Archive for June, 2009

Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur announced today he has elected to remain with the franchise for the 2009-10 season, and is declining to exercise his early termination option.

“We are looking forward to Memo’s return,” said Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor.  “He has clearly been an integral part of our success since his arrival and we are hopeful that he will continue to perform at such a high level in the future.”

Okur (6-11, 263, Turkey), appeared in 72 games (all starts) for the Jazz in 2008-09, averaging 17.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 33.5 minutes per game.  A seven-year NBA veteran, Okur finished the season second on the Jazz in points and second in total rebounds.

Originally signed by the Jazz as a free-agent on July 27, 2004, Okur has appeared in 388 out of a possible 410 regular season games with the Jazz over the past five seasons, averaging 16.0 points and 7.9 rebounds in 32.8 minutes per game. A 2007 NBA All-Star, Okur owns the single-season Jazz record for most three-pointers made and attempted (129-336) in a season (2006-07), and ranks fourth on the franchise’s all-time list for three-pointers attempted (1129) and fifth for three-pointers made (430).

JR Smith sentenced to 90 days in jail

The AP reports: A judge sentenced Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith to 90 days in jail Tuesday night for causing an auto accident that killed his friend, though Smith will likely end up serving only 30. Municipal Judge Debra J. Gelson suspended 60 days of the sentence providing Smith performs 500 hours of community service consisting of visiting sick children at hospitals.

InsideHoops.com adds: This incident took place in June of 2007 in New Jersey. Smith drove an SUV through a stop sign.

The following is a statement from Nuggets Vice President of Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien on  J.R. Smith.

“We are fully aware of the legal proceedings involving J.R. Smith today and the judges’ decision. J.R. Smith took responsibility for his role in this tragic accident that occurred in June 2007. The legal statutes mandate that J.R. serve time for driving recklessly and he is grateful that the statutory sentence was reduced from 90 days to 30.

We will continue to support J.R. during this difficult period and will have no further comment at this time.”

The Phoenix Suns today exercised the second-year team option on the contract of forward Louis Amundson, the club has announced.

The 6-9, 238-pound Amundson became a fan favorite in his first season with the Suns in 2008-09 while posting career highs in nearly every statistical category.  Voted the winner of the 2009 Majerle Hustle Award by fans and Suns staff for his signature style of play, Amundson saw action in a career-high 76 games, including the final 61 consecutive contests (Dec. 9-April 15) and all 31 contests under head coach Alvin Gentry.

The UNLV product averaged 4.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 13.7 minutes in 2008-09 and posted six double-digit scoring efforts after entering the season with a career-best of eight points.  The third-year NBA performer enjoyed a career game on Feb. 27 vs. Toronto, exploding for a career-high 20 points, 10 rebounds and a career-best tying four blocks in recording his first career double-double and the first 20-10 game by a Suns reserve since the 2005-06 season.

Amundson was signed by the Suns on August 14, 2008.

Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer announced today that he is exercising his player option for 2009-10 and will be returning for his sixth season with the organization.

“We are excited that Carlos has decided to remain with the Jazz,” said Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor. “We are hopeful he can continue to play at an All-Star level and will have an injury-free season.”

Boozer (6-9, 266, Duke), appeared in 37 games (all starts) for the Jazz in 2008-09, averaging 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 32 minutes per game.  The seven-year NBA veteran had 20 double-doubles and 15 games of 20 or more points, leading the Jazz to the team’s third straight playoff appearance.

Originally signed by the Jazz as a free agent on July 14, 2004, Boozer has appeared in 276 regular season games with the Jazz over the past five seasons, averaging 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds in 34 minutes per game.  A two-time NBA All-Star (2007, 2008) Boozer was also selected to the 2008 All-NBA Third Team. The seven-year NBA veteran is a two-time member of the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Olympic Team, wining a gold medal in Athens in 2008 and bronze medal in Athens in 2004.

Corey Maggette has right wrist surgery

Golden State Warriors forward Corey Maggette underwent successful surgery on his right wrist yesterday (Monday, June 29), the team announced today.

The surgery, which was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Roy Meals of UCLA, will require minimal rehabilitation and Maggette will be able to resume normal basketball activities within 3-4 weeks. The purpose of the procedure was to relieve pain in Maggette’s right wrist, a condition that had bothered him intermittently throughout this past season.

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that guard Bobby Brown has exercised the player option on his contract for the 2009-10 season.

After going undrafted out of Cal State Fullerton in 2008, Brown was signed as a free agent by the Sacramento Kings prior to the 2008-09 season. He was subsequently acquired by the Wolves along with Shelden Williams in exchange for Calvin Booth and Rashad McCants on Feb. 19, 2009. In 68 total games split between the Kings and Wolves during his rookie season, Brown averaged 5.3 points and 1.7 assists in 13.7 minutes per game.

Michael Finley staying with Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that guard/forward Michael Finley informed the team that he will return for the 2009-10 season.

The 6-7, 220-lb. Finley appeared in 81 games with San Antonio last season, averaging 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 28.8 minutes.  He ranked 23rd in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage shooting a career-high .411 (131-319) from beyond the arc.

Finley was originally signed by the Spurs on 9/2/05.  In his four seasons with the Silver and Black he has appeared in 322 games, averaging 9.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 26.1 minutes.  Among active players Finley ranks fourth in games played (1,057), fourth in minutes played (37,287), fifth in three-point field goals made (1,422) and ninth in field goals made (6,615).  In 1,057 career NBA games he has averaged 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35.3 minutes.

Pistons fire coach Michael Curry

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced this evening that Michael Curry will not return next season as the team’s head coach.

“This was a difficult decision to make,” Dumars said.  “I want to thank Michael for his hard work and dedication to the organization.  However, at this time, I have decided to make a change.”

Curry, who was named head coach on June 10, 2008, tallied a regular-season record of 39-43 in his first season as an NBA head coach with the Pistons and led the club to the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs.  Detroit was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games.  He served one season in Detroit as an assistant coach under Flip Saunders (2007-08) and had two separate stints with the organization as a player (1995-97 and 1999-2003).

Blake Griffin started baseball at age 3

The AP reports: Blake Griffin got an early start playing in front of big crowds., playing baseball as a three-year-old. “I was really nervous,” Griffin said. He was the batboy/little brother hanger-on for older brother Taylor’s T-ball team of six-year-olds when the coach said he could bat in a lopsided game. “That was the largest crowd I’d ever played in front of.” He doubled the first time up, tripled the second. “We knew he was special right then,” his father said.

The Memphis Grizzlies have made qualifying offers to restricted free agents Hakim Warrick and Juan Carlos Navarro, club General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

Warrick, the Grizzlies’ longest-tenured and last remaining player from the club’s most-recent playoff appearance in 2006, averaged 11.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in 82 games last season.  The 6-9, 219-pound forward has averaged 10.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 307 games through four NBA seasons, all with the Grizzlies, who originally selected him with the 19th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.

In his only NBA season, Navarro averaged 10.9 points and 2.2 assists in 82 games and was named to the 2007-08 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.  After his rookie season, the 6-3, 170-pound guard signed with his former Spanish club F.C. Barcelona.  Memphis retains the right to match any future offer should he decide to return to the NBA.

In accordance with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, in order for a team to retain its right of first refusal with respect to a restricted free agent, the team must tender the player a qualifying offer prior to June 30.  A restricted free agent may sign an offer sheet with any team but is subject to a right of first refusal with the team for which the player last played.

The National Basketball Association and the NBA Development League, the official minor league of the NBA, today announced the affiliation system for the 2009-10 season, including the announcement of a direct single-affiliation partnership between the Houston Rockets and Rio Grande Valley Vipers.  For the fifth consecutive year, each NBA team has one NBA D-League affiliate to which it may assign players in their first or second NBA season.

The Rockets became the first NBA team to enter into a direct single-affiliation partnership with an NBA D-League team, granting the Rockets full control over the basketball operations of the Vipers.  With the move, the Rockets will be the only parent-club of the team.

In a structure similar to other minor leagues, this new partnership model, previously referred to as the “hybrid affiliation,” allows for NBA teams to secure control over and cover the expenses related to the basketball operations of an NBA D-League team, while partnering with existing local ownership, who maintain responsibility for the off-the-court business operations of the team.

The list of affiliations is on our NBA D-League page.

Nets exercise Jarvis Hayes option

Nets exercise Jarvis Hayes option

The New Jersey Nets have exercised the team option on the contract of forward Jarvis Hayes for the 2009-10 season, Nets President Rod Thorn announced today.

“Jarvis was a key member of our rotation last season, providing instant scoring and the ability to stretch the defense,” said Thorn.  “We are pleased to have him continue as a member of our roster, and look forward to a similar contribution this season.”

Hayes, a 6-8 forward from the University of Georgia, signed as a free agent with the Nets on July 16, 2008.  In 2008-09, he played in 74 games including one start.  Hayes averaged 8.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per contest while shooting a career-high .445 (257-577) from the field, a career-high .385 (94-244) from three-point range and .692 (36-52) from the line.

Hasheem Thabeet worked as a bouncer

Hasheem Thabeet worked as a bouncer

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports: Hasheem Thabeet did what he could to help his family. His father, an architect, had died of complications from diabetes, so Thabeet, at age 17 and all of 7 feet, found work as a bouncer outside a nightclub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He was an intimidating presence at the door, blocking ill-advised attempts to get inside — a skill set that, as it turned out, would prove invaluable in the not-so-distant future. But he also harbored a secret. “When a fight started,” Thabeet said, “you wouldn’t see me.” … Thabeet spoke five languages, but academic transcript issues landed him at three prep schools in three states before he settled for good at Cypress Community Christian School outside of Houston. He was a project — he was used to kicking the ball with his feet instead of shooting it with his hands — but UConn coach Jim Calhoun was willing to take the risk. Thabeet’s potential was immense.

The Houston Chronicle (Jonathan Feigen) reports: A group headed by former Rockets president and chief executive officer George Postolos has entered into negotiations to purchase the Charlotte Bobcats, a person with knowledge of the talks said Saturday. Postolos, who shepherded the Rockets through the arena referendum and move to the Toyota Center and helped the value of the franchise grow from $166 million to $422 million during his tenure, left the team in May 2006 after 7½ years to form The Postolos Group, a company that helps with the acquisition of sports franchises.

Jrue Holiday feels he should have been drafted higher

Philly Burbs/The Intelligencer (Tom Moore) reports: Jrue Holiday considers playing for the 76ers to be an ideal situation for him. The Sixers are looking for a young point guard to push the ball upcourt and defend, which Holiday believes are among his strengths. But Holiday is still bothered that he dropped to No. 17 in Thursday’s NBA Draft after he had been regarded as a top-12 prospect during nearly the entire pre-draft process of workouts and interviews. “Honestly, it’s motivation to do better,” said Holiday during Friday’s introductory news conference at PCOM. “I wasn’t expecting it. I wish I could’ve gone higher. I really don’t think there are 16 players in the draft better than me. All the teams I worked out for know what I can do.”

Omri Casspi is first Israeli player to make the NBA

The Sacramento Bee (Ailene Voisin) reports on Omri Casspi, the first Israeli player who will play in the NBA: He can run. We know that. He plays both forward positions. He is long and wiry, 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, and he must be as tough as his reputation suggests, because the second of the Kings’ two first-round draft choices (No. 23) is carrying an entire nation along for the ride. Forget the champagne and night-long celebration. Israeli President Shimon Peres called to offer congratulations. “I wouldn’t say I feel pressure, though,” said Casspi, 21, shortly after arriving with his mother, Ilana, from Tel Aviv. “Everybody is just trying to encourage me.” … Former Israeli stars such as Doron Sheffer, Oded Katash, Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin either failed to make rosters or signed deals overseas.

Jazz happy to have Maynor

The Salt Lake Tribune (Ross Siler) reports:  The Jazz scouted six of Eric Maynor’s games his senior season, general manager Kevin O’Connor said. Wednesday’s interview, might have made the difference, though, when Maynor offered advanced answers in a Pick-and-Roll 101 quiz. There are questions about Maynor’s shooting and size, how he will adapt from VCU and how much he can expect to play as a rookie. Those answers can wait at least until Maynor reports for the start of summer-league practices next week in Orlando, Fla. “I’m not even going to look at it as being a rookie, just being an NBA basketball player,” Maynor said.

Shaq to wear jersey No. 33 on Cavaliers

The AP reports: Shaquille O’Neal hasn’t picked out a house in Cleveland yet. He has chosen a jersey number — his old one. Shaq is going back to No. 33. Traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, the 15-time All-Star has decided to wear 33, the team confirmed Friday.

The AP reports: Ricky Rubio was not present when the Minnesota Timberwolves introduced their 2009 draft class on Friday. Sixth overall pick Jonny Flynn and 28th pick Wayne Ellington attended with new president David Kahn. But the Timberwolves say Rubio decided to stay behind because of his contract situation.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Rubio has a buyout that is reportedly around $6.5 million, give or take half a million. He may wind up staying in Spain for a year or two before coming to the NBA. And other teams are probably contacting the Timberwolves right now to see if they can get Rubio. According to several local newspaper reports, the Knicks will be one of those teams.

Phoenix Suns star forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire (I’m still getting used to typing the apostrophe in his first name) posted what I assume is a joke on Twitter around 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday, posting: “Breaking News! Amar’e Stoudemire to the Lakers!!”

While the Suns did just trade Shaquille O’Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers and have reportedly made Stoudemire available, my immediate assumption was that he was kidding.

After maybe an hour, I did pick up the phone and call someone who knows a thing or two about a thing or two relating to someone or something, and I still won’t take it seriously until there’s reason to think otherwise.

If the Suns do wind up trading Stoudemire to a decent team, I hope it’s one of those squads that’s decent but would become good and occasionally very good with him on board. Like the 76ers, Heat, maybe the Bulls. If any of those squads got Amar’e they’d move a rung or two up the East ladder.

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