Archive for May 21st, 2012

Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins announced today that Stan Van Gundy has been relieved of his duties as head coach. In addition President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Otis Smith and the organization have mutually agreed to part ways.

“On behalf of the DeVos Family, we sincerely appreciate and thank Otis and Stan for all that they have done on and off the floor for the Orlando Magic,” said Martins. “These are the days you dread in this business, but we feel it’s time for new leadership and new voices.

“They both brought die-hard dedication and an unmatched work ethic on a daily basis,” added Martins. “Their success is well documented, as the Orlando Magic has had the fourth best record in the NBA over the last five years, and entering the playoffs this year the third most playoff wins over that period of time. The disappointment of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs these past two seasons played a primary role in our decision, as we feel our momentum towards winning a championship has paused. We wish Otis and Stan all the best and we look forward to taking the next step towards winning that championship.”

Van Gundy was named head coach on June 7, 2007, becoming the ninth head coach in franchise history.

Van Gundy has a career NBA head coaching regular season record of 371-208 (.641), including 259-135 (.657) in five seasons in Orlando. He led Orlando to five postseason berths, three Southeast Division titles and the 2009 Eastern Conference crown. Prior to coming to Orlando he served as head coach of the Miami Heat for two-plus seasons.

In 2007-‘08, his first season in Orlando, Van Gundy guided the Magic to a 52-30 record and the Southeast Division Championship. It was the Magic’s first division crown since 1995-‘96. Orlando also advanced past the opening round of the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 1996, defeating Toronto 4-1.

During the 2008-‘09 campaign Van Gundy led the Magic to a 59-23 record and through a memorable playoff run, capped off with the 2009 Eastern Conference championship and a berth in the NBA Finals, marking the second trip in franchise history.

In 2009-‘10, Van Gundy directed the Magic to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year, after compiling a 59-23 record during the season.

Last season, 2010-‘11, Orlando finished 52-30 and made its fourth straight trip to the playoffs. It was Orlando’s fourth straight 50-win season and Van Gundy became the second-fastest active coach to 300 career wins and seventh-fastest all-time. He also coached his 500th career game and had the sixth-most wins in NBA history through 500 contests.

This past season, Orlando finished 37-29 (.561), good for sixth-best in the Eastern Conference. The Magic advanced to the postseason for the sixth consecutive time, the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference.

Smith was promoted to president of basketball operations on July 28, 2010. Smith was named general manager on May 3, 2006. He was assistant general manager during the 2005-06 campaign, after serving as director of player development for two seasons.

Under Smith’s leadership from 2005-‘06 to 2011-‘12, Orlando advance to the playoffs all six times, recorded 50-plus victories in a club-record four straight seasons (2007-‘08 to 2010-‘11), captured three consecutive Southeast Division titles (2007-‘10), advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in two straight postseasons (2009-‘10) and reached the 2009 NBA Finals after winning the Eastern Conference title. The Magic were 299-177 (.628) during Smith’s tenure as general manager.

Smith was a member of the inaugural 1989-‘90 Magic squad and spent three seasons playing in Orlando (1989-‘92). Smith averaged 11.4 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 1.9 apg. and 1.01 stlpg. in 195 games with the Magic. He played in 375 career NBA regular season games with Denver, Golden State and Orlando, averaging 10.5 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 1.8 apg. and 1.01 stlpg. in 20.6 mining.

Nate McMillan

Probably the most prominent name attached to the Charlotte Bobcats’ coaching search – former N.C. State star Nate McMillan – will be in Charlotte tonight and Tuesday to interview with Bobcats management, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to the Observer.

The Bobcats were also set to interview assistant coach Stephen Silas Monday. Silas served as lead assistant to his father, Paul, whose contract was not renewed last month.

McMillan was fired in March as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, following a 42-point road loss to the New York Knicks. He was 266-269 as coach in Portland and preceded that with a 212-183 record as coach of the then-Seattle Supersonics.

Despite the end, McMillan had strong seasons in Portland, winning 54 games in the 2008-09 season and 50 in the 2009-10 season. He told the Observer last month that he had interest in the Bobcats situation.

– Reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Blog)

The Bradley Center has a new name - and, perhaps, a more specific expiration date.

BMO Harris Bank is buying naming rights to the arena, which will now be known as the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

It’s part of a six-year, $18 million partnership involving several companies, including Harley-Davidson, Kohl’s, Northwestern Mutual and Rockwell Automation.

– Reported by the Associated Press

The Golden State Warriors are close to making a deal to move to San Francisco, a source told ESPN the Magazine’s Ric Bucher on Sunday.

The team wants to make the move and is committed to making it happen, the source said.

San Francisco mayor Ed Lee sent a letter on May 11 saying the city would work with Warriors executives to bring the team to San Francisco in time for the 2017-18 season.

“We are not prepared to make any announcements at this time,” Warriors owner Joe Lacob said in a statement released Sunday.

– Reported by Ric Bucher of ESPN

blake griffin

No sooner had the Los Angeles Clippers finished one of their most successful seasons Sunday night with a 102-99 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the playoffs did the attention in Lob City turn to the future. Namely, how long Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will be a part of it.

Griffin is eligible to sign an extension with the organization this summer or he could become a restricted free agent after next season, while Paul is under contract only for one more year.

The Clippers say they are confident they’ll be able to retain both players for a long time.

“I feel those things are going to get done,” Clippers president Andy Roeser told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “The important thing is that we have to do other things to improve the team. But I believe we’ll do those things and ultimately I believe those two players (Griffin and Paul) are going to play out their careers here.”

Griffin is eligible to sign a five-year extension on July 1 and the Clippers will offer it to him. When asked about his intentions, Griffin said he hadn’t considered them yet.

– Reported by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles 

Chauncey Billups

Billups has been told it will take a year for his injury to heal.

Even so, Billups, who turns 36 in September, said he will play next season.

He said returning to the Clippers is something he would like to do.

“I’m definitely going to give this a huge amount of consideration this summer. I feel like we’ve got some unfinished business a little bit,” Billups said. “You never know what direction the team is going, if they even want me back. I’ve learned not to really assume nothing.

“I don’t know if this is going to be my last time here. But if it is, I had a good time. But if not, I’m looking forward to continuing. I’m definitely going to be back playing next year. For sure and you can believe that. Believe it.”

– Reported by Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times

avery bradley

Avery Bradley‘s shoulder popped out of place early in the second half of Game 4, but at some point between the time he walked off the court in agony and the time he reached the end of the bench, trainer Eddie Lacerte was able to pop it back into place.

“It’s just tough. It really is. I swear a lot of people would not be playing, and the only reason he is is because he wants to,” Doc Rivers said on Sunday before the team conducted practice. “I am concerned at some point that he may not be able to anymore. We don’t know what game that is, we don’t know what day he can finish it. We can keep going all the way and he can play [or] tomorrow could be his last game.”

The 21-year-old Bradley has impressed his teammates with his toughness, but they also know that there’s a line and he’s right on the verge of crossing it.

– Reported by Paul Flannery of WEEI

Jeremy Lin Knicks future wide open

jeremy lin

Free agency is 5 1/2 weeks away, but Jeremy Lin’s agent already is setting the groundwork for what could be a complicated negotiation.

Roger Montgomery, in a rare interview, told The Post nothing is assured regarding Lin’s Knicks future, despite interim coach Mike Woodson’s declaration the global phenom — who becomes a restricted free agent on July 1 — would “absolutely’’ return.

When asked if he expects the Knicks negotiation to be cut-and-dried, Montgomery forewarned: “I don’t expect that. We’re not anticipating that’s going to happen. We don’t have assurances of anything. I know history shows most restricted free agents go back to their team, but I’m not going to assume anything. We’re waiting to see what happens.’’

Montgomery’s emphatic remarks — coupled with Lin’s “nothing’s set in stone’’ comment on Trash Bag Day — seem to be strategic messaging.

There is a possibility the Knicks will force Lin, 24, and his reps to find the point guard’s market value by first signing an offer sheet from another team, which must project Lin’s potential from a 26-game window when he played starter’s minutes.

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

Spurs have won 18 straight games

tim duncan

It’s the dirty six-letter word that no one around the Spurs wants to acknowledge, much less even discuss.

The Spurs persevered for their 18th straight victory Sunday night, finishing off a sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals.

But when asked about his team’s recent historic streak, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was reticent to discuss much.

“It doesn’t exist for us,” Popovich said. “We don’t talk about it. I’ve never heard anybody mention it except you all. And it’s not even a thought in our minds. Each game is just a separate entity.”

No matter if he wants to talk about it, the Spurs’ streak is the longest in team history and among the 10 longest in NBA history. And of the nine other teams that have won that many consecutive games, six of them eventually claimed NBA titles.

Popovich did provide some explanations why his team hasn’t lost in the last 39 days.

“I guess what I have to say overall is that we’ve been very consistent offensively and our pace has allowed us to score,” Popovich said. “Defensively, I think we’ve been able to turn it up at different points of the game.

“That’s not usually something we’re used to. We’re used to being a good defensive team for 48 minutes, but that’s not who we are anymore.”

– Reported by Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News

tim duncan

The San Antonio Spurs mowed down another opponent, using their guile under pressure to close out another perfect playoff series.

Tim Duncan scored 21 points, Tony Parker added 17 and the Spurs beat the Los Angeles Clippers 102-99 on Sunday night to win their second-round matchup 4-0 and advance to the Western Conference finals.

”They played great, they made it tough on us,” Parker said. ”The last 2 minutes we got the stops we needed. Everybody did something.”

The Spurs extended their winning streak to 18 games and their playoff record to 8-0, tying the third-best postseason streak in franchise history.

”Until we go all the way, I can’t compare this team,” said Parker, who has won three NBA titles with the Spurs. ”We’re just trying to stay focused.”

Danny Green and Gary Neal added 14 points each, and Manu Ginobili and Thiago Splitter had 11 each.

”We needed a game like that. It arrived at the perfect time,” Parker said. ”We battled. We executed our plays, made big baskets.”

San Antonio could find out as soon as Monday night who it will play next. Oklahoma City leads the Lakers 3-1 in their series, with Game 5 on Monday.

– Reported by Beth Harris of the Associated Press

“They are a good team. I’m not taking anything away from them, but it doesn’t make us feel any better,” Griffin said about the Spurs. “There’s nothing about that you can feel good about.

“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get to work this summer.”

There were 52 seconds to go when Paul made a pair of free throws to pull the Clippers within 100-99. Parker then missed a jumper.

The Clippers almost lost the ball before calling timeout. Paul drove the lane and looked like he wanted to pass and a Spurs player got a piece of the ball.

The Spurs recovered the loose ball and Paul fouled Danny Green, who made one of two free throws with 10 seconds left. After a timeout, the Clippers called Paul’s number. He drove the lane, but his shot hit the rim.

“I made a bad decision,” Paul said. “I took a shot and missed the shot. It’s all on me.”

– Reported by Jill Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News

With the victory, the Spurs moved on to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2008, when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.

“It was just perseverance,” Duncan said. “We just stuck with it. We kept moving the ball and doing what we wanted.”

Duncan finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and four assists, leading the Spurs to their 18th straight win, the longest winning streak in franchise history.

With it, the Spurs open the playoffs with consecutive sweeps for the first time in club annals, and have multiple sweeps in the same postseason for the first time since 1999.

They advance to face either Oklahoma City or the Lakers in a conference-finals series that will begin no earlier than Saturday. Having gone 39 days without a loss — their last was April 11 — that means it will be another six before the Spurs will have a chance to end the winning streak they swear they haven’t even thought about.

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

lebron james

LeBron James scored 40 points with 18 rebounds and nine assists, and Dwyane Wade added 30 points - 22 in the second half - as Miami rallied to even their semifinal series against Indiana with a 101-93 win on Sunday over the Pacers, who had the defending Eastern Conference champions down couldn’t keep them there.

”I felt like I had to do whatever it took to win,” said James, who played all but four minutes.

With All-Star forward Chris Bosh injured and back in Florida, the James-Wade tag team saved the Heat, who will host Game 5 on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

”Me and ‘Bron had it going,” said Wade, who bounced back from the worst playoff game of his career - five points on 2-of-13 shooting - with one of his best, ”We played off of each other very well. We both were aggressive at the same time. That’s beautiful basketball for the Miami Heat when we play that way.” …

Udonis Haslem, playing with a large bandage covering a nasty cut over his right eye that required nine stitches, added 14 points for Miami…

Wade finished with nine rebounds and six assists, erasing the ugly memory of Game 3 when he also had a confrontation with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, a public dispute that turned into a bigger deal than it probably was because of a two-day break between games. The next day, Wade, who has refused to blame injuries for his recent struggles, visited his former Marquette coach Tom Crean, who is now at Indiana…

Danny Granger scored 20 and Paul George 13 to lead the Pacers. Center Roy Hibbert, so dominant at both ends in Game 3, had just 10 points and was in foul trouble in the second half…

Miami also got a huge lift down the stretch from Haslem, who hasn’t been a factor in the series but made four big jumpers in the final six minutes despite having his head split by an elbow by Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough.

– Reported by Tom Withers of the Associated Press

James: 40 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists, two blocked shots, two steals.

Wade: 30 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two blocked shots, one steal.

“Both of those guys knew they had to be actively involved,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.

James had 19 points at the intermission, when the Heat trailed 54-46. He was keeping them afloat.

Wade, by contrast, had opened 1 of 8, rekindling fears of a follow-up to his 2-of-13 performance in the Heat’s Game 3 loss.

But then the two did something they had not done much in this series, or to be honest, all that often in their two years as a dual-wing threat:

They choreographed something magical, playing in a lockstep so desperately needed with power forward Chris Bosh, the absentee of the Big Three, out indefinitely since sustaining a lower-abdominal strain in the first half of the series opener.

“Obviously, we’ve come a long way with that,” Spoelstra said. “We used to be a stand-and-watch-each-other team with those two guys.”

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Heat trailed by 10 points when James delivered a difficult bucket with 3:07 left in the first quarter. From there, he scored nine points in a row to end the first period and then began the process of getting Wade involved in the action.

Just like Game 3, Wade was ice-cold in the first quarter. He failed to score the first 12 minutes just as he failed to score in the entire first half in Game 3. A well-timed assist from James helped change everything — the game’s momentum, Wade’s confidence and perhaps the entire series.

It came with 43.7 seconds left in the first half, a bounce pass from James to Wade on a back-door cut that finally set Wade’s mind at ease. Wade finished the play with a powerful baseline drive-and-dunk to cut the Pacers’ lead to five points.

“I told [James] at halftime that I needed that,” Wade said.

– Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald

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