Archive for July 14th, 2011

NBA lays off about 114 league employees

The AP reports:

The NBA laid off about 114 people over the last two days, planned cost-cutting moves that a league spokesman said Thursday are “not a direct result of the lockout.”

The laid off employees represent about 11 percent of the league office workforce in New York, New Jersey and internationally.

Spokesman Mike Bass told The Associated Press the layoffs are “not a direct result of the lockout but rather a response to the same underlying issue; that is, the league’s expenses far outpace our revenues.”

“The roughly 11 percent reduction in headcount from the league office is part of larger cost-cutting measures to reduce our costs by $50 million across all areas of our business,” Bass said.

The league said it lost $300 million this season after losing hundreds of millions in each previous year of the collective bargaining agreement that expired at the end of the day June 30.

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Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns have added longtime NBA assistant and former player Elston Turner to the team’s coaching staff, the club announced today.

“Elston Turner has been a player and a coach in this league and we’re confident that he will bring a new voice to our team that will help us improve,” said Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry.  “What made Elston the right candidate is his experience working alongside offensive coaches and his willingness to be creative defensively.  We have complete confidence in Bill Cartwright, Dan Majerle, Igor Kokoskov and Noel Gillespie, and adding a capable coach like Elston to our staff will make us that much better.”

Turner joins the Suns with 14 years experience as an NBA assistant coach with the Houston Rockets (2007-11), Sacramento Kings (2000-06) and Portland Trail Blazers (1996-00).  No stranger to coaching defense on an offensive-minded club, the 52-year-old Turner has been tabbed by Gentry to serve as the club’s primary defensive coach after spending the last six seasons as the lead assistant under noted offensive coach Rick Adelman, the last four of which came with the Rockets.  While working under Adelman, Turner was a part of two Western Conference All-Star coaching staffs (2001, 2003).

InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner feels Turner is a solid hire and that this is a good move by the Suns.

During Turner’s tenure with Houston, the Rockets surrendered an average opponent field goal mark of 45.5 percent overall (12,345-27,118), well below the league average.  During Turner’s first two seasons in Houston, when the Rockets had a healthy Yao Ming, the club surrendered just 43.8 percent shooting to opponents (5,843-13,329) and were ranked in the top-five in the NBA both seasons.  Turner’s 2007-08 Rockets owned the second-best mark in the league overall (.433).  A native of Knoxville, Tenn., Turner will be charged with aiding in the improvement of a Phoenix defense that ranked 11th in the NBA in defensive field goal percentage in 2009-10 (.452) but fell to 25th in the league in 2010-11 (.472).

The 6-foot-5 Turner played eight NBA seasons with the Dallas Mavericks (1981-84), Denver Nuggets (1984-86, 1988-89) and Chicago Bulls (1986-88), developing a reputation as a tenacious defender.  Turner averaged 4.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 505 career NBA games.  He also played parts of five seasons in the CBA and three years in Europe following his NBA career.

The Mavericks’ 43rd overall selection (second round) of the 1981 NBA Draft, Turner entered the NBA after a stellar senior season at Ole Miss in which he led the school to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1980-81.  The university honored Turner’s many collegiate accomplishments in 2000 when he was inducted into the Ole Miss M-Club Athletic Hall of Fame.

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Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports:

Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas plans to install a zone defense next season, in part to allow him to play guards D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker in the same backcourt.

Silas can’t talk specifically about players during the NBA lockout. But there’s no doubt who he meant when he said Thursday, “I’m going to have two little guys out there who I really think can hopefully play together. But it’s going to be hard for either of them to guard a 2-guard.

“But they could play in a zone…out-front.”

Augustin and Walker each is about 6-foot-1. Gerald Henderson figures to start at shooting guard, alongside Augustin. Silas needs to find ways to play rookie Walker, who averaged about 23 points at Connecticut last season, particularly considering how offensively-challenged this team should be.

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The AP reports:

Bismack Biyombo

The agent for Bobcats rookie Bismack Biyombo  insists the seventh pick in the draft will play for Charlotte next season despite a buyout dispute with his Spanish team.

“At the time the lockout is over and the season starts, the player will be playing with the Bobcats,” Igor Crespo told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “Everything else is not relevant.”

A spokesman for Madrid-based Fuenlabrada said last month the team is fine in letting the 18-year-old Biyombo out of the last two years of his contract, but expects to receive a $1.4 million buyout.

The two sides held a mediation session earlier this month. Crespo declined to reveal the results, saying only he believed the buyout figure was made public to “put pressure on us.”

But he stressed the issue wouldn’t prevent the Congo native from reporting to Charlotte’s training camp on time.

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Jaycee Carroll signs in Spain

Euroleague.net reports:

Real Madrid added more fire power to its roster by inking last season’s Eurocup top scorer Jaycee Carroll to a three-year deal, the club announced Thursday. Carroll (1.88 meters, 28 years old) arrives from Gran Canaria, where he averaged 19 points on 42.3% three-pointers, 87.8% free throws, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 12 Eurocup games last season. He helped Gran Canaria to finished fifth in the Spanish League regular season and reach the Eurocup Last 16. Carroll was chosen to the All-Spanish League first team last season and led the competition in scoring in his two years at Gran Canaria.

Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger reports:

Jordan Farmar

Nets star Deron Williams may be the biggest name among locked out NBA players who has decided to play overseas, but he isn’t the only one who is considering the idea. His Nets teammate, Jordan Farmar, is also looking into the possibility of playing in another country during the NBA lockout, he told The Star-Ledger today.

Farmar, who is the backup point guard to Williams on the Nets, may end up playing in Israel. The Southern California native is Jewish, and his stepfather is Israeli, which would make him an attractive commodity for teams in the Israeli league.

“Yeah, I’d definitely consider that,” Farmar said in a text message when asked if he would be interested in playing in Israel.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Israel is one of the more popular places for players just outside the NBA to sign. I know bunches who have loved it there. Overall play there isn’t as good as in parts of Europe, but it’s in the mix.

Shaq joins Turner Sports

Shaq

Turner Sports announced today a multi-year agreement with 15-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA Champion Shaquille O’Neal, to serve as an analyst across its portfolio of NBA assets. Beginning with the 2011-12 season, O’Neal will join TNT as a full-time analyst on the network’s Emmy Award-winning studio show, alongside Ernie Johnson (host), Kenny Smith (analyst) and Charles Barkley (analyst), and will be a part of the network’s exclusive NBA All-Star weekend and NBA Playoffs coverage.  In addition, he will be a key contributor to NBA TV and NBA.com, providing analysis and commentary throughout the regular season, as well as for The Finals, All Star Weekend and the NBA Draft.

“I can’t wait to begin my new career with Turner. Over the past several years the team at Turner has taken the NBA and entertainment, in general, to a whole new level.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to join the amazing team at Inside the NBA and I hope I can further the fans’ experience on a regular basis,” said O’Neal.

The agreement with O’Neal extends beyond the Turner Sports portfolio and includes a development deal with Turner’s entertainment and animation networks.  O’Neal is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild, with entertainment credits including a number of roles and executive producer credits in both television and film.

“We are thrilled to have Shaquille O’Neal join Turner Sports and our marquee roster of announcers and analysts,” said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. “His unique insights, perspective as one of the league’s all-time great players and personality will be the perfect complement to our award-winning studio team of Ernie, Kenny and Charles, as well as to our programming on NBA TV and NBA.com.”

Among his many accolades during his illustrious 19-year playing career, O’Neal was chosen as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, ranks fifth all-time in NBA scoring history (28,596 points scored), won the Rookie of the Year award (1993), MVP award (2000) and was named All-NBA 14 times.

Additionally, his impressive career includes four NBA Championships - three with the LA Lakers (2000 - 2002), where he was named NBA Finals MVP for all three championships, and one with the Miami Heat (2006).  The 15-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA All-Star MVP (2000, 2004, 2009) also won two scoring titles (1995, 2000). He appeared in 1207 regular season games, averaging 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 blocks in 34.7 minutes per contest throughout his career, which included playing for the Orlando Magic, LA Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.

Additional comments from TNT’s studio team on Shaquille O’Neal:

Studio Host Ernie Johnson: “Shaq knows the game and, on and off the floor, he has always been entertaining; a guy who gets it…Obviously, I know I’m going to have to eat before I get to the studio.”

Analyst Kenny Smith: “The addition of “The Big Analytical” will be terrific. I can’t wait to make verbal passes to the most dominant center of our time.”

Analyst Charles Barkley: “He is a great addition to our team and in the immortal words of (New York Jets linebacker) Bart Scott…CAN’T WAIT!”

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Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star reports:

Brian Shaw

Brian Shaw’s title on the Indiana Pacers staff will read “associate head coach.” A detailed job description has yet to be finalized, however.

Shaw said Wednesday that he is merely one of three assistants. Coach Frank Vogel, though, said Shaw will be the top aide.

“Brian will be the lead assistant, and he and I will sort of coach this team together,” Vogel said. “He’ll be my No. 1 sound board. He’ll coach this team if I get kicked out or if I’m unable to go. He’ll have a larger role in practice, although everyone will be involved.

“He’s just a guy who is a step under being head coach.”

Shaw was introduced to the media Wednesday as the team continued to fill out its staff. Longtime Pacers assistant Dan Burke will stay on as one of the other two assistants. Vogel said an announcement is imminent about the final member of his staff.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Popular perception was, Shaw thought he was next in line to coach the Los Angeles Lakers once Phil Jackson stepped down. But that didn’t happen, and now Shaw remains an assistant. It’ll be interesting to see how rookie coach Mark Jackson does in his first year running the Golden State Warriors. If something goes wrong there, maybe Shaw would be a possible replacement.

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Marc Stein of ESPN reports:

Mike Woodson

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ long-anticipated firing of Kurt Rambis this week doubles the number of coaching openings in the league, because the Detroit Pistons still haven’t hired a replacement for John Kuester yet.

NBA coaching sources say that the Pistons are inching closer to a decision, though.

Of the five known candidates for job, sources say that former Pistons assistant Mike Woodson is still the closest thing to a favorite, thanks largely to Woodson’s good working relationship with Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and the fact that Detroit would know exactly what it’s getting after Woodson’s work under Larry Brown during the Pistons’ 2004 title run…

The other three known candidates to get interviews are Kelvin Sampson (about to leave Milwaukee to become Kevin McHale’s lead assistant in Houston), Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer (last seen on Rambis’ staff in Minnesota) and Checketts favorite Patrick Ewing (from Stan Van Gundy’s staff in Orlando).

InsideHoops.com editor says: I’ve heard that Woodson is the favorite, followed by Frank, followed by the rest. And as for when the team may hire a coach, it’s tough to say. If the Pistons decide Woodson or Frank is their guy but fear that some other team might be close to making an offer to one of them, it would probably prompt Detroit to speed things up. Otherwise, it’s nicer financially for the team to wait and not hire a coach until the season is approaching and contact with players is allowed.

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Sasha Vujacic may sign in Turkey

Fred Kerber of the New York Post reports:

Sasha Vujacic

Sasha Vujacic may take any decision about re-signing him out of the Nets’ hands.

According to the Turkish website and newspaper, Milliyet — which also ran a bunch of Lindsay Lohan pictures yesterday — Vujacic is close to signing a deal with Anadolu Efes that would keep him overseas for a full season…

Vujacic made $5.475 million last season in the final year of his deal.

His chances of returning to the Nets were not considered good, so Vujacic could be looking to head back to Europe.

InsideHoops.com editor says: If Vujacic can get a contract over there that compares with what lower-tier bench players in the NBA make, he should grab it, before such deals are no longer available. And then perhaps return to the NBA in a year or two.

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Cleveland Cavaliers Director of Player Personnel Wes Wilcox has been named general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers new NBA Development League franchise in Canton, Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant announced today.

“Having Wes in this role is another reflection of the synergy and connectivity that owning and operating our own D-League team in Canton provides. As Wes has been an integral member of our staff for the past eight years, it enhances the opportunity for us to extend our team and organizational culture further into the player development process. Wes has been intricately involved in the D League evolution over the last several years and the Canton franchise has already and will continue to, greatly benefit from his knowledge and experience.”

Wilcox will oversee all of the Canton team’s basketball operations elements, as well as all team personnel and activities. He will also continue in his role as the director of player personnel for the Cavaliers.

“I am extremely thankful for this unique opportunity to have a leadership role in building a special franchise in the city of Canton,” said Wilcox. “Our organization places a very high value on player development as part of our culture and we are committed to building a successful environment both on the court and in this community. I’m excited to be a part of that and we look forward to earning the support of our fans here.”

After serving as the New Orleans Hornets’ video coordinator during the 2002-03 NBA season, Wilcox joined the Cavaliers prior to the 2003-04 season as the Cavs’ advance game scout, a position he held for four seasons. He then served as the team’s college and pro personnel scout for three seasons. He was named director of player personnel in September 2010. He has also served as the Cavaliers’ liaison with their NBA Developmental League affiliates over the last four seasons.

Wilcox is a graduate of Cal-State Fullerton and native of La Habra, California.

InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner has said that the Cavs made the right move in acquiring the team.

On July 7th, 2011 the Cleveland Cavaliers announced they will own and operate the new NBA Development League (the NBA’s official minor league) franchise in Canton, Ohio. As owner/operators, the Cavaliers will have exclusive control over all basketball and business elements for the franchise, which will begin play in the 2011-12 season at the Canton Memorial Civic Center, which is approximately 60 miles south of Cleveland. The Cavaliers acquired the former New Mexico Thunderbirds franchise, which ceased operations, and are only the 5th NBA team to currently own and operate their own NBA D-League affiliate (Golden State, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City and San Antonio).

ESPN reports:

Dwyane Wade

Wade has spent some time with teammates since the Finals defeat, traveling to James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio, last week to take part in a different camp for high school and college players. But time hasn’t done much to ease the frustration of the Heat blowing large leads late in two the first four games to allow the Mavericks to take control and win the series going away in six games.

More than the lockout or China or where he might consider playing next season, that is something Wade still wakes up thinking about.

“The sting is still there, no question about it,” Wade said. “It was a failure for the Miami Heat. It was a failed year for every team except for the Dallas Mavericks. They had the best year. But the things we did aren’t erased, we had a darn good year. If we’d won the championship it would’ve been a pretty amazing year. It wasn’t pretty amazing but it was pretty good.”

William Boor of ArizonaSports.com reports:

Josh Childress

Although several NBA players have discussed playing in Europe, Josh Childress is still opposed.

“No, I wouldn’t,” Childress told ESPN’s Ric Bucher. “And I don’t know why guys would. I understand that guys really want to play. But you sometimes have to look at what you have and treat this as a business. The only way I could see it making sense is if you’re a player from a particular country going back. But for an American player with a good-sized guaranteed deal here, I can’t see why you’d do it.”

Childress has four years and $27 million remaining on his deal in Phoenix and does not believe getting some fun in during the lockout is worth playing in Europe and risking injury.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

When it comes to playing overseas during the NBA lockout, Billy Hunter has a simple message for the league’s players: Enjoy your trip, we’ll call you when it’s time to come home.

In a memo sent to players on Tuesday night and obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, the union leader said the NBA Players’ Association supports all players “who are taking steps to continue to earn a living, stay in peak competitive shape, and play the game that we love while the unfortunate league-imposed lockout is in place.”

“This lockout is intended to economically pressure our players to agree to an unfavorable collective bargaining agreement,” Hunter wrote. “It is important for the owners to understand that there may be significant consequences to their decision to put their own players in these difficult economic circumstances.

“If the owners will not give our players a forum in which to play basketball here in the United States, they risk losing the greatest players in the world to the international basketball federations that are more than willing to employ them.”

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