Archive for January 24th, 2012

Kevin Love

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love has agreed to a four-year, $62 million contract extension and is expected to sign the new deal Wednesday afternoon in Dallas, a person close to the situation told the Pioneer Press.

Love, 23, and the Wolves are in Dallas to play the defending NBA champion Mavericks on Wednesday night.

Love, who is earning $4.6 million this season, needs to sign an extension before 11 p.m. Wednesday, or he will become a restricted free agent after the season.

– Reported by Ray Richardson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press

D.J. Augustin

Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin was seen by Charlotte orthopedist Dr. Bob Anderson today and the diagnosis confirmed an inflammatory condition of the sesmoid bones that lie in the flexor tendons on his right big toe.

Augustin re-aggravated the injury, which had bothered him previously, during to the first quarter of the Bobcats’ Jan. 22, matchup at New Jersey. Augustin is expected to miss the team’s next four games (five days total).

Augustin this season has averaged 13.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists in 17 games.

Kyrie Irving

Don’t call Kyrie Irving another LeBron James just because he’s also a Cleveland No. 1 pick. But if you want to call him another Chris Paul, that might be OK.

In fact, James said he sees plenty of similarities between the Cavaliers rookie point guard and Paul, the Clippers star point.

“He reminds me of CP early in his days as well,” said James, the Miami forward who will go against Irving on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena for the first time in his NBA career. “They definitely remind me of each other. Just how in control, and how they think the game. They show that you’re not in like a rookie mindset. You’re trying to put guys in a position to succeed. I’ve been looking forward to going against him …. He’s definitely beyond his years as a rookie point guard.”

James won’t be guarding Irving, but they will be the focal points for their teams. James leads the Heat in scoring with a 29.7 average and in assists at 7.3, and Irving tops the Cavaliers with 17.4 points and 4.9 assists.

– Reported by Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida

The Sacramento Kings have recalled rookie forward Tyler Honeycutt from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League, President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie announced today.

On January 1, Honeycutt and center Hassan Whiteside were assigned to the Bighorns. Honeycutt averaged 5.9 points (.418 FG%, .375 3pt%, .438 FT%), 2.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 12.7 minutes per game in 10 games of which one he started. He scored in double-figures in two games and recorded 23 points (9-14 FG, 2-3 3pt, 3-4 FT), seven rebounds, one assist, three steals, and one block in 29 minutes versus the Austin Toros (1/15). Honeycutt recorded two points (2-2 FT) and one rebound in four minutes off the bench versus New York (12/31). He became the third Kings player to be assigned to the D-League (Donté Greene in 2008-09, Hassan Whiteside last season).

Honeycutt, a 6-8, 188-pound forward, was selected by the Kings as a sophomore out of UCLA in the second round (35th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft. He averaged 10.3 points (.431 FG%, .359 3pt%, .684 FT%), 6.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.7 blocks, and 31.7 minutes per game in 59 career outings for the Bruins.

Steve Nash

The most surprised person to see Steve Nash still playing is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Back in the summer of 2004 when the Mavs were deciding whether to let Nash – then a free agent – go, or resign him, Cuban relied on his medical staff to help him make up his mind.

“I’ll say it now, if you would have told me Steve would have been playing eight years later I would have bet any amount of money you’d be wrong,’’ Cuban said. “But some guys do a great job of taking care of their bodies and taking advantage of the new technology that‘s come along.

“The thing about Steve is his discipline.’’

– Reported by Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Blog

Flip Saunders

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has relieved Head Coach Flip Saunders of his duties.  Randy Wittman will serve as the team’s head coach for the remainder of the 2011-12 season.

“We felt the team had become unresponsive and we will look to Randy to provide a different voice and a change in philosophy moving forward,” said Grunfeld.  “We have been transparent in how we would evaluate our team this season and we were disappointed in the lack of development of our players at this point in our rebuilding plan.”

Saunders compiled a record of 51-130 (.392) during his two-plus seasons with the Wizards.  He was originally hired on April 22, 2009 as the 22nd head coach in franchise history.

“We have struggled as a team at times this season, but we have also seen a great deal of potential from our young players and glimpses of what we can accomplish together as a team,” said Wittman.  “The coaching staff will look to build on that by utilizing the length, athleticism and versatility of our roster to improve our defense and create more opportunities in the open court.”

Wittman begins his third stint as a head coach after leading both the Minnesota Timberwolves (2006-07 to 2008-09) and Cleveland Cavaliers (1999-2000 to 2000-01).  He has compiled a 100-207 (.326) career record as head coach and has served as the Wizards’ lead assistant since the 2009-10 season.  Wittman began his coaching career as an assistant with Indiana before stops as an assistant coach in Dallas and Orlando.  Originally drafted by the Washington Bullets with the 22nd overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft, Wittman played nine NBA seasons for Atlanta, Sacramento and Indiana before retiring in 1992 with a career average of 7.4 points per game while shooting .501 from the field in 543 games.

“We thank Flip for the effort, professionalism and hard work he brought to the team during his tenure,” said Grunfeld.  “He will be an asset to the right team and we wish him the best.”

Assistant coaches Don Zierden, Sam Cassell, Ryan Saunders and Gene Banks will remain with the team.

Saunders was in a very tough situation, though, and it’s unclear how the next coach will do much better.

One of the biggest problems with the Wizards is communication with players. Saunders obviously did not succeed on that front, but the issue is the roster more than the coach. Guards Nick Young and Jordan Crawford, and big-men JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche are tough players to coach. Their heads are in major need of adjustment, and it’s going to take a while.

The best Wizards player, young John Wall, is on fire lately but in 17 games so far is shooting just 38 percent from the field. And he’s still developing as a star and a leader, and not in a position to really help transform the mental states of his teammates.

Frankly, there was little evidence the Wizards even had a coach.

According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, “To Saunders’ defense, this was not the team he agreed to coach when he took the job in April, 2009. Saunders, regarded as a fine offensive mind, thought he would have a veteran team led by guards Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson and Josh Howard, forwards Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Mike Miller and center Brendan Haywood— a team capable of making the playoffs. But the season turned dark when Arenas and reserve guard Javaris Crittenton brought guns into the locker room at Verizon Center in late December, 2009 over a gambling dispute stemming from an incident on a team flight. Both players were fined and suspended and forced the Wizards into a rebuilding effort with young players, who have not responded to Saunders, best known for working well with veteran clubs.”

According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, “Players were informed after the loss in Philadelphia that a coaching change was coming, a source said. But the writing had been on the wall since at least the eighth game of the season, Washington’s eighth consecutive loss to start the season. After the 93-72 loss to Minnesota, Andray Blatche stated that the players had begun to tune Saunders out. “Flip is definitely doing his job,” Blatche said that night. “I just don’t feel like guys are listening and following behind what he says and what he wants us to do.”

It’ll be interesting to see what Wizards changes take place under new leadership.

Transforming the Wizards into a more respectable squad on the court is a rough job. But somebody has to do it.

Read NBA fan opinion or share your views in this basketball forum topic.

Xavier Henry

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have picked up the option for the 2012-13 season for guards Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez.

Henry (6-6, 220), is in his second NBA season after being selected 12th overall by the Grizzlies in the 2010 NBA Draft out of the University of Kansas. He has not appeared in a game this season for New Orleans due to a resolving ankle sprain. Last year, in 38 games (16 starts) for Memphis, Henry averaged 4.3 points and 1.0 rebound in 13.9 minutes of action. The 20-year-old from Oklahoma City played just one collegiate season at Kansas, becoming the first player in KU history to leave for the NBA after his freshman campaign, posting averages of 13.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 36 games. Henry was named to the 2010 All Big 12 Rookie Team and was a 2010 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. Henry joins San Antonio Spurs’ point guard Tony Parker as the only current Belgium-born players in the NBA.

Vasquez (6-6, 211), is in his second NBA season after being drafted 28th overall by the Grizzlies in the 2010 NBA Draft out of the University of Maryland. In 17 games with the Hornets this season, he is averaging 5.6 points and 3.1 assists in 18.6 minutes of play. Last season he averaged 3.6 points and 2.2 assists in 12.3 minutes of action over 70 games (one start) for Memphis. He is the first Venezuelan-born player ever selected in the NBA Draft and only the third Venezuelan to play in the NBA, joining Carl Herrera (1991-99) and Oscar Torres (2001-03). Vasquez was named the ACC Player of the Year and won the Bob Cousy Award as the best point guard in the nation in 2009-10 while at Maryland. He is the only player in ACC history to record at least 2,000 points (2,171), 750 assists (772) and 600 rebounds (647) in a career.

Former NBA player Wesley Person arrested

The Coffee County Jail had a former NBA player as a resident for several hours Monday morning after Elba police arrested him on six misdemeanor charges.

Wesley L. Person, 40, of Hicks Drive in Luverne, was arrested late Sunday on six charges of failure to appear for court. According to District Judge Paul Sherling’s office, all the charges stemmed from not appearing for traffic violations — two charges each of driving with suspended license, speeding and failure to display insurance.

Person paid a $1,500 bond and paid all of the traffic tickets after a Monday hearing in front of Circuit Judge Jeff Kelley.

– Reported by Jeremy Wise of the Dothan Eagle

Pau Gasol wants ball more in low post

pau gasol

“I would like to get a little more inside, myself,” Gasol told reporters after the game. “‘I always like to have different looks and be able to attack from different angles. The second half, I didn’t have one chance to attack from the post, so I was more of a facilitator.

“I got two jumpers, open, that I missed, and that was all the opportunities that I had.”

In this new offense (i.e. not the triangle), Andrew Bynum sits in the low post and Gasol further away from the basket and his job is to facilitate plays. All of which is fine for the soft-spoken Spaniard, but he wants a few more touches inside the paint.

– Reported by Janis Carr of the Orange County Register Blog

Robin Lopez

When the Suns selected Robin Lopez 15th overall in the 2008 draft, he was considered the franchise’s center of the future.

His future with the Suns now appears it will be left to July free agency. The Suns have until Wednesday to come to a contract extension with Lopez but that appears unlikely. Lopez would then become a restricted free agent on July 1, meaning the Suns still could match any other team’s offer sheet to him.

Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said he has had several discussions with Lopez’s agent, Arn Tellem, to inquire about an extension.

“We have talked to see if there was any common ground worth pursuing and I’d say it’s unlikely at this time,” Babby said. “It’s been a completely amicable process. There really isn’t any basis for doing a deal and we’ll look at it again in the summer.”

– Reported by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic

Kevin Love

We’re now not much more than a day away and counting on the NBA deadline for the Wolves to sign Kevin Love and the Wolves have yet to reach a deal on a contract extension with him.

One team source told me tonight that the Wolves are closing in on a five-year maximum contract deal that would pay him more than $78 million and despite such a forthcoming deal, David Kahn hasn’t won any brownie points with Love in this negotiation.

Another said that as of Monday afternoon, the team still hadn’t moved off its four-year, $61 million offer.

I still believe the Wolves will reach a deal with Love by 11 p.m. Wednesday and it will be that five-year “designated player” deal with Love.

– Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune Blog 

Eric Gordon

New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon said he is waiting to learn whether NBA commissioner David Stern will grant him a contract extension before Wednesday’s deadline.

Gordon’s agent, Rob Pelinka, has engaged in recent contract talks with the Hornets’ front office, but hasn’t received an official offer. Gordon told Yahoo! Sports on Monday night he was informed by Hornets general manager Dell Demps that Stern must decide whether to extend an offer. The NBA owns the Hornets. Gordon wants to re-sign with New Orleans, but is uncertain if or when Stern will reach out to him or Pelinka.

“In terms of my contract extension, Dell Demps indicated that it’s out of his control and NBA commissioner David Stern has the last determination on the contract extension,” said Gordon, who will be a restricted free agent this summer if he doesn’t sign an extension.

– Reported by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports

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