Archive for July, 2011

kobe bryant

Marc J. Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo report:

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is engaged in far more substantive contract talks with teams in China than he is Turkish team Besiktas, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman tweeted Sunday that the team made an official offer to Bryant last week and plans to meet with Bryant’s agent in Los Angeles this week. However, a source close to Bryant said he hasn’t had conversations with the Turkish team in two weeks, and labeled Bryant’s chances of playing with Besiktas at “zero percent.”

Bryant, sources said, is still listening to offers to play overseas during the NBA’s lockout, and considers China a more likely option. He has exchanged proposals with Chinese teams, and one source said it’s unlikely Bryant would accept any deal that pays him less than $1.5 million per month. Bryant would be free to rejoin the Lakers as soon as the lockout ends.

TMZ reports:

shawn marion

Dallas Mavericks star Shawn Marion isn’t taking any chances with the NBA lockout — in fact, he just turned down “Dancing with the Stars” … to make sure he’s free to practice with his team this fall.

Sources close to Shawn tell TMZ, “Dancing” sent him an official offer to appear on the show, but the NBA champ wants to make sure he’s 100% available in case the lockout ends early … so it’s a no go.

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TMZ reports:

ron artest

Long story short — anyone looking to officially change their name in the State of California has to get a public declaration of the name change PRINTED in a local newspaper 4 times — once a week, 4 weeks in a row.

On July 19th, Ron’s LAST declaration to become Metta World Peace was published in the L.A. Daily Commerce — but the name change won’t become official until August 26th … when a judge is scheduled to sign the order.

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Marc Berman of the New York Post reports:

stephon marbury

Chinese basketball stalwart Stephon Marbury told The Post yesterday he does not think either Carmelo Anthony or Amar’e Stoudemire could cut it in China because they may not have the right mindset for the grittiness of the country’s basketball scene…

Citing the tough travel and rigorous training methods, Marbury said he doesn’t see the stars going to China, where the Coney Islander has spent the past two seasons.

“I don’t think those guys will want to go through it,” said Marbury, who is training in Los Angeles. “China is not for everybody — a whole ‘nother world. I don’t think they’re going to go there, not the big-time guys. Maybe they’d come for a little bit, but if the season is cancelled for the year, I don’t think they’d want to stay. They’ll want to go home.

“I don’t think Carmelo Anthony is going to run like they want to run in practice,” Marbury added. “They want to run you to death. The first time I got there, they ran in practice for two straight hours. I said, ‘Is that what we have to do every practice?’ “

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times (blog) reports:

Ron Artest

Ron Artest sounded skeptical on appearing on “Dancing With the Stars”: “I haven’t thought about it yet. I like the show. Obviously, you have to dance. I play defense. I don’t know if I dance.”

He apparently is going to remarry his wife, Kimsha: “We’ve been together for 14 years. It doesn’t matter what our status is. We’re together. But we’re going to get married again. We’re planning to get married again. A nice big wedding. We’re good though.”

And in unprompted backstage moments before he was to appear on stage, Artest noted the “great timing” to have a comedy show because of what happened this week.

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Obsever (blog) reports:

Bismack Biyombo

Some of you have asked me what’s the significance of FIBA not clearing Bismack Biyombo to sign an NBA contract. It’s about money and leverage. That Spanish team doesn’t mind losing Biyombo to the Charlotte Bobcats, but they want every bit of a buyout of about $1.4 million to release him.

The Spanish Federation and, by extension, FIBA is backing the team. So Biyombo and the Bobcats will eventually have to pay up to get this resolved.

This is the pitfall of using high picks on International players. But as Dirk Nowitzki, the Gasol brothers and Tony Parker all demonstrate, foreigners can have huge impact on an NBA team’s success.

More from the Charlotte Observer:

In an email reply to an Observer inquiry, FIBA spokesman Andrew Robotham wrote:

“The NBA has indeed requested a Letter of Clearance (LoC) for the Player Bismack Biyombo. In accordance with the NBA/FIBA Agreement, FIBA has contacted the Spanish Federation in order to obtain the LoC.

“However, the Spanish Basketball Federation refused to issue the LoC in view of the fact that the Player is still under contract with a team in Spain.”

That Spanish team, Fuenlabrada, reportedly has Biyombo under contract for the next two seasons and expects a buyout of about $1.4 million to release him to the Bobcats. Though Biyombo expressed great confidence he’d be a Bobcat once the lockout ends ( “I’m going to play in the NBA next season for sure, 100 percent,” he said the day after the draft), FIBA’s recent action suggests things could get sticky.

The AP reports:

Former NBA player and Michigan State star Jay Vincent has been sent to jail, five weeks before he gets his sentence in a federal fraud case.

Defense lawyer Tom Clement says Vincent voluntarily revoked his bond and agreed to go to jail before a judge made a decision during a hearing Thursday in Grand Rapids.

Vincent is awaiting sentencing on Sept. 2 in a fraud case involving thousands of people who paid to become certified home inspectors.

Dave Hawkins of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports:

Samaki Walker

Arizona authorities allege former NBA basketball player Samaki Walker tried to eat marijuana as a Department of Public Safety officer approached his 2002 Mercedes-Benz following a routine traffic stop in Kingman on Thursday.

Officials said about 10 grams of marijuana was seized from the vehicle along with some prescription drugs and eight bottles of liquid steroids.

Police Sgt. Jamie Clark, the supervisor of a narcotics task force, said Walker was cooperative when interviewed by officers at the Mohave County Jail. He said Walker indicated that he uses the steroids to enhance his athletic ability as he still plays professionally in Syria.

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Houston Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale announced today that he has officially added Greg Buckner as a player development coach on his staff.

“Greg is going to handle player development for us,” said McHale. “He came up the hard way, really worked his way around the league. Greg is just a really good, blue-collar guy who understands the league. We are excited to have him on the staff.”

Buckner joins the Rockets after a successful 10-year playing career in the NBA. Selected by Dallas in the second round (53rd overall) of the 1998 NBA Draft, Buckner averaged 5.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 570 career games (117 starts) with the Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies. Buckner was also regarded as an outstanding defensive player over his career. His teams reached the postseason in six of his 10 NBA seasons. Overall, he averaged 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds in 38 career playoff games.

InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner on this hire: “I think it’s a good move. Buckner has a good basketball IQ and should be decent as a teacher.”

As a collegian, Buckner was regarded as one of the top players in Clemson history. He was the first Tiger to ever lead his team in scoring four straight years (1994-98) and guided Clemson to three NCAA Tournament bids. Buckner started all 122 games of his career and never missed a contest, setting the school record for consecutive games started. He finished with 1,754 career points and was the third Tiger player to log career totals of at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists. Inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005, Buckner remains the lone Tiger to ever win the ACC Rookie of the Year award (1994-95).

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The following is an important news release from FIBA:

FIBA has confirmed it will approve the transfer of players under contract with the NBA deciding to play for clubs of FIBA affiliated leagues during the on-going lockout.

During a lockout NBA players who continue to be under contract with an NBA team are free to play anywhere they want, whether for their national teams and/or for club teams.

If an NBA player requests to play for a club of a FIBA affiliated league, the NBA will not object but will state that the player will have to return to his NBA team as soon as the lockout ends. Consequently, FIBA will deliver a letter of clearance subject to the receipt of a declaration signed by the player, stating that he will return to his NBA team when the lockout is over.

“As the world governing body for basketball, we strongly hope that the labour dispute will be resolved as soon as possible, and that the NBA season is able to begin as scheduled,” said FIBA Secretary General and IOC member, Patrick Baumann.

“In view of our role to promote basketball worldwide, we support any player wishing to play the game, wherever and whenever. We do so while obviously taking the interests, rights and obligations of all parties into account,” he added.

“We are delighted to see that, in spite of widespread doubts related to the lockout, National Teams competing in this summer’s Olympic Qualifiers will be able to count on the participation of most of their NBA stars.”

Any NBA player deciding to play during the lockout, does so at his own risk, notably if he sustains an injury.

FIBA has stated that it is up to the clubs to decide whether or not they shall sign a waiver clearing them of any responsibility towards the player in case of injury and other reasons preventing him from returning to the NBA and from fulfilling his obligations vis-à-vis his NBA team.

Update: National Basketball Players Association response to the news

“The NBPA and our players are gratified by today’s announcement by FIBA, although it comes as no surprise.  We have consistently advised our members that in the event of a lockout they would have the right to be compensated for playing basketball irrespective of whether they were under contract to an NBA team or not.  We have encouraged all of our players to pursue such opportunities and will continue to do so.  In the face of the economic pressure that the NBA has attempted to exert by imposing a lockout, our players are unified and eager to demonstrate that the NBA’s tactics will be unsuccessful.”

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Acie Law reportedly signs in Serbia

Sportando reports:

Acie Law

After week of negotiations, Serbian Champion KK Partizan from Belgrade signed NBA guard Acie Law (Texas A&M - NCAA, agency - Priority Sports & Entertainment). After college Acie spent four years on NBA courts, drafted 1st round,11 pick by Atlanta Hawks, followed Golden State, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls and previous season started in Memphis Grizzlies. In December 2010 moved to Golden State Warriors where in 40 games he averaged 15 minutes per game, scoring 5.1 points per game, 1.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, most scored in game against Dallas on March 16 hitting 15 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals.

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Small-sized point guard Ricky Rubio is finally making the leap from European basketball to the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA this coming season. And one of the biggest changes he foresees is the need to increase his weight training, as NBA guards try to smack him around.

FIBA reports:

Ricky Rubio

Rubio can expect the changes to be big, both on and off the court.

“I think it will be physically harder than Europe - I will need to do more weights,” he said of the NBA’s playing style.

As for his living arrangements, he is having to consider things that were never a factor in Barcelona.

“I need to find a house where I won’t get snowed in,” he said. “My new colleagues have already told me where to look.”

The Timberwolves are hoping Rubio can give them a huge lift after they struggled mightily last season.

He is used to heavy expectations, having been hyped up since he first began playing. But Rubio is trying not to get caught up in it.

I don’t expect Rubio to have a huge instant impact for the Wolves. Although we’ve heard about him for years, Rubio is still just a kid, still developing his game, and needs to improve his shot. But it’ll be fun watching him develop.

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If I was an NBA big-man, I’d follow guys like Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale around all day, offering to wash their cars and do their laundry if they’ll help me work on my low-post game and all-around moves.

And this summer, when he isn’t laughing, smiling, mugging for the camera, putting wigs on and doing other assorted fun wacky stuff, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will take some time to once again learn from one of the best:

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports:

Dwight Howard

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is training again with former NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon and says he’s working on shooting more and on raising his notoriously poor free-throw shooting to above 75 percent.

In messages back and forth with some of his Twitter followers, Howard said he’s in Houston working with Olajuwon for the second consecutive summer.

Asked whether he’s working on his outside touch, Howard responded that he is working on becoming “more complete” as a player.

When a follower asked what Howard meant, Howard answered: “shooting more” and “free throws above 75.”

Howard spent a couple of days last summer working with Olajuwon, and Howard has said the sessions made him more confident and made him more willing to try new things in games. In the season that followed, Howard unveiled a more diversified low-post arsenal that included some effective midrange bank shots.

I’m sure Magic fans look forward to seeing the results. Howard is already the NBA’s best center, but he can definitely keep refining his offensive moves.

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Keyon Dooling may sign in Turkey

Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Keyon Dooling

Bucks guard Keyon Dooling is nearing agreement on a contract with Efes Istanbul, the Turkish team which recently signed New Jersey Nets guard Sasha Vujacic.

Kenge Stevenson, the Dallas-based agent for Dooling, said progress is being made and a deal with Efes could be completed in the next few days.

Dooling is the first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association and has been active in the process to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. League owners imposed a lockout on July 1 when the previous CBA expired, and no real progress has been made since then.

Stevenson said Dooling would expect to play in Turkey next season even if the lockout ends and any opt-out clause would be for legal purposes. The veteran has one year and $2 million remaining on his contract with the Bucks, but Stevenson indicated he thought an agreement could be reached to allow Dooling to play in Europe in the event the lockout was settled.

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Trail Blazers to honor Arvydas Sabonis

The Columbian reports:

The Portland Trail Blazers will honor former Portland center and basketball legend Arvydas Sabonis on Thursday, Aug. 18, following his 2011 induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Sabonis, who played for the Trail Blazers for seven seasons (1995-2001, 2002-03), is known globally as one of the greatest centers to ever play the game. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., Aug. 11-13, before returning to the Rose City.

The team will honor Sabonis and reunite him with fans in a public celebration at Pioneer Courthouse Square at approximately 1 p.m., where Sabonis will be added to the Trail Blazers Hall of Fame banner displayed in the Rose Garden.

PJ Tucker signs in Germany

Eurobasket.net reports:

PJ Tucker

German League champion Brose Baskets added more fire power to its team by inking versatile forward PJ Tucker to a one-year deal, the club announced Friday. Tucker (1.96 meters, 26 years old) arrives from Quebradillas Pirates, where he finished a very eventful 2010-11 season, averaging 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in 15 Puerto Rican League games. He started the season with Aris BSA 2003, where Tucker averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in 12 Eurocup games. He ranked ninth in scoring and third in rebounds and performance index ranking (18.2), helping Aris to reach the Last 16 and being chosen as the regular season Week 1 MVP.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports:

Tom Thibodeau

Being of single-minded focus, Tom Thibodeau is preparing for next season as if there isn’t a lockout. Whenever that ends, expect the reigning Coach of the Year to be healthier and prowling the sidelines with even more gusto.

That’s because Thibodeau underwent partial right knee replacement surgery on July 13 to fix a painful arthritic condition dating to an injury from his playing days at Salem (Mass.) State.

Thibodeau tore cartilage in college and had his meniscus completely removed during the ensuing surgery, leaving bone to basically rub on bone for the last 30 years. Colleagues said the condition began affecting what little sleep Thibodeau bagged last season. Befitting the tough-minded team he led to a league-high 62 victories and Eastern Conference finals berth last season, Thibodeau never discussed the situation, even making light of it on Thursday.

Steve Blake adding arc to his jumper

Mark Medina of the Los Angele Times (blog) reports:

steve blake

In between increased family time and rest at his Portland, Ore., home during the NBA lockout, Lakers guard Steve Blake took the first step in what he hopes will lead to a better performance in the 2011-12 season.

“I’m trying to get more arch on my shot,” Blake said Thursday in a phone interview. “That’s what I’ve been working on this summer. I’m trying to shoot the ball a little higher and see if that will improve my jump shot. I didn’t shoot the ball horribly this year, but I didn’t shoot it as well as I wanted to.”

Blake shot 35.9% from the field last season, the lowest shooting percentage for the eight-year veteran since the 2004-05 season. Even though Blake often worked on his shot after practices and before games, he averaged a career-low four points in 20 minutes per game. Blake’s overall shooting consistency reflected a significant problem for the Lakers: the lack of a reliable outside shooter.

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Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times (blog) reports:

kobe bryant

Had he remained in Italy, Kobe Bryant may very well have been honing his footwork on the pitch instead of the hardwood.

He’ll have a chance to do that Sunday when he appears in the Celebrity Soccer Challenge at Kastles Stadium in Washington D.C., an event sponsored by former U.S. women’s soccer player Mia Hamm and her husband, ex-Dodger Nomar Garciaparra. But incidentally enough, Bryant may not have been making a token  appearance on the soccer field had he seriously kept up with the sport.

Sure, it’s easy to imagine the uber competitive and athletic Bryant dazzling fans wearing an A.C. Milan uniform (his favorite childhood team) or an FC Barcelona jersey (his current favorite team). Bryant, however, sensed his skills kicking a soccer ball nowhere matched what he could do with a basketball, a sport he got serious about  once his family moved to Philadelphia in 1991.

“I wasn’t anything spectacular,” Bryant once told the Chicago Tribune’s Luis Arroyave. “I would have moments of doing something crazy that really wasn’t done on purpose. I’d pull off a nice move that was unintentional.

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The AP reports:

Jalen Rose

Shortly after being sentenced to nearly three weeks in jail for drunken driving, Jalen Rose was stopped for speeding in a Detroit suburb.

Clawson Police Chief Harry Anderson says Rose was clocked going 46 miles per hour in a 25 mile-per-hour zone Wednesday night. He was given a citation at 8:47 p.m. for going 10 miles per hour over the limit.

InsideHoops.com says: Driving properly really isn’t this damn difficult, folks. Stop it, Jalen!

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