Archive for May, 2013

Sacramento has kept its Kings but is facing strict deadlines, imposed by the NBA, for building the team a fancy new arena.

Hours after Vivek Ranadive and his partners completed the record-setting purchase of the franchise from the Maloof family, NBA Commissioner David Stern revealed that the Ranadive group must meet “a series of benchmarks” for a new arena - or risk losing the Kings to another city.

If deadlines are blown, Stern told The Sacramento Bee, the NBA has the option of pulling the Kings out of Sacramento and arranging for the team’s sale to new owners.

The Ranadive group agreed to the deadlines in writing, Stern said.

Stern said he doesn’t expect Sacramento to miss its deadlines, but league owners insisted on the doomsday option “in the unlikely event” Sacramento can’t get the arena project rolling in a “reasonable” amount of time…

The NBA is insisting that the building at Downtown Plaza open no later than 2017 - one year later than city officials forecast. The rival investors who tried unsuccessfully to move the team to Seattle agreed to similar deadlines, Stern said.

Reported by Dale Kasler, Tony Bizjak and Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee

Standing on the cusp of the NBA Finals has tended to agree with the Miami Heat in each of the last two seasons. When the Heat have gotten a game away from the title round, they’ve finished the task as quickly as possible.

And here they are again.

A third straight Eastern Conference title is now just one win away for the reigning champions, though if the way this series has gone so far is an accurate indicator, that win will hardly come easily. The Heat - without suspended forward Chris Andersen - will visit the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night, leading the best-of-seven East finals 3-2 and in position to close out their new rivals on their own floor for the second straight season.

”We’re desperate, too,” Heat forward and four-time NBA MVP LeBron James said Friday. ”We’re desperate to get back to the NBA Finals. So both teams are desperate in their own sense of they’re trying to keep their season alive and we’re trying to advance.”

The teams have alternated wins and losses through the first five games, and if that trend holds, then it’s the Pacers’ turn to prevail on Saturday and send the series back to Miami for a winner-goes-to-the-finals Game 7 on Monday night.

If the Heat - who have won each of their last six potential series-closeout games, including two in the 2011 and 2012 East finals - win, then the championship round against the San Antonio Spurs will begin in Miami on Thursday.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

toronto raptors

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that the club has signed Masai Ujiri as its General Manager. Ujiri, 42, was recently named the NBA’s Executive of the Year in his capacity as Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations for the Denver Nuggets. He replaces Bryan Colangelo, who is now the Raptors’ President.

In his three seasons in Denver, Ujiri built the Nuggets into a team that won a franchise-record 57 games and delivered an NBA-best 38-3 record at home this past season.

A native of Nigeria, and the first African-born GM in the NBA, Ujiri will report to Tim Leiweke, MLSE’s President and CEO. “We feel very lucky to have Masai in our organization. He is a proven judge of talent and we look for him to be a big part of creating a winning atmosphere, leading us to the playoffs and, ultimately, delivering NBA championships for Toronto,” said Leiweke. “I would also like to publicly thank the Kroenke’s in Denver for being such a class organization that they would allow Masai to pursue his dream. They put him first in all of our discussions.”

Ujiri spent three years with the Raptors after joining the team as director of global scouting in 2007. He was elevated to assistant general manager in 2008. Ujiri is thrilled to return to the franchise that first gave him a front office position. “To come back to the Raptors, to live in such a great city, and work in an organization that has committed all the resources necessary to win championships was a huge factor in the decision,” said Ujiri. “I have already developed a great relationship with Tim Leiweke and I can’t wait to get back to Canada to build a team that is poised to take the next step in the NBA.”

The Sacramento Kings today announced that Head Coach Keith Smart will not be retained for the 2013-14 season.

“The Kings would like to thank Keith for his hard work and dedication to the organization,” said owner Vivek Ranadivé. “We wish him and his family nothing but the best in future endeavors.”

“I enjoyed my time immensely in Sacramento,” said Smart. “From working with the people in basketball operations to the business side of the organization to interacting with the people of the city, it was a pleasure to be around such a classy group.”

Smart began his tenure with the club as an assistant coach prior to the 2011-12 campaign, later becoming the 24th head coach in Kings history when Paul Westphal was relieved of his duties on January 5, 2012.

In two seasons with the Kings, Smart amassed a 48-93 record. He previously served as head coach of the Golden State Warriors during the 2010-11 season after seven years with the organization as an assistant coach. Smart, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, also served as interim head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the final 40 games of the 2002-03 season.

Former NBA All-Star guard Daron ”Mookie” Blaylock was on life support at a hospital Friday after his SUV crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a van in suburban Atlanta, police said.

Blaylock was driving in Jonesboro Friday when he crashed and was airlifted to the Atlanta Medical Center in critical condition, said Clayton County police spokesman Clarence Cox says.

Cox says the man and woman riding in the van were also taken to the medical center. Their names and conditions were not immediately available.

Reported by the Associated Press

Chris Andersen

Miami Heat forward Chris Andersen has been suspended one game without pay and had his Flagrant Foul One upgraded to a Flagrant Foul Two, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Andersen knocked Indiana Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough to the floor, escalated the altercation by shoving Hansbrough, and resisted efforts to bring the altercation to an end. The incident occurred with 9:02 remaining in the second quarter of Miami’s 90-79 win over the Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Andersen will serve his suspension on Saturday, June 1 when the Pacers host the Heat in Game 6 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

To view the play, click on this link.

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

Milwaukee Bucks agree to hire Larry Drew as new head coach

The Milwaukee Bucks have reached an agreement in principle for Larry Drew to become the team’s new head coach, General Manager John Hammond announced today. Drew becomes the 13th head coach in the history of the franchise and comes to Milwaukee with three seasons of NBA head coaching experience.

“We are pleased to reach an agreement with Larry Drew to become head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks,” said Hammond. “After a thorough search and interview process, it is clear to us that Larry’s track record in Atlanta, along with his experience as an assistant coach and player, make him the right choice to lead our club. We look forward to what he will bring to this franchise and we welcome him and his family to Milwaukee.”

Drew, 55, most recently served as head coach in Atlanta where he guided the Hawks to three consecutive postseason appearances that included a First Round series victory over Orlando in 2011. In total, his record as the head coach with Atlanta was 128-102 (.557). Prior to becoming a head coach, he was the lead assistant coach with the Hawks for six seasons (2004-2010).

Before arriving in Atlanta, Drew was an assistant with the New Jersey Nets and Byron Scott after spending the previous three seasons with the Washington Wizards in a similar capacity (2000-03) under Doug Collins. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach in 1999-2000 with Detroit under Alvin Gentry. His coaching career began in 1992-93 when he broke into the ranks with the Los Angeles Lakers, whom he played for from 1989-91.

An 11-year professional, Drew averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists in 714 career games for four NBA teams. After one season in Detroit, he played the next five years with the Kings, in Kansas City and Sacramento (1981-86), and his final four in Los Angeles (1986-91), for the Clippers and the Lakers. Drew also played one season internationally, 1988-89, with Scavolini of the Italian League.

He was a first round selection in the 1980 NBA Draft - 17th overall by the Pistons - and he reached postseason play four times in his professional career (31 games). Drew recorded his best season during the 1982-83 campaign, when he averaged 20.1 points, 8.1 assists and 1.7 steals for Kansas City.

Born April 2, 1958 in Kansas City, Kan., Drew played four seasons at the University of Missouri, where he averaged 12.0 points and 2.8 rebounds after a stellar high school career locally at Wyandotte High. He and his wife Sharon have three children, Larry, Landon and Lindsey.

The San Antonio Spurs can only watch, wait and practice until their NBA Finals opponent is decided and they can return to action after a nine-day break.

The Western Conference champions will play the winner of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals, led 3-2 by the Miami Heat over the Indiana Pacers, when the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship series begins June 6.

“Too much rest? Sure there’s concern,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after practice on Thursday. “What are you going to do? You do your best.”

The long hiatus is a byproduct of San Antonio’s efficiency in dispatching the Memphis Grizzlies in a four-game sweep of the West final that concluded on Monday.

Tim Duncan, a stalwart of all four Spurs NBA titles during his 16 seasons in San Antonio, said he and his teammates are naturally keeping an eye on the Miami-Indiana series.

“Just trying to pick up a little on either squad,” Duncan told reporters. “Just trying to find anybody’s rhythm I can, see how they play, see what they do and just get a rhythm.”

Reported by Larry Fine of Reuters

A new owner is in place. A new coach is on the way. And for the first time in 14 years, Sacramento Kings fans can celebrate a new era.

The Maloof family finalized the sale of the Kings and Sleep Train Arena to a group led by TIBCO Software chairman Vivek Ranadive on Friday, the NBA confirmed. Ranadive’s group acquired a 65 percent controlling interest in the team at a total franchise valuation of more than $534 million, topping the NBA record of $450 million that Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Golden State Warriors for in 2010.

“We are pleased for both the Maloof family and the Ranadive group, but particularly pleased for the fans of the Kings,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said.

Brothers George, Joe and Gavin Maloof also released statements thanking NBA owners, Stern and the family’s limited partners with the Kings. George Maloof specifically praised Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the City Council “for their efforts and loyalty to the Sacramento community.”

Ranadive already has been busy making moves to rebuild the fallen franchise.

Reported by the Associated Press

lebron james

The game was very much in doubt. A sold-out arena was basically silent. The chance of getting back to the NBA Finals for a third straight year could have slipped away.

Cue LeBron James.

A third quarter for the ages by the four-time MVP turned the game, and perhaps the entire Eastern Conference finals, around. James scored 16 of his 30 points in the quarter, fueling what was a 20-point turnaround at one point, and the Heat beat the Indiana Pacers 90-79 in Game 5 on Thursday night.

The Heat lead the series 3-2, with a chance to finish it off in Indiana on Saturday night and move on to a finals matchup with the San Antonio Spurs…

Indiana was up 46-40 early in the third, surely sensing a chance to grab total control of the series. Over the next 11 minutes, the Heat outscored the Pacers 30-10, with James either scoring or accounting for 25 Miami points. He shot 7 for 10 in the third quarter; the Pacers shot 3 for 14. He had four rebounds in the quarter; the Pacers, as a team, grabbed six. He had four assists in the quarter; the Pacers had one…

James added eight rebounds and six assists, and Udonis Haslem made his last eight shots on the way to a 16-point night. Mario Chalmers scored 12 and Dwyane Wade added 10 for the Heat, who ousted the Pacers in six games in a second-round matchup last season and will look to do the same this time around, albeit one round deeper.

paul george

Paul George had 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 22 points from Roy Hibbert and 17 from David West. The Pacers led by as many as seven at one point, but had no answer for the Heat in the third and now have to win back-to-back games - against a team that hasn’t lost consecutive games since early January…

For the second time in the series, Haslem - who has struggled with his shot for the better part of two years - finished 8 for 9…

Chris Andersen and Tyler Hansbrough needed to be separated early in the second, and both got technicals after Andersen appeared to hit Hansbrough twice, first with a shoulder and then with a two-hand shove. Andersen also picked up a flagrant-1 for his efforts, things cooled off a bit for the rest of the half, and Indiana went into the break up 44-40.

Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

To catch you up to speed on Utah Jazz legends, Jerry Sloan is still mentioned in job-opening rumors, Jeff Hornacek is the Phoenix Suns head coach and Karl Malone has agreed to mentor his old team’s big men.

Oh yeah, and John Stockton is now … an author!?

Yes, really.

The Hall of Fame point guard’s autobiography “Assisted” — co-authored by Kerry L. Pickett — will be released this fall.

Deseret Book posted an Instagram photo of Stockton signing his Shadow Mountain-published book Thursday from the Book Expo America in New York City.

Reported by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News

Opponents of a public subsidy for a new downtown sports arena are seeking to put the issue before voters in a special election.

The campaign behind the initiative - called Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork - notified the city clerk’s office on Wednesday that it intends to gather signatures for the Voter Approval for Public Funding of Professional Sports Arena Act. The city attorney’s office now has two weeks to write a ballot summary before the campaign can begin collecting signatures.

City Clerk Shirley Concolino said the group will need valid signatures from 15 percent of registered voters in the city - about 33,000. The campaign will also need to collect a buffer of several thousand more to account for invalid signatures and duplicates.

Those signatures would need to be filed with county elections officials by mid-July, giving the campaign just a few weeks.

Reported by Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

The Magic won the second overall pick in the June 27 draft.

If the Cleveland Cavaliers use the first pick to select University of Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, then the Magic would be able to pick McLemore, whom many experts regard as the best shooter in the draft and one of the top overall prospects in the draft.

“The Orlando Magic, I think that’s a great program,” McLemore said. “I think I could fit perfectly in that system and that organization and help that team in different kinds of ways.”

On May 16, McLemore met with Magic GM Rob Hennigan, assistant GMs Scott Perry and Matt Lloyd and coach Jacque Vaughn during the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

That 30-minute session served as a get-to-know-you meeting.

McLemore said he “can’t wait” to visit Orlando, work out individually for the Magic and have additional conversations with Magic officials.

Reported by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel

Steve Nash battling ex-wife in court

steve nash

Steve Nash, the Suns former point guard, said Thursday morning on the witness stand in Maricopa County Superior Court that he expects to come back to the Valley after he ends his NBA career. Nash, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers and leases a home in Manhattan Beach, Calif., said he intends to keep his permanent residence in Paradise Valley, where he has made recent renovations.

His residency has become an issue in a two-day “relocation trial” regarding his ex-wife and three children, and whether he would be involved in their lives. Nash’s ex-wife, Alejandra Amarilla Menrath, wants Family Court Judge Thomas LeClaire to approve the relocation of their children from the Valley to Southern California.

Menrath has said she wants to move with the children to Southern California so the three kids can be closer to their father. She also has indicated the move may allow her to obtain child support from a California court…

Nash, under terms of a sealed divorce settlement, does not pay child support. He pays for the children’s private education and health-care insurance through his employer, according to testimony.

Reported by the Arizona Republic

David Lee

Golden State Warriors forward David Lee underwent successful surgery this morning to address a torn right hip flexor, the team announced. Following the procedure, which was performed by Dr. William Meyers at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia, Lee is expected to begin rehabilitation in the next 10-14 days.

Lee, 30, suffered the injury in Game 1 of the Warriors’ First Round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets on April 20, 2013.  After missing the next four games, Lee returned to action to play one minute, 27 seconds in Game 6, the final game of the First Round series, as Golden State defeated Denver 4-2.  In the Conference Semifinals against San Antonio, Lee did not play in either of the first two games, but appeared in each of the final four contests of the series, finishing the 2013 Playoffs with averages of 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 10.9 minutes over six games.

During the regular season, Lee appeared in 79 games, averaging 18.5 points (15th in NBA), 11.2 rebounds (T-4th), 3.5 assists and 36.8 minutes (15th) per contest, while shooting 51.9 percent (21st) from the field.  For his efforts, the 6’9” forward earned Third Team All-NBA honors, becoming the first Warriors player to earn such accolades since Latrell Sprewell was a First Team selection in 1993-94.

Offended by criticism that Dennis Rodman’s basketball diplomacy was a marketing gimmick for their season finale on North Korea, the creators of “Vice,” a new HBO newsmagazine with a penchant for daredevilish themes, said Wednesday that Mr. Rodman had improved the program but was not even their first choice.

At a preview screening of the finale, the creators said they would have preferred to have recruited another former N.B.A. star, Michael Jordan, whose autograph adorns a basketball presented to Kim Jong-il, the father of North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-un, by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright during her visit to North Korea in 2000 — when relations were comparatively warmer than they are now.

“Jordan wasn’t interested,” said Shane Smith, the founder and chief executive of the Vice Media Group, the HBO partner that conceived the North Korea trip and helped persuade the authorities there to permit it.

However, Mr. Smith said, Mr. Rodman’s ready acceptance of the idea turned out to be a blessing. “It fit right into our wheelhouse, because it’s absurd,” Mr. Smith said.

Reported by Rick Gladstone of the New York Times

Is Shane Battier a dirty player?

Indiana Pacers players say they have to protect themselves, especially their knees, when Miami Heat forward Shane Battier is in the game during the Eastern Conference finals.

Ahead of Thursday’s pivotal Game 5 with the series tied 2-2, Pacers big men David West and Roy Hibbert said part of the Pacers’ preparation for the Heat is to watch out for Battier attempting to take shots at their knees.

“I (learned) to always have my guard up and protect my knees,” West said. “(Battier) has got this funny way of moving into your knees. We’re very conscious of that. We talk about making sure we protect our knees.”

Earlier in the series, Hibbert accused Battier of a dirty play when Battier kneed him in the midsection on a drive to the basket. Hibbert said he is wary of Battier when he’s on the floor and again called Battier a “dirty player.”

Reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com

Miami’s LeBron James was among three players who were each fined $5,000 by the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Thursday for violating the league’s anti-flopping policy during the Eastern Conference finals.

James, the NBA’s reigning most valuable player, was fined along with David West and Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers for exaggerating contact during Tuesday’s Game Four of the best-of-seven series, which is tied at two games apiece.

With the intense series set to resume on Thursday in Miami, the league decided to crack down on the theatrics displayed in Game Four, where the players involved tried to trick referees into calling fouls off limited contact.

James and West were cited for flopping on the same play during Indiana’s 99-92 home victory.

Reported by Reuters

The Pacers’ 99-92 victory Tuesday was filled with such plays and marked by a combined 55 personal fouls. One of those fouls, committed by West against Dwyane Wade with 5:57 left in the fourth quarter of Game 4, was upgraded by the NBA to a flagrant-1.

Steve Kerr, working the game as an analyst for TNT, said flopping has ”been apparent throughout the series but I think it got worse” during Game 4. The league made the announcements of the flopping calls and flagrant upgrade a few hours before Game 5.

James was voted to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team, but Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau accused him of flopping after a play during the Heat’s second-round series victory over the Bulls. The play with West came not long after James said flopping was ”not even a bad thing, you’re just trying to get the advantage.”

Reported by the Associated Press

Indiana’s 99-92 victory over Miami in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals earned a 5.1 rating and was watched by 8.1 million viewers on TNT, making it the No. 1 ranked program on television in prime time.

The series is averaging 7.7 million viewers, up 7 percent from TNT’s first four games of the 2012 Western Conference finals between Oklahoma City and San Antonio.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Hall of Famer Karl Malone is returning to the Utah Jazz to help develop and mentor the team’s two young big men.

Jazz CEO Greg Miller said Wednesday that Malone will work with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, as well as other players. The team says no specific schedule has been set for Malone’s involvement. Miller said it will be a part-time, consulting type of arrangement with Malone working periodically with Favors and Kanter.

The move brings back one of the franchise’s greatest players at a time when the team is trying to build a contending team around Favors, Kanter and swingman Gordon Hayward. The Jazz missed the playoffs this past season.

”With his success as a power forward in the NBA and the length of his career, he’s obviously got a lot to teach,” Miller said of Malone. ”We’re fortunate that he’s now willing to make himself and his expertise available to us.”

– Reported by the Associated Press

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