Time Warner Cable to drop MSG Network (Knicks game channel)


Despite MSG Media’s attempts to engage Time Warner Cable in good faith negotiations for nearly two years, no agreement is expected to be reached for Time Warner Cable to continue to carry MSG Network and MSG Plus.  Therefore, as of midnight tonight, MSG Network and MSG+ will be dropped from the Time Warner Cable channel lineup, and New York area sports fans will miss exclusive local live coverage of the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres.

“We are disappointed that MSG and MSG Plus will be dropped from Time Warner Cable’s lineup,” said Michael Bair, president, MSG Media.  “All we have asked is for Time Warner Cable to value our programming in the same way as other TV providers — nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, they rejected every offer we made to them for almost two years.   In the end, they were simply not interested in conducting serious negotiations on behalf of their customers and instead spent their time grossly mischaracterizing our positions to the public. We certainly hope Time Warner Cable returns to the negotiating table and reconsiders our good faith proposals.  Until that happens, we encourage Time Warner Cable subscribers to switch providers by calling 888-keepmsg (533-7674) or visiting keepmsg.com.”

“Given Time Warner Cable’s reportedly record-setting $5 billion investment in Los Angeles Lakers rights, we expected that they would be eager to continue to deliver top New York sports programming to their customers, who are unfortunately caught in the middle of this dispute,” added Bair. “And they’ve stated publicly that they’re committed to broadening their investment in local sports.  Yet they’re about to drop some of New York’s most popular sports programming – what does that say to New York sports fans?”

There is significant enthusiasm around MSG’s teams and programming.  Knicks ratings were up more than 100% last season and are already up this year, the Rangers are enjoying double-digit increases over the same period last season, the Sabres are the highest rated American team in the NHL, and there are passionate fan bases for the Islanders and Devils.  MSG and MSG Plus telecast nearly 400 live NBA and NHL games a year, and nearly 700 live games a year, including games from the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls.  MSG Networks also airs WFAN’s popular Boomer and Carton show, hundreds of college basketball and college football games from the nation’s best conferences, as well as award-winning original programming.  MSG has won more New York Emmy Awards than any network or station in the area over the past four years, and with MSG Plus has collected 63 in total over that time frame.

Andrei Kirilenko to keep playing in Russia

Andrei Kirilenko

CSKA Moscow announced on Saturday that injured forward Andrei Kirilenko will rejoin the team on January 3 after missing six weeks with injury and deciding to activate his option to stay with the Russian champions through the rest of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague season. Kirilenko (30 years old, 2.06 meters) was the Euroleague’s top performer until he suffered a broken nose, concussion and shoulder injury halway through the regular season. Kirilenko, who had played three seasons for CSKA until age 20, returned to the club last summer. His contract with CSKA gave him the option to leave before the start of the Top 16. Kirilenko was named the bwin MVP for October and was bwin MVP of the week twice in the first five games while averaging 13.8 points, 9 rebounds, 3.4 assists. 2.2 steals and 3.2 blocks. He was leading the Euroleague in both rebounds and blocks when he suffered a freak fall in a Russian League game in November.

— Reported by Euroleague.net

Mickael Pietrus should be ready to play for Celtics by mid January

Mickael Pietrus

Danny Ainge said Mickael Pietrus should be ready for game action by the middle of January after July knee surgery.

“It feels great [to be in Boston],’’ Pietrus said. “Since I have been in the NBA, my goal has always been to win a championship, and I have a chance to win one so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got with my new teammates. So hopefully at the end of the year, we get what we want.’’

Pietrus injured his right knee in March while playing for the Phoenix Suns. The Suns were close to trading him to the Raptors earlier this month, but Toronto called off the deal when Pietrus’s knee did not test at full strength.

“The knee is getting better every day,’’ he said. “Getting treatment with the trainer. They don’t want to put me out there right away because they know that the team really needs me, and I really need them, too.’’

— Reported by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe

Kobe Bryant says his knee is in good shape

Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant might be playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist, but at least his chronically bothersome right knee is in great shape.

“It’s as close to 100 percent as it’s going to get,” said Bryant before the Lakers hosted the New York Knicks on Thursday.

Bryant, usually loathsome to discuss his injuries and protective that his medical procedures are kept private, opened up about his health status when asked about New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez’s recent trip to Germany to be treated by the same physician that Bryant visited in the offseason.

“I gave him the phone number,” Bryant said, revealing he recommended Peter Wehling to treat the Yankee star’s knee and shoulder after experiencing success when his own right knee and left ankle were treated by Wehling. “I just told him it made a huge difference for me. I’m 95 percent better, if not to say 100.”

It was the fourth procedure that Bryant, 33, has undergone on the knee since 2003, but it was less invasive than other surgeries, as it centered around blood manipulation rather than removing any loose bodies or frayed ligaments.

While the 16-year veteran is reporting a clean bill of health when it comes to his knee, the wrist remains a work in progress.

— Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

Andrew Bynum returns big for Lakers

Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum had 29 points and 13 rebounds in his season debut following a four-game suspension that carried over from the playoffs, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 92-89 Saturday.

Bynum shot 13 for 18, helping the Lakers win their third straight following the team’s first 0-2 start since 2002-03.

The 7-foot center was suspended without pay for the first four games of the season because of a flagrant foul against Dallas’ J.J. Barea in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. The original ban was five games, but was reduced on Dec. 23 as a result of a shortened schedule caused by the NBA lockout.

Bynum totaled 41 points and 23 rebounds in two preseason games against the Clippers.

— Reported by the Associated Press

Grizzlies bring back center Hamed Haddadi

Hamed Haddadi

The Memphis Grizzlies signed center Hamed Haddadi, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The first Iranian ever to play in the NBA, Haddadi (7-2, 265) averaged 2.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.42 blocks in 5.4 minutes in 31 games last season with the Grizzlies.  The 26-year-old Ahvaz native holds NBA career averages of 2.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.45 blocks in 6.1 minutes in 86 contests over three seasons in Memphis.

A longtime member of the Iranian National Team, Haddadi led Iran to an 8-1 record at the 2011 FIBA Asian Championship in Wuhan, China, averaging 15.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.89 blocks in 26.3 minutes with six double-doubles in nine games during the 2011 tournament.

New-look Hornets off to solid start

After a shortened training camp with nine new players, it was presumed Hornets Coach Monty Williams would need more time to fully implement his defensive principles. But Williams says his players are quick studies after going through extended video sessions and walk-throughs in practice. And they’re producing results.

The Hornets (2-0) are emerging as a tough-minded defensive team. In Wednesday’s night’s 97-78 victory against the Boston Celtics at the New Orleans Arena, New Orleans had 12 blocked shots.

In their season-opening 85-84 victory at Phoenix on Monday night, the Hornets limited the Suns to 39.5 percent shooting and 19 points in the fourth quarter.

It’s still early, but the Hornets are second in the NBA in fewest points allowed per game (81.0) and field-goal percentage allowed (38.4).

— Reported by John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

New Jersey Nets change starting lineup

Avery Johnson

Nets coach Avery Johnson just announced he is making two changes to his starting lineup for the third game of the season tonight against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

Sundiata Gaines will start in the backcourt with Deron Williams, and Mehmet Okur will start at the center position. Anthony Morrow and Johan Petro have been bumped to the bench.

Johnson said he made the change mainly because the team has started poorly in its first two games of the season, at Washington on Monday and against Atlanta in the home opener Tuesday.

— Reported by Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger

Michael Jordan engaged to model Yvette Prieto

michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is engaged to longtime girlfriend Yvette Prieto, a Cuban-American model he’s been dating for three years.

Publicist Estee Portnoy confirmed the news, first reported by WCNC in Charlotte, on Thursday.

The Bobcats owner got engaged over the Christmas weekend. No wedding date has been set.

— Reported by Steve Reed of the Associated Press

Memphis Grizzlies waive Brian Skinner

Brian Skinner

The Memphis Grizzlies waived forward/center Brian Skinner, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

Skinner (6-9, 255), who originally signed with Memphis on Dec. 10, appeared in one regular season game with the Grizzlies, logging four minutes on Dec. 26 at San Antonio.

The 35-year-old Baylor product holds career averages of 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 608 games (197 starts) over 14 NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies.