Archive for July 29th, 2011

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.

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