Archive for December 2nd, 2011

At a time when Major League Baseball wants to restore the Los Angeles Dodgers’ brand following years of damage under the ownership of Frank McCourt, Earvin “Magic” Johnson — arguably the most popular athlete in the city’s history — is a major player in a group that wants to buy the team.

“I’m a big baseball fan,” Johnson said by phone Friday, “and you think about what the Dodgers have meant to baseball and to Los Angeles, and that part’s a no-brainer. … I’ve been to that place [Dodger Stadium] hundreds and hundreds of times.”

Johnson was approached about a month ago by Stan Kasten, the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals — someone Johnson has known for about 30 years, and who once offered him a job to coach the Atlanta Hawks. Mark Walter, the CEO of Guggenheim Partners, a private global financial services firm, is the money muscle behind the group, which is called Guggenheim Baseball Management. According to a fact sheet about the group, Guggenheim Partners has more than $125 billion in assets under management.

– Reported by Buster Olney of ESPN the Magazine

Dirk Nowitzki

The Mavericks will unveil their championship banner on Christmas, but won’t be getting their rings, which is not unusual considering the lockout has thrown everything out of balance.

Mark Cuban wants to convene with Dirk Nowitzki , Jason Terry and Jason Kidd on the design of the rings and contact between players and owners/management remains off limits until the new collective bargaining agreement becomes official next week.

The Mavericks will have the rings designed after input from the players and will have them presented at a later game.

– Reported by Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News

Chuck Hayes hopes to stay with Rockets

Chuck Hayes

While weighing offers from four teams, Rockets center Chuck Hayes’ agent said Hayes’ preference remains to return to the Rockets, his only team in his six NBA seasons.

Hayes has received offered from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors, agent Calvin Andrews said. Andrews has also spoken with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, though not about a specific offer. Hayes turned down an extension offer from the Rockets last June worth roughly $2.5 million per season and Andrews said offers have exceeded that.

– Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

Andrew Bynum

The Lakers’ first headache will be to determine who’s on their team when training camp starts next Friday. Their next one will be figuring out a starting lineup.

When Andrew Bynum returns from a five-game suspension, Coach Mike Brown might take a long look at a large frontcourt of Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, an idea tossed around as a curiosity piece the last few years but never fully employed by Phil Jackson’s staff.

The move would send World Peace to the bench, which goes hand in hand with the Lakers’ concern about his physical shape. They hadn’t been allowed to contact him during the lockout, but he looked heavier when he arrived at the training facility, adding some of the weight he dropped last season.

Heavy or not, the Lakers will not use their amnesty provision on him or Luke Walton this season unless they acquire a starting small forward in a trade or free agency in the next few weeks. The Lakers need to keep World Peace right now because they’re not sure what free agents they can get with their limited spending power.

– Reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times

Dirk Nowitzki bei Snipes in Frankfurt

The NBA today announced that the league’s 66th season will tip off Christmas Day with a five-game slate, contingent on timely ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement.

NBA Tip-Off ’11 will launch on TNT with one of the NBA’s oldest and most intense rivalries. The Boston Celtics, featuring their All-Star foursome of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo, visit the New York Knicks (12 p.m. ET) with their dynamic tandem of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.

The action then will shift to ABC for an afternoon doubleheader when in a rematch of The Finals, 2011 Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and All-Star Jason Kidd lead the reigning champion Dallas Mavericks against the Miami Heat and its power trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in the first game (2:30 p.m. ET). Prior to tip-off, Dallas will raise its NBA championship banner. The second game features 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, who won a league-best 62 games last season, visiting the Los Angeles Lakers (5 p.m. ET) with perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant making his record-tying 13th Christmas Day appearance.

ESPN will round out the day with a pair of matchups. Two-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant leads the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Orlando Magic, which features three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard (8 p.m. ET). Afterward, the Los Angeles Clippers and 2010-11 NBA Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin visit the Golden State Warriors and rookie head coach and former NBA great Mark Jackson (10:30 p.m. ET).

The 2011-12 NBA season will feature each team playing a 66-game schedule. The full regular-season and broadcast schedules will be released at a future date.

Last season, NBA games and programming were available in 215 countries and territories in 46 languages.

NBA CHRISTMAS DAY GAMES SCHEDULE

Boston Celtics at New York Knicks              12 p.m. ET, TNT

Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks                  2:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers                     5 p.m. ET, ABC

Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder                  8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors           10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

NBA players authorize return of union

NBA players have authorized the return of the players’ association, with more than 300 submitting the necessary signatures to a third-party accounting group.

The union must re-form before players and owners can continue negotiating a collective bargaining agreement. The hope is to complete the CBA next week so both sides can ratify it in time to open training camps Dec. 9.

When talks with the NBA broke down Nov. 14, the NBPA disclaimed interest in representing the players, paving the way for them to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league. But negotiations continued despite the litigation, and a tentative agreement was reached early last Saturday.

– Reported by the Associated Press

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