Archive for September 22nd, 2012

InsideHoops.com 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 

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