Archive for June 4th, 2012

The Portland Trail Blazers have named Neil Olshey as the team’s general manager, Team President Larry Miller announced today.

“Neil is someone we’ve had on our radar for quite a while,” said Miller. “Over the past two seasons he has demonstrated success in constructing a roster, managing salary cap and evaluating player talent. We feel very fortunate to have him in Portland and are thrilled about what this means for the future.”

The 10th general manager in Trail Blazers history, Olshey comes to Portland from the Los Angeles Clippers, where he served as the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations for the past two seasons. Placing third in votes for the 2011-12 NBA Executive of the Year Award, Olshey was responsible for all facets of basketball operations and player personnel moves while with the Clippers, and will hold the same responsibilities as General Manager of the Trail Blazers.

“I am very pleased to have Neil as our new general manager,” said Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen. “He has the skills and the vision to successfully guide our organization into a new era of Trail Blazers basketball. He’s proven that he can quickly turn around a franchise, and we are confident he can do that in Portland.”

Under Olshey’s direction, the Clippers transitioned into a playoff team this past season after he assembled one of the deepest rosters in the NBA prior to the 2011-12 season. During a six-day span, Olshey added Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups while re-signing DeAndre Jordan to a team that already featured Blake Griffin, Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to become a part of this successful franchise,” said Olshey. “Portland is a great basketball city with a rich tradition, an incredible fan base and committed leadership. I’m joining an organization that has a strong foundation and a bright future. I couldn’t be more excited and I’m ready to hit the ground running.”

Olshey, 47, began his nine-year NBA career with the Clippers as Director of Player Development prior to the start of the 2003-04 season, and served as an assistant coach during the 2004-05 campaign before holding the title of Director of Player Personnel from 2005-08. Olshey was promoted to the role of Assistant General Manager prior to the start of the 2008-09.

Prior to joining the Clippers, Olshey was the Director of Player Development for SFX Sports Group, Inc. where he created, organized and conducted predraft and offseason training camps for future and current NBA players. The camps produced 15 lottery picks, 25 first round selections and 57 NBA players. Participants in Olshey’s offseason skill development clinics include more than 85 current NBA players including numerous All Stars and All-NBA selections. He has also served as a Head Coach/Clinician at the Reebok ABCD Camp, the Roundball Classic and numerous NCAA basketball camps throughout the country.

The Los Angeles Clippers and Neil Olshey today mutually agreed to end discussions concerning Olshey’s future with the team. An agreement in principle, reached and announced on June 1, will not be completed and the two parties have agreed to part ways.

Olshey is going to take a job with the Portland Trail Blazers. It will be announced today.

“Circumstances have obviously undergone some movement since our announcement Friday. In light of that, we want to wish Neil well and acknowledge his contributions during the time he spent with the Clippers,” said Clippers’ President Andy Roeser.

A search for a replacement is already underway, headed up by Roeser. In the interim, all responsibilities pertaining to the team’s basketball operations will be absorbed by Roeser, Head Coach Vinny Del Negro, and Clippers’ Director of Player Personnel Gary Sacks.

Roeser, one of the longest-tenured executives in the National Basketball Association, recently completed his 28th season with the Clippers.

Prior to being named Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls in 2008, Del Negro served as Assistant General Manager of the Phoenix Suns during the 2007-08 season and Director of Player Personnel for the Suns for the 2006-07 campaign.

Sacks, who just completed his 18th season with the Clippers, has served as Director of Player Personnel for the past two years. Sacks held the position of Director of Scouting/Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the previous five seasons.

andrew bynum

The Los Angeles Lakers made an expected moved today, and kept their young, promising center on the roster for another season.

The Lakers today exercised a team option on Andrew Bynum’s contract for the 2012-13 season. The Los Angeles Times reports that the option is worth $16.1 million for the season.

Bynum, an early entry candidate for the 2005 NBA Draft, became the youngest player in NBA history to be selected when the Lakers used their first round pick (10th overall) to acquire the 7-foot center.  A two-time NBA Champion with the Lakers, Bynum signed a multi-year contract extension in October of 2008.

In 60 games this season, Bynum averaged career-highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8) while ranking among league leaders in scoring (20th), rebounding (3rd), field goal percentage (4th/.558), blocked shots (6th/1.93), double-doubles (5th/37) and minutes (24th/35.2).  The starting center for the 2011-12 NBA Western Conference All-Star Team, Bynum was named to the All-NBA Second Team following the season, receiving 33 First Team votes and 400 points overall in award balloting (6th highest point total).

Amare Stoudemire is now engaged

amare stoudemire

New York Knicks captain and six-time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire proposed to Alexis Welch, the mother of Stoudemire’s three children, in Paris Saturday night.

Stoudemire asked Welch for her hand in marriage while overlooking the Eiffel Tower lights outside of their penthouse at Le Meurice Hotel Belle Etoile Royal Suite at 11 p.m. local time.  He surprised her with a dinner after they spent the day taking a private historical tour of Paris that included stops at the Louvre and other landmarks.

“I have been planning my proposal for a while and overlooking the entire Paris skyline seemed like a perfect place.  I am so happy she said ‘yes,’ and now we can continue to build our life together as husband and wife,” Stoudemire told PEOPLE from Paris.

– Reported by People Magazine

Former Portland Trail Blazers center/forward LeRoy Ellis passed away Sunday in Portland at the age of 72 after a long battle with cancer.

“LeRoy Ellis was a very important member of the first Trail Blazers team and was a very high-class individual,” said Trail Blazers Founder and President Emeritus Harry Glickman. “We extend our deepest sympathy to his family.”

A member of Portland’s inaugural basketball team, Ellis was selected by the Trail Blazers in the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft. Ellis led Portland with 12.3 rebounds per game and ranked third on the team with a 15.9 scoring average in 1970-71, his only season with the Trail Blazers.

Ellis is one of four Trail Blazers to record three 20-point, 20-rebound games in the same season (M. Lucas, B. Walton, S. Wicks). His 26 rebounds vs. Buffalo on Oct. 27, 1970, in the seventh game in team history, are still tied for the most by a Trail Blazer in a regulation game.

Ellis appeared in 1,048 NBA games over 14 seasons with the L.A. Lakers, Baltimore, Portland and Philadelphia. He posted career averages of 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds, and was a member of the 1972 NBA Champion L.A. Lakers.

A New York native, Ellis played his collegiate basketball at St. John’s University. He was selected by the Lakers with the sixth overall pick in the 1962 NBA Draft.

Ellis and his family settled in Portland during his NBA career and continued to live in the area after he retired from the NBA.

The New Orleans Hornets are working out prospects at the Alario Center today, the first of two sessions they’re conducting.

The guys working out this morning are: Tyler Zeller, a 7-foot center from North Carolina, John Henson a 6-11 power forward from North Carolina, Meyers Leonard a 7-1 center from Illinois, Arnett Moultrie a 6-11 power forward/center from Mississippi State and Terrence Jones a 6-9 power forward from Kentucky.

All of the prospects the Hornets are working out today are players they are targeting for their No. 10 pick in the first round.

– Reported by John Reid of the New Orleans Times Picayune

randy wittman

The Washington Wizards have decided head coach Randy Wittman will keep running the show.

Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that Wittman will return as the team’s head coach for the 2012-13 season.

“We are excited to bring Randy back as head coach and give him the opportunity to build on the positive momentum that the team showed under his leadership last season,” said Grunfeld.  “We were very pleased with the development of our young players and the commitment to winning he instilled despite taking over the team under difficult circumstances.”

Wittman was originally named head coach of the Wizards on January 24, 2012, after Flip Saunders was relieved of his duties following the team’s 2-15 start.  The Wizards finished 18-31 (.367) after Wittman took over the team and won eight of their final 10 games (including their last six in a row).

“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity that Mr. Leonsis and Ernie have given me and I’m thrilled to be returning to work with these players and this organization,” said Wittman.  “I felt that we made significant progress throughout last season and we are all looking forward to having a full summer, training camp and season to continue to improve this team.”

Wittman continues 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 had served as the Wizards’ lead assistant since the 2009-10 season prior to being named head coach last 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.

Ray Allen says his ankle is improving

ray allen

The Boston Celtics are a different-looking team these days, and Ray Allen has a lot to do with that.

Allen is starting to move without the ball and raise up for shots — and knock them down — in a fashion that’s similar to what we’ve seen from him in the past.

The ankle injury that hobbled him for weeks, Allen said, isn’t nearly as bothersome anymore.

“Just going into the game, starting the game, having my legs underneath me is for me it’s a huge deal now,” said Allen, who had 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting from the field. “How I feel now is a lot different from how I start the game.”

– Reported by A. Sherrod Blakely

tyson chandler

The Knicks’ Tyson Chandler was a safe bet to make the Olympic team this year, because the coaches love the center’s selfless style and defensive mentality. It turns out the players feel likewise.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade said that because Dwight Howard has undergone back surgery, he expects Chandler to start at center for Team USA in this summer’s London Olympics.

“Absolutely,” Wade said. “We watched Tyson, the things that he does, his ability to cover so much on the basketball court, from the three-point line to the rim. He’s phenomenal.”

“And especially the style of play in the Olympics is a little different. The style is not necessarily post-up, post-up, post-up. It’s more so of having a big guy down there, someone who can defend, someone who can rebound, someone who can catch and finish. So he brings that to the team.”

– Reported by Al Iannazzone of New York Newsday

Heat may have Chris Bosh for Game 5

chris bosh

With the Eastern Conference finals headed for a tense finish, the Miami Heat appear ready to try to get their missing All-Star on the floor.

According to multiple sources, the Heat are hoping to activate Chris Bosh for Tuesday’s Game 5 if he doesn’t suffer a setback in workouts over the next two days. Bosh declined to discuss his status following the Heat’s 93-91 overtime loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday, which tied the series at 2-2.

Bosh has missed three weeks and nine playoff games since going down with an abdominal strain in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers. The Heat have not put an official timetable on his return but it is believed they were targeting a three-week window for a return if he didn’t have setbacks in his rehab.

– Reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com

lebron james

This time LeBron James couldn’t get criticized for missing the last shot or passing the ball in the final seconds. It wasn’t possible Sunday night since the Miami Heat forward had the same amount of control on the outcome as a Boston Celtics fan in the rafters of section 312 at TD Banknorth Garden.

A stoic James stood with his arms folded at the end of overtime in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals after fouling out for the first time since 2008. With no James and Chris Bosh unavailable due to injury, it was back to Dwyane Wade’s old Heat days as he had the ball in his hands with the Celtics ahead 93-91 as the clocked ticked down. James helplessly watched from the other side of the floor as Wade’s game-winning 3-point attempt didn’t save the day and the Celtics tied the series 2-2.

“I don’t foul out,” James said after scoring a game-high 29 points. “If I’m going to foul out, that sixth foul, I wish I would have earned it [and it] had actually been a foul on me. Whatever.”

James received his sixth foul, an offensive one, in the post with 1:51 left in OT after getting tangled up and going to the ground with Mickael Pietrus. The Celtic defender got veteran referee Joey Crawford to bite on the thespian act. James had four offensive fouls Sunday and the deciding whistle happened with Boston ahead 92-91. Celtics fans roared at a fever pitch as James strolled to the bench.

– Reported by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports

rajon rondo

The Celtics’ big lead gone and leading scorer along with it, Rajon Rondo had a message for Kevin Garnett.

”It’s time,” Rondo said. ”We have to take the game over.” …

Rondo had 15 points and 15 assists, and scored the final three points of the Celtics’ 93-91 overtime victory on Sunday night that evened the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.

Getting a huge break when LeBron James fouled out for the first time since joining the Heat, the Celtics recovered after blowing an 18-point lead in regulation and need two victories for a third trip to the NBA finals in five years.

Garnett added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, while Paul Pierce scored 23 points before fouling out. Ray Allen finished with 16 points.

James had 29 points and Wade scored 20 after another dismal start for the Heat, who host Game 5 on Tuesday…

In a game that started as a Celtics blowout and turned into a foul- and tension-filled fourth quarter, followed by the second overtime in this series, the Celtics held on when Wade missed a potential winning 3-pointer on the last possession.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

paul pierce

Pierce committed his sixth personal, an offensive foul on a collision off the ball with Shane Battier with 4:22 left in overtime. Udonis Haslem’s dunk gave Miami a 91-89 advantage, but those would turn out to be the final Heat points.

Daniels replaced Pierce and hit a free throw, but then lost a rebound out of bounds after a Mario Chalmers miss. Garnett then defended a Chalmers drive, with Rondo scoring in transition.

Garnett then rebounded a James miss. Rondo misfired on a drive, and Pietrus drew James’s sixth personal with 1:51 left. Pietrus grabbed two offensive rebounds to extend a 65-second possession, and Garnett was off target with 46 seconds left.

Battier missed a 3-point try, Daniels drawing a foul on the rebound. Rondo drew a foul with 21.4 seconds left and missed the first free throw, but the second made it 93-91, the Heat calling a timeout.

Daniels fouled Dwyane Wade with 14 seconds left, the Heat calling a 20-second timeout. Rondo and Daniels switched onto Wade, who missed an open 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

– Reported by Frank Dell’Apa of the Boston Globe

dwyane wade

Wade finished with 20 points on 7 of 22 shooting and played the entire second half and overtime. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 23 points before fouling out in overtime. Rondo had 15 points and 15 assists.

“I got a good look,” Wade said of his final shot. “It just didn’t go in.”

James drilled a three-pointer with 37.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 89-89. On the Celtics’ next possession, he forced a turnover when he absorbed a charge by Kevin Garnett. With 21.1 seconds left and the game tied, the Heat had time to draw up a potential game-winning play. Whatever coach Erik Spoelstra drew up went off script when James passed to Udonis Haslem at the buzzer, who air-balled a jump shot. James’ pass to Haslem was partially deflected.

“When he gets doubled, I come from the strong side and try to get in LeBron’s vision,” Haslem said. “I don’t think we would do anything differently. I we could, I would have probably pulled a little higher, so he could get a better passing angle.”

– Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald

Basketball blog