Archive for February, 2011

Talk of All-Star has been Melo, lockout

By Jeff Lenchiner

LOS ANGELES, CA — While the main attractions of 2011 NBA All-Star weekend are the on-court festivities, the off-court topics have been the same here as they have in the prior weeks and months of the regular season.

Everyone wants to know where Carmelo Anthony will go. High-up NBA employees with very legitimate connections are as unsure as fans wandering the streets in search of photos with stars and autographs.

The general consensus remains the same: The Nuggets, rather than losing Anthony like the Cavaliers lost LeBron James and the Raptors lost Chris Bosh, are likely to trade him before the February 24 trade deadline. In order, the Nets and Knicks are the favorites.

And then there’s a dreaded lockout looming which could wipe out some or — gasp — all of the next NBA season. Big meetings are going on this weekend between representatives of the owners and players to try to sort out the mess, but things still sound bleak.

Etan Thomas, who is on the Players Union executive board, told InsideHoops.com Friday that the two sides are “goal-posts apart.” No one else I spoke to had anything more positive to say about it.

That’s during All-Star off-time. The good news is, as players are hitting incredible shots and performing in the actual events, it’s safe to say that no one is thinking about all that other stuff and just focused on having a good time. John Wall dished 22 awesome assists Friday night in the Rookie Challenge, and as fans flew to their feet cheering the great plays, only excitement and appreciation for the spectacle was in mind.

Share your thoughts on the InsideHoops basketball forums.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News reports (via blog):

No Antonio McDyess retirement yet

Antonio McDyess, the 36-year-old Spurs forward who as recently as last month had been leaning toward retirement at the end of the season, said Thursday he plans to return for a 15th season.

“My mind is pretty much made up,” McDyess said. “I feel like I’ll be able to lace ‘em up and go again.”

When McDyess joined the Spurs as a free agent in July 2009, his plan was to play two more seasons and call it quits. As an incentive, the Spurs built into McDyess’ contract a third season in 2011-12, of which only $2.64 million is guaranteed — sort of an early retirement present.

The way coach Gregg Popovich has used McDyess this season — sparingly and situationally — has convinced McDyess that he could survive another season. McDyess is playing a career-low 18:06 per game this season, and has missed five games for rest purposes. He is averaging career lows in scoring (5.1 points) and rebounding (5.2 per game), but his shooting percentage (50.2) is up nearly three points from last season.

Mark Kennedy, an AP Drama writer, reports:

The playwright behind the Broadway play “Lombardi” is moving from the gridiron to the hard court.

Eric Simonson is working on “Magic/Bird,” a new play that will chronicle the lives of basketball Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson…

The story will trace the two basketball stars’ rivalry and friendship from their days as rookies in the NBA to their appearance on the Olympic Dream Team in 1992. Johnson and Bird were key parts in the storied struggle between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1980s.

“Here are these two, amazing at their craft, inspiring to watch, and yet they couldn’t be more different people,” said Kirmser. “There was a fierce competitiveness between them and yet such a great love and respect.”

The six-character play is scheduled to debut on Broadway in 2012.

I am in Los Angeles for 2011 NBA All-Star weekend, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday.

Wednesday night in a hotel near Staples Center I ran into Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant and several of his friends.

Of the bazillion invites I have received to various All-Star festivities, at least two of them mention that Durant will be one of the celebrity hosts.

I told this to Durant, and responded by telling me that he hasn’t agreed to host anything.

Parties can still be great even when the celeb hosts don’t show up, but remember, sometimes the celeb wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place.

–Jeff

D-Rose excited for All-Star

Nick Friedell of ESPN reports:

D-Rose excited for All-Star

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose knows there are pundits out there who still doubt how good his team can be. As an All-Star starter and one of the leading candidates for the NBA MVP award, Rose knows that he will have even higher profile when he walks into the Eastern Conference locker room for the first time during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles.

“Teams know other teams in the league who are good,” Rose said after shootaround before the Bulls play the Spurs on Thursday night. “You know when other teams are ballin’. Like we know the Spurs are a very good team tonight. And you kind of get that respect around the league, even though with some media we’re under the radar as being an OK team even though our record is more than OK. Other players around the league know. That’s the fun thing about it.”

Rose knows that his team has opened up eyes all over the league this year with their play, and he realizes that while the task of climbing to the top of the Eastern Conference is difficult, it’s rewarding to be mentioned alongside the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

The AP reports:

The World Anti-Doping Agency could suspend the Turkish drug-testing laboratory that reported an apparent “false positive” for American basketball star Diana Taurasi.

WADA director general David Howman tells The Associated Press the agency has asked the Ankara lab to explain why it declared Taurasi’s samples positive for the banned stimulant modafinil, a decision which led to her contract being terminated by her Turkish club.

James Harden replaces Tyreke Evans in Rookie Challenge game

Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden will replace  injured  Sacramento  Kings  guard Tyreke Evans (plantar fasciitis, left  foot)  on  the Sophomore Team in the 2011 NBA Rookie Challenge game, which pits the league’s best rookies against the best second-year players.

The NBA Rookie Challenge game will be televised live nationally on  TNT  at  9 p.m. ET.

Cavaliers upset Lakers, 104-99

Cavs upset Lakers, 109-99

Before tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers have shown life about twice over the past couple of months. It’s been a tough ride fo the Cavs and anytime they kept a game even remotely close, it’s been something of a moral victory.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the league’s best teams, but lately they’ve struggled and have dropped some games they shouldn’t have lost. Still, you’d think the Cavs would be no match for the defending champs.

Apparently not! With Cavs reseve guard Ramon Sessions coming off the bench to shoot 9-of-16 for 32 points, eight assists and three steals, the underdogs won, toppling the Lakers 104-99 even with starting point guard Mo Williams only playing a bit more than three minutes.

The Cavs got 19 points and 10 rebounds from Antawn Jamison, 18 points and nine assists from Anthony Parker, and 13 points with 15 rebounds from center J.J. Hickson. As a team they shot 47.1 percent.

The Lakers as a team shot just 42.5% and committed 19 turnovers. Kobe Bryant was the main problem here, shooting just 8-of-24 for 17 points and 12 rebounds, but just two assists with seven turnovers. The team did get 30 points and 20 rebounds from Pau Gasol. Derek Fisher stepped up to score 19 on just 12 shots. But no one else was particularly good.

Count this as a high point in an incredibly tough Cavaliers season.

Wolves shut Jonny Flynn down for a week

The AP reports:

Wolves shut Jonny Flynn down for a week

The Minnesota Timberwolves are shutting down point guard Jonny Flynn for the next week, hoping it will help his recovery from major hip surgery.

Flynn was inactive against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. He also will likely miss back-to-back games coming out of the All-Star break on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

rudy gay

Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on his left shoulder today, which revealed a left shoulder subluxation.  Gay will begin rehab in one week and be re-evaluated in four weeks.

The 6-8, 240-pound forward originally suffered the injury in last night’s 102-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers when he was fouled with 5:31 remaining in the second quarter.

Currently in his fifth NBA season, Gay is averaging 19.8 points and 6.2 rebounds while posting career highs in assists (2.8), steals (1.69, 9th in the NBA), blocks (1.07), field goal percentage (.471), three-point field goal percentage (.396), free throw percentage (.805) and minutes (39.9, 2nd).  The 24-year-old holds career averages of 17.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists on .457 shooting in 36.0 minutes, playing in 372 of a possible 385 games.

By Jeff Lenchiner

I arrived Tuesday night in Los Angeles for 2011 NBA All-Star weekend. (Yeah. I’m a bit early. If you experienced New York City’s extra cold winter these last two months, you’d leave early for California, too.)

Nothing crazy here, but I figured I’d capture the first All Star-related store display I saw in the airport. You always remember your first. Here it is:

2011 NBA All-Star LA store display

Also, the outdoor support beams that keep Los Angeles airport (LAX) from falling onto people’s heads have been customized to promote the big weekend. This is from right outside the airport near the baggage claim area:

NBA All-Star display outside los angeles airport

There’s at least one huge long row of these things. Here’s the other side of that same beam:

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports (via blog):

Isiah Thomas did not deny he was unofficially consulting with Knicks owner James Dolan on the Carmelo Anthony situation and suggested standing pat won’t win a championship.

“Everyone agrees they need to keep improving to get to a championship level,” Thomas said of the Knicks on Miami radio Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone’s saying, ‘This is it.’ I do think the organization wants to improve to get better and get to the next to level.

“But for me to speculate on this Carmelo situation, I just don’t think it would be proper to insert myself in such a public way knowing what I know.”

Thomas added, “In order to get to a championship level, which every team aspires to get to, you try to get the best players and try to get as many as you possibly can and see if you can win it.”

Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

michael redd

Michael Redd has experienced the agony of an anterior cruciate ligament tear not once but twice in a 12-month period.

And now, 13 months after tearing up his left knee for a second time, the Milwaukee Bucks guard is ready to return.

Bucks general manager John Hammond confirmed Tuesday that Redd would be back with the team Monday for the team’s first practice after the NBA all-star break.

The Bucks are not expecting Redd, who ranks fourth on the team’s all-time scoring list, to make a startling impact in the final two months of the season. But they are glad to have him back.

“Just as he did last off-season, he has worked so very hard to get himself in a position where he can return,” Hammond said. “When he arrives Monday he’ll go through the next step in the process.

“He will continue to do his rehab. He will be on the floor with some individual skill work. From that point, then how soon can he progress to doing more basketball-related movements? And from that point, how soon can he progress to actually being able to practice?”

Bobcats extend contract of coach Paul Silas

Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins announced today that the team has extended the contract of Paul Silas through the 2011-12 season and removed the interim tag, effective immediately.  Silas becomes the fourth head coach in team history.

Silas was named Interim Head Coach on Dec. 22 and has guided the Bobcats back into playoff contention with a 15-13 record, highlighted by a 109-89 win over the Lakers on Feb. 14, a franchise-record 22-point comeback on Feb. 12 at Atlanta, a 94-89 victory over defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston on Feb. 7 and a pair of wins over Chicago.

“This team has made great strides in the eight weeks since Paul has taken over,” Higgins said.  “Under his leadership we have seen our team play with confidence, enthusiasm and pride.  He and his staff have helped make our young players better and have gotten positive contributions out of every player on our roster.  Just as we were confident eight weeks ago that he was the right choice to lead this team for the remainder of this season, we are confident that he is the right choice to lead this club into the future.”

Currently in his 11th season as an NBA head coach, Silas has a career record of 370-413 with the Clippers (1980-83), Hornets (1999-2003), Cavaliers (2003-05) and Bobcats. He also spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach for the Hornets, Knicks, Nets and Suns.

During his four-plus seasons as head coach of the Hornets, Silas compiled a 208-155 (.573) record and led the team to the playoffs in each of his four full seasons.  He remains the team’s all-time leader in coaching wins and ranks second in winning percentage.  Silas was named interim head coach of the Hornets on March 7, 1999, and led the team to a 22-13 record over the final 35 games of the 1998-99 season after replacing Dave Cowens.

A 16-year NBA veteran, Silas averaged 9.4 points and 9.9 rebounds in 1,254 career games for the Hawks, Suns, Celtics, Nuggets and SuperSonics.  He was a two-time All-Star (1972 and 1975) and won three NBA Championships (1974 and 1976 with Boston and 1979 with Seattle).  Silas currently ranks 19th on the NBA’s career lists for rebounds (12,357) and games played (1,254).

The Miami HEAT announced today that center Dexter Pittman underwent successful right knee debridement surgery. The surgery was performed by HEAT team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables. He will begin rehabilitation immediately and is expected to miss five-to-six weeks of action.

Pittman, in his second stint with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League, was medically recalled after injuring his right knee in Saturday night’s contest against the Idaho Stampede on February 12. He was assigned to the HEAT’s D-League affiliate on January 6 and appeared in 14 games (all starts) and averaged 13.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.78 blocks and 1.2 assists while shooting 49.7 percent from the field. He recorded two 20-point games and posted five double-doubles, including a team-high 20 points and a team-high 12 rebounds vs. New Mexico on January 21. He led the team in blocks seven times, rebounds five times and points on four occasions.

Pittman, named to the 2011 NBA Development League All-Star Team, has now appeared in 22 NBA D-League games (all starts) with the Skyforce averaging 14.5 points 8.2 rebounds, 1.73 blocks and 1.2 assists while shooting 53.6 percent from the field.

The AP reports:

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson was so upset he spoke to reporters for 5 seconds and then walked away. Kobe Bryant sneaked out of the locker room before addressing the press at all.

A once promising road trip has quickly turned sour for the two-time defending champions, although they probably should have seen their most lopsided loss of the season coming.

The Charlotte Bobcats somehow own them.

Gerald Wallace had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Gerald Henderson added 18 points and helped slow Bryant, and the Bobcats cruised to a 109-89 victory on Monday night to extend one of the more unusual one-sided matchups in the NBA.

The Bobcats have won eight of the past 10 meetings. The Lakers, 5-8 all-time against the NBA’s newest team, hold a losing record against only one other club — the Boston Celtics.

This latest loss, full of missed shots and poor defense and coming on the heels of an ugly defeat in Orlando, left Jackson steamed.

“I’m embarrassed about what we did and that’s it,” Jackson said as he began to stroll away. “Thank you.”

Jazz name Jeff Hornacek assistant coach

The Utah Jazz announced today that Jeff Hornacek has been named an assistant coach for the remainder of the 2010-11 season.  Hornacek joins lead assistant Scott Layden on head coach Tyrone Corbin’s coaching staff.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

Hornacek becomes a full-time assistant coach after having begun working for the Jazz as a shooting coach prior to the 2007 NBA Playoffs.  In addition to that time working together, Hornacek and Corbin also were teammates twice as players covering parts of three seasons, first in Phoenix during the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons, and again in Utah in 1993-94.

“I am excited to have Jeff on board and to have him expand his role and become more involved with the team,” said Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin.  “He has a great history with basketball, especially with the Jazz, and I think the players are excited about him being around more.  I think he will bring a lot of positive energy and knowledge to the team.”

Hornacek becomes only the seventh different assistant coach for the Jazz since Jerry Sloan was promoted to head coach in December 1988, joining Phil Johnson, Gordon Chiesa, David Fredman, Kenny Natt, Corbin and Layden.

“I am thankful that Ty has offered me the opportunity to serve as an assistant coach for the rest of the year,” said Hornacek.  “I am excited at the possibility to increase my involvement with the team in a coaching capacity, and to be a part of this staff, and look forward to working more closely with the coaches and players on a day-to-day basis.”

A native of Elmhurst, Ill., Hornacek played for three teams during a 14-year NBA playing career (1986-2000), including seven seasons with the Jazz from 1993-2000, where he averaged 14.4 points, 4.0 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 477 games.  He was originally selected by the Phoenix Suns in the second round (46th overall pick) of the 1986 NBA Draft out of Iowa State University.  Hornacek appeared in a total of 1,077 career games, which included time with Phoenix and Philadelphia in addition to Utah.

Considered one of the premier shooters in NBA history, Hornacek connected on .496 percent from the field (5,929-11,957), including .403 percent from three-point range (828-2,055) and .877 percent from the free throw line (2,973-3,390).  He still ranks eighth in league history in free throw percentage, 11 seasons following his retirement from the NBA following the 1999-2000 season.  Hornacek was selected an NBA All-Star in 1992, and twice won the Three-Point Shootout during All-Star Weekend (1998 and 2000).  His No. 14 jersey was retired by the Jazz on November 19, 2002.

Lakers sign 20-year TV deal with Time Warner Cable

Time Warner Cable and the Los Angeles Lakers today entered into a 20-year, wide-ranging agreement for rights to distribute all locally available pre-season, regular season, and post-season Lakers games, beginning with the 2012-2013 season.

To showcase the games, Time Warner Cable will launch two regional sports networks in HD, including the nation’s first Spanish-language regional sports network, with new state-of-the-art facilities in Los Angeles, to bring fans the most compelling Lakers content using the latest technology. The networks will be available to all satellite, cable and telco distributors in the Lakers’ territory, which includes all of Southern California, Nevada and Hawaii.

The networks will include a number of elements custom-designed for Lakers fans, including:

- A single destination where Lakers fans can find all locally-televised home and away games and a variety of new and original Lakers’ content featuring behind-the-scenes, personality and classic programming.

* All Lakers games will be produced in high definition, with state-of-the-art technology and high production values in English & Spanish.  The Spanish-language channel is a stand alone RSN with its own dedicated production of game telecasts and other unique content tailored to Spanish speaking  Lakers fans – not a SAP feed.

* All games will feature pre and post-game shows produced separately in both English and Spanish.

* A Lakers news and magazine show throughout the season.

* Joint community relations initiatives.

* New online and on demand multi-platform content featuring the Lakers.

“This long-term agreement represents a huge win for all Lakers fans, providing destination channels, more content and more platforms for the Lakers, one of the premier brands in professional sports today,” said Glenn Britt, Time Warner Cable’s Chairman & CEO. “It allows us to secure great ‘must-have’ content for our customers in an advantageous arrangement that affords us greater control over our own economic destiny for decades to come.  We’ll be able to fully leverage our experience in local and regional programming; we have been at the forefront of the industry with 24-hour regional news and 24-hour regional news in Spanish, and now we’re breaking ground with the nation’s first Spanish-language regional sports network, something that’s tailor made for Southern California.”

“The Buss family is thrilled to join forces with Time Warner Cable in building the TV home for Lakers fans,” said Dr. Jerry Buss, Lakers Owner. “Time Warner Cable has been producing quality sports programming for over a decade and the Lakers have been producing championship seasons for even longer.  I am particularly proud of being part of the first ever Spanish-language RSN in the country.  Together I’m confident we will delight our fans.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Kings fine DeMarcus Cousins

The Sacramento Kings today fined rookie forward/center DeMarcus Cousins for his involvement in a post-game incident with Donté Greene following Saturday’s (2/12/11) contest versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. Cousins will rejoin the team and be available for Tuesday’s rematch against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

“There is no place in the NBA for violence, either on or off the court,” said Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie. “Upon investigating the events of Saturday night, we feel it is necessary to impose an appropriate fine related to DeMarcus’ behavior. We will now move forward together. We do not intend to give up on DeMarcus’ talent or potential. We look forward to watching his continued improvement and development, which has been significant since the beginning of the season.”

“I wish to apologize to my teammates, the Kings organization and Kings’ fans for my role in an unfortunate altercation between teammates,” Cousins said. “I accept full responsibility for my actions and know that I must keep raising my standard of professionalism to be my best and a great player in the NBA.”InsideHoops.com editor says: Cousins keeps living up to his pre-draft reputation and making mental/emotional mistakes. Hope it stops sometime.

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

Wizards win first road game of season

Getting to play the Cavaliers tends to cure whatever ills an NBA team tends to have.

After breaking their 26-game losing streak to beat the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cavs immediately returned to their losing ways and got dropped in dramatic fashion by the Wizards Sunday.

The Wizards were 0-25 on the road coming into this game.

The AP reports:

Wizards win first road game of season

Nick Young scored 31 points, John Wall had 19 points and 14 assists and Washington snapped its 25-game road winless streak with a 115-100 win Sunday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who reverted to their losing ways one game after ending their record skid.

The Wizards opened a 25-point lead in the third quarter, survived a Cleveland comeback and got their first road win since April 9 at Boston.

Antawn Jamison scored 21 and J.J. Hickson added 16 and 13 rebounds for the Cavs, who stopped their losing streak at 26 on Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers but failed to post back-to-back wins for the second time this season.

Washington finished four losses shy of matching the league’s longest losing streak to start a season, 29 in a row by the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks.

Blown out and embarrassed in a 118-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, the Wizards came out focused on getting a win outside D.C.’s city limits. They started 9 of 11 from the field and opened a 17-point lead in the first quarter on Young’s second straight three-point play.

The Cavs were down 68-46 at the half, showed some life in the third quarter but never seriously threatened the Wizards.

Point guard Mo Williams, who recently returned for Cleveland, struggled tonight, but should be worth watching over the next few games as he regains form.

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