Archive for December, 2011

Jazz trade Mehmet Okur to Nets

Mehmet Okur

The New Jersey Nets have acquired center Mehmet Okur from the Utah Jazz in exchange for their second round draft pick in 2015, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.

Okur’s contract, which pays him $10.8 million in 2011-12, reportedly expires at the end of the season.

“Mehmet will give us added scoring and size,” said King.  “His ability to shoot the three will help space the floor.”

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “The Jazz unexpectedly traded veteran reserve center Mehmet Okur to New Jersey on Thursday for a 2015 second-round pick and a trade exception. The exception is worth about $10 million, The Salt Lake Tribune learned, and is expected to expire in one year. The Tribune was informed Okur was completely caught off guard by the deal and unhappy about having to suddenly leave Salt Lake City. “It’s a lousy time to conduct business,” O’Connor said. “But the season’s starting when it is, and there was a necessity to do it now.”

Okur, a nine-year veteran from Turkey, holds career averages of 13.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in 617 NBA games with Detroit and Utah.  The 2007 NBA All-Star is a career .460 shooter from the field, while posting a .377 mark from long range. Okur averaged double figures in scoring in six of his last seven NBA seasons, including a career-best 18.0 points to go along with 9.1 rebounds in 2005-06. The 6-11 center played in just 13 games for the Jazz in 2010-11 due to Achilles and back injuries, averaging 4.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.  Okur holds postseason averages of 8.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 71 career playoff games, including helping the Detroit Pistons win an NBA title in 2004.

More from the Salt Lake Tribune: “Okur’s sudden departure signals the end of an era: Paul Millsap and C.J. Miles are the only holdovers from a 2006-07 Jazz team that advanced to the Western Conference Finals.”

Phoenix Suns waive Mickael Pietrus

Mickael Pietrus

The Phoenix Suns today waived guard/forward Mickael Pietrus after reaching a financial agreement, the team has announced.

According to the Arizona Republic, “The Suns bought out Pietrus’ contract, paying him about $4.2 million of his $5.3 million salary. Once he clears waivers, Pietrus can pick from a group of other interested teams, led by Boston, to make up the difference. “Both Mickael and us realized it’d be beneficial for both parties to party ways,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. “There’s an expression that, ‘All’s well that ends well.’ In this case, all’s well that ends.”

Pietrus last season averaged 7.2 points per game on 39.2 percent shooting, playing for the Orlando Magic and Suns.

The Suns’ roster now stands at 14.

Clippers sign forward Reggie Evans

Reggie Evans

The Los Angeles Clippers today signed free agent forward Reggie Evans. According to the Los Angeles Times, the deal is a one-year contract worth about $1.3 million.

The 31-year old averaged a career-high 11.5 rebounds per game last season for the Toronto Raptors in 35 appearances while making 22 starts. Evans averaged 26.6 minutes and 4.4 points per game for the Raptors, while missing significant time due to a fractured right foot suffered on Nov. 26, 2010.

The 6-foot-8 Evans comes to the Clippers having appeared in 572 career games, averaging 4.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 19.5 minutes. A nine-year NBA veteran, Evans ranked among the NBA’s top 10 players in rebounds per 48 minutes for six straight seasons from 2003-09.

Not drafted after a stellar two-year collegiate career at the University of Iowa in which he scored 1,054 points and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2002 Big Ten Tournament, Evans signed as a free agent with Seattle in 2002. The Pensacola, Fla. native has also played for Denver, Philadelphia and Toronto in his NBA career and appeared in 27 playoff games.

The Clippers roster currently stands at 13.

Atlanta takes a trip that has the Hawks going north, then south, then north, then west, then east, then west and then home again, all in the span of nine days. Cleveland has a nine-game February homestand. San Antonio goes nearly four weeks without a home game. The Kings close the first half of their schedule with 20 of 28 away from Sacramento, daunting for a team desperate to keep fans engaged while trying to get a new arena. Denver plays nine in a row at home in one stretch, then immediately hits the road for seven straight…

The Wolves don’t host Atlanta, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Orlando, Toronto and Washington, teams that perhaps don’t inspire the casual fan to run down on game night to check them out, but could be winnable games. They also don’t travel to Boston, Chicago, Miami or New York. From a competitive standpoint, not having to play those teams on the road is great for the Wolves. But from a player experience standpoint, the Wolves don’t sound thrilled…

Not only will every team have at least one stretch of playing three games in three nights, but there will also be times when teams play eight games in 11 days. If a key player rolls an ankle, certainly a common issue in the NBA, at a particularly busy time in the schedule, a team could find itself without a key player for maybe 20 percent of the season. And with all those games in such a short span, this much is guaranteed: There will be nights when some teams will know the odds are stacked very, very highly against them, when they’re the weary-legged club against a team that’s had a couple of days off to freshen up.

– Reported by the Associated Press 

Atlanta Hawks sign guard Willie Green

Willie Green

The Atlanta Hawks today signed free agent guard Willie Green, according to Executive Vice President/General Manager Rick Sund.  Per team policy, terms were not disclosed.

Green played in 77 games last season with the New Orleans Hornets, starting 13, and averaging 8.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg and 1.0 apg (.443 FG%, .348 3FG%, .780 FT%). He has played in 499 career regular season games, including 422 with Philadelphia, where he spent his first seven seasons before his one year with the Hornets. Green has averaged 9.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg and 1.6 apg (.425 FG%, .322 3FG%, .756 FT%) over his career, also seeing action in 23 postseason games.

The University of Detroit Mercy product was selected by Seattle in the second round (41st overall ) of the 2003 NBA Draft, and was acquired by Philadelphia in a draft-night trade for the rights to Paccelis Morlende and cash considerations.

The Hawks’ first regular season home game is Wednesday, December 28 against John Wall and the Washington Wizards (7:30 p.m.).

CNO Financial Group, Inc. and Pacers Sports & Entertainment today jointly announced that Conseco Fieldhouse will now be Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  In addition to being home to the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, the Fieldhouse is host to more than 500 events annually, including over 200 major events, concerts and many other world-class entertainment events, attracting nearly two million guests a year.

CNO Financial Group, formerly Conseco, is in the 13th year of a 20-year naming rights partnership for the Fieldhouse.  Bankers Life and Casualty Company (Bankers Life) is CNO’s largest subsidiary, providing health and life insurance products to the pre- and post-retirement market across the U.S.

“We are very excited to announce the renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse,” said Ed Bonach, CEO of CNO Financial Group.  “Bankers Life is CNO’s most significant consumer-facing brand, a long-established company and national market leader, with more than 5,600 agents and field employees serving over 1.3 million policyholders.  It was ultimately the appropriate choice to represent CNO’s values, brand promise and commitment to community on the highly-regarded Fieldhouse.”

The renaming presents a strong branding opportunity for Bankers Life, considering the national reach of the Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever, and other events, along with the recognizable stature of the Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Opened in November, 1999, Bankers Life Fieldhouse is continually recognized as one of the premier facilities in the country.

“Since the inception of this building, we have enjoyed an outstanding relationship with our partner, CNO Financial Group,” stated Jim Morris, president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment. “We are excited with this change and look forward to continued success for Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Pacers Sports & Entertainment for many, many years.”

Branding of the Fieldhouse along with all appropriate signage changes has begun, with completion expected in early 2012.

Brook Lopez

New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez has been diagnosed with  a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of the right foot, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.

The injury occurred during the Nets preseason contest at New York on December 21.

Lopez will undergo surgery on Friday, December 23.

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, “The typical recovery period for such an injury is 4-6 weeks, and the Nets feel Lopez will return by early February, according to Yahoo Sports. The frame for recovery could extend much longer, however. Giants rookie Prince Amukamara suffered the same injury in training camp this season on Aug. 6 and did not play in a game until Nov. 20.”

Spurs legend George Gervin was awarded with an honorary doctorate of education degree from his alma mater, Eastern Michigan University, at the university’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 18.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be the recipient of the honorary doctorate of education from my alma mater, Eastern Michigan University,” said Gervin, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in May of 1996.

Gervin, who played two seasons for Eastern Michigan (1971-72), was recognized by the university for his commitment to serving youth in San Antonio through various efforts, including the George Gervin Youth Center. The GGYC, which was created in 1991, provides vocational training, remedial education, mentoring, tutoring, job placement and supportive services for over 1,400 of San Antonio’s at-risk and disadvantaged youth and their families. The organization’s mission is to provide innovative, comprehensive, culturally sensitive service to positively impact the lives of troubled youth and their families.

“It was great to have George Gervin back on Eastern’s campus,” said Susan Martin, president of Eastern Michigan University. “His commencement address to students conveyed powerful and important themes about education being a lifelong process, the importance of family, and the value of giving back and volunteering to help your community. We respect the amazing skills he brought to the basketball court here at Eastern and in San Antonio, but even more importantly we admire the efforts of George and his wife, Joyce, to help children and families in San Antonio to better their lives and achieve their dreams.”

During his 14-year professional career, Gervin established himself as one of the most prolific scorers in basketball history. In three ABA seasons and 11 NBA seasons he scored 26,595 career points, which is the 14th highest combined ABA/NBA total in history. Gervin spent 12 of his 14 professional seasons in San Antonio and had his No. 44 jersey retired by the Spurs in Dec. of 1987. Gervin, who has served as a community responsibility representative for Spurs Sports and Entertainment since 1994, posted career averages of 25.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 1,060 regular season games.

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

Graham, who signed with the Nets as a free agent prior to the 2010-11 season, averaged 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 59 games last season.  The six-year veteran holds career averages of 4.0 points and 1.8 rebounds in 239 NBA games.

Jimmer Fredette

Getting Fredette the ball hasn’t been a bad idea in the preseason.

In the two games, Fredette made 11 of 20 shots, including 6 of 9 from three-point range. He also had eight assists, second only to Tyreke Evans’ 14.

Fredette is adjusting to not being the primary ballhandler as he was at BYU. Instead of setting up teammates and creating his own shot, Fredette is relying on others to get him the ball.

“It’s not too bad, because with this offense it’s more moving without the ball, but once you have the ball trying to make a play,” Fredette said. “It’s not just like a catch and shoot. If you have the ball, you can go out and dribble, make a play.”

– Reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee

Brandon Knight has made a good first impression with his personality and a work ethic that usually makes him one of the last guys to leave the practice floor.

He plays with confidence, seen when he didn’t hesitate to take a key three-pointer late in the game. He missed, but the moxie impressed Daye and Pistons coach Lawrence Frank.

Knight finished the preseason averaging eight points, five assists and three rebounds per game. He struggled with his shot, making only 27.8%. But he strives to impact the game in other ways.

“No matter what the situation is for me, individually, you have to lift the team up,” Knight said. “It doesn’t have to be through scoring or getting assists, it’s being a good teammate.”

– Reported by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

Mexico native Gustavo Ayon, a player in Spain’s top professional league, has reportedly told media in Spain that he will be joining the New Orleans Hornets.

Hornets spokesman Harold Kaufman says a press conference is scheduled on Friday to announce the addition of a new player, but he could not name the player, per team policy, because a contract has not been signed.

– Reported by Brett Martel of the Associated Press

Sean Williams

The Dallas Mavericks announced today they have signed free agent forward/center Sean Williams. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, it is a two-year deal with the second season only partially guaranteed.

Williams (6-10, 235) was originally the first round pick (17th overall) of the New Jersey Nets in the 2007 NBA Draft. He spent three seasons in New Jersey and averaged 4.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 126 games as a Net.

Born in Arlington, Texas, Williams was a standout at Mansfield High School and attended Boston College. In his junior season at Boston College, Williams averaged 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game. He set a school record when he recorded 13 blocked shots against Duquesne. Williams decided to forego his senior season and was an early entry candidate to the 2007 NBA Draft.

Williams spent last season in the NBA D-League where he was an All-Star and finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting. In 49 games (46 starts) with the Texas Legends, Williams averaged 14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per contest.

Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who suffered a right wrist injury in Monday night’s game against the Clippers, was examined today by Dr. Steven Shin of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic and underwent an MRI exam.  Results show that Bryant has a torn lunotriquetral ligament.

Bryant will not play in tonight’s game against the Clippers and his status is day-to-day.

Derrick Rose

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has re-signed guard Derrick Rose to a maximum dollar, five-year extension. It is reportedly worth around $94 million.

“We are thrilled that we have signed Derrick to an extension.  On top of being a great player, what has set Derrick apart is his make-up, character, drive and his leadership,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman.   “That being said, we believe his greatest asset is his loyalty to his teammates, to our organization and to the city of Chicago.  We look forward to having Derrick in a Bulls uniform for years to come, as he helps lead us in our quest to become a championship team.”

In 2010-11, Rose helped guide Chicago to its first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since 1998.  In 81 games last season, he averaged 25.0 ppg (seventh in the NBA), 7.7 apg (10th), 4.1 rpg, 1.05 spg and 37.4 mpg (14th).  Rose was the only player in the NBA last year who ranked in the top 10 in scoring and assists.  He also became just the fifth player in NBA history (along with Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek, Michael Jordan and LeBron James) to post 2,000 points, 600 assists and 300 rebounds in a single season.  For his efforts last year, he was named the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player (the youngest MVP in NBA history at 22 years-191 days old), as well as being selected All-NBA First Team.

“It is a dream come true to play for the Chicago Bulls, and with this new contract the dream continues.  I am very thankful to Jerry Reinsdorf and the Chicago Bulls organization, my teammates and coaches, and to the city of Chicago,” said Rose.  “It is an honor to play in the city that I grew up in, and I am very appreciative of this opportunity with my hometown Bulls.  I want all of our fans out there to know that I am committed to one goal and that is winning an NBA championship for Chicago.”

Embarking on his fourth season in the NBA, Rose is a two-time All-Star, and has averaged 20.9 ppg, 6.7 apg and 3.9 rpg in 37.1 mpg while with the Bulls.  The Chicago native has also posted career shooting averages of .468 from the field, .309 from behind the arc and .815 from the line.  The Bulls originally selected Rose with the first overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft.

Houston Rockets sign forward Jeff Adrien

Jeff Adrien

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has signed free agent forward Jeff Adrien. According to the Houston Chronicle, it is a two-year contract with the first year partially guaranteed.

Adrien (6-7, 243, Connecticut), who had been playing with Benetton Treviso in Italy, appeared in 23 games over two stints with Golden State in 2010-11. His second stint with the Warriors was as a GATORADE Call-Up from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League. Overall, Adrien appeared in 27 D-League games last season between the Erie BayHawks and Rio Grande Valley, averaging 18.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.03 steals and 1.44 blocks in 32.7 minutes per contest. He was named the 2010-11 NBA D-League Impact Player of the Year (as voted by the league’s head coaches) after helping the Vipers to an 18-4 record in his 22 games with the team following a trade from Erie. The D-League Player of the Month for Jan. 2011 was also a D-League All-Star in 2010-11.

As a collegian, Adrien finished his career at the University of Connecticut with 1,603 points and 1,126 rebounds, becoming only the second Husky with over 1,600 points and 1,100 rebounds in a career since Jim Calhoun became coach in 1986. He was also just the fifth player in school history to amass over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career. Adrien ranked 12th on the career points list and finished with the third-highest rebounding total ever by a Husky. As team captain in 2008-09, Adrien helped lead UConn to the NCAA Final Four.

Kris Humphries

The New Jersey Nets have re-signed forward Kris Humphries, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today. It is reportedly a one-year deal for around $8 million.

“Kris had a breakout season last year, and established himself as one of the premier rebounders in the league,” said King.  “We look forward to his continued progress and his addition will certainly add stability to our frontcourt rotation.”

Humphries rejoins the Nets after a career-year in 2010-11 that saw the 6-9 forward average personal bests of 10.0 points and 10.4 rebounds, while shooting .527 from the field in 74 games (44 starts). The seven-year veteran out of Minnesota ranked 5th in the NBA in rebounds per game last season, notched 29 double-doubles and grabbed a career-high 23 boards on March 23 at Cleveland.

Humphries originally came to the Nets as part of a mid-season trade in 2009-10.  In 118 games with New Jersey, Humphries owns averages of 9.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.  Selected in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz, Humphries went on to play for Toronto and Dallas before joining New Jersey.  In 431 NBA games, Humphries holds career averages of 2.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Stephen Curry suffers right ankle sprain

Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry sprained his right ankle and had to be helped off the court during the Sacramento Kings’ 95-91 preseason victory Tuesday night.

Curry was injured while defending rookie Jimmer Fredette just before halftime. Curry didn’t play in the second half and finished with seven points and five assists in 15 minutes.

Team officials said Curry would have X-rays on his ankle Wednesday morning.

“I’m disappointed. We need him back quick,” Warriors rookie coach Mark Jackson said. “But if not, we still have to go out and execute. It’s no excuse. The next player has to look at it as an opportunity. We hope Steph comes back quick because everybody knows we are a better basketball team with him.”

– Reported by the Associated Press

Trail Blazers waive center Earl Barron

Earl Barron

The Portland Trail Blazers have waived center Earl Barron, it was announced today by Acting General Manager Chad Buchanan.

Barron appeared in two games with Portland in 2010-11, averaging 3.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 18.5 minutes. He signed with the Trail Blazers on April 12, 2011.

Rockets may want a Chuck Hayes reunion

Chuck Hayes

The Rockets on Monday made inquiries about the prognosis of former Rockets forward Chuck Hayes to determine if his medical condition might allow him to be a free-agent option again, a person with knowledge of the talks said.

The Kings voided Hayes’ $21.3 million, four-year contract on Monday, days after Hayes failed a team physical. The team had announced last week that an abnormality was found during a heart examination. No additional information was made available at Hayes’ request.

Hayes broke into the league in 2005-06, the season after his predecessor at power forward for the Rockets, Juwan Howard, was sidelined because of a heart condition.

– Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

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