Archive for June, 2009

Left foot of Yao Ming not healing properly

Rockets center Yao Ming underwent a medical evaluation by Rockets Team Physician Dr. Tom Clanton today which revealed that the hairline fracture in Yao’s left foot has not responded to the current treatment program.  A bone scan conducted Wednesday night at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute revealed that the hairline fracture on the top of the foot has not yet healed.

Yao and the Rockets will consult with doctors who have previously participated in his care before proceeding with a new course of action.  No timeline has been set for his return to basketball activities.  There will be no further comment by the team until the best course of action has been determined.

“Yao is not experiencing any pain in his left foot, however, the results from the CT and bone scans we performed over the past two days indicate that the hairline fracture has not responded to the degree that we expected,” said Clanton.  “We will review a variety of treatment options before proceeding.”

The hairline fracture was discovered following the Rockets’ May 8th loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.  The original treatment plan called for Yao to cease all physical training and to use a walking boot in order to immobilize the foot and promote healing.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune (Andrew Lopez) reports: The Oak Hill Academy product played in 43 games this season in Italian Lega A as well as in Euroleague, primarily as a backup point guard. When he did play, Jennings production was solid but not mind-blowing. He averaged 6.3 points and 2.0 assists in 17.8 minutes. Despite his production, Jennings feels he is a better basketball player because of the experience. “I’m more mature,” Jennings said after a recent workout with Golden State, who have the seventh pick in the draft. “I think more than the other guys because of the year I had in Europe, just not even playing. Going through that, tough times up and down, the challenges that I faced. So I think I have the upper hand against some of these guys.”

Bucks trade Richard Jefferson to Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas

The Milwaukee Bucks have acquired guard/forward Bruce Bowen, forward/center Kurt Thomas and forward Amir Johnson in a three-team trade with San Antonio and Detroit, General Manager John Hammond announced today.  As part of the deal, the Bucks send forward Richard Jefferson to San Antonio, while the Spurs trade Fabricio Oberto to Detroit.

“The trade we made today provides us with much needed options in both the short and long-term planning for our franchise,” said Hammond.  “We acquired a young, long, athletic forward in Amir Johnson, along with two proven, tough-minded veterans in Bruce Bowen and Kurt Thomas.  The trade also provides us with additional opportunities, both now and in the future, to consider adding more pieces to our roster.”

Bowen (6-7, 200) spent the past eight seasons with the Spurs.  He appeared in 80 games for San Antonio last season, averaging 2.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in 19.0 minutes per game.  It was his seventh consecutive season of playing in at least 80 games and the eighth of his career.  The 38-year-old has been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team eight times.  He went undrafted out of Cal State Fullerton and spent time in France and the CBA before signing with the Miami Heat during the 1996-97 season.  He has also spent time with Boston and Philadelphia and owns NBA career averages of 6.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists over 873 total games.

Thomas (6-9, 240) comes to Milwaukee having played for six teams over 14 NBA seasons.  Last season, he appeared in 79 games (10 starts) for San Antonio and averaged 4.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17.8 minutes.  Thomas, 36, was originally drafted by the Miami Heat with the 10th overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.  He has played in 896 career NBA games with Miami, Dallas, New York, Phoenix, Seattle and San Antonio, and owns career averages of 9.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists.  He has appeared in 77 playoff games, including 20 during New York’s run to the NBA Finals in 1999.

Johnson (6-9, 210) was selected by Detroit in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft (56th overall) out of Westchester High School (CA).  Last season, the 22-year old, four-year pro appeared in 62 games with a career-best 24 starts.  He averaged 3.5 points and 3.7 rebounds in a career-high 14.7 minutes per game, while leading the Pistons in field goal percentage (.595).  In 135 career games, Johnson has averaged 3.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots in 13.6 minutes per game.

“Richard was a true professional during his time in Milwaukee,” Hammond remarked.  “He came ready to practice and play every day and always gave it his best effort.  We wish him well in San Antonio.”

Jefferson (6-7, 225) started in all 82 games during his lone season in Milwaukee.  He averaged 19.6 points (T-22nd in the NBA), 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting .439 from the field and .397 from three-point range.  He led the Bucks in scoring a team-best 35 times, including seven games of 30 or more.  He also scored the 10,000th point of his NBA career on April 4 against Memphis.  The 29-year-old Jefferson came to Milwaukee following seven seasons with the New Jersey Nets.  The Arizona product was originally drafted after his junior season by the Houston Rockets (13th overall) in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft.

Read fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum topic.

Pistons to trade Amir Johnson to Bucks for Fabricio Oberto

Yahoo (Adrian Wojnarowski) reports: In an effort to clear more salary cap space, the Detroit Pistons have sent forward Amir Johnson to the Milwaukee Bucks for newly acquired Fabricio Oberto, a league executive told Yahoo! Sports. The Pistons plan to buy out Oberto’s deal and make him a free agent.

UPDATE: This was correct but actually part of the earlier deal involving Richard Jefferson. See the info.

Read basketball fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum topic.

Wolves to trade Randy Foye, Mike Miller to Wizards for pick no.5 plus three players

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has acquired guard/forward Mike Miller and guard Randy Foye from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, Oleksiy Pecherov and the fifth overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft.

“We are very excited to welcome two solid, proven veterans in Mike Miller and Randy Foye to Washington,” said Grunfeld.  “Mike is one of the NBA’s elite three-point shooters who can really stretch the defense and provide an all-around game, and Randy has shown the ability to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates while providing excellent perimeter defense.  Their skills complement our core very well and they will provide a boost as we re-establish ourselves as a contender in the Eastern Conference.”

A 29-year-old swingman, Miller has averaged 13.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game over nine professional seasons in Orlando, Memphis and Minnesota.  A former Rookie of the Year in 2000-01 and Sixth Man of the Year in 2005-06, Miller has connected on over 40 percent (1,173-2,926, .401) of his three-point field goal tries in his career.  Miller’s career best statistical season came in 2006-07 in Memphis when he averaged a career-high 18.5 points per game to go along with 5.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists while connecting on 202 of 498 (.406) three-point tries.  Miller averaged a career-high 6.7 rebounds the following season in Memphis, and recorded a career-best 4.5 assists per game last season in Minnesota.

Foye, a 25-year-old guard, had a breakout season for the Timberwolves in 2008-09 when he averaged 16.3 points and 4.3 assists per game.  He started 61 games for Minnesota, recording a career-high 36 points vs. Indiana on February 20 and recording a career-best 14-assists at Detroit on November 23.  Foye has seen his scoring average increase by at least three points in each of his three professional seasons after being selected seventh overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by Boston and acquired in a draft day trade by Minnesota via Portland.

Thomas averaged 6.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 373 career games for Washington, including 3.1 ppg and 2.5 rpg in 26 games last season.  Songaila appeared in 184 games for Washington over the last three seasons, and averaged 7.4 points and 2.9 rebounds last season (with a career-high 29 games started).

Pecherov, drafted by Washington with the 18th overall selection in the 2006 NBA Draft, averaged 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in 67 career games for the Wizards.

“We appreciate the contributions that Etan, Darius and Oleksiy made to the team and the community during their tenures in Washington,” said Grunfeld.  “We wish them the best and we’re pleased to have been able to accomplish a trade that benefited all parties involved.”

Read fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum topic.

Bobcats extend qualifying offer to Raymond Felton

Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins announced today that the team has made a qualifying offer to point guard Raymond Felton, making him a restricted free agent. The qualifying offer allows the Bobcats to match any offer he receives from another team.

Felton, who appeared in all 82 games for the first time in his career last season, averaged 14.2 points, 6.7 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 37.6 minutes. He ranked 11th in the NBA in steals, 13th in assists and tied for 15th in minutes played. In addition, Felton set single-season career highs in points (1,162), field goals made (442), rebounds (310), steals (126), blocked shots (30) and minutes played (3,086).

Originally drafted by Charlotte with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Felton has appeared in 319 career NBA games with averages of 13.6 points, 6.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals. Felton is the Bobcats’ franchise leader with 2,127 career assists.

Philadelphia 76ers change back to older logo

The Philadelphia 76ers have officially changed their primary logo and color scheme with a return to the traditional “76ers basketball” logo and the red, white and blue color scheme.  The basketball logo was last used during the 1996-97 season and consists of a color scheme that was originally established in 1963 and used during the Sixers’ two championship seasons in 1966-67 and 1982-83.

“By bringing back the old Sixers logo, we are connecting the past with the future,” said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. “This logo evokes memories of some of this franchise’s proudest moments. We also made this change because we understood how much this logo means to our fans, this franchise and to our city. The fans had a big input on this decision. We’re excited and we want the entire City of Philadelphia to be excited for Sixers basketball.”

“The 76ers logo is one of the more iconic in all of professional sports and we are sure fans will appreciate the Sixers returning to their core colors and ball icon,” said Christopher Arena, NBA Vice President Apparel, Sporting Goods & Basketball Partnerships.

This is the first major logo change for the Sixers since the 1997-98 season, when the logo was modernized to incorporate black, silver and gold into a stylized “76ers” wordmark that featured a predominant red and silver star to the left and a gold ball with blue stripes below.  From 1963 through 1997, the Sixers’ identity revolved around a “76” in red and royal blue and a star configuration above the number seven, which was an identity that defined the team through two NBA Championships.  The 76 and stars were utilized within a bell symbol from 1963-77 and then the “ers” was added to the “76″ and contained in a ball.  The ball form of the logo is what is most recognized and most associated with the “Fo’, Fi’, Fo’” championship team of 82-83, one of the greatest teams in NBA history.  The only enhancement with the new logo will be a rectangular “court” shaped enclosure around the ball logo with the city name “PHILADELPHIA” grounded along the bottom and silver accent shaping the entire perimeter.

The Sixers will introduce a new secondary logo and wordmark at a later date.  Additionally, the team will unveil a new court design and uniforms later this summer.

At about 3:57 a.m. ET late Monday night (technically early Tuesday morning) I was online, had my twitter account (@InsideHoops) open, and saw New York Knicks center Eddy Curry, via his Twitter account, announce that he was broadcasting live on webcam.

So I clicked, reaching “The Eddy Curry Show” on UStream, expecting to see the usual from pro athletes online: mundane, politically correct greetings to fans and not much else.

Instead, Curry was sitting in the front passenger seat of a car, next to a driver and two other guys in the back seat, one of whom was Denver Nuggets shooting guard J.R. Smith (sitting behind the driver). They’re pulled over and being questioned by a police officer.

The cop then left their car area. I assume he went back to a police car, perhaps to call in looking for information about the driver, car, etc. For the next 10 or 12 minutes I sat watching in amusement as the four guys sat cracking jokes waiting for the police officer to return. It was like watching a sports celebrity episode of the TV show “Cops.”

The webcam, presumably a laptop, was on the dashboard, pointing at the faces of the four young guys.

I’m not positive but I believe the officer said something about a suspended licence. Then, I thought I heard them say that they got pulled over for speeding, though I’m not positive.

One of the men then joked that he’ll pay $1,000 to whomever gets out, runs over and touches the police car. Of course, no one did it.

And then, their webcam shut off.

Eddy Curry, J.R. Smith in car questioned by police while live on Internet webcam

A bit later, around 4:35 a.m. ET, after being away from my computer for about 15 minutes, I went back to their stream, and the webcam was back on, with the buddies driving along and the earlier police issue apparently resolved in some way. But now, Curry is drivin, with Smith in the front passenger seat.

I’m glad they kept the webcam going! It was amusing stuff.

At around 5:15 a.m. ET, Smith on Twitter said that they had come to New York for Father’s Day and meant to leave yesterday but didn’t end up leaving until midnight.

Earlier, he had typed that they were headed to Detroit.

And now, at 5:35 a.m. ET, I’m going to sleep.

Dirk Nowitzki is heartbroken

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Eddie Sefko) reports: Dirk Nowitzki said in a German publication that he still wants to have a family, but that “it will not be easy to win my heart” after his relationship with former fiancée Cristal Taylor ended with a rocky, emotional split. Nowitzki spoke openly about his romance with Taylor for the first time to Bild Magazine. He covered numerous aspects of their time together, including how they met and their wedding plans, in question-and-answer format… “In the beginning, I was very down and disappointed, sad and furious,” Nowitzki said. “But I made a few steps forward and I think someday I will be over it totally.”

Sacramento Kings announce assistant coaches

Sacramento Kings’ Head Coach Paul Westphal today announced his coaching staff as the team has reached agreement in principles with Jim Eyen, Mario Elle and Leonard “Truck” Robinson as assistant coaches. Additionally, Westphal retained the services of Pete Carril.

“I’m really excited,” explained Westphal. “I think we’ve put together an outstanding staff. Pete Carril is going to come back and be the one we all learn from. He’ll be around quite a bit. He won’t travel to all of the games, but he’ll be a presence at practice, home games and meetings and in helping all of us. I couldn’t be happier about that. Jim Eyen, Mario Elle and Truck Robinson each bring great NBA experience.”

Eyen, an 18-year NBA veteran assistant coach, enters his first season on the Kings’ bench, having spent the past six seasons as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers.

With 30 years of coaching experience under his belt, Eyen originally began his career with the Clippers in 1988 when he served as an assistant coach under then head coach Don Casey. The following season, he moved to the Lakers, assisting Pat Riley and was retained when Mike Dunleavy was named Lakers’ head coach in 1990. After three seasons with the Lakers, Eyen followed Dunleavy to Milwaukee, where he remained through 1996. In 1997, Eyen again

joined Dunleavy, only this time in Portland, where he worked as an assistant through the 2000-01 season. When Dunleavy was named head coach of the Clippers prior to the 2003-04 season, he again asked Eyen to join him as the team’s lead assistant. Eyen also served as acting head

coach on April 12, 2005, guiding the Clippers to a 94-85 victory over the Utah Jazz at STAPLES Center while Dunleavy was away from the team for personal reasons. Eyen began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Santa Barbara City College in 1979 where he helped lead the Vaqueros to the state tournament three consecutive years. In 1982, Eyen was named head coach of Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA, and led his team to the 1984 CIF playoffs as well as coaching the county all-star team. Prior to joining the Clippers’ bench in 1988, Eyen served as an assistant for his alma mater, the University of California at Santa Barbara for four seasons, helping the Gauchos earn their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. Eyen’s basketball interests also extend internationally. He has served as a consultant to clubs in the Netherlands, Germany and Japan, where in 1996 he worked with the Japanese National Team.

“Jim is one of the most well-respected long-time assistants in the league,” said Westphal. “He’s been highly regarded by everyone that I’ve talked to and we are very fortunate to add him to the mix.”

Elie, a 12-year NBA veteran, begins his first season with the Kings after spending the last two campaigns as an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks. During the 2006-07 season, he served as a pre- and post-game host for the Houston Rockets FOX Sports Net telecasts after serving as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors for two seasons (2004-05 & 2005-06). Prior to joining the Warriors coaching staff, he spent the 2003-04 season as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs.

Elie enjoyed a successful NBA playing career averaging 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 732 regular season games with Golden State, Philadelphia, Portland, Houston, San Antonio and Phoenix. He also played in 116 career playoff contests, winning three NBA Championships with Houston (1994 & 1995) and San Antonio (1999).

A native of New York City, Elie enjoyed some of his finest playing moments as a member of the Houston Rockets. He started all four games of the 1995 NBA Finals against Orlando, averaging 16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists en route to winning his second consecutive title. Additionally, his best individual season came in 1996-97, when he averaged 11.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 78 games for the Rockets. In 1998, he was named to the Rockets 30-Year Team as one of the top 10 players in club history.

After being drafted in the seventh round by the Milwaukee Bucks (160th overall pick) in 1985 out of American International College – a Division II school in Springfield, Mass. – Elie played in Portugal, Argentina, Ireland, the USBL, the WBL and the CBA before making his NBA debut with the Philadelphia 76ers in December of 1990. After appearing in three games for the 76ers, Elie signed a 10-day contract with Golden State on Feb. 23, 1991. Five days later, he signed a contract with the Warriors through the end of the following season.

“Mario and I worked together in Dallas,” noted Westphal. “I was very impressed with him. He was one of the first guys that I targeted. He’s going to really help us with his defensive intensity and with his experience as a successful and versatile perimeter player in this league. The respect he has earned as a tough competitor will bring a lot to our staff.”

Robinson enters his first season with the Kings upon spending last season as a scout for the Washington Wizards. He was known for his tenacious rebounding and offensive firepower as a player, standing at only 6-7. An 11-year NBA veteran, averaged 15.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game over 772 contests with Washington (1974-77), Atlanta (1977), New Orleans (1977-79), Phoenix (1979-82) and New York (1982-85). A two-time NBA All-Star (1978 and 1981), Robinson helped the Bullets win the 1975 NBA Eastern Conference and was an integral player for Phoenix when the Suns won the 1981 Pacific Division. He led the NBA in minutes played (3,638), rebounds (1,288), defensive rebounds (990), and rebounds per game (15.7) during the 1977-78 season.

Robinson was a second round selection of 1974 NBA Draft by the Washington Bullets.

“Truck Robinson and I go way back,” said Westphal. “We played together twice, once in Phoenix and once in New York. Truck is one of the smartest, most accomplished players I’ve ever played with. He led the league in rebounding once as a 6-7 forward. Even though he’s never coached in the league, he’s been a specialist in working with big men. He helped us in Phoenix in that regard and has since been active in scouting and Big Man training. Hubie Brown was a big advocate of Truck’s after seeing him teach and interact with young players. Our rebounding will improve and one of the reasons will be because Truck’s on the staff.”

In a crowning achievement to his legendary collegiate coaching career, Carril was rewarded with an induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 29, 1997. After coaching 30 years in the NCAA ranks, Carril joined the Kings prior to the 1996-97 campaign. His addition to the Kings’ coaching staff reunited him with Petrie, whom he coached at Princeton from 1968-70.

The winningest coach in Ivy League history (525-273, .658 winning percentage), Carril’s career at Princeton included 13 conference titles, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, and just one losing season. Prior to his retirement following the 1996 NCAA Tournament, he was the only active NCAA Division I head coach to reach the 500-victory plateau without athletic scholarships.

In his final season as head coach at Princeton, he led the Tigers to the Ivy League Championship with a 22-7 record. In one of the most thrilling moments of the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Carril’s Tigers upset defending champion UCLA in the first round, 43-41, on a signature Carril-designed backdoor layup with only 3.8 seconds remaining in the game.

Carril played collegiately at Lafayette College under Head Coach Butch Van Breda Kolff. Following his graduation from Lafayette in 1952, Carril began his coaching career at the high school level where he stayed for 12 years. He went on to become head coach at Lehigh University for one season before beginning his stay at Princeton in 1967.

The Miami Heat announced today they have made qualifying offers to Joel Anthony and Jamario Moon, making them restricted free agents.

Anthony, a 6’9”, 245-pound center, appeared in 65 games (28 starts) for the HEAT last season averaging 2.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.43 blocks in 16.1 minutes of action. He finished second on the team in blocks (93), fourth in field goal percentage (.483) and tied for fourth in offensive rebounds (89). He recorded a single-game career high 12 points while grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds at Memphis on Dec. 14, 2008. His 1.43 blocks per game average ranked second on the team as he blocked a shot in a career-tying seven consecutive games from Dec. 12 thru Dec. 26, 2008.

Moon a 6’8”, 200-pound forward, who was originally acquired from the Toronto Raptors, along with Jermaine O’Neal in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks on Feb. 13, 2009, appeared in 26 games (21 starts) for the HEAT last season averaging 7.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 26.5 minutes of action. He finished the season first in the NBA for steals-per-turnover ratio (2.00:1) having recorded 86 steals and only 43 turnovers. Additionally he ranked 40th in the league in steals per game (1.08) and dished out a new career-high six assists at Philadelphia on Mar. 15, 2009.

Suns in a complicated place

The East Valley Tribune (Scott Bordow) reports: The potential trade of Shaquille O’Neal — while big in stature — is not the most critical element. The Suns know they won’t get much for O’Neal in return. The best they can hope for is a late first-round draft pick or a young player. Either way, the franchise won’t be dependent on the return. No, it’s what Steve Kerr does with Amaré Stoudemire and Steve Nash these next few weeks — or months — that will determine the team’s future success and, to a large part, either restore Kerr’s reputation or destroy it completely. Somehow, Kerr has to convince Nash that the team can win as it gets younger and cheaper. If he’s successful and Nash signs an extension, the Suns will, at the very least, be competitive and entertaining.

Bobcats had nice finish to season

The Gaston Gazette (Richard Walker) reports: Assuming the team can reach a deal with free agent point guard Raymond Felton, Charlotte is expected to have each of the key players who helped the team finish the season 28-29 after a disappointing 7-18 start. The Bobcats finished four games out of what would’ve been a first-ever playoff appear-ance by the five-year-old franchise. Felton and Raja Bell were the most frequent starters at guards, Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw at forwards and Emeka Okafor at center. Top reserves were guard D.J. Augustin, forward Vladimir Radmanovic and center DeSagana Diop. So, where do the Bobcats turn in this draft?Do they pursue a defensive-minded off-guard since Bell suffered nagging injuries late in the season? Do they add another athletic presence on the front line? Or do they simply go for the proverbial “best available talent?”

The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced it will play its first-ever game in Taipei when the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers tip off at the Taipei Arena on October 8, 2009. The announcement took place today in Taipei with NBA Greater China CEO Tim Chen, Mayor of Taipei Hau Lung-bin, Minister of the Sports Affairs Council Tai Hsia Ling, and President of Chinese Taipei Basketball Association Wang Ren-Da. Taipei will become the seventh Asian city to host an NBA game, following Beijing, Guangzhou, Macao, Shanghai, Tokyo and Yokohama.

More info on the NBA game in Taipei.

Timberwolves keeping Al Jefferson

The Boston Globe (Marc Spears) reports via blog: An NBA source said today that Minnesota forward-center Al Jefferson is not being traded to the Suns with the sixth overall pick for Suns All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire. An NBA executive told The Globe on Wednesday that the teams discussed the trade. But another source acknowledged the discussion, but also said the Suns were quickly turned down.

Timberwolves part ways with Kevin McHale

Minnesota Timberwolves part ways with Kevin McHale

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that the organization is parting ways with long-time basketball executive/head coach Kevin McHale. The NBA Hall of Famer spent 16 seasons with the Timberwolves organization in several different capacities, including VP of Basketball Operations and head coach.

“I would like to thank Kevin McHale for his many years of service to the Timberwolves organization,” said Wolves owner Glen Taylor. “When we hired David Kahn as our President of Basketball Operations, I gave him my full support to make an evaluation and decision regarding our coaching situation. I know that David made a careful analysis and this decision was made with the best interests of the Minnesota Timberwolves in mind. I will be forever grateful for the work Kevin did in returning to his home state and assembling a team that made eight straight playoff appearances. Kevin brought an enormous amount of basketball talent and passion to our organization and I wish him nothing but the best.”

“I have the deepest respect for Kevin McHale and his many accomplishments as a player, basketball executive and basketball coach — especially those that have occurred in the State of Minnesota,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn. “Under Kevin’s leadership, the Timberwolves reached the Western Conference Finals once and were a perennial playoff team for a number of years.

“I did not know Kevin McHale until I took this job and can tell you that he is an even better person than most understand. He is warm, bright, upbeat and relentlessly optimistic. He cares about making players the best they can be. Because of those qualities, I thought long and hard with him about whether we could create an environment where he and the team could succeed next season with him as head coach.

“We will have a team in transition for the next few years as we build through the draft, trades and free agency. Because of the changes that have already occurred and are likely forthcoming, I believed it would have been difficult for everybody involved to put Kevin in this position.

“I hope people will join me in recognizing the many successes Kevin had in building the Timberwolves.”

McHale began with the Wolves in 1993 after a storied career with the Boston Celtics, where he averaged 17.9 points and 7.3 rebounds over his 13-year career. McHale helped lead the Celtics to NBA titles in 1980, 1984 and 1986. With the Wolves, McHale moved from special assistant in 1993-94 to assistant general manager in 1994-95 to VP of Basketball Operations in 1995-96. This past season, McHale relinquished this role to take over the head coaching duties on Dec. 8, 2008. During McHale’s 14 seasons as VP of Basketball Operations/head coach the Wolves compiled a 527-526 record, made eight straight playoff appearances and played in the Western Conference Finals in 2004.

Read fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum topic.

Reggie Evans brings toughness to Raptors

Reggie Evans brings toughness to Raptors

The Toronto Star (Doug Smith) reports: “The only way you’re going to succeed in this game is certain people have to bring certain things to the table,” Reggie Evans said yesterday after taking his physical at the Air Canada Centre, the final step to completing the deal for Jason Kapono. “Like Chris Bosh: We look to him to get buckets, rebounds, that’s what he (does). Everybody has their different roles on a team, mine are to rebound and play some of the tougher guys at my position. “I have fun doing that, I don’t mind doing that, I love doing that. It’s a perfect fit … it’s going to be fun.” And pity the lazy Raptor who takes things lightly. “If I feel like something ain’t right, I’m not going to look at a coach and (say), `Coach, can you tell him?’” Evans said during a brief session with the media. “I’ll voice it myself.

According to Kevin Love via his Twitter account, Kevin McHale will not be back as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

UPDATE: He’s officially gone from the team. Read: Timberwolves part ways with Kevin McHale.

Today is a sad day…Kevin McHale will NOT be back as head coach next season,” said Minnesota’s power forward publically via the internet.

The young Wolves are rebuilding and feature prized young forward/center Al Jefferson and Love, who improved nicely during his rookie season.

The rest of the roster may or may not be around long-term. Randy Foye showed legit skills in 2008-09 and despite subpar shooting he had a nice season. Mike Miller was disappointing. Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith are solid. But there’s lots of building to be done.

Raptors extend qualifying offer to Carlos Delfino

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have extended a qualifying offer to restricted free agent guard-forward Carlos Delfino. Per team policy, financial details were not disclosed.

In accordance with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, in order for a team to retain its rights of first refusal with respect to a restricted free agent it 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 in favour of the NBA team for which the player last played.

Delfino played last season in Russia with BC Khimky Moscow in the Russia-A Superleague. He averaged 10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 23.2 minutes in 26 games. He had a season-high 25 points against Krasnoyarsk. He also appeared in 10 Eurocup outings, averaging 13.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in 27 minutes. He scored in double figures in eight games with a high of 19 points against Benetton.

The Raptors acquired Delfino from the Detroit Pistons on June 15, 2007 in exchange for a second-round pick in 2009 and 2010. He appeared in all 82 games in his lone season with the Raptors (2007-08), averaging 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds. He set career highs in points (738), rebounds (359), three-point field goals made (40) and attempted (123), free throws made (116) and attempted (156) and minutes (1928). He paced the reserves in scoring a team-best 31 times and scored in double figures a career-high 32 times, with five games of 20 or more points.

A first-round pick by Detroit (25th overall) in 2003, Delfino has averaged 5.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 282 regular season NBA games. He also played four seasons in Italy, two with Reggio Calabria (2000-02) and two with Skipper Bologna (2002-04). He has won an Olympic gold medal (2004) and a bronze medal (2008) as a member of the Argentina National Team.

2009 early entry list is official

Fifty-five players who had declared as early entry candidates for the 2009 NBA Draft have withdrawn. There are 39 collegiate and 10 international prospects that remain early entry candidates.

The 2009 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 25 at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Here is the offiical 2009 NBA Draft early entry underclassmen list, including those who stayed in as well as those who withdrew.

Basketball blog