Archive for November 28th, 2011

Kurt Thomas

Kurt Thomas knows there is a good chance he could be playing on Christmas Day. He just doesn’t know where.

Thomas, the league’s oldest player at 39, could end up with the Knicks, Bulls, Heat or his hometown Dallas Mavericks.

“That’s the great thing about free agency,” Thomas said Monday. “A lot of things can happen. Teams have to make a decision on players but I also have a say in where I might end up.”

Thomas spent last season with the Chicago Bulls and the club is interested in re-signing the 6-9 forward/center.

– Reported by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News

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Yao Ming now focused on wine-making

Yao Ming

Yao Ming is now battling with Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Mario Andretti and Greg Norman.

But this isn’t some made-for-television poker game featuring former sports greats. Yao is joining the ranks of retired athletes with their own winery. This week the eight-time NBA All-Star is launching Yao Family Wines, a California outpost that will be focused on the Chinese market.

“I really like Napa Valley,” Yao told the Wall Street Journal. “California represents vacation, casual [living], sunshine — everything related to a good quality of life.”

Not that the 31-year-old always had a taste for the finer things in life. He knew very little about wine growing up and watched as the people around his hometown of Shanghai poured it over ice cubes. It took a lesson from former teammate Dikembe Mutombo, who was swirling his glass at dinner, to kick-start his interest.

– Reported by

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Grizzlies hope to re-sign Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol

Memphis has already committed lucrative deals to Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. Locking up Gasol, entering his fourth season, is considered the final move toward solidifying the team’s nucleus.

But there doesn’t seem to be any reason to fret about Gasol’s signing.

The Grizzlies can sign Gasol to a longer contract and pay him more money than any other team. Memphis also has the right to match any offer sheet Gasol signs with another team.

People with knowledge of Heisley’s thinking are convinced that the Grizzlies will match any offer sheet Gasol signs with another suitor. Memphis would have three days to match under the proposed collective bargaining agreement.

The Griz also will look to fill assistant coaching positions vacated by the departure of Johnny Davis and Damon Stoudamire, re-sign unrestricted free agent Shane Battier and negotiate a contract with rookie Josh Selby.

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

An expected windfall for NBA contending teams in search of affordable talent could wind up short-circuited by the league’s soon-to-be-approved collective-bargaining agreement.

The Sun Sentinel confirmed Sunday that instead of players being released under the league’s “amnesty” provision going directly to the open market, a bidding system has been put in place for teams operating below the league’s salary cap to add such players at a deep discount.

“That’s what the clause is in there for,” a party familiar with the impending process Sunday told the Sun Sentinel. “It’s so the Lakers can’t go in and scoop up all the players.”

Under the amnesty program, a team can waive a player in order to remove his salary from its salary cap and luxury tax, while still paying out the balance of that contract. It had been widely assumed that such players then would immediately hit the open market…

However, in an outline of the proposed collective-bargaining agreement obtained by the Sun Sentinel, the NBA instead has instituted “a modified waiver process” that would allow teams operating below the salary cap to “submit competing offers to assume some but not all of the player’s remaining contract…

“Some of it is still not 100-percent worked out,” a party familiar with the impending policy told the Sun Sentinel.

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

Nenad Krstic

For the first time in its eight-year history, the Euroleague Basketball’s award for the best player each month will go to the same team twice in a row as Nenad Krstic of CSKA Moscow has been chosen bwin MVP for November. CSKA is one of just two Turkish Airlines Euroleague teams undefeated through six games, and Krstic has had everything to do with preserving that perfection in November.

The 28-year-old center, playing his first season for CSKA, got more and more efficient as the month progressed. CSKA followed a pair of road victories, over KK Zagreb and Panathinaikos Athens, with a pair of home wins against Unicaja and Zalgiris Kaunas. Krstic had a key role in all four games, but was biggest when it counted most. In the middle of the month, he posted his first double-double of the season against previously undefeated Panathinaikos. To end it, he had his career-high performance index rating against Zalgiris days after CSKA faced the sudden loss of its leader and the bwin October MVP, forward Andrei Kirilenko, to a broken nose and concussion.

In the precise game when teammates could have been brought down by uncertainty, Krstic stepped up to make CSKA the first team to qualify for the Top 16. His extraordinarily solid, month-long effort was more than enough for Krstic to be chosen the bwin MVP for November…

By the time November was over, Krstic ranked fourth among all Euroleague players during the regular season in average index rating (21.7 per game), 13th in scoring (15.2 ppg.), 10th in rebounds (6.7 rpg.) and second in offensive rebounds (4 orpg.) On a per-minute basis, he ranks behind only Kirilenko in performance index rating, a remarkable coincidence of two ultra-efficient big men on the same team. And CSKA fans will get to celebrate their good fortune when Nenad Krstic receives his bwin MVP award for November at an upcoming home game.

– Reported by

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