Archive for October, 2009

Video game losses motivate Kevin Durant

Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman reports:

Video game losses motivate Kevin Durant

If you had one guess, what would you say is driving Kevin Durant this season?

The scoring title? An All-Star appearance? A playoff berth?

How about video games?

“People might not believe me, but when I go home (after practice) I play video games and I lose all the time,” Durant said. “And I get so mad that I come back and I want to win everything. Something that small puts that winning mentality into my head.”

The NBA’s sixth leading scorer last season is off to a good start after Wednesday’s season-opening 102-89 victory over Sacramento. A stiffer test is in store tonight as the Thunder rolls into Detroit to take on a more talented Pistons team. But the goal of winning remains the same.

“That’s what this year is all about,” Durant said. “We have the right group of guys here and we all want to win, so that makes it easier as well.”

The Thunder are a fun, young team off to a nice little 2-0 start, and in the two wins Durant averaged 25.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Jazz exercise Kosta Koufos option

Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor announced today that the team has exercised its third-year option on center Kosta Koufos for the 2010-11 season.  Per team policy, financial terms were not released.

Koufos (7-0, 265, Ohio State) appeared in 48 games (seven starts) as a rookie in 2008-09, averaging 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per game.  In 10 games (all starts) for the Utah Flash of the NBA D-League, Koufos posted 16.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.0 assists in 29.8 minutes per game.  A dual citizen of both Greece and the United States, he competed for Greece in the 2009 EuroCup.

Originally drafted by the Jazz in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft, Koufos played one season for Ohio State, where he averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds in 37 games, earning NIT MVP honors after leading the Buckeyes to the 2008 NIT title.

The Phoenix Suns today announced that the club has exercised the team options on the contracts of third-year forward Jared Dudley and second-year center Robin Lopez for the 2010-11 season.   The Suns have declined the 2010-11 team option on the contract of third-year swingman Alando Tucker.

Dudley, 24, enters his first full season with the Suns and third career campaign after being acquired along with Jason Richardson and a 2010 second-round pick for Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary on Dec. 10, 2008.  The Boston College product appeared in 48 games for Phoenix in 2008-09, including 30 of 31 games following the All-Star break when he became one of the Suns’ most consistent reserves.  Dudley, who averaged 7.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.03 steals after the break, shot a career-high 39.4 percent from three-point range after joining the Suns.  The 6-7 forward made 26 three-pointers in 48 games with Phoenix after making a total of 12 in his first 93 career games with Charlotte.

The 7-0, 255-pound Lopez was the Suns’ first-round selection in the 2008 NBA Draft (15th overall).  A two-year collegiate standout at Stanford, Lopez averaged 3.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.68 blocks and 10.2 minutes in 60 appearances (seven starts) for the Suns last season.  His 51.8-percent field goal accuracy as a rookie would have been third-best among rookies and 17th-highest in the league overall if he’d tallied enough attempts to qualify (min. 300 field goals made).  Lopez, who averaged 11.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks for the Suns’ 2009 Las Vegas Summer League entry, is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot, suffered during this season’s training camp.

Originally selected by the Suns with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft, Tucker is a two-year pro who has appeared in 36 career games with Phoenix.  The 6-6, 205-pound forward, who saw action in 30 games last season, owns career averages of 4.4 points and 1.1 rebounds.

Rockets exercise Aaron Brooks option

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has picked up the option on the contract of guard Aaron Brooks.

Brooks (6-0, 161, Oregon), who was selected by Houston in the first round (26th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft, is averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 assists in two games this season. In 2008-09, Brooks averaged career highs of 11.2 points (.366, 113-309 3FG), 2.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 80 games (35 starts). Brooks scored 18 points (6-16 FG, 3-6 3FG) and dished out a career-best 12 assists at Golden State (10/28/09). His previous high was 10 assists last season at Minnesota (3/1/09).

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has exercised their options on both guard Nick Young and center/forward JaVale McGee.  Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

According to Mike Jones of the Washington Times, “Young, a third-year guard, will remain under contract a fourth year and will earn roughly $2.6 million. McGee, a second-year center/forward, had his contract extended a third season, and is due to earn about $1.6 million next season.”

Under the terms of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the first two years of a first round draft pick’s contract are guaranteed while the third and fourth year of the contract are the team’s option.  Young was selected with the 16th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, while McGee was selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

Young averaged 9.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 157 games during his first two seasons in Washington, while McGee averaged 6.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.0 block per game as a rookie with the Wizards last season.

Bobcats exercise Alexis Ajinca option

Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins announced today that the team has exercised its option on Alexis Ajinca for the 2010-11 season.

The 20th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Ajinca appeared in 31 games as a rookie last season with averages of 2.3 points and 1.0 rebounds in 5.9 minutes.  He was assigned to the D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce from March 9 – April 12 and averaged 11.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 22.7 minutes. An early-entry candidate in the 2008 draft, Ajinca spent the previous two seasons playing professionally in his native France.

Michael Lee of the Washington Post reports:

Reserve point guard Javaris Crittenton revealed after practice today that he had exploratory surgery last Friday on his left foot and will be out at least another month.

It was tough not to notice Crittenton, who was using crutches to walk down a hallway outside the Verizon Center practice court, his left foot carefully bandaged.

So far in his short NBA career Crittenton hasn’t made a real impression yet. He will need to make some noise in the near future if he wants to stick around in the league.

The Memphis Grizzlies today exercised the fourth-year team option on guard Mike Conley and picked up the third-year team options on guard O.J. Mayo and forward Darrell Arthur.  Per team policy, financial details were not disclosed. All three players are now signed through the 2010-11 season.

Conley, the fourth overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Grizzlies, owns career averages of 10.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 28.8 minutes in 136 games (108 starts). The third-year 6-1, 185-pound playmaker showed vast improvement last season, averaging 14.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists on 45.4 percent shooting in 36.3 minutes in 39 games after Lionel Hollins was named the team’s head coach on Jan. 25, 2009.

Mayo, the third overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, was the runner-up to the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose for the 2008-09 NBA Rookie of the Year Award after leading all first-year players in scoring (18.5 points, 28th in NBA) and minutes (38.0, 11th). The 6-4, 210-pound guard, who was acquired by the Grizzlies in an eight-player deal on draft night, owns career averages of 18.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 38.0 minutes in 83 games (all starts).

Arthur, who was originally selected by the New Orleans Hornets with the 27th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, was traded three times on draft night before he eventually landed in Memphis. In his first NBA season with the Grizzlies in 2008-09, Arthur ranked in the top 10 among NBA rookies in rebounds (4.6, 8th), blocks (0.68, 7th) and steals (0.68, 10th) and added 5.6 points in 76 games (64 starts). The 6-9, 235-pound forward is slated to miss up to four months after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn right pectoralis muscle on Oct. 23.

Raptors exercise Marco Belinelli option

Raptors exercise Marco Belinelli option

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have exercised the fourth year team option on the Rookie Scale Contract of guard Marco Belinelli. Belinelli is now guaranteed through the 2010-11season. In accordance with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the Raptors had until October 31 to exercise their option on Belinelli. Per team policy, financial terms of the deal was not disclosed.

Belinelli had 10 points in 19 minutes in Wednesday’s season-opening win versus Cleveland.

The 18th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Belinelli averaged 8.9 points, 2.1 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 21.0 minutes in 42 games last season with Golden State. He registered four 20-point games during the 2008-09 campaign, including a career-high 27 points December 12, 2008 at Atlanta.

Through 76 career games Belinelli owns a .397 mark from three-point range (69-for-174).  As a rookie he appeared in 33 games, averaging 2.9 points in 7.3 minutes.

Prior to joining the Warriors, the 23 year-old, 6-foot-5 guard from Bologna, Italy, played professionally in Italy for five seasons. In 33 games during the 2006-07 season with Fortitudo Bologna in Serie A, Belinelli averaged 16.4 points, while shooting .544 (99-for-182) from the field. In 13 Euroleague contests, he averaged 12.9 points on .438 (32-for-73) from the field.

Nets exercise three player options; decline Sean Williams option

The New Jersey Nets have exercised third year contract options on Courtney Lee and Brook Lopez, and a fourth year contract option on Yi Jianlian, while declining to pick up the fourth year contract option on Sean Williams, Nets President Rod Thorn announced today.  Lee, Lopez and Yi are now signed through the 2010-11 season.  Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

Lee was selected by the Orlando Magic with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft.  He was traded to New Jersey on June 25, 2009 along with Rafer Alston and Tony Battie for Ryan Anderson and Vince Carter.  The Western Kentucky product appeared in 77 games for Orlando last season, earning 42 starts.  He averaged 8.4 points while shooting .450 (243-540) from the field and .404 (82-203) from downtown, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 steal in 25.2 minutes per game.

Lopez was selected by the Nets in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft with the 10th overall pick.  He was the only Net to appear in all 82 games, earning 75 starts from 11/14 vs. ATL through 4/15 at NYK.  Lopez averaged 13.0 points (6th among rookies), 8.1 rebounds (2nd among rookies) and 1.84 blocks (9th in NBA, 1st among rookies) in 30.5 minutes per contest (7th among rookies).  He shot .531 (448-844) from the field (1st among rookies) and .793 (172-217) from the line (5th among rookies) while being selected to NBA All-Rookie First Team.  He finished third in NBA Rookie of the Year voting (Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo) and set the Nets all-time rookie blocks record with 151.  He recorded 55 games scoring in double figures, 13 games scoring 20+ points, one game scoring 30+ points, 23 games with 10+ rebounds and a Nets rookie center record 18 double-doubles.  The Stanford product led the Nets in scoring nine times, in rebounds 48 times and in blocks 57 times.

Yi was selected with the sixth pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by Milwaukee.  He was traded to New Jersey, along with Bobby Simmons, for Richard Jefferson on June 26, 2008.  During the 2008-09 campaign, Yi appeared in 61 games, earning 52 starts.  He averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per contest.  He shot .382 (191-500) from the field, .772 (95-123) from the line and .343 (48-140) from downtown.  The 7-foot forward recorded 23 games scoring in double figures, four games scoring 20+ points, four games with 10+ rebounds and three double-doubles.  He led the Nets in scoring three times, in rebounds 10 times, and in blocks nine times.  Yi missed 16 games with a broken fifth finger, right hand (1/12-2/10) which he suffered on 1/9/09 at Milwaukee.  Yi is a member of the Chinese National Team and competed in 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2004 games in Athens.

Sean Williams was selected 17th overall in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by New Jersey.  He appeared in 106 games over two seasons, averaging 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per contest.

Eddie House featured in cartoon

Boston Celtics guard Eddie House and his son, Jaelen, will be featured in the short-form series from the Cartoon Network My Dad’s a Pro. The series is the first initiative in a multifaceted partnership between Cartoon Network and the NBA.

My Dad’s A Pro premieres Wednesday, November 4 at 7:55 p.m. ET/PT. Each of the 10 four-minute episodes features a day in the life of Jaelen House, 9-year-old son to 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics guard Eddie House. Each week, viewers get a glimpse of what Jaelen’s not-so-everyday life is like as the son of one of the key players on one of the most storied NBA franchises. Whether he’s courtside at a crucial playoff game or at home celebrating his dad’s record-breaking game, Jaelen provides a never-before seen point-of-view.

House and his wife Charlsie have three sons: Jaelen and twins, Kaden and Kalek. Jaelen, House’s biggest and most enthusiastic fan, can be seen sitting courtside at most Celtics home games cheering his dad on.

Atlanta Dream of WNBA have new owners

Kathy Betty, a prominent Atlanta businesswoman and sports advocate, will become the new managing partner of the Atlanta Dream pending WNBA Board of Governors approval, league President Donna Orender announced today.  The team will be owned by Dream Too, LLC, an investment group led by Betty.

“I am confident Kathy’s passion for the game and the Atlanta community, as well as her vision for the Dream, will ensure that the team continues to build on its strong start,” said Orender. “Atlanta has been a great market, and Lisa Borders has been a constant ambassador. We look forward to building upon the success the team enjoyed both on and off the court this past season. At the same time, on behalf of the league, I want to extend our thanks to Ron Terwilliger for helping bring the WNBA to Atlanta in 2007.”

In addition to serving as the CEO of the Garry Betty Foundation, established by her late husband Garry Betty, former Earthlink CEO, to fund cancer research, Betty is a former partner with Ernst & Young and previously served as the Executive Vice President of Scott Madden, Inc., an Atlanta-based management consulting firm. Betty has compiled a lengthy track record of business success and community involvement. She also is a major contributor to Georgia Tech’s men’s and women’s basketball programs.

“The opportunity to own the Dream, which is all about providing accessible and affordable world-class entertainment for the families of Atlanta, is what excites me,” said Betty. “In addition, the fact that these women serve as role models for youth, and especially young girls, is something I feel strongly about.

“I want to personally thank Lisa Borders for her diligent work in saving the Dream.  The Dream belongs in Atlanta. Lisa understands that and so do I. In the midst of a tough political campaign, she carved out time to bring sponsorships to the table and find investors who will make the Dream a continued reality for the staff, players and, of course, our fans.”

In 2009, the Dream recorded the second-largest one-year turnaround in WNBA history, finishing with an 18-16 record after going 4-30 in its inaugural campaign in 2008 to earn the second seed in the Eastern Conference and their first-ever WNBA Playoff berth.  Forward Angel McCoughtry, the top pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft quickly emerged as a star and earned adidas Rookie of the Year honors, while Marynell Meadors was named WNBA Coach of the Year this past season.

Have WNBA opinions? Discuss them on the InsideHoops.com WNBA forum.

Shaq still pursuing law-enforcement work

Mark Puente of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (via blog):

sherrif shaq

Predators lurking for local children on the Internet could soon be talking to a 7-foot-1 undercover deputy.

The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy is reviewing paperwork to determine whether Cavaliers center Shaquille O’Neal is eligible to carry a gun and a sheriff’s five-point badge.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff Bob Reid last week notified the state agency, which determines officers’ eligibility, that he intends to deputize O’Neal if approved by the state, according to records obtained by The Plain Dealer. O’Neal held law-enforcement commissions in Arizona, Virginia and Florida. Reid declined to comment until the process is complete.

If O’Neal is approved, he would need to complete 36 hours of police training within six months and take the Ohio police examination to maintain the appointment, said Holly Hollingsworth, spokeswoman for the Attorney General. He would also have to pass a test on a shooting range.

This is one of the few things Shaq appears to take pretty seriously. He’s pursued it for a long time. But I still doubt he does it full-time after his NBA basketball career wraps up in a few years. Helping the law will probably be a side-hobby for the big fella.

Thunder sign Thabo Sefolosha to extension

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed guard Thabo Sefolosha to a multi-year contract extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Per team policy, the terms of the deal were not disclosed. We’ll post contract details tonight or tomorrow.

“We are excited that we were able to reach an agreement that will keep Thabo a part of our core group moving forward,” said Presti. “Thabo represents many of the qualities that we look for in our players, great competitiveness, a team first mentality, and a strong work ethic. We believe Thabo’s best basketball is ahead of him, and his desire to remain a part of the Thunder family allowed for us to make this happen.”

Sefolosha averaged 8.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 31 minutes per game last season with the Thunder. Sefolosha, who joined the Thunder via trade from the Chicago Bulls on February 19, 2008, is currently in his fourth NBA season.

Sefolosha, drafted 13th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2006 NBA Draft, played five seasons in Europe prior to entering the NBA Draft. He started his professional career as a 17 year-old with Tege Riviera Basket of the Swiss domestic league in 2001. Sefolosha also spent three seasons with Chalon-Sur-Saone of the French Premier Pro League and one season with Angelico Biella of the Italian Serie A.

Spurs exercise George Hill option

The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they have picked up the option for the 2010-11 season for guard George Hill.

In his rookie season Hill appeared in 77 games, averaging 5.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 16.5 minutes.  As a starter he averaged 9.7 points, 3.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 27.9 minutes in seven games while filling in for the injured Tony Parker.  During that stretch Hill posted his four highest scoring games of the season: scored 20 points in 29:28 minutes on 11/19 vs. Denver, had a career-high 23 points in 22:37 minutes on 11/21 vs. Utah, tallied 20 points in 28:36 minutes on 11/24 at Memphis and had 19 points – along with a career-best 11 rebounds – in 32:40 minutes on 11/26 vs. Chicago.

An early entry candidate in the 2008 NBA Draft, Hill was selected by the Spurs in the first round with the 26th overall pick out of IUPUI.  He is the first player school history to be selected in an NBA Draft and appear in an NBA game.

Have Spurs opinions? Discuss them on the InsideHoops.com San Antonio Spurs forum.

Kyle Korver has left knee surgery

Kyle Korver has left knee surgery

Utah Jazz guard/forward Kyle Korver underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor announced today.

The procedure was performed Wednesday morning in New York City by Dr. David Altcheck, who reported that the surgery went “extremely well.”

Korver will return to Salt Lake City to begin rehabilitation and will be re-evaluated by Dr. Altcheck in New York City on November 9.

Korver (6-7, 212, Creighton) appeared in only one preseason contest for the Jazz this season, scoring two points and picking up three rebounds in 14 minutes against Real Madrid on October 8.  Appearing in 78 games (two starts) for the Jazz in 2008-09, Korver averaged 9.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 24 minutes per game.  The six-year NBA veteran made a team-high 103 three-point field goals in 2008-09, shooting .386 from behind the arc.  The guard/forward was also selected to participate in the 2009 USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp this past summer.

Originally acquired by the Jazz from Philadelphia on December 29, 2007, Korver has appeared in 128 regular season games with the Jazz over the past two seasons, averaging 9.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 23.0 minutes per game.  Korver holds career averages of 10.2 points and 3.1 rebounds, while hitting .404 (837-2073) in 465 games (103 starts) with Philadelphia and Utah.

Oct 27: Lakers 99, Clippers 92

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and Andrew Bynum added 26 on his 22nd birthday for the Lakers, who began the evening with a ceremony unveiling the franchise’s 15th gold-and-purple championship banner, earned four months ago after defeating Orlando in the finals… Eric Gordon scored 21 points for the Clippers, who lost their ninth in a row to the Lakers. Chris Kaman added 18 points and 16 rebounds, Marcus Camby had 14 points, and reserve Craig Smith 12. Baron Davis was held to two points on 1 of 10 shooting while hampered by a bruised right foot that he soaked in ice afterward… Ron Artest scored 10 points in his debut in the starting lineup. Pau Gasol sat out with a strained right hamstring and was replaced by Odom, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Oct 27: Blazers 96, Rockets 87

The AP reports: Greg Oden scored just two points, a tip with 58 seconds left, but had 12 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Portland Trail Blazers in a 96-87 season-opening victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night… Reserve Travis Outlaw scored 23 points and Brandon Roy added 20 points and five assists for the Blazers. Portland hit 20 of 22 free throws and outrebounded Houston 51-33. Aaron Brooks had 19 points for the Rockets, who defeated Portland in six games this past spring in the first round of the playoffs… Houston also remains without former All-Star Tracy McGrady, who had microfracture surgery on his left knee and isn’t expected to return until midseason… Portland’s 26 turnovers were more than they had in any game last season.

Oct 27: Wizards 102, Mavericks 91

The AP reports: Finally healthy after two seasons virtually lost to knee injuries, Gilbert Arenas had 29 points and nine assists as the Wizards took an early lead over the revamped Dallas Mavericks and never let go on their way to a 102-91 victory Tuesday night… Arenas shot 10 of 21 and made 8-of-9 free throws for more points than he had all of last season… The assists included several nifty passes that set up Brendan Haywood for dunks. He also helped set up reserves Andray Blatche for 20 points and Randy Foye for 19 in his first game with the Wizards. Caron Butler added 16 points, with injured forward Antawn Jamison watching from the bench. He’s likely to miss the first eight to 13 games because of a shoulder injury… But the Mavericks fell into the old habit of trying to ride a big night by Dirk Nowitzki. He scored 34 points, but was only 10 of 25. He was 12 of 13 from the foul line—all in the first half.

Oct 27: Celtics 95, Cavs 89

The AP reports: Boston’s Big Three—plus Rasheed—spoiled Cleveland’s overhyped season opener on Tuesday night with a 95-89 win over the new-look Cavaliers, who may have LeBron James and Shaq but appear to be a long way from true title contenders. Paul Pierce scored 23 points, Ray Allen 16 and Kevin Garnett 13 in his first regular-season game since last March as the Celtics, overlooked by some this preseason, ended an 11-game losing streak in Cleveland and snapped a 16-game skid by visiting teams in games between the Eastern powers who figure to meet again sometime in May or June… Pierce made two crucial jumpers and two free throws in the final 1:03 to pace the Celtics, whose drive to a second straight title was derailed when Garnett injured his knee late last season. Rasheed Wallace, added as a free agent during the offseason, had 12 points. James scored 38 and O’Neal added 10 points—just two after halftime—and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who won their first 23 home games last season but are already 0-1 on their floor.

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