Archive for August 6th, 2012

The Sacramento Kings today extended the contract of Head Coach Keith Smart for the 2013-14 season, it was announced by Kings’ President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie.

“Keith’s extension gives us the stability we need to continue the development of our team,” Petrie said. “He has the commitment, energy and vision necessary to succeed in building a winning team. We are all looking forward to working with him as we pursue an exciting and productive future.”

According to Jason Jone of the Sacramento Bee, “Smart took over as coach after Paul Westphal was fired Jan. 5 amid a feud with center DeMarcus Cousins and other players openly questioned his direction. Even though Smart won over players and improved the team offensively by starting Isaiah Thomas at point guard and moving Tyreke Evans to the wing, the Kings went 20-39 after he was promoted from assistant coach and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season. Smart has said his focus for this season is to improve one of the NBA’s worst defenses while emphasizing a fast-paced offense that shares the ball.”

Smart was named Sacramento’s head coach on January 5, 2012, becoming the franchise’s 24th head coach. In his first season with the Kings, Smart compiled a 20-39 coaching mark. He has a lifetime record of 65-116 (.359) in three seasons with the Sacramento Kings (2011-12), Golden State Warriors (2010-11), and Cleveland Cavaliers (2002-03).

“I’m excited to continue this process with the Kings,” Smart said. “We’re trying to get our franchise moving in the right direction. The goal is to keep moving in that positive direction, and I’m glad that I get that opportunity. It’s been great working with Geoff and his staff and communicating with the Maloofs in this process.”

Danny Granger says Heat deserved to win championship

Like everybody else in the Pacers organization, Granger is eager for the season to start after they were eliminated by Miami in six games in the second round of the playoffs last season.

“Still not over it,” Granger said laughing about losing to the Heat. “I’m over it. It happens. They were the better team. I think they deserved to win the championship. That’s the way it goes. We have to get better.”

The Eastern Conference will be better next season.

Brooklyn, Boston, New York  and the Pacers are expected to be in the mix for seeds 2-4 in the East.

– Reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star (Blog)

Father of Kevin Durant quit on family when Kevin was 1

When [Wayne] Pratt was 23 years old, he was already a father of two. He says he wasn’t ready for the responsibilities. Around Durant’s first birthday, Pratt deserted the family, leaving behind his wife, Wanda, and sons Kevin and Tony.

“I felt like I was immature, selfish, I was young. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” said Pratt, now 46. “But my sons helped me realize how important it was to be in their lives by always wanting me to be around.”

Wanda Durant (her maiden name) sits courtside at most Oklahoma City Thunder games and is regularly interviewed by major media outlets. Meantime, Pratt is a lesser known figure who said he’s happy with the simple life he lives.

It took Pratt nearly a decade to seek forgiveness from his two sons and worked out a decent relationship with his now ex-wife. He said Wanda was always a positive person and strong enough to raise two sons.

– Reported by Matt Breen of the Washington Post

J.R. Smith says Knicks can win championship

In an interview with ESPNNewYork.com this weekend, Smith said he thinks that the Knicks, on paper, have the talent to win a championship, something the franchise hasn’t done in 40 years.

“Right now with the talent we have, what it says on paper is championship all day. But it’s a matter of us going out there and doing it,” Smith said after appearing at an event in Harlem at Nike’s House of Hoops to promote/give away some Nike sneakers to children.

Smith says he goes into every season with a “championship or bust” mentality.

But that’s particularly true this season.

Smith believes the moves the Knicks made in the offseason give them enough talent to “compete with anybody.”

“It’s just a matter of us being smart with our talents and making the right plays,” Smith said.

– Reported by Ian Begley of ESPN New York

He owns a .582 winning percentage, a Coach of the Year award and has captained his team to the NBA Finals.

Yet Scott Brooks will be the first to tell you he needs to improve.

“My job is to get better,” the Oklahoma City Thunder coach said shortly after signing a four-year contract extension last month. “I’m not going to stand up here and say that I’m great. I feel like I have a lot of room to improve.”

At this point, the continued improvement of the defending Western Conference champions is largely dependent on Brooks’ progression.

– Reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman

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