Archive for July 1st, 2009

Ron Artest may be gone from Rockets

Ron Artest may be gone from Rockets

Houston Rockets forward Ron Artest is a free agent, and many teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, are interested in his services. The Cleveland Plain Dealer earlier Wednesday reported that the Cavs, with help from LeBron James, spoke to Artest about joining the team in the past day.

Artest on Twitter at around 10:05 p.m. ET Wednesday posted the following message: THANKS A LOT HOUSTON. :) I HAD A LOT OF FUN :)

This obviously suggests that Artest expects to sign with another NBA team.

UPDATE: Artest went on a Sacramento radio station late Wednesday night and said he’s basically just messing around on Twitter and not being serious. So, maybe he’s kidding with what he said above, maybe not.

The Los Angeles Times reports: Clearing the way for No. 1 pick Blake Griffin, the Clippers have agreed to trade power forward Zach Randolph to Memphis for former Clipper Quentin Richardson, The Times learned today. Because of salary-cap rules, the deal can’t be completed until next week… With Richardson under contract for only this season, the deal gets them out from under Randolph’s contract, which has two seasons, worth $33.3 million left on it.

JULY 17 UPDATE: TRADE IS OFFICIAL

The Memphis Grizzlies acquired power forward Zach Randolph from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for guard/forward Quentin Richardson, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

“We are pleased to acquire a player of Zach Randolph’s caliber,” Wallace said. “Zach is one of the best low-post scorers in the league and a force on the boards as well.  He will also bring much-needed experience to the team.”

The 6-9, 260-pounder averaged 20.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and shot 47.5 percent from the field over 35.1 minutes in 50 games (45 starts) last season with the Knicks and Clippers.  The 27-year-old was one of four players in 2008-09 to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds, joining Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Al Jefferson.

It marked the third 20-10 campaign in eight NBA seasons for Randolph, who has recorded 19.8 points and 9.8 rebounds in 388 games (368 starts) since becoming a full-time starter (2003-09).  In the Grizzlies’ 14-year history, only Shareef Abdur-Rahim has posted a 20-10 season (20.3 points, 10.1 rebounds in 1999-00).

The winner of the NBA’s 2003-04 Most Improved Player Award has averaged 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in 30.0 minutes on 46.6 percent shooting in 506 games (379 starts) in eight NBA seasons with the Clippers, the New York Knicks and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Randolph, who was previously acquired along with Mardy Collins by the Clippers from the Knicks on Nov. 21, 2008 in exchange for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas, is one of only five players to average at least 17 points and eight rebounds in each of the last six seasons (Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol).  He’s averaged a double-double in each of the past three seasons, despite playing for three different teams, and has recorded 191 double-doubles since the 2003-04 season (eighth among NBA players during that span).

The Marion, Ind. native was originally selected with the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft by the Trail Blazers after his freshman season at Michigan State University.  Randolph, nicknamed “Z-Bo,” scored a career-high 43 points on March 29, 2007 vs. Memphis as a member of the Trail Blazers.

Richardson was acquired by the Grizzlies from the Knicks on draft night (June 25, 2009) in exchange for center Darko Milicic.  The 6-6, 235-pound swingman averaged 10.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 72 games (51 starts) last season, his fourth with the Knicks.

A nine-year NBA veteran, Richardson holds career averages of 11.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 601 games (390 starts) with the Knicks, the Phoenix Suns and the Clippers, who originally selected him with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2000 NBA Draft.

Detroit Pistons to sign Charlie Villanueva

The AP reports: A person with the knowledge of the negotiations says the Detroit Pistons have agreed in principle to contracts with free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva… Villanueva, the seventh overall pick by Toronto in 2005 who has played the last three of his NBA season with the Milwaukee Bucks, also agreed to a five-year deal. His contract is worth at least $35 million. Villanueva averaged 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds last season for the Bucks.

InsideHoops.com editor says: The Pistons have a hole at the power forward position, and Villanueva should fill it as a starter, probably immediately.

Detroit Pistons coaching search

The AP reports: The Detroit Pistons don’t plan to wait long to name a replacement for fired coach Michael Curry. Joe Dumars, the Pistons’ president for basketball operations, doesn’t have a “complete list” of candidates but wants to act in less than a week, before next Tuesday’s opening practice for the NBA developmental league. “My goal is to have a head coach in place by the time we go out to Las Vegas,” Dumars said in a video posted on the team’s Web site. The NBA Summer League runs July 10-19.

Detroit Pistons, Ben Gordon agree to deal

The Detroit Pistons already have a great shooting guard in Richard Hamilton and a decent young guard in Rodney Stuckey, but they’re reportedly about to add some potent scoring ability to their backcourt.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reports that, according to a source, the team has reached an agreement with free-agent guard Ben Gordon on a five-year contract worth around $55 million.

Last season Gordon averaged 20.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 45.5% shooting (41.0% three-pointers) per game for the Bulls. He’s played for Chicago since entering the NBA in the 2004-05 season.

If the Pistons were to play small-ball, with Stuckey at point, Gordon at shooting guard and Hamilton at small forward, it would be one of the most undersized lineups in the league. Gordon is very strong, but has the height of a point guard. Hamilton is a very thin two-guard. So should the team put Gordon at the point, even though he’s definitely not a true floor general?

It’s also possible that Gordon is used as a scorer off the bench, similarly to how the Chicago Bulls used him for much of his time there. But generally, when a team pays a player $11 million per season, they expect the player to start.

Tough to say how Gordon will fit next to Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.

The team is reportedly also trying to add free agent power forward Charlie Villanueva, among others.

More tonight.

The Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday they have re-signed Eric Hughes and added Alvin Williams and Francesco Cuzzolin to their basketball staff. The three join assistant coaches Marc Iavaroni, Alex English and Micah Nori on head coach Jay Triano’s staff.

Hughes returns for his third season with the club, and his first as assistant coach/basketball development. He spent the past two seasons as a basketball development consultant.

Hughes was the director of summer player development for Goodwin Sports Management in Seattle from 2002-06, creating workout programs and training NBA players Jamal Crawford, Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Dwight Howard, Gary Payton, Nate Robinson and Rodney Stuckey. He was also the head coach at Spokane Community College in Spokane, Washington during that time. He compiled an 88-61 (.590) mark in his five seasons, leading the Bigfoot’s to the Eastern Region championship in 2005 and 2006. He was named Eastern Region Coach of the Year for those two seasons.

From 1993-2002, Hughes was an assistant at the University of Washington. His teams qualified for postseason play four consecutive seasons, going to the NIT in 1996 and 1997 and the NCAA Tournament in 1998 and 1999.

Hughes will serve his second consecutive term as Toronto’s head coach in the Las Vegas Summer League. The team will hold a training camp in Las Vegas July 7-9 and play five games from July 10-16.

Williams makes his first foray into coaching since he ended his NBA playing career in 2007. He will serve as assistant coach/basketball development.

One of the most beloved Raptors of all time, Williams spent nine seasons with the organization. He averaged 9.9 points and 4.3 assists in 417 regular season games and 12.5 points and 4.3 assists in 78 playoff appearances.

Williams scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Raptors to a Game 5 triumph over the New York Knicks in 2001, giving Toronto its lone playoff series victory in franchise history. He ranks among the team’s All-Time Top 10 in 14 statistical categories.

Williams will be an assistant coach to Hughes at the Las Vegas Summer League.

Cuzzolin will serve as the Raptors’ assistant coach/strength and conditioning. He brings to the team more than 20 years of professional experience of coaching, teaching and product development in the field of physical fitness and rehabilitation.

Cuzzolin spent 12 of the past 13 seasons with Benetton Treviso in the Italian Serie A League where his teams won the Italian League, Italian Supercup or European Saprta cup on 10 occasions. He also captured the Euroleague championship with Virtus Bologna in 2001.

For the past three summers Cuzzolin has been the strength and conditioning coach for the Russian National Team, including its European Championship squad in 2007 and its 2008 appearance at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Cuzzolin has previous experience working in an NBA environment serving on staff with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers during their summer training camps, as well as at the annual Rbk European Big Man Camp.

Cuzzolin is the president of the European Physical Conditioning Association and a professor at the University of Padua.

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that Head Coach Eddie Jordan has named Mike O’Koren as Associate Head Coach and will retain Jim Lynam and Aaron McKie as assistant coaches for the upcoming season.  Jordan was named the Sixers head coach on June 1, 2009.

O’Koren and McKie will represent the Sixers on the sideline as part of their joint Orlando Summer League team with the New Jersey Nets.

“I am excited to be joined on the bench by three coaches with a wealth of basketball knowledge and for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect,” Jordan said. “My staff has a common vision for this team and how we will play, and I truly look forward to working with them to achieve our goals.”

O’Koren begins his first season as the Sixers Associate Head Coach after spending five full seasons with Coach Jordan in the same capacity with the Washington Wizards.  The former North Carolina All-American joined the Wizards staff after serving as an assistant coach alongside Coach Jordan on the New Jersey Nets bench from 1999-2003, where they helped guide the Nets to back-to-back Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference Championships in 2002 and 2003.

After a stand-out college career at North Carolina – where he was a three-time All-American and a four-year starter – O’Koren was drafted by the Nets with the sixth overall selection in the 1980 NBA Draft.  He averaged 8.5 points in his seven NBA seasons with the Nets, including a career-high 11.4 points per game during the 1981-82 season.

Lynam, a veteran of more than 23 years in the NBA coaching ranks, returns to the sidelines in 2009-10.  With an NBA resume that includes 10 seasons as a head coach with three different teams – San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers (1983-85), Philadelphia 76ers (1987-92) and Washington Bullets (1995-97) – Lynam has compiled 328 wins.  In his four-plus seasons as head coach of the Sixers, he led them to a 194-173 record and was runner-up for NBA Coach of the Year during the 1989-90 season.

McKie returns for his second season as an assistant coach after originally joining the coaching staff on Oct. 3, 2007.  Since he never officially retired as a player, his rights still belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers, who signed McKie to a contract in order to package him in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol on Feb. 1, 2008.  Although he did not appear in a game, McKie spent the remainder of the season on the Grizzlies roster before being waived on May 9, 2008. He returned to the Sixers on September 30, 2008.

In 793 career games with 287 starts, McKie averaged 7.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.15 steals in 24.2 minutes per game.  He enjoyed his best season as a Sixer in 2000-01, taking home Sixth Man of the Year honors while helping Philadelphia reach the NBA Finals.  That same season, he recorded back-to-back triple-doubles at Sacramento on Dec. 30, 2000 (19 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds) and vs. Atlanta on Jan. 3, 2001 (11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).

The Chicago Bulls announced today that Randy Brown has been hired as Director of Player Development.  In accordance with club policy, terms of the contract were not announced.

“We are excited to have Randy back in the Bulls organization in his role as Director of Player Development,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman.  “In this new role, Randy will work with players before and after practice, overseeing on-court skills development.  As a former player and coach in our league, I feel Randy’s experience will be of great benefit to our young players in numerous areas of their development.”

Brown, 41, joins the Bulls after spending the last two seasons as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings.  A 12-year veteran of the NBA, Brown played for the Sacramento Kings (1991-1995), Chicago Bulls (1995-2000), Boston Celtics (2000-02), and Phoenix Suns (2002-03).  During his five seasons as a member of the Bulls, the Chicago native was a member of three NBA Championship teams (1996, 1997, 1998), including the 1996 squad that won an NBA-record 72 games during the regular season.

“It’s great to be back with the Bulls, and come home to Chicago once again.  The Bulls are one of the best organizations in the NBA, one that I have always had a fondness for,” said Brown.  “I look forward to getting started, and working with our players to help them advance and strengthen their skills.”

Originally drafted by the Kings in the second round (31st overall) of the 1991 NBA Draft, Brown appeared in 655 contests and finished his career with averages of 4.8 ppg, 2.2 apg and 1.8 rpg in 17.6 mpg.

University of Cincinnati head men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin announced today that Lance Stephenson (Brooklyn, N.Y./Abraham Lincoln), a 6-6 forward and a 2009 McDonald’s High School All-American, has signed a financial aid agreement with the Bearcats and will join the team for the 2009-10 season.

“We are very excited about Lance’s decision to become a Bearcat,” said Cronin. “Lance has terrific talent as a basketball player, and is also a fierce competitor on the court. His desire to win will help us compete for a BIG EAST Championship.

“As a big guard, Lance brings playmaking ability and versatility to our team, along with his talent for scoring. We look forward to getting Lance here for summer school and building our team for the upcoming season.”

Stephenson joins the Bearcats after a highly-decorated prep career at Lincoln, where he averaged 28.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists to earn Class AA New York State Sports Writers Association (NYSSWA) Player of the Year honors his senior year. He graduated high school as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the state of New York with 2,946 points, passing fellow Lincoln High grad Sebastian Telfair, who was the 13th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft and now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In 2008-09, Stephenson led Lincoln to an overall record of 22-11 and an unprecedented fourth consecutive Public School Athletic League (PSAL) Class AA championship. He scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 78-56 victory over John F. Kennedy in the league championship game. Stephenson, a three-time NYSSWA first-team selection, led the Railsplitters to state semifinals appearances his final three seasons, including Federation Tournament championships in 2007 and 2008.

Selected to play in the 2009 McDonald’s All-American Game, Stephenson finished his high school career with 12 points, six assists and three steals as his East squad knocked off the West, 113-110, in the annual high school all-star showcase.

Stephenson joins fellow incoming freshmen Sean Kilpatrick and Jaquon Parker to complete Cronin’s fourth recruiting class at UC. Also joining the first-year newcomers will be Ibrahima Thomas and Eddie Tyree, who both sat out last year after transferring. Tyree is eligible at the start of the season, while Thomas will sit out until the completion of the first quarter since he transferred following the first quarter last year. Finally, redshirt freshman Cashmere Wright, a nationally-ranked point guard, rounds out the five incoming players after missing last season with a knee injury.

For the fourth straight year, the Bearcats look to improve their win total from the year before, climbing from 11 victories in Cronin’s first year in 2006-07 to 13 in 2007-08 to 18 2008-09. This season, Cincinnati returns its most experienced squad since Cronin’s arrival, including two-time all-BIG EAST Conference guard Deonta Vaughn (15.3 ppg and 4.7 apg in 2008-09) and 2009 BIG EAST all-Rookie honoree Yancy Gates (10.6 ppg and 6.1 rpg).

Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor announced today that the team has signed guard Eric Maynor, the Jazz’s first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2009 NBA Draft.  Per team policy, financial terms were not released.

Maynor is expected to participate in the Jazz’s mini-camp in preparation for the 2009 Orlando Pro Summer League.  Camp is scheduled to open today at RDV SportsPlex in Maitland, Fla., and will run through Sunday, July 5.  Maynor will then make his professional debut when the Jazz opens its Orlando Pro Summer League schedule vs. Boston at 5 p.m. MT on July 6.

Maynor (6-3, 175, Virginia Commonwealth) was named the 2008-09 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Player of the Year, taking home the award for the second straight season.  The 22-year-old point guard also received Sports Illustrated All-America Second Team and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America honors and was named VaSID State Player of the Year and Richmond Times Dispatch State Player of the Year.  A finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, Maynor led the CAA for the third consecutive season in assists per game (6.2) while also leading the league as a senior in scoring per game (22.4).

Maynor concluded his four-year collegiate career as VCU’s all-time leading scorer (1,953) and assist-man (674).  VCU retired Maynor’s No. 3 during his final home game as a Ram.  The native of Raeford, N.C., attended Westover High School and led the Wolverines to the state championship game as a senior.

Maynor is the first-ever Jazz draft selection from VCU and he also became the first player drafted from the school since the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Sherron Mills with the 29th pick in 1993.  He is the first VCU Ram ever taken in the first round of the NBA Draft and the first player from the CAA selected since 1999.

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