Archive for September, 2012

Steve Blake punctures foot in parking lot accident

Backup Lakers point guard Steve Blake suffered a puncture wound to his left foot stepping on a spike strip in a parking lot and is prohibited from any impact exercises for approximately three weeks.

Lakers training camp opens in eight days.

With Blake sidelined, Chris Duhon will get an added opportunity to impress his new coaching staff in pursuit of backup minutes behind Steve Nash.

– Reported by Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register

With the Miami Heat still sorting through roster possibilities five days before the start of training camp, former University of Miami guard Jack McClinton was among those working out Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

With teams allowed to carry up to 20 players during training camp, the Heat remain two spots below the maximum.

In addition to McClinton, also working in the team’s pre-camp sessions were Heat 2009 second-round pick Robert Dozier, the forward out of Memphis, and swingman Chamberlain Oguchi, who had an impressive offseason with the Nigerian national team at the London Olympics.

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

Lou Amundson, Wolves agree to deal

Lou Amundson, Wolves agree to deal

The Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to terms with free agent power forward Lou Amundson.

Amudson’s deal with Minnesota is a guaranteed contract for one year at the league minimum.

Amundson’s agency tweeted the agreement on Monday and the Timberwolves were expected to announce the deal once he passes a physical. Amundson adds some needed depth to the frontcourt in Minnesota

– Reported by News Services

The Knicks have hired shooting coach Dave Hopla as an assistant.

According to a league source, Hopla will work specifically in player development and conduct individual drills for the Knicks, similar to the role that former assistant Kenny Atkinson served last season.

Hopla has worked with the Wizards and Raptors as a shooting consultant.

– Reported by Ian Begley of ESPN New York

Also, according to sources, the Knicks are expected to hire shooting coach Dave Hopla, who once made 550 out of 550 free throws while working with the Wizards.

– Reported by the New York Daily News

NBA West remains very strong

Another NBA season is upon us with a little more than a week left before teams gather for the start of training camp.

And once again, the Western Conference is where they will play hardball.

All one has to do is look at the biggest transaction from the offseason. It could be argued that the Western Conference teams came out on the better end of a four-team, 12-player trade that sent All-Star center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, established forward Andre Iguodala to Denver, center Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia and emerging swingman Arron Afflalo to Orlando.

The deal serves as an indication that the West again holds the league’s overall balance of power with so many talent-rich teams. Not since the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season has the Eastern Conference’s eight playoff teams had an overall better record than the eight from the West. In those fourteen years, a West squad has won 10 NBA Championships (five for the Lakers, four for San Antonio, one for Dallas) and there appear to be more Western Conference teams — among the legitimate title contenders — poised to unseat the defending champion Miami Heat this season.

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson has spent more time at the practice facility than any Cavalier this summer. The goal for the 6-9 power forward is to average 10 rebounds and 10 to 12 points. He averaged 10.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in 28 starts last season — and they want that rebounding number to rise. He’s only 21.

A year ago, Samardo Samuels arrived at camp close to 20 pounds overweight. He has been at the facility often this season and is in excellent shape, say team sources. With Jamison gone to Lakers, power forward is wide open. Thompson is expected to start. The Cavs want four big men for center/power forward. Three spots are taken by Thompson, Varejao and rookie Tyler Zeller. That leaves Samuels competing with undrafted free agents Michael Eric (Temple), Kevin Jones (West Virginia) and Jon Leuer (acquired on waivers).

– Reported by Terry Plut of the Cleveland Plain Dealer

But after all the twists in his career, taking him from the NBA Development League to the Philippines, Italy and Israel and finally back to the NBA, Forbes’ perspective has changed as dramatically as his address. He not only could have an NBA career with diabetes, he might not be in the NBA without it.

“I think the disease has helped me become better,” said Forbes, a veteran of two NBA seasons. “I’m better … at taking care of my body, getting the right amount of sleep, eating the right foods, working out, doing the things it takes to be in this league, and not only to be in this league but to be a good diabetic.”

Forbes was heading into his sophomore year at Virginia (he transferred to UMass after his coach, Pete Gillen, left) when he developed an unquenchable thirst and began dropping weight, losing 20 pounds in a week.

“I was going to the store every five minutes to get something to drink,” Forbes said.

Even with the checklist of diabetes symptoms, he did not start to realize that he could have the disease until doctors began asking about his family history. He had watched his father check his blood-sugar level and give himself injections of insulin, but it was so routine in Forbes’ life that he did not think that he would soon follow the same regimen.

– Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

76ers plan to use Spencer Hawes as power forward

[Doug] Collins has already said - loosely - that the preliminary plan is to move center Spencer Hawes over to power forward, teaming him early on the floor with Andrew Bynum, who will get the majority of the minutes at center and will be spelled by Kwame Brown.

Collins likes the idea of having Hawes at power forward alongside Bynum, because Hawes is skilled at manning the high post offensively and should let the Sixers take advantage of his ability to hit the elbow jumper (which will give Bynum infinitely more room to operate in the post) and use his ball skills to create more opportunities for players cutting off of him.

Hawes, who has never played power forward for extensive minutes, gave two reasons in a phone conversation earlier this week for why he expects the transition to be relatively seamless.

“I don’t think it’s a huge challenge,” Hawes said. “I’ve guarded the four a lot. Offensively, the way we’ve done it, the four and the five are pretty interchangeable. I don’t think the transition will be overwhelming.”

– Reported by John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Utah Jazz legends Karl Malone and John Stockton will join former BYU athletes Richard George, Chad Lewis and Doug Padilla next month in being inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame.

The Oct. 23 event at EnergySolutions Arena includes a 6 p.m. reception and 7 p.m. dinner. For reservations ($75), send checks or credit card information to the USHOFF, P.O. Box 95982, South Jordan 84095.

Malone and Stockton were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in consecutive years.

– Reported by the Deseret News

Baron Davis will have non-playing role with Knicks this season

Baron Davis will have a multi-faceted role with the Knicks this season: He will spend some time around the team in an advisory role; he will work with Madison Square Garden’s “Garden of Dreams” Foundation; he’s expected to provide content for MSG’s in-game entertainment and he may do some scouting for the team, according to two sources with knowledge of Davis’ agreement with the Knicks.

Davis, 33, suffered a serious right knee injury in last season’s playoffs, and is expected to miss the entire 2012-13 season.

He’s currently an unrestricted free agent, but the veteran point guard has maintained close ties with the team. He’s spent a significant time rehabbing his injury at the team facility and he maintains a close relationship with several players.

– Reported by Ian Begley of ESPN New York

Hopefully they get VH1 in China … ’cause ex-NBA’er Stephon Marbury’s super hot wife has been tapped to be on the next season of “Basketball Wives.”

Sources close to the production tell us … Tasha Marbury is in final talks to join the show — a much needed cast replacement after Royce, Jennifer and Kesha were all axed.

We’re told producers approached Tasha for two main reasons … she’s actually a basketball wife (she and Stephon married in 2002) … and secondly she’s already friends with some of the other “wives.”

– Reported by editor Jeff Lenchiner on Friday walked into the new Brooklyn Nets Barclays Center basketball arena. Here’s an InsideHoops video showing what it looks like to step inside the new home of the Nets:

When Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets two years ago, he declared the franchise will win a title by the end of the 2015 season.

After seeing his team’s roster dramatically overhauled this offseason ahead of the Nets beginning play in Brooklyn this fall, Prokhorov is standing behind that prediction.

“For me, there’s only one place: number one,” Prokhorov said Friday inside his team’s brand-new home, Barclays Center, in Brooklyn. “And I do my best to reach the championship.

“We’re moving on … slowly, slowly, step by step. It’s easy to make a strong team, but it’s very difficult to make a championship team. So we’re on the right way. And still, I’m expecting our championship within three years.”

Prokhorov was at Barclays Center alongside arena developer Bruce Ratner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other dignitaries to help cut the ribbon for the $1 billion arena.

– Reported by Tim Bontemps of the New York Post

Gerald Madkins, who spent the past two seasons as the New Orleans Hornets Vice President of Player Personnel, has accepted a front office position with the Los Angeles Clippers, a league source confirmed Saturday morning.

Although Madkins was in charge of the Hornets’ college scouting, he was based in Los Angeles. With the Clippers, Madkins will become the team’s director of basketball operations.

– Reported by John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Madkins spent the last two seasons with the New Orleans Hornets as their director of player personnel. He served as the director of scouting for the Houston Rockets for two years, as the director of West Coast college scouting for the Seattle SuperSonics for one year and as a scout for the New York Knicks from 2003 to 2007.

– Reported by Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times

Working with Hakeem Olajuwon helped LeBron James improve

Hakeem Olajuwon training with LeBron James paid dividends

This was in the late summer of 2011, and LeBron was still in full seeker mode in the aftermath of the Heat’s NBA Finals collapse against the Dallas Mavericks.

Ripped for disappearing when it mattered most, mocked for still finding himself without a championship eight seasons into his pro career, LeBron reached out to a veritable Mount Olympus of basketball greats as the NBA lockout dragged on.

He met with Magic Johnson, spoke with Isiah Thomas and tried unsuccessfully to set up a chat with Larry Bird.

However, it was the Hakeem Sessions that paid the most obvious dividend.

How many times during the Heat’s 2012 championship run did LeBron turn his back to the basket and spin past a helpless opponent for an easy score?

How many times during his third league MVP season did LeBron exchange the easy and the familiar of the perimeter for the rugged and the raw of the low post?

And how many times in those final three matchups, against the Pacers and the Celtics and the Thunder, did

LeBron help the Heat climb back from daunting series deficits with moves right out of the Olajuwon repertoire?

Spinning, dipping, up-and-unders?

Cheetah-like drop steps followed by thunderous slams?

And yes, even a handful of feathery fadeaways along the baseline, a move so familiar Olajuwon will soon be releasing a full line of lifestyle gear, including personally designed basketball shoes, in its honor.

The Dream Shake.

“I saw all of the moves we worked on,” Olajuwon, 49, says proudly. “When you work with a player, the satisfaction is in knowing that now, when it counts, when it is valued, he is executing.”

– Reported by Michael Berardino of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Dirk Nowitzki

First, he’s not the least bit disheartened by the moves — or lack of marquee moves — the Mavericks made this summer. In fact, he’s encouraged about the possibilities with training camp opening this week.

Second, and more important, Nowitzki feels wonderful physically. His right knee that gave him such trouble during the first half of the shortened season in 2011-12 no longer is a concern to him.

That’s huge.

“I tried to keep in shape all summer long so that it would not be hard to pick up my usual training routine,” Nowitzki said in an email interview. “I feel great. My knees feel fine, and that’s important. I am ready to go.”

Nowitzki has been working out extensively in Germany with his friend and mentor, Holger Geschwindner. Nowitzki, 34, had an eventful off-season. He got married in July and while the honeymoon is still going, it hasn’t stopped the 11-time all-star from making sure that a repeat of last season doesn’t happen.

– Reported by Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News

Raja Bell remains in limbo with Jazz

Raja Bell remains in limbo with Jazz

Veteran Jazz guard Raja Bell told a Miami-area radio station Friday he’ll undergo a physical Monday in Salt Lake City.

Utah has yet to resolve a buyout with Bell, who is not expected to play for the Jazz during the 2012-13 season…

A buyout has been on the table since at least July, and Bell’s separation from the Jazz has long been expected. But while the chances of him attending camp are slim, at best, it’s recently become a remote possibility, since just eight days remain before Jazz media day and there’s been no recent progress between the sides.

Bell is in the final year of his contract with Utah and is set to make $3.5 million this season. The amount of the buyout has prevented the Jazz from removing Bell from the roster, and Utah has thus far been unable to trade him.

– Reported by Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune

Keyon Dooling plans to stay retired

Keyon Dooling plans to stay retired

So much for Keyon Dooling wanting to join the Miami Heat.

The Orlando Sentinel had reported Saturday word was the point guard, who had been waived by Boston on Friday with the belief he would retire, had interest in the Heat. But the native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., denied that.

“No truth!” Dooling wrote in an email to FOX Sports Florida. “I will never play NBA ball again.”

After he was waived by the Celtics, Dooling’s agent, Kenge Stevenson, had issued a statement announcing his client would retire.

– Reported by Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida 

The buyout that was expected to come in July still hasn’t arrived for Raja Bell. Because of that, the veteran guard recognizes that even a possible move into free agency might not mean the opportunity to suit up for his hometown Miami Heat.

The defensive-minded swingman with 3-point range said Friday that he remains hopeful of receiving his release from the Utah Jazz in advance of next week’s start of training camp and that few teams hold the allure of the Heat.

“They would be on the top of my list, for sure,” he said on 640 Sports’ Andy Slater Show. “Again, hometown crowd, my kids are in elementary school here. It’d be great for me to get a chance to play here in Miami where I grew up and I know a lot of people, and be a part of this history that they’re going to make for the city. But that’s not always just up to me.”

Facing a diminished role amid an uneasy relationship with the Jazz staff, the native of St. Croix, who attended both Killian High and Florida International University, appeared poised for a buyout early in the free-agency period. He is due $3.48 million this coming season from Utah on the final year of his contract.

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

Brooklyn Nets open doors to new arena

Big-time professional sports returned to Brooklyn for the first time in more than 50 years on Friday, when the Brooklyn Nets finally unveiled their new stadium after a decade-long fight with neighbors.

The 675,000-square-foot, 18,000-seat Barclays Center will officially open on September 28 with a concert by rapper Jay-Z, and the Nets - formerly the New Jersey Nets - will play their first game at the arena, against the New York Knicks, on November 1.

The team’s arrival marks the first time in 55 years the borough can lay claim to a major professional sports team, following the removal of the celebrated Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles, a move that outraged local baseball fans.

– Reported by Eidth Honan of Reuters

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