Archive for December 29th, 2011

New Jersey Nets change starting lineup

Avery Johnson

Nets coach Avery Johnson just announced he is making two changes to his starting lineup for the third game of the season tonight against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

Sundiata Gaines will start in the backcourt with Deron Williams, and Mehmet Okur will start at the center position. Anthony Morrow and Johan Petro have been bumped to the bench.

Johnson said he made the change mainly because the team has started poorly in its first two games of the season, at Washington on Monday and against Atlanta in the home opener Tuesday.

– Reported by Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger

michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is engaged to longtime girlfriend Yvette Prieto, a Cuban-American model he’s been dating for three years.

Publicist Estee Portnoy confirmed the news, first reported by WCNC in Charlotte, on Thursday.

The Bobcats owner got engaged over the Christmas weekend. No wedding date has been set.

– Reported by Steve Reed of the Associated Press

Memphis Grizzlies waive Brian Skinner

Brian Skinner

The Memphis Grizzlies waived forward/center Brian Skinner, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

Skinner (6-9, 255), who originally signed with Memphis on Dec. 10, appeared in one regular season game with the Grizzlies, logging four minutes on Dec. 26 at San Antonio.

The 35-year-old Baylor product holds career averages of 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 608 games (197 starts) over 14 NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies.

Deron Williams

Deron Williams didn’t want to even address it, but Dwight Howard didn’t mind admitting that, yes, he and Williams went out to dinner Wednesday night when Williams arrived in town with the Nets.

“Since he’s been in the league, every time he comes to town, we go eat dinner and just kick it,” Howard said after the Magic’s shootaround today. “We’ve been friends since the Olympics, and so we go out to eat, have a bite.”

Earlier, Williams had stammered and said, “I don’t even know — I really don’t,” when asked if he had dinner with Howard.

– Reported by Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger

Boston Celtics off to 0-3 start

Rajon Rondo

It’s too early to panic, but the Boston Celtics haven’t looked good early on in the 2011-12 NBA season, losing their first three games.

There is no cause for alarm just yet, because all three games were on the road, and the team has been without small forward Paul Pierce.

One surprise, though, is that opponents of the Celtics have shot 49.6% from the field and 45.2% from three-point range in the three games. Opponents have also gotten far more steals and blocks. Boston is supposed to be a top defensive team. That hasn’t been the case, yet.

A bright spot has been the play of Rajon Rondo, who in three games is averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 10.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Also, Ray Allen’s been swishing his shots. And new addition Brandon Bass has been solid.

But, Kevin Garnett hasn’t been impressive. And there isn’t much help on the bench.

Keep an eye on Boston in the near future, especially once Pierce is back in action.

Phoenix Suns sign guard Michael Redd

michael redd

The Phoenix Suns have signed former All-Star guard Michael Redd, the team announced today. According to the Associated Press, it is “a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum of about $1.3 million.”

“Michael Redd has a proven pedigree as a first-rate NBA scorer,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby.  “He will work with our renowned training staff to get into basketball shape.  When he is ready to play, Michael will be a welcome addition to our team.”

An 11-year NBA veteran, Redd developed from an undervalued second-round pick into one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA over the last decade.  A 6-6, 220-pound guard, he was originally the 43rd overall pick (second round) of the 2000 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, with whom he spent all 11 of his professional seasons.  Redd joins the Suns with career averages of 20.0 points, one of only 12 active players averaging 20 or more, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 578 games (427 starts).  Redd is a career 44.9-percent shooter overall, including 38.3 percent from three-point range, and owns 1,003 career threes, one of just nine players in NBA history to make 1,000 three-pointers with a single team.

Injuries have destroyed Redd’s career in recent years. He played just 53 games for the Bucks in 2006-07, 72 games the following season, but just 33 games in 2008-09, 18 games in 2009-10, and just 10 games in 2010-11.

An All-Star and All-NBA Third Team selection in 2004, Redd has ranked in the top-11 in the NBA in scoring on five different occasions (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), and averaged 20 or more points in six-straight seasons from 2003-09.  In fact, only 10 NBA players scored more total points in that span, a list that includes Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson.  A former Eastern Conference Player of the Month (January 2004) and two-time Player of the Week (Dec. 3, 2006; Dec. 31, 2006) Redd increased his scoring average in each of his first seven NBA campaigns, including a career-high 26.7-point average in 2006-07, fifth-best in the league overall.

A highly-regarded outside shooter, Redd was selected as a member of the “Redeem Team,” the gold-medal winning U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Redd played in a total of 61 games over the last three seasons after tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee on two separate occasions in both 2008-09 and 2009-10.  He returned to play the final 10 games of the 2010-11 season, averaging 4.4 points in 13.4 minutes with Milwaukee.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Redd was a three-year standout at Ohio State University where he averaged 19.6 points and 6.2 rebounds and was named Honorable Mention All-America as a sophomore and a junior.

Andray Blatche

Andray Blatche approached the scorers’ table to check in the second quarter of the Wizards’ 101-83 defeat at Philips Arena, when a heckler seated nearby decided to give him a hard time. The man shouted, “Have another burger, Dray!”

Blatche looked up, spotted the heckler and replied, “Got one?”

Blatche may have had a decent retort to a detractor, but he and the Wizards didn’t have any such response to the Atlanta Hawks on a night when the Wizards didn’t bother jumping out to an early lead only to get disappointed as they did in the season opener. They simply got down early, came back against the Hawks’ reserves, then went down for good.

Since jumping out to a 21-point lead in the second quarter against the New Jersey Nets in their first game, the Wizards have been outscored by 45 points over their past 79 minutes.

– Via Michael Lee of the Washington Wizards Blog

kevin durant

In his first game back in Memphis since Game 6 of the second round of the playoffs, Durant admitted that his lobbying last month for former Grizzlies forward Shane Battier was real.

“I was dead serious,” said Durant, who used Twitter in late November to attempt to recruit Battier. “I wanted him since last year, after we beat them in the playoffs. I was telling a few of the guys, ‘Shane would be a good fit here for us.’ He was a guy I was looking forward to playing with, but Miami jumped in and took him.”

Durant said he understood why Battier chose to sign with the Heat.

“Let’s be real,” Durant said. “Guys like LeBron (James) and D-Wade and (Chris) Bosh, they’re lobbying for you as well. And it was me and Nazr Mohammed and Nick Collison lobbying for him. And you look at the names there, you look at Miami, the weather and just that whole aura around those guys and of course he’s going to pick them. But it’s a decision that he made for him and his family. You can’t really be upset about it.

“Shane’s an unbelievable player, a great teammate from what I’ve heard. I wish him the best. If he would have come here it would have been perfect for us.”

– Via Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman

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