John Wall to wear jersey #2

The AP reports:

John Wall to wear jersey #2

The Washington Wizards’ No. 1 overall draft pick announced Wednesday night on Twitter his choice of jersey for the start of his NBA career.

Wall made the simple post: “I picked to wear (number symbol)2 for nxt yr”. He offered no immediate explanation, although the easy interpretation is that he added up the digits of the number he wore at the University of Kentucky.

Richard Jefferson opts out of Spurs contract

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News reports:

Richard Jefferson opts out of Spurs contract

In a surprise move, Richard Jefferson has informed the Spurs that he intends to opt out of the final season of his contract and will become a free agent at midnight eastern time.

Jefferson was due to make $15 million next year. Opting out gives him the freedom to negotiate a long-term deal, in advance of a new collective bargaining agreement next season.

Read fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum topic.

Antoine Walker pleads not guilty to Vegas casino debt

The AP reports:

Former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker pleaded not guilty Wednesday to criminal bad check charges alleging he failed to repay almost $1 million in gambling debts and penalties to three Las Vegas casinos.

A Clark County District Court hearing master, Melisa De La Garza, set trial for Nov. 22 in Las Vegas. Walker and his lawyer, Jonathan Powell, said nothing to reporters after the brief arraignment.

Powell has said he and the Clark County district attorney’s office were negotiating toward resolving the Nevada case without sending Walker to prison. Walker could face probation or up to 12 years behind bars if convicted.

Grizzlies make qualifying offer to Rudy Gay

Grizzlies make qualifying offer to Rudy Gay

The Memphis Grizzlies have made a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Rudy Gay, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.  Per team policy, financial terms were not released.

Gay, a 6-8, 230-pound forward, placed second on the Grizzlies in scoring last season (19.6 points, T-18th in the NBA) while posting 5.9 rebounds and a career-high 1.48 steals in a career-high 39.7 minutes (3rd) in 80 games (all starts) last season.  The four-year NBA veteran holds career averages of 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.25 steals in 35.3 minutes in 318 career games (282 starts), all with the Grizzlies.

Currently Memphis’ longest-tenured player, the 23-year-old ranks in the Top 10 in franchise history in points (5,538, 3rd), rebounds (1,756, 8th), field goals made (2,118, 3rd), three-point field goals made (337, 4th), steals (398, 3rd), games played (8th) and games started (4th).  Memphis acquired Gay’s draft rights (eighth overall in the 2006 NBA Draft) along with Stromile Swift from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Shane Battier on July 12, 2006.

In accordance with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, in order for a team to retain its right of first refusal with respect to a restricted free agent, the team must tender the player a qualifying offer on or prior to June 30.  A restricted free agent may sign an offer sheet with any team but is subject to a right of first refusal with the team for which the player last played.

Walt Frazier says Knicks urgently need stars

Matt Ehalt of the New York Daily News reports:

“It’s urgent that they sign somebody,” Walt Frazier said of the Knicks. “They made sacrifices for a couple years waiting for this moment. I’m sure pretty confident they are going to sign somebody.”

When assessing free agency, Frazier said he thinks the Knicks have a 50-50 chance of signing the free agents. Frazier says LeBron James is the “panacea” and he believes that some of the other free agents available are just pieces and the Knicks would need a couple of players of that caliber to reach a championship level. Other free agents include Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire.

While titles and banners haven’t been the Knicks forterecently, Frazier says he believes that winning a championship in New York is an unmatched experience.

Suns announce executive staff changes

The Suns announced today the promotion of Jay Parry to Senior Vice President of Brand and Business Development for the club and added additional responsibilities to two veteran executives.  Ralph Marchetta adds the title of Senior Vice President of Suns Ticket Operations, continuing as General Manager of Sports and Entertainment Services which manages US Airways Center. Senior Vice President of Marketing Partnerships Lynn Agnello will add Suite Sales and Service to her current role with the team.

“The new assignments announced today create one of the most experienced and talented senior business teams to be found anywhere in sports and entertainment,” said Rick Welts, President and CEO of the Phoenix Suns.  “The characteristics that made Jay so successful with the Mercury will now be expanded across the entire organization.  Ralph and Lynn have shown their ability to excel as their management responsibilities have grown, and the three of them together are a formidable team.”

As Senior Vice President of Brand and Business Development, Parry will oversee the day to day operations of Ticket Sales, Premium Seats, Suns Digital Media, CRM and Database Marketing, Public Relations, Marketing and Community Relations departments.

For the past seven years, Parry served as President and Chief Operating Officer for the Phoenix Mercury and has been responsible for overseeing all business operations.  Under Parry’s leadership, the organization won two WNBA championships (2007, 2009) and has posted significant business growth in the areas of corporate partnerships and acquiring new fans. Parry was also a driving force behind the Mercury’s development of an innovative alliance with Lifelock that resulted in the first-ever corporate-branded jersey in WNBA or NBA history.

Marchetta has been with the organization since March 1992, before the opening of America West Arena, as an event manager and entered the world of booking in 1996.  He was named Vice President of Entertainment in 2002 before assuming the General Manager role for US Airways Center in 2007.  Marchetta is responsible for bringing some of the most prestigious concerts to the Valley including The Police, Eric Clapton, U2, George Strait. He also secured long-term relationships with Feld Entertainment (Ringling Bros and Barnum Bailey Circus, Disney on Ice shows) and concert promoter Live Nation.

Agnello is entering her 10th season with the Suns as Senior Vice President of Marketing Partnerships for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury. She has built an unprecedented discipline of full-service sales and activation, generating revenue through partnership packages which include broadcasts in HD, digital media, radio, cable, print, website, signage, and promotional elements. As the only local professional sports team controlling and marketing all its own media and promotional assets, she leads the franchise’s relationships with over 100 marketing partners. She joined the organization in 2001.

Bulls waive Rob Kurz and Chris Richard

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forwards Rob Kurz and Chris Richard.

Kurz (6-9, 230), 25, signed with the Bulls as a free agent on April 9, 2010.  He did not make an appearance in a Bulls uniform during his time with the team.

Richard (6-9, 256), 25, played in 18 games last season with Chicago and averaged 2.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 12.4 mpg.

Hornets hire Mike Malone, Bryan Gates and James Borrego as assistant coaches

New Orleans Hornets Head Coach Monty Williams announced three new members of his coaching staff today. Williams will be joined by Mike Malone, Bryan Gates and James Borrego.

“I’m thrilled to have Mike, Bryan and James on board,” said Head Coach Monty Williams. “They all have great experience, tireless work ethics and I believe they’ll bring a lot of fresh perspectives to the staff. I’m looking forward to working with all of them and excited to see how all of our different insight will come together to help this team reach its potential. I think this is the start of a great combination of strengths.”

Malone joins the Hornets after a five-year stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. As a member of the Cavaliers coaching staff, Malone has been instrumental in the team’s success since his arrival. The Cavs made their fifth-straight playoff appearance in 2010—just the second time in franchise history the team has done so. Over the last five campaigns, Cleveland has gone 272-138 (.663), which is third-best in the NBA during that span. In addition to his coaching duties with the Cavaliers, Malone was an assistant coach with the Canadian Men’s Senior National Team. He helped guide the Canadian team to a top four finish in the 2009 FIBA Americas Championship in Puerto Rico. Malone has also spent time with the New York Knicks, as well as coaching at Manhattan College, UVA, Providence College and Oakland (Mich.) University. Malone played college basketball at Loyola College (Md.). He is the son of former Cavaliers’ Head Coach and current Orlando Magic Assistant Coach Brendan Malone, who is a 23-year veteran of the NBA.

Gates begins his first season as an assistant coach with the Hornets following a one-year stint with the Sacramento Kings. He went to Sacramento following a highly-successful career as a head coach in the NBA Development League with the Idaho Stampede. Gates is a two-time recipient of the Dennis Johnson D-League Coach of the Year award (2006-07, 2007-08), having spent three seasons as the head coach for Idaho where he compiled a record of 101-51 (.664). He led the Stampede to the NBA Development League Championship in 2007-08.  In all, Gates worked 12 seasons with the Stampede, serving as either the head coach or as an assistant coach with the club since its inception, and has also coached for the IBA’s Rapid City Thrillers, CBL’s Hickory Nutz, USBL’s Oklahoma Storm, and the Beirut Blue Stars in Lebanon.

Following seven seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Borrego begins his first season with the Hornets. He joined the Spurs in the summer of 2003 as an assistant video coordinator and was named head video coordinator in the summer of 2004. He has served as an assistant coach for the Spurs summer league teams each of the last six years. Borrego served as an assistant coach at San Diego for two seasons (2001–03). During the 2002–03 campaign, USD won the WCC Championship and appeared in the 2003 NCAA Tournament. He played three seasons at University of San Diego and, as a senior, during the 2000–01 season, earned a spot on the West Coast Conference All-Academic Team.

Dallas Mavericks expect to re-sign Dirk Nowitzki

Eddie Sefko of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram report:

dirk nowitzki

For the first time in 12 years, Dirk Nowitzki will not be a Dallas Maverick when the clock strikes 11 tonight.

His free agency, confirmed Tuesday when his notification that he will opt out of the final year of his contract arrived at the Mavericks’ office, is not expected to last long. In fact, when he wakes up Thursday morning in Germany, he’ll likely have a handshake deal waiting for him…

The first step was for Nowitzki to inform the Mavericks he would opt out. The letter was faxed about noon Tuesday. He surrendered his 2010-11 salary of $21.5 million.

It’s a smart move on his part, because he now can sign a new four-year contract that could (and likely will) include a no-trade clause. He’ll also be capable of earning about $96 million over the next four years, money that would not be subject to any changes in the salary structure that could come next summer in collective-bargaining negotiations.