Archive for April 27th, 2012

deron williams

All-Star point guard Deron Williams wants to have a new contract before the Olympics start in late July.

Speaking a day after the New Jersey Nets’ season ended, Williams refused to say whether he will be a Net when the team moves into its new arena in Brooklyn.

”The season just ended yesterday,” Williams said. ”We have time, playoffs. A lot of stuff is going to happen. Just take my time. But I don’t want to take too much time. I want to try to have something done by the Olympics.”

Williams has said all season that he would opt out of his contract and test the free-agent market, and that remains his plan after the Nets (22-44) missed the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.

Williams, who toured the under-construction Barclays Arena this week, said he can see himself playing in the building, but his desire is to be a member of a championship team.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Photo: Ceiling of Madison Square Garden

Another simple, cool photo from InsideHoops.com. This is the ceiling of Madison Square Garden in New York City:

Team president David Kahn said Friday he plans to be aggressive this summer in trades and free agency to supplement a promising young core with veterans, and he made it clear that only Rubio and Love are untouchable as he tries to bring an end to a seven-year postseason hiatus.

”They’re cornerstones of what we’re doing here, and my fervent hope is that each of them retires here,” Kahn said of Rubio and Love. ”But after those two, and not that anybody else needs to be on watch, and there are a lot of other players on the team that all of us, coaches, management, front office, everybody likes. We just have to be very aggressive this year to make this team all that it can be and satisfy ourselves that we’ve done everything possible to do that.”

That Kahn did not include center Nikola Pekovic or No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams in that group of untouchables speaks to his openness to consider all options. Pekovic had a breakout season, averaging 13.9 points and 7.3 rebounds to emerge as one of the top offensive centers in the league. Williams showed some promise as a scorer, but wore down as the season dragged on and both players are on the books for an affordable $9.6 million combined next season.

– Reported by the Associated Press

The New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in April.

Anthony led the Knicks to a 9-4 month and helped them secure their second consecutive playoff berth. He led the league in scoring, averaging 29.8 points, connecting on 135-of-273 shots from the floor. Over the month, he compiled seven 30-point and two 40-point performances, to go along with his second career triple-double in an April 17 victory over the Celtics. On April 8, Anthony scored 43 points and connected on both game-tying and game-winning three-pointers to knock off the Bulls 100-99 in overtime.

Paul helped the Clippers to a 9-5 record and steered them to their first playoff berth since 2005-06. He averaged 20.7 points, ranking fourth in West while pacing the league with 3.0 spg and leading the conference with 9.9 apg. He engineered six double-doubles, seven 20-point games and three 30-point games. On April 22, Paul scored 33 points, handed out 13 assists and had a season-high eight steals in a 107-98 win over New Orleans.

Other nominees for NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month were Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, Boston’s Avery Bradley, Indiana’s David West, Miami’s LeBron James, Memphis’ Rudy Gay, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Utah’s Al Jefferson.

The National Basketball Players Association, already in turmoil after President Derek Fisher asked for independent reviews of its finances and business practices, is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, the union said in a statement.

Union Executive Director Billy Hunter was notified of the investigation by subpoena for documents on April 25, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation. The people were granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation.

“The NBPA will cooperate fully with the government’s investigation,” the union statement said.

– Reported by Scott Soshnick and Mason Levinson of Bloomberg

Zach Randolph

Zach Randolph got rid of that cumbersome knee brace, and now figures he’s ready to shed something else.

The process of simply fitting in with the Grizzlies is over if Randolph has his way.

“I feel good,” Randolph said. “I’m there.”

Coach Lionel Hollins went into the Grizzlies’ 88-76 win over the Orlando Magic in the teams’ regular-season finale intending to judge Randolph’s effectiveness. Hollins reinserted Randolph into the starting lineup, and the veteran power forward played as though he had something to prove.

The verdict? Randolph looked inspired and lively offensively and on the boards, and a bit challenged defensively. But he expects to start when the Griz host the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday for the start of their first-round playoff series.

If that happens — and Hollins remains noncommittal — then the expectation is for Randolph to be the consistent force he was against Orlando.

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

john wall

The Wizards ended the season on a six-game winning streak and recorded their most lopsided win in seven seasons, 104-70, over the Miami Heat at Verizon Center on Thursday night.

“All we’re doing is moving forward and looking to the future and I think the future looks good for us,” said President Ernie Grunfeld, who was rewarded with a contract extension this week.

After two years, the Wizards (20-46) finally recognized the error of investing their future in the careers of Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Young. Blatche was banished, while McGee and Young were sent packing to playoff teams because neither displayed the maturity or consistency to warrant lucrative long-term contracts when they hit free agency this summer. In return, the Wizards added veteran Brazilian big man Nene, whose arrival brought credibility to the locker room, a commitment to playing team basketball and an 7-4 record with him in uniform.

“You give anything a certain amount of time and options arise,” Wittman said. “It comes a point, with this team that’s so young, to add a guy with [Nene’s] experience and his ability was a good thing to do.”

– Reported by Michael Lee of the Washington Post

roy hibbert

Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert doesn’t have any excuses.

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, a nemesis of Hibbert and every other center in league, is on the sideline in street clothes for the rest of the season.

It’s Hibbert’s time to star under the bright lights of the playoffs. It’s time for him to show why he was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team this season. It’s time for him to show he deserves a hefty pay raise when he hits the free agent market this summer.

“I have to take things and look at each matchup and make sure I dominate on both ends of the floor,” Hibbert said. “I can’t have any lags in my game and I have to be on top of my game every game.”

Howard, the league’s premier center, is out for the rest of the season after surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back.

That leaves Hibbert as the marquee attraction in the middle. He has had the best season of his four-year career, averaging 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.

– Reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star

chris bosh

Chris Bosh recently peered down the hallway that links the Miami Heat locker room and the team’s home court.

Though nearly a year has passed, he still feels the pain.

It’s what the Heat call ”Championship Alley,” the photo-covered walls paying tribute to the NBA championship run in 2006. For Bosh, it has a totally different meaning. It’s the place where the sting of losing the finals a year ago made him drop to his knees in anguish, a moment captured for the world to see by television cameras he didn’t know were there.

”I want it to be different this time,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. ”I want these guys to feel what they see every day in this arena.”

What they see - hundreds of photos of Miami’s title celebrations - represents what this team is chasing. What the Heat were a year ago, in the first chapter of the ”Big Three” era in Miami, was probably best described as angry and spiteful.

So now, with the start of another playoff run looming, Wade and Bosh say the mental approach is going to be considerably different this time around. The Heat open the postseason at home against the New York Knicks on Saturday afternoon, claiming to be just as driven by a title as they were a year ago, except this time they believe for more of the right reasons.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

dwane casey

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday they have picked up the option on Head Coach Dwane Casey’s contract to extend through the 2013-14 season.

“Dwane did a terrific job this year of adhering to our plan of growth and development for this young team,” said Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo. “We set out to change the culture and improve defensively and he orchestrated both progressions in an impressive fashion.”

Casey finished his first season as Toronto’s head coach. Under Casey, the Raptors made significant gains on the defensive end of the floor. The team ranked in the Top 10 in the NBA in points allowed (9th), opponent field goal percentage (8th) and three-point field goal percentage (5th). The Raptors ranked in the bottom third in the league in all three categories in the 2010-11 season.

Johan Petro

Johan Petro became part of Nets history Thursday night.

When he hit 20-foot, left-side jumper with 24.9 seconds left on the clock in the Nets’ 98-67 wipeout loss to the Raptors, Petro scored the final basket in the history of the New Jersey Nets. The team is making its long-awaited move to Brooklyn next season.

“Hey, that’s the way to keep my name in some book,” Petro said with a smile.

And he had no idea when he made the shot. Or even afterward.

“I was just trying to hit the shot, I wasn’t thinking about the whole history behind it,” the 7-foot center said. “But thanks to you guys, now I know. Got my name somewhere.”

– Reported by Fred Kerber of the New York Post

Kobe Bryant ends bid for scoring title

kobe bryant

Kobe Bryant didn’t play in the Lakers’ regular-season finale Thursday night, a meaningless 113-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings at Power Balance Pavilion. Pau Gasol also didn’t play. Neither did Andrew Bynum.

Metta World Peace wasn’t allowed to play because of a seven-game suspension.

Matt Barnes couldn’t play because of a sprained right ankle.

Bryant needed to score 38 points to win the NBA scoring title, but in the end, he decided it was smarter to rest for the start of the playoffs Sunday than to try to overtake Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City.

“He’s been in this league for a long time and he understands the importance of getting some rest and going into the playoffs the right way,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said of Bryant. “He was the one who said at first he wanted to sit.”

– Reported by Elliot Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News

Basketball blog