Archive for October 2nd, 2012

James Harden

For all the Oklahoma City Thunder followers worried about whether the team will be able to afford a new contract with the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, there’s one person who doesn’t seem fazed by it: James Harden.

Harden heads into this season as possibly the odd man out in the Thunder’s young nucleus. Like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka before him, he’s eligible for his first contract extension and would become a restricted free agent if he doesn’t get a new deal by next July.

The difference for Harden is that small-market Oklahoma City, approaching the salary cap with all the others already locked into long-term deals, may not be able — or willing — to pay the luxury tax likely to come along with Harden’s price tag.

“Everything will figure itself out eventually,” Harden said at the team’s preseason media day Monday. “Right now, training camp is starting. I think everybody is excited to be here and just to enjoy each other’s company. We really missed each other.”

– Reported by the Associated Press

The Miami Heat announced today that they have exercised the third-year Rookie Scale Option on guard Norris Cole.

Cole appeared in 65 games (two starts) with the HEAT last season and averaged 6.8 points, 2.0 assists, 1.4 rebounds and 19.4 minutes. Among rookie league leaders, he finished 17th in scoring average, tied for 11th in assists per game and eighth in free throw percentage (.776). He appeared in 19 postseason games during Miami’s championship run and averaged 1.8 points in 8.9 minutes of action.

Cole was originally drafted by Minnesota in the first round (28th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft before his draft rights were acquired by the HEAT in a draft night trade.

adam morrison

When the Portland Trail Blazers gave Adam Morrison – the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft – a chance to return to the National Basketball Association by signing him to a training camp deal, I’m not sure anyone knew this could probably be his last chance.

After being out of the league the last two years, Morrison, 28, told CSNNW.com that if he didn’t make the Trail Blazers’ regular season roster, he has plans to end his professional playing career and start a new one.

“I’m going to finish school and start coaching (If he didn’t make the Trail Blazers roster)…I did the Europe thing and it just wasn’t for me,” Morrison told CSNNW.com. “Not saying the (Europe) culture or anything like that, (or) the people, it just wasn’t for me. So, yeah, if it doesn’t work out, I’m willing to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘I gave it a honest shot’ and turn the page. Do something else.”

Coach Morrison has a nice ring to it.

– Reported by Chris Haynes of CSNNW

Chicago Bulls hope to keep Taj Gibson

Bulls hope to keep Taj Gibson

After losing restricted free agent Omer Asik to the Houston Rockets over the offseason, the Chicago Bulls don’t want to take the same risk with Taj Gibson, whose contract expires after this season.

The Bulls have always been confident they could retain Gibson, whose agent Mark Bartelstein told ESPNChicago.com in June that the two sides had already started discussing a new deal.

“I can only worry about basketball,” Gibson said after practice Tuesday afternoon. “I can only worry about what I can take care of on the court. I’m listening to my agent Mark Bartelstein and I’ll let (Bulls GM) Gar Forman and (Bartelstein) worry about that. Right now I’m just worried about getting better with my teammates, and so far it’s been great.”

Given what happened with Asik, Gibson really finds himself in the driver’s seat.

– Reported by Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago

Jeremy Lin

Though Jeremy Lin had pronounced his rehabilitation from knee surgery as “100 percent” and Rockets teammates praised Lin’s play on the first day of camp, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said “the knee is still a thing he is working through.

“He’s in a really good spot right now physically,” McHale said.  “It’s just a matter of topping everything off. But he looked good.

“This will be the first time since he had the surgery that he will be pressing that knee day after day after day at an NBA level. No matter what you do in rehab it’s hard to replicate NBA level. I don’t foresee it being a problem.”

– Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Blog)

Celtics play an October 5 exhibition game in Turkey

After a flight that lasted about 12 hours with many players getting little to no sleep, it would have come as a surprise to no one if Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave his players the day off after they landed.

Nope.

Instead, Rivers put them through about an hour’s worth of practice with a simple goal in mind — to keep them awake.

Huh?

“That’s a rarity in the NBA where you try to make sure they don’t go to bed early,” Rivers said. “Usually it’s the exact opposite. But because of the time change and all that, I thought if we went straight and did nothing they would fall asleep at 6 p.m. and sleep the rest of the night away.”

– Reported by A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE

Nuggets center JaVale McGee got sick during practice

After a couple hours of Denver’s first practice of camp, the practice-ending scrimmage was, sure enough, tied. The coaches knew there’s a long camp ahead, but some of the players, perpetually competitive, wanted to keep playing…

Center JaVale McGee got sick during the practice and didn’t finish the day. Forward Wilson Chandler and guard Julyan Stone, each coming off a hip injury, practiced lightly and didn’t compete in scrimmage play.

Denver’s first preseason game is Saturday in Las Vegas against the Clippers.

– Reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post

Hornets coach meets the new faces

New Orleans Hornets Coach Monty Williams doesn’t like to look back, so first-day comparisons between Tuesday’s initial training camp practice and the one he oversaw last December when the NBA lockout ended were a trifle disconcerting.

Williams greeted a roster on Tuesday that included no one who attended the first day of Hornets’ training camp last season, though several players, including center/forward Jason Smith, forwards Lance Thomas and Al-Farouq Aminu and guards Eric Gordon (who did not practice Tuesday because of a sore right knee) and Greivis Vasquez, were present for portions of the team’s camp a year ago.

Aside from those familiar faces, the rest of the 17-man roster were all first-timers.

– Reported by Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Deron Williams

Brooklyn Nets star Deron Williams called the 2011-12 campaign the toughest season he’s endured and called out teammates for not sharing his frustration.

On most nights, Williams was surrounded by an injury-plagued and talent-depleted roster as the Nets stumbled to a 22-44 record. As the losses mounted, his frustration began to show in the form of negative body language, so much so that coach Avery Johnson had to call him out on it.

But Williams believes he had every right to be frustrated because his teammates were joking around after losses. And that didn’t sit well with him.

“It was hard. I’ve never been in that position before,” Williams told reporters Tuesday, following his team’s first day of training camp. “So at times, I’ve showed frustration, but I think anybody would have. I think no matter who it is, if you were there every day and you saw what was going on in the locker room you’d be pissed off too sometimes. You’re getting your asses kicked and then you’re in the locker room laughing about the game afterwards.

“I don’t think that stuff is funny. That’s what we had to deal with last year. But I don’t think we’re going to deal with it this year, because just talking to the guys, that’s not what we’re about. We’re talking about not losing two games in a row. We were just trying to fight to win two games in a row last year.”

– Reported by Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York

Eric Gordon sits out Hornets practice

Eric Gordon sits out Hornets practice

New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon was, as expected, a first-practice spectator Tuesday morning at the Alario Center as the team went through a 2 1/2 hour workout, the first of two scheduled days of two-a-day workouts.

When media was allowed into the gym, as the team was running post-practice wind sprints, Gordon, who is being held out with a sore right knee, was working on an eliptical machines off to the side at one of the baselines.

Gordon missed all but nine games of last season’s lockout-shortened 66-game schedule because of the bothersome right knee, which was eventually treated with arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-February.

– Reported by Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

The Professional Basketball Alumni Association (PBAA) and Moore Management & Entertainment (MME) announce the teaming of 11-time All-Star Allen Iverson and former NBA point guard Jason “White Chocolate” Williams to its roster, when the All-Stars travel abroad to take on the 2012 Chinese Basketball Association’s champion Beijing Ducks, who feature former NBA star Stephon Marbury. “Allen and Jason are thrilled to be able to play together for the first time since being backcourt mates in high school,” says PBAA Chairman and CEO Charles D. Smith.

“As basketball continues to grow on the global stage, these events hone in on our efforts to continually use the sport of basketball to break down cultural barriers around the globe.” says Smith. We are equally excited for the chance to play against some of China’s best players. “We will give fans an exciting game where they can cheer for their basketball heroes.”

Coached by Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald, they will take on the Beijing Ducks on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at the Beijing National Stadium.

In addition to Iverson and Williams, the roster will include Damon Jones, Charoy Bentley, Shane Burrell, Zendon Hamilton, J.R. Inman, J. R. Reid and an amazing dunker, Guy “Easy J” Dupuy.

Sixers hire Jordan Cohn as scout

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that Jordan Cohn has been named Pro Personnel Scout.

“We are committed to improving all facets of our basketball operations department and we are happy to announce the addition of Jordan Cohn to the Sixers,” said Sixers General Manager Tony DiLeo. “Jordan is one of the most talented and respected scouts in the NBA and will be an invaluable resource for the upcoming season.”

Cohn will enter his first season as a scout with the Philadelphia 76ers after spending the past eight seasons as a scout for the New Jersey Nets, covering NBA, D-League and college games for the organization.

Prior to joining the Nets, Cohn served as the Director of Pro Player Personnel for the New York Knicks during the 2003-04 season.  That came after a five-season stint with the Miami HEAT where he worked closely with Pat Riley, the rest of the coaching staff and the front office, on various statistical projects.

Cohn is well known for co-authoring “Rick Barry’s Pro Basketball Bible,” an annual trade paperback released during the 1990’s which contained detailed information on every NBA player and draft pick.  During the time he was writing the book, Cohn also created a scouting service that involved charting tendencies of the opponents for numerous NBA teams.  Now commonplace, it was one of the first scouting services of its kind.

A native of New York, Cohn received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and received his graduate education from USC Law School.  After practicing law for a few years, Cohn became a freelance writer for various publications, including the NBA’s HOOP magazine.

The Dallas Mavericks announced today they have waived Tu Holloway and DJ Mbenga. Both Holloway and Mbenga were signed as free agents on September 27.

Holloway (6-0, 190) played collegiately at Xavier University and went undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft. In his four years as a Musketeer, he played in 134 games and held career averages of 13.7 points, 4.1 assists and 1.2 steals per contest. As a junior, Holloway was Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and earned Third Team All-America honors from the Associated Press while averaging 19.7 points and 5.4 assists a game.

Mbenga (7-0, 240) is native of Congo who was originally signed by Dallas as a rookie free agent on July 14, 2004 after playing with the Mavericks summer league squad. In his first stint with Dallas he saw action in 79 games averaging 1.3 points and 0.9 rebounds. Mbenga was waived by Dallas on Oct. 30, 2007. Since his time in Dallas, Mbenga has played for Golden State, L.A. Lakers and New Orleans. He holds career averages of 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 234 games (4 starts).

The Mavericks’ training camp roster now stands at 16 players.

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has agreed to terms on a contract extension with Head Coach Tom Thibodeau through the 2016-17 season.

“Tom has proven to be one of the top coaches in the NBA and we are happy that he has agreed to a long-term extension that will ensure he is our coach for many years to come,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman.

In two seasons at the helm of the Bulls, Thibodeau has led the Bulls to a regular-season record of 112-36 (.757; the highest winning percentage by a head coach in NBA history).  In his first year on the sidelines in Chicago, he coached the Bulls to a record of 62-20, followed by a mark of 50-16 in 2011-12.  In recognition of his coaching efforts, Thibodeau claimed the NBA Coach of the Year award in 2011 and he was runner-up for the distinction in 2012.  He also is the only coach in league history to win the most games in the NBA in each of his first two seasons.

In 2011-12, Thibodeau reached the 100-win plateau in just his 130th contest as a head coach, breaking the NBA record for reaching the 100-win plateau the fastest.  During his time in Chicago, he has claimed Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honors five times and coached the Bulls to a playoff record of 11-11 (.500), including a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011.

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