Archive for October, 2010

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.

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.

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.”

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

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

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.”

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has picked up the second-year option on the contract of forward/center Jordan Hill and the third-year option on guard Courtney Lee.

While neither player is a star, both are capable of being key backup contributors on the Rockets this season.

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.

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.

Pacers exercise Brandon Rush option

The Indiana Pacers announced Friday they have picked up the fourth-year option on Brandon Rush’s contract. Per club policy no details of the contract are released.

Rush, a third-year player out of Kansas, was drafted 13th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft.  In his three seasons with the Pacers, Rush has career averages of 8.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

Anderson Varejao did not travel with the Cavaliers to Toronto following practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts this afternoon. He was excused from traveling in order to be with his father who is scheduled to have heart surgery tomorrow in Cleveland.

Anderson’s game status will be updated tomorrow afternoon, but he is currently listed as Doubtful for tomorrow night’s game vs. the Raptors.

Our thoughts and best wishes are with Anderson, his father and their family.

Matt Bonner out 10-14 days

Matt Bonner out 10-14 days

San Antonio Spurs forward/center Matt Bonner underwent an MRI earlier today after injuring his right ankle in last night’s game vs. Indiana.

The MRI confirmed Bonner suffered Grade 2 right ankle sprain.

He is expected to be out of action for 10-14 days.

Bulls name Sidney Green Team Ambassador

The Chicago Bulls announced today that they have named former Bull Sidney Green as a Team Ambassador.  Green joins former Bulls great Scottie Pippen as a Team Ambassador.

Green will make the transition to his new role after serving as a scout and Player Development Assistant for the Bulls’ Basketball Operations Department.  In this capacity, he will serve as a goodwill ambassador and represent the organization at various community functions, speaking engagements, school activities, non-profit and youth group appearances, as well as other select civic events.  Sidney will also have a presence at Bulls games and appear at a variety of sponsor and team-related affairs.

“We are pleased to have Sidney assume his new role as Team Ambassador,” said Chicago Bulls President and COO Michael Reinsdorf.  “His compassion and enthusiasm for the Chicagoland community are a natural fit for the city of Chicago and the Bulls.”

In accepting his new position, Green said “I would like to thank the Bulls organization for promoting me to this position.  I will work to my utmost ability to earn and justify the confidence the Bulls have shown in me.  It is great to work for such a first-class organization, which is not only successful on the court but also is so committed to the betterment of our community.”

A member of the Bulls from 1983-86, the former power forward averaged 9.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 1.1 apg during his playing days in Chicago.  The Bulls selected Green with the fifth overall pick of the 1983 NBA Draft.

Grizzlies exercise options on O.J. Mayo, Darrell Arthur and Hasheem Thabeet

The Memphis Grizzlies exercised the fourth-year contract options on guard O.J. Mayo and forward Darrell Arthur and the third-year option on center Hasheem Thabeet, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.  All three players are now guaranteed through the 2011-12 season.

Mayo, the third overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, holds career averages of 17.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 38.0 minutes in 165 games (all starts).  The 6-4, 210-pound guard posted 17.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 37.9 minutes last season, and was the only Grizzlies player to start and play in every game.  The 22-year-old, who has yet to miss a game in his NBA career, entered the 2010-11 season with more minutes logged (6,234) than any other NBA player in the last two seasons aside from Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala.

Arthur, who missed most of his sophomore season due to right pectoralis surgery, bounced back this preseason to average 11.1 points (4th on the team) and 6.3 rebounds (2nd) in 24.9 minutes in eight games.  The 6-9, 235-pound forward, who stepped into the starting lineup last night and scored a career-high 19 points in the Grizzlies’ regular season opener vs. Atlanta, has posted 5.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 17.9 minutes in 109 games (66 starts) with the Grizzlies, who acquired his draft rights (27th overall) during the 2008 NBA Draft.  A key member of the 2008 NCAA Champion Kansas Jayhawks, the 22-year-old recorded 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14.3 minutes in 32 games last season.

Thabeet, the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, ranked second among rookies in blocks (1.31) while averaging 3.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.0 minutes in 68 games (13 starts) last season.  The 7-3, 267-pound center led all NBA players (min. 60 games) in blocks per 48 minutes (4.84).  The 23-year-old, who was named the 2009 Co-Big East Player of the Year (along with current San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair) in his third and final season at Connecticut, is the first Tanzanian-born player to play in the NBA.

The Grizzlies (0-1) will look to bounce back from last night’s opening night defeat, as they travel to Dallas to play the Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night at the American Airlines Center.  The game will be televised locally on SportSouth HD.

The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., has been selected to host the 2011 NBA Draft, scheduled for June 23, 2011, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Chairman and Managing Partner, Devils Arena Entertainment, Jeff Vanderbeek, and the Honorable Cory A. Booker, Mayor for the City of Newark, announced today at the Prudential Center before the New Jersey Nets’ home opener against the Detroit Pistons.

This marks the second time the NBA Draft is being held in New Jersey.

“We are delighted to bring one of the NBA’s premier events to Newark,” said Stern. “The Prudential Center is a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose arena that will be a great host for another exciting NBA Draft.”

“Hosting the draft is further affirmation of Prudential Center as a home for the NBA,” said Vanderbeek.  “In fact, this season the Rock will host more basketball games at the NBA, WNBA and college levels than all but two other arenas, Madison Square Garden and STAPLES Center.”

“Newark, New Jersey, is a basketball City,” said Mayor Booker.  “We are proud and honored to host one of basketball’s most significant annual events here in the Prudential Center. It will be a fantastic event, in our great City, helping to wrap up what is expected to be a tremendous year of basketball in Newark.”

The NBA Draft became a public event in 1979, and was held in various venues in New York City through 1991. It was held in Portland in 1992, followed by Detroit (1993), Indianapolis (1994), Toronto (1995), East Rutherford, N.J. (1996), Charlotte (1997), Vancouver (1998), and Washington D.C. (1999).

The Prudential Center, which opened Oct. 25, 2007, is located in downtown Newark and is the temporary home of New Jersey Nets. It also is the home arena of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall University’s Men’s Basketball.

The Theater at Madison Square Garden, which has hosted the NBA Draft for the last several years, is unavailable to hold this year’s Draft due to the ongoing transformation of Madison Square Garden.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports:

Tracy McGrady will be limited to 15 minutes per game

After being shut down for the preseason after playing only eight minutes, McGrady finally returned to practice Sunday. He confirmed that he will be limited to around 15 minutes per game for the time being. McGrady, 31, has hardly played the last two seasons because of a left knee that was surgically repaired in February 2009.

“They put minutes on me. I think it’s around 15,” McGrady said. “I’m only playing 15 minutes, so when I’m out there, I’m going as hard as I can go.”

Michael Lee of the Washington Post reports (via blog):

Gilbert Arenas will miss first two regular season games

Gilbert Arenas will miss at least the first two games of the regular season because of a strained tendon in his right ankle. Arenas missed his fourth straight practice on Wednesday and walked around the RDV Sports Complex in Orlando while wearing a protective boot.

Coach Flip Saunders said that Arenas will be re-evaluated, but ruled him out for the season opener on Thursday against the Magic and on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks. After practice, Arenas huddled with Saunders and President Ernie Grunfeld for a few minutes.

“He’s going to have a doctor look at it again,” Saunders said. “So he wont be here for these two. We’ll evaluate him and hopefully these days in the boot will let that [heal]. Right now the tendon’s inflamed, we’ve got to get that thing to settle down. Once it settles down and some of that fluid gets out, he’s probably going to have a better chance of playing. That’s at least what the medical staff tells me.”

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have picked up the option for the 2011-12 season for guard Jerryd Bayless.

Bayless (6-3, 204) is in his third NBA season after being drafted in the first round (11th overall pick) of the 2008 NBA Draft. The University of Arizona product averaged 8.5 points, 2.3 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 17.6 minutes of play over 74 games (11 starts) last season for the Portland Trail Blazers. In those 11 games as a starter, Bayless averaged 12.6 points, 3.3 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 24.4 minutes of action. During his rookie seasonin Portland, Bayless appeared in 53 games,averaging 4.3 points, 1.6 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 12.4 minutes of play. The Phoenix native was named the 2008 NBA Summer League MVP after leading the league in scoring at 29.8 points per game.

Hornets name Jon Ishop head trainer

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have named Jon Ishop Head Trainer. Ishop will oversee the health care, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, and daily training room operations, as well as travel logistics for the team.

Ishop joins the Hornets after eight seasons with the Houston Texans as an assistant athletic trainer. A certified athletic trainer, Ishop is also an NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist, Graston Technique Certified, and is a Licensed Massage Therapist.

Ishop received his bachelor of science degree in kinesiology at the University of Texas at Austin in 1998 and his master’s degree in sports administration from the University of Houston in 2001.

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