Archive for December 22nd, 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

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