Archive for May, 2013

lebron james

Joe Theismann has a credible supporter in his quest to turn LeBron James into an NFL quarterback (and possibly represent him): LeBron James himself.

James, arguably the best player in basketball, and currently working on his second NBA title with the Miami Heat , responded to a question during a post-game interview a day before Theismann’s suggestion that James would make a unique quarterback, once his basketball career is over.

“I think so,” James said after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers. “I have the ability. I can see and read plays. I study a lot, so I know defenses and things of that nature. So I would have been pretty good if I had decided to go for it.”

The former Redskins QB turned broadcaster agrees.

“There’s never been a quarterback like (James),” Theismann said in a recent interview with FOX Sports Florida. “Most quarterbacks, when they step on the field, look pretty much the same. But James doesn’t look the same as anybody, he’s such a physical presence. I don’t know if any humans look like him.”

Reported by Campbell Abbott of the New York Daily News

Igor Kokoskov is leaving the Phoenix Suns to join Mike Brown’s coaching staff with the Cavaliers, a league source confirmed Wednesday. The move was first reported by ESPN.com and the Arizona Republic.

Kokoskov has been an NBA assistant for 13 years, including the past five with the Suns. He survived three coaches during those five years and was instrumental in assisting inexperienced interim coach Lindsey Hunter this season. He is viewed as a bright offensive mind and became Hunter’s lead assistant after Alvin Gentry was fired at midseason, handling the offense while Hunter ran the defense.

Kokoskov, 41, was a rising basketball star in Serbia, but severe injuries sustained in an automobile accident when he was 19 prematurely ended his career.

Reported by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (Blog)

NBA approves sale of Kings to Ranadive group

The epic fight over the Sacramento Kings ended quietly Tuesday.

The NBA board of governors unanimously approved the franchise’s sale to the group led by Vivek Ranadive, essentially ending the Maloof family’s turbulent tenure as Kings owners. The league announced the vote in a simple, one-paragraph news release.

Experts said the peaceful conclusion to a battle that has lasted since January was a tribute to the NBA’s skillful navigation through the process – a result of lessons learned during previous, bloodier disputes over franchise control.

The NBA was able to snuff out the possibility of legal challenges, despite speculation that the Maloofs or their prospective business partners in Seattle were going to sue the league if they didn’t get their way.

“Thirty years ago, this wouldn’t have ended so calmly,” said Mike McCann, a sports law expert and contributor to NBA TV.

Reported by Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

The next phase of the Trail Blazers’ 2013 offseason begins on Thursday, when the team hosts its first predraft workout in preparation for the NBA Draft.

Blazers GM Neil Olshey does not release the name’s of predraft visitors until shortly before workouts open to the media, so it’s unclear who the visitors will be or how many prospects will be roaming the practice facility in Tualatin. But it’s an important day, nonetheless.

NBA front offices place significant value on predraft workouts. Sure, Olshey and his staff have evaluated many of these players extensively for nearly a year. In some cases, they’ve been monitoring the players since they were in high school. But bringing them to Portland allows the Blazers’ brass to put them through tailor-made workouts and to test their athleticism and basketball ability in a variety of ways.

Reported by Joe Freeman of the Oregonian

Metta World Peace releases children's book

Metta World Peace has released a children’s book entitled “Metta’s Bedtime Stories.”

Available via createspace.com, “Metta’s Bedtime Stories” was “written to help children think about daily events in a positive light.”

World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, has played the last four seasons with the Lakers — winning his first title in 2010 against the Boston Celtics.

Outside of basketball, World Peace is a spokesman for mental health, currently collaborating with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health with his “Talk It Out” campaign.

Reported by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Blog)

Wesley Matthews has elbow procedure

Wesley Matthews has elbow procedure

Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews has undergone an arthroscopic procedure on his left elbow.

Matthews’ recovery should take three to four weeks. The procedure, an arthroscopic debridement, was performed at a St. Louis hospital on Wednesday.

Reported by the Associated Press 

Lance Stephenson

With the Indiana Pacers looking for some scoring help for center Roy Hibbert and guard George Hill, Lance Stephenson answered the call Tuesday night. Aggression comes naturally to the third-year guard.

Stephenson scored 20 points to help the Pacers beat the Miami Heat 99-92 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to square the Eastern Conference finals at two games each. He also had several deflections, five rebounds, a pair of assists and a ­variety of difference-making plays that didn’t get into the box score.

And with Paul George in foul trouble, he took his defensive turns on Heat ace LeBron James.

“He asked to guard him,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s a com­petitor. We know Paul is getting worn out a little bit guarding LeBron the whole game that he’s in there.

“Lance said, ‘Let me share some of the load.’ He wants to rise to the challenge.”

Reported by Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star

76ers coaching search going slowly

76ers coaching search

It’s been three weeks since the 76ers hired Sam Hinkie as president of basketball operations and general manager, and things have been unusually quiet for a team that has yet to hire a coach with less than one month remaining before the NBA draft.

The Sixers are one of six teams looking for a coach, the other vacancies being in Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Detroit, and Los Angeles (the Clippers). Depending on what happens in Memphis, where former Sixers guard Lionel Hollins’ future is unknown despite his leading the Grizzlies to the Western Conference finals, that number could grow.

Coaches in whom the Sixers were believed to be interested have been hired in Cleveland (Mike Brown), Atlanta (Mike Budenholzer), and Phoenix (Jeff Hornacek). Sixers associate head coach Michael Curry, who has been endorsed by players Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, has emerged as a candidate in Milwaukee, where it was recently reported that he had an interview. Curry has yet to interview for the Sixers, who, according to sources, have yet to interview a candidate for the job.

Reported by John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer

San Antonio’s Danny Green, Miami’s Chris Andersen and Indiana’s Lance Stephenson, to name a few, have proved nightly during this spring’s postseason that there is a prominent place in the NBA someday, someway for former second-round picks and those who once went undrafted.

New Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders just believes that time hasn’t yet arrived for his team or any such players in next month’s draft.

Before he jets off to Miami this weekend to bond with Ricky Rubio or travels to Europe after that to woo forthcoming restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic, Saunders did his long-term due diligence Tuesday at Target Center surrounded by representatives from 25 other teams, including NBA coaches Mike Woodson and Randy Wittman, doing the same.

They watched a dozen unsung draft prospects — many of whom won’t hear their name called next month — drill in separate sessions that opened two days of group workouts the Wolves annually hold.

“I don’t know right now if a second-rounder is going to be in our rotation,” Saunders said. “If you’re getting guys at that level, you hope they will somehow be able to play for you in two or three years.”

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Lance Stephenson added 20 points, and the Indiana Pacers charged back late to beat the Miami Heat 99-92 on Tuesday night and tie the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2.

LeBron James led the Heat with 24 points before fouling out with 56 seconds to go. Mario Chalmers had 20 points on a night the defending NBA champs failed to take command of the series.

The Heat will host Game 5 on Thursday.

”We’re not going anywhere. We’re going back down to Miami to go out there and fight again,” Hibbert said.

The Pacers started fast and spent the rest of the night trying to fend off Miami’s continual comebacks.

But with Indiana leading 81-72 early in the fourth, Miami answered with a 14-2 run that gave the Heat an 86-83 lead.

Indiana tied the score on Paul George’s three-point play and erased the Miami lead by closing the game on a 16-6 run…

Bodies crashed to the ground all night. An angry George uncharacteristically smacked the floor after being called for a foul in the third quarter, leading to a technical foul on coach Frank Vogel. And the defense did a far better job against James and his high-scoring teammates. James finished 8 of 18 from the field…

Miami struggled to score early, Dwyane Wade was limping noticeably in the first half and forward Chris Bosh hurt his right knee in the first half and his right ankle in the second. The Big Three combined to go just 14 of 39 from the field.

Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

The Phoenix Suns needed a new coach, and the guy they’ve hired is a better shooter than the actual players on the team.

Despite this, Jeff Hornacek is of course expected to just stay on the sidelines.

It was reported last week that Hornacek would become the team’s new head coach, and the move became official earlier today.

Full info on the Suns hire of Hornacek is here.

Atlanta Hawks find their new head coach

The Atlanta Hawks are taking a piece of the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff, and putting him atop their organization.

The Hawks named Mike Budenholzer the team’s new head coach today, President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Danny Ferry announced. Budenholzer becomes the 12th full-time head coach in Hawks history.

Budenholzer, 43, spent the past 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, including the final 17 seasons as an assistant coach. For the last six seasons, he has served as the team’s no. 1 assistant to current San Antonio Head Coach Gregg Popovich, the longest-tenured head coach in major professional sports and third-winningest coach (by percentage - .681) in NBA history behind only Phil Jackson and Billy Cunningham.

More info about the new Hawks coach is here.

Future of Lionel Hollins in Memphis uncertain

After the Memphis Grizzlies’ season ended Monday in a sweep from the Western Conference finals by the San Antonio Spurs, the team’s biggest free agent this summer could be coach Lionel Hollins.

Hollins’ contract with the Grizzlies ends on June 30, and the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks are expected to ask for permission to speak to him about their coaching openings, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Hollins’ wish is to stay put in Memphis.

“I hope things get worked out quickly. I love our team and the possibilities,” Hollins texted Yahoo! Sports after the Grizzlies’ 93-86 Game 4 loss to the Spurs.

Hollins made $2.3 million this season in the last year of his contract, a source said. While the Grizzlies have interest in retaining Hollins, a contract extension has yet to be offered to him.

The Grizzlies have increased their winning percentage every season since Hollins was hired Jan. 25, 2009. He led the Grizzlies to their best record in franchise history (56-26) this season and first trip to the West finals, despite the midseason trade of Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies also have a new owner in Robert Pera.

Reported by Marc. J. Spears of Yahoo Sports

Michael Jordan felt he needed a head coach with a little more NBA experience this time around to improve his struggling Charlotte Bobcats.

The former NBA superstar and current owner believes he’s found one in Steve Clifford.

Clifford, a long-time NBA assistant, has been hired away from the Los Angeles Lakers by the Bobcats before the Milwaukee Bucks could make a play for him.

The decision comes after Jordan’s experiment with former St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap failed miserably this past season. Jordan fired Dunlap in April after one season with a 21-61 record.

Two people familiar with the situation said Monday that Clifford had agreed to a three-year contact. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not been made public.

Reported by the Associated Press 

Tim Duncan

It may seem as if the San Antonio Spurs are playing for an NBA title every year. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker know only too well how very long it’s been since their last chance.

Now they’re back in the Finals with their first chance at a championship since 2007, a really long time for a Spurs team that knows a thing or two - or three - about hoisting trophies.

”Honestly, it feels like it’s been forever since we’ve been to this point,” Duncan said Monday night after the Spurs advanced with a 93-86 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. ”We’ve been on the verge of kind of getting here. We still feel like we were in contention, but we can’t get over that hump. To get over that hump and get back in the Finals, it’s an amazing feeling, honestly.”

Parker scored 37 points to lead the Spurs, who finished off their second sweep this postseason for their fifth Western Conference title. The Spurs were just two wins away from a trip to the Finals a year ago before blowing that lead in six games to Oklahoma City.

Parker said he has learned just how tough it is to get there after winning his first NBA title at the age of 21.

”In 2007, we won our third one in five years and you think it’s going to keep coming,” Parker said. ”And I’m 25, and six years goes by and every year it gets tougher and tougher. Every team wants to beat you, and that’s why it makes it even more special to go back after all those years playing at a high level with the same coach, with the same big three but changing a couple pieces.”

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

San Antonio Spurs reach NBA Finals

Tony Parker

The San Antonio Spurs are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since they won their last championship back in 2007.

Tony Parker scored 37 points in his best game this postseason, and the San Antonio Spurs finished off a sweep Monday night of the Memphis Grizzlies with a 93-86 win on Monday night in the Western Conference final.

The Spurs now have won six straight in these playoffs, handing two straight losses to a team that had been undefeated on their own court in their best postseason in franchise history. Memphis finished off its best season ever swept by the very same franchise that needed four games to knock them out of their first playoff appearance back in 2004.

Parker had his best game this postseason as he hit 15 of 21 and all six at the free throw line earning the Spurs and Tim Duncan plenty of rest before Game 1 of the Finals on June 6.

”He’s been amazing,” Duncan said of Parker. ”Every year he gets better and better and better. He’s been carrying us. You can see tonight he carried us the entire game.”

Duncan hugged Manu Ginobili before heading off the court, celebrating the chance at a title that slipped away a year ago when the Spurs blew a 2-0 lead to Oklahoma City losing four straight. The 37-year-old Duncan finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Kawhi Leonard added 11…

The Spurs shot 51.3 percent (39 of 76) from the floor and outscored Memphis 52-32 in the paint, even though the Grizzlies had a 41-34 edge on the boards. Memphis led only briefly and the last at 6-4 as the Spurs took control early.

Memphis stayed close only by getting to the free throw line, making more shots there (17 of 24) than San Antonio took (12 of 13). The Grizzlies also got a career-high 22 points from reserve Quincy Pondexter, 18 of those in the second half. Pondexter was the only player from Memphis to shoot over .500. Zach Randolph finished with 13, continuing his struggles at the line where he was 5 of 8, and Marc Gasol had 14.

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

Lionel Hollins is no fan of flopping

Lionel Hollins is no fan of flopping

In response to the NBA’s $5,000 flopping fine on Grizzlies guard Tony Allen after Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins conceded the league’s anti-flopping rules were appropriate and could possibly be enforced more widely.

“Flopping isn’t a part of the game and it shouldn’t be a part of the game,” Hollins said. “That’s why we have rules in place. There are probably a few more that could be called on a lot of people still in it.”

The NBA instituted new rules to deter flopping prior to this postseason. A violator will be fined $5,000 after the first infraction, $10,000 after the second, $15,000 after the third and $30,000 after his fourth flopping offense. Any subsequent violations are subject to league discipline. Allen was the fourth player to be issued a fine for flopping during this year’s playoffs.

Derek Fisher of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jeff Pendergraph of the Indiana Pacers and J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks were each assessed a $5,000 fine.

Reported by Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com

The Phoenix Suns appear close to hiring Jeff Hornacek as their head coach.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Sunday that the Suns are in contract negotiations with Hornacek, although no deal has been finalized. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no public announcement had been made.

The comments came after azcentralsports, which includes the Arizona Republic, reported Sunday that Hornacek reached agreement on a three-year contract.

If all goes as anticipated, Hornacek would be introduced at a news conference Tuesday.

Reported by the Associated Press

Mark Cuban’s goal is to make the Dallas Mavericks a championship team again within a two-year window.

After Dallas missed the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, the owner vowed the Mavs would have a “quick rebuild.” The pending pitch to free agents this summer — including Chris Paul and Dwight Howard — is that the franchise can take a significant step forward next season and then have the salary-cap space available again in 2014 to make more major upgrades.

“We want to be a championship team. We’ve never said we have to be a championship team this year,” Cuban said Saturday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM during his first interview since the Mavs’ season ended. “We want to be a better team, a top-seed team. If we get the top free agent, that doesn’t leave us a whole lot of flexibility to add a lot of players, but we have a good nucleus around them. We know we’ll have a good team, but we won’t know if we have a great team.

“If you look at this like a two-year plan, then we think we’re on a track to have a great team by the end of next year.”

Reported by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas

Udonis haslem

Udonis Haslem was nonexistent offensively in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals. He knew he was going to get an opportunity to change that heading into Game 3.

Haslem delivered in Miami’s 114-96 win on Sunday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. scoring a season-high 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting.

“We’ve been watching film and saw some adjustments we could make,” Haslem said. “Credit my guys for finding me and I just shot it with confidence.”

Haslem made his first five shots and all four attempts in the first quarter as the Heat made quick work of the Pacers to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

“When our bench and role players are playing well, we’re very tough to beat,” Miami center Chris Bosh said. “It started out with [Haslem] and he got us off to a great start.”

Reported by Brian Peloza, special to the Miami Herald

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