Archive for January 27th, 2009

Grizzlies waive Steve Francis

The Memphis Grizzlies reached a buyout agreement and waived guard Steve Francis, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

The 6-3, 210-pound guard has not appeared in a game with the Grizzlies or Houston Rockets this season after he was acquired from Houston on Dec. 24, 2008 along with Memphis’ own 2009 second round draft pick and cash considerations in exchange for a conditional 2011 second round draft pick.

The 31-year-old former three-time All-Star (2002, 2003, 2004) has averaged 18.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists 37.6 minutes in 576 career games (543 starts) in nine seasons with Houston, Orlando Magic and New York Knicks.

The Grizzlies’ roster currently stands at 13 players.

The Memphis Grizzlies named Barry Hecker an assistant coach, General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

With over 35 years of basketball experience in the professional, collegiate and high school ranks, Hecker joins the Grizzlies after a stint with the China Basketball Association (CBA) where he was an assistant coach with the Jiangsu Nangang Dragons during the league’s 2008 playoffs.

Along with his work in the CBA, Hecker spent 16 seasons (1986-98, 2001-05) with the Los Angeles Clippers, first serving as the team’s director of scouting (1986-94) and then moving to the bench for four seasons (1994-98) as an assistant under head coach Bill Fitch.  Hecker would later spend four seasons (2001-05) as the club’s director of player personnel/assistant coach.

Before his first stint with the Clippers, Hecker spent two seasons (1984-86) as the player personnel director for the Cleveland Cavaliers, helping assemble a core of players including Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Ron Harper and Johnny “Hot Rod” Williams, that would turn the Cavaliers into a perennial Eastern Conference power in the late-1980s and early-1990s.

Hecker basketball executive experience also includes two seasons (1999-01) as the interim head coach, assistant coach and player personnel director for the Las Vegas Bandits of the International Basketball League (IBL), where he assisted current Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins in the 2000-01 season.

A popular and frequent speaker on the basketball clinic circuit, Hecker has been the director of numerous camps, including those run by Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley, Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, Xavier McDaniel and Andrei Kirilenko.  Internationally, Hecker has been invited as a guest speaker at clinics in China, Italy and Turkey.

The Washington, D.C. native received his bachelor’s degree from Frostburg State (MD) where he played basketball and baseball.  He earned his master’s degree in education from George Washington University and was a Ph.D. candidate at Florida State.  Hecker’s head coaching credits also include B.S. Leiden of the Dutch Professional League (1975) and Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah (1976-78).

The club also announced today that Andy Greer and Ron DuBois are no longer with the team and that Kevin O’Neill has been assigned to the new position of special assistant to the general manager.

Post your basketball opinions on the InsideHoops Memphis Grizzlies message board.

Andray Blatche out 2-4 weeks

Injury continues to strike the Washington Wizards.

Wizards forward/center Andray Blatche was diagnosed today with a strained left knee.  He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.

The injury originally occurred at the 4:11 mark of the fourth quarter in Monday night’s game vs. Phoenix.

For the season, Blatche is averaging 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds on 48.1% shooting in 23.4 minutes per game.

Share your basketball opinions on the InsideHoops Washington Wizards message board.

Qyntel Woods signs in Poland reports: Asseco Prokom made Qyntel Woods its second addition ahead of the Top 16 on Tuesday by signing the forward for the remainder of the season. Woods (203, 27) arrives from Fortitudo Bologna, where he averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 23 minutes in four Eurocup games this season. The Polish champs will be Woods’ second Euroleague club after he made his competition debut last season with Olympiacos – one of Prokom’s Group E opponents in the Top 16.

The Boston Globe (Marc Spears) reports (via blog): Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine was taken to New England Baptist Hospital after suffering a concussion at practice today, and coach Doc Rivers said he expects the forward to be out for an extended period of time. Scalabrine originally suffered a concussion against Dallas last Sunday and received another when he bumped into teammate Patrick O’Bryant while trying to get a rebound at practice today.

Hollis Price, Mo Taylor to Italy reports: Armani Jeans Milano made a pair of major additions to its roster in time for the Top 16. Head coach Piero Bucchi’s squad signed playmaker Hollis Price and power forward Maurice Taylor. Price (186, 29) arrives from Dynamo Moscow, but was among the best playmakers in his debut Euroleague campaign last season with Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius. Taylor (206, 32) last with Sacramento of the NBA, will play in Europe for the first time. His contract is for Euroleague games only.

Charles Gaines signs in Israel reports: Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv made one more move before the start of the Top 16 with the addition of high-flying forward Charles Gaines until the end of the season. Gaines (203, 28) will mark his second stint in the Euroleague after playing for DKV Joventut Badalona in the 2006-07 season, when he averaged 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds.

Monday NBA stars reports: Shaquille O’Neal, Suns, scored 29 points as Phoenix wrapped up a six-game East Coast swing with a 103-87 win over Washington. O’Neal went 10-for-14 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free throw line…  Dwyane Wade, Heat, finished with 35 points and Miami held Atlanta without a field goal for nearly 131/2 minutes during one first-half stretch in a 95-79 victory…  Chris Paul, Hornets, had 27 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and seven steals for his fifth triple-double of the season, and the Hornets defeated Philadelphia 101-86…  Brandon Roy, Trail Blazers, scored 33 points on 11-of-15 shooting to lead Portland to a 113-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers…  Al Jefferson, Timberwolves, had 23 points and 10 rebounds, lifting Minnesota over short-handed Milwaukee 90-83.

Jannero Pargo signs in Greece reports: Olympiacos Pireaus has made up for the loss of an injured starter by signing more offensive firepower in the person of guard Jannero Pargo, last with Dynamo Moscow. Pargo (188, 30) posted 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists in five Eurocup games in this, his first season in Europe, for Dynamo. Pargo had played the previous six seaons with four NBA teams: New Orleans, Chicago, Toronto and the Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged 8.1 points last season with New Orleans. Olympiacos needs help after its third-best scorer, Josh Childress, was lost for at least a month more due to a sports hernia that was operated on last week.

James White rocking the D-League (Matthew Brennan) reports: James White is unstoppable on offense at the NBA D-League level, averaging 29.8 points in January including a D-League season high 47 last week. He has come a long way in developing his all-around game since his assignment to Austin two seasons ago, and has to be at the top of the list regarding any call-up discussion. I am looking forward to seeing him play at All-Star Weekend (both in the D-League game and maybe the Dunk Contest), but will be surprised if he is not on an NBA roster by then.

Questioning the Pistons rotation

The Detroit Pistons have been a losing team lately, dropping 7 of the 9 games they’ve played since January 10: They lost big in Utah, lost a close home game against Charlotte, lost a close game in Indiana, lost in Oklahoma City, lost at home against New Olreans, won at Memphis, won big at home against Toronto, lost big at home against Dallas, and lost a close game at home against Houston.

It’s not Michael Curry’s “fault,” necessarily, but he has yet to come up with a solution to the problem of a roster with plenty of talent but with too many good players at the small spots and not enough good big guys.

The Pistons now start Rodney Stuckey and Allen Iverson in the backcourt, Tayshaun Prince and Amir Johnson at forward, and Rasheed Wallace at center. The key guys off the bench are Richard Hamilton, Jason Maxiell and Antonio McDyess.

I question the decision to start Iverson while using Hamilton as a bench reserve. The reverse makes more sense. Hamilton clearly has chemistry with Prince, Wallace, McDyess and the other key Pistons. Iverson is the newcomer. He’s the guy that has to keep learning to fit in.

A scorer who is better at putting the ball in the basket than in the hands of teammates, if I was coaching Detroit, I’d use Iverson as instant points off the bench.

And if Iverson doesn’t want to come off the bench? Tough. Deal with it. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, obviously another change would be made.


Kenny Adeleke signs in Germany reports: With center Patrick Femerling sidelined for the whole Top 16, Alba Berlin signed rebounding ace Kenny Adeleke (25, 205) on Tuesday. The American power forward with Nigerian origin started the season for Lukoil Academic Sofia, but was released in December, after the Bulgarian champion had lost all options to reach the Last 16 of the Eurocup.

The Memphis Grizzlies have reassigned Kevin O’Neill to the new role of special assistant to the general manager, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

“Kevin O’Neill was instrumental in our draft preparations last year, which resulted in bringing O.J. Mayo and Darrell Arthur to the Grizzlies,” Wallace said. “Kevin is a very valuable resource for us. He has the rare combination of college coaching experience, as he was recently a head collegiate coach for a NCAA Tournament-caliber team, and he has a perspective of a NBA coach. We are eager to have Kevin’s input in our draft evaluation process again this year.”

O’Neill, a 29-year coaching veteran in the college and pro ranks, was named an assistant coach on June 17, 2008 after serving as the interim head coach at the University of Arizona last season, where he guided the Wildcats to a 19-15 record (.559) and the school’s 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

A seven-year veteran in the NBA coaching circles with the New York Knicks (2000-01, assistant), Detroit Pistons (2001-03, assistant), Toronto Raptors (2003-04, head coach), Indiana Pacers (2004-06, assistant) and Memphis (2008-09, assistant), O’Neill was a well-known figure on the college scene as the head coach at Marquette University (1989-94), Tennessee (1994-97) and Northwestern University (1997-2000).  The Great Midwest Conference Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1994 (Marquette) has also seen duty as an assistant coach at Arizona (1986-89) under Hall of Famer Lute Olson, the University of Tulsa (1985-86) and the University of Delaware (1983-85).

Roy leads Trail Blazers past Clippers

The AP reports: Brandon Roy scored 33 points on 11-of-15 shooting to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 113-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night… Travis Outlaw scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and keyed the run that gave the Trail Blazers breathing room. Greg Oden went 7-of-7 from the floor and 2-of-4 from the line for 16 points and had six rebounds. Al Thornton scored 23 for Los Angeles, which lost for the 16th time in 18 games. Steve Novak added 21 points, and Fred Jones had 19 points and seven assists. Brian Skinner, back after missing two games with flulike symptoms, had eight points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Thunder beat Nets 94-85

The AP reports: Kevin Durant scored nine of his 18 points in the decisive third quarter, and the Thunder enjoyed big advantages at the free throw line and on the boards to beat the New Jersey Nets 94-85 Monday night in front of just 5,000 fans. Russell Westbrook had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Jeff Green scored 13 for the Thunder. Oklahoma City took 38 free throws, 20 more than the Nets, and outrebounded the opponent for the eighth time in nine games… Rookie Brook Lopez, who had a career-high 31 points in the first meeting, scored 18 for the Nets. Carter, averaging 21.6 points per game, had just eight on 2-of-12 shooting. Devin Harris (21.8) scored 10 and was 4-of-17.

The AP reports: Al Jefferson had 23 points and 10 rebounds as he roamed the paint freely and Ryan Gomes added 22 points, lifting the Timberwolves over the short-handed Bucks 90-83. Minnesota improved to an NBA-best 10-2 in 2009 and Jefferson thwarted the Bucks when it counted in the fourth quarter with Milwaukee also missing center Andrew Bogut for the seventh straight game with back spasms… Richard Jefferson, who finished 3-of-15 from the field, hit a jumper, but Al Jefferson answered when he kicked out a pass to Gomes for a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 1:46 left… Milwaukee’s Ramon Sessions, who had 18 points replacing Redd, said Gomes’ shot was deflating.

The AP reports: Chris Paul had 27 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and seven steals for his league-leading fifth triple-double of the season, and the New Orleans Hornets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 101-86 on Monday night… New Orleans, badly outscored inside while missing center Tyson Chandler (ankle) and David West (back), made up for it with 14 3s as a team… James Posey and Rasual Butler had 13 points apiece, including three 3-pointers each for the Hornets. Thaddeus Young had 22 points and Andre Miller 19 for the Sixers, who lost for only the second time in their past 10 games. Andre Iguodala scored 17 points for Philadelphia, and Louis Williams added 11 points.

The AP reports: The NBA’s leading scorer, Wade finished with 35 points on 13-for-19 shooting and the Heat held the Hawks without a field goal for nearly 13 1/2 minutes during one first-half stretch, beating Atlanta 95-79 on Monday night… Daequan Cook scored 16 points and Chalmers added 12 points and six assists for Miami (24-19), which moved a season-best five games over .500. Udonis Haslem had a game-high 13 rebounds. Miami had a season-high 12 blocked shots and allowed the Hawks seven assists — the fewest by any Heat opponent this season. Joe Johnson scored 19 points for Atlanta. Marvin Williams added 17, Josh Smith had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Flip Murray finished with 14 points for the Hawks.

The AP reports: Wilson Chandler was removed from the starting lineup after his recent struggles and responded with 18 points in a 104-98 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday night. Fellow reserve Nate Robinson continued his strong play to lead New York with 19 points… The Rockets were playing without center Yao Ming (sore right knee) for the second straight game. Yao went out just as Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest were returning from injuries of their own. Artest (right ankle) had 24 points in Sunday’s win at Detroit, but struggled to 4-of-19 shooting against the Knicks. McGrady (left knee) had 20 points with more then five minutes left in the game then missed his last five shots.

The AP reports: Shaquille O’Neal kissed Caron Butler on the head, got a technical for hanging on the rim and thumped Andray Blatche into a knee-buckling injury. He also scored 29 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots… O’Neal and the Phoenix Suns wrapped up a six-game East Coast swing Monday night with a 103-87 win over the Washington Wizards, who suffered the indignity of falling behind the Oklahoma City Thunder to take sole possession of the NBA cellar… Amare Stoudemire added 22 points and 15 rebounds, Leandro Barbosa scored 23 points, and Steve Nash had 14 points and 15 assists for the Suns, whose 53-38 rebounding advantage helped overcome their 17 turnovers. Caron Butler scored 28 points, and Jamison had 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards, but they didn’t get much help as Washington lost for the 10th time in 12 games. The rest of the team scored 32 points on 17-for-41 shooting.

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