Archive for November, 2011

Austin Rivers is a work in progress

The Duke Blue Devils are 5-0 after a hard-fought win against Tennessee in the opening round of the Maui Invitational. Mike Krzyzewski now has a historic 905 wins and counting.

But for Krzyzewski’s star freshman, Austin Rivers, things are still a work in progress. Rivers led all Duke scorers with 18 points Monday in Maui. But it was an inefficient 18. He shot 6-for-15 from the field, made critical turnovers and passed on wide-open jump shots for contested shots at the basket.

Four games into his career, he sometimes looks like the star he was billed to be. Other times like a former high school stud who suddenly finds himself in over his head at the next level.

Rivers’ inconsistency was on display for a huge contingent of NBA GMs and scouts to see. He started the game by missing five of his first six shots. He drove wildly into the teeth of the defense. He looked to shoot every time he touched the ball.

And just as quickly, as scouts started to shake their heads and jot down derogatory notes in their iPads, Rivers exploded. First it was a pair of 3-pointers toward the end of the first half. Later, in the second half, he hit a couple of beautiful floaters in the lane.

– Reported by Chad Ford of ESPN.com

InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner says: It’s too early to really judge Rivers or any other freshman one way or another. It’s certainly fine to start to form an opinion, but we will learn a lot more in the coming weeks and months.

76ers saying goodbye to mascot Hip Hop

Seeing as how there is no actual basketball to talk about during the NBA lockout, this qualifies as big Sixers news. After receiving hundreds of communications from fans, nearly all of them advocating the end of a symbol of a different era, the team’s new ownership will announce today that the never-beloved mascot has been put out to pasture, literally.

To spare the sensibilities of the one or two children who weren’t scared to death by the rabbit, the team will say that Hip Hop fell in love, married and moved away to start a family. Apparently, it either was that or announce that they were going to boil him in a pot on a really big stove in a remake of “Fatal Attraction.”

A decade ago, with Allen Iverson as the face of the franchise and Pat Croce rappelling the Walt Whitman Bridge as the out-there owner, Hip Hop arrived as a replacement for another mascot, Big Shot (whose demise wasn’t exactly mourned, either, if memory serves).

– Reported by Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Inquirer

InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner says: No word on if mascot Hip Hop will now cross over and become R&B.

The complaint in the lawsuit filed by David Boies on behalf of NBA players has been voluntarily dismissed by Boies’ firm.

“We assume that Mr. Boies was not happy with either the reassignment of the case from Oakland to San Francisco or the fact that the new judge scheduled the first conference for March 2012,” said Rick Buchanan, NBA Executive Vice President and General Counsel.  “This is consistent with Mr. Boies’ inappropriate shopping for a forum that he can only hope will be friendlier to his baseless legal claims.”

According to the Associated Press, “NBA players have filed an amended federal lawsuit against the league in Minnesota. Locked-out players filed class-action antitrust lawsuits against the league last Tuesday in California and Minnesota. But the California complaint was withdrawn Monday and the cases put together in Minnesota.”

Former NBA All-Star Cedric Ceballos has been hospitalized after what his publicist called “a series of small heart attacks.”

Publicist Crystal Guy says Ceballos was scheduled to undergo surgery in Phoenix.

Ceballos averaged 21.3 points per game in 11 NBA seasons. In recent years, he served as the on-court master of ceremonies at Phoenix Suns home games.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Rajon Rondo

On the eve of a charity basketball game he hosted at Harvard University, Rondo was involved in an incident at a nightclub in downtown Lowell. Eric Valarezo, 31, of Haverhill, was charged with disorderly conduct, when he allegedly attempted to punch Rondo, who was exiting the club. No one was injured in the incident. Valarezo is expected to be arraigned today in Lowell District Court…

According to The Sun newspaper in Lowell, officer Michael Kandrotas noticed a scuffle around Rondo and his entrourage — including Atlanta’s Josh Smith, Memphis’ Rudy Gay and former Celtics backup guard Nate Robinson — as patrons exited Brian’s Ivy Hall. According to the paper, police and co-owner Kevin Hayhurst said members of Rondo’s group wrestled Valarezo to the ground after the alleged punch attempt.

– Reported by the Boston Herald

lebron james

LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are going home — and bringing friends with them.

With no end to the NBA lockout in sight, the All-Star group is set to lead a four-game “Homecoming Tour,” starting with a matchup in James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio on Dec. 1, followed by a Dec. 4 game in New Orleans, a Dec. 7 game in Chicago and culminating with a Dec. 10 contest in East Rutherford, N.J.

James, Paul, Wade and Anthony are committed to play in all four games of the tour, which was announced early Monday. Proceeds from the tour — which will include events such as food drives, educational outreach programs and clinics in each city — will benefit the four headlining players’ charitable foundations, and tour sponsor Google Plus will stream each game live.

“It’ll be very neat,” Wade told The Associated Press. “First of all, this is something we talked about doing a long time ago as players. To have an opportunity to go to these different cities that we’re from, to bring basketball to them at a high level and also have a charitable component in each city and to be with the guys, it’ll be cool. It’s something we’re looking forward to.”

Tickets for the first three games go on sale Tuesday. Tickets for the East Rutherford game will be on sale Wednesday.

– Reported by the Associated Press

James, Wade and Bosh had initially been listed to participate in a world tour of NBA stars, which also was to include Paul and Anthony. That tour was to include stops in Puerto Rico, London, Macau and Australia before it was cancelled.

“It’s not anything that I’ve heard about since then,” Wade said, with the change of plans to a domestic tour. “I was excited about the opportunity to go, obviously to play basketball with some of my friends, some of the best players in the game, to travel to different places and given them kind of what we get over here, the excitement of the game. It’s unfortunate.”

Instead, the passports are off and the domestic games are on.

“You could see, I was there to the end,” Wade said. “I wasn’t going to pull out of it, I was going to keep going and I wanted to play.”

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel 

The Spectrum- Wrecking Ball Ceremony 040

SCP Auctions says more than 140 items from Julius Erving’s personal collection sold for a record $3.5 million. The auction ran from October until Sunday.

Among the highlights: His 1974 New Jersey Nets ABA championship ring sold for $460,471; 1983 76ers championship rings sold for $244,240; 1983 All-Star game MVP trophy ($115,242); final game worn jersey from May 3, 1987 ($88,826); and 1974-75 ABA MVP trophy ($173,10).

SCP said the Nets championship ring set a record price for a sports ring.

Erving told The Associated Press last month he’s never been a “hoarder or collector,” and planned to donate a portion of the auction proceeds to the Salvation Army.

– Reported by the Associated Press

JR Smith

Nuggets guard J.R. Smith suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury while playing for his Chinese team Sunday.

Smith signed to play for Zhejiang, a Chinese Basketball Association team, during the NBA lockout. Sunday’s game was the CBA regular season-opening game for Smith.

– Reported by the Denver Post

InsideHoops.com November 22 update: It appears the injury was extremely minor and Smith will be fine.

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Brown, who is now an assistant for Pistons coach Lawrence Frank, just laughed when asked about his dunking prowess.

“Yes, I can,” he said Thursday night at the Palace during an event where needy families were fed. “I work out every day and I still dunk.”

But the 42-year-old won’t be winning dunk titles any time soon.

“I always like to tell people (I used) to have hops, but now I just have hopes,” he said with another laugh. “I can still get up a little bit.”

– Reported by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

Kevin Love turns down Besiktas offer

Kevin Love

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love informed Besiktas of Turkey on Sunday that he’s turning down its offer to sign with the Istanbul-based club and team up with New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams.

“I didn’t feel it was the right decision for me at this time,” Love told ESPN.com.

Love, though, said playing abroad if the lockout drags on “is still very much an option” he’s considering.

NTV Spor of Turkey reported Friday that Love and Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng were Besiktas’ top two targets in its search for an elite forward to play alongside Williams.

– Reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com

Patrick Mills

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Patty Mills has cut short his stay with the Melbourne Tigers and will play for a Chinese league club during the NBA lockout.

The National Basketball League said in a statement late Sunday that Mills had signed a contract to play with Chinese club Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers. The NBL said it allowed Mills to leave because it did not want to hold him back from other international opportunities.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Dirk Nowitzki looks at playing overseas

Like many professional basketball players who currently aren’t playing professional basketball, Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki is bored, and may eventually wind up playing overseas while the ongoing NBA lockout continues to destroy humanity.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports:

dirk_nowitzki

Although he continues to express optimism that the NBA season will be saved, Nowitzki has acknowledged that he has taken note of the blueprint established by Cleveland Cavaliers forward Omri Casspi, who announced earlier this week that he had signed a contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv in his native Israel that serves as a virtual letter of intent to join Maccabi in January if the lockout is still going, thus securing a spot for Casspi with a top European team early in a market starting to flood with established players.

Nowitzki has only just begun to field calls from interested clubs, but he said he’s aware of the Spanish media reports that have listed him as a target of perennial powerhouse Real Madrid and admitted that the idea of playing top-level basketball with a team in Spain — such as Real or their rivals Barcelona — intrigues him.

“It’s a great club with a great tradition,” Nowitzki said of Real Madrid. “I don’t know if that’s true, but (if the media reports are accurate) that’s something you’d have to look at hard.

“I still can’t believe that we’re not going to have a season (in the NBA). I can’t see us not playing. But if the lockout still stays strong, I’ve got a decision to make.”

The 33-year-old also revealed that he has reconsidered his previous stance about playing in his native Germany. For much of the summer, Nowitzki maintained that he preferred not to play in the German Bundesliga because he didn’t want to pick any one club over the rest. Yet he has since concluded that returning to the Bundesliga, for the first time since playing for his hometown DJK Wurzburg X-Rays during the 1998-99 lockout, might be the best way to promote the sport at home.

Naturally, the hope is that the lockout ends before the best team on the current NBA champions feels a need to take his talents overseas.

Ricky Rubio may return to Spain

Ricky Rubio

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio says he will consider playing for his former team Barcelona if the NBA season is canceled because of the ongoing lockout.

Rubio told Catalan radio ONA FM that “I want to wait until I see there is no chance of resolving the situation, and then I will sign with another team.”

– Reported by the Associated Press

InsideHoops.com editor says: Well, it’s really been great getting to know you, Ricky! But seriously folks, I’m not sure Ricky is ready for the NBA anyway. Another year overseas might do him some good, despite Ricky having an off year last season in Spain.

Andrei Kirilenko suffers broken nose

Andrei Kirilenko

The Turkish Airlines Euroleague’s top-rated player so far this season, forward Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Moscow, could miss time in the competition after breaking his nose in a domestic game Saturday. Kirilenko didn’t move for several seconds after crashing to the floor in a Russian League game while blood flowing from above his eye pooled on the floor. Eventually, he could be seen talking as he was bandaged and walking off-court under his own power. CSKA issued a statement saying that in addition to the broken nose, Kirilenko received stitches for the cut, but apparently did not suffer a concussion. The statement said his nose will be fixed upon returning to Moscow for additional tests that will pay particular attention to the left shoulder he landed on while being tripped accidentally as he tried to make a steal against Krasnye Krylia in a Russian League game.

– Reported by Euroleague.net

Kendrick Perkins

“Hurt, surprised, I think it really still hasn’t hit me yet — not really,” he said later. “I think everything happened so fast, last year coming back from my ACL injury and getting traded to Oklahoma City where I had to be a leader.

“It still hurts that I got traded, but then the city of Oklahoma has been great to me. They’ve embraced me with open arms, and I have no complaints about the city of Oklahoma and the whole organization.” …

“I never knew I missed it as much as I did until I got in there,” Perkins said. “I missed the whole city of Boston, the whole of New England, and it just felt good playing basketball here. It’s always overwhelming. You try to catch yourself from dropping a tear, but like I always say, the city has been good to me since I came into the NBA at a young age at 18. I’ll never take it for granted, and I definitely appreciate all of the support when I come back to New England. I hated to leave. God does everything for a reason, but my heart is still in Boston and New England. It was just fun to be back.”

– Reported by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald

Donte Greene

Kings forward Donté Greene has taken on the role of game organizer and promoter for today’s Goon Squad Classic exhibition and fundraiser at UC Davis.

The game, which benefits Greene’s Circle of Success foundation, is a chance for NBA fans to see the players they hope to watch when the lockout ends.

“It’s hectic, I’ll tell you that,” Greene said. “Especially when you’re trying to make sure everything is straight … but it’s all been fun.”

The competition isn’t just on the court; Greene and others hosting charity games are competing for players, too.

At least three players listed on a promotional flier for Greene’s game won’t participate.

Houston point guard Jonny Flynn and Chandler Parsons, the Rockets’ second-round pick, are playing tonight instead in former NBA player and coach John Lucas’ charity game in Houston. Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant won’t be at tonight’s game, either.

And Milwaukee forward and Bay Area native Drew Gooden is hosting a game tonight at the Cow Palace in Daly City.

– Reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee

UCLA and NBA great Walt Hazzard dies

Walt Hazzard, the former UCLA and NBA star who played on the Bruins’ first NCAA championship basketball team in 1964 and later coached the team for four seasons in the 1980s, died Friday. He was 69.

Hazzard’s family said he had been recuperating for a long time from complications following heart surgery. The school said Hazzard died at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

He had a stroke in March 1996 and made a strong recovery, but became less publicly active. He made occasional appearances at UCLA games in recent years.

– Reported by the Associated Press

A three-year starter, Hazzard did become an All-American in 1963 and again in 1964, when the Bruins went 30-0 and won the first of Wooden’s 10 NCAA titles. Hazzard was named the outstanding player of the 1964 NCAA Final Four.

“Recruiting after that 1964 national championship was tremendous,” Wooden said later. “Lew Alcindor [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] would never have come to UCLA had we not won it in 1964 and 1965.”

UCLA was also where Hazzard met his future wife, Jaleesa, who was a Bruin cheerleader.

Hazzard, attired in a sweater, shorts and sandals, was on campus one day with his roommate, tennis player Arthur Ashe, and said, “See that girl? I’m going to marry her.”

She told him, “Not if you don’t wear socks.” The two were married in May 1964. By then Hazzard’s future lay before him.

– Reported by Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times

Nevada regulators Thursday approved the transfer of the Maloof family’s Palms Casino to its creditors.

The Maloofs, who own the Sacramento Kings, have just 2 percent of the Palms under the deal approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

The new majority owners are two investment firms that held the resort’s debt, Leonard Green & Partners and TPG Capital.

George Maloof will continue to run the Las Vegas property, which opened 10 years ago this week.

– Reported by Dan Kasler of the Sacramento Bee

Kevin Durant

President Obama hasn’t hid his desire for the NBA lockout to end, but he is taking advantage of the league’s work stoppage by luring some of the game’s top stars to participate in a fundraising game on Dec. 12 in the District.

Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin and Wizards guard John Wall are among the players who have committed to play, according to the Obama campaign Web site. Tickets for the first “Obama Classic” start at $100 and courtside seats can be purchased for $5,000.

Proceeds from the game will go to the Obama Victory Fund to support the president’s 2012 reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said both the venue and Obama’s participation in the event have yet to be determined.

– Reported by Michael Lee of the Washington Post

The venue for the game has not been finalized, but a number of former and current NBA players already have committed to participate. They include: Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh.

Sources also said Baron Davis, Vince Carter, Alonzo Mourning. Jamal Crawford, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Amare Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Derek Fisher, Antawn Jamison, Juwan Howard, Quentin Richardson, Dahntay Jones, Brandon Knight, Jerry Stackhouse, John Wall, Dikembe Mutombo, Patrick Ewing and Doc Rivers are expected to play. Veteran WNBA star and all-time leading scorer Tina Thompson and former USC great Cheryl Miller also is expected to participate.

– Reported by Ric Bucher of ESPN the Magazine 

lester hudson

Lester Hudson hasn’t put on hold his dream of continuing to play in the NBA.

The Memphis native simply is no longer waiting for an end to the lockout…

Under Chinese Basketball Association rules, Hudson must play the full season without an opt-out clause should the NBA lockout end. The CBA’s regular season runs through the middle of February.

Hudson, 27, will play with Washington Wizards free agent Yi Jianlian and former Indiana Pacer Fred Jones. Phoenix Suns restricted free-agent guard Aaron Brooks has agreed to a one-year deal with Guangdong, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Hudson last played for Guangdong in January after he was waived by the Washington Wizards. The Boston Celtics originally selected Hudson with the 58th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

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