Archive for July 12th, 2011

The AP reports:

The Los Angeles Sparks wasted no time in getting Joe Bryant a victory in his debut as their new coach.

Ticha Penicheiro scored 18 points and Los Angeles snapped a five-game losing streak with an 84-74 win over the San Antonio Silver Stars on Tuesday night…

Bryant, Kobe’s father, took over as coach of the Sparks (5-6) on Sunday after Jennifer Gillom was fired. Los Angeles had lost the first five games on their seven-game road trip, which ends Friday at Tulsa.

This is Bryant’s second stint as coach of the Sparks. He previously coached them from August 2005 until the end of the 2006 season.

He showed some fire early on, getting a technical in the second quarter for a non-call.

“If I don’t get them, they’ll get them, and that’ll throw them off their game,” he said.

The AP reports:

Kevin McHale has added a couple of familiar names to the Houston Rockets coaching staff.

Kelvin Sampson and J.B. Bickerstaff will join McHale once teams get back to work, a person with knowledge of the decisions said Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made by the team in the midst of the NBA lockout.

McHale was hired June 1 to replace Rick Adelman, who parted ways with the team after four seasons.

Sampson was also interviewed for the head coaching vacancy. He has been an assistant coach in Milwaukee since 2008, and previously left college coaching jobs at Oklahoma and Indiana under NCAA scrutiny.

Bickerstaff, the son of former NBA head coach Bernie Bickerstaff, has been an assistant in Minnesota the past four seasons. McHale coached the Timberwolves at the end of the 2008-09 and also worked in the team’s front office.

The AP reports:

With the NBA lockout less than two weeks old, at least two NBA teams have begun cutting staff. One of the first to resort to layoffs: Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats.

Radio play-by-play announcer Scott Lauer was one of at least seven employees let go by the Bobcats in the past week.

A person familiar with the situation says the Detroit Pistons fired 15 people two weeks ago. The person, who wasn’t authorized to speak about the team’s moves, spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The job losses come as NBA owners have locked out the players after failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, shutting down the league for what could be a protracted work stoppage that threatens the start of the 2011-12 season.

Jordan, the Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion who became the first ex-player to own a team, axed Lauer, director of corporate communications Michael Thompson, manager of community relations Kim Beal and others in sales and business operations.

Timberwolves fire coach Kurt Rambis

Kurt Rambis

The Minnesota Timberwolves struggled in dramatic fashion under head coach Kurt Rambis last season, finishing with a league-worst 17-65 record.

And while the team’s roster left Rambis little to work with, the front office apparently wasn’t impressed enough with Rambis to keep him around.

The Timberwolves today announced that the team has relieved Rambis of his coaching duties.

“I want to thank Kurt for his contributions to our franchise and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said David Kahn, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “His arrival signaled we were serious about building a championship-contending ballclub over the course of time. We have accumulated a solid nucleus of young talent with a bright future during the last two years. I am hopeful Kurt receives his share of the credit for helping develop that talent and his contributions are not forgotten as we become a better basketball team.

“It is always hard to make these decisions. It is especially hard when it involves somebody of Kurt’s reputation. Even so, this is the right time for us to make a head coaching change now that we’ve identified our roster and its specific needs.”

Rambis was named the ninth head coach of the Timberwolves on Aug. 10, 2009. In his two seasons as head coach of the Wolves, Rambis compiled a 32-132 record. Rambis joined the Wolves after serving as an assistant coach on Phil Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers staff for seven seasons (2001-04, 2005-09).

The Wolves last season were led by Kevin Love (20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds per game) and Michael Beasley (19.2 points per game).

Minnesota has a few reasons to be optimistic that 2011-12 will be better for them, with young international point guard Ricky Rubio finally joining the squad, and the additional of rookie forward Derrick Williams, who the team selected No.2 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.

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Andrew Feldman of ESPN reports:

Paul Pierce

With only 20 minutes to go in Level 9, Paul Pierce made his exit from the WSOP main event. The NBA All-Star had been the attention of all at the secondary feature table, even players like Dennis Phillips who asked him for an autograph during play. Pierce played a patient game, but seemed to get active after dinner and would ultimately find himself in a rough spot with 2-2 all-in preflop against the J-J of Allan Vrooman. The board ran clean for Vroonman (K-8-5-4-K) and Pierce stood up from his chair, grabbed his backpack and walked out the door with spectators and players giving him a round of applause as they announced his departure.

Pierce spent a total of 17 hours and 40 minutes in action and outlasted more than half of the field of 2,031 that began on Day 2A.

The action began at 3 p.m. ET with both the Pavilion and Amazon Rooms filled with tournament action, but during Level 9, the final tables from Pavilion were broken and for the rest of the night, the entire field is in one room.

Elton Brand to co-produce Tupac movie

The Philadelphia Daily News reports:

Elton Brand

Elton Brand won’t accept failure.

Even if it has the propensity to lighten his already deep pockets.

That’s probably why the Sixers forward is trying his luck in the movie industry again, this time signing on as a co-producer for the upcoming film “Tupac,” a biopic on the life and death of the West Coast hip-hop artist.

This isn’t Brand’s first venture into the movie game. While in Los Angeles as a Clipper, Brand co-founded a small production company called Gibraltar Entertainment. According to a 2006 report from the Los Angeles Times, Brand’s outfit was hit with four separate lawsuits in a year span. Though none alleged any wrongdoing by Brand specifically, the report also claimed Brand dropped $250,000 out of his own pocket to settle a lawsuit.

However, with “Tupac,” Brand is merging with powerhouse Morgan Creek Productions. And the flick is being directed by Antoine Fuqua, of the Oscar-winning film “Training Day,” and Afeni Shakur-Davis, Tupac’s mother, will serve as executive producer. The film has not been rated, but production is under way in Los Angeles, New York, Georgia and Las Vegas.

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Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports:

Most European jobs will fill up in the next few weeks. Agent Lance Young of Octagon, whose clients include Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, said some of his players will take a wait-and-see approach.

“If a lockout keeps going, a guy like Stephen might go over for a little while,” Young said.

[Agent Bernie] Lee and Young agree on a burgeoning basketball market that will be attractive in a long lockout: China.

“The biggest money is China, hands down,” Young said. “You can make almost double in China what you can in Europe. The Chinese league isn’t as good of a league, but if it’s all about money you might as well go over there and make as much money as you can.”

The Chinese season doesn’t start until December, and teams recruit in September and October, Lee said. Players by then will know if NBA games are lost.

“I can see a number of NBA guys getting attractive offers from Chinese teams that will have those walk-away outs,” Lee said. editor says: High-paying basketball jobs exist in Europe, but once those fill up, it does sound like China is the spot. But playing in Europe, generally, is the slightly easier culture experience for many players.

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Marc J. Spears of Yahoo reports:

Derrick Rose

“People will say, ‘He didn’t get that much help,’ ” Rose said of the Bulls’ loss to the Heat. “It’s always just been me. I put a lot of pressure [on myself]. What would have happened if I was in better condition? How would I have played? You never know how it would have worked itself out.

“I’m hard on myself, very hard on myself. I think that’s why I play the way I play because I hate making mistakes.”

Rose was intrigued by the recent news that New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams has decided to play professionally in Turkey during the lockout, but Rose says he’s not seriously considering the option yet. He plans to continue to work out in Los Angeles and is contemplating playing in the local Drew League, a pro-am league.

“I’m trying to stay positive,” Rose said. “I don’t think negative. I don’t think I’m going overseas or anything yet. …You just hope our season starts on time. That’s the only thing I can hope for.”

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