Archive for December 23rd, 2011

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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