Archive for May 29th, 2013

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

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

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