Archive for July, 2012

Timberwolves trade Wayne Ellington to Grizzlies

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies swapped some bench depth today.

The Wolves have officially traded guard Wayne Ellington to the Grizzlies for  forward Dante Cunningham.

“We thank Wayne for his three seasons with the Wolves. He was the consummate professional and we wish him the best in Memphis, ” said David Kahn, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “In Dante Cunningham we are getting a versatile forward who brings a defensive presence and an efficient offensive game to our team. Also, the addition of Dante helps balance our roster.”

Cunningham, 25, was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2009 NBA Draft. In three seasons in the NBA, the 6-8 forward has averaged 5.2 points, on 48.5 percent shooting, and 3.3 rebounds in 205 games (25 starts).

As a rookie with Portland in 2009-10, Cunningham averaged 3.9 points and 2.5 rebounds in 63 games. The 6-8 forward started the 2010-11 season with Portland before being traded on Feb. 24, 2011, along with Joel Pryzbilla, Sean Marks and two future first round draft picks to the Charlotte Bobcats for Gerald Wallace. For the season, Cunningham averaged 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds. He signed with the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 20, 2011, and averaged 5.2 points, shooting a career-best 51.6 percent from the field this past season. Cunningham also pulled down a career-high 3.8 rebounds per game, including grabbing a career-high 14 boards vs. Minnesota on March 27, 2012.

Ellington (6-4, 200) joins the Grizzlies with career averages of 6.1 points and 1.9 rebounds on .412 shooting (.376 three-point shooting) in 18.7 minutes in 189 games (13 starts) over three seasons with Minnesota.  The 24-year-old posted 6.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in a career-high 19.1 minutes in 51 games (four starts) for the Timberwolves last season.

The Wynnewood, Penn. native was selected by Minnesota in the first round (No. 28 overall) of the 2009 NBA Draft after being named Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 NCAA Final Four and leading North Carolina to a national title.  He earned All-ACC Tournament honors in each of his three collegiate seasons and finished his Tarheels career ranked second in UNC history with 229 made three-pointers.

Nets sign forward Tornike Shengelia

The Brooklyn Nets have signed forward Tornike Shengelia, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.

“Toko had a very good summer league which led us to signing him for this season,” said King.

Shengelia (6-10, 230), whose draft rights were acquired by Brooklyn from Philadelphia in exchange for cash considerations, was selected in the second round (54th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft.  Shengelia has been a member of the Republic of Georgia’s National Team since 2008.  He played the 2011-12 season for Belgacom Spirou where he averaged 8.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 18.4 minutes in 20 Belgium League games.  He helped his team qualify for Euroleague play, and posted 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds during nine games over the season. Shengelia represented the Republic of Georgia at 2011 Eurobasket, averaging 8.8 points and 4.6 boards for the Senior National Team.

Playing in five games for the Nets in the 2012 Orlando Pro Summer League, Shengelia posted averages of 10.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game, while shooting .529 from the field and .824 from the free throw line.

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that they have signed rookies Maurice Harkless and Arnett Moultrie.  Harkless was the 15th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by Philadelphia while Moultrie was the 27th overall pick by Miami.  The Sixers acquired the rights to Moultrie from the HEAT in exchange for the draft rights to Justin Hamilton (45th overall pick) and a protected future first round pick.

Harkless (6-8, 208) was an early entry candidate for the draft following his freshman season at St. John’s and turned 19 years old back in May.  He was named Big East Rookie of the Year after averaging 15.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks while shooting 45.2% from the floor.  Harkless ranked sixth in the nation in scoring among freshman and second in rebounding.

The freshman started all 32 games for the Red Storm last season, scoring in double-figures 26 times, including seven games with 20-plus points.  Harkless had a career-high 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting vs. Providence and tallied 30 points and 13 rebounds at Duke.  Overall, he recorded 11 double-doubles.

Moultrie (6-11, 249) was an early entry candidate for the draft following his junior season at Mississippi State.  He was named First Team All-SEC after averaging 16.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists this past season while shooting 54.9% from the floor.  Moultrie led the conference in rebounding and ranked tied for 10th in the nation.

The 21-year-old averaged 3.7 offensive rebounds this past season, grabbing 6-plus seven times including a career-high 11 vs. Northwestern State.  Moultrie recorded 18 double-doubles in 30 games.

Wizards sign guard A.J. Price

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed free agent guard A.J. Price.

“A.J. is an experienced and dependable player who fits in well with the mix of proven veterans and young players we have on our roster,” said Grunfeld.  “Adding him will help to bring depth to our backcourt rotation.”

Price (6-1, 185) holds career averages of 6.0 points, 2.0 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 150 games over three seasons with Indiana.  He was originally selected by the Pacers in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2009 NBA Draft out of the University of Connecticut.  Price averaged 3.9 points and 2.0 assists in 44 games last season.  He has appeared in nine career playoff games, averaging 4.9 points (including 8.4 points over five games during the 2011 NBA Playoffs).

Knicks sign guard Pablo Prigioni

New York Knickerbockers Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations and General Manager Glen Grunwald announced today that the team has signed free agent guard Pablo Prigioni.

Prigioni, 6-3, 180-pounds, is a veteran of the Argentine and Spanish leagues, having played professionally since 1995. The 35-year-old has played for Ramallo (1995-96), Belgrano (1996-98) and Obras Sanitarias (1998-99) of the Argentine League and for Fuenlabrada (1999-01), Alicante (2001-03), Caja Laboral (2003-09, 2011) and Real Madrid (2009-11) of the Spanish ACB and LEB Leagues. He won the Spanish National Championship in 2007-08, the King’s Cup three times (2004, 06, 09) and Spanish Super Cup three times (2005, 06, 08) and is also a two-time All-Euroleague second team selection (2006, 07).

In addition, Prigioni is a key member of the Argentinean National team, winning the gold medal at the 2011 Americas Championship, the bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the bronze medal at the 2009 Americas Championship. He represented his country in the 2006 and 2010 World Championships and is scheduled to play in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.

Rockets sign center Omer Asik

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has added center Omer Asik (pronounced O-mair AH-shick) after the Chicago Bulls chose not to match Houston’s offer sheet for the restricted free agent. Under the terms of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Bulls had three days to match the offer from the Rockets.

Multiple reports said the deal is for three years, $25 million.

“We are excited to add Omer to our roster,” said Morey. “Omer has proven to be a defensive force at every stop in his career – in the Turkish league, in FIBA’s World Championships and EuroBasket competitions, and of course for the past two years for the Chicago Bulls. We are excited to add his rim protection, his rebounding, and the defensive mentality Omer brings to each play.”

Asik (7-0, 255, Turkey) has not missed a game in two seasons with the Bulls and has played in 148 consecutive regular season contests. In those two campaigns with Chicago, Asik has averaged 2.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.84 blocks in 13.2 minutes. Considered one of the best defensive centers in the league, Asik grew up playing for Fenerbahçe S.K. Istanbul (2005-10) in his native Turkey. He was loaned to Kadikoy Belediyesi in the Turkish League’s second division for the majority of the 2005-06 season. He also played with the silver-medal-winning Turkish National Team in the U-20 European Championships in Izmir, Turkey. Asik was again a member of the silver-medal-winning Turkish squad at the 2010 FIBA World Championships held in Istanbul. In nine FIBA World Championship matches, he averaged 8.9 points, 6.9 boards, 1.22 blocks and 19.0 minutes per outing. Asik was originally drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers (36th overall) in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft. He had his draft rights traded to Chicago in exchange for three second-round picks.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Omer,” said Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale. “I’ve admired his physical style of play over the past two seasons as he’s made the transition to the NBA. In his limited minutes, he has proved himself to be an exceptional defensive post player and we will be working with him to continue his progress. Omer has a great understanding of how to play defense and how to move without the ball and I know he will fit in very well with our needs in the low post.”

In a non-related move, the Rockets also announced that the team has waived guard E’Twaun Moore.

Chicago Bulls sign guard Marco Belinelli

Chicago Bulls sign guard Marco Belinelli

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has signed free agent guard Marco Belinelli (pronounciation: mark-o bell-ee-nell-ee).

Belinelli (6-5, 195), comes to the Bulls having played the last two seasons with the New Orleans Hornets.  He broke into the league with the Golden State Warriors in 2007, where he played for two seasons after being drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft (18th overall).  He also spent the 2009-10 season with the Toronto Raptors.

Last season with the Hornets, the Bologna, Italy, native appeared in 66 games (55 starts) and averaged career highs in points (11.8 ppg), rebounds  (2.6 rpg) and minutes (29.8 mpg).  He shot .417 from the field, .377 from behind the arc and .783 from the line.

For his career, the 26-year old Belinelli has played in 287 regular season games (148 starts) and posted averages of 8.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 21.5 mpg, .424 field goal shooting, .393 three-point shooting and .796 from the line.  In six playoff games, he has averaged 9.7 ppg in 28.7 mpg and shot .365 from the field, .308 from three-point range and 1.000 from the free throw line.

Patrick Beverley still seeking NBA job

Point guard Patrick Beverley has worked out for three NBA teams, including the Chicago Bulls, and is still examining his options for next season, his agent said on Monday.

The 24-year Beverley, a Chicago native, played for Spartak Saint Petersburg in Russia last season and was named the EuroCup MVP. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and played for the Miami Heat in the 2010 summer league, but he has yet to play in the NBA. He’s played overseas since leaving Arkansas after his sophomore season in 2008.

Beverley, a 6-foot-1 point guard, has worked out this offseason for the Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets.

– Reported by Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago

Suns will sign forward P.J. Tucker

Over the five years since he last was in the NBA, P.J. Tucker has seen players come into leagues in six other countries with an expectation for success before struggling to find their roles and departing with a myopic view of their failures.

Tucker knows it all too well because that was his 2006-07 experience with Toronto, which included 17 appearances, D-League duty and a March waiver that started his circuitous path back to the NBA.

The time and experiences gave Tucker a greater maturity that led to a return to the NBA with the Suns, who will sign the burly, versatile forward to a two-year contract with partial guarantees on the first year.

To realize his dream of returning to the NBA, Tucker is taking less than half of the salary he would have made overseas to join the Suns at potentially $762,195 for the first season.

– Reported by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic

The Bulls on Tuesday officially will announce they have declined to match Omer Asik’s three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet from the Rockets, sources said, paving the way for multiple signings that began Monday with Kirk Hinrich.

The Tribune reported on July 8 that Hinrich verbally agreed to a two-year deal, but it’s closer to $8 million in value, sources said. Hinrich, who will be reintroduced at a 2 p.m. Berto Center news conference on Tuesday, turned down slightly more money from the Bucks, sources said…

The Bulls will add another shooting guard as well, with the imminent signing of Marco Belinelli for the biannual exception of $1.9 million. Belinelli flew to Chicago on Monday for a physical, sources said, and La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Belinelli’s deal will be two years for $3.8 million, with the second year a team option.

– Reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune

Champion Miami Heat now even stronger

With the pressure of winning his first NBA title off his back, LeBron James and the Miami Heat are looking to repeat next season and they wasted no time in the off-season adding more talent to the fold to strengthen their roster. With the signings of sharp-shooter Ray Allen and former Wizards forward Rashard Lewis, the Heat brought on veteran scorers who can spread the floor with their ability to shoot the ball, especially from three-point range.

Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point shots made, still has a lot of game left in his 37-year old legs, coming off a season in which he averaged 14 points a game in Boston. When in a zone, Allen is one of the most feared jump shooters in the game. Allen has shot an impressive 40 percent from beyond the arc for his career and he would likely come off the bench as the Heat’s sixth man next season. James, last season’s MVP of the league, and guard Dwyane Wade are two of the best in the league at breaking down defenders — and with Allen perched on the wing waiting to stroke a three, the Heat’s offense is vastly improved.

– Reported by CSN Washington

Brooklyn Nets sign guard C.J. Watson

As expected due to reports from last week, the Brooklyn Nets have signed guard C.J. Watson, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.

Watson played in 49 games for Chicago in 2011-12, making 25 starts.  The 6-2 guard averaged 9.7 points and a career-high 4.1 assists in 23.7 minutes per game for the Bulls.  As a starter, Watson posted averages of 11.3 points and 4.6 assists in 29.2 minutes per game.  In the 2012 postseason, Watson started five of the Bulls’ six playoff games and averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 assists in 27.3 minutes per game.

After going undrafted out of the University of Tennessee in 2006, Watson was signed by the Golden State Warriors as a free agent call-up from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League in January of 2008. After two and a half seasons with the Warriors, Watson was traded to Chicago prior to the 2010-11 season.  Over five NBA seasons, Watson holds career averages of 7.8 points and 2.6 assists in 305 games.  Watson has made postseason appearances in each of his two seasons with the Bulls. In 22 career playoff games, he has averaged 4.3 points and 2.9 assists in 13.6 minutes per game.

Chicago Bulls sign guard Kirk Hinrich

Chicago Bulls sign guard Kirk Hinrich

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has signed free agent guard Kirk Hinrich.

“We are pleased to be able to bring Kirk back to Chicago.  His ability to play both spots in the backcourt will help us immensely this season,” said Bulls General Manager Gar Forman.  “Kirk’s tenacity and passion for the game complement our style of play, and we look forward to seeing him back in a Bulls uniform.”

Hinrich (6-4, 190), originally drafted by Chicago in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft, played the first seven seasons of his career with the Bulls.  After being traded to the Washington Wizards on July 8, 2010, he spent the last two seasons with the Wizards and the Atlanta Hawks.  Last year with the Hawks, he played in 48 games (31 starts) and averaged 6.6 ppg, 2.8 apg, 2.1 rpg, 0.80 spg, 25.8 mpg, .414 from the field, .346 from behind the arc and .781 from the line.

“I’m very excited to be back in Chicago and to wear a Bulls uniform once again,” said Hinrich.  “I look forward to getting back out on the court as a Bull, and contributing to the team in any way I can.”

In nine seasons in the NBA, the 31-year old Hinrich has played in 634 games (515 starts) and owns career averages of 12.5 ppg, 5.4 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.21 spg, 33.0 mpg, .417 from the floor, .378 from behind the three-point line and .811 from the free throw line.  He also has played in 46 playoff games (37 starts), where he has averaged 13.4 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.28 spg, 33.3 mpg, .430 field goal shooting, .404 three-point shooting and .763 free throw shooting.

Hinrich returns to Chicago as the franchise’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made (812) and three-point field goals attempted (2,144).  He also ranks fourth in assists (3,004), fourth in steals (655), sixth in three-point field goal percentage (.379), eighth in mpg (17,499), eighth in field goal attempts (6,053), 10th in scoring (6,902) and 11th in field goals made (2,510).

Clippers sign center Ryan Hollins

Clippers sign center Ryan Hollins

The Los Angeles Clippers today signed free agent center Ryan Hollins.

The six-year NBA veteran averaged 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 39 games played last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. In 17 games played during the Celtics’ 2012 Playoff run, Hollins tallied 1.5 points and 1.6 rebounds per contest.

Hollins spent his most productive NBA season in Minnesota in 2009, tallying 6.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 73 games played for the Timberwolves.

Selected by the Charlotte Bobcats with the 50th overall selection in the 2006 NBA Draft, Hollins averaged 5.7 points and 4.0 rebounds over his four-year collegiate career at UCLA. Hollins finished his time with the Bruins as the fourth all-time leading shot blocker in UCLA history (101 career blocked shots).

Orlando Magic coaching search: Jacque Vaughn may be favorite

The Orlando Magic’s search for a new head coach is entering its final phase.

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Jacque Vaughn, widely presumed to be front-runner for the job, met with Magic CEO Alex Martins on Friday in Las Vegas for a second-round interview.

“We’re not going to comment on the process and where it stands,” Martins told the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday…

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan conducted first-round interviews with six candidates and whittled the field down to three: Philadelphia 76ers associate head coach Michael Curry, Phoenix Suns player development coach Lindsey Hunter and Vaughn.

– Reported by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel

Boston Celtics will sign Jason Collins

Boston Celtics will sign Jason Collins

The Boston Celtics are set to sign veteran center Jason Collins to a one-year, veteran-minimum deal, according to league sources.

With restricted free-agent center Greg Stiemsma prepared to sign an offer sheet with the Minnesota Timberwolves — one the Celtics appear unable to match due to salary-cap constraints — Boston has moved quickly to add a legitimate 7-footer to their frontcourt rotation.

The 33-year-old Collins, a veteran of 11 NBA seasons, gives Boston a defensive-minded big man who can give quality minutes off the bench.

– Reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston

As you read this, remember that I didn’t favor the Cavs selecting Dion Waiters at No. 4.

But I also know it’s premature to say this was a lousy pick because Waiters played poorly in three summer-league games, averaging 12.3 points but shooting only 30 percent from the field.

The big problem was Waiters showed up at least 10 pounds overweight and out of shape.

Smart? Nope.

But the message should be clear: Waiters needs to shape up physically and mentally. He has the arrogance you find in some East Coast playground legends. Listening to Dion Waiters, you know that he thinks Dion Waiters is the greatest player he’s ever seen.

– Reported by Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer

The Dallas Mavericks announced today they have signed first round draft pick Jared Cunningham.

All players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft are guaranteed to receive a contract. So, this signing is standard and was expected.

Cunningham (6-4, 194) was the 24th overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.  He was acquired by the Mavericks on June 28, 2012, along with the draft rights to the 33rd overall pick Bernard James and 34th overall pick Jae Crowder, in exchange for guard Kelenna Azubuike and the draft rights to the 17th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Tyler Zeller.

The San Leandro, Calif. native is a member of the Mavericks Summer League Team in Las Vegas, but due to a strained hamstring he has not been able to play.

Cunningham (6-4, 194) finished his three-year career at Oregon State ranked 13th in career scoring (1,271 points), second in steals (219) and third in free throws made (427). He was named First Team All-Pac 12 as a junior when he averaged 17.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game.

Juwan Howard undecided if he will play next season

Juwan Howard said Friday that he is still deciding whether he wants to return for a 19th NBA season, although the direction he’s leaning might be indicated by his being the first player back in the Heat practice gym once the title celebrations had slowed down a bit.

“I still have the itch,” Howard said while appearing at a Heat “Learn to Swim” event for children. “I still have the passion and the love for the game. More importantly, I still like staying in shape and I can’t sit on my behind. I’m still iffy as far as if I want to come back and play or not, but I’ll tell you one thing — once I decide, I want to be ready. So I am working out … ready for whatever happens.”

Howard turns 40 next Feb. 7.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Cavaliers claim Jon Leuer off waivers

The Cleveland Cavaliers have claimed forward Jon Leuer off waivers from the Houston Rockets, Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts. The Rockets waived the forward on Wednesday, July 18.

Leuer, 23, averaged 4.7 points on .508 shooting and 2.6 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game in 46 games (12 starts) during his rookie season in 2011-12. In his 12 starts, the 6-foot-10, 228-pound forward averaged 7.7 points on .560 shooting and 3.3 rebounds in 17.7 minutes per game.

“Jon is a young, athletic, hard-working post player. He will add depth and also bring a perimeter shooting element to our big positions,” said General Manager Chris Grant. “We’re happy to add Jon to our team and looking forward to his continued growth and development as a Cavalier.”

Prior to the start of the NBA’s 2011-12

regular season, Leuer, the 40 th overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, signed with the Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt team of the German Bundesliga. He appeared in 10 games and posted averages of 14.8 points on .495 shooting and 7.8 rebounds in 31.6 minutes per game.

He played all four seasons in college at Wisconsin and as a senior was named to the All-Big Ten First Team after averaging 18.3 points on .470 shooting and 7.2 rebounds in 33.5 minutes per game in 34 games.

Basketball blog