Suns swingman Mickael Pietrus exercises option to stay with Phoenix

Phoenix Suns guard/forward Mickael Pietrus has exercised the one-year player option on his contract and will return to Phoenix for the 2010-11 season, the club announced today.

The 6-6, 215-pound swingman appeared in 38 games (4 starts) for the Suns, averaging 7.4 points and 2.2 rebounds.  An eight-year NBA veteran with Phoenix (2010-11), Orlando (2008-10)  and Golden State (2003-08), Pietrus owns career averages of 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 496 games (150 starts), and is a 35.9-percent three-point shooter.

Phoenix acquired Pietrus on Dec. 18, 2010 in a six-player trade with the Orlando Magic that included eight-time NBA All-Star Vince Carter, center Marcin Gortat, this year’s first-round draft pick and cash considerations in exchange for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark.

Pietrus, whose nationality and play earned him the nickname “Air France,” grew up in Les Abymes on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, which is located approximately 310 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  He left the island for France at the age of 15 to join the junior program of French powerhouse Pau Orthez (PO OR-tez), and played four seasons professionally for Pau Orthez after making his debut at the age of 17.

Pietrus, 28, was originally selected with the 11th overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors and spent his first five career seasons in Oakland before signing a free-agent deal with Orlando on July 10, 2008.  A key reserve during the Magic’s run to the 2009 NBA Finals, Pietrus averaged 10.5 points while appearing in all 24 games that postseason.

Kings extend qualifying offer to Marcus Thornton

marcus thornton

The Sacramento Kings today extended a qualifying offer to Marcus Thornton, making him a restricted free agent, according to Kings’ President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie.

Thornton, a two-year NBA veteran, averaged 21.3 points (.450 FGs, .361 3FGs, .805 FTs), 4.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.67 steals per game through 27 outings with the Kings last season, of which he started 23. He was acquired by Sacramento along with cash considerations from New Orleans on February 23, 2011, in exchange for Carl Landry.

In accordance with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, in order for a team to retain its right of first refusal with respect to a restricted free agent, the team must tender the player a qualifying offer prior to June 30. A restricted free agent may sign an offer sheet with any team, but is subject to a right of first refusal with the team for which the player last played.

Shaq reportedly in middle of kidnapping, robbery, sex tape case

TMZ reports:

Shaquille O’Neal is embroiled in a criminal case in which 7 gang members allegedly kidnapped, beat up and robbed a man who claimed to have a tape showing Shaq having sex with other women while he was married to Shaunie.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ … Ladell Rowles — a member of the Main Street Mafia Crip Gang in L.A. who is friends with Shaq — along with 6 other members went on a search and destroy mission in L.A. on February 11, 2008.  They believed a man named Robert Ross had the sex tape and they tried getting it back with the help of a gun or two.

According to the police report, the 7 gang members met up with Ross at a convenience store — Pink Dot — on the Sunset Strip.  The men allegedly surrounded Ross’ Rolls Royce Phantom with guns drawn, jumped into Ross’ car and ordered him to drive to Rowles’ house in South Central L.A.

Once there, Rowles allegedly pistol whipped Ross and demanded that he turn over the sex tape.  Ross said he would get the tape and bring it back to them.  The 7 men then allegedly took Ross’ Rolex, diamond chain and earrings, along with $15,000 in cash — then let Ross go.

The 7 men have been arrested and charged with robbery, kidnapping and other crimes. says: Well, this all sounds like anyone’s typical morning. But seriously, of course being a fan of Shaq like everyone else, I certainly hope the report isn’t accurate.

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

Clippers exercise options on Blake Griffin, Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe

The Los Angeles Clippers today exercised the club’s fourth-year contract option on forward Blake Griffin and the third-year contract options on forward Al-Farouq Aminu and guard Eric Bledsoe.

Griffin, originally selected by the Clippers as the first overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, begins his third NBA season and is now signed through the 2012-13 campaign. Aminu and Bledsoe, the eighth and 18th overall selections in the 2010 NBA Draft, are now also signed through the 2012-13 NBA season. Under the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Clippers had the right to exercise these contract options.

The unanimous winner of the 2010-11 T-Mobile Rookie of the Year Award, Griffin turned in one of the most spectacular rookie campaigns in NBA history. He tallied a rookie and team-leading 22.5 ppg (12th overall), 12.1 rpg (fourth overall) and 63 double-doubles (third overall) and was the only player in the NBA to average at least 20 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Griffin became the first rookie to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since Elton Brand (20.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg) in 1999-2000; and he was only the fourth rookie to total at least 1,600 points, 900 rebounds and 250 assists, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969-70), Elgin Baylor (1958-59) and Sidney Wicks (1971-72).

A six-time T-Mobile Western Conference Rookie of the Month selection, Griffin became the first rookie to appear in an NBA All-Star Game since Yao Ming in 2003 and the first rookie to be voted in by the coaches since Tim Duncan in 1998. Griffin also participated in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and won the Sprite Slam Dunk contest. On March 23, he recorded the first triple-double of his NBA career — 33 points, 17 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists in the Clippers’ double-overtime win over Washington, becoming the first rookie to record a triple-double of at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists since Jerry West did it on Feb. 26, 1961 (38 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists).

Aminu averaged 6.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 17.9 minutes in 81 games played during his rookie campaign. He finished the season ranked fourth among all rookies in three-point field goal percentage (.315) and fourth among rookies in free throw percentage (.773).

Bledsoe, who was named to the 2010-11 T-Mobile All-Rookie Second Team, averaged 6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 22.7 minutes in 81 games played (25 starts). He led the Clippers with 92 steals and played in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend. Amongst NBA rookies, Bledsoe finished 15th in scoring and 4th in assists.

Clippers extend qualifying offer to center DeAndre Jordan

The Los Angeles Clippers today extended a qualifying offer to center DeAndre Jordan, making him a restricted free agent.

Jordan averaged 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.78 blocks in 25.6 minutes per game during a breakout year in which he played in 80 games, making 66 starts. Completing his third NBA season, Jordan shot a team-high and career-high 68.6 percent from the field (234-341 FG) and owned the highest field goal percentage of any player in the NBA with over 300 field goal attempts.

In accordance with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, in order for a team to retain its right of first refusal with respect to a restricted free agent, the team must tender the player a qualifying offer prior to June 30. A restricted free agent may sign an offer sheet with any team, but is subject to a right of first refusal with the team for which the player last played.

Jorge Garbajosa retires from Team Spain reports:

Jorge Garbajosa has called it quits with Spain’s national team.

The versatile power forward, who is 33, made the much-anticipated announcement early Tuesday afternoon at the Spanish Basketball Federation headquarters in Madrid.

“This is the day that I never wanted to experience,” Garbajosa said.

“I want to thank the coaches, the players, and especially (FEB president Jose Luis) Saez. To all the media for your treatment, to my wife, my family, my friends that I have denied many summers to them and they have not minded, on the contrary they have supported me.

“It´s a very hard day. It´s what I must do.

“I retire from the national team but not from the FEB. I will continue in basketball.”

A lynchpin in the side for a decade, Garbajosa has been as important as any player in the squad during a golden era for Spain.