Archive for April 2nd, 2013

Minor nicks, as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra put it, will keep Miami starters LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers from playing against the New York Knicks.

Spoelstra ruled all three out for Tuesday night’s game, with James battling hamstring tightness and Wade and Chalmers dealing with right ankle sprains.

”Everybody’s human,” Spoelstra said.

It’s the second straight game in which Miami will miss those three starters. The Heat won in San Antonio 88-86 on Sunday without them. Spoelstra said all three players are improving, and none of them were available for comment after Miami’s shootaround Tuesday morning.
The Heat were expected to keep the same starting lineup from the Spurs game, with Rashard Lewis starting for James, Mike Miller for Wade and Norris Cole for Chalmers.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Greg Willard, a longtime NBA referee who worked more than 1,600 games before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has died. He was 54.

Willard died Monday night, according to the league. He was diagnosed with the illness during last season’s playoffs and worked only one more game, a preseason matchup in October not far from his Huntington Beach, Calif., home.

Some NBA players, including three-time MVP LeBron James of the Miami Heat, New Orleans guard Roger Mason and Sacramento center Cole Aldrich, tweeted condolences to Willard’s family, as did Golden State coach Mark Jackson. More tributes were expected in the coming days, including moments of silence in Willard’s memory at all NBA games Tuesday and Wednesday…

Willard officiated 1,494 regular-season games, 136 playoff games, two NBA Finals games, the 2006 All-Star game and Europe Live games in 2006 in Italy, France and Germany in a career that spanned nearly a quarter-century.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

The Phoenix Suns today announced that the club has reached an agreement with President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby on a new two-year contract.  The deal will keep Babby in his current position through 2014-15.

“Lon has led our front office during this important transition period for the organization and he has my full support as we continue to rebuild,” said Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver.

Babby was originally named just the fourth basketball president in franchise history on July 20, 2010, after almost 35 years as a practicing attorney with Washington, DC-based Williams & Connolly, LLP, where he was an industry leader in sports and contract negotiations.

Charged with guiding the Suns through a time of transition and building for the future, Babby and his basketball operations staff have placed a premium on building through the draft, demonstrated with the selections of Markieff Morris (2011) and Kendall Marshall (2012), and the acquisition of additional picks that will give Phoenix six first-round and four second-round selections for a total of 10 picks in the next three drafts.  In addition, through a series of transactions, the Suns have infused youth by adding Goran Dragic (26), Marcin Gortat (29), Wesley Johnson (25), PJ Tucker (27), Marcus Morris (23) and Michael Beasley (24).

“I greatly appreciate the faith that Robert Sarver and the entire Suns organization have demonstrated with this new contract,” said Babby.  “We have begun the heavy lifting needed to rebuild our team.  While the transition is often painful, I am entirely confident that we are taking the necessary steps to regain elite NBA status.  I fully embrace the opportunity to continue on that path.”

One of the industry’s most successful and well-regarded player agents, Babby began his career in sports representing first the NFL’s Washington Redskins (1977-84) and then MLB’s Baltimore Orioles (1979-94). For the Orioles, he was intimately involved in the senior management of the club. He first served as club counsel and then general counsel, overseeing player contract negotiations, advertising and marketing contracts, labor issues and general business matters, including the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. During his tenure, the Redskins appeared in two Super Bowls, winning in 1983, and the Orioles appeared in two World Series, also winning in 1983.

The Brooklyn Nets have signed forward Kris Joseph to a 10-day contract, it was announced today by General Manager Billy King.

Joseph (6-7/215) becomes Brooklyn’s second NBA D-League Call-Up of the season, joining the Nets from the Springfield Armor. In 27 combined games for Springfield and Maine this season, Joseph averaged 18.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals in 34.0 minutes per game. Acquired from Maine on February 11, 2013, Joseph has started 15 games for the Armor, averaging 19.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals in 34.1 minutes per game.

The Syracuse University product was selected in the second round (51st overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. In six games for the Celtics this season, he averaged 1.2 points and 0.8 rebounds in 3.8 minutes per game.

Dueling teams of billionaires and mayors are heading to New York for a pivotal Wednesday showdown over the future of the Sacramento Kings.

Before an elite committee of NBA owners, delegations from Sacramento and Seattle will present their arguments on the issue that’s been making headlines for weeks: Should the Kings stay put or be allowed to move to the Pacific Northwest?

The meeting, to be held at a Manhattan hotel, comes a week after the Sacramento City Council approved a non-binding term sheet for a new $448 million arena at Downtown Plaza - a crucial piece in the city’s attempt to keep the team.

The committee is likely to make a recommendation sometime this month. A final decision is expected April 18 or 19, when the league’s Board of Governors, consisting of all the team owners, convenes in New York.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has said deciding between Sacramento and Seattle will be tough. Seattle offers a larger and wealthier population, but Sacramento has had a strong track record of supporting the league. Both cities are offering to build new arenas.

– Reported by Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert had 26 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out, Paul George added 23 points and 10 assists, and the Indiana Pacers barely completed a sweep of their four-game road trip with a 109-106 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night in a battle of division leaders.

Hibbert, who was serving a one-game suspension from the league when the Pacers lost to the Clippers 99-91 at Indianapolis on Feb. 28, made all eight of his shots in the first half and finished 11 for 14 from the field to help his team extend its winning streak to five and increase its Central Division lead to 6 1/2 games over idle Chicago.

All five Pacers starters scored in double figures, with David West getting 16 and backcourt mates Lance Stephenson and George Hill chipping in with 13 apiece.

Jamal Crawford scored 25 points off the bench for the Pacific Division-leading Clippers, whose magic number to clinch the first division title in the franchise’s 43-year history remained at two. They failed on their third attempt at their 50th victory, which would break the franchise record set by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves. Blake Griffin had 17 points.

Center DeAndre Jordan, whose games this season have fluctuated between dominant and invisible, played 17 scoreless minutes and went to the bench for good with 6:26 left in the third quarter. The Clippers were outscored 42-25 while he was on the floor…

The loss snapped the Clippers’ franchise-record streak of 10 straight wins against Eastern Conference opponents. … Los Angeles has a better winning percentage when Griffin scores fewer than 20 points (28-14) than it does when he gets 20 or more (20-11).

– Reported by Joe Resnick of the Associated Press

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