Archive for June 20th, 2012

kevin durant

Hoops superstar Kevin Durant is one game away from losing the NBA Finals, and now one lawsuit away from losing his famous nickname — “Durantula” — because a guitarist claims KD jacked it from him.

Durant was sued today in Federal Court by a guy named Mark Durante — a guitarist who, according to the lawsuit, was a big deal in the 80s … playing with Public Enemy, The Aliens, The Next Big Thing, and (our favorite) The Revolting Cocks.

TMZ obtained a copy of the lawsuit, in which Durante says he adopted the name “Durantula” for his “on-stage and performance persona” — and has used it to market “music, recordings, apparel, t-shirts, guitars, and related merchandise.”

– Reported by TMZ

kevin garnett

Kevin Garnett was huge for the Boston Celtics in the playoffs and played like he was in his 20s again. Now that the offseason has started for Boston, Celtics fans are still unsure if the All-Star still feels young enough for yet another season.

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge shed some light on Garnett’s status on WEEI on Wednesday. Ainge said he spoke with Garnett last week, and that he still needs more time to make his decision. However, when the time comes, Ainge felt confident that Garnett at least won’t be playing in a different uniform.

“I hope that he wants to come back,” Ainge said. “That’s sort of been the indication that, if he’s going to play, that he would like to come back to Boston. That’s where we are right now.”

– Reported by Timothy Killian of NESN

Rob Hennigan, who spent the past eight years with two of the NBA’s most successful franchises, has been named General Manager, Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins announced today.

“It is with great enthusiasm and optimism that we announce Rob Hennigan as our new General Manager,” said Martins. “Rob is an astute strategist and evaluator of talent who comes to the Magic family from two championship-level organizations. We feel he is an outstanding fit and the right choice to lead our Basketball Operations team in achieving our championship goals.”

Hennigan spent the past four seasons with Oklahoma City, including the last two seasons as the Thunder’s assistant general manager/player personnel.  Hennigan spent his first two seasons with the Thunder as the team’s director of college/international player personnel.

Hennigan’s responsibilities included overseeing the Thunder’s professional, college and international scouting departments, as well as assisting with all player personnel matters and day-to-day management of basketball operations.

During Hennigan’s tenure, Oklahoma City compiled a 175-137 (.561) regular season record.  The Thunder won 50-or-more games twice, reached the Western Conference Finals twice and advanced to the 2012 NBA Finals.

Prior to joining the Thunder, Hennigan spent four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs.  He was named director of basketball operations in September of 2007.  Hennigan began as an intern during the 2004-05 season and was later named the team’s basketball operations assistant during the summer of 2005.  The Spurs won the NBA World Championship in 2004-05 and 2006-07.

A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Hennigan graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Emerson College in 2004.  He was named a Division III All-American and an Academic All-American as a senior and was the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons.  Hennigan finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

emeka okafor

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has acquired forwards Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for forward Rashard Lewis and the 46th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

“We are pleased to add two more solid pieces as we continue to build our roster with a balance of proven veterans and the core of young talent that we have developed,” said Grunfeld.  ”Emeka’s defensive presence and rebounding ability will combine with Trevor’s versatility to add new dimensions to our frontcourt, and both players fit in very well with the type of team-first culture that we have been working to establish.”

“First, we want to thank Emeka and Trevor for their service on and off the court for our organization. Both of those gentlemen are good players and better people that will be missed,” General Manager Dell Demps said. “We are rebuilding our team and this is one step in our new direction. This trade will provide an opportunity for our young players to develop and create flexibility to add to our core group moving forward.”

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “Okafor is due $28 million over the next two seasons. Although Lewis is one of the highest paid players in the league, he has one-year remaining on his contract at that $23.7 million. Sources say the Hornets and Lewis are working on a buyout and Lewis likely won’t play for the team this season… Ariza has two years remaining on his existing contract, which includes a player option in 2013-14 that would pay him $7.7 million if he exercise the option.”

According to ESPN.com, “The move, meanwhile, sheds two long-term contracts from the Hornets’ payroll while opening up minutes, through Okafor’s departure, for Kentucky star Anthony Davis, who almost assuredly will be selected No. 1 overall by New Orleans in next Thursday’s draft. The Hornets, sources say, are planning to waive Lewis before July 1 to slice roughly $10 million off the $24 million that he is owed in 2012-13. With the resultant financial flexibility, New Orleans is confident in its ability to re-sign restricted free agent Eric Gordon this summer to ensure it doesn’t lose the best player it received in exchange for face-of-the-franchise Chris Paul in December.”

Okafor (6-10, 255) holds career averages of 12.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting .517 from the field in 511 career games over eight seasons between Charlotte and New Orleans.  The former second overall pick was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2005 and was one of three players (joining Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard) to average a double-double from 2004-05 to 2008-09.  He has averaged at least 10 points, nine rebounds and 1.5 blocks in seven of his eight NBA seasons and has shot at least 53 percent from the field in the last six consecutive seasons.  Okafor averaged 9.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting .533 from the field in 27 games for the Hornets last season.

trevor ariza

Ariza (6-8, 210) holds career averages of 9.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 499 games over eight seasons with New York, Orlando, L.A. Lakers, Houston and New Orleans.  Over the last three seasons, he has averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting .323 from three-point range with the Rockets and Hornets.  Ariza helped lead the Lakers to the 2009 NBA Championship, contributing 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting .476 from beyond the arc in 23 games (all starts) during their title run.  Last season, he averaged 10.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting .333 from three-point range in 41 games for the Hornets.

Lewis averaged 9.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 60 games for the Wizards.  He was originally acquired from the Orlando Magic in exchange for Gilbert Arenas on Dec. 18, 2010.  The Wizards originally acquired the 46th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft from Dallas along with Ronny Turiaf, a 2013 second round pick and cash considerations from New York in a three-team deal on Dec. 10, 2011.

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The Knicks’ interest in Spanish League veteran point guard Pablo Prigioni does not surprise Walter Szczerbiak one bit.

Prigioni, the playmaker on Argentina’s 2004 Olympic gold-medal-winning team that knocked off Team USA, is 35, but Szczerbiak — the U.S. ambassador to the Spanish League for 25 years before stepping down this season — says that’s not a big factor.

“I’m pretty sure he’d be better than a lot of young point guards in the NBA you get,’’ Szczerbiak told The Post. “He’s really been through the wars. Spain is a real pressure cooker. Every game is playoff intensity. The NBA, it’s more in the playoffs. He has great experience in tough situations and he’s a good leader.’’

Prigioni, who has played in the Spanish League since 1999-2000, met with Knicks brass last week for two days, including a dinner with president Glen Grunwald and coach Mike Woodson. The Knicks know the Spanish League better than most NBA teams — their longtime European scout, Kevin Wilson, lives in Barcelona.

“He’s 35, but he has a great body,’’ Szczerbiak said of Prigioni. “I’m sure he’s slowed down a little, but he’s still got pretty good quickness. For 35, he’s got the right kind of body — wiry, never been overweight. He’s like Steve Nash that way. You’d think he was younger than 35 the way he looks.’’

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

lebron james

A limping, grimacing LeBron James shook off left leg cramps to hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2:51 remaining and the Miami Heat held off the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 104-98 victory Tuesday night and a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals that no team has ever blown.

”I was just trying to make a play,” James said. ”If I was out on the floor, I wanted to try to make a play with the limited mobility I had at that time, and I was happy I was able to come through.”

Game 5 is Thursday night and James will have a chance to finish a nine-year chase that started in Cleveland before he famously — or infamously — left for South Florida before last season.

”Of course it’s there to think about,” said James, making it clear he plans to play. ”I’ll be ready for Game 5.”

With James watching the final moments, Mario Chalmers finished off a stellar 25-point effort that matched Dwyane Wade. James had 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, missing a shot at a triple-double only because he was on the bench at the end after thigh cramps emerged following a fall near the Thunder basket.

The Heat needed all James could give and more to hold off Russell Westbrook. He scored 43 points for the Thunder, who wasted an early 17-point lead but were never out of the game because of their sensational point guard. Kevin Durant had 28 points but James Harden threw in another clunker, finishing with eight points on 2-of-10 shooting. Westbrook and Durant were the only Thunder players to score in the last 16:46.

”Shots were falling,” said Westbrook, who was 20 of 32. ”It really doesn’t mean nothing. We didn’t come out with the win.”

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

michael redd

Westbrook delivered an ill-advised foul to Mario Chalmers with 13.8 seconds remaining, sending the malign but red-hot Miami guard to the foul line where he sealed the Thunder’s fate with swishes that swelled the Heat’s series lead to 3-1.

The foul came after Heat guard Dwyane Wade missed a floater while falling out of bounds with 17.3 seconds remaining. The rebound fell to Miami forward Udonis Haslem, but Thunder guard James Harden got his hands on the basketball to force a jump ball before Haslem could go back up with a shot to beat the expiring 24-second clock.

Under league rules, the 24-second clock remains the same as when play was interrupted or is reset to five seconds, whichever is greater, any time on jump balls retained by the offensive team as the result of a held ball caused by the defense.

When the jump ball got tapped out to Chalmers with just five seconds showing on the shot clock, Westbrook chopped down on Chalmers hands after a dribble in the corner.

Just three seconds were left on the shot clock. The Thunder was down only three.

– Reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman

Playing with constant pain in his legs, James offered a heroic effort in the final period. He scored six points in the fourth quarter despite severe leg cramps and finished with 26 points in the game on 10 of 20 shooting.

“We talked about it before the game that you have to play with an intensity like you have nothing left by the end of the game and he did,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

James entered the fourth quarter two rebounds shy of a triple-double and finished the game with 12 assists and nine boards. In a scary moment, he was carried off the court by team trainer Jay Sabol and reserve Juwan Howard with 5:15 left in the game. James was treated for leg cramps on the sideline and James Jones took James’ place briefly in the lineup.

“I knew I wasn’t injured,” James said. “Your muscles just basically lock up on you. I wanted to walk to the bench but my muscles wouldn’t allow me to.”

– Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald

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