Kevin Pritchard fired as Trail Blazers general manager

Jason Quick of the Oregonian reports:

Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard has been fired by owner Paul Allen, less than an hour before the 2010 NBA Draft was set to begin.

A source close to Pritchard said Allen informed the popular general manager that Thursday would be his last day of work, which will include conducting the Blazers draft.

Hornets will trade Cole Aldrich draft rights, Morris Peterson to Thunder

The New Orleans Hornets selected Cole Aldrich with the 11th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. The Hornets are in negotiations in trading Aldrich and guard Morris Peterson in exchange for multiple draft picks. We will not be able to complete a trade until after the moratorium period concludes on July 8.

The full trade specifics will be updated at a later time. Multiple media outlets report that the Oklahoma City Thunder are the not-yet-named team New Orleans is trading with.

“The concept that we liked was the idea of being able to add two players,” said General Manager Jeff Bower. “We thought that multiple picks was something that we wanted to pursue, particularly, with the opportunity to add two different types of players. We felt it does present us with those options, should the deal be finalized.”

New Orleans originally selected Kansas’ Aldrich at the 11th slot. An early entry candidate for the 2010 Draft, Aldrich averaged 11.3 points and 9.8 rebounds as a junior, registering 15 double-doubles. He owns the Kansas school record for blocks in a season (125) and second on the career blocked shots list.

Peterson holds career averages of 10.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 27.4 minutes in 707 games (487 starts) with Toronto and New Orleans. Last season he played in 43 games (39 starts) for the Hornets, averaging 7.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.9 points in 21.2 minutes per game.

Wolves trade Ryan Gomes, Luke Babbitt draft rights to Blazers for Martell Webster

The Minnesota Timberwolves tonight acquired 6-7 guard/forward Martell Webster from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for forward Ryan Gomes and the draft rights to Luke Babbitt, the 16th overall pick in tonight’s draft.

“We’re excited to add a player like Martell who has the ability to shoot the basketball and display a rare athleticism on the floor. He fits in well with our stated desire to stay young and add maturity,” said David Kahn, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “We want to thank Ryan Gomes for being the consummate professional both on and off the court during his time in Minnesota and wish him the best of luck in the future.”

Just 23 years old but a five-year veteran in the league, Webster owns career averages of 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 301 games (164 starts) for the Blazers. The 6th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft out of Seattle Preparatory High School in Seattle, Wash., Webster rebounded to appear in all 82 games last season and post averages of 9.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot on opening night in 2008 that cause him to miss all but five minutes of the 2008-09 season. A career 37.2 percent shooter from behind the arc, Webster has connected on 120+ three-pointers in each of his last two full NBA seasons.

Gomes played three seasons in Minnesota, averaging 12.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 240 games. The 50th overall pick by the Boston Celtics in the 2005 NBA Draft, Minnesota acquired Gomes in the 2007 trade that sent Kevin Garnett to Boston.

Grizzlies trade draft rights of Dominique Jones to Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have acquired the draft rights to Dominique Jones from the Memphis Grizzlies for cash considerations. Jones was originally the 25th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Grizzlies.

Jones (6-4, 215) finished his three-year career at South Florida ranked fifth in career scoring (1,797 points), first in free throws attempted (615) and fifth in both field goals made (592) and attempted (1,339). He was named First Team All-Big East as a junior when he averaged 21.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

The Lake Wales, Fla., native led the Bulls in scoring all each of his three years. He was an honorable mention All-American and a finalist for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Award as a junior and was the only player in the nation to average at least 21 points, six rebounds and three assists per contest. He ranked second in the Big East (15th in the nation) in scoring in his final season with South Florida.

“We are excited to add Dominique to our organization,” President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson said. “He is 6-4 with a 6-9 wingspan and can do a little of everything. He can score, he can rebound and his assist-to-turnover ratio is exceptional.”

Rasheed Wallace to retire

David Aldridge of reports:

The Boston Celtics’ expected rebuilding began Thursday when veteran forward Rasheed Wallace officially decided to retire after 15 NBA seasons, a league source said.

Wallace’s retirement had been expected after the Celtics’ seven-game loss to the Lakers in the Finals, but Boston had held out some hope that the 35-year-old would change his mind with a few days’ contemplation.

Wallace signed a three-year, $18.9 million contract with Boston last summer, turning down offers from Orlando and San Antonio after the Celtics made a team-wide push to recruit him, sending Coach Doc Rivers, GM Danny Ainge and forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Wallace’s home to ask him to play in Boston. He left more than $12 million on the table by opting to retire.

Bulls will trade Kirk Hinrich to Wizards

Ric Bucher of ESPN The Magazine reports:

Bulls will trade Kirk Hinrich, draft pick #17 to Wizards

The Chicago Bulls have a deal in place that would move Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick to the Washington Wizards, freeing up enough cap space to pursue two maximum-salary players on this summer’s free-agent market, sources with knowledge of the Bulls’ plans said Thursday.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Washington would send to Chicago in the trade.

The deal can’t be officially consummated until July 8, when the Wizards will have room under the salary cap to absorb Hinrich’s $9 million contract without having to send back anything of similar value.

Knicks planning big LeBron James meeting July 1

Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:

Knicks planning big LeBron James meeting July 1

LeBron James has closely guarded his plans once his much-celebrated free agency starts next week. But the New York Knicks are making preparations like they are expecting to host his first stop.

According to a source, the Knicks are making plans to host an elaborate meal and meeting with James in a high-end location in Manhattan during the afternoon and evening of July 1, which is next Thursday. The tentative plan is for Knicks management and officials to host James and his various agents and friends for a large dinner party catered by a celebrity chef.

The Knicks are currently scouring the city for an available high-rise condo or apartment with a great view to rent for the event, the source said.

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Grizzlies admit they should have drafted DeJuan Blair

Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports:

Mike Heisley admits the Grizzlies blew it on draft night last year.

No, not by taking Hasheem Thabeet with their first pick in the draft. By passing on DeJuan Blair with their second one.

“We should have taken him,” Heisley said. “He was 15th on our list. But sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you get derailed. We got swayed by some discussions with the doctors. This year, we’re going to take the guy who is next on our list or someone is going to have to do a very good job explaining to me why we’re not.”