Archive for December, 2011

Eric Gordon

After trading four-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers and losing two-time All-Star forward David West in free agency to the Indiana Pacers, the New Orleans Hornets are ushering in a new era of building for the future around younger players. When the Hornets open the regular season Monday night against the Phoenix Suns, it will be the first time in seven seasons their roster won’t be built around a franchise player.

In the trade for Paul, New Orleans acquired shooting guard Eric Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and center Chris Kaman and Minnesota’s 2012 unprotected first-round pick from the Clippers.

“I think we’re excited to see what’s going to unfold over the next few seasons,’’ Hornets President Hugh Weber said. “As we’ve always said, we are taking a long view of this, and it’s not going to be built overnight. We said a year ago we were going to do it right and not cut corners. I think there is a kind of galvanized confidence among us that we’re definitely on the right path.’’

The Hornets are one of the youngest teams in the NBA, with no player on their roster older than 29. And Gordon, a potential star, is 22, despite entering his fourth season in the league.

– Via John Reid of the New Orleans Times Picayune

Derrick Rose

On the eve of a new season, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose admitted that he still hasn’t completely gotten over the fact that his team lost in five games to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals last spring.

“I’m not over it yet,” he said before the Bulls’ Saturday morning practice at UCLA. “I’m still thinking about it. That was one of the things that is still driving me right now is wanting to be able to be in that position again to see what I’m going to do about it. I think I’ve been preparing myself for it, but we will have to see.”

Rose said he can still remember the disappointment he felt after the game that night.

– Via Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago

The Memphis Grizzlies acquired guard/forward Quincy Pondexter from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for guard Greivis Vasquez, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

“We feel this is a trade that benefits both teams. We will miss Quincy and we thank him for his efforts, professionalism and work ethic,” said Hornets GM Dell Demps. “We are excited to add Greivis Vasquez to our team, organization and community. Greivis is an exciting, big guard that plays with a passion that we hope will thrill our fans at the Hive.”

Pondexter (6-6, 225) comes to Memphis after averaging 13.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in 33.0 minutes in two preseason games against the Grizzlies earlier this month, including a 14-point, 12-rebound performance on Dec. 21.  The 23-year-old recorded 2.8 points and 1.3 rebounds on .406 shooting in 11.1 minutes in 66 games (six starts) as a rookie with the Hornets last season.

A native of Fresno, Calif., Pondexter left the University of Washington as the school’s career leader in games played (136) and third all-time in scoring (1,786 points), averaging 19.3 points and 7.4 rebounds on .528 shooting in 36 games as a senior with the Huskies.

Originally selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round (26th overall) of the 2010 NBA Draft, Pondexter’s rights were acquired by New Orleans in a draft-night deal on June 24, 2010.

Vasquez (6-6, 211), who was drafted 28th overall by the Grizzlies in the 2010 NBA Draft, averaged 3.6 points and 2.2 assists in 12.3 minutes of action over 70 games (one start) for Memphis last season. In two preseason games this season, he averaged 4.5 points and 4.5 assists in 14.5 minutes of play. He is the first Venezuelan-born player ever selected in the NBA Draft and only the third Venezuelan to play in the NBA, joining Carl Herrera (1991-99) and Oscar Torres (2001-03). Vasquez was named the ACC Player of the Year and won the Bob Cousy Award as the best point guard in the nation in 2009-10 while at Maryland University. He is the only player in ACC history to record at least 2,000 points (2,171), 750 assists (772) and 600 rebounds (647) in a career.

Boston Celtics sign Mickael Pietrus

Mickael Pietrus

The Boston Celtics today announced that they have signed guard/forward Mickael Pietrus. It is likely a deal for the veteran’s league minimum, of around $1.2 million.

“We are very excited to be able to add Mickael to our team,” said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations. “His skills as a perimeter defender and an outside shooter provide great versatility to the roster.”

Pietrus, a 6’6” guard/forward, appeared in 57 games combined between Phoenix and Orlando last season averaging 7.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game.  He recorded 20 or more points on four occasions last season with a season-high of 25 against the Clippers on December 26 when he shot 5-of-8 from three-point land.  The 11th overall pick in the 2003 Draft by the Golden State Warriors has career averages of 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 496 career games over eight seasons. He posted his highest scoring campaign during the 2006-07 season with Golden State when he recorded 11.1 points to go along with 4.5 rebounds per game. Pietrus has posted playoff career averages of 8.9 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 39.1% from three-point territory. During the Magic’s run to the NBA Finals, Pietrus averaged 10.5 points and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 38.5 percent from three-point range.

Miami Heat waive guard Eddie House

Eddie House

The Miami HEAT announced today that they have request waivers on guard Eddie House.

House appeared in 56 games (one start) with the HEAT last season and averaged 6.5 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 17.5 minutes while shooting 39.9 percent from the field, 38.9 percent from three-point range and 95 percent from the foul line. Additionally, he appeared in seven postseason games with Miami and averaged 1.6 points in 6.9 minutes of action while shooting 23.5 percent from the field and 30 percent from three-point range.

The 11-year NBA veteran previously signed with the HEAT on August 3, 2010.

Kenyon Martin

The Knicks have one roster spot still open entering tomorrow’s season opener, and Carmelo Anthony hopes it eventually goes to his former Nuggets teammate Kenyon Martin, according to an NBA source.

According to the source, Anthony wants Martin in New York, though he is not permitted to sign a contract until March, when his Chinese team is through with the playoffs. The rugged forward was bought out earlier this week and was expected home for the holidays.

The source said Martin considers the Knicks his top choice, partly because of his friendship with Anthony. They became tight during their nearly seven seasons together in Denver. Martin could fill the role of another gritty big man off the bench with athleticism.

– Via Marc Berman of the New York Post

Lance Stephenson

“He’s clowning around a lot less, which is helpful in practice,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “His interaction with his teammates is solid. He’s not pointing fingers and making faces like he did last year. We’ve seen a lot of maturation from him this year.”

Stephenson averaged almost 11 minutes in the two preseason games, totaling three assists, three rebounds and six points.

“I thought he played within himself on most possessions, which is probably the biggest area he has to improve in,” Vogel said. “And then growing on the defensive end, being in the right spots all the time.”

Stephenson has tried to tone down his game on the court, trading in flashy, street ball-type passes for the simple, safe pass.

“Last year I used to force stuff,” Stephenson said. “I see now if you make the simple pass, it matters more.”

– Via Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star

Kenyon Martin lands buyout from China

Kenyon Martin

Saying he needs to “take care of family affairs”, the former Denver Nugget secured a buyout of his one-year $2.7 million contract and the club released him on Thursday, team manager Guo Jian confirmed.

“We have reached an agreement to let him go, but are still discussing some detail issues,” Guo said on Friday before the squad’s road game against the defending champion Guangdong Southern Tigers.

Those details apparently refer to CBA regulations on foreign players, and how much money Martin will pack home.

League rules state Martin must play the entire season before being able to opt out and join another league. Otherwise, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) won’t approve a clearance letter for any league under its supervision.

Although the NBA is not under FIBA jurisdiction, it will respect the CBA-FIBA agreement and won’t allow Martin to ink a deal before his Chinese team ends its season in March, said Bai Xilin, director of the CBA’s competition department.

– Via Sun Xiaochen of China Daily

New Orleans Hornets sign Gustavo Ayon

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have signed forward/center Gustavo Ayón. Contract details will be posted here later today.

“We are extremely excited about this signing,” said Hornets GM Dell Demps. “Gustavo is someone who we have had on our radar for a while and we believe he is going to be a great addition to our roster. He is a highly coveted international player and we look forward to working with him as he transitions into being an NBA player.”

Ayón (6-10, 250), averaged 15.9 points on 66 percent shooting while grabbing 8.2 rebounds per game this season over 10 games for Fuenlabrada of Spain. In the ACB league, which is considered the best domestic league outside of the NBA, he ranks 4th in points, 2nd in rebounds, 4th in defensive rebounds, 1st in offensive rebounds, 1st in two-point field goals and leads the league in index rating. Last season for Fuenlabrada, he averaged 10.8 points on 67 percent shooting and 6.3 rebounds over 22.6 minutes in 33 games. He was named the league’s “Best Newcomer” for his performance in 2010-11. During the 2010-11 season, Ayón started ahead of Bismack Biyombo, the 7th overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.

“Although I had a lot of opportunities with other teams, I chose the Hornets because of my relationship with Dell, Monty and the staff of the team,” Ayón said. “When I visited New Orleans, I felt comfortable with the surroundings and really like the positive direction of the organization.”

Ayón, a Mexico native, grew up playing basketball in his home country and contemplated attending San Jose State at the age of 20 but declined the opportunity to play basketball in Mexico. After leading his team, Halcones, to back-to-back Mexican titles in 2007-08 and 2008-09, at the age of 24, he signed with Fuenlabrada in Spain. In the summer of 2009, while playing for the Mexican National Team in the Americas Championship, he gained notoriety for collecting 18 points, nine rebounds and three assists in a head-to-head battle with Luis Scola of the Houston Rockets.

Ayón, born April 1, 1985 in Tepic, Mexico, is just the third Mexican-born NBA player in history. He joins Horacio Llamas, who played two seasons with the Phoenix Suns, and current Charlotte Bobcat Eduardo Nájera.

The NBA announced today that due to the shortened 2011-12 season, the league will reduce the season-opening suspensions for Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers and Charlie Villanueva of the Detroit Pistons.

Villanueva’s five-game suspension for initiating an on-court altercation with Ryan Hollins of the Cleveland Cavaliers and attempting to escalate the altercation by entering the Cavaliers’ locker room has been reduced to four games.  Since Villanueva already served one game of his suspension last season, he will miss the first three games of the 2011-12 NBA regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

Bynum’s five-game suspension for making unnecessary and excessive contact to J.J. Barea of the Dallas Mavericks in last year’s playoffs has been reduced to four games.  He will miss the first four games of the 2011-12 NBA regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

New Jersey Nets waive forward Ime Udoka

Ime Udoka

The New Jersey Nets have requested waivers on forward Ime Udoka, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.

Udoka, who signed with the Nets on December 15, played in two preseason games, averaging 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11.0 minutes per game.

The Denver Nuggets have waived G Cory Higgins and F Michael Ruffin, team executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri announced today.

The move brings Denver’s roster to the NBA-maximum 15 players.

Higgins, 6-5, 185, signed with Denver on Dec. 9. He scored seven points in 13 minutes in two preseason games.

Ruffin, 6-10, 248, joined the Nuggets on Dec. 15. He did not appear in a preseason game.

DeShawn Stevenson

The New Jersey Nets have signed free agent guard DeShawn Stevenson, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today. It is reportedly a one-year deal for $2.5 million.

“DeShawn is a veteran NBA player who brings a championship pedigree to our roster,” said King. “He is a tough defender who can stretch the floor, and will bolster our backcourt rotation.”

Stevenson (6’5”/218), an 11-year veteran who has played with four teams, holds career averages of 7.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 23 minutes over 717 games, including 481 starts.  The California native was selected by the Utah Jazz in the first round (23rd overall) in the 2000 NBA Draft out of Washington Union High School in Fresno, California.  Last season with Dallas, Stevenson helped the Mavericks win their first NBA championship, appearing in 72 games, 54 starts, while averaging 5.3 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 16 minutes per game.

In three plus seasons with Utah, Stevenson appeared in 222 games, 87 starts, while averaging 5.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 17 minutes.  Midway through the 2003-04 campaign, Stevenson was traded to Orlando, where he spent the next two seasons.  With the Magic, he appeared in 243 games, 211 starts, while averaging 10.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 29 minutes per game.  Stevenson signed with Washington as a free agent before the 2006-07 season.  In three plus seasons with the Wizards, he appeared in 236 games, 202 starts, while averaging 9.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 27.5 minutes.  Midway through the 2009-10 campaign,Stevenson was traded to Dallas.  Stevenson appeared in 96 games, 59 starts, with the Mavericks, averaging 4.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 15 minutes per game.

According to the New York Daily News blog, “Stevenson will join a crowded backcourt that includes rookie MarShon Brooks, but is versatile enough to play the 3. Famous for his feuds with LeBron James — and for playing a pivotal role in Game 6 of Dallas’ championship-clinching win over the Heat — Stevenson was once the subject of a diss record by Nets minority owner Jay Z, who used the song to praise LeBron.”

Brook Lopez

New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez underwent successful surgery today, December 23, to repair a non-displaced stress fracture of the 5th metatarsal of the right foot, Nets General Manager Billy King announced. The surgery, performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan by foot specialist Dr. Martin O’Malley and Nets team orthopedist Dr. Riley Williams III, involved the insertion of a screw in Lopez’s foot.

“A single screw was inserted into the bone to stabilize the fracture and speed up the healing process,” said Dr. O’Malley. “He was placed in a boot and will walk with the aid of crutches. Brook will begin his rehab in two weeks.”

Lopez is expected to return to game action in 6-8 weeks.

Darrell Arthur

Memphis Grizzlies forward Darrell Arthur underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.  The surgery was performed yesterday by team physician Dr. Fred Azar and Dr. Drew Murphy at the Campbell Surgery Center.

Arthur (6-9, 235), who suffered the injury on Dec. 18, will begin his post-operative rehabilitation after an appropriate period of healing.  The 23-year-old is expected to be ready for the start of the 2012-13 season.

Last season, the Dallas native averaged career highs in points (9.1), field goal percentage (.497), blocks (0.79) and minutes (20.1) in 80 games in his third NBA campaign.  He posted 7.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 15.5 minutes during Memphis’ 13-game run in the 2011 Playoffs.

After helping lead Kansas to the 2008 NCAA Championship, Arthur was selected by the New Orleans Hornets in the first round (27th overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft and traded to Memphis on draft night.  He owns career averages of 6.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.69 blocks on .468 shooting in 18.8 minutes in 188 games (73 starts), all with the Grizzlies.

Hamed Haddadi

Backup center Hamed Haddadi is still trying to obtain a work visa, and he’s also looking for an NBA contract.

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace confirmed Thursday that the team withdrew its $2 million qualifying offer from Haddadi, a 7-footer who hails from Iran. The move makes Haddadi, 26, an unrestricted free agent. He can sign with any NBA team without the Griz having a right to match offers.

The Grizzlies’ decision was primarily based on finances as they are trying to remain comfortably below the league’s $70 million luxury tax. It is possible that the Griz and Haddadi will negotiate a multi-year deal, paying between $1 and $1.5 million per season.

– Via Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Kobe Bryant

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said his injured right wrist was less swollen Thursday and he expects to play in the season opener Sunday against Chicago at Staples Center.

“I should be fine,” Bryant said.

Bryant’s definition of “fine” is a little dicey, though. He also said: “It’s not really going to heal. It’s gone. The ligament’s gone. There’s nothing I can do about it.

“But I’ve dealt with so many hand injuries, it should be all right.”

Bryant said he tried to practice Tuesday with unsatisfactory results, which told him there was more significant damage. The MRI on Tuesday revealed the torn lunotriquetral ligament in his right (shooting) wrist.

– Via Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register

Matt Barnes not celebrating the Clippers

Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes said the Clippers should be feeling some positive vibes after adding Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and re-signing DeAndre Jordan this month, but thinks they may have gone overboard in showing that enthusiasm.

“They definitely have a much improved team here and are looking to make a push towards the playoffs,” Barnes said Thursday after the Clippers beat the Lakers in a pair of preseason games on Monday and Wednesday. “They have a lot of reason to be excited, but all the celebration after dunks and all that kind of stuff, I mean, I just kind of think it looks amazing and it makes ‘SportsCenter,’ but I mean, let’s just play basketball.”

Count Barnes as one person not exactly thrilled by the “Lob City” Clippers.

“They act like they won the dunk contest after every dunk,” Barnes said. “So, as players, people aren’t going to tolerate that.”

– Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

Stephen Curry ankle issues continue

Stephen Curry

Almost two days after rolling his ankle again, Curry shed his crutches Thursday and reported little swelling. He said he felt a pop when he rolled the ankle in Sacramento on Tuesday, and the pain is different from pre-surgery sprains.

“I’m making sure that we take control of it now, so it doesn’t linger like last season, when it became a habitual thing of dealing with it every week,” said Curry, who was walking gingerly. “That’s my main concern right now.”

Curry desperately wants to play in the national showcase game against the Clippers, but he has been down that road before. He rushed back at least a couple of times last season and was plagued by repeat sprains.

He said the ligaments are much tighter in his right ankle than his left, and he played for two months without any sprains or pain after the surgery. The ankle is shaped differently now, so the pressure is on areas that weren’t injured last season.

– Via Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle

Kings and Chuck Hayes agree to new deal

Chuck Hayes

The Sacramento Kings have agreed to a contract with forward Chuck Hayes just days after voiding a deal because of a failed physical.

Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie announced the multiyear agreement Thursday night. Terms were not immediately available.

The Kings voided a $21.3 million, four-year contract with Hayes on Monday, saying he failed a physical. The team previously said a heart exam on Hayes showed an abnormality that would require further testing.

– Reported by the Associated Press 

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