Archive for September, 2009

Trail Blazers sign Ime Udoka

The Trail Blazers have signed forward Ime Udoka, General Manager Kevin Pritchard announced today.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We’re really excited about having Ime back,” said Pritchard. “He played a key role in our resurgence and we look forward to adding a player of his talent, character and experience to what is shaping up to be a very competitive camp roster.”

Udoka (6-5, 220), a five-year NBA veteran, has posted career averages of 6.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 20.4 minutes in 227 games (78 starts) with the L.A. Lakers, New York, Portland and San Antonio.

The 32-year-old saw action in 67 games, including three starts, with San Antonio in 2008-09. He averaged 4.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 15.4 minutes.

As a Trail Blazer in 2006-07, Udoka experienced his best season as a professional, notching career highs of 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 28.6 minutes in 75 games (all starts). His .461 field goal percentage and .406 three-point percentage also marked career bests.

A Portland native and Jefferson High School graduate, Udoka played his senior season and graduated from Portland State University in 2000.

Trail Blazers training camp tips off on Tuesday, September 29.

Knicks re-sign David Lee

Knicks re-sign David Lee

New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that forward David Lee has been re-signed to a contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. It’s been widely reported that that the deal is for one year.

“While this was a long process, we always wanted David to remain in New York and we are very happy to have him re-signed,” said Walsh. “David really flourished playing for Coach D’Antoni last year and we once again expect him to play a big role for us this season.”

Lee, 6-9, 240-pounds, averaged career-highs of 16.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 34.9 minutes in a career-high 81 games during the 2008-09 season. He also posted a league-high 65 double-doubles, while also ranking third in the NBA in rebounding and seventh in field goal percentage.

Lee was drafted by New York with the 30th overall selection in the 2005 NBA Draft and has career averages of 10.9 points and 9.0 rebounds in 287 career games over four NBA seasons with the Knicks. The University of Florida product set the Knicks franchise record for field goal percentage, shooting .600 from the floor in 58 games during the 2006-07 season. Lee was also named Most Valuable Player of the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge at 2007 All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas, after scoring a game-high 30 points.

Knicks re-sign Nate Robinson

Knicks re-sign Nate Robinson

New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that guard Nate Robinson has been re-signed to a contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. It’s been widely reported to be a one-year deal.

“We are very happy to have reached an agreement with Nate,” Walsh said. “Nate established himself as one of the top reserves in the game last season and we expect him to play a key role for us this season.”

Robinson, 5-9, 180-pounds, averaged career-highs of 17.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 29.9 minutes in a career-high 74 games during the 2008-09 season and finished third in the voting for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. The Seattle, WA-native was also the winner of the 2009 Sprite Slam Dunk competition at NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix and joined Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Harold Miner and Jason Richardson as the only two-time winners of the competition. Robinson first won the award at the 2006 dunk contest in Houston.

Robinson has career averages of 12.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 282 career games over four NBA seasons all with New York. The University of Washington product was originally drafted following his junior season by the Phoenix Suns with the 21st overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft, before having his draft rights traded to New York on draft night.

Pacers extend contract of coach Jim O`Brien

The Indiana Pacers today announced that they have exercised the team option to extend Coach Jim O’Brien’s contract for one additional year.

Pursuant to team policy, terms of contracts were not disclosed.

“We are very happy to get the option done on Jim’s contract,” said Larry Bird, President of Pacers Basketball Operations. “When I interviewed Jim for this job, he was committed to everything we want to do. We both feel we’re moving in the right direction.”

“I appreciate (owner) Herb (Simon) and Larry’s confidence as we move toward getting this franchise back to where it belongs,” said O’Brien. “I love Indianapolis and all of the fans in Indiana, and I remain committed to bringing a championship to the Indiana Pacers.”

Rockets re-sign GM Daryl Morey

Houston Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander announced today that he has re-signed Daryl Morey as the team’s General Manager and Managing Director of Basketball Operations. Morey is entering his fourth season with the organization and his third as the team’s head of all basketball operations. As per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“Daryl has displayed great leadership during his three years overseeing our basketball operations,” said Alexander. “In his short time here, Daryl has already established himself as an innovator in the field of talent evaluation and player acquisition. My focus is to bring another world championship to the fans of Houston and I believe Daryl will be instrumental in achieving that goal.”

Morey has built a Rockets team that has gone a combined 108-56 (.659) and has set a number of team records over his two seasons as General Manager. His ability to manage and bolster the roster earned him YAHOO.com Executive of the Year accolades in 2008-09. In addition to earning votes for 2008-09 NBA Executive of the Year, Morey was named “Top 50 Most Influential in Basketball” in 2009 by HOOPSWORLD. Morey was also recognized in 2009 as one of “The 10 Most Creative People in Sports” by Fast Company magazine.

Houston registered a 53-29 mark in 2008-09 to give the team a third consecutive 50-win season for the first time in team history (52-30 in 2006-07 and 55-27 in 2007-08). The Rockets also advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals for the first time since 1997, taking the L.A. Lakers to a Game Seven despite playing without Tracy McGrady and losing the services of Yao Ming for the final four contests of that series. In 2007-08, the Rockets won a remarkable 22 straight games, which stands as the second-longest winning streak in professional sports history.

“I would like to thank Mr. Alexander for the faith he has shown in me and the basketball staff,” said Morey. “Under his leadership and with the resources he provides, the team is positioned well to consistently compete in the Western Conference. Mr. Alexander has always made it clear that his ultimate goal is a successful return to the NBA Finals and I look forward to continue working with him to meet that challenge.”

Morey came to Houston after serving three years as SVP Operations for the Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, his responsibilities included the development of analytical methods and technology to enhance basketball decisions, such as the draft, trades and free agency. Prior to his time with the Celtics, Morey worked as a Principal consultant with an emphasis on sports at The Parthenon Group, a leading strategy consulting firm. Morey was also a statistical consultant with STATS, Inc., the industry pioneer in the use of sports statistics highlighted in the Michael Lewis book Moneyball.

Bobcats sign Flip Murray

Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins announced today that the team has signed free agent combo guard Ronald “Flip” Murray. The seven-year NBA veteran averaged 12.2 points in 24.7 minutes last season for Atlanta. Per team policy, terms of the deal will not be released.

“This signing adds depth, experience and athleticism to our backcourt and increases the number of players on our roster who can compete at multiple positions,” Higgins said.  “Flip has a proven track record in this league as a guy who can score and distribute the basketball and we are extremely excited about what he brings to this team.”

The 6-3 Murray was originally selected by Milwaukee with the 42nd overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. He holds career averages of 9.9 points, 2.3 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 412 games with Seattle, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, Atlanta and the Bucks. In addition to his scoring, he averaged 2.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals in 80 games (two starts) for the Hawks last season. During Atlanta’s 2009 NBA Playoffs run, he averaged 11.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 11 games.

No stranger to the Carolinas, Murray starred collegiately at Shaw University in Raleigh, where he was named NCAA Division II National Player of the Year, First Team All-America and CIAA Player of the Year after leading the Bears to 28-5 overall record and Division II Final Four appearance as a senior.

The Bobcats also added guard Antonio Anderson, who went undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft. The 6-6 University of Memphis standout averaged 10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 34.3 minutes last season.

Share your Bobcats opinions in the InsideHoops Charlotte Bobcats forum.

Matt Harpring to miss start of season

Matt Harpring to miss start of season

Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor announced today that veteran forward Matt Harpring will not participate in training camp or the preseason and will miss the start of the NBA regular season.  Due to ankle and knee injuries, the 11-year NBA veteran is physically unable to participate in camp or the preseason at this point and his status will be re-evaluated in six weeks.

Harpring (6-7, 230, Georgia Tech), has appeared in 665 games (349 starts) over 11 seasons with Orlando, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Utah, owning career averages of 11.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 26.4 minutes per game.  Originally signed by the Jazz as a free agent on August 15, 2002, Harpring has seen action in 474 games (191 starts) over seven seasons with Utah and has averaged 11.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game.  Harpring averaged 11.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 63 games (2 starts) for the Jazz in 2008-09.

The Houston Rockets introduced “We Are Red Nation” as its new marketing campaign for the 2009-10 season during the team’s annual Tip-Off Party at Toyota Center this evening.  The team also introduced their first-ever alternate uniforms.

In an effort to tie the team’s current look to its storied past, the new uniform features elements which are both new and old.  The familiar “ketchup and mustard” color scheme used during the team’s back-to-back championship seasons has returned — along with the name “Houston” on the front of the jerseys.  The font used for the letters and numbers is the same that is used on the current home and away uniforms, which were introduced prior to the 2003-04 season.  Additionally, the team’s familiar “R” logo appears on the front collar as well as centered above the player name on the back of the jersey and on both side panels of the game shorts.  The red jersey also features yellow piping that extends all the way to the shorts.

alternate houston rockets jersey

Discuss this and the Rockets in the InsideHoops Houston Rockets forum.

Timberwolves and Mark Blount to part ways

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that they have mutually agreed to allow center Mark Blount to not join the team for training camp and the preseason, and have provided permission for Blount’s agent to seek a roster spot with a different team. Blount will remain at his home in Miami while his agent Mark Bartelstein looks for a better opportunity for playing time.

“I want to thank Mark for being understanding of our situation of having such a young team, and in particular many young big men that need playing time for their development,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn. “Given these circumstances, it would be extremely difficult to find a significant role for Mark, and he deserves the opportunity to be a part of someone’s rotation for the upcoming season.

“Mark has been a true professional in understanding the current makeup of our roster and the difficulty in ensuring him consistent minutes. We wish him the very best. I’m sure that this will work out the best for everyone.”

Acquired in a trade with Miami on Aug. 13, Blount, a 7-0 center, has appeared in 605 career games over his nine-year career, including stops in Boston, Denver, Minnesota and Miami. Originally selected by Seattle with the 54th overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft, Blount owns career averages of 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Blount’s face probably hurts from laughing at the fact that people give him millions of dollars to play ineffective basketball.

Maurice Lucas to resume coaching

Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Maurice Lucas, who underwent successful bladder cancer surgery in April, has resumed coaching duties and will be with the team when training camp begins on Tuesday, September 29.

Lucas, 57, has elected to adopt a schedule that will allow him to continue player development responsibilities at the Trail Blazers practice facility and at home games. At this point, he plans to travel only occasionally with the team to road games.

“I feel great,” Lucas said. “I have been listening to my doctors, getting my rest, and I’m very excited about being back. I am fortunate to have the support of an organization and a head coach that have allowed me to continue to contribute, and grateful to have had the support and encouragement of a lot of great fans during the past six months.”

A 14-year NBA/ABA veteran and five-time All-Star, Lucas was a starting forward on the Trail Blazers 1977 NBA Championship team. He joined the Trail Blazers coaching staff in 2005 at the request of Head Coach Nate McMillan, a former teammate of Lucas when both were in Seattle during the 1986-87 season.

“We are glad to have Luke back, healthy, and working with our big men again,” McMillan said. “He is a very important part of our family and we all missed having him here during the stretch run last year.”

The Sacramento Kings have wanted a new arena for quite some time, and now former NBA star and current mayor Kevin Johnson is adding his voice to the mix.  The Sacramento Bee reports:

After learning that Arco Arena is considered unsuitable to host a major college basketball tournament, Mayor Kevin Johnson said Tuesday that Sacramento could lose the Kings if efforts for a new arena aren’t stepped up.

“If we don’t have a clear path to an arena in the not too distant future, then we as Sacramentans need to know that (the Kings) very well may look elsewhere,” Johnson said.

The mayor made his statements after finding out the NCAA had bypassed Sacramento’s bid to host the regional round of the men’s basketball tournament. Arco Arena has hosted the money-making event four times since 1994.

That was one loud arena back in the days of good Kings basketball. A scary place for opponents. But that’s old news. For years now it’s just been considered a problem. Sad.

The New Jersey Nets struggle to attract fans and face many issues as they attempt to build a new basketball arena in Brooklyn and relocate the team. And now the AP reports:

Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov says in his personal blog that he has made an offer to buy the New Jersey Nets.

Prokhorov, considered Russia’s richest man, said Tuesday on his blog that he sent team shareholders an offer over the weekend. Under the proposal, Prokhorov’s holding company Onexim would obtain a controlling share in the Nets in return for loaning the money to build a new arena.

If the team is going to be sold I expect it would happen relatively sooner rather than later.

Bulls re-sign Aaron Gray

Bulls re-sign Aaron Gray

The Chicago Bulls today re-signed center Aaron Gray. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Chicago drafted the 7-0, 270-pound center with the 49th selection in NBA Draft 2007.  During his two seasons with the Bulls, he has appeared in 117 games (19 starts), and averaged 3.9 ppg and 3.3 rpg in 11.4 mpg.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Big backup center who can fall into people, take up space, raise his arms, etc.

Timberwolves waive Chucky Atkins

Timberwolves waive Chucky Atkins

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has waived guard Chucky Atkins. The Timberwolves acquired Atkins as part of a trade with Oklahoma City on July 27.

A 10-year NBA veteran, Atkins went undrafted out of the University of South Florida before signing with Orlando in 1999. In 655 career games with Orlando, Detroit, Boston, L.A. Lakers, Washington, Memphis, Denver and Oklahoma City, Atkins has averaged 10.2 points and 3.5 assists per game. Atkins was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1999 and also played on the gold-medal-winning U.S. National Team at the 1995 World University Games.

The Denver Nuggets have acquired G/F James White from the Houston Rockets in exchange for the draft rights to F Axel Hervelle, Nuggets Vice President of Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien announced today.

White, 6-7, 200, has averaged 5.7 ppg and 2.0 rpg in 10 career games (two starts) with San Antonio and Houston. He was originally drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round (No. 31 overall) of the 2006 NBA Draft before having his rights traded to Indiana in a draft night deal. After being released by the Pacers prior to the 2006-07 season, White was signed by the Spurs and spent the remainder of his rookie season between San Antonio and its D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros. He played overseas with Fenerbahçe (Turkey) during the 2007-08 season.

This previous year, White played 34 games (33 starts) with the Anaheim Arsenal of the NBA Development League before being called up by the Rockets on Mar. 3. He averaged 1.8 ppg in four regular season games for Houston, as well as 1.4 ppg in five postseason appearances during the Rockets run to the Western Conference Semifinals. In his time with the Arsenal, White averaged a league-high-tying 25.9 ppg to go along with 5.0 rpg and 2.5 apg while shooting .549 from the field.

Hervelle, 6-8, 230, was selected by the Nuggets in the second round (No. 52 overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft. Hervelle, who had yet to play for Denver, posted averages of 8.1 ppg and 4.5 rpg in 35 contests for Real Madrid (Spain) last season.

InsideHoops.com editor says: White is famous for being an amazing dunker. Hervelle is basically unknown.

Spurs sign Keith Bogans

Spurs to sign Keith Bogans

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News reports: Keith Bogans, the 29-year-old journeyman guard who spent the final 29 games of last season playing with Jefferson in Milwaukee, has agreed to a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum of $1.03 million to join the Spurs. Bogans, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, has averaged 7.5 points over a five-year career that includes stints with seven teams. He averaged 5.6 points in 65 games last season, split between the Magic and the Bucks. Like Bowen before him, however, Bogans has built his professional reputation on the defensive end.

SEPTEMBER 24 UPDATE

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they have signed guard Keith Bogans. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed. The San Antonio Express-News reports that it is “a guaranteed one-year deal worth the league minimum of $1.03 million.”

Bogans, 6-5, 215 pounds, split last season between the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks. He started the season with the Magic before being traded to the Bucks on Feb. 5 in exchange for Tyronn Lue. In 36 games with the Magic, he averaged 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 21.9 minutes. Bogans appeared in 29 games for Milwaukee, averaging 6.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 16.7 minutes. For the season he appeared in 65 games, averaging 5.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in 19.6 minutes.

Originally drafted by Milwaukee in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft (43rd overall), Bogans was traded to Orlando on draft night for cash considerations. A six-year NBA veteran, Bogans has spent time with Orlando, Charlotte, Houston and Milwaukee. His best season came in 2004-05 with the Charlotte Bobcats when he averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 24.2 minutes per game. During the 2007-08 season Bogans appeared in all 82 games with the Magic and averaged 8.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists. In 425 career games, he has averaged 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 23.4 minutes.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports:  The Heat has extended coach Erik Spoelstra’s contract in the wake of Spoelstra and all the employees in basketball operations, including president Pat Riley, accepting voluntary pay cuts to eliminate the need for layoffs. Spoelstra also confirmed that forward Michael Beasley — who left a Houston rehabilitation facility Sunday — was at AmericanAirlines Arena on Monday, where players are working out informally, and has improved his game significantly this summer.

The AP reports: Former NBA player Jerome “Pooh” Richardson reluctantly testified Monday that his close friend, a Philadelphia police officer, tipped him about an imminent drug raid involving his half-sister. Richardson, 43, testified under a grant of immunity about two phone calls around 3 a.m. from childhood friend Rickie Durham in August 2005. Durham told him the FBI was about to take down a drug kingpin and take the sister down too, he testified.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Well, that all sounds fantastic!

Knicks to use LED signage courtside

Madison Square Garden announced today that the New York Knicks plan to use new state-of-the-art LED signage courtside at home games during the 2009-10 season. The Knicks will become the first NBA team to utilize the technology at the courtside location. The new signage will enhance game presentation, expand partner integration opportunities and allow for instant customization from Knicks pregame through postgame at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks will premiere the new LED courtside signage at their first preseason home game on Tuesday, October 13 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“At Madison Square Garden we are always looking for innovative and cutting-edge technology that will enhance the game experience for our fans and create value for our partners,” said Scott O’Neil, president, Madison Square Garden Sports.  “The new LED courtside signage for the Knicks is extremely dynamic and offers instant customization, which will not only enrich the viewing experience for fans, but provides a visual enhancement for our partners brands and helps us maximize their exposure throughout a game.”

The new courtside LED signage will be synchronized throughout games with all of the digital signage in the bowl at Madison Square Garden, including MSG’s GardenVision center hung scoreboard and ribbon boards circling the middle-level, creating a 360 degree experience for fans and partners.  The LED technology provides clear off angle viewing for fans in-arena and those watching Knicks’ telecasts on MSG. The signage has also been designed with player safety in mind, featuring a spring mount mechanism that allows for up to four inches of flexibility in case of a collision.  The specially created LED signage combines a scorer’s table designed by Signco, LED panels by Mitsubishi and integration control software by ANC. Madison Square Garden Sports worked in conjunction with the NBA to trial the signage at several New York Liberty games at the end of the WNBA regular season.

Lou Bender passes away

The Boston Globe reports: Lou Bender, an all-American basketball player at Columbia whose stellar play during the Depression helped popularize the game and make Madison Square Garden a magnet for college basketball, died Sept. 10 at his home in Longboat Key, Fla. He was 99. The cause was cancer, his son Steven said. Mr. Bender, a 6-foot-1 forward who played at DeWitt Clinton High School in the late 1920s, received the nickname Lulu when he sank a two-handed set shot from long range and a fan shrieked, “Now that was a lulu of a basket.’’

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