Archive for July 13th, 2013

Chase Budinger excited about return to Timberwolves

On Saturday morning, on a conference call from San Diego, still sleepy from just having awakened, Chase Budinger talked about how excited he was to be coming back to the Minnesota Timberwolves this fall.

For a number of reasons.

He likes the additions Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders has made. The trades, the signings, the draft. He likes the fact that, from the start, the Timberwolves made it clear they wanted Budinger back. And, of course, he loves playing for Wolves coach Rick Adelman. Put that all together and Budinger – who signed a three-year, $16 million deal to come back to the team, said he chose opportunity over money to return.

“It really wasn’t that hard a decision for me,” Budinger said. “The only thing, though, is I did have an offer out there that was worth more money. I did give up money to come back to Minnesota. If anyone knows the type of guy I am, I’m a cheap kind of guy. So giving up money is always tough. But I knew, coming back to Minnesota was the best choice, the best opportunity for me. The best place to grow as a player, and for us to win. To make the playoffs. We’re a young team, and we can grow together.”

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Dwight Howard already helping Houston Rockets ticket sales

In the eight days since Dwight Howard announced his decision to sign with the Rockets, the Rockets have had their best stretch of ticket sales since moving into Toyota Center.

Rockets CEO Tad Brown would not share specific numbers, but said there has been a bump of 20 percent in the equivalent of full season ticket packages. The Rockets expect sales to continue now that they can begin marketing efforts centered around him. Billboards went up around town on Saturday. Prior to Saturday, sales staff could not even say his name when on the phone with customers.

“You never know until you get into those discussions, but it obviously moves the needle,” Brown said.

Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

Dwight Howard happy for fresh start with Rockets

Dwight Howard says he’s looking forward to a “fresh start” with the Rockets.

The center was formally introduced in Houston on Saturday after spurning the Lakers to sign with the Rockets, and he was greeted by some of the brightest stars in team history.

Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming were among those on hand to celebrate Howard’s signing.

“This is a great opportunity, a great feeling to be here, to have a fresh start,” Howard said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “… I made this decision for me. I want to be happy. If you can’t be happy when you’re playing, it’s not fun. I want to get back to being that guy who was playing and having fun but at the same time dominating.

“If we dedicate ourselves and sacrifice everything we’ve got for a championship, at the end of the season we should be holding up a trophy.”

Reported by ESPN.com News Services

On the importance of summer league

One NBA executive marveled to me about how much stock people put into summer league. It is, he said, just a chance to see the guys apply the things they’ve done separately at their workouts. At the same time, Celtics assistant coach (and head coach for the summer league team) Jay Larranaga often mentioned how some of these guys are showcasing themselves for other teams, even while wearing green.

That’s part of the deal teams make with some of these guys. Darius Johnson-Odom played three games for the Celtics, made his case for those seated at the Magic’s practice court, and then left to join the Nuggets summer league team in Las Vegas (the Celtics are not participating in the Las Vegas league). Many others are also double-dipping. That’s part of trying to make the show. It’s part of the struggle.

The payoff, if there is one, is gigantic. You can see the stress that puts on some guys. Sometimes you see it on the court. Sometimes you catch it when they step into the media dining area to get some food.

Reported by John Karalis of WEEI.com

Atlanta Hawks match Milwaukee Bucks offer sheet for Jeff Teague

The Atlanta Hawks have matched the offer sheet extended by the Milwaukee Bucks to Jeff Teague, President of Basketball Operations/GM Danny Ferry announced today.

According to multiple reports, the offer sheet was for four years and $32 million.

“We are happy to bring Jeff back to our team. He has improved each year of his career and continues to get better,” Ferry said. “At 25, he’s already been a key contributor on a playoff team and we look forward to seeing him develop into even more of a leader on our team.”

Teague increased his scoring and assist averages for the third consecutive year, posting career highs with 14.6 points and 7.2 assists in 32.9 minutes per game in 80 games (78 starts) during the 2012-13 season. His 7.2 assists per game ranked 12th in the NBA last season and he shot .881 from the free throw line, the eighth-highest percentage in the league. He is one of just 10 players in the NBA to increase their scoring average in each of the past three seasons.

The four-year veteran from Wake Forest posted 10 games with at least 20 points and 10 assists, tied for the fourth-most in the league last season with Stephen Curry (Golden State) and behind only LeBron James (Miami, 13), Tony Parker (San Antonio, 12), Chris Paul (LA Clippers, 11) and Deron Williams (Brooklyn, 11) . The Hawks posted an 8-2 record in those games.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to coach Jeff. He has a high level of talent. Keeping him with our group allows us to continue to build and improve going forward,” Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said.

The 19th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Hawks, Teague has career averages of 9.0 points on .451 shooting and 4.0 assists in 22.6 minutes per game in 287 games (154 starts). He has also played in 29 postseason games (18 starts) and has averages of 9.4 points on .409 shooting and 3.0 assists in 25.3 minutes per game.

San Antonio Spurs re-sign Tiago Splitter

San Antonio Spurs re-sign Tiago Splitter

The San Antonio Spurs today announced they have re-signed Tiago Splitter.

Last season, he posted career-bests, appearing in 81 games and averaging 10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 24.7 minutes, while shooting .560 (315-563) from the field and .730 (208-285) from the free throw line.

Splitter was selected by the Spurs with the 28th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and was signed by the team on July 12, 2010. In 200 career games with the Silver and Black, Splitter has averaged 8.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 19.3 minutes. He has appeared in 19 games in the playoffs, averaging 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 17.3 minutes.

“Tiago is a great fit in our system and we are delighted that he has elected to sign a long-term contract to remain with the Spurs,” said Spurs general manager R.C. Buford. “Thanks to his work ethic and basketball IQ we have seen him improve each season in San Antonio. He was a key reason for our success during the 2012-13 season and we look forward to his future contributions.”

Prior to joining the Spurs, the 6-11, 235-pound center played for Caja Laboral Vitoria in the ACB League from 2003-10. Splitter helped lead Caja Laboral to four Spanish League regular season titles (2003-04, 2004-05, 2006-07 and 2008-09) and two Spanish League championships (2007-08 and 2009-10). In seven Spanish League seasons with the team, Splitter averaged 11.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 233 games while shooting .616 (969-1,573) from the floor.

During the 2009-10 ACB season Splitter was named the Spanish League regular season MVP and the Spanish League Finals MVP. He earned All-Euroleague honors three straight seasons from 2007-10, including First Team in 2008 and Second Team in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Originally signed by Caja Laboral in April of 2000 at the age of 15, Splitter played on loan with Araba Gorago Alava in 2000-01, Basket Bilbao Berri in 2001-02 and 2002-03 before joining Caja Laboral for the 2003-04 season.

Born and raised in Brazil, Splitter has played for the Brazilian National Team since 2002. In international play, Splitter helped lead Brazil to gold medals at the 2003 South American Championship, the 2003 Pan American Games, the 2005 Americas Championship and the 2009 Americas Championship. Splitter also represented Brazil at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Milwaukee Bucks sign guard O.J. Mayo

Milwaukee Bucks sign guard O.J. Mayo

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed free-agent guard O.J. Mayo (6-4, 210), General Manager John Hammond announced today. According to the Associated Press, the Bucks agreed to terms on a three-year, $24 million contract with Mayo last week.

With Bucks guard Brandon Jennings exploring free agency and Monta Ellis agreeing to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, a guard like Mayo was a much-needed addition for Milwaukee.

Mayo, 25, spent the 2012-13 season with the Dallas Mavericks, where he averaged 15.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 35.5 minutes per game. He finished the season shooting 44.9 percent from the field and a career-best 40.7 percent from beyond the arc (26th in the NBA). Mayo scored in double figures on 63 occasions last season, including a career-high-tying 40 points in a win at Houston on Dec. 8.

Originally selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the third overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Mayo was dealt to Memphis on draft night and played his first four seasons with the Grizzlies before signing with Dallas as a free agent prior to the 2012-13 campaign. The USC product has appeared in 383 games in his five-year career, averaging 15.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals per contest. Mayo’s 383 games played are the fifth-most in the league since the start of the 2008-09 season, and he’s avoided missing a single game in four of his five seasons thus far.

Rockets trade Royce White to 76ers

Rockets trade Royce White to 76ers

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has traded forward Royce White, the draft rights to Turkish forward Furkan Aldemir (four-KAHN ahl-DEE-meer) and cash considerations to the Philadelphia 76ers for future draft considerations. 

White (6-8, 260, Iowa State) was selected by Houston with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. While not seeing action with the Rockets in 2012-13, White averaged 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 16 games (eight starts) with the D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

So far, the start of White’s NBA career has revolved more around his anxiety problem and his difficulty with flying in airplanes and other issues than his actual ability to play basketball. Due to his disorder, his future in the league remains unclear at this time.

Aldemir (6-10, 230, Turkey), who was originally selected by the L.A. Clippers in the second round (53rd overall) in the 2012 NBA Draft, had his draft rights acquired by Houston as part of a four-team trade on June 29, 2012.

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