Archive for December 5th, 2011

The Memphis Grizzlies announced today that Bob Thornton and Lloyd Pierce will complete head coach Lionel Hollins’ staff as an assistant (Thornton) and player development coach (Pierce).

With almost 30 years of collegiate and professional basketball experience as a player, scout and coach, Thornton comes to Memphis after spending the past four seasons (2007-11) as an advance scout for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Along with his work with the Thunder, Thornton also served as an assistant coach for two NBA teams, first with the Chicago Bulls (2002-04) and most recently with the Minnesota Timberwolves (2005-07). Before his first stint with Bulls, Thornton spent one season (2001-02) as head coach for NBA Development League’s Huntsville Flight, along with one season as head coach of the Quad City Thunder of the Continental Basketball Association (2000-01).

As a player, Thornton played as a power forward for 11 professional seasons, eight in the NBA (1985-92, 1995-96) and three overseas, averaging 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 283 career NBA games with the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz and Washington Bullets.

The Los Angeles, Calif. native attended the University of California-Irvine (1981-84) where he played until graduation, earning his bachelor’s of science degree. Thornton was selected 87th overall in the 1984 NBA Draft by the New York City Knicks.

Pierce, with over 15 years of and collegiate and professional basketball experience, joins the Grizzlies’ organization for third NBA coaching job after a year (2010-11) with the Golden State Warriors, where he served as an assistant coach under head coach Keith Smart.

Prior to his stint with the Warriors, Pierce worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a player development coordinator for three seasons (2007-10). The San Jose, Calif. native attended Santa Clara University (1994-98) where he helped lead the Broncos to two NCAA Tournament berths.

After graduating with a degree in business management, Pierce played four seasons internationally, making stops in Mexico, Australia and Germany before returning to Santa Clara University where he joined the team’s staff as an assistant coach under head coach Dick Davey (2003-07).

Bulls meet with Caron Butler

Caron Butler

In their search to find an upgrade at shooting guard, the Chicago Bulls met with free agent Caron Butler on Monday.

A league source termed the meetings with Butler as “positive.”

Butler, 31, has averaged almost 17 points a game throughout his career, but missed most of last season with the Dallas Mavericks after rupturing a tendon in his right knee on Jan. 1. The Mavs’ starting small forward at the beginning of last season, Butler was emerging as their second-leading scorer while splitting time with Shawn Marion.

“That went great,” Butler tweeted after his meeting with Bulls personnel. “Now headed to the west …”

– Reported by Nick Friedell of

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the team has named Ken Catanella as Director of Basketball Operations.  Catanella joins the Pistons after spending several years with the NBA League Office.

In his role with the Pistons, Catanella will serve as the team’s salary cap specialist and direct Detroit’s analytics efforts.

Prior to his time with the league office, Catanella worked for the New Jersey Nets (2006-08) where he managed the Nets’ analytics and spearheaded the creation and implementation of their statistical scouting systems.

A graduate of Amherst College where he played collegiately, Catanella has worked on Wall Street providing analytics on stadium/arena financings for professional teams and valuing publicly traded companies.  While earning his MBA at Duke University, Catanella served as a graduate assistant to the Blue Devils Men’s Basketball team from 2004-05.  Catanella has also played professionally for the Bundesliga’s Cologne 99ers of the German League and later served as the assistant general manager of the 99ers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers announced two promotions and two additions to their coaching team today. While Paul Pressey will remain Head Coach Byron Scott’s lead assistant, Assistant Coaches Jamahl Mosley and Joe Prunty have been promoted and will now expand their roles and take on additional responsibilities. New to the coaching staff for this season will be Assistant Coach Nate Tibbetts and new player development assistant/video coach Aubrey McCreary, who will join returning player development assistant/video coach Jordi Fernandez.  The announcement was made by Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant and Head Coach Byron Scott.

Tibbetts joins the Cavaliers from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, where he had served as head coach for the past two seasons. The 66ers are the exclusive affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last season, he led Tulsa to its second consecutive trip to the NBA D-League playoffs, where they reached the semifinals, after compiling a franchise-best 33-17 record (.660). Under his leadership, Tulsa had three of its players earn Gatorade Call-Ups during the season, the most in the D-League, while finishing near the top of the league in several key defensive categories. Tibbetts also earned the honor of being selected to lead the Western Conference in the 2011 D-League All-Star Game and was selected this past fall as the head coach of the 2011 Pan American Games, which earned a bronze medal, the first medal for the United States since 1999.

“I feel great about the coaching group we have in place now. Paul Pressey will continue to be my lead assistant, while Jamahl and Joe have both worked very hard, done a good job and deserved these promotions,” said Head Coach Byron Scott. “Nate comes from an organization that has developed a young core and a similar belief system in creating success with a defense-first mentality and Aubrey is an accomplished and respected player development coach that is going to be a great fit with all our coaches and our players. I am very excited for our group to get started with our team soon.”

Prior to joining the 66ers, Tibbetts spent four seasons with Sioux Falls, also of the D-League. Tibbetts, the 30th D-League Coaching Call-up, served as head coach of the Skyforce from 2007-2009, recording a 53-47 (.530) record after spending the two previous seasons as an assistant coach. Tibbetts’ coaching career started at the University of Sioux Falls where he was an assistant coach for four seasons (2001-2005) following a successful collegiate career at the University of South Dakota, where he ranks second all-time in career assists (678) and steals (215).

McCreary brings over 35 years of basketball experience to the team, ranging from high school to the NBA with a focus on skill development. He has served as a personal player development coach for some of the NBA’s top talents, including the Los Angeles Lakers’ Derek Fisher, Utah’s Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap and New Jersey’s Deron Williams. In addition to his player development background, McCreary has served as an assistant coach on staff with the Reno Bighorns of D-League (2010-11) and Louisiana Tech University (2008-09). He has participated in various capacities with Adidas Nation since 2004, most recently serving as an assistant coach in 2011 for their Global Nations Championship, which is comprised of the world’s top 18 and under players.

Jason Kapono has interest in Knicks

Jason Kapono

Wasserman Media Group’s Greg Lawrence confirmed with that his client Jason Kapono is interested in the Knicks.

Lawrence said Kapono, an unrestricted free agent who played for the 76ers last season, would be “a great fit in coach [Mike] Dantoni’s system.”

“Jason has interest from several teams and we are in the process of trying to figure out the best situation for him,” Lawrence said.

– Reported by Jared Zwerling of

Jamal Crawford

Teams can begin talking to their own players and free agents today. It’s quickly become clear that, as expected, Jamal will find a robust market for his services.

Indiana, New Jersey, Chicago, Orlando, Portland, New Orleans and Phoenix have expressed interest in him. Among those teams, at least Indiana, New Jersey, Chicago and Orlando have inquired about a sign-and-trade with the Hawks.

That suggests that the market for Jamal starts at more than the $5 million mid-level exception on a five-year contract. Indiana and New Jersey could just sign Jamal to a four-year deal using cap space, so if they are looking at a sign-and-trade it can only mean they want to offer him a five-year deal using his Bird rights. Chicago and Orlando are over the $58 million cap and so without a sign-and-trade are limited to offering Jamal the mid-level–in Orlando’s case, the new $3 million “mini” mid-level since the Magic are taxpayers.

– Reported by Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution Blog

Greg Oden

Restricted free-agent center Greg Oden is leaning strongly toward re-signing with the Portland Trail Blazers, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Oden would sign a one-year, $8.8 million qualifying offer with the Blazers and become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft has played just 82 games over four seasons because of injuries. The Blazers made the qualifying offer in June to ensure Oden was a restricted free agent.

– Reported by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports

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