Archive for September 24th, 2010

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed forward/center Andray Blatche to a contract extension and has exercised its fourth-year option on center JaVale McGee.  Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

“Andray and JaVale are two pieces that we feel can solidify our frontcourt for years to come and extending their contracts certainly fits in with our long-term plan of rebuilding this team with a core of young, talented players,” said Grunfeld.  “Both players performed very well over the second half of last season and we’re confident that they will continue to develop and build on the potential and promise that they have shown throughout the beginning stages of their careers.”

Blatche averaged career-highs of 14.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 81 games for the Wizards last season.  The sixth-year big man increased his productivity in the 32 games following the All-Star break, averaging 22.1 points and 8.3 rebounds while posting five games of 30+ points and 10+ rebounds during that stretch.  Blatche finished with 24 games of scoring 20+ points and 16 double-doubles on the year while leading the team in games played, minutes, field goals made & attempted, steals and free throw attempts.  He has increased his scoring and rebounding averages in each of his five seasons since being acquired by the Wizards in the second round (49th overall pick) of the 2005 NBA Draft.

McGee averaged 6.4 points and 4.0 rebounds last season while ranking ninth in the NBA with 1.7 blocks and first in the NBA in blocks per 48 minutes (5.01).  Like Blatche, he increased his numbers after the All-Star break, averaging 10.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks  (including 13.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game during the month of April).  McGee, who was  selected by the Wizards with the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, has participated in the USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp for the past two summers and was tabbed as one of 15 finalists for the team’s 12-man roster for the 2010 World Championships.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have named David Griffin as Vice President of Basketball Operations, Michael Blackstone as Executive Director of Basketball Operations, Derek Millender as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach and Physical Training Coordinator for Player Development, Stephen Spiro as Assistant Athletic Trainer and Kwame Graves-Fulgham as Video Coordinator, Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts.

Additionally, Grant announced the promotions of David Henderson to Director of East Coast Scouting, Wes Wilcox to Director of Player Personnel, Trent Redden to Basketball Operations Manager/Scout, Dan Vincent to Assistant Video Coordinator/Advance Scout Manager and Larisha Whatley to Player Programs and Team Services Manager.

“We are extremely proud to promote and advance the careers of the high-quality people already within our organization. These individuals have helped us develop our strong foundation,” said Cavs General Manager Chris Grant. “At the same time, we are pleased to have built an organization and a culture that attracts talented, successful, hard-working individuals.”

Griffin joins the Cavaliers following a 17-season stint with the Phoenix Suns, where he most recently served as the Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations. With the Cavs, Griffin will work closely with General Manager Chris Grant on all basketball and front office matters and oversee the team’s scouting and player personnel areas as well as the team’s draft process. Prior to his final position with Phoenix, Griffin also held the roles of assistant general manager of player personnel, director of player personnel, assistant director of player personnel, basketball operations assistant and media relations coordinator with the Suns following his start as an intern in the media relations department in 1993.

Blackstone comes to Cleveland from the Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI), in Baltimore, MD. As the Vice President of Marketing/Master Facilitator at SNI, Blackstone consulted and advised partner companies, including Sunoco, Wachovia, Bank of America, TV Guide and the Cleveland Indians of MLB, on high-level negotiations.

Millender will remain in Cleveland, joining the Cavaliers from local Cleveland State University (CSU). As the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for four seasons at CSU, he was responsible for the strength and conditioning programs for nearly 300 student-athletes in 17 intercollegiate sports. Prior to that, he served as the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Cleveland Indians and their Class A and Double-A teams.

Spiro spent six years with Temple University as the men’s basketball head athletic trainer. In addition to his basketball experience, he also served as the Boston Red Sox Triple-A team’s assistant athletic trainer for a season prior to joining Temple.

Graves-Fulgham joins the team from the Boston Celtics. He played an instrumental role the past two seasons in Boston as the assistant video coordinator assisting the head video coordinator in performing video breakdowns of upcoming opponents and assembling personnel reports to coaches and players among other duties.

Henderson joined the Cavs prior to the 2007-08 season as a scout. He starred as a player at Duke, reaching the Final Four as a senior in 1986 before playing one season in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers and eight seasons overseas in Israel and Turkey. Following his playing career, Henderson spent four seasons at Duke as an assistant coach before being named head coach at the University of Delaware in 2000.

Wilcox started with the Cavaliers prior to the 2003-04 season and for the past three seasons has served as the team’s Pro/College Scout.  He has played a key role in the Cavaliers personnel scouting process focusing on the minor leagues, NCAA, NBA and numerous international leagues. He has also held the role of advance scout with the team.

Redden began his NBA career with the Cavaliers as the basketball operations intern in July of 2006. He was hired immediately following the 2006-07 season as the basketball operations assistant and over the past three seasons has aided in all areas of the Cavaliers basketball operations team.

Vincent also began his career in Cleveland as an intern, joining the Cavs as a team seasonal assistant prior to the 2007-08 season. Following the completion of the season, he was brought on as the coaching staff coordinator, working closely with the head coach and assistant coaches in all areas of game preparation.

Whatley started in Cleveland in 2004 as public relations coordinator before joining the basketball operations as the team services coordinator. Prior to joining the Cavs, she spent four years in Detroit as a media relations coordinator for the Detroit Pistons and assistant director of media relations for the Detroit Shock.

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday a reorganization of the basketball operations department with two key promotions. In their new positions, Marc Eversley will take on a more significant role in player personnel scouting and evaluation with the title of Assistant General Manager and Alvin Williams will transition to the front office as the team’s Director of Player Development.

Eversley, in his fifth season with the Raptors, previously served as Assistant General Manager, Player Development, coordinating the off-court development of players and assisting in the management of the team’s day-to-day operations.

“The departure of Masai Ujiri to the Denver Nuggets has opened up a nice opportunity for Marc,” said Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo. “Marc has been actively involved in the scouting and decision-making process so this is a natural step for him to take.”

Williams was originally hired as an Assistant Coach/Basketball Development on July 1, 2009, marking his first foray into team management since he ended his NBA playing career in 2007. He played nine seasons with the Raptors from 1997-2006.

In his new role, Williams will now assume the task of off-court development for the team including the planning and coordinating of life skills training and overall player relationship management. He is expected to continue to travel with the team while working as needed on-court with players in their basketball development.

“While Alvin loved getting back on the court last season in a coaching role, I think he always had his sights set on management someday. I trust and value his opinions on basketball and people and he will be an invaluable resource to the players, coaches and management team alike,” added Colangelo.

Cavaliers guard Mo Williams experienced right groin pain while working out at Cleveland Clinic Courts in preparation for the upcoming NBA season.

He was examined by Head Team Physician Dr. Richard Parker, including an MRI at The Cleveland Clinic. Results revealed inflammation.

He will now undergo a period of treatment and rehab at Cleveland Clinic Courts.

He is expected to participate in select low-impact team activities with the start of training camp next week, but is currently projected to not resume full practice participation until mid-October.

The Memphis Grizzlies signed first round picks Xavier Henry (ZAH-vee-ay) and Greivis Vasquez (GRAY-vess VASS-kez) to multi-year contracts, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“It’s great to have both Xavier and Greivis signed and in the fold now,” Wallace said. “They’re both very bright young men from tremendous college programs. We think they can definitely help our team.

“Xavier has an advantage in that he has an NBA body. He can make shots. That’s his main strength right now. He’s also a very mature, heady young man from a terrific basketball family.

“Greivis is a player coming off a fantastic senior year at Maryland, where he won the Bob Cousy Award as the top playmaker in the country and the ACC Player of the Year. He was an across-the-board player in college. He scored, rebounded, assisted, and got steals. He just needs to come in and play that all-around game, and also show the passion that was his trademark in college.”

Henry, a 6-6, 220-pound guard, was selected 12th overall by the Grizzlies in the 2010 NBA Draft after earning 2009-10 Big 12 All-Freshman honors in his lone season at the University of Kansas.  The southpaw placed second on the Jayhawks in scoring (13.4 points) while averaging 4.4 rebounds and 1.50 steals per game.

The 19-year-old marksman, who shot 41.8 percent from three-point range (69-of-165 3FG) in college, will add perimeter shooting to a Grizzlies squad that finished 30th in the NBA in three-point field goals made (344) and attempted (1020) and 26th in three-point field goal percentage (.337) last season.  Born in Gent, Belgium and raised in Oklahoma City, Henry is the first player in Jayhawks history to leave for the NBA following his freshman season.

Vasquez, a 6-6, 200-pound guard, was selected 28th overall by the Grizzlies in the 2010 NBA Draft.  The reigning ACC Player of the Year and the winner of the 2009-10 Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s best point guard, Vasquez is the only player in ACC history to record at least 2,000 points (2,171), 750 assists (772) and 600 rebounds (647) in a career.  The 23-year-old posted 19.6 points, 6.3 assists (5th in NCAA) and 4.6 rebounds as a senior at the University of Maryland.

A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Vasquez averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and a team-high 4.0 assists in five games (three starts) in the 2010 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that Jacque Vaughn has been added to the team’s coaching staff. He will join the Spurs as an assistant coach.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jacque back to the Spurs family,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. “The same attributes that made him the ultimate pro as a player will make him an outstanding coach. He has a great work ethic, is very intelligent and has an extremely high basketball IQ. He’ll be a wonderful addition to our coaching staff.”

Vaughn played 12 seasons in the NBA, retiring after the 2008-09 campaign.

After an outstanding collegiate career, Vaughn was selected by the Utah Jazz in the first round of the 1997 NBA Draft, with the 27th overall pick.  During each of his four seasons at Kansas he led the Jayhawks in assists.  He was named a Second Team All-American in both his junior and senior seasons.  Vaughn was named the 1996 Big Eight Player of the Year as a junior and he was the 1997 GTE Academic All-American of the Year (thanks to a 3.72 GPA).  He ranks second on KU’s all-time list in career assists, handing out 804 in his four seasons with Kansas.

Vaughn spent his first four NBA seasons with the Jazz. He then enjoyed stints with Atlanta, Orlando and New Jersey before signing with the Spurs on July 12, 2006. He played his final three seasons with the Spurs and was the back-up point guard on the Spurs 2007 NBA Championship team. In his 12-year NBA career he averaged 4.5 points and 2.5 assists in 776 games.

Vaughn and his wife, Laura, have two sons, Jalen and Jeremiah.

Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Warriors, Don Nelson to reportedly part ways

Sources said Thursday that Warriors coach Don Nelson will be out by the opening of training camp Tuesday and will give way to assistant coach Keith Smart, who will be tasked with leading the transition to a new era under yet-to-be-approved owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob.

Nelson, 70, who last season became the league’s all-time winningest coach, said just weeks before the Warriors’ summer-league games in July that he was reinvigorated and would coach the team in Las Vegas. But when the summer league opened, Nelson had already opted not to coach and didn’t even show up for practices.

His voice-mail greeting Thursday said it all: “Hi, this is Nellie. I’m busy, very busy, probably swimming with the dolphins.”

Nelson might be allowed to call the decision a resignation, but sources said he was interested in remaining with the team in some non-coaching capacity but instead was asked to leave altogether. ESPN reported that Nelson will receive the entire $6 million he is owed for the 2010-11 season. General manager Larry Riley did not return a message left on his cell phone.

Don Nelson Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors in action vs. the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California. The Kings beat the Warriors 115-98 Photo via Newscom

Henry Abbott of reports:

NBA referees will have more reasons to issue technical fouls next season.

At the referees’ annual meeting in Jersey City, N.J., on Thursday, the league announced the guidelines for technical fouls will expand to include “overt” player reactions to referee calls.

Referees have been instructed to call a technical for:

- Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.

- Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.

- Running directly at an official to complain about a call.

- Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.

In addition, referees have been instructed to consider calling technicals on players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure, or say things like, “Come on!” They can also consider technicals for players who “take the long path to the official”, walking across the court to make their case.

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

Timofey Mozgov impressing Knicks early

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports:

Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks’ new international man of mystery, may have won the starting center job even before training camp begins.

A Knicks official says that Mozgov, the 7-1 rookie from St. Petersburg, Russia, has been impressive during voluntary training sessions in Greenburgh and that coach Mike D’Antoni is already considering starting Mozgov alongside Amar’e Stoudemire, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Raymond Felton.

Mozgov’s presence is further proof that Eddy Curry’s days with the club are numbered. Curry’s expiring contract makes him a valuable trading asset that the Knicks would gladly include in a potential deal for Denver’s Carmelo Anthony. However, unless the Knicks can acquire a first-round pick to send to the Nuggets, it is unlikely that team president Donnie Walsh will have the pieces to satisfy Denver.

Nets continue push for Carmelo Anthony

Fred Kerber of the New York Post reports:

Nets continue push for Carmelo Anthony

The Nets may come out of all this discussing and proposing without Carmelo Anthony, but it won’t be from a lack of trying.

The Nets have been in steady discussions with the Nuggets and other teams, attempting to piece together a deal that would bring the 26-year-old All-Star to New Jersey through a sign and trade. The Nets have explored a straight Nuggets-Nets deal and have sought to bring in other teams, if necessary, to get it done.

Sources around the league insist the Nets have been persistent in their pursuit which has provided a roller coaster of optimism and say the Nets believe they have made progress. But as one rival executive stressed, “Denver has a new [management] team in place, and they are going to check, recheck and then delay any deal, especially anything involving their best player.”

Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony (L) goes up for a jump shot against Utah Jazz's C.J. Miles in the first quarter of Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 25, 2010. REUTERS/Ramin Rahimian (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Brad Miller sprains left ankle

Brad Miller sprains left ankle

Houston Rockets center Brad Miller suffered a sprained left ankle during a pre-training camp workout on Tuesday.

Miller is expected to be sidelined anywhere between 10 days to two weeks.

With the Rockets expected to limit the minutes Yao Ming plays this season, Miller could have a large role on the team in 2010-11.

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