Archive for June 17th, 2013

The Denver Nuggets have named Tim Connelly as executive vice president of basketball operations, team president Josh Kroenke announced today.

Connelly, 36, joins the Nuggets front office after three seasons as assistant general manager of the New Orleans Pelicans, where he worked closely with general manager Dell Demps. Connelly’s duties included scouting, draft preparation, trade negotiations and player contracts.

“We are extremely excited to have Tim join the Denver Nuggets organization,” Kroenke said. “He comes from a great basketball background, possesses an incredibly strong work ethic and is a wonderful person. His passion and energy for the game of basketball are contagious and I am confident that he will be a great fit with us in Denver.”

Prior to his time in New Orleans, Connelly spent 10 years with the Washington Wizards organization, rising to director of player personnel. His role included overseeing scouting, salary cap and database management, player evaluation and assisting the vice president of player personnel with all front office duties.

A native of Baltimore, Connelly began working with the Wizards as an intern in the basketball operations department in 1996 and joined the team full-time as the assistant video coordinator in 1999. He became a full-time scout in 2000 and spent four years in that role before becoming the director of player personnel.

General Manager John Hammond announced today that Bob Bender and Nick Van Exel will join Larry Drew’s staff as assistant coaches for the Milwaukee Bucks. Bender joins the Bucks after nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, including the last three with Drew as head coach. Van Exel also worked with Drew as a member of the Hawks staff from 2010-12 as the player development instructor.

“Bob and Nick were both important pieces of my staff in Atlanta, and I’m excited that they are joining me on the bench in Milwaukee,” said Drew. “Bob’s merits as a coach have been proven through his past experience, and Nick’s successful career in the NBA gives him a strong platform to mentor and coach our players. They will be dedicated to the task of teaching and building up our young men in order for the Bucks to put a hard-working, committed team on the court.”

Prior to his time on Atlanta’s staff, Bender was with the Philadelphia 76ers from 2002-04, first as their assistant coach/player development and then as an assistant coach on the bench. His coaching career began as an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, and he continued in the college ranks for 13 years.

Bender was first named a head coach at Illinois State in 1990, where he earned two Missouri Valley Conference Championships, one conference tournament title and an NCAA Tournament berth. He then spent nine years at the University of Washington (1994-2001), where he directed the Huskies to four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament from 1996 to 1999. Bender was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1996.

A Duke graduate and Quantico, Va., native, Bender is the only individual to play on two different teams in two different NCAA Championship games – one as a freshman on Bob Knight’s undefeated 1976 Indiana team and the other as a guard at Duke in the 1978 title game against Kentucky. He was drafted by the San Diego Clippers in the sixth round before his senior year, but did not play.

Kenosha, Wis., native Van Exel enjoyed a 13-year career as a player in the NBA, including 76 playoff games and one All-Star appearance (1998) from 1993-2006. He put up career averages of 14.4 points, 6.6 assists per game and 2.9 rebounds per game. Van Exel was selected by the L.A. Lakers in the second round of the 1993 NBA Draft (37th overall) and was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie team in 1994.

Prior to his two seasons as the Hawks’ player development instructor, Van Exel worked as an assistant coach at Texas Southern University during the 2009-10 season.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

San Antonio leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can close it out Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Only seven teams have rallied to win the final two games, with the Los Angeles Lakers being the last to do it in 2010.

“We anticipated that [Ginobili] would probably start, or at least play a significant amount,” [Heat coach Erik] Spoelstra said. “Obviously he was very good. Not only Ginobili, but basically everybody on the team was taking turns off the dribble, getting by us and breaking ¿ down our defense.”

The Heat face their second elimination game of the postseason. They defeated the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, but that was against a team stocked with inexperience.

“We can’t worry about Game 7,” forward LeBron James said. “We have to worry about Game 6 … being confident about getting a win, which we are. It is what it is and we’ve got a Game 6 on our floor.”

The veteran Spurs are attempting to win the fifth championship in franchise history, putting the pressure on the Heat to make the next adjustment in the series. At some point, that will have to include stopping Green and guard Tony Parker.

Reported by Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers may eventually end up with the Los Angeles Clippers in a proposed deal that will include players trading sides as well as draft picks. Talks between the Celtics and Clippers have stalled but will likely be resuscitated between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of the draft.

If Rivers were to switch coasts and conferences, Erik Spoelstra will then jump ahead of Rivers and hold the title of being the NBA’s second-longest-tenured head coach. It doesn’t seem right, of course, and not because Spoelstra is only 42. The number that’s stunning is that Spoelstra has only held the job for five years since replacing his boss, Pat Riley, and yet only Rivers (nine years) and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (17) have more tenure.

“I think it’s a terrible state for the profession right now,” Spoelstra said. “And look, all you have to do is look at the San Antonio organization and the Miami Heat organization. For true success in the NBA, you must have consistency of culture. When you see that type of turnover over and over and over, it’s impossible to create any kind of sustainable consistent culture.

“And we don’t see it as a coincidence. We’ve had the same leadership in our organization now for 18 years. Micky Arison took over, put Pat in charge. Even though we have had four different coaches, myself, Pat, Ronny (Rothstein) and Stan (Van Gundy), it still has been the same culture and relatively the same philosophy. San Antonio has been the same way for 15 years with Pop in charge.”

Reported by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News

Danny Green

Danny Green once wasn’t good enough to be on the same team as LeBron James.

Now he’s an NBA Finals record-holder, and a big reason why the MVP’s chances of a second consecutive championship are in serious trouble.

Setting a Finals mark with 25 3-pointers, Green finished with 24 points and went 6 of 10 from long range in Game 5 against the Miami Heat, helping lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 114-104 victory Sunday night.

Deemed too raw and unpolished to remain on the roster with James and Cleveland three years ago, Green is the most prolific 3-point shooter on the NBA’s biggest stage.

Reported by Paul J. Weber of the Associated Press

Manu Ginobili ran onto the floor as fans stood and screamed.

He went to the bench, and they chanted his name.

The sights and sounds of so many San Antonio spring nights were back Sunday - and the real party might be just a few days away.

Ginobili broke out of a slump in a big way with 24 points and 10 assists in his first start of the season, and the Spurs beat the Miami Heat 114-104 to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.

Tony Parker scored 26 points, Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Ginobili had his highest-scoring game of the season as the Spurs became the first team to shoot 60 percent in a finals game in four years…

Danny Green smashed the NBA Finals record for 3-pointers, hitting six more and scoring 24 points. Kawhi Leonard finished with 16, but the stage was set when Ginobili trotted out with Duncan, Parker and the rest of starters in what could have been the last finals home game for a trio that’s meant so much to San Antonio…

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each scored 25 points for the Heat, who host Game 6 on Tuesday night. They need a victory to force the first Game 7 in the finals since the Lakers beat the Celtics in 2010…

San Antonio shot 42 of 70, right at 60 percent. The last team to make 60 percent of its shots in the finals was Orlando, which hit 62.5 in Game 3 against the Lakers in 2009, according to STATS…

Ray Allen scored 21 points on the night for the Heat as he watched Green shatter his finals 3-point record. Green has 25 3s in the series. Allen made 22 3-pointers in six games in 2008 finals for Boston.

Chris Bosh scored 16 for Miami, Wade had 10 assists, and James had eight assists and six rebounds, but it was their defense that let the Heat down in this one.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich’s move to replace center Tiago Splitter with Ginobili paid off quickly. Ginobili had seven points and three assists in the first five minutes of the game and never cooled off. 

The Spurs weren’t pleased with the criticism Ginobili had been receiving.

“We’re not a team or organization that points fingers in that respect, so we’re confident in him,” San Antonio forward Tim Duncan said. “We know he has it in him. We’re hoping he can bring it for one more win.”

Reported by the Sports Xchange 

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