 195 pound guard, is a veteran of 15 NBA seasons. Cassell won his third NBA title as a member of the Celtics last season after signing mid-season from the L.A. Clippers. Cassell averaged 7.6 points and 2.1 assists in 17 regular season games with the Celtics last season and finished the season with combined averages of 11.2 points and 3.9 assists per game. The 2003-04 All-Star scored 20 or more points 10 times last season including a season-high 35 points against the Indiana Pacers on November 7. He scored a high of 22 points with the Celtics against the Knicks on April 14.

Heat GM Randy Pfund resigns

The Miami Heat announced today that General Manager Randy Pfund has resigned from his duties with the Heat to pursue other business opportunities.

“Randy Pfund has done a tremendous job for the Heat, helping to build this team into a Champion,” said Riley. “His work ethic and contributions to the organization have been invaluable. I’ve known Randy for over 20 years and in addition to our great working relationship he has been a wonderful friend to both Chris and me and our family. On behalf of the Arison family and my family, I would like to wish him continued success and happiness in everything he does.”

Statement from Pfund: “I would like to thank Micky & Madeleine Arison and Pat & Chris Riley for the opportunity to work for the HEAT these past 13 years; it’s been an incredible ride. Additionally, I want to thank Pat for all his support and friendship over these last twenty-something years. While I resign my position with the HEAT, I feel it’s the perfect time to pursue other opportunities within the NBA and I’m excited about my future. Over the years, Pat and I have stood side-by-side through the ups and downs of many NBA seasons and on three championship occasions raised champagne glasses together. Lastly, I’d like to thank the HEAT Family, especially those in basketball operations who I worked with on a daily basis. I wish the HEAT nothing but success in the future.”

Pfund managed and oversaw all player personnel moves as General Manager for the previous 13 season, resulting in an NBA Championship and 10 postseason berths in the last 13 years, including a franchise-record six consecutive playoff appearances from 1996-2001. The Heat also claimed four consecutive Atlantic Division Championships from 1996-2000, three consecutive Southeast Division Championships from 2005-2007, and tied for the eighth most wins (566) in the NBA (third most in the Eastern Conference) from 1995-2008.

His negotiating skills and insight of the NBA and its players has been called upon to secure some of the best and brightest players in the NBA. Together with Riley, Pfund orchestrated several blockbuster trades and key free agent signings, the results of which landed the Heat NBA All-Stars Shawn Marion, Shaquille O’Neal, Eddie Jones, Antoine Walker, Gary Payton, Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning, as well as Jason Williams, Lamar Odom and Brian Grant. With the drafting of Dwyane Wade, Caron Butler, Dorell Wright, Daequan Cook and Michael Beasley, in addition to the veteran acquisitions, Pfund helped re-structure the Heat’s roster with a balance of youth and experience while keeping Miami one of the top destinations in the NBA. Pfund also spent countless hours scouting the college, pro and European leagues for top athletes. His keen eye for talent brought in unheralded players like Udonis Haslem, Malik Allen, Rafer Alston, Bruce Bowen and Isaac Austin, all of whom have made key contributions to the Heat.

Pfund has worked in the league since 1985. His pro career began when Riley, who was head coach of the Lakers at the time, asked him to join his staff as an assistant coach. He held that position for seven years and helped the Lakers win a pair of NBA Championships in 1987 and 1988. In 1992, he succeeded Mike Dunleavy as the Lakers’ top man and posted a 66-80 mark in two seasons and led his 1992-93 team to the Lakers’ 17th consecutive postseason appearance.

Nathan Jawai heart tests raise concern

As a result of concerns raised during routine pre-season cardiac screening, Toronto Raptors center Nathan Jawai will be held out of practice until further tests are conducted. It is anticipated that these tests will be concluded later this week.

The club acquired the draft rights to Jawai (pronounced JA-why) from the Indiana Pacers on July 9. He was the 41st overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft. He is the first indigenous player from Australia to be drafted by an NBA team.

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the team has signed free agent Cory Underwood to replace Justin Reed on the Sixers’ training camp roster.

Last season, Underwood (6-10, 240) played for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds of the NBA Development League.  He was coached by Jeff Ruland, who was named an assistant coach for the Sixers back in August.  In 36 games with 13 starts for the T-Birds, Underwood averaged 6.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game while shooting 42.0% from the floor and 66.1% from the line.

Since finishing his collegiate career at Southern University of New Orleans in 2003, Underwood has played in numerous leagues, including the ABA (American Basketball Association), the USBL (United States Basketball League), WBA (World Basketball Association), CBA (Continental Basketball Association) as well as leagues in both Brazil and Poland.

The native of Queens is also a frequent participant in the Entertainers Basketball Classic at Rucker Park in New York City and is known as “The Undertaker.”

Thunder sign regional TV deal

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Fox Sports Networks today announced that they have reached a multi-year agreement providing Fox with the regional television rights to Thunder Basketball.  The announcement was made by Thunder Senior Vice President and Executive Producer Ken Adelson and Fox Sports Southwest Senior Vice President/General Manager Jon Heidtke.

In addition, Fox announced that its regional sports network currently serving the Oklahoma market  (FSN Southwest, COX Ch 37 on basic cable in OKC) will be re-launched as “Fox Sports Oklahoma” in October to coincide with the start of the Thunder’s first season in Oklahoma City.  The new network is an effort by Fox to more closely reflect the interests of the Oklahoma market and to strengthen its connection with local sports fans.  Also, to emphasize the new TV partnership with Fox Sports, game broadcasts will be branded “FS Thunder” in its on-screen graphics.

During the 2008-09 season Fox Sports Oklahoma will carry 65 Thunder games. The rest of the Thunder schedule will be broadcast on a still-to-be named local partner. “Our fans will be able to watch every Thunder Basketball game on television, home and away,” Adelson said. The full season television schedule will be released in coming days.

This new partnership between Fox and the Thunder was forged to ensure that Thunder games would be widely available to fans throughout Oklahoma.  Fox Sports Oklahoma will reach more than one million cable and satellite television homes throughout every TV market in Oklahoma.

“Fox Sports is the leader in regional sports television and we are proud and excited to partner with them,” Adelson said. “They are innovative, creative and offer state of the art production techniques. We have attained our goal of offering our fans a high quality, exciting, easily accessible TV broadcast.”

More than half of the Thunder games on Fox Sports Oklahoma will be in HD (high-definition) during the 2008-09 season, with additional HD broadcasts scheduled for the following season. For the Thunder broadcasts, Brian Davis is the play-by-play announcer and 14-year NBA veteran player Grant Long serves as Thunder analyst.

“This is an exciting time for Oklahoma sports fans and we’re thrilled to be on the ground floor as the Thunder’s new television partner,” Heidtke said. “We look forward to showcasing their games and helping to grow the team’s fan base throughout the state. We’re committed to building Fox Sports Oklahoma into the premier destination for local sports programming.”

Fox Sports Oklahoma will also offer additional Thunder programming such as THUNDER LIVE pre- and post-game shows and a weekly magazine show. In addition to Thunder telecasts, Fox Sports Oklahoma will offer a strong lineup of local sports programming, including select University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State football, basketball, and Olympic sports events, local coaches shows, and high school events beginning this year from the Oklahoma Secondary School Athletics Association. Fox Sports Oklahoma will also feature original programming and specials, such as In My Own Words, Under the Lights, and Spotlight, highlighting local athletes, coaches, and teams.  Fox Sports Oklahoma will become the 17th regional sports network in the Fox Sports Networks family.

Michael Beasley strains groin

The Palm Beach Post reports — Heat first-round draft pick Michael Beasley missed most of Monday’s first practice session after suffering a mild left groin strain. “Just a little sore,” coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about Beasley’s injury. “Really precautionary. He started practice, did dummy offense and moved around a little.” Beasley was hurt during a five-on-five drill. He watched from the sideline along with fellow forward Udonis Haslem, who is recovering from a foot injury.

The South Florida Sun-Sentile reports — Beasley said he still finds himself deferring to the veterans during drills. “I’m a little hesitant sometimes, because we’ve got guys like Dwyane and Shawn Marion and U.D.,” he said. “But Dwyane told me to play my game, don’t think about nothing, don’t think about too much.”

Stephon Marbury sounds off

The AP reports — Stephon Marbury doesn’t care. He says the New York Knicks can get rid of him. In remarks filled with contradictions and accusations Monday, the point guard stressed that the team’s problems last year went well beyond him… “I was being blamed for losses and I wasn’t even playing,” Marbury said… “I have no feelings of what they’re doing, it doesn’t matter to me. Because once I get on the basketball court, I’ll show what I can do and that’ll be that. And if they feel like they have plans to do something differently, that’s OK. I understand that it’s a business and I’m not taking it personally at all.” … “I’m every disease that you could possibly think of,” Marbury said. “So for me, I just want to approach it with playing basketball at a high level and I want to be able to change the way people think.” … “I’m going to play basketball and I’m going to play at a high level,” Marbury said. “So it doesn’t matter to me. As long as I get on the court and once I get my opportunity, that’s it. Watch me play this year.”

Jazz exercise Ronnie Brewer option

The Salt Lake Tribune (Ross Siler) reports –  Although they had until Oct. 31 to do so, the Jazz have exercised the fourth-year option in guard Ronnie Brewer’s contract, general manager Kevin O’Connor said Monday at the team’s annual media day. “We’ll do it now and kind of make him feel like he understands that the work he did this summer is rewarded,” O’Connor said, “and the work he did last summer and last year is rewarded.” Brewer took over as the Jazz’s starting shooting guard last season and went on to average 12.0 points and 2.9 rebounds. He gained an additional 10 to 12 pounds from last season and weighed in Monday at 235 pounds.

Michael Ruffin to Bulls training camp

The Rocky Mountain News (Chris Tomasson) reports: Forward Michael Ruffin was hoping to stick around his hometown in the hope his parents could see him play regularly. Instead, the 1995 Cherry Creek High School graduate will go to training camp with Chicago rather than the Nuggets. Ruffin didn’t feel good about his chances of making the roster with a nonguaranteed contract on the cost-cutting Nuggets, who have 13 players with guaranteed deals and aren’t certain if anybody else will be kept.

Big Kevin Love expectations

The St. Paul Pioneer Press (Don Seeholzer) reports: The Wolves believe Kevin Love’s shooting and passing ability will make opposing teams pay for double-teaming Jefferson, as they did all last season. As for the questions about Love’s athleticism, after what coach Randy Wittman saw in the Las Vegas summer league, he said it’s not a concern. “He’s really more agile than people think,” Wittman said. “Is he going to jump out of the gym? No. Is he going to outsprint everybody up and down the floor? No. But other things that go with that make him an enticing player. He’s a very high basketball IQ guy. You like playing with guys that know how to play the game, that know how to read situations and how to read cuts. I think people feed off that. I think it helps everybody.”

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