Archive for September, 2008

The Sacramento Kings and swingman Francisco Garcia today reached an agreement in principle on 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.

“We are all gratified we were able to reach an agreement in principle with Francisco on a contract extension,” said Petrie. “He embodies a lot of qualities we feel are necessary for our team to continue to improve. He’s a competitive leader and he’s gotten better every year. We’re looking forward to watching him grow even more this season.”

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.

“I feel great,” explained Garcia. “It’s good to know that I’m going to be here for years to come. This is a great organization that’s moving in the right direction. We have the best owners in the league. Our general manager is one of the best. And we have a good coaching staff with a lot of talented players. I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.”

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.

“It’s very exciting to sign Francisco to a contract extension,” said Kings’ Owner Gavin Maloof. “He’s been a wonderful member of our organization both on and off the floor. We love his tenacity and leadership skills. He’s never afraid to take the big shot or make the big play. Francisco is a major part of our young core going forward.”

Danilo Gallinari still not healthy

The New York Daily News (Mark Lelinwalla) reports: Just as Danilo Gallinari was beginning to draw a crowd in front of the Garden Wednesday, a Knicks fan shouted out a special request to the sixth pick of this year’s NBA draft. “Go hard!” the man yelled. “We need you, go hard!” Although Gallinari smiled and nodded graciously, he may not be able to fulfill that request immediately. Still nursing a sore lower back, the Italian rookie said he doesn’t know if he’ll be ready to practice when camp opens in Saratoga Springs on Tuesday. editor says: It’s still unclear how many minutes Gallinari will get early on, once he’s healthy. I’d assume very few and that he’ll be deep on the bench. First he’ll have to prove himself to Mike D’Antoni in practice, and earn minutes from there. Of course, this is the case with almost all rookies.

Magic add 3 training camp players

The Orlando Magic will hold their 2008-09 training camp at the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, beginning Tuesday, September 30. In addition, the Magic have signed free agents Dwyane Jones (F-C, 6-11, 251, 6/9/83, Saint Joseph’s), Jeremy Richardson (G-F, 6-7, 195, 3/1/84, Delta State) and Mike Wilks (G, 5-10, 180, 5/7/79, Rice). The roster currently stands at 16 players.

Orlando begins the preseason at home on October 6 vs. Atlanta. The Magic open the 2008-09 regular season at home on Wednesday, October 29, also against the Hawks. editor says: Those are good training camp signings. Better than what most teams add. Not that training camp additions matter too much, but still.

Moped ride caused Monta Ellis injury

The San Francisco Chronicle (Janny Hu) reports: Monta Ellis was riding a moped when he severely injured his left ankle last month in his native Jackson, Miss., sources close to the Warriors guard told The Chronicle on Wednesday. The 22-year-old tore a deltoid ligament in his ankle and sustained a high-ankle sprain in what one of the sources labeled a “low-speed” accident. Ellis underwent surgery Aug. 27 and is expected to be sidelined for at least another two months… Since riding a moped is prohibited under the uniform player contract, the Warriors could move to terminate Ellis’ deal, though such a move seems highly unlikely. A possible punishment for Ellis is a heavy fine or suspension. editor says: Who the hell gets hurt riding a moped? Don’t those things go like 20 miles an hour? What next, Stephen Jackson out for the season due to a tricycle incident? But seriously, the Warriors would only move to terminate Monta’s contract if the injury was going to really mess up his career. If it appears he’ll make a full recovery, they wouldn’t do it. He’s their best young player. As for a fine, if I owned the team, I’d fine him for the full amount of time he’s going to miss. No suspension. The team simply shouldn’t have to pay him if he can’t do his job for reasons due to this injury. And that’s it, move on from there.

Hawks hire Mark Price and Duane Ferrell

The Atlanta Hawks today named four-time NBA All-Star and Georgia Tech legend Mark Price as a Shooting Consultant, and former Hawk and Yellow Jacket star Duane Ferrell as Player Relations and Programs Manager, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Rick Sund. Price joins the Hawks after spending last season as the Memphis Grizzlies’ Shooting Coach, while Ferrell served in a player development role for the Washington Wizards from 2001-04.

“Coach Woodson thought it was important that we add a shooting specialist to the staff,” Sund said. ”Mark is recognized as one of the premier shooters in the history of the league, and is a welcome addition to our coaching staff. We’re also pleased to enhance our basketball operations area with Duane’s experience. His work with the Wizards, coupled with his time as a player, adds another valuable asset to assist our guys with their development off the court.”

Price enjoyed an outstanding 12-year playing career, spending time with Cleveland, Washington, Golden State and Orlando from 1986-98, and averaged 15.2 ppg and 6.7 apg (.472 FG%, .402 3FG%, .904 FT%) in 772 games. He holds the NBA record for highest career free throw percentage in both the regular season (.904) and postseason (.944). The Cavaliers’ all-time leader in assists (4,206), he also ranks 19th in NBA history with a .402 career three-point percentage.

Price appeared in four NBA All-Star games, was named All-NBA First Team in 1992-93, All-NBA Third Team three times and led the league in free throw percentage five times. In addition to having his number retired in both Cleveland and at Georgia Tech (where he played from 1983-86), the basketball arena in his hometown of Enid, Oklahoma is named after him.

“We’re happy to have Mark on our staff, and we feel like he’s a great fit,” Woodson said. “As a player, he was one of the purest shooters to ever play the game, so we look forward to him working with our guys to improve their consistency from everywhere on the floor.”

“I’m very excited and honored to accept this new position with the Hawks,” Price said. “I’m thrilled to join Coach Woodson and his staff and look forward to working with such a promising organization filled with incredibly talented and exciting players.”

Ferrell played 11 NBA seasons for the Hawks (1988-94), Indiana Pacers (1994-97) and Golden State Warriors (1997-99). His best pro season came in 1991-92, when he averaged 12.7 ppg and 3.2 rpg, appearing in 66 games with the Hawks. In 583 career games, he put up 6.4 ppg and 1.9 rpg (.480 FG%, .750 FT%).

He is Georgia Tech’s ninth all-time leading scorer (1,818), where he played from 1985-88.

“It’s a dream situation for me to return to the organization where I saw my most success as a pro,” Ferrell said. “I played here for six years, and have been proud to call Atlanta my home since 1984. I want to do anything I can to help the players, coaches and franchise to reach their ultimate success, and I think this group is headed in that direction.”

Spurs sign Salim Stoudamire

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they have signed guard Salim Stoudamire.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Stoudamire, 6-1, 175 lbs., has spent his entire three-year NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks.  Last year he appeared in 35 games, averaging 5.7 points in 11.5 minutes.  He scored in double figures in nine games including a season-high 18 points vs. Golden State on 2/22.  Stoudamire enjoyed his best season in 2005-06 when he played in 61 games, averaging 9.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 20.3 minutes.  For his career, he has appeared in 157 games, averaging 8.0 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 17.0 minutes per game.

Originally selected by Atlanta with the 31st pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Stoudamire played four seasons at the University of Arizona where he played in 129 games, averaging 15.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists.  Stoudamire finished his collegiate career in ninth place in NCAA history in career three-point field goal percentage (.458, 342-747) and tied for 18th in career three-point field goals made.  As a senior he led the nation in three-point shooting (.504, 120-238) and ranked fourth nationally in free throw percentage (.910, 122-134).

The roster now stands at 19.

Lakers re-sign DJ Mbenga

The Los Angeles Lakers have re-signed free agent center Didier “DJ” Ilunga-Mbenga, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

Mbenga, a 7-foot, 255 pound native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Lakers last season on January 21 and February 1 before signing for the remainder of the year on February 11.

In 26 games with the Lakers, Mbenga averaged 2.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.62 blocked shots in 7.8 minutes while totaling four points and five rebounds in 10 minutes over seven postseason games.

Earlier in the season, Mbenga signed with the Golden State Warriors on November 17 after spending three seasons with the Dallas Mavericks prior to their request for waivers on him October 30. In 16 games with the Warriors prior to his release January 6, Mbenga averaged 1.2 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.63 blocked shots in 8.1 minutes.

After signing with Dallas as a rookie free agent in 2004, Mbenga, 27, played 79 games over three seasons with the Mavericks, totaling 106 points, 75 rebounds and 35 blocked shots in 374 minutes. In his rookie year of 2004-05, he averaged 4.10 blocks per 48 minutes played while improving to 5.00 blocks per 48 minutes in 2005-06. In 2006-07 he was limited to just 21 games after missing the first 16 games of the year with a left foot tendon strain and suffering a torn right ACL 2/7/07 vs. Memphis.

In 121 career games including two starts, Mbenga is averaging 1.6 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.50 blocked shots in 5.8 minutes.

The Lakers preseason roster now stands at 19.

Denver Nuggets guard Chucky Atkins underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee today.  The surgery, performed by Nuggets orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Steve Traina, repaired torn cartilage and cleaned out loose bodies.

Atkins began experiencing discomfort in the knee two weeks ago while playing pick-up games in preparation for the season.  An MRI was performed on Monday and revealed surgery was necessary.

Atkins will be sidelined for approximately six weeks.

Bobcats sign Carl Landry to offer sheet

Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins announced today that the team has extended an offer sheet to restricted free agent Carl Landry. Per team policy, terms were not disclosed.

In accordance with the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, Landry’s current team, the Houston Rockets, will have seven days to decide whether to match the offer.

Word is, the deal is for around 3 seasons and $3 million per season. If that’s true, the Rockets are likely to match the offer.

“Landry is an emerging NBA talent, as evidenced by his play over the final 42 regular-season games and into the Rockets first-round playoff appearance,” Higgins said.  “His ability to play both the power forward and center position will complement our post play.”

In his rookie season with Houston, Landry (6-9, 248 pounds) averaged 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in 42 games. He also shot .616 (135-219) from the field and was named All-Rookie Second Team. He scored a career-high 22 points at Indiana on Feb. 1 and tied his career high with 11 rebounds at New Orleans on Feb. 22. Landry also recorded his first career double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 11 rebounds against Minnesota on Jan. 11. He appeared in six playoff games with the Rockets last season and averaged 5.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 17.7 minutes.

Originally drafted by Seattle in the second round (31st overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft, Houston obtained his draft rights in exchange for a future second-round selection and cash considerations on June 28, 2007.

Landry finished his collegiate career at Purdue after playing his first two seasons at Vincennes University. In 64 career games for the Boilermakers, he averaged 18.4 points and 7.1 rebounds. As a senior he was named First-Team All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches.

Spurs sign George Hill

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have signed guard George Hill. Per club policy terms of the agreement were not announced.

The native of Indianapolis, Indiana was drafted by San Antonio with the 26th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

The 6-2 Hill played this summer with the Spurs entries in the Vegas Summer League and the Rocky Mountain Revue.  He appeared in three games – all starts – in the Vegas Summer League and averaged 8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 31.8 minutes.  Hill posted 17 points and 8 rebounds on 7/14 against Memphis.  In four games at the Rocky Mountain Revue, he averaged a team-high 12.8 points with 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.00 steals in 30.8 minutes.  Hill scored 21 points and added 4 rebounds and 3 assists against Utah on 7/18.

Hill spent the past four years at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Last season he was named the Summit League Player of the Year, earned First Team All-Conference honors and was named an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press.  Hill led the Summit League and ranked 16th nationally in scoring with 21.5 points per game while shooting .545 from the field (195-245) and .450 (49-109) from three-point range.  He posted nine double-doubles and averaged 6.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.78 steals in 32 games.  Hill scored in double figures in all 32 games, finishing with 20 or more points 16 times, and topped the 30-point mark in seven contests.  He appeared in just five games as a junior before missing the rest of the season with a broken foot.  As a sophomore Hill earned First Team All-Conference honors, averaging a team-high 18.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.  He was named to the league All-Newcomer Team as a freshman.  For his career Hill appeared in 95 games for the Jaguars, averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.63 steals.

LeBron and Jay-Z chillin out

The New York Daily News (Frank Isola) reports: Did you happen to see the photo of Jay-Z and LeBron James in last Friday’s Daily News? The Nets minority owner and the NBA’s second best player were together attending a fundraiser in Manhattan (and no, it wasn’t to help finance the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.) These two guys are spotted together so often that Beyonce is starting to ask questions. At what point will the Cleveland Cavaliers start accusing the Nets of tampering? editor says: Next thing you know, LeBron will start trying to wear his New York Yankees cap during NBA games, tape a picture of Brooklyn over his jersey’s team logo, and give shout-outs to Brooklyn during post-game interviews.

Nuggets to add Nick Fazekas

The Rocky Mountain News (Chris Tomasson) reports: Nick Fazekas, a 2003 Ralston Valley High School graduate, said Tuesday he will sign a nonguaranteed contract with the Nuggets before the start of next week’s training camp. The 6-foot-11 forward said he had “lots” of camp offers but believes he can make the Nuggets, who recently lost big men Marcus Camby and Eduardo Najera. “I’m confident I can,” said Fazekas, who will sign for the $711,517 minimum after averaging 4.1 points in 26 games last season as a rookie with Dallas and the Clippers. “I don’t want it to sound like I’m talking with an ego, but I feel I’m good enough to play in the NBA.” If Fazekas, who worked out at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday for a second straight day after having recent workouts with Cleveland, Dallas, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, doesn’t bring local flavor to the Nuggets, forward Michael Ruffin could. Ruffin, who also has been working out at the Pepsi Center, expects to attend training camp with Denver or Chicago.

Robert Pack now a D-League coach

The Monitor reports: The Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Tuesday announced the hiring of 13-year NBA veteran Robert Pack as an assistant coach. “I could not be more pleased than to attract Robert to the Valley as our top assistant,” Vipers coach Clay Moser said. “He is truly a star on the rise in the coaching profession. Beyond being an outstanding NBA player for many years, he also has international playing experience. He is current with the game today, and his story will resonate with our players. He is a great person that has persevered through many trials and tribulations, a testament to his character.” … The Rio Grande Valley Vipers are a member of the NBA Development League (NBA D-League).

Jason Kidd in pivotal year

The Dallas Morning News (David Moore) reports: Jason Kidd is in the final year of a contract that pays him $21.3 million. The end of last season does not allow his agent, Jeff Schwartz, to negotiate from a position of strength. The Mavericks’ front office believes former coach Avery Johnson was wrong about Kidd, hence the title former coach. They think Kidd has something left to give. But is owner Mark Cuban confident enough in that assessment to sign the future Hall of Fame guard to an extension? No. The first 3 ½ months of this season are crucial. If Kidd plays well and the team clicks under new coach Rick Carlisle, fears about moving into the future with an AARP point guard will subside.

Nets name director of player personnel

The New Jersey Nets have named Gregg Polinsky the team’s director of player personnel, Nets President Rod Thorn announced today. Polinsky had been the team’s director of scouting for the past three seasons.

Polinsky joined the Nets as a scout in 1999 following an extensive collegiate coaching career. A native of St. Louis, Mo., Polinsky played college ball at New Mexico and earned his degree in physical education from Northern Arizona. He began his coaching sojourn in 1981 as an assistant at Howard College (1981-83), and served in a similar capacity at the University of Texas (1983-86) and the University of Alabama (1986-95) before assuming the head coaching post at Georgia Southern, a position he held from 1995-99.

G.Dragic wants to be Tony Parker

The AP reports: The Suns’ newest player, Goran Dragic, has molded his game after Spurs point guard Tony Parker. “I’m like, how do you say, a little version of Tony Parker,” Dragic said with a chuckle. “But I must work hard to be as good as he is.” Fans of the purple and orange might cringe at the very mention of the Suns’ nemesis, who has helped the Spurs oust Phoenix from the playoffs four times in the last five years. But coach Terry Porter, who teamed with Parker in San Antonio in 2001-02, relished the comparison. editor says: I have molded my game after the retired version of JR “Isaiah” Rider.

Eddie Jordan interview

Here’s Washington Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan today, speaking to local media:

On having the option picked up on his contract (yesterday):

“Ernie called me up to his office to talk about [training] camp, personnel and a few other things, and then he told me that they were going to pick up my option. It was a total shock. I’m very grateful to Ernie and to Mr. Pollin. My assistants and our players contributed tremendously to this happening. Now we’re preparing to go to training camp and that’s the only thing that’s on my mind. We’re in training camp mode. We went on a retreat last week, we’ve been in the office (this week), and we’ve been watching tape. We’re locked in to preparing this team, so my option was totally out of my realm of thinking.”

On last season:

“One of the things that went well was our leadership. Our leadership was impeccable; it was the engine that really drove the car for us. Caron [Butler] and Antawn [Jamison] are certainly at the top of that totem poll. Antonio Daniels was a big part of that. DeShawn [Stevenson] in his own right was a leader for us, and Darius [Songaila] also. We like the way that Brendan [Haywood] had a career year. Even though Caron and Antawn were All-Stars, I always said that DeShawn and Brendan were the unsung heroes for us because they were defensive anchors for us. They were there for us pretty much every game. [I’m proud of] the way we played, winning 43 games as opposed to 41 the year before, making a competitive series against Cleveland in the playoffs and the fact that we dealt with adversity.”

On Gilbert Arenas:

“He is a star, and he’s the straw that stirs the drink. I knew we weren’t going to have him 100 percent for training camp, and I didn’t want to go further than that. We knew he needed more rehab, more strengthening, more rehab during the training camp session. Now, our thinking and our preparation is for (the players that will be participating in) training camp, and we’re working to prepare this team to lay the foundation again.”

More on Gilbert Arenas:

“I just saw Gil today. I talked to him after his procedure. He feels very confident that having the procedure will enhance his rehab and get him back on the floor during his rehab as opposed to just staying in the training room. When he was on the floor at the end of the summer, [his knee] just bothered him a little bit. The procedure allowed him to clean out a little of the debris, so that will help his rehab and allow him to get back to us pain-free.”

On the team:

“We feel very confident in the players that we have and the way we played last year — the way we shared the ball and moved the ball, the defense and the way we made the playoffs. But certainly you need a Gilbert Arenas to get to where we want to go. We certainly want to win an NBA Championship.”

On the depth of the roster:

“I am comfortable with it. We are very comfortable in Antonio [Daniels] and DeShawn [Stevenson] and Dee Brown, who we signed and played in the summer league. We’ve always wanted a guard like Dee who can change the pace and quicken the pace defensively. He’s got some experience under him and he’s relatively young. He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid from Chicago, and we’re very excited about him being on our roster.”

On Nick Young:

“For him to average almost 7 points in 15 minutes is a promising foundation for us and for him. We know he is a dynamic and exciting scorer. We want him to be a better player defensively, understand (game situations), (improve) work ethic, maturing and all of that is going to take place. We’re very excited about Nick’s opportunity that lies in front of him.”

On Etan Thomas:

“[Having him back] improves our depth. We know Brendan [Haywood] had a career year last year. Our depth chart is solid with Etan being a back-up center. If there are any injuries or anything of that nature, we have a veteran guy who can step in.”

On Brendan Haywood:

“[I’m just looking for] subtle improvement — little things that would mean a lot for us. Certainly his approach and his intelligence are top-notch. He’s one of the most intelligent guys on the team and in the League. He talks on defense, he works on his body. He maintains his body to be big and strong. His defense has improved greatly. There are some subtle things, like maybe some more passing to cutters, screening and stuff you guys don’t really see in games. Overall his improvement was huge for us this year, and we continue to see him work on his body and on his game. He’s not a core scorer for us, but he knows when to be aggressive for us. Again, because of his intelligence he knows when he needs to pick up some slack. If Caron [Butler] is not on the floor, then we throw the ball to Brendan.”

Magic add two training camp players

The Orlando Sentinel (Brian Schmitz) reports: The Magic will take 16 players into training camp next week, adding small forward Jeremy Richardson and power forward-center Dwyane Jones to the roster… Richardson and Jones join point guard Mike Wilks, point guard Anthony Johnson and shooting guard Mikael Pietrus as the Magic’s new players. editor says: Unlike most training camp signings, both of these guys are on the radar of a bunch of teams and could wind up with a small deal eventually.

Nets have no need for Julius Hodge

Julius Hodge is a versatile player, but he’s primarily a shooting guard who can’t shoot. This presents a problem and is why he fell out of the league so quickly. His best days were probably his college days.

But, he’s in Nets training camp, and the only real opening the roster has is possibly at the third-string point guard spot, behind Devin Harris and Keyon Dooling. Though, since both of those guys are good players, unless someone gets hurt I can’t imagine the third stringer gets more than a few minutes per game at the most.

So, to try to make the Nets, Hodge may have to pretend to be a point guard. But while he has the ability to pretend to be one, he isn’t one, and isn’t really going to create from that position. And while he can slash, he probably isn’t going to penetrate past other point guards. Plus, he can be left open from outside.

He’s not a fit for the Nets and should find a team that can use a multi-talented shooting guard off the bench. Or, he should just try to star in Europe.

Wizards sign Juan Dixon

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed free agent guard Juan Dixon. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not released. But both local Washington papers had been reporting that the offer was a minimum salary deal and the contract wasn’t guaranteed.

“Juan is a proven NBA player and we like what he brings to our team,” said Grunfeld. “He is a tough, hard-nosed competitor who can score and his familiarity with our system is an added plus.”

Dixon (6-3, 165) was originally selected by Washington with the 17th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft out of the University of Maryland, where he led the Terrapins to the NCAA title and captured Most Outstanding Player honors at the 2002 Final Four. During his first tenure with the Wizards, the Baltimore native averaged 8.2 points and 1.6 assists in 176 games over three seasons (2002-03 through 2004-05).

“I’m excited to return to the area and to resume my career with the Wizards,” said Dixon. “I’m looking forward to the start of training camp and I’m ready to step in and contribute wherever Coach Jordan and the team sees fit.”

The six-year veteran has seen action with the Wizards, Trail Blazers, Raptors and Pistons and holds NBA career averages of 8.9 points and 1.7 assists per game. Last season, Dixon averaged 5.0 points and 1.8 assists in 53 games between Detroit and Toronto.

The Wizards’ training camp roster now stands at 18 players. The team will hold camp from September 27-October 3 at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

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