Archive for January, 2012

Former Bulls player B.J. Armstrong has a new gig — on the Chicago Park District Board.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel picked Armstrong to replace Bob Pickens, who played for the Chicago Bears in the 1960s.

Emanuel says Armstrong’s passion for sports and experience as an executive make him a good choice to serve on the board and help manage the district’s 580 parks.

– Reported by the Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have recalled guard Dominique Jones from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League.

Jones (6-5, 215) has seen action in nine games for the Mavericks and was assigned to the Legends on Jan. 15. He played in three games while in Frisco and averaged 13.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 21.7 minutes per game.

Jones will join the team tonight when the Mavericks take on the Suns at 7:30 pm CT at the American Airlines Center.

New York Knickerbockers Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations and Interim General Manager Glen Grunwald announced today that the team has recalled center Jerome Jordan and guard Jeremy Lin from the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League.

Jordan, 7-0, 240-pounds, appeared in two games for Erie, averaging 18.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.00 blocks over 32.5 minutes. For the Knicks, he has scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds over 29 minutes in six games.

Lin, 6-3, 200-pounds, posted a triple-double in his lone game with Erie, recording 28 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds and two steals over 44 minutes in the Jan. 20 win at Maine. For the Knicks, he has recorded nine points, recorded two assists and two rebounds over 16 minutes in five games.

Josh McRoberts

Josh McRoberts knew the odds were not good that his hometown team, the Indiana Pacers, would re-sign him during the offseason.

At the same time, McRoberts, who spent three seasons with the Pacers, felt “insulted” that they didn’t reach out to him or his agent once free agency started.

“I definitely felt insulted,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward said before Sunday’s game against the Pacers. “I knew they were going to try and make an improvement at the position. But in the meetings they told me they were going to try and bring me back if they could. If you’re going to say that, at least make a call.

“That made it harder on me because other teams were thinking what was wrong with me and how come the Pacers didn’t want me back. I feel like I gave a lot to the team.”

McRoberts averaged a career-high 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 72 games, including 51 starts, last season with the Pacers.

– Reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star

Grizzlies may keep O.J. Mayo for now

O.J. Mayo

Truth is, Griz management isn’t seriously thinking of dealing Mayo nor is his possible, restricted free-agent status this summer a major concern. Mayo likely will remain with the Griz this season because of his productivity and the Grizzlies’ ability to control his future with the right of first refusal on contract offers.

Although Mayo is eligible to negotiate a long-term contact extension with Memphis by Wednesday, the Griz aren’t compelled to agree to a deal or trade him at the moment.

“It remains to be seen whether something happens or not,” Griz general manager Chris Wallace said about a Mayo contract extension. “If it doesn’t happen I wouldn’t read much into it. We didn’t extend Rudy and resigned him. It’s a floating situation. I wouldn’t say (Mayo) is a lock to be with us after this year and I wouldn’t say he isn’t. There’s so much ground to be covered between now and July.”

Meanwhile, Mayo keeps paving the wave for a productive season.

“I’m happy in Memphis. Don’t get it twisted,” Mayo said. “I love the foundation we’ve built. This is my comfort. I’m good.”

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook reiterated on Sunday, three days after signing a five-year extension, that he never considered leaving the Thunder.

“From day one, this is the spot I wanted to be,” Westbrook said. “The organization believed in me by surprisingly picking me No. 4. A lot of guys doubted me, but from day one this organization supported me.”

Westbrook would have become a restricted free agent if he had not agreed to a contract by Wednesday. But the Thunder’s commitment to him, Westbrook said, made staying for another five seasons a no-brainer.

“I can say this for any player in the league. You want to be somewhere where you’re wanted,” Westbrook said. “I wanted to be somewhere where I had great support, and this is the spot for me.”

– Reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman

Tiago Splitter

Finally a fixture in coach Gregg Popovich’s rotation in his second NBA season, Splitter is learning something that he long suspected about the American game: Playing it is more beneficial than watching it.

“You learn more when you play,” said Splitter, the 27-year-old Brazilian who appeared in just 60 games as a rookie. “You learn from what you see every day and get a feel for the game.”

A trip around the league has made Splitter more comfortable and confident on the court, particularly in the low block. He is learning how certain defenders — such as Houston’s Luis Scola and Jordan Hill on Saturday — want to attack him, and, as importantly, how to counterattack.

With Tim Duncan out of the lineup for a 105-102 loss to the Rockets, Splitter exploded for a career-high 25 points off the bench, going 11 of 13 from the floor.

– Reported by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News

Damion James

Shawne Williams went through vigorous workouts yesterday and is expected to return to the lineup for tonight’s game against the Bobcats after missing the last four games with shin splints.

But the Nets have lost Damion James indefinitely, and he will undergo surgery on his right foot Tuesday to replace the screw he had inserted last year to help repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in the foot.

“It’s disappointing,” coach Avery Johnson said before last night’s 84-74 loss to the Thunder. “Here’s a kid we drafted last year, we had him inked in as his starting three man and in the Eastern Conference … Hopefully the surgery will go well, and for us and him and his career, hopefully we can get this corrected and he won’t have a problem anymore.”

– Reported by Tim Bontemps of the New York Post

Deron Williams

Deron Williams can’t crack the cold and uncomfortable Rock, so he’s waiting for a better home in Brooklyn.

After another horrendous shooting night for himself and the Nets in Newark, Williams expressed displeasure with the team’s stopgap home court at the Prudential Center, essentially calling it inadequate for basketball.

“I don’t like this arena one bit. It’s a good thing it’s not our arena next year,” he said matter-of-factly after shooting 5-of-18 in an 84-74 loss to the Thunder Saturday night. “Even last year, it just doesn’t feel like our home arena, I don’t know why.”

“It just doesn’t have good visual. The depth perception is not there.”

The Nets (4-12, 1-5 at home), who are scheduled to move to the $1 billion Barclays Center next season, shot a paltry 31% overall, and just 3-of-23 from beyond the arc — leaving the team with a 38% shooting percentage at home and 43% on the road.

– Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

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Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club was shut down for a slew of health-code violations just a day after its celebrity-drenched $10 million relaunch — and now it faces a dreaded “C” grade, The Post has learned.

An inspector found perishable food at dangerously warm temperatures inside the walk-in refrigerator and discovered “hot” food left out on the counter on Thursday, Health Department sources said.

A worker was also seen mixing salsa with his bare hands.

The refrigerator was at a rancid 60 degrees instead of 41 — jeopardizing the safety of 50 pounds of raw chicken wings, five pounds of raw shrimp and 100 turkey burgers, the sources said.

– Reported by Philip Messing and Kevin Fasick of the New York Post

UPDATE FROM TMZ: But Ron Berkowitz, a rep for the club, tells TMZ the motor in one of the refrigerators blew just moments before the health inspector arrived … causing the temperature in the fridge to rise. Berkowtiz says the staff identified the problem immediately and had no intention of serving the food from that fridge. Berkowitz says the fridge was fixed by noon the next day and the club was permitted to re-open.

Ron Artest

Friday marked a typical night for Metta World Peace. He missed all four of his shots against Orlando. He was scoreless. And he was benched in the second half.

Typically exuberant and optimistic, he sounded fine.

“I feel good. I feel awesome. Just because my numbers [stink] don’t mean I don’t feel good,” he said. “I can’t control everything. I can’t control not starting. All I can control is going out there and playing hard. I can’t control not being in a rhythm, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel good.”

World Peace, 32, averaged a career-low 8.5 points last season. Through 15 games this season, he’s averaging 5.1 points and 19.8 minutes. He is shooting 32.3% overall and a woeful 12.1% from three-point range, making four of 33 attempts.

– Reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times

Eric Gordon

Shooting guard Eric Gordon said he’s willing to sign a long-term contract extension with the Hornets, who have until Wednesday to make that happen. But as the clock ticks away on that deadline, it’s also ticking on the timeline that is keeping Gordon sidelined with a bone bruise in his right knee that has limited the Hornets’ leading scorer to just two games this season.

The question begs, therefore: have the Hornets seen enough in two games, one of which Gordon made the winning shot, to offer Gordon an extension that would keep him in New Orleans for another four or five years? Or does the team wait until the season ends, and with a new owner in place, then possibly commit its resources to an extension, or just allow Gordon to test the market as a restricted free agent?

And will the Hornets be open to satisfying Gordon’s financial demands, whatever they may be?

Gordon, who was ruled out for two to three weeks on Jan. 6 because of swelling in the knee after his second game — a 40-minute outing in a loss to the 76ers — says he’d have no problem putting his name on a long-term contract with the Hornets right now.

– Reported by Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

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North Carolina junior Dexter Strickland will miss the rest of the season after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament in Thursday’s win at Virginia Tech.

Strickland was hurt when his knee buckled on a drive early in the second half. The school said Friday that Strickland’s surgery to repair the injury hasn’t been scheduled yet.

“Positive thinking!” Strickland posted on his Twitter account Friday night. “Everything happens for a reason, God always has a plan! Thanks to everyone who is praying for me! I appreciate it!”

The 6-foot-3 guard had started every game for the eighth-ranked Tar Heels, averaging about eight points and shooting a team-best 57 percent while thriving in transition. He was the team’s top perimeter defender and doubled as the No. 2 ballhandler behind point guard Kendall Marshall.

– Reported by ESPN.com

Chris Paul

Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul is planning to stay in town a while … ’cause he’s about to drop $8.5 MILLION on a sick Bel Air mansion that he’s buying from Avril Lavigne … TMZ has learned.

Sources tell us … Paul fell in love with the 12,184 square foot place, which Avril originally listed for $9.5 mil and decided he had to make a move.

The mansion — located in a hoity-toity private community called Bel Air Crest — includes 8 bedrooms and 10.5 bathrooms, a wine cellar, 10-car garage, gym, sauna and a covered outdoor living room.

– Reported by TMZ

The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has signed guard Walker Russell Jr. from the NBA D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants.  Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Prior to his signing, Russell Jr. led the D-League with 9.9 assists per game and averaged 16.0 points in 16 games for the Mad Ants this season.  He recorded seven points/assists double-doubles and dished out a season-high 19 assists to go with 19 points at the Bakersfield Jam (1/9/12).  Russell Jr. has recorded 12-plus assists five times and scored 20-plus points four times this season.

Russell Jr. was a member of the Pistons 2011-12 training camp roster before being waived just before the start of the season.  He was also a member of the Pistons’ team at the 2007 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and was invited to the New York Knicks’ 2007-08 training camp.  A local product from Rochester, MI, he’s the son of former Piston Walker D. Russell.  In 17 games last season, he averaged 17.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 37 games with the Mad Ants.

Stephen Jackson

Guard Stephen Jackson has been suspended for an “unexcused absence” and will not play when the Bucks meet the New York Knicks on Friday night at Madison Square Garden, according to coach Scott Skiles.

A source said Jackson missed the bus to the team’s morning shootaround.

Skiles said Shaun Livingston will start at the shooting guard position in Jackson’s place.

The Bucks will have nearly a full complement of players - minus Jackson - with the return of guard Mike Dunleavy Jr. and forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Dunleavy has missed the last 10 games with a groin injury, while Mbah a Moute has been sidelined for 11 of the team’s 13 games due to right patella tendinitis.

“He (Dunleavy) went the last couple days and got through it fine,” Skiles said after the shootaround at the remodeled Garden. “Luc as well went the last two days, and he’s OK today. Both guys will play.”

– Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Blog

Bismack Biyombo

Rookie Bismack Biyombo is beginning to make quite an impression with the Charlotte Bobcats.

Enough so that he’s moving up the depth chart.

Bobcats coach Paul Silas said starting Saturday night against Chicago, Biyombo will move to center where he’ll backup starter Byron Mullens for the remainder of the season. That’s a good move for Biyombo, who had been buried on the depth chart beneath a glut of power forwards including Tyrus Thomas, D.J. White and, at times, Boris Diaw.

The decision comes after Biyombo’s most impressive game as a professional Tuesday night at Orlando.

Biyombo registered his first double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to the Magic, and played well on defense. Even though Magic center Dwight Howard scored 25 points, Silas likes the job Biyombo did on Orlando’s dominant big man. Biyombo had four blocks and nine defensive rebounds and seemed to frustrate Howard late in the game.

– Reported by Steve Reed of the Associated Press

Golden State Warriors center Kwame Brown underwent successful surgery yesterday (Wednesday, January 18) to repair his torn right pectoralis major (the large chest muscle that attaches to his right shoulder), the team announced today.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthpaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.  Brown will remain in Southern California for a brief time and begin rehabilitation upon his return to the Bay Area sometime next week.  He is expected to be out for a minimum of three months.

Brown, 31, suffered the injury at the 6:22 mark of the fourth quarter during the Warriors’ game against the Miami Heat on Tuesday, January 10. In nine games this season, he posted averages of 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in 20.8 minutes.

Greg Ostertag ends NBA comeback attempt

Greg Ostertag

After knee troubles limited him to less than 30 minutes in the Texas Legends’ last three games, Greg Ostertag informed the team Thursday that he is ending his comeback in the D-League.

Ostertag had his best game for the Frisco-based Legends last week at the D-League Showcase in Reno in front of scouts from numerous NBA teams, but the 38-year-old told ESPN.com on Thursday that the pain in his knees since then had become unbearable.

“They’ve been bugging me since I came back (in late December), but I could barely move (after Reno),” Ostertag said. “I felt good there and I played good. I get out there and sometimes I do get loose, but usually the ‘don’ts’ are longer than the ‘dos.’ It sucks, but I knew going into this what could happen.”

– Reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com

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Russell Westbrook

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed guard Russell Westbrook to a multi-year extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Multiple reports say the deal is for five years and $78 million.

“We are thrilled to solidify Russell’s future with the Thunder,” said Presti. “Since we arrived in Oklahoma City, Russell’s work ethic, persistence, character, and involvement in our community have helped us establish the standards that we are committed to on a day-to-day basis. He is a valued member of our organization and we look forward to his continued contributions on and off the floor.”

In three-plus seasons as a member of the Thunder, Westbrook has appeared in 261 games (244 starts) and registered averages of 17.9 points, 7.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 33.8 minutes per contest. At the end of the 2010-11 season Westbrook became one of only five players in league history (LeBron James, Chris Paul, Anfernee Hardaway and Oscar Robertson) to record 4,000 points, 1,500 assists and 1,000 rebounds through his first three NBA seasons.

Last season, Westbrook was awarded All-NBA Second Team honors after averaging 21.9 points (13th in the NBA), 8.2 assists (9th in the NBA), 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals (4th in NBA) in 34.7 minutes. During the 2010-11 season Westbrook received his first-career All-Star nomination before helping lead the Thunder to a spot in the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

During the Thunder’s 2011 postseason match-up versus the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, Westbrook propelled the Thunder past Memphis after becoming just the fifth player in NBA history (Scottie Pippen, James Worthy, Larry Bird and Jerry West) to record a triple-double in a Game 7 of a playoff series.

After being named to the NBA’s All-Rookie team after the 2008-09 season, Westbrook proceeded to increase his scoring and assists totals in each of his next two full seasons with Oklahoma City.

This past week Westbrook was named among the 20 finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. During the summer of 2010, Westbrook won a gold medal as a member of Team USA in Istanbul, Turkey, after the United States team posted a perfect 9-0 record.

“We are very excited that Russell will continue to be a part of the Thunder organization,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Clay Bennett. “He has demonstrated high personal character, a strong commitment to his teammates and a remarkable dedication to the development of his performance as a player. We especially value his role in the community as he has consistently  represented “Oklahoma City Basketball” with pride and integrity.”

Through 15 games this season, Westbrook has helped lead the Thunder to the best record in the Western Conference (12-3) while recording averages of 20.5 points, 5.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds in 33.3 minutes.  Westbrook joins Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as the only other players in the NBA to average 20-plus points, five-plus assists and five-plus rebounds this season.

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