Archive for July 8th, 2011

Yao Ming

By Jeff Lenchiner

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, whose career has been constantly interrupted by injuries, is reportedly set to retire from the NBA.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Yao informed the league office within the past 48 hours of his decision.

The 7-6, 310-pound China native entered the NBA in 2002, and spent his entire career with the Houston Rockets.

His career average was 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. He only managed to play just five games for the Rockets in the 2010-11 season before again having to sit out and heal.

Armed with truly skillful basketball moves, Yao wasn’t just a big guy, but a terrific talent who was a pleasure to watch. InsideHoops.com and the whole pro basketball world will miss him.

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

Raul Lopez signs in Spain

Euroleague.net reports:

Raul Lopez

Spanish runners-up Turkish Airlines Euroleague debutante Bizkaia Bilbao Basket announced on FRiday the addition of point guard Raul Lopez for the next two seaons. Lopez (1.82 meters, 31 years old) arrives from BC Khimki Moscow region where last year he averaged 8.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 10 Euroleague appearances. It was his second season with Khimki. Lopez grew up in Joventut Badalona of Spain and made his debut in 1997. He played there for three years until he was signed by Real Madrid in 2000. He was then drafted by the Utah Jazz of the NBA and was there for two seasons in 2003 and 2004. However, severe knee injuries kept his career from progressing as expected and he was back in Spain in 2005 when he joined Akasvayu Girona.

Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (blog) reports:

Zaza Pachulia

If the NBA lockout is not ended by the scheduled start of the 2011-12 season then Hawks reserve center Zaza Pachulia could end up playing in Turkey in the short term.

Pachulia, who is under contract with the Hawks for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons for a total of about $10 million, said he has a “verbal agreement” to play next season for Turkish club Besiktas.

“They have interest, I have interest and we have talked about price,” Pachulia said. “It’s not official now.”

Besiktas also has an agreement with New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams.

Pachulia said the contract with Besiktas would immediately terminate when NBA owners and players agree on a new labor deal. The contract also would include some kind of insurance for Pachulia since his guaranteed contract with the Hawks would not be protected in case of an injury sustained while playing in another league.

Sonny Weems signs in Lithuania

Euroleague.net reports:

Sonny Weems

Zalgiris Kaunas added some athleticism on the wings with the signing of Sonny Weems to a one-year deal. Weems (1.98 meters, 25 years old) will make his European basketball debut this season with the Lithuanian champs. He arrives from Toronto of the NBA, where he averaged 9.2 points and 2.6 rebounds last season over 59 games as a part-time starter. It was Weems’s third season in the NBA, where he has also played for Denver.

InsideHoops.com editor says: A couple of bench-level NBA players in need of a better basketball job are slowly heading to Europe. The NBA lockout may cause a few players at the end of team benches to perhaps head to Europe a bit quicker than they might under normal circumstances, only because there is a limit on how many well-paying hoops jobs exist over there. The only big lockout-related surprise so far is that Nets guard Deron Williams is poised to temporarily take his talents to Turkey, but he’ll return to the NBA when the lockout is resolved. I do not expect many star or starter-level NBA players to follow D-Will’s lead. A couple might, but most likely won’t.

Have a reaction? Talk with other opinionated fans in this forum topic.

Ray Richardson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports on Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Derrick Williams:

derrick williams

Before high school, Williams mostly played soccer, baseball and football in La Mirada’s city parks league. He didn’t take basketball seriously until his freshman year.

And when he did, it showed.

“I used to get calls at home at night from school staff people wondering why the gym lights were on after 9 o’clock and who was in there,” said former La Mirada boys basketball coach Larry Kaupang, who coached Williams during his varsity career. “It was Derrick. He and my assistant, Charlie Torres, used to sneak in there sometimes late at night to put in some work. And Derrick worked at it.”

Only 5-9 in eighth grade, Williams grew to 6-5 by the end of his freshman year. He had become too tall to play guard and needed to get used to playing closer to the basket. He also was playing for La Mirada, a small, unheralded school 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. It took an in-the-right-place moment during Williams’ sophomore year to remove him from relative obscurity.

La Mirada had a game against Compton on Feb. 23, 2007. Compton, a traditional power in the Los Angeles area, featured guard-forward DeMar DeRozan, now a two-year pro with the Toronto Raptors.

Most of the college coaches in attendance were there to see DeRozan, a McDonald’s All-America selection. Williams wasn’t even in the starting lineup. Kaupang put Williams in the game, and he ended up with 23 points, 12 rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists.

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