Archive for August, 2009

76ers sign Primoz Brezec

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the team has signed free agent center Primoz Brezec.

“We feel that Primoz will provide us with additional size and depth in the front court, but just as beneficial is the wealth of experience he brings to the team not only on the NBA level, but internationally as well,” Stefanski said.

Brezec (7-1, 255) has appeared in 321 games with 214 starts across seven NBA seasons with Indiana, Charlotte, Detroit and Toronto.  For his career, he has averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 19.0 minutes per game while shooting 50.0% from the floor and 70.6% from the line.

Last season, Brezec played for Lottomatica Virtus Roma of the Italian League.  He started the 2007-08 season with the Bobcats before being traded to the Pistons and then the Raptors.

Originally the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2000 NBA Draft by Indiana, Brezec played three seasons with the Pacers before being selected by Charlotte in the  2004 expansion draft.

Brezec’s best season came during the Bobcats inaugural campaign in 2004-05.  He averaged career highs of 13.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 and 0.76 blocks in 31.6 minutes per game while ranking 13th in the league with 3.1 offensive boards per game.

A member of the Slovenian National Team, Brezec has competed in the 2003 and 2005 FIBA European Championships and the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

InsideHoops.com editor says: The 76ers adding Primoz Brezec is like the Celtics adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, or Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. OK, but seriously, Brezec is a solid backup and he’s good enough to have stayed in the league this whole time, instead of going overseas like he did. He’s also a very good interview and is totally outspoken about just about anything.

Preseason schedule is here

The 2009-10 NBA preseason schedule is available and listed on InsideHoops.com.

Games start October 1 and end October 23.

Then,  the regular season starts October 27.

Preseason games mean very little as far as wins and losses go. Each team’s stars often play very limited minutes. Still, they’re worth watching to see how the individual players look, and how a team’s core guys look for the select parts of the game they’re actually on the floor.

The New Jersey Nets will not play any 2009-10 preseason games in their own arena.

The team will open with a seven-game preseason schedule that includes three home contests, two of which will be played at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ and the other on the campus of St. John’s University in Queens, NY, Nets President Rod Thorn announced today.

“We are pleased to offer the three preseason ‘home’ games in these two venues,” said Thorn.  “The different sites will add vitality to the preseason, which should be beneficial to both our players and fans.”

The Nets will host the Boston Celtics in the first of two contests at ‘The Rock’ on Tuesday, October 13, and then return to Newark on Wednesday, October 21 when they play host to their cross-river rivals, the New York Knicks.  Both contests in Newark will start at 7:00 PM.  The Nets conclude their preseason home schedule on Friday, October 23 when they host the Philadelphia 76ers at Carnesecca Arena at St. John’s University, game time at 8:00 PM.

The Nets begin their preseason schedule on the road on Sunday, October 4 as they travel to Albany to take on the Knicks at the Times-Union Center at 2:00 PM.

The team will continue their road slate on Friday, October 9 at Philadelphia at 7:00 PM, and then travel to Boston for an afternoon game against the Celtics on Sunday, October 11 at 1:00 PM.

The Nets will travel to Manhattan for their final road game on Friday, October 16 when they play New York at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 PM.

The AP reports: Jeremy Tyler completed his jump from high school underclassman to pro basketball player on Wednesday when he signed a one-year, $140,000 contract with Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Premier League. Tyler, 18, is the first American-born player to leave high school early to play basketball professionally overseas. The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Tyler announced in the spring that he was skipping his senior season at San Diego High because prep basketball had become boring.

The New York Times reports: The 6-foot-9 Tyler chose Haifa over offers from teams in Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Slovenia. Sonny Vaccaro, an adviser to Tyler, said that Tyler could have earned more money elsewhere but that Haifa offered English-speaking coaches and the best situation for playing time. “It feels good, but it doesn’t feel like mission accomplished,” Tyler, 18, said. “It feels good that I’m going to go over there and will become a better basketball player. I’m excited, anxious and ready. All of the above.” … He will be eligible for the N.B.A. draft in 2011, which means he will very likely play two years overseas.

InsideHoops.com editor says: So instead of being surrounded by little kids on a HS basketball court, Tyler will make 140k and play with adults he can actually learn from. And then instead of being a college freshman a year later, he’ll probably do the same, perhaps for a bit more money. So he’ll have earned a quarter million dollars or so in two years before most players earn a penny (aside from the under the table stuff that just about every good young player gets). The thing is, I don’t think an overseas team is going to go out of their way to train him more than they would any other player, considering he’s only committed to be there for one year. Still, he should at least get way more out of being there for a year than he would as a HS senior.

Detroit Pistons sign Ben Wallace

Pistons sign Ben Wallace

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has signed free agent center Ben Wallace.  Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to announce Ben Wallace’s return to the Pistons organization,” said Dumars.  “Ben played an integral part in the success of the franchise from 2001-2006 and we feel there is a role for him on our team this season.  His size and experience will provide depth in the front court while his work ethic and commitment to winning will help our club throughout the year.”

Wallace, 34, has NBA career averages of 6.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 30.9 minutes in 903 games (785 starts) with Washington, Orlando, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland.  The 13-year veteran played in Detroit from 2000 to 2006 where he was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year and an NBA All-Star four times.  Wallace was an All-NBA Second Team selection three times (2003, 2004, 2006), All-NBA Third Team selection twice (2002 and 2005) and an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection five times (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006).  The Pistons made the playoffs in five of the six years he was in Detroit, winning Eastern Conference Championships in 2004 and 2005 and the NBA Championship in 2004.  Wallace is the franchise’s all-time leader in regular-season and playoff blocks (1,297 and 215, respectively) and ranks first among all-time playoff leaders in rebounds (1,237).  He holds franchise single-game records for blocks in a game (10 – twice), defensive rebounds in a quarter (10) and blocks in a quarter (6).  During the 2006-07 season, he became just the fifth player in NBA history to record 100 blocks and 100 steals for seven consecutive seasons joining Hakeem Olajuwon (12 times), Julius Erving (seven times), Sam Lacey (seven times) and David Robinson (seven times).  Wallace ranks fifth among active players in career blocks with 1,948 and led the NBA in blocks during the 2001-02 season (3.48 bpg).

Originally acquired by the Pistons along with Chucky Atkins in exchange for Grant Hill as part of a sign-and-trade deal with Orlando (8/3/00), Wallace signed with Chicago as a free agent on July 13, 2006.  He was traded by Chicago to Cleveland as part of a three-team trade on February 21, 2008.

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Hornets trade Rasual Butler to Clippers

Hornets trade Rasual Butler to Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers today acquired veteran swingman Rasual Butler and cash from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for a conditional second round draft pick in 2016.

Acccording to the Los Angeles Times, “the Hornets are expected to save about $8 million with the trade, including Butler’s $3.9-million contract and luxury tax implications. Meanwhile, the Clippers are absorbing his salary, thanks to a $7.3-million trade exception they had after shipping Zach Randolph last month to the Memphis Grizzlies.”

“Today’s move allows us to increase our financial flexibility while at the same time gives us an opportunity to improve at that position,” said Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower. “Due to the depth we have, it will allow us to open up minutes and opportunities for Julian Wright, Morris Peterson and rookie Marcus Thornton, all of whom we anticipate great contributions from this season.”

“We are very excited to add Rasual to our roster,” stated Clippers Head Coach and General Manager Mike Dunleavy. “We believe he is another piece who will help us get back to being a competitive playoff team.”

The seven-year NBA veteran registered his most productive season in 2008-09, averaging 11.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 31.9 minutes while playing in all 82 games (74 starts) for the Hornets. Butler also connected on 40 percent of his field goals and 37 percent of his shots from behind the three-point line last season. In five playoff games for the Hornets in 2009, Butler tallied 10.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per contest.

Over his career, Butler has tallied 8.3 points and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range.

Butler was originally drafted out of La Salle University by the Miami Heat in the second round (53rd overall selection) of the 2002 NBA Draft. After three seasons in Miami, Butler was eventually sent to the Hornets on August 2, 2005 as part of a five team, 13 player trade.

The Philadelphia native finished his four-year collegiate career as the fourth-leading scorer (19.1 ppg) in La Salle history and ranked fourth on the Explorers’ all-time three-point field goals made (282 3FGM) list.

InsideHoops.com editor says: This trade saves the Hornets money but makes them a bit worse, while the Clippers improve a bit.

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Houston Rockets sign David Andersen

Houston Rockets to sign David Andersen

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has signed center David Andersen to a multi-year contract. The Houston Chronicle reports that the deal is for three years.

The Rockets originally acquired the rights to Andersen from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for cash and future considerations on July 14.

Andersen (6-11, 245, Australia), who was originally selected by Atlanta in the second round (37th overall) of the 2002 NBA Draft, joined the Rockets after spending the 2008-09 season with Regal FC Barcelona in Spain. Andersen averaged 11.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in helping FC Barcelona win the 2008-09 Spanish National Championship and a berth into the Euroleague Final Four. Andersen’s list of international accomplishments also includes three Euroleague titles with Virtus Bologna (2001) and CSKA Moscow (2006 and 2008). In addition, he was named to the 2004-05 All-Euroleague First Team while playing with CSKA Moscow.

A native of Carlton, Victoria, Andersen started his career at the Australian Institute of Sport before signing professionally with the Wollongong Hawks of the Australian NBL (1998-99). He then spent four seasons in Italy with Virtus Bologna (1999-2003) where he won the 2000-01 Italian National Championship, as well as the 2001 and 2002 Italian National Cup. Andersen joined Mens Sana Basket Siena for the 2003-04 campaign and helped capture another Italian National Championship that season. He played another four seasons with CSKA Moscow (2004-08), winning the 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 Russian National Championship. While with CSKA Moscow, Andersen also helped capture the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Russian National Cup.

Andersen participated with the Australian National Team in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, averaging 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds with Australia during the 2008 Beijing Games. He also took home a gold medal at the 2005 and 2007 Oceania Championship. A member of the Australian U-18 and U-22 National Teams, Andersen was named the 1998 Australian Junior Male Player of the Year.

Wizards sign Fabricio Oberto

Wizards sign Fabricio Oberto

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed free agent forward/center Fabricio Oberto.  The Washington Times reports that the deal is for one year and $1.99 million.

“Fabricio is a proven winner with extensive playoff experience,” said Grunfeld.  “He is a skilled big man and a rugged veteran that augments our frontcourt depth at both the center and power forward positions.”

Oberto (6-10, 245) has career averages of 3.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game with a .572 field goal percentage in four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs.  Originally signed by San Antonio in 2005, Oberto was the starting center on the Spurs’ 2007 NBA Championship team.  A native of Argentina, Oberto has been playing professionally since 1993 and helped guide his home country to the gold medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.  Previously this summer, Oberto was traded to Detroit as a key figure in the five-player deal that sent Richard Jefferson to San Antonio (he was subsequently waived by the Pistons).

InsideHoops.com editor says: With the experience Oberto has, he makes any bench stronger and is better than most backups at the center position. Which these days isn’t saying much. Still, decent pickup.

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Cavaliers sign Leon Powe

Cavaliers likely signing Leon Powe

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed free agent forward Leon Powe to a contract, Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry announced today. Per team and league policy, terms of the contract were not released. It may be a two year deal for the league minimum. We’ll post more info on that later today.

Powe, 25, played in 70 games (seven starts) this past season for the Boston Celtics and averaged 7.7 points on .524 shooting and a career-best 4.9 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game. In his seven starts, he averaged 14.3 points on .576 shooting, 8.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 25.9 minutes per game. The 6-foot-8 forward recorded career highs in scoring (30), blocks (5) and assists (3) and added 11 rebounds in 41 minutes versus Memphis on March 13th. He scored in double figures on 25 occasions and notched five double-doubles during the season. He experienced a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee during Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls in the First Round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs and missed the remainder of the playoffs. In 189 games (14 starts) during his three seasons in Boston, he has career averages of 6.6 points on .523 shooting and 4.2 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.

“Leon is a high quality player and person. His tough, gritty play has already contributed in big playoff games during his young career,” Ferry said. “As he continues to work rehabilitating his injury, we would look to hopefully see him return towards the end of the season.”

The California native played 23 of his 25 career postseason games during the Celtics’ run to the 2008 NBA Championship. He averaged 5.0 points on .493 shooting and 2.7 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game in the 2008 postseason, including a 21-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.InsideHoops.com editor says: Assuming he’s healthy, Powe is a fantastic addition to any bench in the league.

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Pau Gasol has broken finger

Pau Gasol has broken finger

The Long Beach Press-Telegram (Elliot Teaford) reports: Pau Gasol broke his left middle finger while practicing with the Spanish national team in Seville and underwent surgery Monday, Lakers spokesman John Black said. It’s unknown how long Gasol might be sidelined. Black received the news of the power forward/center’s injury via a telephone call from Gasol’s Spain-based agent, Arturo Ortega. A Spanish Web site reported Gasol hurt his left index finger while trying to block teammate Felipe Reyes’ shot and was taken to a local hospital.

The Los Angeles Times (Mark Medina) reports (via blog): Lakers spokesman John Black said he received a call from Gasol’s agent, Arn Tellem, who told him that Gasol broke the middle finger of his left hand, had surgery today and is expected to make a full recovery

The Arlington Heights Daily Herald (Mike McGraw) reports (via blog): Ben Wallace agreed to rejoin the Pistons this week, returning three years after signing the $60 million free-agent deal with the Bulls. This would have been Wallace’s final season with that contract, but he agreed to a buyout with Phoenix. I doubt if Wallace ever wanted to leave Detroit in the first place, but he was encouraged by relatives to take the bigger payday. Once he got here, I think Wallace tried his best, but he was clearly uncomfortable in the spotlight. Then he just couldn’t keep up the pace of being a high-energy, undersized center and his body broke down. Wallace doesn’t figure to spend much time on the court this season. Will his mentoring help turn Charlie Villanueva and Chris Wilcox into all-stars? I doubt the Bulls should be worried.

Von Wafer to sign in Greece

Eurobasket.com reports: Von Wafer (196-G-85, college: Florida St.) is about to join the Greek powerhouse Olympiakos. The 24-year-old guard spent the last season in the NBA playing for the Houston Rockets. He averaged 9.5 points, 1.7 boards and 1.1 assists per game. The Florida State University graduate Von Wafer was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2005. He also played for the Colorado 14ers and the fort Worth Flyers in the D-League as well as the Nuggets, the Clipper and the Trail Blazers in the NBA. The contract is meant for two seasons.

76ers re-sign Royal Ivey

76ers re-sign Royal Ivey

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the team has re-signed free agent guard Royal Ivey.  The deal may just be for one-year and the league minimum, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

On June 15, Ivey declined the player option on his contract for the 2009-10 season, making him an unrestricted free agent.

“We are fortunate to be able to bring back Royal Ivey, an experienced guard with good size who is familiar with our team and core philosophies,” Stefanski said. “Prior to making a decision on signing an additional guard, Coach Jordan expressed his interest in acquiring a player who puts the team first and plays aggressive defense, both qualities embodied by Royal.”

Ivey (6-4/215) appeared in 71 games off the bench for the Sixers last season, averaging 3.0 points and 1.1 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.  For the season, he had 36 steals to 23 turnovers, posting the sixth-highest steal-to-turnover ratio (1.56) of any player in the league.

After averaging just 8.0 minutes per game his first 21 games played last season, Ivey averaged 13.9 mpg over the final 50 games of 2008-09.  He recorded career-highs in 3-pointers made (39) and free throw percentage (.791).

Ivey was originally selected by Atlanta with the 37th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.  Following three years with the Hawks, he played one season for Milwaukee in 2007-08 prior to signing with the Sixers last summer.

A four-year starter at the University of Texas, Ivey helped guide the Longhorns to the NCAA Tournament each season, including three consecutive Sweet 16 berths and one Final Four appearance. He was a two-time Big 12 Conference All-Defensive team selection and was named third-team All-Big 12 by the media his senior season.

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the team has hired Brian Hill as an assistant coach.  Per club policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to welcome Brian Hill as an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons,” said Dumars.  “Brian has vast NBA experience as both a head coach and assistant coach and he will help our coaching staff and players in a variety of ways.”

Hill’s coaching career has spanned over 36 years, including head coaching positions with Orlando (twice) and Vancouver and assistant coaching positions with New Orleans, Atlanta, Orlando and New Jersey.  He most recently served as an assistant coach with the Nets for the last two seasons (2007-2009).

The East Orange, New Jersey native spent three and a half seasons with the Orlando Magic during his first head coaching appointment, 1993-96, guiding the club to a 191-104 (.647) record.  He led the team to three playoff appearances, back-to-back Atlantic Division titles, consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals (1994-95 and 1995-96) and the 1995 NBA Finals.  He posted a home record of 122-26 (.824) while with the Magic, including 40 consecutive wins spanning from March 12, 1995, through March 19, 1996.  His record over his first three seasons as a head coach (167-79, .679) ranks third in NBA history behind Pat Riley and Phil Jackson and he ranks as the ninth fastest head coach to reach 100 victories, accomplishing the feat in 149 games.  Hill coached the Eastern Conference All-Stars at the NBA All-Star Game in 1995.

Hill was named as head coach of the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1997-98, becoming the franchise’s third head coach, and compiled a record of 31-123 in two-plus seasons.  After serving on Lawrence Frank’s New Jersey Nets staff in 2004-05, he returned to Orlando for his second head coaching stint.  Hill led the Magic to a 76-88 record during his second tenure with the club, guiding the team to a playoff berth in 2006-07.

Hill’s coaching career includes high school as well as 17 years at the collegiate level.  He was the head coach at Lehigh for eight seasons and held assistant coaching positions at Montclair State, Lehigh and Penn State.  He got his NBA coaching start in 1986, serving as an assistant to Mike Fratello with the Atlanta Hawks.

Celtics re-sign Glen Davis

Celtics re-sign Glen Davis

The Boston Celtics announced today that the club has re-signed forward Glen Davis to a contract.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. We’ll post contract details later today.

“Glen has been a big part of our success for the past two years and we are very excited to have him back,” said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations.

Davis, a 6’9”, 289 lbs, forward has spent two seasons with the Celtics and had a breakout 2008-09 season in which he averaged 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.  The former LSU Tiger continued his breakout campaign in the 2009 playoffs during which he averaged 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Davis made 16 starts during the 2008-09 regular season and averaged 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in 33.0 minutes per game.

“Big Baby” scored a career-high 24 points against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 21, 2009.  Davis also hit the biggest shot of his career to date when he nailed a game-winning jumper against the Orlando Magic in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to send the series back to Boston tied 2-2.

During the First Round of the 2009 playoffs against the Chicago Bulls, Davis averaged 18.1 points and 6.7 rebounds.

Timberwolves to hire Kurt Rambis as head coach

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that Kurt Rambis and the team have reached an agreement in principle to make Rambis the ninth head coach in the team’s 20-year history. Per team policy, terms of the agreed-upon contract were not released. Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn will host a press conference at 2:00 p.m. today (Monday) in the Target Center media room to address the agreement. Rambis is scheduled to be introduced as Timberwolves Head Coach at a 1:00 p.m. press conference tomorrow (Tuesday, Aug. 11).

“After a six-week search and thorough interview process, I feel that in Kurt Rambis we have found the best person to lead and develop our young team as head coach,” Kahn said. “Kurt is talented and hard-working, and his many years in the NBA as a player, administrator and coach have prepared him well for this opportunity.”

Rambis, 51, will join the Wolves after serving as an assistant coach on Phil Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers staff for seven seasons (2001-04, 2005-09). As an assistant, Rambis helped guide the Los Angeles to four NBA Finals appearances (2002, 2004, 2008, 2009), with the Lakers winning the NBA Championship in 2002 and 2009. Rambis also served as an assistant coach on Del Harris’ staff from 1994-98. Twelve games into the 1998-99 season, Rambis took over as the Lakers’ interim head coach. He tied an NBA record with nine consecutive victories to start his head coaching career and compiled a 24-13 overall record, leading the team to the Western Conference Semifinals.

Rambis also served in the Lakers’ front office in three different capacities. He served as advisor and assistant general manager from 1999-2001, and held the title of Vice President of Business and Basketball Integration during the 2004-05 season before rejoining Jackson’s coaching staff midway through the campaign.

As a player, Rambis played 14 seasons in the NBA (1981-95), including nine seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers (1981-88, 1993-95), as well as stops in Charlotte, Phoenix and Sacramento. A member of the Los Angeles Lakers during the team’s “Showtime” era, Rambis helped the club win four NBA titles (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988).

For his career, Rambis averaged 5.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in 880 games. His best season, statistically, was 1988-89 with the expansion Charlotte Hornets when he averaged career highs with 11.1 points and 9.4 rebounds.

The Cupertino, Calif., native played college basketball at Santa Clara University, where he still ranks first in points (1,735) and second in rebounds (1,037). Rambis earned West Coast Athletic Conference (WCAC) Freshman of the Years honors and was named the WCAC Player of the Year following his senior season.

Linas Kleiza to play in Greece

Denver Nuggets free agent forward Linas Kleiza is going to sign with Olympiakos, the famous team in Greece, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo.

The deal will reportedly be for two-years, but Kleiza will have the option to end the contract after one season.

Denver has had a quiet off-season, losing Dahntay Jones and now Kleiza. They did add point guard Ty Lawson, who could be a good backup to Chauncey Billups, in the 2009 NBA Draft.

Ira Newble to play in Greece

Ira Newble to play in Greece

NBA free agent guard/forward Ira Newble will reportedly head overseas for the 2009-10 season.

According to a video posted on YouTube by Los Angeles-based reporter Elie Seckbach, Newble is signing with Aris BC in Greece.

Newble’s last NBA action was in the 2007-08 season, when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Seattle SuperSonics and Los Angeles Lakers.

Over the course of his NBA career, the 6-7, 220-pound player averaged 5.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.

AUGUST 10 UPDATE: Eurobasket.com is also reporting this news.

Boston Celtics sign Shelden Williams

Boston Celtics sign Shelden Williams

The Boston Celtics announced today that the club has signed free agent center/forward Shelden Williams to a contract.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Williams, a 6’9”, 250 lbs center/forward, was originally drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks.  The former Duke Blue Devil has posted career averages of 4.7 points and 4.2 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game.  After being acquired by the Minnesota Timberwolves from the Sacramento Kings on February 19, 2009, he appeared in 15 games for his new team and averaged 4.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game.

InsideHoops.com editor says: I haven’t seen that Williams is a particularly good backup yet. Usually I’m able to at least say that a guy helps a team’s bench. I’m not saying that isn’t the case with Shelden, but he hasn’t really shown much so far. Still, he’s a young player and hopefully still improving.

Nuggets trade Steven Hunter to Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies received a protected 2010 first round draft pick, along with center Steven Hunter and cash considerations from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for a future conditional second round draft pick, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

ESPN reports that, factoring in the luxury tax, removing Hunter’s $3.7 million dollar salary will save the Nuggets $7.4 million next year.

The future protected first round draft pick from Denver could potentially give the Grizzlies three first round selections in next year’s NBA Draft. In addition to its own pick, Memphis is owed the Lakers’ 2010 first round draft pick to complete the Pau Gasol trade with the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 1, 2008.

“This trade provides us with a probable 2010 first round pick that will bring our total to three first round picks in hand for the next draft,” Wallace said.  “We are a team which emphasizes the draft and next year’s draft is projected to be strong.  This draft pick from Denver provides us with increased options for the future.”

Hunter, a seven-year NBA veteran, holds career averages of 4.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 15.4 minutes in 379 games (130 starts) with the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic. The 7-0, 240-pounder from DePaul sat out the 2008-09 season after undergoing successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Nov. 14, 2008.

Originally selected by the Magic with the 15th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, the Maywood, Ill. native was a key reserve on the Phoenix Suns’ franchise record-tying 62-win team in 2004-05, averaging 4.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and a career-best 1.3 blocks in 13.8 minutes in a career-high 76 games (three starts).

The 27-year old enjoyed his best statistical season with the Sixers in 2006-07, posting career highs in points (6.4 ppg), rebounds (4.8 rpg), minutes (22.9) and starts (41). The Sixers traded him to the Nuggets along with Bobby Jones in exchange for Reggie Evans and the draft rights to Ricky Sanchez on Sept. 10, 2007.

The Grizzlies’ roster now stands at 13 players, including an NBA-high four players (Hunter, Marc Gasol, Hamed Haddadi and Hasheem Thabeet) who are 7-0 or taller.

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