Archive for August, 2011

By Jeff Lenchiner

It was a surprise today learning that the Houston Rockets, after hosting NBA All-Star weekend in 2006, get to do it again in 2013. Many teams would love to host the big event, and there’s no particular reason for Houston to land the honor quite so soon.

So, using Twitter, I reached out to the over 55,800 people currently following InsideHoops and asked them to to chime in with guesses as to why Houston is again playing All-Star host while so many other cities continue to wait. Here are some of my favorite responses (some of which I may agree with, others not so much):

MarkEomurian: Houston wants to draw attention to the smog problem?

Pharoah2012: Cuz…”We Da Best Host City”! :)

Joco967: Brian scalabrine once dreamt about Houston. The rest is self-explanatory.

SupaSIGMA4: Cuz the Chi is too dangerous and they’ve been everywhere else significant.

Crawf33: They’ve gotta have SOMETHING to pep them up after Yao called it a day.

MySkizzle: With Yao gone and the lockout looming, Stern will probably do something around Yao that night to keep Chinese market.

djgray1: Because it’s always hot here. No worries about bad weather.

HoopsU: It’s warm.

dboy03: Losing Yao Ming. NBA feels sorry for them.

MemphisSportFan: The NBA will do anything to keep the all-star game out of Memphis. So they put it in Houston again.

ImmaSavedSinner: Cause all the hoes here in the H.

glazeduck: capitalizing on Asian market before the Yao effect wears off.

MeteAktas76: A consolation for Yao Ming’s early retirement maybe?

——

Many others also mentioned the Yao Ming factor. I’d say there’s something to that Perhaps Yao will be brought over and there will be a massive tribute to him, as a way to keep fans in China tuned in.

Also, a big part of NBA All-Star weekend is the hotel situation. There needs to be plenty of rooms available, right nearby. And there are also various hotel partnerships that may come into play, somehow.

Houston is also warmer in the winter than most places. It has an airport, with functional planes and everything! That’s probably the bulk of it.

So, here’s to a great weekend in Houston in 2013! But first, in February of 2012 we’ll head to sunny, warm Orlando.

Houston lands 2013 NBA All-Star Game

Mark Berman of My Fox Houston reports:

NBA sources told FOX 26 Sports the Houston Rockets and the City of Houston landed the NBA All-Star Game in 2013. The game will be played at Toyota Center on Feb. 17, 2013. NBA All-Star week will be Feb. 15-17. The Rockets and Toyota Center also hosted the game in 2006.

Click2Houston reports:

The entire NBA All-Star Weekend will be in the Bayou City from February 15-17, 2013. Hilton Americas Marketing Director Janice O’Neill-Cox spoke with Local 2 Sports Wednesday afternoon, saying, “We played a key role in working with the league to make sure availability was in place. It’s a big boost for our city to land the game, and we’re excited about it.”

InsideHoops.com editor says: I don’t get why Houston is getting the game again. They just had it in 2006. Meanwhile, other teams haven’t hosted it in a long time. Also, Madison Square Garden renovations will be mostly complete in time. And the new Brooklyn Nets arena will exist by mid 2012. Unusual call to send the big weekend back to Houston so soon.

Tasmin Mitchell signs in Israel

Sportando reports:

Hapoel Holon announced a triple signing for the coming season: Bryant Dunston, Tasmin Mitchell and Patrick Sullivan. Dunston started last season in Greece with Aris Thessaloniki and then moved to Israel where he averaged 7.7 ppg and 5 rpg with Bnei Hasharon. Patrick Sullivan had his first season as pro in NBDL with Rio Grande Valley Vipers scoring 9.6 ppg, grabbing 5.3 rpg and dishing 1.1 apg in 58 games.

The Canadian Press reports:

The Canadian men’s national basketball team got an infusion of talent Wednesday.

Cory Joseph, a first-round pick at this year’s NBA draft, has announced he will join the squad ahead of 2011 FIBA Americas men’s championship in Argentina.

“It’s an honour to play for your country and I’m excited to get on the floor and represent Canada as best as I can,” said Joseph, who was taken 29th overall by the San Antonio Spurs in June. “I know we have a young, great group, with Joel (Anthony), (Carl) English and (Andy) Rautins coming in.

“Hopefully we come back with the gold, but if not, qualify for the Olympics.”

The New Jersey Nets have named Milton Lee as the team’s general manager of minor league operations, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.

Lee, who had been the team’s director of basketball operations, will now oversee the basketball operations of the Nets’ D League affiliate, the Springfield Armor.  Lee’s duties will include selection of the team’s head coach and coaching staff as well as assembling the Armor roster for the upcoming 2011-12 season.

“Milt is a natural fit for this position,” said King.  “He has a strong history with young players and his experience with the Nets basketball operations department will allow for a seamless integration of philosophies between the two teams.”

Prior to joining the Nets, Lee started his own basketball services company where he worked in various capacities with the NBA, teams and players.  Lee personally worked as a skills coach with several NBA players currently in the league.  Previously, Lee served as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers summer league team in 2008 and 2009, and has been a consultant to the NBA at the past six Pre-Draft Combines.

Earlier in his career, Lee worked as a proprietary trader on Wall Street for ING Barings and SAC Capital.  Lee interned for the NBA at three consecutive Olympic Games, including 1992, for the original “Dream Team.”

A native of Bergen County, New Jersey, Lee is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the junior varsity basketball team.

The Nets, as reported by InsideHoops.com, entered into a hybrid agreement with the Armor on May 1.  The hybrid affiliation is a structure similar to other minor leagues, allowing for the Nets to secure control over and cover the expenses related to the basketball operations of the Armor, while partnering with existing local ownership, which maintains responsibility for the team’s off-the-court business operations.

Dwyane Wade takes it home!

Tim Reymonds of the AP reports:

Though he remains cautiously hopeful that a deal between owners and players can be struck to end the lockout and ultimately save the 2011-12 NBA season, Wade told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he will be playing somewhere this winter — whether that’s with the Miami Heat, as he’d obviously prefer, or an international club.

“I’m going to play basketball this year,” Wade said from New York, where he’s taking some business meetings. “I don’t know where, but I love the game so much that I will play it. And we will figure that out.”

Wade denied receiving any international offers yet, including a widely circulated report of a $2 million-per-month proposal from a Chinese team. He has said throughout the summer that he would review any offers that come his way, a stance he reiterated Tuesday, while noting that he was overwhelmed at times by the support he received from Chinese fans during a nine-day trip to their nation that ended last week.

On Monday, Wade’s Heat teammate LeBron James told The AP he’s “very optimistic” the season will take place, possibly even on time. Wade and James agree on plenty, but on that point, they differ a bit. Wade has started his offseason workout regimen, just in case, though hardly sounds convinced that the league will get its planned slate of 82 games in starting this fall.

InsideHoops.com editor says: As with Deron Williams, if D-Wade or any other really good player was to sign overseas, there’s a 99.9 percent chance it would be with an opt-out clause, allowing him to return to the NBA as soon as the lockout ends.

Read fan opinion or share your own views in this basketball forum topic.

Earl Clark signs in China

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reports:

Earl Clark

Orlando Magic free agent Earl Clark has reached an agreement on a one-year contract with Zhejiang of the Chinese Basketball Association, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The deal will pay Clark in the “high six figures,” one source said.

Clark, a 6-foot-10 forward, has played 93 games for the Magic and Phoenix Suns in parts of two NBA seasons. He will stay the full season in China without an out clause to return to the NBA should the league-imposed lockout end.

Kevin Durant

Marc Stein of ESPN reports:

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant is in the early stages of contract negotiations with the same Turkish team that has signed Deron Williams and has been pursuing Kobe Bryant, according to Durant’s agent.

Agent Aaron Goodwin told ESPN.com on Tuesday night that he has met with officials from Turkish club Besiktas and has likewise begun exploring opportunities for Durant in Spain and Russia. Goodwin added that playing in China is not something Durant is considering at this time.

“The Turkish option is very intriguing,” Goodwin said. “We’re looking at other countries as well. Kevin hasn’t agreed to play anywhere yet, but we’re looking for the best fit.”

InsideHoops.com editor says: I’ll keep repeating that if any good or great NBA player signs overseas, there is a 99.9 percent chance that they’ll have an out-clause that allows them to return to the NBA when the lockout ends. But as for this, man, imagine if one overseas team did have both Deron Williams and Kevin Durant! With smart teammates who move and cut like good international team players are supposed to. That would be worth watching no matter what flavor of basketball you’re into.

Read fan opinion and discuss your views in this basketball forum topic.

Patrick Ewing

Greg Newman of ESPN New York reports:

Patrick Ewing joined “The Mike Lupica Show” on Tuesday and talked about his old teammates, his coaching career and a possible return to the Big Apple.

“I can’t speak bad about my teammates. I think my teammates were great guys, they were great teammates, I had fun playing with them. When I look at (Amare) Stoudemire and Carmelo (Anthony), I’ve said it before, I never played with that kind of caliber,” Ewing said.

“It is what it is. Like I said before, I love my teammates, we did the best that we could for the city of New York, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us,” Ewing told Lupica…

Could we see Patrick back in the Garden … on the Knicks’ bench? “I hope that one day I get to come back home because I do live in this area, I still consider this my area, I still consider myself a Knick. Hopefully one day I’ll be brought back here,” Ewing said.

Doc Rivers

The Boston Globe reports:

Rivers, who previously rented at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, has purchased a penthouse at the Four Seasons Hotel. The well-compensated coach just closed on his new pad, paying $2.2 million for the 2-bed, 2.5-bath spread. Located on the 16th floor of the Boylston Street hotel, the penthouse has 1,801 square feet of living space, including enormous picture windows that look out over the Public Garden and Beacon Hill. It also offers 24-hour valet and concierge service. “He did his homework,’’ said realtor Beth Dickerson, who handled the sale. “He wanted to clearly understand the market, and at the end of the day, he liked the service and privacy of this property.’’

Shaquille O'Neal

The AP reports:

Los Angeles County prosecutors have dropped the case against seven gang members accused of kidnapping a music producer who claimed to have a sex tape of Shaquille O’Neal.

At the prosecution’s request, a judge Tuesday dismissed kidnapping, assault and robbery charges.

District attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison says prosecutors believed Robert Ross was attacked but his credibility as a witness was undermined by some of his own testimony and behaviour outside court. No details were provided.

Marquis Daniels

Jessica Camerato of CSNNE reports:

It began like a routine play. Marquis Daniels caught the ball near the baseline and attempted to drive to the basket against Gilbert Arenas. The two players collided and . . . in an instant, everything changed.

His right arm crashed into the parquet first, followed by his face. Daniels lay flat on the court, unable to feel his body but still conscious. He thought about his two young children – “Man, I can’t raise my kids like this. This can’t be it.” – as the crowd of 18,624 at the TD Garden came to a deafening hush, waiting – and hoping – to see any sign of movement.

Daniels heard a voice. In that moment, the most intense player on the court was suddenly the calming assurance he needed.

“I just remember I kept hearing Kevin [Garnett] telling me, ‘You’re gonna be alright. You’re gonna be alright,’” Daniels told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview. “I was like, ‘I can‘t move.’ He said, ’What do you mean?’ He kept telling me I was gonna be alright. I think that helped me out a lot, just hearing his voice telling me I was going to be alright. I stayed calm, I didn’t panic.

“It was a trying time for me. I didn’t take anything for granted. I was going to take everything seriously from now on.”

Yao Ming

Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reports:

Yao Ming appears destined to be an unexpected member of the next Hall of Fame class.

Officials of the basketball museum said representatives from the Chinese Basketball Association and media in China signaled plans to nominate Yao in the contributor category and bypass the usual five-year waiting period for retired players.

While there is no such thing as certainty in a balloting so secretive that even the voters are never revealed, let alone the results, Yao being nominated as a contributor removes the debate that might have accompanied his nomination as a player after an injury-plagued career. Plus, after announcing his retirement from the Rockets in July, he would not have been eligible for enshrinement until 2017.

This unique approach would put Yao on the ballot that is submitted in late-2011 and faces two rounds of voting before inductees for the Class of 2012 are announced at the Final Four in New Orleans. The actual enshrinement would be later in the summer, likely August, in Springfield.

InsideHoops.com editor says: I wouldn’t put Yao Ming in the Hall of Fame as a player, because he simply didn’t play enough. A very good center who was often pretty great, Yao wasn’t as healthy as needed for a full career. But I have no objection to putting Yao in the Hall as a “contributor” to basketball, which is term that is extremely open to interpretation. And in this case, it seems reasonable. He helped bring millions of new fans to basketball, and inspired millions of others to care more. And lots of them will stick around and be a part of the sport, even as Yao’s playing days are finished.

Have a reaction? Discuss it in this basketball forum topic.

Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports:

Mickael Pietrus

The good thing these days about a minor July knee surgery on a NBA player is that the lockout leaves next to no concern that he will miss any training camp or games.

The better thing about Suns swingman Mickael Pietrus’ surgery is that it was apparently routine. Pietrus’ agent, Bill McCandless, said Pietrus had a right knee arthroscopy to remove loose bodies almost three weeks ago in France and will be finished with rehabilitation by the end of this month.

“One piece of loose cartilage was lodged in a spot that impinged his movement and caused him pain during the season,” McCandless said. “He says he’s much, much better. The good news is he’s been forced to work. He has his strength back and no pain.”

Pietrus rented a house across the street from his rehabilitation center in France.

LeBron James Drives

The AP reports:

LeBron James is working out twice a day, trying to erase some of the sting that’s still there after the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals.

”Right now I’ve just been focusing on being a better player, working on my game every single day,” James said at a news conference before the AP interview. ”Like I said, the Dallas Mavericks were a great team and they deserved to win that championship. And I’ll just use that as motivation coming into this season.”

He’s also trying to deliver on his vow to be even better whenever the Heat resume play, saying he’s been in Houston at times this offseason to learn post play from one of the game’s all-time greats, former Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon.

”I look at what he was able to do throughout his career,” James said. ”Unbelievable talent. Multiple champion. Just to see how he was able to dominate in the low post, for me as an individual, I just try to look at some of the things I feel I need to get better at and hit home at it. Our team becomes better if I continue to get better and that’s what it’s about.”

Read fan opinion and share your views in this basketball forum topic.

Glancing at guard Carlos Arroyo

Carlos Arroyo and Kirk Hinrich

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

Carlos Arroyo, 32, a nine-year veteran who last season played 49 games with the Miami Heat and 15 with the Boston Celtics, wouldn’t cost much, and he would feel comfortable and experienced enough to run an offense. This would by no means be a splash signing, and wouldn’t fully address the Lakers’ point guard needs. But with the Lakers strapped financially and looking at a market that doesn’t have many promising point guards, this might be one of the “tweaks” the Lakers could get in the lineup. For the past three seasons, Arroyo has eclipsed his career shooting mark. He can handle the ball. He’s solid in promoting good ball movement and finding the open man. Mix all of those ingredients together, and you at least have a steady option to lower to some degree the minutes logged by Derek Fisher and Steve Blake.

rdan-FeliciaSnoopPearson

Tricia Bishop of the Baltimore Sun reports:

Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, who overcame a troubled childhood and a murder conviction to launch an acting career as a drug-gang assassin on HBO’s “The Wire,” pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to sell heroin.

She was sentenced to seven years in prison, with all of the time suspended except for the five months she has already served while awaiting trial, most of it spent at home, under electronic monitoring. She could be sent back to finish the term if she violates probation over the next three years.

“While I’m delighted to have you here, I don’t want to see you again,” Baltimore Circuit Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill told the actress, expressing a sentiment shared by her fans, many of whom were crushed by the news of her March arrest in an early-morning sting operation…

Pearson and several dozen others were arrested in a series of March raids on allegations that they ran a vast heroin conspiracy throughout the city. The scheme was discovered after authorities recorded key players discussing the alleged operation on a wiretap — a case of life imitating “The Wire,” which depicted Baltimore’s drug trade and law enforcement efforts to battle it.

Dwight Howard

Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel (blog) reports:

A Magic fan named Otiga Ogubi, under the twitter handle of @tstreetz77, sent a Twitter message to Howard saying, “we sell out the Orena and 85% r just there to look good until the playoffs.”

Howard agreed, expressing concern about the Amway Center crowd.

Howard wrote back, “that upsets me cuz I don’t wait till the playoffs to play hard. I give y’all my best everynite. Y becuz some people don’t get a chance to be at everygame. And I want them to always remember the nite they saw me play. So. I play for y’all. I feed off the fans. ESP at home. It’s a different atmosphere in the playoffs at the arena. That same atmosphere should be during the season.”

If you’re not adept at Twitter-speak, Howard said he plays hard every night because he wants every fan to remember the time he or she saw Howard play. Because he’s bringing his best every night, he wants fans to bring playoff intensity every night.

FIBA reports:

Ben Gordon will not be making his international debut for Great Britain this summer after all.

British Basketball on Monday confirmed that the Detroit Pistons guard won’t be a part of Chris Finch’s charges as they head for EuroBasket in Lithuania at the end of the month.

The 28-year-old guard decided to sit out because of complications regarding the NBA lockout and the proposed insurance coverage.

“We are obviously very disappointed that Ben is not able to join us this year but we fully understand and respect his decision,” said British Basketball Performance Director Chris Spice.

Atlanta Hawks reach sale agreement

The Meruelo Group, led by founder Alex Meruelo, and Atlanta Spirit LLC have reached an agreement on the sale of a majority ownership stake in the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks  and the Philips Arena operating rights, it was announced today.  Completion of the sale is subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors and terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“I am a lifelong basketball fan, a student of the NBA game, and this is a dream come true for me,” stated Alex Meruelo, founder and chief executive officer of the Meruelo Group. “I am committed to winning and look forward to engaging with our wonderful fans, our dedicated season ticket holders, our committed corporate partners and this passionate community.   I believe that both the Hawks and Philips Arena have unlimited potential for the future. I am honored to be a part of that future”

With roots dating to 1986, the Meruelo Group is a diversified holding and management company owned and controlled by prominent U.S. Hispanic business executive Alex Meruelo. The Meruelo Group has diverse holdings in banking and financial services, restaurants and food services, construction and engineering, real estate, hotel/casino operations and private equity.

The Atlanta Hawks will remain a long-term tenant of Philips Arena and Alex Meruelo will serve as the Hawks’ Governor to the NBA.

The transaction is expected to close in late 2011, subject to NBA approval and customary closing conditions.  In keeping with the terms of their confidentiality agreement and NBA regulations, both parties have agreed not to comment further on the transaction pending a final close.

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