Archive for October 1st, 2008

The Sacramento Kings today added Shareef Abdur-Rahim to their coaching staff as an assistant coach, it was announced by Kings’ President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie. Abdur-Rahim, a 12-year NBA veteran, recently retired his playing career due a reoccurring knee injury.

Abdur-Rahim enjoyed 12 seasons in the NBA with four different teams (Vancouver 1996-97 to 2000-01, Atlanta 2001-02 to 2003-04, Portland 2003-04 to 2004-05 and Sacramento 2005-06 to 2007-08), amassing career averages of 18.1 points (.452 FGs, .297 3FGs, .810 FTs), 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game through 830 outings. His most productive season, statistically, occurred during the 1998-99 campaign in Vancouver when he averaged 23.0 points (.432 FGs, .306 3FGs, .841 FTs), 7.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game through 50 contests (NBA Lockout season). The following season (1999-00), Abdur-Rahim averaged double figures in both points (20.3) and rebounds (10.1) per game, in which he played in all 82 contests for the Grizzlies.

Abdur-Rahim was a member of the gold-medal winning United States Olympic team in 2000 while still with the Vancouver Grizzlies. He was selected to the Eastern Conference NBA All-Star Team where he scored nine points in 21 minutes as a member of the Atlanta Hawks in 2002.

On December 28, 2002, Abdur-Rahim became the sixth-youngest player in NBA history to reach the 10,000-point plateau when he scored 18 points at Washington at age 26, trailing only Kobe Bryant, Bob McAdoo, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with that distinction. He scored a career-high 50 points (including a career-high 21 field goals made) versus Detroit on November 23, 2001, becoming the first Hawks player to hit that mark since Dominique Wilkins poured in 52 points in 1991.

Selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies (now Memphis) as an undergraduate out of California with the third pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, Abdur-Rahim has a long-standing history of community service involvement. He was named by The Sporting News as the NBA’s Number 1 Good Guy for 2004 after funding the Reef House in Atlanta through his Atlanta-based Future Foundation with the purpose of assisting at-risk and underprivileged youth.

The Orange County Register (Kevin Ding) reports: Andrew Bynum will likely receive a maximum-value contract extension this month worth nearly $90 million over five years. Pau Gasol has nearly $50 million over three years left on his massive contract – also new money being spent by Jerry Buss when you consider the Lakers acquired Gasol for Kwame Brown’s contract that expired at the end of last season. With the Lakers paying Bynum and Gasol that kind of coin into the future behind one Kobe Bryant, it’s just not in the budget to keep paying Lamar Odom his current wage – $14.3 million this season – or more. There were no talks over the summer about a contract extension for Odom for good reason: The Lakers can’t possibly do it. If the Lakers win the title this season, the only way to keep the team intact figures to be Odom accepting a massive pay cut. And the only way that even becomes a realistic possibility is if Odom has a bad year – at least in the statistical sense, which fewer minutes as a sixth man might trigger.

The Orlando Sentinel (Brian Schmitz) reports: Magic General Manager Otis Smith reiterated Wednesday that the club doesn’t have any plans to give forward Hedo Turkoglu a contract extension before this season plays out. Some teams offer star players extensions before they can become free agents. “You can do an extension, but wouldn’t I be negotiating against myself right now?” Smith said. “I like Turk. I like what he does for our team. It’s way too early, way premature, for this.” editor says: No big deal. Turkoglu had a breakout season last year. If he keeps playing on that level, he’ll probably get the deal he wants.

Pat Burke signs in Poland

The East Valley Tribune (Jerry Brown) reports: Suns fan favorite Pat Burke will be continuing his basketball career. The 34-year-old signed with Polish champion Asseco Prokam this week, continuing his tour of European basketball to yet another outpost. Burke hooked on with Khimky in the Russian League last season, where he played in 11 games, after some bad luck in October. editor says: He came. He saw. He hit some jumpers or something.

Joel Anthony playing well in camp

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Ira Winderman) reports: A year after entering Miami Heat training camp as a longshot prospect, Joel Anthony has moved into the mix for significant minutes this season at center. Asked to name someone who has stood out over the first five days of training camp, first-year coach Erik Spoelstra today cited the 6-foot-9 undrafted shot-blocker out of UNLV. “I don’t know why I would be surprised about Joel, because he’s been such an incredible hard worker for the last year,” Spoelstra said. “But he’s had a terrific camp so far and his energy has been incredible, with his athleticism. “He’s probably in the best shape of anybody in the camp, and he’s really got an idea of what we’re trying to do. He’s really made strides offensively, even.” editor says: In training camp and preseason, coaches have a habit of tossing praise at deep bench players who are “working extra hard.” Hard work is great and all, but 9 times out of 10 the player remains glued to the bench once the regular season rolls around.

Yao Ming says foot is healthy

The Houston Chronicle (Jonathan Feigen) reports: Yao Ming again declared the condition of his foot at 100 percent, showing the familiar sense of humor that had abandoned him when a third consecutive season was interrupted by a major injury. “I feel good,” he said. “I can’t say it’s like brand new, but it’s like my foot.” Yao has looked forward to a chance to start over since he blamed himself for the Rockets’ first-round exit last spring in Salt Lake City. As much as he cherished his experiences in the Beijing Olympics, he said Tuesday that in many ways it was valuable as preparation for the Rockets’ season to come, forcing him to prepare early and then pushing his conditioning to the point he reported 13 pounds lighter than last season and feeling far more fit than a month ago.

Boozer and Okur extension talk

The Deseret News (Tim Buckley) reports: The Jazz have discussed contract extensions with the camps of both starting power forward Carlos Boozer and starting center Mehmet Okur, general manager Kevin O’Connor said during the team’s opening session of training camp here Tuesday morning. But Boozer doesn’t plan to decide anything until next offseason, including whether to extend or pursue opportunities in the free-agency market, he said before the Jazz’s evening workout. “We’re going to enjoy this season and play basketball,” Boozer said. “I look forward to having an opportunity to win, and hopefully win a championship… Boozer, an All-Star the past two seasons, currently is in the fifth year of a six-year, $68 million deal. editor says: Boozer is obviously more important to keep than Okur, but both guys are key to the team’s success. Okur is the third most important Jazz player, behind Boozer and Deron Williams, with Andrei Kirilenko 4th. Boozer and Deron are the two building-block stars and they’re both safe to commit to long-term.

Ginobili out 20-25 games

The San Antonio Express-News (Jeff McDonald) reports: Manu Ginobili, the Spurs’ leading scorer last season, will miss at least all of November while recuperating, coach Gregg Popovich said. “Manu will be out 20 to 25 games – until mid-December at the latest,” Popovich said on the eve of Spurs training camp. Doctors initially gave Ginobili a timetable of 8-12 weeks for recovery. The most optimistic end of that spectrum would put him back in uniform for the start of the regular-season. For now, it appears the Spurs will approach Ginobili’s return more cautiously. When training camp begins today, Ginobili, 31, will be a non-participant. He has been able to walk without crutches and without pain for some time but has not been cleared to participate in any activities other than swimming and weightlifting. editor says: For the good of the Spurs and his NBA career, Manu needs to stop playing international basketball. Or else he should just start paying money back to the Spurs for all the times he’s not 100 percent because he keeps playing for Argentina in the summer.

Roger Mason has shot to show his stuff

The San Antonio Express-News (Jeff McDonald) reports: Even before Manu Ginobili went under the knife, Roger Mason Jr. expected to find himself under the preseason microscope. The former Washington Wizards swingman rates as the Spurs’ most notable free-agent acquisition of the offseason. With Ginobili out, Mason — who averaged a career-high 9.1 points last season — will get plenty of time in the preseason to show his stuff. How quickly he can grasp the Spurs’ system will go a long way toward determining how the Spurs fare without Ginobili.

Warrick the lone Grizzlies playoff vet

The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Ronald Tillery) reports: Something rather amusing popped into Hakim Warrick’s head while he looked around the gym as the Grizzlies’ conducted their media day. Warrick, who is entering his fourth NBA season, is the only remaining player from the Grizzlies’ playoff era… “It’s strange,” Warrick said. “None of the coaching staff is here. It’s just funny to see how much this has changed.” … After all, 10 of the 15 players on the training camp roster are indeed younger than Warrick. “It’s crazy,” Warrick said. “I’m like one of the grandpas of the team right now.”

The Detroit News reports: Rasheed Wallace said that he didn’t really have a disconnect with former coach Flip Saunders, though it was clear that Saunders had lost the respect of the older players. “It was just with us as vets and he really didn’t want to listen to us,” Wallace said. “That’s what really hurt him.” Speaking on radio station WDFN, Wallace used this analogy: “If you mess up a guy’s desk and throw coffee on it every day and he doesn’t do anything to stop you, are you going to respect him?” Wallace, though, didn’t blame Saunders for the team’s failures against the Celtics. “Basically, it was just not our time,” he said. “That’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes. I think we were all positive and thought that we would beat Boston. But we can’t cry over spilled milk now. We just have to go out and prove to all the naysayers that are saying we’re too old and our window is closed and all this and that — we have to prove them wrong.”

Mavs players wanted Avery Johnson gone

The Dallas Morning News (David Moore) reports: Mark Cuban said multiple players told him they wanted to be traded if Avery Johnson returned as coach this season… Cuban said these sentiments were relayed to him by the players or their agents over the course of last season… When asked if more than five players requested a trade, Cuban said yes. More than seven? “Close,” Cuban said. editor says: Wow. I had heard through someone I know who knows a certain someone that a few players absolutely wanted Avery gone, but didn’t know it was literally half the team that wanted The Little General to pack his things and take his speech pattern elsewhere. Also, it needs to be said that Mark Cuban is cool as heck for revealing this. No reason not to, but still.

Tyrus Thomas must prove himself

The Arlington Heights Daily Herald (Mike McGraw) reports: Bulls general manager John Paxson on third-year forward Tyrus Thomas, who seemed to regress after a promising rookie season: “I don’t want to put a lot of undue pressure on Tyrus, but this is a big, big year for him,” Paxson said. “I was really pleased at the commitment he made this summer, because he spent time in the gym. He still has a long way to go, but I hope that he has a great camp, because he did put the time in this summer to put himself in good position.” editor says: I’m still not sure who will be the better pro two or three years from now, Tyrus Thomas or Joakim Noah. I’m leaning towards Thomas, but only by a little.

Luke Walton not healthy yet

The Press-Enterprise (Jeff Eisenberg) reports:  Luke Walton said he’s still “a couple weeks” from playing in 5-on-5 games during practice, but his surgically repaired right ankle is strong enough for him to run and lift weights in the meantime. “It (stinks) because there’s so much you get done in training camp,” Walton said. “Everyone knows we have a deep team and guys who can play multiple positions, so there’s going to be a lot of competition for playing time. To be out early, is a little disadvantage, but hopefully they know what I can do.” editor asks: I wonder who will be getting more minutes per game a few months from now, Walton or new Laker Trevor Ariza. Lots of fans may want to say it’ll be Ariza, but Luke knows the system well already, and under Phil Jackson that means a lot. editor says: With Lakers center Andrew Bynum healthy and ready to go, Pau Gasol will play his natural position of small forward. The versatile Lamar Odom can play either small or power forward, but he’s really more of a PF who happens to have a few SF-like skills. So while making Odom the Lakers starting small forward puts the team’s most talented players on the floor, it’s possible he’s best used off the bench to fill in at multiple positions. Here’s more:

The Press-Enterprise (Jeff Eisenberg) reports:  Odom will get every chance to win the starting job, but Coach Phil Jackson said he would not hesitate to replace him with defensive stopper Trevor Ariza if Odom struggles during training camp. The most obvious problems the Lakers would face with the 6-foot-10 Odom on the perimeter instead of the block is he may be unable to stay in front of opposing wings and his outside shot is too inconsistent to stretch a defense.

Kobe Bryant enters training camp happy

The Press-Enterprise (Jeff Eisenberg) reports: Kobe Bryant looked relaxed and rested Monday as he ambled around the Lakers practice facility during the team’s annual media day, cracking jokes with teammates and reporters and making funny faces for the armada of cameras that escorted him throughout the room. The Lakers star spoke with reporters on the eve of training camp about a litany of hard-hitting topics such as winning Olympic gold, celebrating his 30th birthday and why he’s just so gosh, darn smiley these days. “There’s just a lot to be happy about, a lot to be thankful about,” Bryant said. “We’re in a much better position than we were. That’s one thing I tell the guys — we’re the favorites for a reason. We’ve got all the tools here, all the pieces of the puzzle, and now it’s on us to make it work.”

The Press-Enterprise continues:  Bryant also took time to dispel the idea that he might opt out of his Lakers contract at the end of the season to sign with a European team for $50 million, a story originally sparked by an offhand comment he made to a reporter during the Olympics.

Kings to use triangle offense

The Sacramento Bee (Sam Amick) reports: Kings coach Reggie Theus is implementing the vaunted triangle offense. The ambitious plan was first introduced in summer league in July. Theus passed word to his assistants to begin coaching the players on the ins and outs of the system, one made famous by coach Phil Jackson with his Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers teams and is as difficult to master as it can be to defend. The goal is to eliminate stagnant feel on the floor and rely more on creative freedom and athleticism, and the change in personnel should aid the cause. Although Ron Artest’s talents were indisputable, so, too, was the reality that the forward, who was traded to Houston in August, was notorious for breaking set plays and relying too much on isolation play.

The Bee continues: The issue of offensive personality could have everything to do with Theus’ future. The second-year coach enters this season in the final guaranteed year of his contract needing to prove himself on two fronts. His ability to teach and develop young talent will be a priority, as will establishing a system that’s more pleasing to the fans and Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie. Second-year center Spencer Hawes, for one, said he is encouraged by the plan.

Rockets need backup center

The Houston Chronicle (Jonathan Feigen) reports: Though Rockets coach Rick Adelman and general manager Daryl Morey said they are confident about using their rotation of power forwards as backup centers, Adelman said the time will come he will want a true center to play behind Yao Ming. Dikembe Mutombo said last week he would wait for the Rockets to make planned roster maneuvers to move beneath the luxury tax threshold to sign. “Eventually we’re going to need somebody behind Yao,” Adelman said, specifically citing matchups with Shaquille O’Neal and Greg Oden. “When you’re playing the Shaqs of the world and now Portland with their young big guy (Oden), just size alone hurts you when Yao is out of the game. We’ll address that as we go. I feel good about the depth everywhere, but when you play a big guy, it’s really hard for Carl (Landry) and Chuck (Hayes) and Luis (Scola) to try to play some big strong, physically dominating player.” editor says: I say Mutombo should record a music album, where he sings rock and pop classics of the 70’s and 80’s. His voice is too golden not to get utilized in a recording studio.

O.J. Mayo brings that swagger

The Memphis Flyer (Chris Herrington) reports: O.J. Mayo is not to be trifled with. If there was a pattern to responses today — from players and other team personnel, on the record and off — it was this: Mayo has an intensity, swagger, and work ethic that is highly unusual for a rookie. When Mike Conley was asked if he thought Mayo might struggle to make a big splash on the team as a rookie — since Conley himself and Rudy Gay both struggled their rookie seasons — Conley smiled and said, “O.J.’s a different guy. He has the swagger right now. It doesn’t matter with him [that he’s a rookie]. Further testimonials continued from a number of non-player team insiders. One said that after Mayo’s team lost in an unofficial pick-up game last week, Mayo spent the next day stewing about it, a story Mayo himself confirmed. This source also said Mayo has been “making everything” in recent team pick-up games. editor says: Mayo sounds like me when I dominate summer pickup games and destroy NBA All-Stars on a regular basis. Go ahead, name your five favorite players. Chances are, I’ve made at least two of them shed tears on the court. Though, there’s an even better chance I’m making this up. Yeah, go with the latter.

Andre Miller up for extension

The News Journal (Martin Frank) reports: Point guard Andre Miller said he likes being with the Sixers and would be open to signing an extension to his contract, which runs out after this season. But Miller, who is due to make $9.9 million, said he isn’t in a hurry to get it done. He recently hired a new agent, Andy Miller (no relation), who will handle all the negotiations. “I want to go on with the season,” Miller said. “It’s kind of tough, because I’ve never been in this position before, so I just take it in stride. The off-court stuff will take of itself. When they come to me and say there’s the possibility of an extension, we’ll talk. Until then, I’ll go out and work.” editor says: Despite having the outside shot about as good as those random fans who get picked for contests during NBA games and appear to have never seen a basketball before, Miller’s an excellent, effective point guard. The Sixers should keep him, but they’ll keep his age in mind in any extension talks.

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