Archive for January, 2013

Son of Nick Van Exel convicted of murder

A North Texas jury has found the 22-year-old son of former NBA player Nick Van Exel guilty of murder in the shooting death of a longtime friend.

A Dallas County jury deliberated about 2 1/2 hours before returning its guilty verdict Thursday against Nickey Maxwell Van Exel. The penalty phase begins Friday.

Prosecutors had sought a capital murder conviction. They say Van Exel fatally shot Bradley Bassey Eyo in December 2010 and dumped his body at Lake Ray Hubbard on the eastern outskirts of Dallas.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Kevin Durant scored 27 points, Russell Westbrook added 21 points and nine assists and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat Memphis 106-89 Thursday night in the Grizzlies’ first game since trading away leading-scorer Rudy Gay.

Memphis struggled mightily in the first half and trailed by 26 in the third quarter before a mini-implosion by the Thunder that featured Westbrook getting benched after a dust-up with his teammates.

It still didn’t provide a big enough opening for the Grizzlies, who were playing short-handed while waiting for trade acquisitions Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis to arrive and pass physicals.

Jerryd Bayless led Memphis with 23 points. Zach Randolph missed his first 10 shots and wound up with nine points and 19 rebounds.

The Grizzlies were already short on numbers after dealing away reserves Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby for Jon Leuer about a week earlier and with Quincy Pondexter out with a sprained ligament in his left knee.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Back on the Pepsi Center practice court on Thursday morning was a familiar face – that of former Nuggets assistant coach Tim Grgurich. And if he hadn’t been gone for so long, it really was as if he never left. He bounced around from player-to-player, chatting, rebounding for free throws, talking to coaches and sometimes just standing off to the side and observing.

Nuggets coach George Karl has long tried to get Grgurich back into the organization after he left in 2010. And while this is very temporary – a few games – Karl couldn’t be happier to have the calming influence and basketball smarts of one of his best friends in the business.

“He gives me eyes, the pulse of the team,” Karl said.

– Reported by Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post (Blog)

Dwight Howard

Los Angeles Lakers star center Dwight Howard has been diagnosed with a sore right shoulder and is day to day.

Howard was evaluated in Minneapolis by Lakers trainer Gary Vitti on Thursday, one day after he aggravated the torn labrum in his right shoulder during the Lakers’ loss to the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers are expected to give a more definitive update on Howard’s status prior to Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Howard suffered the injury midway through the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 92-86 loss. The seven-time All-Star fell to the floor in pain after being blocked by Suns guard Shannon Brown with 6:57 remaining in the contest.

– Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

The Indiana Pacers today re-assigned Miles Plumlee to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana’s NBA Development League affiliate.  The assignment is the record 120th of the 2012-13 NBA and NBA D-League seasons, while Plumlee is one of a record 51 players who have been assigned to the NBA D-League this season.

Plumlee (6-11, 255, Duke) re-joins the Mad Ants following six previous assignments when he played in 11 games and averaged 12.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 31.3 minutes.  He has appeared in seven games for the Pacers this season, averaging 0.9 points, 1.6 rebounds and 3.6 minutes.

Selected 26th overall by the Pacers in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, Plumlee was a four-year member of the Blue Devils, where he won an NCAA Championship in 2010.

Plumlee is expected to be in available tonight when the team travels to play the Canton Charge at 7 p.m. ET.

mike conley

The Memphis Grizzlies have shown once before they can be contenders without Rudy Gay.

It’s time to prove it again.

The Grizzlies started the process of moving on Thursday after trading their leading scorer to Toronto in a three-team deal that brought Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis to Memphis.

The franchise’s best postseason run came with Gay injured two seasons ago, with an upset of top-seeded San Antonio and then a thrilling seven-game Western Conference semifinal series against Oklahoma City. Before that, Memphis had never even won a playoff game.

”I don’t think we’re too scared. I think we’ve been here before without him,” point guard Mike Conley said Thursday at the team’s shootaround before a game at Oklahoma City.

”We’ve been without Zach (Randolph). We’ve had guys go down and we’ve had to deal with it. This team is great at playing with adversity,” he added. ”Hopefully, we can kind of mock what we did when Rudy was out that year and we made the playoff run and play that style of basketball.”

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Ricky Rubio stands up for Pau Gasol

ricky rubio

Ricky Rubio is standing up for his fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol, saying he doesn’t think it’s fair that the Los Angeles Lakers are bringing Gasol off the bench this season.

Rubio spoke after practice on Thursday, one day before his Minnesota Timberwolves were scheduled to host the Lakers. Rubio says he speaks to Gasol and the other Spanish players in the NBA regularly throughout the season. He says Gasol has proven himself as a top-flight player in this league over the years.

He quipped that ”if they don’t want him, we are more than welcome to get him.”

– Reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press

andrea bargnani

It has been obvious for some time that it is time for Bargnani to move on, for his sake and for the Raptors, and Colangelo indicated a move could happen soon, though it is not a certainty.

“Andrea is a player that has definitely garnered interest. Unfortunately when he gets hurt that takes him off the market,” Colangelo explained after breaking down the Gay trade to reporters.

“That’s not to say we’re going to trade Andrea … He’s a unique talent, but sometimes a change of address is not bad. I’m not saying he’s asked for a trade, but he would certainly not fight or resist a situation if it was the right situation.”

Bargnani has two years left on his contract, but is a tremendous offensive weapon, when in top form, a player opposing coaches gameplan around. He has many faults, and this corner has addressed them many times, but someone will come calling for him.

– Reported by Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun

rudy gay

An NBA source said the Celtics were never serious competitors for Memphis swingman Rudy Gay, who was traded in a three-team deal to the Toronto Raptors Wednesday.

Boston was rumored to be discussing sending franchise cornerstone Paul Pierce to Memphis in exchange for Gay, whom the Grizzlies had been looking to trade for weeks. According to the source, the Celtics didn’t feel Gay was worthy of franchise-player status, or sacrificing Pierce, who has one more year on his contract that is only partially guaranteed.

Gay is averaging 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds and has $37 million remaining on his contract for the next two years.

Gay was sent to the Raptors for Ed Davis, while Toronto shipped Jose Calderon to the Pistons, who sent Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis.

– Reported by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe

Suns rally to beat Lakers 92-86

michael beasley

Steve Nash’s first trip back to Phoenix to play the Suns was an evening of triumph.

For the Suns, not Nash.

Michael Beasley scored a season-high 27 points and the Suns rallied from 13 down in the fourth quarter to hand Nash’s Los Angeles Lakers their eighth straight road loss 92-86 on Wednesday night.

The Lakers, who had won three straight - all at home, lost Dwight Howard when he reinjured his right shoulder with 6:57 to play. Coach Mike D’Antoni said he thinks the injury is something that Howard will have to deal with all season.

”It is my understanding that it is something that will hurt, then it will go away and he will be able to play,” D’Antoni said.

Beasley, whose previous season best of 25 came two games earlier, scored on a scrambling layup as the shot clock was expiring to put the Suns ahead 88-86 with 43.8 seconds to play.

”I’m just playing aggressive,” Beasley said. ”I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. No more nonchalant Beas. I’m back to the Beast.”

Kobe Bryant had 17 points and nine assists, but missed what would have been the tying layup with 24 seconds to play. Howard had nine points and 14 rebounds before he left after aggravating the shoulder injury that sidelined him for three games earlier this month. Metta World Peace scored 15, Pau Gasol 14 and Antawn Jamison 13 for Los Angeles.

– Reported by Bob Baum of the Associated Press

glen davis

For much of Wednesday, the Orlando Magic displayed the kind of grit and resiliency that head coach Jacque Vaughn has grown to love about this team. Guards Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick carried the offense, while the defense did its best to slow New York superstar Carmelo Anthony.

But as the game wore on, a devastating injury to Glen “Big Baby’’ Davis further sabotaged the short-handed Magic, and attrition and a talent deficit won out, resulting in another lost night for Orlando.

Despite red-hot shooting and valiant efforts from Nelson and Redick, the Magic couldn’t keep pace with the Knicks more than a half, again gave up a flurry of fourth-quarter 3-pointers and lost 113-97 to New York.

Davis, who was in the midst of his finest season as a pro, was likely lost for the rest of the season when he fractured his left foot early in the game. The team found out about the news of the crippling injury midway through Wednesday’s game, sapping the life out of the squad.

– Reported by John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com

rudy gay

The Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday they have acquired forward Rudy Gay and centre Hamed Haddadi from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for guard Jose Calderon, forward Ed Davis, a second-round draft choice in 2013 and cash considerations. The Grizzlies traded Calderon to the Detroit Pistons for forwards Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince.

“This is the type of deal we have been looking for to take our team another step forward,” said Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo. “Rudy Gay is a dynamic wing that elevates our talent level significantly.

“We want to thank Jose and Ed for their dedication and service to our organization. Both individuals are wonderful young men beyond just talented basketball players.”

Gay, 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, has averaged 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 36.2 minutes in 479 career games (443 starts).

According to ESPN.com, “Gay, averaging 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds, signed a five-year, $82 million maximum contract in July 2010 with Memphis. The 6-foot-8 small forward is due $16.5 million this season with $37 million more over the next two years. Just over a week ago, the Grizzlies sent valuable reserve Marreese Speights and two other players to Cleveland in a move that cleared $6.4 million in salary and avoided a $4 million luxury tax hit this season. Team officials said that move put the Grizzlies in position not to have to make a move this season.”

The 26-year-old has played all seven of his NBA seasons in Memphis. He was selected with the eighth pick in the first round of the 2006 Draft by the Houston Rockets and his draft rights were traded to the Grizzlies.

Gay has averaged at least 18.9 points and 5.5 rebounds each season since his rookie campaign. He has also played in more than 95 per cent of the games in five of the past six seasons.

Gay has topped 90 steals in five of six seasons. He is the Grizzlies’ franchise leader in thefts (640), games (479) and minutes (17,338). He ranks second in total points (8,562).

Gay posted career highs of 20.1 points in 2007-08, 6.4 rebounds in 2011-12 and 1.7 steals in 2010-11. He shot .396 from three-point range in 2010-11 and poured in 134 three-pointers in 2007-08.

Gay netted a career-best 41 points at Miami on December 13, 2009. He has posted personal bests of 13 rebounds three times, five steals four times and 52 minutes on two occasions.

Gay averaged a team-high 19.0 points, a career-high 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 37.3 minutes in 65 games during the 2011-12 season. He was one of seven players in the NBA to rank in the top 20 in both scoring and steals.

Gay saw his first playoff action last season when he led the Grizzlies in scoring at 19.0 points in seven games. He also contributed 6.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 39.9 minutes.

Haddadi (ha-DAH-dee), 7-foot-2, 265, is the first Iranian-born player in the NBA. He has averaged 2.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 6.1 minutes in 134 career outings, all with Memphis.

Calderon averaged 10.0 points, 7.2 assists and 28.4 minutes in 525 games with Toronto. In the playoffs, he averaged 12.5 points, 6.1 assists and 24.1 minutes in 11 appearances.

Calderon averaged 11.1 points, 7.4 assists and 28.3 minutes in 45 contests this season.

Calderon was originally signed by the club as a free agent in 2005. He is the franchise leader in assists (3,770) and free throw percentage (.877). He ranks second in games played (525), fourth in minutes (14,909) and fifth in total points (5,235).

Davis was drafted by the Raptors in the first round (13th overall) in 2010. He has appeared in 176 outings with Toronto, averaging 7.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 24.0 minutes.

Davis averaged 9.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 24.2 minutes in 45 games this season. He has started in a career-high 24 games.

Dennis Rodman writes book for kids

Even Dennis Rodman laughs at the idea.

“Kind of funny, huh?” he said.

It’s true, though. One of basketball’s most outrageous personalities has written a book for kids.

The Hall of Famer’s book, “Dennis The Wild Bull,” came out Wednesday and fans will immediately recognize Rodman’s influence. The large red bull on the cover has flowing red hair, two nose rings, a tattoo and red stubble under his chin.

“They’ll see me, literally see me. They’ll say, ‘Wow, this is just like him,”’ Rodman said in a phone interview.

And he deals with the same issues.

Rodman, known as much for his wacky looks and lifestyle off the court as his considerable success on it, said the purpose of the book is simple.

“More than anything, I just want little kids today just to understand, ain’t no matter what you do in life, be different, rich or poor man, guess what, it’s OK to be who you are pretty much and you’ll be accepted,” Rodman said.

– Reported by the Associated Press

The Miami HEAT announced today that they have signed forward Jarvis Varnado for the remainder of the season.

Varnado was previously signed by the HEAT to a 10-day contract on January 9 and then was re-signed to a second 10-day contract on January 20. He has appeared in two games with Miami, both victories, totaling two points and two blocks in 12 minutes of action while shooting 1-of-2 from the field.

Varnado was signed earlier this season by Boston on December 14 and appeared in five games with the Celtics totaling six points, three rebounds, one assist and a steal in 18 minutes while shooting 2-of-4 from the field before being waived on January 6. He previously played in 10 games (all starts) earlier this season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League and averaged 14.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.90 blocks, 1.4 assists and 30.5 minutes while shooting 55.7 percent from the field.

Varnado was originally signed by Miami on September 7 and waived on October 26 after appearing in two games (one start) on the HEAT’s 2012 Summer League team tallying four points, seven rebounds, one steal and a block in 30:07 minutes of action.

Brook Lopez

An injured guard is out but a healthy center is in for the 2013 NBA Eastern conference All-Star team.

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez has been selected as a reserve on the 2013 Eastern Conference All-Star Team by NBA Commissioner David Stern. Lopez replaces injured guard Rajon Rondo, who is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

This is the first career selection for Lopez, who is averaging a team-leading 18.6 points per game, best among NBA centers. Lopez is also 7th in the league in blocks per game (2.2), 22nd in field goal percentage (52.3%) and is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 18 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game this season.

Lopez is the 13th player in Nets franchise history to be selected to the NBA All-Star Game, joining Buck Williams (three times), Otis Birdsong, M.R. Richardson, Derrick Coleman, Kenny Anderson, Jayson Williams, Stephon Marbury, Jason Kidd (five times), Kenyon Martin, Vince Carter (three times), Devin Harris and Deron Williams.

The 62nd NBA All-Star Game will be played at the Toyota Center in Houston on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 (8 p.m. ET), televised exclusively on TNT and broadcast exclusively on ESPN Radio in the U.S. The All-Star Game will reach fans in more than 215 countries and territories in more than 47 languages.

Read NBA fan reaction and share your views in this basketball forum topic.

paul pierce

The sky has most definitely changed over the Celtics. The view is much clearer days after Rajon Rondo was lost for the season.

In the same places they once stood and spoke of grandiose plans for May and June, now there is steely perspective. Now they don’t talk so loud.

Kevin Garnett actually laughed when asked yesterday whether there’s a chance the Celts can be better over the remainder of this season — without their All-Star point guard.

“What are you looking for, a ray of hope here, man?” said KG. “Look, I’m just trying to give y’all the basis of what it is right now amongst us and our mindset going in and taking on this big agenda.”

After nearly 48 hours of hearing the calls to put nearly everyone on outbound container ships in Boston Harbor, Garnett and Paul Pierce are now more matter-of-fact than bold.

“You know, I want to retire as a Celtic,” said Pierce. “That’s been my longtime goal. But it’s not in my control. The organization, they make their decisions, but it’s something I desire.”

– Reported by Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald

Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Wednesday that Derrick Rose is now taking “full contact” and the only thing left in his return from ACL surgery is putting in more time and then getting acclimated to a game situation.

Rose’s rehab from his April 28 injury and May 12 surgery has steadily progressed to the point that there are no longer any physical limitations.

“He’s full-contact, yeah,” Thibodeau said before Wednesday’s morning shootaround as the Bulls prepared to face the Milwaukee Bucks.

The likely date of Rose’s return is after the Feb. 17 All-Star Game.

“He can do all the cutting, he can do shooting, he can go off the dribble,” Thibodeau said. “So it’s just a matter of him getting acclimated to playing in a game situation.”

– Reported by Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago

pau gasol

The Los Angeles Lakers got another win Tuesday by beating the New Orleans Hornets 111-106, but they might have lost some of the team cohesion they built up over the course of their three-game winning streak.

In what has become a recurring theme since Mike D’Antoni took over as Lakers coach, forward Pau Gasol was benched in the fourth quarter against New Orleans.

The former four-time All-Star, who recently bristled when moved to a bench role as D’Antoni placed Earl Clark in the starting lineup, expressed his displeasure after the game.

“I’m a competitor, I’m a guy that thinks I bring a lot to the table, and not being on the floor is something that I don’t like, I don’t appreciate,” Gasol said.

– Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

greg oden

Asked if he was playing at all, Oden said, “I’m just getting my knee ready so when things do happen I’ll be ready to play next year.

“I’m still in the rehab process, but I’m it taking slow. I could possibly be playing at this point, but I’ve done that before and I got injured before, so I’d rather take everything I am doing slow. Right now I’m just doing strength stuff with my knees.”

He said he was confident he would return to the NBA.

“I like how my knee is going, the way it’s going,” he said. “I still like the time I’m taking, just to make sure nothing happens. You can’t predict the future. But if it doesn’t happen, I’m happy.”

– Reported by Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer

rudy gay

The final hurdle for the salary dump of Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors hinges on finding a third team to absorb the expiring contract of Raptors guard Jose Calderon, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Grizzlies have inquired with multiple teams over the past several days, searching for a willing partner to facilitate a three-team deal, sources said.

Despite organizational proclamations to the contrary, new Memphis ownership and management is determined to unload Gay and the $37 million owed him as soon as possible, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Calderon has a $10.5 million expiring contract.

– Reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports

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