Archive for May 31st, 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.

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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

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