Archive for October 13th, 2008

Kirilenko used as 6th man

The Salt Lake Tribune (Ross Siler) reports: There’s still 17 days to go until opening night for the Jazz, but the Andrei Kirilenko experiment at sixth man moved a step closer to reality in Sunday’s 93-80 preseason victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.   Jazz coach Jerry Sloan opted to start C.J. Miles and bring Kirilenko off the bench again, even with Carlos Boozer returning from a sore hamstring, and Kirilenko followed through on his pledge to help bring the new role to life.    Kirilenko hit a shot 14 seconds after checking in and factored into all five scoring possessions to end the first quarter. He went on to lead the Jazz with 15 points, five assists, three rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes.

Kyrylo Fesenko steps up

The Salt Lake Tribune (Ross Siler) reports: Keeping in mind that his first season coaching Kyrylo Fesenko probably felt like a lifetime, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan offered some fitting praise after watching Fesenko finish with 10 points and 10 rebounds in Sunday’s game.    “That’s the best I’ve ever seen him play since he’s been alive,” Sloan said, describing the double-double as “kind of a shock.”    Told what Sloan said, Fesenko searched for the right words. “You don’t hear that from Jerry a lot,” he said, “so it means a lot for me. It means a lot and it means that I’m doing the right thing, so I cannot stop. I have to keep on going.”

Around 80 NBA employees to be laid off

Reuters reports: The National Basketball Association is laying off nine percent of its work force over worries about the U.S. economy, but is looking to expand operations in China, Commissioner David Stern said. “We made a decision some months ago that the economy was going to be a bit wobbly, so we began a belt-tightening that will result in a work force reduction of about nine percent domestically,” Stern told reporters on Sunday. This translates into about 80 jobs, he later told Reuters. “There is a season-ticket renewal rate decline, and new sales are also being hit,” he said. “My guess is when (the regular season) kicks off, we will be down modestly in season ticket sales.”

The Associated Press reports: “We made the decision some months ago that the economy was going to be a bit wobbly so we began a belt-tightening,” Stern said in London, where the New Jersey Nets beat the Miami Heat in a preseason game. The NBA continues to hire in other countries, he said, as it seeks to grow internationally.

Heat still a work in progress

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Ira Winderman) reports (via his blog:  “Dwyane Wade needs perimeter help. He has a team-high 13 turnovers, including eight Sunday against the Nets, and again is finding himself forced to create for himself… Marcus Banks can score, but hardly is a playmaker. He makes some sense coming off the bench, especially when Wade is out… Mario Chalmers is a project, and could wind up spending some inactive time when game-night rosters are set during the regular season.” editor says: Perhaps I need to lower my expectations for the Heat this season. They’ll be improved from last year (which isn’t hard to do), but perhaps not quite as much as hoped, early on at least.

Barbosa back to practice

The Arizona Republic (Paul Coro) reports: Leandro Barbosa returned to Phoenix at 10 a.m. today without anyone knowing until he walked into the locker room. He has been in Sao Paolo, Brazil, with his ailing mother since the start of training camp two weeks ago but her condition has improved.

The East Valley Tribune reports: Barbosa participated in the full workout Monday but is not expected to see action in preseason games until next week as he works to get his conditioning back and learns new coach Terry Porter’s new offensive and defensive schemes. His first action will likely be the Oct. 20 home game against Charlotte. Porter said Barbosa looked good Monday from a physical standpoint but has a lot of catching up to do. editor says: It’ll be interesting to see the slower, more halfcourt-oriented Suns offense this season. I haven’t caught any of their preseason games yet. But with Shaq, Steve Nash and Grant Hill advancing in age, new coach Terry Porter figures the team should slow things down a bit. They’ll take advantage of O’Neal while he can still move a bit.

76ers pick up J.Smith, T.Young options

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the team has exercised the third-year options on the contracts of Jason Smith and Thaddeus Young.

Young (6-8, 220) was selected with the 12th overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2007 NBA Draft.  In 74 games with 22 starts last season, he averaged 8.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.99 steals in 21.0 minutes per game.  He had the highest field goal percentage (53.9%) of any rookie qualifier and was named to the NBA T-Mobile All-Rookie Second Team.

Smith (7-0, 240) was originally selected by Miami with the 20th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft before the Sixers acquired him in exchange for the rights to Daequan Cook (21st overall pick), a future second round pick and cash considerations.  In 76 games with one start last season, Smith averaged 4.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.

China to get bball arenas

China is a big place with a lot of people. They also like basketball there. The NBA knows this and figures it into future plans to keep growing NBA basketball around the world.

AEG, one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world, and NBA China, have formed a joint venture to design, market, program and operate multi-purpose, NBA-style sports and entertainment arenas in major cities throughout Greater China, it was announced at a press conference today at AEG’s O2 arena in London by Mr. Timothy J. Leiweke, President and CEO of AEG and NBA Commissioner David Stern.

The assumption is that there will eventually be an NBA-affiliated basketball league in China.

The full story is here.

Oct 12: Lakers 94, Kings 89

The AP reports: Pau Gasol had 12 points and six rebounds to help the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings 94-89 in exhibition play Sunday night… Los Angeles built its largest advantage at 84-72 with 5:25 left. The Kings cut it 92-89 with 36 seconds to go, but got no closer. Stat Notes: For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant (just 4-of-12) had 9 points. Andrew Bynum had 9 points and 5 rebounds. Vladimir Radmanovic had 9 with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Lamar Odom, coming off the bench, had 4 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. For the Kings, Jason Thompson came off the bench to put up 15 points and 8 rebounds. Brad Miller had 10 points and 4 rebounds. John Salmons (just 4-of-15) had 11 points and 3 steals. Off the bench, Spencer Hawes had 6 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Oct 12: Jazz 93, Blazers 80

The AP reports: Andrei Kirilenko had 15 points and five assists, and the Utah Jazz beat the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 93-80 in a preseason game Sunday. With the exception of center Greg Oden, the Blazers’ expected starters for the season rested or were out because of injuries. Carlos Boozer played in his first exhibition game for the Jazz, who led by as many as 19 points. He missed the first two preseason contests due to a sore left hamstring. Boozer had 12 points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes… Oden has been on a plan that has him playing about 20 minutes a game during the preseason. On Sunday, the 7-foot center had six points and six rebounds in 20 minutes… Nicolas Batum led the Blazers with 16.

Oct 12: Nets 94, Heat 92

The AP reports: Vince Carter made three free throws in the final 10 seconds to help the New Jersey Nets hold on for a 94-92 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday in a preseason game played in front of a boisterous London crowd… Carter finished with 19 points and Yi Jianlian added another 17 in his debut for the Nets (2-0) in a game that treated the British fans to a number of high-flying dunks but even more sloppy turnovers. Marcus Banks had 19 points, and Dwyane Wade added 18 for the Heat (0-3), who fought back from a 19-point first-quarter deficit to push the game to the final seconds. Miami has not won a preseason game since 2006, after going 0-7 in exhibition contests last year before posting the league’s worst record (15-67).

Oct 12: Sixers 85, Raptors 79

The AP reports: Thaddeus Young scored 17 points, Andre Igoudala added 13, and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Toronto Raptors 85-79 in an NBA preseason game Sunday. Philadelphia rookie Marreese Speights scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, and Louis Williams chipped in 10 points for the 76ers (2-1)… Jason Kapono led Toronto with 14 and Will Solomon had 12. Andrea Bargnani and Anthony Parker also scored in double figures, netting 10 points each, for the Raptors (2-1). Elton Brand had 10 points and nine rebounds in 29 minutes for Philadelphia.

Magic Johnson joins ESPN

Earvin “Magic” Johnson has joined ESPN as an NBA studio analyst and will mainly work with Stuart Scott, Mike Wilbon and Jon Barry on ABC’s GMC NBA Countdown. He will provide analysis on Christmas Day – when ABC and ESPN combine to showcase an NBA tripleheader (beginning at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN) – and contribute to the networks’ post-season studio coverage. The announcement was made by Norby Williamson, executive vice president, production.

“Magic has always been one of the most accomplished people in every field he has endeavored. He was an incomparable player and has become one of the best NBA analysts in the business. His unique insights, perspective and personality will be the perfect complement to Stuart (Scott), Mike (Wilbon) and Jon (Barry),” said Williamson.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the ESPN family. I look forward to working with a great team and covering all the big NBA events,” said Johnson. “Christmas Day can’t come soon enough for me.”

Johnson comes to ESPN from Turner Sports, where he was an NBA analyst for seven years, primarily on TNT’s Thursday night NBA coverage. Johnson appeared on ESPN and ABC as a guest studio analyst during Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

He is one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players in history and won five NBA championships with the L.A. Lakers, an Olympic gold medal in 1992 and a NCAA championship. He is one of only seven players in the history of the sport to capture the latter three accolades. He was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player three times (1987, 1989, 1990). He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.

ESPN and Jeff Van Gundy sign extension

Former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy, who joined ESPN during the 2007 NBA Playoffs and provided game analysis for the entire 2007-08 season, has agreed to an exclusive multi-year agreement with the network.  Van Gundy will continue to provide analysis alongside play-by-play commentator Mike Breen and analyst Mark Jackson as the lead commentary team for games on ESPN and ABC – the home of the NBA Finals.

“It was a very difficult decision to forego coaching for the next five years, but I enjoyed myself so much last year working with Mike (Breen) and Mark (Jackson), that I decided to make this long-term commitment to broadcasting with ESPN,” said Jeff Van Gundy.

Norby Williamson, executive vice president, production, said, “We’re thrilled Jeff has decided to focus on broadcasting.  Our team of Mike, Mark and Jeff has great chemistry and offers diverse perspectives, which makes every broadcast unique.”

Van Gundy last coached in the NBA during the 2006-07 season, guiding the Houston Rockets to a 52-30 record – the team’s best mark since 1997 – despite a lengthy injury sustained by perennial All-Star Yao Ming.  Van Gundy’s Rockets lost in the final game of a best-of-seven first-round playoff series.

Van Gundy was the head coach of the Houston Rockets for four seasons from 2004-07, leading the team to a 182-146 record.  He previously was head coach of the New York Knicks from 1995-2001, when his team won 248 games and made the playoffs six times (including an NBA Finals appearance in 1999).  Van Gundy was an NBA analyst with Turner Sports during the 2002-03 season.

Prior to his NBA coaching experience, Van Gundy was an assistant coach at Rutgers and Providence.  He graduated from Nazareth College in 1985.

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