Archive for October 22nd, 2009

Trail Blazers sign LaMarcus Aldridge to contract extension

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed forward LaMarcus Aldridge to a five-year contract extension, it was announced today by General Manager Kevin Pritchard. We’ll post details of the contract tonight or tomorrow.

“It’s a blessing and I’m very thankful,” said Aldridge. “I want to thank Paul Allen, Kevin Pritchard, Larry Miller, Nate McMillan and Tom Penn for giving me the opportunity to be in Portland for many years to come. I also want to thank the Portland fans, my friends and family for all of their support. I’m really happy we got this done and now I’m really excited to get the season started.”

Aldridge, 24, holds career averages of 15.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.11 blocks, 32.0 minutes and a 48.7% mark from the floor in 220 games over three seasons with the Trail Blazers. The forward has started all 157 games in which he has played over the past two seasons.

“This is a great day for the Trail Blazers franchise,” said Pritchard. “LaMarcus is the epitome of what we’re about. He’s a hard-working, committed and unselfish young man who plays the right way.”

The Trail Blazers have improved dramatically since Aldridge joined the team in 2006, going from 21 wins the year prior to his arrival in Portland to 54 wins, a share of the Northwest Division title and a trip to the playoffs in 2008-09.

Aldridge posted a career-high 18.1 points (48.4% FG, 78.1% FT) to go with 7.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.95 steals, 0.95 blocks and 37.1 minutes last season. Among NBA leaders, Aldridge ranked 31st in scoring, 28th in rebounding and 31st in blocked shots. The Dallas, Texas, native led the team in scoring 25 times and rebounding 17 times in 2008-09. His 19 double-doubles marked a team high.

The 6-11, 240-pound Aldridge started all six games for Portland in the 2009 NBA Playoffs, where he averaged 19.5 points (49.0% FG), 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.67 blocks in 39.5 minutes per game. He netted 20 points or more in three games and led the Trail Blazers in rebounds three times.

Acquired by the Trail Blazers in a draft day trade on June 28, 2006, Aldridge was originally selected by Chicago with the second overall pick out of the University of Texas in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Bobby Jackson to retire

Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee reports:

bobby jackson retiring

If Bobby Jackson picks his wardrobe appropriately today, he’ll stand at the Arco Arena podium and formally announce his retirement in a three-piece suit and sneakers.

He’s leaving behind a 12-year playing career and joining the Kings in a varied capacity that often will involve business attire, but the player in him is far from gone just yet.

And if the moment is truly destined to capture the spirit of one of the Kings’ most popular players of all time, it will be the pair of Nikes with the cut-off hi-tops.

He used scissors to create a unique size and spark eye-rolls from the company’s reps last season because, well, they just didn’t get the job done in their original form and he wasn’t about to cater to any corporate types.

Jackson was a good player. Never a star, but always able to help a team’s rotation.

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the team has exercised the third-year contract option for Marreese Speights and the fourth-year contract options for Jason Smith and Thaddeus Young.

“Thaddeus, Jason and Marreese are three of our young players who have done everything asked of them and continue to show improvement every time they step out on the court,” Stefanski said. “We are excited about the way they have developed to this point and we are looking to forward them continuing their careers with the Sixers.”

Speights (6-10, 245) was the 16th overall pick by the Sixers in the 2008 NBA Draft.  As a rookie last season, he averaged 7.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in just 16.0 minutes per game while shooting 50.2% from the floor.  He would have ranked third among rookies in field goal percentage had he qualified.  This preseason, Speights is second on the team in scoring (13.7 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.4 rpg) despite playing just over 20 minutes per game.

Smith (7-0, 240) was originally selected by Miami with the 20th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, but was acquired in a draft night trade by the Sixers.  He missed all of last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee during a workout session in August of 2008.  As a rookie in 2007-08, Smith appeared in 76 games, averaging 4.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.  This preseason, he is averaging 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game.

Young (6-8, 220) was the 12th overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2007 NBA Draft.  He averaged 15.3 points last season, up from 8.2 as a rookie in 2007-08.  That marked the biggest increase in scoring average of any player in the league last season with a minimum of 50 games played.  Over his final 15 games played in 2008-09, Young averaged 21.3 points on 56.3% shooting.  For his career, Young is shooting 51.0% from the floor and has 173 steals to 182 turnovers.

Speights (22 years old), Smith (23) and Young (21) join Jrue Holiday (19) and Lou Williams (turns 23 on Oct. 27th) as the quintet of Sixers who will be 23 years or younger heading into the season opener at Orlando on Oct. 28th.

Milwaukee Bucks General Manager John Hammond announced today that forward Joe Alexander re-aggravated his right hamstring injury during rehabilitation exercises this week.

After consulting with Bucks orthopedic physician Dr. Michael Gordon, M.D., Alexander is expected to be sidelined for a period of 8-to-12 weeks.  Alexander will be re-evaluated on a regular basis and his status will be updated as necessary.

Alexander, 22, originally suffered the injury during voluntary drills prior to the start of training camp on September 17.

In 59 games during his rookie season, Alexander averaged 4.7 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.  In the 2009 NBA Summer League, Alexander tallied 16.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists over the five game schedule in Las Vegas.

All fans of 1980’s NBA basketball will forever love what Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, plus Isiah Thomas and other stars from the decade brought to the world of hoops. But rumors in those days didn’t quite spread the way they do now in the age of InsideHoops.com and the internet.

Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas are old friends, right? Not so fast.

Ian Thompson of Sports Illustrated reports:

When he heard the criticisms from his former friend Magic Johnson in a soon-to-be-released book, Isiah Thomas said he’d had enough. And so he began to fight back.

“I’m really hurt, and I really feel taken advantage of for all these years,” said Thomas, the Hall of Fame point guard and former NBA coach and executive, most recently with the Knicks. “I’m totally blindsided by this. Every time that I’ve seen Magic, he has been friendly with me. Whenever he came to a Knick game, he was standing in the tunnel [to the locker room] with me. He and [Knicks assistant coach] Herb [Williams] and I, we would go out to dinner in New York. I didn’t know he felt this way.”

Get ready. This gets heated. More from SI:

 Much of their story involves Thomas, who as captain of the Detroit Pistons served as a primary threat to the championship ambitions of Bird’s Celtics and Magic’s Lakers. The book offers revelations that have stunned Thomas. Magic addresses years of rumors by finally accusing Thomas of questioning his sexuality after Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991. Magic also admits that he joined with Michael Jordan and other players in blackballing Thomas from the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, saying, “Isiah killed his own chances when it came to the Olympics. Nobody on that team wanted to play with him. … Michael didn’t want to play with him. Scottie [Pippen] wanted no part of him. Bird wasn’t pushing for him. Karl Malone didn’t want him. Who was saying, ‘We need this guy?’ Nobody.”

“I’m glad that he’s finally had the nerve and the courage to stand up and say it was him, as opposed to letting Michael Jordan take the blame for it all these years,” Thomas responded during one of several interviews he gave to SI.com on Wednesday. “I wish he would have had the courage to say this stuff to me face to face, as opposed to writing it in some damn book to sell and he can make money off it.”

And more from SI, on the topic of Magic’s HIV:

“Isiah kept questioning people about it,” Magic says. “I couldn’t believe that. The one guy I thought I could count on had all these doubts. It was like he kicked me in the stomach.”

Thomas vehemently denied that he had gossiped behind Magic’s back, pointing out that he knew better than to engage in such hurtful talk.

“What most people don’t know is, before Magic had HIV, my brother had HIV,” Thomas said. “My brother died of HIV, AIDS, drug abuse. So I knew way more about the disease, because I was living with it in my house.”

“I felt awful for him; I felt awful for everybody,” Thomas said to SI.com. “But I knew enough at that time that he didn’t have to retire. The ‘blood’ thing we do in the NBA — where we stop the game because of blood on somebody’s shirt and all that ceremonious stuff — we’re not stopping HIV/AIDS that way. We still do it out of some insane fear that came about when Karl Malone and everybody was saying they weren’t playing if Magic was playing.”

And what does Larry Bird say in the book? SI:

“Let’s be real. I’m not going to say the things Magic said in private about Larry, but I do know the public stance he’s taken [in becoming Bird’s friend],” Thomas said. I know that’s not how he felt about Larry Bird. Magic hated Larry, and he tried to make other people hate Larry. Magic was no friend of Larry Bird’s during that time. And his Laker teammates will tell you that. And I’m sure they’ve got to be disgusted with the way he’s carried on with this whole me-and-Larry bull.”

I’ll be checking this book out for sure.

Kevin Love has hand surgery

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love underwent successful surgery on Tuesday evening to repair a fracture in his left hand (fourth metacarpal). The procedure was performed by Dr. Andrew Weiland of New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery and involved the insertion of three screws into Love’s hand. The typical recovery time for this type of injury is six to eight weeks.

Love suffered the injury during the third quarter of the Timberwolves’ Oct. 16 preseason game at Chicago. In his four preseason appearances, Love averaged 12.5 points (.471 FG%) and 11.5 rebounds per game.

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