Archive for September, 2008

New Mavs offense

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Jeff Caplan) reports: Rick Carlisle is promising a motion-oriented scheme in the half-court that should allow Jason Kidd to handle the basketball and use his vision and quick wrist passes to connect with cutters. The Mavs are hopeful that a new offensive approach will also better integrate Josh Howard, the team’s most athletic and best slashing forward, into the offensive flow. Howard figured to be an easy target for Kidd on the break, but the two never really clicked, and Howard’s production waned in the final two months. Only Dirk Nowitzki, and in spurts center Erick Dampier, seemed to consistently benefit from Kidd’s arrival.

Kevin Martin and his personal coach

The Sacramento Bee (Sam Amick) reports on Kings player Kevin Martin and his individual coach David Thorpe: As NBA salaries have skyrocketed over the past 20 years, more players have hired individual coaches. The salary cap, $6.2 million in the 1987-88 season, was $55.6 million last season, with the average individual salary $5.2 million. Martin is among the many who reflect the change, having signed a five-year, $53 million extension last summer. As a result, most players have embraced a reality that they are each individual corporations, mini-companies who are more willing to invest in their own brand than ever. Thorpe, Martin’s behind-the-curtain coach since the summer after his freshman season at Western Carolina, estimates 10 to 25 percent of NBA players rely on outside consultants/coaches. Some players spend as little as $10,000 in a summer for detailed offseason workouts. Others employ a full-time individual coach who lives in their adopted home city and travels to away games for what often is a low six-figure salary. To varying degrees, the goal is finding a qualified coach who can provide the sort of one-on-one instruction NBA teams often can’t. While Thorpe and Martin declined to discuss the details of their arrangement, it is difficult to argue with the success of their pairing. Thorpe, 43, is a coach who chose the alternative route in his late 20s, opting to train players individually after coaching high school basketball in Florida and turning down offers from the college ranks.

A look at Andris Biedrins

The San Francisco Chronicle (Janny Hu) reports: Andris Biedrins was the youngest player ever drafted by the Warriors when he entered the league as an 18-year-old in 2004. The skinny teenager has since grown into Golden State’s anchor up front, becoming the only young big man to survive -and thrive - in Nellie-ball’s return to Oakland. The 6-foot-11 center nearly averaged a double-double last season with career-highs of 10.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in 27 minutes per game, and he’s looking to increase that production in his fifth NBA season. Biedrins spent the summer playing for the Latvian National Team, leading it to a 4-2 record and a spot in next summer’s Eurobasket 2009 championships. He also led the tournament in rebounding (13.7 rebounds per game), field goal percentage (.653) and double-doubles (six). But the most intriguing stat? Biedrins, known mostly as a defensive stopper and rebounder, averaged 22.3 points per game - third-best behind France’s Tony Parker and Britain’s Luol Deng.

A look at Rodney Stuckey

The Detroit Free Press (Vince Ellis) reports: Detroit Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey missed the first 25 games of his rookie season after suffering a broken left hand in the final exhibition game, but averaged 7.6 points and 2.8 assists during the regular season. He really flashed his potential as a big 6-foot-5 guard in the playoffs. In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Orlando Magic, he replaced an injured Chauncey Billups and led a Pistons’ surge with 19 points, although the team dropped the game. He followed with three double-figure scoring efforts out of six games in the Eastern Conference finals against the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics. He upped his scoring average to 8.2 points per game during the playoffs. His play impressed so much that he was picked to scrimmage against the Olympic team in Las Vegas just before the team departed for its date with a gold medal in Beijing.

Let’s count the ways that Jerome James is better than LeBron James:

1) Jerome is taller.

2) Jerome’s name would come first in an alphabetical order listing.

3) Being a Knick, Jerome has more local stores to choose from when buying NY Yankees hats than LeBron does.

4) Jerome is older, and older people are generally wiser than young people.

5) Jerome has five vowels in his name. LeBron only has four. Vowels are a good thing.

I’m sure there are more.

Aaron McKie to be Sixers assistant

The Philadelphia Daily News (Phil Jasner) reports: Aaron McKie is returning to the 76ers as an assistant coach and is expected to be introduced Monday, according to a team source familiar with the situation. McKie’s status apparently was placed on hold when he was arrested in June on charges that he had lied on application forms to purchase a gun in Pennsylvania in April. Brian McMonagle, his attorney, called it “an honest mistake.” McKie received probation in the case.

InsideHoops.com editor says: This reminds me, someone needs to sign Rick Brunson. I know he’s done playing, but still, someone add him to a 10-day contract, just for tradition’s sake.

Quotes from entire Wizards team

Here are some interview quotes from every Washington Wizards player except Gilbert Arenas, from the team’s media day today:

WIZARDS FORWARD ANTAWN JAMISON

On the Wizards:

“This team is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that we win games.  I think now we need more of our young players to step up.  I think if they can contribute, then we should be alright.  We definitely need somebody to pick up those points that we’re missing from Gilbert, but we still have two NBA All-Stars that are going to go out there and get it done.”

On training camp:

“I think there is something different with this training camp.  We actually need this in order to really get it going because we were left with a bad taste in our mouth after losing in the first round of the playoffs.  We need a lot of guys to get the reps in, understand their role and get some playing time because once the season starts we need to be clicking on all cylinders.  We can’t afford for things to take a week or two to get going.  We have to be playing pretty good basketball when the season gets started.”

WIZARDS FORWARD CARON BUTLER

On training camp:

“We’ve been working out here for the last month, and we’ve got the same corps together with some new additions, so I’m anxious to get this thing going.  I’m feeling really good physically.  I just can’t wait for the season to start.”

On the off-season:

“Yoga…Yoga got me through.  It helped me open up my hips and get looser.  I’ve dropped a few pounds so there is less impact on my body.  I went through the last two and a half months playing extremely hard with full contact and I didn’t have a single injury, so I’m feeling great physically.”

WIZARDS GUARD ANTONIO DANIELS

On his wrist:

“No, I didn’t [have surgery on my wrist].  I got another opinion, and they told me it wasn’t the best thing for me to do.  I feel a lot better.  I’ll play with it lightly braced like I did this summer and God willing I’ll be fine.”

On training camp:

“Training camp is very important for a number of different reasons.  You have the young guys and the new guys, the free agents that are very important to this team and they need to be implemented into the offense, the offensive structure and the defensive foundation.   They have to learn what it’s about and what’s going on.  The guys that have been here understand what’s going on, but we need this training camp to redevelop that connection that we had [last season].”

WIZARDS CENTER BRENDAN HAYWOOD

On training camp:

“I look at training camp as a necessary evil.  It’s one of those things that you know you have to go through.  You want to go out there, play your best, start building for something and get past it. I think everybody will go out there, play their role and work hard.”

On Etan Thomas:

“I think everybody is happy to see him back, especially after what he went through last year.  That will be one of the feel good stories this year for the Washington Wizards.  I’m excited to have him back.”

WIZARDS GUARD DESHAWN STEVENSON

On expectations for this season:

“The first thing is to get everybody healthy…win games and get to the playoffs, get past the first round and do the things that we know we can do.”

On starting the season without Gilbert Arenas:

“We’d love to have him, but people will just have to step up.  People are going to be put in bigger roles, so we’ve just got to go out there and do what we have to do to win games.”

WIZARDS FORWARD DARIUS SONGAILA

On training camp:

“It’s always good to start off healthy because you kind of get into the groove of things.  During preseason and training camp, you start to form chemistry with the team.  So if you miss that, then you kind of fall behind.”

WIZARDS FORWARD/CENTER ANDRAY BLATCHE

On his goals for this season:

“I’m looking forward to this year.  I feel like this year is going to be a big year for me.  I’ve been here for awhile and I’ve been working hard.  I think this might be a breakout season for me.  I’ve been working so hard.”

WIZARDS CENTER ETAN THOMAS

On missing last season:

“It was really tough to sit there and watch and not be able to do anything, but it was also really motivational to be able to watch tapes of the games during my rehab.  It’s great to be back and to come down and work out with the guys.”

On returning to action:

“I feel great.  I’m really excited to be back and for camp to start.  I got checked out last week and everything looked good, so I’m ready to go.  I’m looking to make a big difference [this season].  I’m going to go out there and play hard and play physical — that’s what I bring to the table.”

WIZARDS GUARD/FORWARD NICK YOUNG

On training camp:

“I’m looking forward to it.  I just want to work hard and make it through two-a-days.  I’m going to go out and give it my all.”

WIZARDS FORWARD/CENTER OLEKSIY PECHEROV

On what he needs to do to be successful:

“It’s about effort, it’s about energy, it’s about giving 100 percent and it’s about staying healthy.  If we’re healthy this season, then it is going to be a good season.”

WIZARDS FORWARD DOMINIC MCGUIRE

On the off-season:

“I’ve been in the gym twice a day, and I had my first child, so that was big for me.  I’ve just been working out and spending time with him [my son].”

On training camp:

“[I need to show] that I’m a lot better player than what I showed last year.  Last year was a learning experience for me, and I’ve improved a lot since then.”

WIZARDS GUARD JUAN DIXON

On returning to the Wizards:

“It feels great to be back.  I’m really excited to be back in Washington and to resume my career with the Wizards.  I’m looking forward to the start of training camp.  I’m ready to step-in and contribute wherever Coach (Eddie) Jordan and the team need me.”

On how the team has changed since he was last here:

“I think this team is more established.  Ernie (Grunfeld) had just got here when I was here; Eddie Jordan was trying to get his system in.  Now guys are more familiar with Coach, and Coach is more familiar with the guys.  It’s a more open game too — guys are out there having fun and playing.”

WIZARDS GUARD DEE BROWN

On expectations for this season:

“Every time you see me out there I’m going to be trying my hardest.  I’m going to compete and work hard every day.  I’m going to stay positive.  Whatever my team needs me to do to win, that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to do whatever Coach (Eddie) Jordan needs me to do in order to be successful and for this team to win.”

On Eddie Jordan:

“He’s been phenomenal for me.  He’s a great coach and he really loves the game.”

WIZARDS CENTER JAVALE MCGEE

On the off-season:

“I’ve been trying to get stronger, working on my conditioning and trying to learn the plays.  It’s been great. I’ve just been working real hard.”

WIZARDS FORWARD DERMARR JOHNSON

On playing in his hometown of Washington DC:

“It feels good.  All of my family and friends that saw me play when I was growing up now have the chance to see me play as a pro.  I had been exploring the option [of playing for the Wizards] all summer.  I spent the whole summer here coming to the gym and working out.  I can’t wait.  There’s nothing better for me than being here with the Wizards.”

WIZARDS FORWARD LINTON JOHNSON

On the upcoming season:

“It’s another exciting year.  It feels good to be a part of this organization.  Last year I started off in Spain, so it’s good to be back here at home.  I’m excited because we have a good group of guys.  I’m familiar with the system because it’s similar to what I played with the [New Jersey] Nets and with the [New Orleans] Hornets.”

WIZARDS FORWARD TAJ MCCULLOUGH

On what is expected of him:

“They’re looking for me to keep doing what I’ve been doing — working hard, rebounding and not going outside of my game.”

Heat withdraw K.Powell qualifying offer

The Miami Heat announced today that they have mutually agreed with forward Kasib Powell to withdraw the qualifying offer that was extended to Powell, immediately making him an unrestricted free agent. Powell was originally signed by the HEAT to a 10-day contract on Mar. 22, 2008. He was re-signed for the remainder of the season on Apr. 8. In 11 games with Miami (four starts) last season he averaged 7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.82 steals and 27.6 minutes.

LaFrentz out 6-8 months after surgery

The Portland Trail Blazers announced that center/forward Raef LaFrentz underwent arthroscopic surgery today to repair a tear in the labrum of his right shoulder.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the surgery at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles, Calif.

LaFrentz, who sustained the injury during Portland’s game at Seattle on February 22, 2008, is expected to be out 6-8 months.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Raef has played a combined total of 66 games in the two previous seasons. It may be time to hang up the sneakers.

Grizzlies sign Quinton Ross

The Memphis Grizzlies announced today that they have signed free-agent swingman Quinton Ross.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to bring Quinton Ross to our team,” said Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace. “He has been one of the best and most versatile backcourt defenders in the NBA the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers. We are excited to bring him into training camp next week.”

A four-year NBA veteran, Ross has spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Clippers (2004-08), averaging 4.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.71 steals in 21.1 minutes in 302 games (151 starts).

The 6-6, 193-pound guard/forward enjoyed his best statistical season in 2006-07, setting career highs in points (5.2), steals (0.86) and field goal percentage (.467) in a career-best 81 games played.  In the 2005-06 season, he helped the Clippers reach the Western Conference Semifinals by averaging 7.7 points on 53.4 percent shooting in 12 postseason games (10 starts), including 18 points (9-14 FG) and five rebounds in 40 minutes in Game 5 of the 2006 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Phoenix on May 18, 2006.

Undrafted in 2003 out of Southern Methodist University, Ross has played the most games of any undrafted player in Clippers history, surpassing former Grizzlies forward Bo Outlaw’s mark last season.  Prior to joining the NBA, Ross spent one season overseas with Telindus BC Oostende in Belgium in 2003-04 before signing with the Clippers on August 16, 2004.

The Dallas native is a cousin to Grizzlies rookie forward Darrell Arthur, who was the 27th overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft.

Spurs name new marketing/sales exec

Spurs Sports & Entertainment announced today that Frank Miceli will join the management team as senior vice president of marketing and sales, overseeing all marketing, promotional, ticket sales, new media and communications initiatives for the San Antonio Spurs (NBA), San Antonio Rampage (AHL), San Antonio Silver Stars (WNBA), Austin Toros (NBA D-League) and the AT&T Center.

“Frank is a very highly regarded and accomplished leader in the sports and entertainment industry,” said Spurs Sports & Entertainment President of Business Operations Rick Pych. “He shares our commitment to constantly strive to provide the best entertainment product and value for our fans. We are very fortunate to have someone of Frank’s high character and work ethic join us, and we look forward to adding his experience and vision to our team.”

Miceli comes to SS&E after having spent the last 18 years with Comcast-Spectacor, most recently as chief operating officer for both the Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL) and Philadelphia Wings (NLL). A South Philadelphia native, Miceli served as the COO of the Phantoms since their inaugural season in l996 and became COO of the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League in 2006.

“Spurs Sports & Entertainment is a world-class organization. Joining this outstanding management team, led by Rick Pych, is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Miceli. “I am looking forward to continuing to drive the expansion and growth of the sports properties, while building upon the business success of the Spurs, Silver Stars, Rampage, Toros and AT&T Center. My experience working with Ed Snider and Peter Luukko at Comcast-Spectacor has prepared me well for this opportunity, and I am ready for the new challenge and opportunity to continue my career in San Antonio.”

Prior to 1996, Miceli was the director of sales and marketing for the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) where he was responsible for moving the team’s season ticket base into their new home at the Wachovia Center. He began his career with Comcast-Spectacor in l990 as vice president of marketing and advertising for Spectathlete.

Additionally in 2000 while operating the Phantoms, he was also charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations of Comcast-Spectacor’s three Baltimore Orioles minor league affiliates until 2006 when all three teams were sold.

“Frank has been an integral part of the growth and success of Comcast-Spectacor as a leader in the sports and entertainment industry,” said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. “I know I’m really going to miss Frank, especially his enthusiasm and humor.”

Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko added, “I’ve had the real pleasure of literally growing up in the business with Frank and I consider him one of my closest friends. This was such a fantastic opportunity for Frank and we all support his decision. We are all going to miss Frank and wish him and his family success in San Antonio.”

Jason Williams retires

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Jason Williams announced his retirement from the NBA today, ending his 10-year career. Signed by the Clippers as a free agent on August 7, 2008, Williams did not appear in a game for Los Angeles.

Williams enjoyed a 10-year NBA career that saw him take the court for three different teams, (Sacramento 1998-2001, Memphis 2001-2005 and Miami 2005-2008). A member of the NBA Champion Miami Heat in 2005-06, Williams started all 23 playoff games and averaged 9.3 points and 3.9 assists for Miami in helping to win the organization’s first title.

The West Virginia native leaves the NBA with career averages of 11.4 points, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.4 rebounds while shooting 39.6 percent from the floor, 32.5 percent from three-point range and 81.6 percent from the foul line in 679 total games. Williams finishes his career with a 2.77 assist-to-turnover ratio.

He enjoyed his best statistical season in 2001-02 when he averaged 14.8 points, 8.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds for Memphis. In his four seasons with the Grizzlies, Williams became the club’s all-time assists leader and all-time leader in three-point field goals attempted in addition to being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player for the 2002-03 season by Sports Illustrated when he finished tied for second in the league in assists per game.

Originally drafted with the seventh overall selection in the 1998 NBA Draft by Sacramento after one season at the University of Florida, Williams was named to the 1998-99 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 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.

InsideHoops.com editor says: J-Will, aka “White Chocolate,” was a fun player to watch in his prime. Wild, flashy, sometimes out of control, he played like a streetballer, but was good. I will say he was one of the worst players in the whole league to interview. Getting decent answers from him was so painful I don’t think I ever wound up posting a single word he said. Still, he’ll be missed.

Shane Battier out 4 weeks

The Houston Rockets are very good at playing basketball, and equally skilled at suffering injuries. And while it’s still the offseason, they’re already flaunting their ability to get hurt.

Rockets forward Shane Battier is expected to miss the majority of the team’s preseason schedule due to inflammation in his left foot. The inflammation occurred during his rehabilitation from offseason surgery to remove bone spurs which was performed on May 9. The seven-year veteran is expected to be sidelined for up to four weeks.

Houston’s injury situation had been a problem in the past, and despite getting Ron Artest this summer, if this stuff continues it’s just going to lead to more disappointment in Houston. I’d love to see every key Rocket stay healthy, but will it ever happen?

–Jeff Lenchiner, InsideHoops.com editor

Knicks should keep Marbury

Stephon Marbury will be a free agent after the upcoming 2008-09 season. Multiple local New York newspapers have reported that the Knicks would like to either trade the point guard or get him to agree to a buyout, which typically means taking less money than is owed for the right to be a free agent now, and sign elsewhere.

(Quick shoutout to New York Newsday, who I think first caught my attention with this news. Not sure who reported what first, but it may have been them.)

I say they should keep Marbury and simply part ways after the season when the contract runs out. It makes no sense to throw away huge money to make him go away sooner. He’s not hindering anything substantial at this point, and I could see him have his best season in years under the coaching of Mike D’Antoni.

The New York post said that Marbury is in his best shape in years and, if I remember correctly, around or under 200 pounds.

If D’Antoni does try to install a run-and-gun type of offense, Marbury could be a success. And while he’s really a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, he’s a good enough passer to hit Knicks who actually cut. But barely any Knicks have cut in recent seasons, ever. They literally just don’t. You can’t hit a cutter who doesn’t exist.

I think Marbury, along with Jamal Crawford, could benefit more than any other Knicks under an uptempo D’Antoni offense.

The Knicks should keep Marbury this season, roll the dice on him, and if they’re going to throw money away on buyouts they should do it on guys who don’t have expiring contracts in the summer of 2009.

–Jeff Lenchiner, InsideHoops.com editor

Trail Blazers sign Shavlik Randolph

The Portland Trail Blazers signed forward Shavlik Randolph, General Manager Kevin Pritchard announced today. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

InsideHoops.com editor says: I assume this is just a training camp, nonguaranteed signing. Though, unlike tons of training camp signees, Randolph actually belongs in the league. Here’s more:

A member of the Philadelphia 76ers for three seasons, Randolph averaged 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 79 games, including seven starts. He averaged careers highs of 4.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.77 blocks in 13 games in 2006-07.

Randolph, 24, played three seasons at Duke University, averaging 6.3 points, a 506 field-goal percentage, 4.3 rebounds and 1.40 blocks during his college career. The 1.40 blocks per game are seventh all-time in Duke history. The Raleigh, N.C., native shot .591 from the field in a sophomore season that saw the Blue Devils reach the Final Four in 2004.

The signing of Randolph sets the Trail Blazers’ 2008 training camp roster at 18 players. He will wear jersey number 42.

Knicks add Dan Grunfeld to training camp

The New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that free agent guard/forward Dan Grunfeld has been signed to a contract. As per club policy, terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

InsideHoops.com editor says: This contract is so nonguaranteed it was probably written on a napkin. It’s a training camp signing. And here’s more on the news:

Grunfeld, 6-6, 215-pounds, was undrafted out of Stanford University and spent the last two seasons playing overseas. The River Hills, WI native spent the 2007-08 season in Spain, where he averaged 14.7 points and 3.3 rebounds for Aguas De Valencia. Grunfeld averaged 12.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for Oldenburg in Germany during the 2006-07 campaign. As a collegian, Grunfeld played four years at Stanford, highlighted by his junior season in 2004-05 when he earned First Team All-Pacific 10 Conference honors after averaging 17.9 points per game.

Grunfeld is the son of current Washington Wizards president, Ernie Grunfeld. The older Grunfeld was a part of the Knicks organization for over 17 years as a player (1982-86), broadcaster (1986-1989), assistant coach (1989-1990) and general manager (1991-1999).

The AP reports: The Rockets matched the Bobcats’ three-year, $9 million offer sheet for restricted free-agent Carl Landry on Thursday, keeping the forward in Houston. The Rockets took less than 24 hours to make the move, leaving Charlotte still searching for frontcourt depth before the start of training camp next week. “We obviously thought it was a good opportunity to get the guy,” Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins said. “But it’s part of the business.”

InsideHoops.com editor says: This was expected. Landry is a decent player and signing him for $3 million per season is a reasonable deal.

Sun Yue has mononucleosis

Lakers guard Sun Yue, who arrived in Los Angeles from China on Sunday, was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital last night after becoming ill. He has tested positive for mononucleosis, it was announced today by the team.

He is not expected to be ready to practice by Tuesday when the Lakers open training camp and will be out indefinitely. His condition will be monitored on a regular basis.

InsideHoops.com editor says: I hope he didn’t catch mono from kissing random Los Angeles girls. And I will immediately point out that I’m kidding and have no idea if he’s single or married or whatever, so don’t go spreading that as a rumor or something you crazy wackos.

Knicks sign Allan Houston

New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that guard Allan Houston has been re-signed as a free agent.

InsideHoops.com editor says: I’m assuming this is as nonguaranteed as a contract can get. Also, the Knicks don’t actually need Houston, since right now the best guard on the team who doesn’t seem likely to be waived or traded anytime soon is shooting guard Jamal Crawford. They need to clean house and move big contracts that aren’t expiring in the next season or two away. On the positive side, fans really like Houston (”H20″) and seeing him around, even briefly, is cool. He can wave at them a bit, and stuff. And, here’s more on the news:

Originally retiring on Oct. 17, 2005 following training camp three seasons ago, Houston is the team’s fourth leading scorer in franchise history during the regular season (11,165) and eighth leading scorer during the playoffs (1,139). Only NBA legends Patrick Ewing, Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Willis Reed have scored more points during their regular season careers with the orange and blue. On Oct. 4, 1999, he was named a team captain, and held that title for six seasons. He was selected to be a member of the 2000 and 2001 NBA All-Star teams and was a member of the Gold medal-winning United States team at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney.

On May 16, 1999, the Louisville, KY native authored one of the most memorable shots in club history with a game-winning runner at Miami in the closing seconds of Game Five in the first round of the 1999 NBA Playoffs. After defeating the Heat, the Knicks went on to defeat the Atlanta Hawks in the conference semifinals and Indiana Pacers in the conference finals to make their first NBA Finals appearance since 1994.

Recognized for his work through the “Father Knows Best” program offered under the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation, Houston was recently named as the national spokesman for the National Fatherhood Initiative. Houston will be wearing jersey No. 14 in honor of his father, Wade, one of the first African-American basketball players at the University of Louisville.

“My father has been a great model of a man, and hopefully I can continue to carry what he taught me back to the court with the Knicks. Off the court, this is also symbolic to encourage men to be committed fathers as their role remains one of the most important factors in the lives of our youth.”

The Atlanta Hawks have exercised the contract options for the 2009-10 season on forward/center Al Horford and guard Acie Law, it was announced today by Executive VP/General Manager Rick Sund. Per team policy, financial terms were not disclosed.

A unanimous selection to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and runner-up for Rookie of the Year honors, Horford had an outstanding season in helping the Hawks reach the postseason for the first time in nine years. The first Atlanta pick to earn first team All-Rookie since Stacey Augmon in 1991-92, he nearly averaged a double-double a year ago, recording 10.1 points and 9.7 rebounds in 81 contests.

During the playoffs, the 6-10 forward/center from Florida increased his totals, scoring 12.6 points and grabbing 10.4 rebounds in the seven games against Boston.

Despite battling injuries much of the 2007-08 campaign, Law was fifth among rookies in assists and third on the Hawks, to go along with 4.2 points per game. He saw action in 56 contests and is coming off a fine summer effort at the Rocky Mountain Revue, where he was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 16.2 points, 3.6 assists and 2.2 rebounds.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Standard and expected, especially for Horford. Law needs step up a bit this season so the Hawks can keep the faith.

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