Archive for August 4th, 2010

The New Orleans Hornets announced the hiring of assistant coaches Randy Ayers and Fred Vinson today, completing first-year head coach Monty Williams’ staff. Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

Williams’ coaching staff stands at Mike Malone, who will serve as the lead assistant, Bryan Gates, James Borrego, Ayers and Vinson.

“Randy and Fred will bring a wealth of experience to our staff,” said Hornets Head Coach Monty Williams. “Randy is an experienced coach both on the collegiate and professional level. He brings many tools that will help strengthen our coaching staff and will be able to assist our players on a variety of levels. Fred’s experience, particularly with the Clippers, will be instrumental in helping the younger players as they adjust to the NBA.”

Ayers holds a strong track record as an assistant and head coach in college and the NBA. He served as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2003-04 season posting a 21-31 record. Prior to his head coaching job in Philadelphia, Ayers served as an assistant coach for the 76ers for five seasons (1998-2003). As the top assistant under Head Coach Larry Brown, Ayers helped guide Philadelphia to five consecutive playoff appearances, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2001.

The Springfield, Ohio native has also served as an assistant coach in the NBA for the Orlando Magic (2004-2006), the Washington Wizards (2007-09) and again for the 76ers during the 2009-10 season.

Ayers began his coaching career by serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Miami University (Ohio) for two seasons. He then served as an assistant for two seasons at West Point before moving on to Ohio State. At Columbus, Ayers spent six seasons as an assistant coach before landing his first head coaching job at the Ohio State University. In his eight seasons with the Buckeyes, Ayers spearheaded teams that earned two consecutive No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, while also winning the National Coach of the Year honor by the Associated Press in 1991 and the Big Ten Coach of the Year award in 1991 and 1992.

Ayers was drafted by the Chicago Bulls, but was cut from the team without ever playing professionally. He has been married for the last 27 years to his wife, Carol. Randy and Carol have two sons, Ryan and Cameron. Ryan played basketball at Notre Dame and graduated in 2009. Cameron, who will begin his freshman year at Bucknell this fall and will play basketball for the Bison.

Vinson, a Georgia Tech graduate, had been an assistant for the L.A. Clippers since 2007. During his time with L.A., he also served as the Director of Player Programs in those years, mentoring younger players to ease their transition in life in the NBA.

Born on Jan. 28, 1971, Vinson played parts of the 1994-95 and 1999-2000 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and Seattle SuperSonics, tallying career averages of 1.3 points and 5.2 minutes per game. Vinson also averaged 3.3 points per game for the Clippers during the 2005-06 NBA preseason. He was also a member of the 2002-03 CBA champions Yakima Sun Kings, coached by former Portland Trail Blazer coach Bill Bayno. Vinson also played for SLUC Nancy, in Nancy, France during the 2003-04 season.

WNBA signs Jamba Juice as new sponsor

The AP reports:

The smoothie retailer Jamba Juice has made its first investment in a national sports league by signing a multi-year deal to sponsor the W.N.B.A.

The deal will be part of a national marketing campaign promoting health and wellness as well as promotional materials for Jamba Juice stores in W.N.B.A. markets, officials said. The league will also work with the retailer to promote a program known as Jamba Jump, a fitness routine that uses jump ropes. The goal is to reach 1 million children through the partnership, they said. The program will debut at Los Angeles Sparks games and then expand to other teams.

Celtics sign Shaquille O’Neal

Celtics sign Shaquille O'Neal

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed free agent center Shaquille O’Neal.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille’s caliber to your team,” said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations. “His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster.”

O’Neal, a 7’1” center, posted averages of 12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and shot 56.6% from the field last season in 53 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers.  The former Louisiana State Tiger is a three-time NBA Finals MVP (2000, 2001, 2002) and former NBA MVP (2000).  He has been named to 15 All Star games and also has been named All-Star Game MVP three times.  His 15 All-Star appearances are the second most all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 17. He is a member of four NBA Championship teams (3, Los Angeles Lakers, 2000, 2001, 2002; 1, Miami Heat, 2006).  One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history (he was youngest member of this team, at the age of 24, when it was named in 1996), O’Neal also is one of just three players in NBA history to be named league MVP, All-Star Game MVP and Finals MVP in the same season (1999-2000).

“I am honored to be joining the Celtics,” said O’Neal. “I have played against Paul, Ray, Kevin, Rajon, and Jermaine for many years and it will be great to be able to call them my teammates. I cannot wait to get to Boston to get started in pursuit of another championship.”

The first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by Orlando, O’Neal has posted career averages of 24.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.  He also has appeared in 214 career playoff games with averages of 24.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.  O’Neal is the fifth leading scorer in NBA history (28,255 points) and is 14th in NBA history in total rebounds (12,921).

Cleveland Cavaliers' Shaquille O'Neal (L) drives on Chicago Bulls' Brad Miller during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff series in Chicago April 25, 2010. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Suns sign Matt Janning

The Phoenix Suns have signed guard Matt Janning to a multi-year contract, the team announced today.

The 6-4, 198-pound Janning was a member of the Suns’ 2010 entry in the Las Vegas Summer League.  The Minnesota-born guard started all five games for the Summer Suns, averaging 12.6 points, third-most on the team behind only Gani Lawal and Earl Clark, and 5.8 rebounds, second-most of any Sun (Lawal).

A four-year collegiate performer at Northeastern University (2006-10), Janning was a two-time selection to the All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) First Team as both a junior and senior, and was named the CAA’s Most Valuable Player as a junior.  The 22-year-old averaged 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 128 career games (127 starts) for the Huskies.  As a senior, Janning averaged a team-leading 15.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists in earning the 2010 Herbert Gallagher Award as Northeastern’s top male scholar-athlete.

The AP reports:

New Jersey center Brook Lopez, struggling to recover from a bout with mono, has withdrawn from the U.S. national team and will be replaced by Washington’s JaVale McGee.

Lopez informed USA Basketball officials Wednesday that he didn’t believe he was in good enough condition to take part in training camp next week in New York.

InsideHoops.com editor says:

Team USA is now dreadfully short on legit big-men. The squad’s current 15-man roster includes centers Tyson Chandler and McGee, and power forwards Kevin Love, Lamar Odom and Jeff Green. If Green does not make the final 12-man roster — and I had assumed he wouldn’t, though perhaps this increases his chances — the team will be very thin up front.

2010-11 Wizards preseason schedule

The Washington Wizards announced their seven-game 2010 preseason schedule today, highlighted by two preseason games at Verizon Center.  After playing at Dallas (Oct. 5), Cleveland (Oct. 7) and Chicago (Oct. 8) to open the preseason schedule, the Wizards will return home to host the Atlanta Hawks on October 12 and the Milwaukee Bucks on October 14 at Verizon Center.  The Wizards will conclude 2010 preseason action with games in New York against the Knicks (Oct. 17) and versus Detroit in Toledo, OH (Oct. 19) before opening the regular season on Oct. 28 at Orlando.

“We are excited for the 2010-11 season to begin, and our preseason games will allow our fans a preview of what is ahead for our team,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld.  “The anticipated debuts of our offseason additions and the return of our veteran players give us much to look forward to as we head into the upcoming season.”

The NBA announced last night that the Wizards will open the season at Orlando in a nationally-televised game on TNT.  The entire 2010-11 regular season schedule will be announced on Tuesday, August 10.

Pistons re-sign Ben Wallace

Pistons re-sign Ben Wallace

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has re-signed center Ben Wallace.  Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Wallace appeared in 69 games (67 starts) last season averaging 5.5 points, a team-high 8.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and a team-leading 1.2 blocks in 28.6 minutes per game.

The 14-year NBA veteran became the 17th player in NBA history to record 2,000 career blocks [at New Jersey (2/2/10)].  At 6-foot-9, he is the shortest player in league history to reach the 2,000-block plateau.  Wallace also recorded his 1,200th career steal [at Phoenix (11/22/09)] to become one of only four players (Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish, David Robinson) in NBA history to record 2,000 career blocks and 1,200 career steals.

Wallace, 35, has NBA career averages of 6.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 30.7 minutes in 972 games (852 starts) with Washington, Orlando, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland.

During his first stint in Detroit (2000 to 2006) he was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year and an NBA All-Star four times.  Wallace was an All-NBA Second Team selection three times (2003, 2004, 2006), All-NBA Third Team selection twice (2002 and 2005) and an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection five times (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006).

The Pistons have made the playoffs in five of the seven years Wallace has played in Detroit, winning Eastern Conference Championships in 2004 and 2005 and the NBA Championship in 2004.  Wallace is the franchise’s all-time leader in regular-season and playoff blocks (1,381 and 215, respectively) and ranks first among Pistons’ all-time playoff leaders in rebounds (1,237).

He holds franchise single-game records for blocks in a game (10 – twice), defensive rebounds in a quarter (10) and blocks in a quarter (6).  During the 2006-07 season, he became just the fifth player in NBA history to record 100 blocks and 100 steals for seven consecutive seasons joining Hakeem Olajuwon (12 times), Julius Erving (seven times), Sam Lacey (seven times) and David Robinson (seven times).  Wallace ranks fourth among active players in career blocks with 2,032 and led the NBA in blocks during the 2001-02 season (3.48 bpg).

Originally acquired by the Pistons along with Chucky Atkins in exchange for Grant Hill as part of a sign-and-trade deal with Orlando (8/3/00), Wallace signed with Chicago as a free agent on July 13, 2006.  He was traded by Chicago to Cleveland as part of a three-team trade on February 21, 2008.

InsideHoops.com editor says: This move makes sense. Why not keep Big Ben around? He likely signed for the league minimum or something close, and is a good veteran presence, though at this point he’s best used in extremely limited minutes to grab some boards and slam into people.

April 12, 2010: Detroit Pistons' Ben Wallace (6) during the NBA basketball game between the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Piston at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

NBA keeps growing in India

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports:

The NBA’s goal is to make basketball the second-most popular sport in India behind cricket. Encouraging signs point to that possibility, especially with the growth of India’s middle class and an economy not hit hard by recession.

“It’s a very big priority for the NBA,” said Heidi Ueberroth, president of NBA International. “It is a long-term view, but we do expect rapid growth.”

The National Council of Applied Economic Research reports India’s high-income households will surpass the number of low-income households this year for the first time, with 62% considered middle class.

“Every single metric you look (at), people are looking for more entertainment options and sporting options,” Ueberroth said.

Making the most of this, she said, begins with infrastructure and grass-roots efforts — providing access to courts and creating chances to play organized ball.

Pondering Zach Randolph in Memphis

Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports:

Pondering Zach Randolph in Memphis

Do the Grizzlies trust him enough to give him a rich, long-term deal? Especially when a new collective bargaining agreement could change all the rules? Why would the Grizzlies sign Randolph to a contract under the current collective bargaining agreement when the new one is almost certainly going to be harder on the players?

All of which means that owner Mike Heisley will likely offer Randolph considerably less than the max deal he’s been playing under the last few years. And it’ll be hard to blame Randolph if he declines.

Yes, Randolph seems to genuinely like Memphis. Yes, he’s gratified by the way he’s been welcomed. But he’s also the best and most dominant player on the team. Is he really going to play for substantially less than Rudy Gay?

At some point, it may become a point of pride for Randolph. He considers himself one of the elite power forwards in the league. Why should he settle for something less than those players make?

Apr. 04, 2010 - Orlando, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02104219 Orlando Magic player Marcin Gortat (R) defends against Memphis Grizzlies player Zach Randolph (L) during the first half of the NBA game at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida, USA, 04 April 2010.

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