Archive for June 29th, 2011

Coach John Kuester

The Los Angeles Lakers have hired John Kuester to serve as an assistant coach, it was announced today by Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

“I’m extremely excited to have John join the team as a member of my coaching staff,” said Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown. “Having previously worked together in Cleveland, I know what assets he will bring to the team. His ability to effectively communicate with the players while teaching them valuable skills on both ends of the court is a quality that I respect and value. I look forward to working with him again.”

Kuester joins the Lakers after a two-year stint as head coach for the Detroit Pistons. Prior to his time in Detroit, Kuester spent 14 years as an assistant coach in the NBA, working for six different franchises (Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, New Jersey, Orlando and Cleveland).

“I’m extremely excited to be working with Mike Brown, as well as to have the opportunity to work with the Lakers, one of the premier organizations in the NBA,” said Kuester.

Kuester, who worked for the Celtics organization from 1990-1997, began his NBA coaching career in 1995 when was hired as an assistant coach for Boston. Kuester spent two seasons with the Celtics before joining the Philadelphia 76ers as an assistant coach at the start of the 1997-98 season. As a member of Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown’s staff, Kuester helped lead the team to the playoffs in five of his six seasons including an NBA Finals appearance in 2001.

In 2003, Kuester joined the Detroit Pistons where he helped guide the team to an NBA Championship in 2004. The North Carolina native had stints in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Orlando before joining the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007. During his time in Cleveland, the Cavaliers posted a 111-53 (.677) record and made an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2009.

Prior to joining the NBA, Kuester coached for ten years at the collegiate level. After serving as an assistant coach for the University of Richmond during the 1980-81 season, Kuester joined Rick Pitino’s staff at Boston University where he spent two seasons as his assistant before being named head coach of the Terriers in 1983. After a two-year stint in Boston, Kuester served five seasons (1985-90) as head coach at George Washington University.

The Portland Trail Blazers have extended a qualifying offer to center Greg Oden, it was announced today by the team. Portland has also extended a qualifying offer to guard Patrick Mills and exercised its third-year options on forward Luke Babbitt and guard Elliot Williams.

Both Oden and Mills become restricted free agents, ensuring that the Trail Blazers will have right of first refusal should another team try to sign them. The moves give Portland the right to match any contract offer they receive in the offseason.

“We’ve stood behind Greg Oden every day since he became a Trail Blazer and that continues with today’s announcement,” said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller . “Despite the setbacks he’s experienced, he continues to be resilient in working tirelessly on his rehabilitation. We’re all very encouraged with not only his progress, but with his commitment and determination to return to the basketball court.”

Oden, 23, is averaging 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.43 blocked shots to go with a 57.7% (290-for-503) mark from the floor in four seasons with the Trail Blazers.

Mills, 22, has appeared in 74 games over two seasons in Portland, averaging 5.1 points, 0.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

A rookie last season, Babbitt, 22, notched averages of 1.5 points, 1.3 rebounds and 5.7 minutes in 24 games. Acquired by Portland in a draft day trade on June 24, 2010, he also averaged 20.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 14 games with the NBA D-League’s Idaho Stampede.

Williams, 22, missed his rookie 2010-11 season due to surgeries on both knees. Portland selected him with the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft out of Memphis.

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has extended a qualifying offer to forward Derrick Brown, making him a restricted free agent. The qualifying offer allows the Knicks to match any offer he receives from another team.

Brown, 6-8, 220-pounds, averaged 4.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in eight games for the Knicks during the 2010-11 season after being claimed off waivers on March 1, 2011. The Dayton, OH native was originally selected by the Charlotte Bobcats in the second round (40th overall) of 2009 NBA Draft after a three-year playing career at Xavier University.

CJ Miles

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has elected to exercise its fourth-year team option on guard/forward C.J. Miles’ contract for the 2011-12 season, as well as the rookie contract options for forwards Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward for the 2012-13 season.  Per team policy, financial terms were not released.

A six-year NBA veteran, Miles (6-6, 232, Skyline H.S. (TX)), appeared in 78 games (19 starts) for the Jazz in 2010-11, averaging career-highs in points (12.8), rebounds (3.3), assists (1.7) and minutes (25.2) and improving in all four categories for the fourth straight season.  Miles scored in double figures in 50 games, tallying 20+ points on 16 occasions including a career-high 40 points (14-18 FG, 6-7 3FG) in a win over Minnesota on March 16.  Originally selected by the Jazz in the second round (34th overall) of the 2005 NBA draft, Miles has appeared in 333 career games (145 starts), all with Utah, and owns career averages of 8.3 points and 2.2 rebounds.

Selected third overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by New Jersey, Favors appeared in 78 games (27 starts) for the Jazz and Nets as a rookie, averaging 6.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.87 blocks in 19.7 minutes per game.  The 6-10, 246-pound forward out of Georgia Tech was acquired by Utah from New Jersey on February 23 and appeared in 22 games (four starts) for the Jazz, averaging 8.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 20.2 minutes.  The 19-year-old Atlanta native was the youngest player in the NBA this past season and scored in double figures 20 times and had 10+ rebounds on seven occasions, posting two double-doubles.  Favors ranked first among all NBA rookies in blocks, fifth in rebounding and eighth in scoring and was selected to the 2010-11 T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Hayward, the Jazz’s first-round pick in the 2010 Draft (selected ninth overall) appeared in 72 games (17 starts) for Utah, averaging 5.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 16.9 minutes.  The 6-8, 208-pound Butler product scored in double figures 15 times, including seven times in his final 10 games, and tallied a career-high 34 points against Denver (4/13), the most by a Jazz rookie since March 16, 1983.  Hayward led the NBA in three-point percentage over the final two-plus months of the season, connecting on 26-of-48 (.542) three-point attempts in his final 27 games (February 9 – April 13).

Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel (blog) reports:

Kentucky coach John Calipari once called DeAndre Liggins a Tony Allen clone.

While Liggins tries to blossom into a player of Tony Allen’s caliber, he has a pretty good teacher: Tony Allen.

Liggins, the No. 56 overall draft pick for the Orlando Magic, considers Allen a mentor. They met in Chicago – the city where they both grew up – after Liggins freshman year at Kentucky while hanging out in some of the same basketball circles.

These days they exchange text messages often, and they hung out earlier this week in Chicago before Liggins flew to Orlando to meet with his new team.

“He tells me the NBA is not easy,” Liggins said of Allen. “Defending the best player every night is not easy, especially in the NBA. You just have to continue to be tough.”

brandon jennings

The Milwaukee Bucks have exercised the fourth-year contract option on guard Brandon Jennings (6-1, 169) and the third-year contract option on forward Larry Sanders (6-11, 235), General Manager John Hammond announced today.

Jennings, 21, appeared in 63 games (61 starts) last season, averaging a career-high 16.2 points with 4.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 34.4 minutes per contest.  He recorded his first career triple-double (20 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) in a 98-88 win over Charlotte on October 30, making him one of just two NBA players (Elgin Baylor) to score 50+ points in a game and have a triple-double in their first 100 NBA games.  In his two NBA seasons, Jennings has played in 145 games (143 starts), averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds.

Sanders, 22, played in 60 games (12 starts) last season, averaging 4.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 14.5 minutes per game. He recorded multiple blocks in 20 games and in just his 13th NBA game, had eight blocks to go along with 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against Denver on December 1. His eight blocks tied for the second-highest single game total in the 2010-11 season.  Sanders ranked fifth (3.96) in the NBA in blocked shots per 48 minutes (58 or more games played).

Under the terms of the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, the first two years of a first round draft pick’s contract are guaranteed, while the third and fourth year of the contract are the team’s option.  Jennings was selected by the Bucks with the 10th overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft, while Sanders was selected by Milwaukee with the 15th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. editor says: Standard procedure and expected for both players, especially Jennings, of course.

Chris Jent is returning to his alma mater as an assistant men’s basketball coach, Thad Matta, head coach of the Buckeyes, announced Wednesday. Jent fills the spot previously held by Brandon Miller, who recently resigned to spend more time with his family.

Jent left the Cleveland Cavaliers where he was most recently an assistant coach after first joining the organization as the director of player development in November of 2006. He was promoted to assistant coach in 2009.

As a member of the Cavaliers coaching staff, Jent was instrumental in the Cavaliers success. In 2008-09, the Cavaliers notched a franchise and NBA-best 66 wins as Cleveland finished the regular season as the league’s best defensive team, allowing an NBA-low 91.4 points per game.

The team also continued its postseason success, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009, becoming the only team in the NBA to reach at least the Eastern Conference Semifinals from 2005-09. In the 2007 postseason, Cleveland reached the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history as they topped the Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons to claim the team’s first Eastern Conference Championship.

Previously, Jent was an assistant coach for the Orlando Magic during the 2004-05 season before being named Orlando’s interim head coach for the final 18 games of the season. Prior to his one year stint with the Magic, he spent the 2003-04 season with the Philadelphia 76ers as assistant coach/player development.

He spent 10 seasons playing professionally, including two years in the NBA. He was a member of the 1994 NBA Champion Houston Rockets and also played for the New York Knicks during the 1996-97 season. Jent played five seasons in the CBA and also spent time playing overseas in Australia, Italy, Spain and Greece.

Jent, a native of Sparta, N.J., graduated from Ohio State with a degree in communication in 2006 after spending the 2005-06 season with the Buckeyes as a volunteer assistant. He played four seasons (1988-92) at Ohio State and helped lead the Buckeyes to three-consecutive NCAA tournaments and back-to-back Big Ten championships. He played in 123 games and scored 1,007 career points, which included 112 made 3-point field goals. His career 3-point shooting percentage (.382/112-293) ranks No. 8 all-time in Ohio State history.

stephen curry

The Golden State Warriors announced today that the team has exercised the fourth-year contract option on guard Stephen Curry and the third-year contract option on forward Ekpe Udoh, which are both for the 2012-13 NBA season.

Curry, 23, appeared in 74 games last season, averaging 18.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.47 steals in 33.6 minutes per contest, while leading the NBA in free throw percentage (.934) and ranking third in three-point percentage (.442). Overall in two NBA seasons, the 6’3” guard has appeared in 154 games, averaging 18.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.69 steals in 35.0 minutes per contest.

Udoh, 24, appeared in 58 games last season, averaging 4.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.48 blocks in 17.8 minutes per contest during his rookie campaign. The 6’10” forward started 18 games on the season, averaging 5.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.28 blocks in 25.5 minutes in those assignments.

Under the terms of the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, the first two years of a first round draft pick’s contract are guaranteed, while the third and fourth year of the contract are the team’s option. Curry was selected by the Warriors with the seventh overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft, while Udoh was selected by Golden State with the sixth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. editor says: Obviously it was an easy call to keep Steph Curry around. As for Udoh, he’s shown very good rebounding and shot-blocking ability in limited minutes, so the Warriors want to keep checking him out to see if he’s worth having long-term interest in.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have exercised the third-year contract option on guard/forward Christian Eyenga, Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant announced today.

Eyenga’s extension keeps him under contract with the Cavaliers through the 2012-13 season.  In 44 games played as a rookie during the 2010-2011 season, he averaged 6.9 points on .425 shooting and 2.8 rebounds in 21.5 minutes per game. In 18 games as a starter, Eyenga posted averages of 8.0 points on .405 shooting, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.0 block in 26.3 minutes per game.

The 6-foot-7 guard/forward was selected with the 30th overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft by Cleveland. The 22-year old played in 29 games for DKV Joventut Badalona (Spain), where he averaged 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 12.0 minutes per game during the 2009-10 season.

Charlie Bell of the Golden State Warriors and Jarrett Jack of the New Orleans Hornets have each been suspended without pay for one game for separate violations of the law, the NBA announced today.

Bell has been suspended for pleading no contest to reckless driving, in violation of the law of the State of California.  Jack has been suspended for pleading nolo contendre to reckless driving, in violation of the law of the State of Georgia.

Both Bell and Jack will each be suspended for their team’s first game of the 2011-12 NBA regular season for which they are eligible and physically able to play.

taj gibson

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has exercised its fourth-year option for the 2012-13 season for forward Taj Gibson.

In two seasons with Chicago, Gibson (6-9, 225) has appeared in 162 games (89 starts) and averaged 8.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, and 1.30 bpg in 24.4 mpg; he has shot .485 from the field and .659 from the line.  The Bulls selected Gibson in the first round (26th overall) in the 2009 NBA Draft. editor says: This was an easy call for the Bulls. Gibson is a very solid backup forward who is capable of starting for stretches.

nazr mohammed

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed center Nazr Mohammed to a contract extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. We’ll post contract details here later on Wednesday.

“We are pleased to be able to keep Nazr in the Thunder family,” said Presti. “He is a valuable part of our organization both on and off the floor. His professionalism, experience, and on-court play have had a positive impact on our young and evolving roster.”

Mohammed (6-10, 250) owns career averages of 6.9 points, 5.4 rebounds in 17.9 minutes in 771 career NBA games. He appeared in 24 games (seven starts) for the Thunder after being acquired from the Bobcats on February 24th. Mohammed averaged 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game with Oklahoma City.

Originally selected in the first round (29th overall) of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz, Mohammed has appeared in 58 NBA Playoff games during his 13-year career. Mohammed’s career has been highlighted by winning two NCAA Championships (University of Kentucky 1996 and 1998) and an NBA Championship (San Antonio Spurs, 2005).

Wayne Ellington

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that the team has exercised the fourth-year option on guard Wayne Ellington, and the third-year options for forwards Lazar Hayward and Wes Johnson.

Ellington, the 28th overall pick by Minnesota in the 2009 draft, has appeared in 138 games over two seasons in Minnesota, averaging 6.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Ellington shot 39.5 percent from behind the arc in 2009-10, the best mark by a rookie in Wolves history.

Hayward, the 30th overall pick by Minnesota in last year’s draft, averaged 3.8 points and 1.7 rebounds in 42 games during his rookie season. He tallied a season-high 16 points on Mar. 2 at Detroit, and added 14 points at Indiana on Feb. 11.

Johnson averaged 9.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 79 appearances during his rookie season. The 4th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Johnson earned All-Rookie Second Team honors and was named to the rookie team for the Rookie Challenge at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, where he tallied 25 points. Johnson’s 103 three-pointers made last season were the most ever by a Wolves rookie.

Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee reports:

The Sacramento Kings’ season ticket sales have already surpassed last year’s total, team officials said this week, thanks to NBA marketing assistance and a newfound ardor among fans after the team nearly left town this spring.

But that bonanza could slow, starting Friday.

The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight Thursday. If the league and players don’t come to a new agreement by then, a lockout may ensue, and with it the possibility that the upcoming season will be shortened or canceled entirely.

That untimely drama creates new questions about the team’s future in Sacramento. Can the team owners, who have struggled financially, handle months of lost momentum as they try to rebuild fan and corporate support in Sacramento?

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