Maurice Lucas dead at 58

Portland Trail Blazers legendary forward Maurice Lucas passed away today at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer.

Lucas was a central figure on the Trail Blazers 1976-77 NBA Championship team and averaged 15.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.72 blocked shots over five seasons (1976-80, 87-88) in Portland.

During Portland’s 1976-77 NBA Championship season, Lucas led the team in scoring (20.2), field goals made (8.0), free throws made (4.2), offensive rebounds (2.4) and minutes (36.2). In the 1977 Playoffs, Lucas led the team in scoring in eight of the 19 games and in rebounding twice.

“Portland and the NBA lost one of their greats today,” said owner Paul Allen. “Maurice Lucas was an amazing man and I count myself lucky to have known him. We all – players, coaches, the owner and the fans – were made better by having Maurice a part of our team, whether playing on the championship team or, most recently as an assistant coach.

“He was one of the greatest Blazers ever. I’ll miss him. I and the entire Blazer family send our condolences to his wife, Pamela, and their children,” added Allen.

A standout at Marquette University, Lucas led the school to the NCAA National Championship game in 1974. Portland acquired Lucas as the second pick in the 1976 ABA dispersal draft. He played 12 seasons in the NBA and four in the American Basketball Association.

“Words cannot express the magnitude of loss we feel tonight with the passing of Maurice Lucas,” said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. “The Trail Blazers family has lost our Enforcer, but for me personally, I have lost a brother.

“Maurice has left unforgettable fingerprints on every decade of Trail Blazers basketball, yet it is his booming personality, his warrior-like loyalty, and most of all, his undying love for his family, for the Trail Blazers, for his teammates, and for the city of Portland that we will all hold dearly in our hearts. On behalf of myself and the entire Trail Blazers organization, our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Pam, sons Maurice Jr. and David, daughter Kristin and grandson Luke,” added Miller.

Selected to the All-Star Game in three straight seasons from 1977-79, Lucas is one of four three-time All-Stars in Trail Blazers history (Clyde Drexler, Brandon Roy, Sidney Wicks).

“We have lost a champion of a man,” said Trail Blazers Head Coach Nate McMillan. “Maurice was a great man and a great friend. He battled his illness like the warrior he was on the basketball court.

“We were so fortunate to have his influence on the young men on this team. He was my mentor, my big brother, and I always knew he had my back. He has left us far too soon,” added McMillan.

The Pittsburgh, Pa., native was named to the All-NBA Second Team and All-Defensive First Team in 1977-78. He was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 1978-79.

Lucas most recently served as an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers for five seasons from 2005-10, and previously in 1988-89.

The Trail Blazers honored Lucas by retiring his uniform number (No. 20) on Nov. 4, 1988.

Blazers exercise options on Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez

The Portland Trail Blazers exercised their fourth-year options on the contracts of forward Nicolas Batum and guard/forward Rudy Fernandez.

The moves, announced today by General Manager Rich Cho, keep both players under contract through the 2011-12 season.

In 119 games (104 starts) with Portland, Batum has averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 20.7 minutes. He is a career 48.3 percent shooter from the field, including a 39.0 percent mark from 3-point range.

Fernandez has posted averages of 9.3 points (38.9% 3-PT), 2.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 24.4 minutes in 143 games (six starts) for the Trail Blazers. His 159 3-pointers in 2008-09 are the most in a season by a rookie in NBA history.

The Trail Blazers originally acquired Batum (2008) and Fernandez (2007) via trade.

Interesting Kevin McHale take on Respect for the Game techs

Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

NBA officials say their market research shows fans have been turned off by players’ protests and are calling this officiating emphasis all about “Respect for the Game.”

Old-timer Kevin McHale doesn’t like that designation.

“Respect for the game is playing hard,” said McHale, the former Wolves boss who is now an analyst for TNT and NBA TV. “Respect for the game is going out there every single night and busting your hump. If you’re going to give technicals out of respect for the game, it should be for guys who are doggin’ it. Give a technical to a guy who’s walking up and down the floor, or the guy who’s not diving after the ball or going after the rebound and not boxing out, or who’s afraid to hit somebody to make some space down there.

“Give them a technical, then I’m all for it.”

James Jones benefitting from absence of Mike Miller

Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports:

James Jones benefitting from absence of Mike Miller

James Jones (Miami Heat) has benefited the most from the absence of Mike Miller, who had thumb surgery and is out until January.

After struggling with open looks against Boston in the season opener, James has been effective the past two games.

He was 9-of-14 on 3-pointers against the 76ers and Magic.

“I’m just doing what they brought me here to do and what I’ve done my entire career, which is shoot the ball,” Jones said.

“I look at it as I’m an NBA player, I’m a skilled player and I just have to be ready capitalize and I have to take advantages of the opportunities that I’m given.”

Spurs sign Tony Parker to contract extension

Spurs sign Tony Parker to contract extension

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that guard Tony Parker has signed a multi-year contract extension. Per club policy details of the contract were not announced. The San Antonio Express-News reports that the deal is for $50 million over four years.

“We are thrilled that Tony has signed a long-term contract extension,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. “He has enjoyed an outstanding NBA career. With all that he has accomplished it is easy to forget that he is only 28-years-old. Tony is a unique talent and a wonderful young man.”

A three-time All-Star (2006, 2007 and 2009), Parker is currently in his 10th NBA season.

Selected by the Spurs with the 28th pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft, Parker has been the team’s starting point guard since the fifth game of the 2001-02 season. A month before his 20th birthday he was named to the 2002 All-Rookie First Team becoming the first foreign-born guard to earn the honor.

Parker was the starting point guard on three of the Spurs NBA Championship teams (2003, 2005 and 2007). During the team’s latest championship run, he was named the MVP of the 2007 NBA Finals. He is the only European-born player to be named an NBA Finals MVP.

During the 2005-06 season Parker led the team in both scoring and assists, becoming the first point guard in Spurs history to lead the team in scoring. For the season he averaged 18.9 points and 5.8 assists while shooting .548 (623-1,136) from the field. He ranked third in the league in FG percentage (the first time since 1973-74 that a point guard ranked in the top three in FG percentage).

Parker again made history during the 2008-09 campaign when he was named to the All-NBA Third Team, becoming the first European-born point guard to earn All-NBA honors. For the season he averaged a career-high 22.0 points and a career-best 6.9 assists.

In his 10-year NBA career Parker has appeared in a total of 669 regular season games, averaging 16.6 points and 5.7 assists per game. Among Spurs all-time NBA leaders he ranks fifth in games played (669), fourth in points (11,133) and third in assists (3,781). He has seen action in 132 playoff games, averaging 18.7 points and 4.9 assists in the postseason. Among active NBA playoff career leaders he ranks eighth in games (132), seventh in points (2,473) and fifth in assists (651).

San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker takes a foul shot in the second half against the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the second round of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs at the US Airways Center, in Phoenix, AZ, May 3,2010. The Suns defeated the Spurs 111-102 to take a 1-0 series lead. UPI/Art Foxall Photo via Newscom

Allen Iverson signs with Besiktas in Turkey

Press Release From President of Besiktas Sports Club Yildirim Dimiroren:

Distinguished Press members and participants:

Allen Iverson signs with Besiktas in Turkey

First of all I would like to welcome you all and express my pleasure for being here as the President of Besiktas Sports Club – one of Europe’s biggest sports club to sign with one of the best ever basketball players, Allen Iverson. I would like to underline once more Besiktas is a big and strong club, having a history of 107 years with 14 sports branches and nearly 20 million supporters both in Turkey and all around the world. For all branches, Besiktas has one goal, and that is Championship! Allen again, this season, for basketball, we have started out for the Championship. Now we’re transferring one of the best basketball players in the world. The only aim of Besiktas, with Allen Iverson, is definitely the championship in Turkey and in Europe. We at Besiktas believe that a player as Allen Iverson, who won top scorer of NBA four times and MVP title two times, will bring the championship title to the team.

I personally believe that especially after seeing the enthusiasm and the excitement of Besiktas fans, he will make a huge contribution on the way to championship.

I must also add that not only Besiktas fans but also as all sport lovers in Turkey; we are waiting for Allen Iverson with great excitement.

As you all know, after Turkey won the silver basketball cup in 2010, the interest and the respect in basketball have been increased. The fact that a basketball star like Allen Iverson, will be playing for Turkey,and especially for Besiktas, I believe will accelerate and strengthen Turkish basketball as a whole. Currently, we have five Turkish players playing in the NBA.

I’m sure Allen Iverson will love Istanbul and Besiktas very much and will be very happy with us. We are very proud of transferring such a huge name. With Iverson’s transfer, the fans and followers of Besiktas, not only in the USA or Turkey, but all around the world, will grow in numbers. From now on, the world of basketball will be watching Besiktas. Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the board members especially Seref Yalcin, for their great efforts in achieving this transfer.

This year, the Besiktas Board concluded transfers of world famous soccer stars, like Quaresma and Guti. As a final note, today is the 87th establishment of the Turkish republic. Our joy is doubled by Iverson’s transfer on this republic day. Happy Republic Day and welcome Allen Iverson.

Yildirim Dimiroren
President of Besiktas Sports Club

David Stern has plan for NBA in Europe

The AP reports:

The travel plans for NBA teams could be a bit more extensive a decade from now.

NBA commissioner David Stern told a luncheon audience in Miami on Friday that he envisions a five-team European division within the league sometime in the next 10 years.

It’s not a new notion, but Stern’s words nonetheless represented a strong stance that the NBA is more committed than ever to expansion and further globalizing the game.

“It’s a wonderful topic, because 10 years ago, I said, ‘Oh, it’s inevitable, it’ll happen in 10 years,’ ” Stern said, speaking to business leaders. “And now what I’m saying is, ‘It’s inevitable, it’ll happen in 10 years.’ But in terms of globalization, we’re going to see a desire for franchises in Europe — and in about 10 years, you’ll send me a postcard.”

NBA suspends Jason Williams for making contact with referee

NBA suspends Jason Williams for making contact with referee

Jason Williams of the Orlando Magic has been suspended without pay for one game for making contact with a game official following his ejection, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred with 58 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the Magic’s 112-83 victory over the Washington Wizards at Amway Center on Thursday, Oct. 28.

Williams will serve his suspension tonight when the Magic face the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena.

Bobcats exercise options on D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson

Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins announced today that the team has exercised the fourth-year option on point guard D.J. Augustin and the third-year option on guard Gerald Henderson.

Augustin, who was selected by the Bobcats with the ninth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, has  posted career averages of 8.9 points, 2.9 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 153 games. Additionally, he has connected on .410 from the field, .418 from beyond the three-point line and .853 from the free-throw line. In 72 games as a rookie, he averaged 11.8 points, 3.5 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 26.5 minutes and was named to the 2008-09 All-Rookie Second Team.

An early-entry candidate from Duke University, Henderson averaged 2.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in 43 games last season. He was selected by the Bobcats with the 12th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

The Charlotte Bobcats, who became the NBA’s 30th franchise when they joined the league in 2004-05, host the Indiana Pacers tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena. The game will be televised on SportSouth and heard on WFNZ 610 AM and across the Bobcats radio network.