Archive for July 15th, 2013

Rajon Rondo says he would never play for the Miami Heat

In a difficult off-season for the Boston Celtics that saw the team trade away veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and part ways with coach Doc Rivers, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Amid all the speculation surrounding Rajon Rondo’s future with the Celtics, the Celtics point guard wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.

“I will never play for the Miami Heat,” Rondo said at his basketball camp in Kentucky on whether he would ever take his talents to South Beach.

Reported by Campbell Abbott of the New York Daily News

The wait for Chicago Bulls star guard Derrick Rose to return dragged on and on last season. And then never actually happened. But unless something goes wrong, look for D-Rose to be an actual basketball player again in 2013-14.

Derrick Rose

As soon as Derrick Rose made the strategic, long-term decision to sit out all of last season after left knee surgery, the plan shifted to next season.

And that plan, for now, is for the Bulls to use training camp and exhibition games to ease Rose back. And then, barring an unforeseen setback, it’s all systems go for the yet-to-be-announced season opener.

“The benefit is the additional months that he has had to prepare for next season,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “But that also adds to the time in which he hasn’t played.

“There’s nothing you can do to simulate the intensity of an NBA game. Even the preseason isn’t quite what the regular season is. He needs to get his timing back. So it will be a step-by-step process (in the preseason). We won’t know until he gets out there. But he’s healthy.”

Reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune

Hopefully Rose is still as athletic and explosive as he was before. He may not be right away, but if all goes well he’ll look like himself as time goes on.

Wizards and John Wall begin extension talks

The Wizards have begun talking with John Wall’s agent, Dan Fegan, regarding an extension before the regular season, CSN Washington has learned.

Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, is eligible for up to a four-year, max contract with the Wizards in addition to the final year remaining on his deal that will pay him $7.45 million next season. If he’s named the franchise’s designated player, Wall can get five years.

If the Wizards cannot reach an agreement with him by Oct. 30, talks will have to be tabled until after the 2013-14 regular season.

Reported by J. Michael of CSN Washington

Dwight Howard says it was tough to play with Kobe Bryant

“Was it tough playing with Kobe?” Howard said in a recent interview with ESPN. “Yeah, it was very tough. But playing along with Kobe didn’t have any parts in my decision going to Houston. I just felt like going to Houston was a better situation for me in my career.”

Howard believes Rockets coach Kevin McHale will feature him in a larger offensive role in the post than Mike D’Antoni would. He believes James Harden will play with more efficiency and better health than Steve Nash would. Howard believes it will be easier leading a team lacking with championship tradition than playing on a team steeped with it but Bryant still controlling the agenda.

“Me and Kobe, we had our disagreements and we had our moments,” Howard said. “Everbody knows Kobe likes to score. There were times we would get at it about getting the ball. That happens as a team. But my focus cannot be on Kobe in what he did. I have to look at myself and say I allowed that situation to happen. I could get those balls and do whatever I want because I’m capable of doing it. I can’t blame anybody else for things I’ve done on the court. I would have to own up to it.”

Reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Blog)

Chris Copeland feels blessed to join Pacers

Chris Copeland waited longer than most for the big NBA money, overcoming personal tragedy and logging several years playing overseas to do it.

The newest member of the Indiana Pacers promises fans will hear him use one word over and over during the upcoming season because of that.

“Blessed,” he said. “You’re going to hear it all year. I look up every day and thank God that I’m here.”

The Pacers confirmed Copeland’s signing over the weekend after he agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract July 5. He traveled to Indianapolis on Monday and met the media at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“He’s a great addition to our team because he’s a guy that can come in off the bench and create his own shot or get into the paint,” Pacers President Larry Bird said in a statement. “He’s a good guy and a great competitor and we’re happy to have him join us.”

Reported by Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star

J.R. Smith out 3-4 months after knee surgery

The New York Knicks have announced Sixth Man Award winner J.R. Smith has had patellar tendon surgery and an arthroscopy for a tear in the lateral meniscus of his left knee.

The Knicks said Smith’s injuries, which were treated at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City by team orthopedist Dr. Answorth Allen, were chronic and gradually worsened. His recovery time is approximately three to four months, which could make him available between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15 — near the start of the 2013-14 season.

A league source told ESPNNewYork.com that the Knicks were aware Smith likely would need surgery for his left knee, which started bothering him during the playoffs.

Reported by Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York

Boston Celtics

It was the first thing Celtics general manager Danny Ainge told Kris Humphries on Monday when the two sat down to talk: “We’re not tanking.”

“It’s the first thing he told me, too,” said Keith Bogans, who came to Boston along with Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks and three first-round draft picks in the deal that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets. Boston also sent Jason Terry to Brooklyn and acquired Kris Joseph.

The deal followed the trade of coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers, and it continued the rebuilding process that has been seen - and, from many in Boston, welcomed - as an attempt to “tank” the season, racing to the bottom of the standings to land a top pick in next year’s talent-rich draft.

Not so, says Ainge.

Reported by the Associated Press

Al Jefferson

Big Al is headed to Charlotte after three seasons with the Jazz and, by looks of it, one man in particular swayed his decision.

Kemba Walker, the Bobcats’ starting point guard and go-to scorer, scouted Al Jefferson this offseason, according to the Charlotte Observer. Walker envisioned Jefferson capably filling Charlotte’s low-post needs, and with trust in their second-year point guard, the Bobcats encouraged Walker to reach out the Utah Jazz free agent.

With the go-ahead from his team, Walker met with Jefferson in New York to hopefully persuade the big man to consider Charlotte. Apparently it worked, that or the three-year, $41 million contract was too good to pass up.

Reported by Whitney O’Bannon of the Deseret News

The NBA summer league is the first real professional basketball for recent draftees, so it’s often a wide-eyed experience.

Former Michigan star Trey Burke averaged 8.8 points, four assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 turnovers and was 1-for-19 from three-point range and shot 24% from the field in his summer-league games with the Utah Jazz, who drafted him No. 9 overall.

In an espn.com chat today, Burke addressed his struggles.

“I felt like summer league was a great experience,” he said. “I needed it. It showed me that I have some work to do. My shot was flat due to my legs. I thought I did a good job with the team and picked up on some things, like on offense and what we’re doing defensively.”

Reported by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press

Boston Celtics waive forward Kris Joseph

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have waived forward Kris Joseph.

Joseph, a 6’7” forward, was originally drafted by the Celtics with the 51st overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He appeared in 10 games split between Boston and Brooklyn and totaled 11 points and nine rebounds over 54 minutes. Joseph also appeared in 27 games split between the Springfield Armor and the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League averaging 18.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals in 34.0 minutes per game and was named to the All-NBDL Second Team. He was acquired by the Celtics in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets on July 12.

Lakers sign forward Wesley Johnson

Lakers sign forward Wesley Johnson

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent forward Wesley Johnson, it was announced today.

Johnson has had a disappointing to start to his NBA career, but he’ll have another chance to prove himself now with the Lakers.

“Wesley is a young, athletic player who runs the floor well and is an excellent defender,” said Kupchak.  “He’s a developing player who we think could become a good NBA player for years to come.  He’s also a great kid and we’re happy to add him to our team.”

Originally selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Johnson has appeared in 194 career games (148 starts), averaging 7.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 23.1 minutes as a member of the Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns.

A three-year NBA veteran, Johnson averaged a career-high 9.0 points during his rookie season with Minnesota, ranking sixth among rookies in scoring and third in three-point accuracy (35.6 percent).  In two seasons with the Timberwolves, Johnson averaged 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 24.6 minutes.  Most recently, Johnson appeared in 50 games (21 starts) with the Phoenix Suns, averaging 8.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 19.1 minutes.

Johnson spent his first two collegiate seasons at Iowa State (2006-08) before transferring to Syracuse, where he helped the Orange to a 30-5 record in 2009-10 and was named a First Team All-American.  The 6-7 forward averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in his one season at Syracuse, being named Big East Player of the Year and a finalist for the Naismith, John Wooden and Oscar Robertson national player of the year awards.

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has signed second-round draft pick guard Isaiah Canaan (pronounced Cannon). In addition, the Rockets have come to terms with rookie free agents forward Robert Covington and guard B.J. Young.

In addition, the Rockets announced that the team has waived guard/forward James Anderson and center Tim Ohlbrecht.

Canaan (6-0, 188, Murray State) was selected by the Rockets with the 34th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He played in 132 career games over four seasons at Murray State, averaging 15.5 points, 2.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds. Overall, Canaan scored over 2,000 points in his collegiate career (2,050) while shooting 304-of-725 (.419) from beyond the arc. He was named Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year as a junior and OVC Co-Player of the Year as a senior. The Biloxi, Mississippi native also earned Honorable Mention All-America honors from the Associated Press as a senior after ranking first on team in scoring (21.8 ppg), assists (4.3 apg) and steals (1.5 spg). Canaan, who scored in double figures in all 31 games in 2012-13, netted a season-high 35 points against Morehead. He added 22 points, a career-high 10 assists and nine rebounds against Belmont State. As a junior, Canaan also ranked first on team in scoring (19.0 ppg) and assists (3.6 apg).

Covington (6-9, 215, Tennessee State) was a member of the Rockets 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League, where he averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.40 steals in five games (two starts). Undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, Covington averaged 14.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks in 118 career games over four seasons at Tennessee State. He finished his career seventh all-time in school history with 1,750 points and seventh in rebounds with 876. Covington was named Second Team All-OVC as a senior and sophomore, while earning First Team All-OVC honors as a junior. He was also named to the Ohio Valley Conference All Newcomer Team as a freshman. As a senior in 2012-13, he ranked first on team in scoring (17.0 ppg), steals (2.2 spg) and blocks (1.7 bpg), while ranking second in rebounds (8.0 rpg). Covington was also first on the team in scoring (17.9 ppg), rebounds (7.9 rpg), steals (1.6 spg) and blocks (1.4 bpg) as a junior in 2011-12.

Young (6-3, 180, Arkansas), who also played with the Rockets at the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League, averaged 11.8 points on 16-of-31 (.516) shooting from the field over four games with Houston. Young was an early entry candidate for the 2013 NBA Draft, but did not hear his name called on draft night. He played in 63 career games over his two-year career at Arkansas, posting a career average of 15.2 points. Young earned Second-Team All-SEC honors as a sophomore and freshman. He was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. He ranked first on the team in scoring (15.2 ppg), assists (3.4 apg) and minutes played (27.9 mpg), while finishing third in rebounding (3.5 rpg) as a sophomore in 2012-13. As a freshman in 2011-12, he ranked second on team in scoring (15.2 ppg) and third in assists (2.3 apg). Young was the leading scorer among freshmen in the SEC and was given the team Offensive Player of the Year award by the Razorback coaches in 2011-12.

Kings to meet with Greg Oden tonight

Kings to meet with Greg Oden tonight

The Kings will meet with center Greg Oden tonight, The Bee has confirmed.

Oden was the first overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, but has played in just 82 games in his career to due various injuries.

Oden did not play in the NBA last season.

The Kings would already have 14 players under contract for the 2013-14 season after signing Carl Landry this morning and adding rookies Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum.

Reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee (Blog)

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has signed free agent forward Luigi Datome to a multi-year contract.

Datome, 25, has played professionally in Italy since 2003 with Montepaschi Siena, Givova Scafati Basket, Basket Olbia and Acea Virtus Roma.  The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward was named Italian League Most Valuable Player with Roma in 2013, posting averages of 16.7 points (.478 FG%, .415 3FG%, .928 FT%), 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 33.1 minutes in 45 games.  He’s played with Roma for the past five seasons (2008-2013).

The 25-year-old Italy native has been a member of the Italian National Team since 2007.  His basketball achievements internationally include being a member of Italy’s U16 National Team (2003), U18 National Team (2003-05) and the U20 National Team (2004-07).  He was a member of the Italian U20 National Championship team in 2004.  In the qualifier for the European Championships in 2012-13, Datome averaged 11.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 51.5% from the field and 48.4% from 3-point range in eight games.  He was named Eurobasket.com All-Italian SerieA Player of the Year, All-Italian SerieA Domestic Player of the Year and All-Italian SerieA First Team last season.

Detroit Pistons re-sign guard Will Bynum

Detroit Pistons re-sign guard Will Bynum

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has re-signed guard Will Bynum to a multi-year contract.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Will Bynum,” said Dumars.  “Will provides depth at the point guard position while possessing the unique ability to change a game with his aggressiveness both offensively and defensively.”

Bynum appeared in a career-high 65 games (no starts) last season averaging 9.8 points (career-high .469 FG, .316 3FG, .809 FT), 1.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 0.7 steals in 18.8 minutes per game.  He scored a season-high 31 points (career-high 13 FG and 26 FGA) at Atlanta (12/26), made a single-season career-high 24 3-pointers and scored his 2,000th career point vs. New York (1/17).

In 297 career NBA games, Bynum has averages of 8.1 points on .446 (923-2,068 FG) shooting with 1.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 18.5 minutes per game.  He set a Pistons franchise record for points in a quarter with 26 fourth quarter points vs. Charlotte (4/5/09) during the 2008-09 season.  The 6-0, 185-pound guard also dished out career-high 20 assists vs. Washington (3/12) during the 2011-12 season – the most by a Piston since Isiah Thomas recorded 21 on April 12, 1985.

The Chicago, IL native was undrafted out of Georgia Tech and originally signed with the Pistons as a free agent on July 30, 2008.  Bynum signed a second multi-year contract to remain with the club on July 30, 2010.

It was mean to happen. At some point, Ron Artest, currently known as Metta World Peace, was supposed to play for his home-town New York Knicks.

Better late than never.

ron artest

Metta World Peace has reached agreement on a two-year, $3.2 million contract with the New York Knicks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The second year of the deal is a player option, a source told Y! Sports.

World Peace and his agents met with Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald and coach Mike Woodson on Monday in Las Vegas and agreed to the deal in the meeting, league sources said.

Publicly, World Peace is still insisting he’s considering other options, including China, but league sources told Y! Sports he’ll be joining the Knicks next season.

Reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports 

World Peace, or Artest, or whomever, should definitely help the Knicks, adding depth, defense, toughness, and the ability to give fun, wacky post-game interviews.

Memphis Grizzlies re-sign Jon Leuer

Memphis Grizzlies re-sign Jon Leuer

The Memphis Grizzlies re-signed forward Jon Leuer to a multi-year contract, the team announced today. Leuer is considered bench support, and isn’t expected to receive many minutes.

Leuer (6-10, 230) averaged 2.0 and 1.3 rebounds on .481 shooting in 6.7 minutes in 28 games for the Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers last season.  He totaled two points and three rebounds in 11 minutes over five appearances during the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

Memphis acquired the 24-year-old from Cleveland in a midseason trade on Jan. 22, 2013.

The Long Lake, Minn. native holds career averages of 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds on .504 shooting in 10.1 minutes in 73 games (12 starts) over two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Cavaliers and Grizzlies.  Following a four-year career at the University of Wisconsin, Leuer was drafted by Milwaukee in the second round (40th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft before being traded to Houston on June 27, 2012 and later claimed by Cleveland off waivers.

Memphis Grizzlies re-sign Tony Allen

Memphis Grizzlies re-sign Tony Allen

The Memphis Grizzlies re-signed guard Tony Allen to a multi-year contract, the team announced today.

“Tony’s energy, effort and passion have connected with the City of Memphis, both on and off the court,” Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien said.  “We are absolutely thrilled to bring back Tony and his intensity to the Grizzlies.”

Allen (6-4, 225) posted 10.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.00 steals on .432 shooting in 28.1 minutes in 15 games during the 2013 NBA Playoffs, helping Memphis advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.  The 31-year-old averaged 8.9 points, a career-high 4.6 rebounds and 1.51 steals on .445 shooting in 26.7 minutes in 79 games (all starts) during the 2012-13 regular season, in which the Grizzlies won a franchise-record 56 contests.

Nicknamed “The Grindfather,” Allen has earned numerous defensive honors while helping transform the Grizzlies into one of the most tenacious defensive teams in the NBA.  Allen has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team in all of his three seasons in Memphis, including First Team selections in each of the past two seasons.  He headlined the 2012-13 NBA All-Defensive First Team by receiving more points from the voting panel than any other player.

Additionally, the Chicago native has finished in the top 6 in the voting for NBA Defensive Player of the Year in all three seasons in Memphis, placing fourth in the balloting in 2010-11, sixth in 2011-12 and fifth in 2012-13.

Memphis has qualified for the NBA Playoffs in all three seasons after signing Allen as a free agent on July 13, 2010, making trips to the 2013 Western Conference Finals and 2011 Western Conference Semifinals and earning the first three playoff series victories in team history.  The Grizzlies led the NBA in forced turnovers and steals in Allen’s first two seasons in Memphis (2010-11 and 2011-12) after finishing 17th and 24th in the league in those categories, respectively, the season before his arrival.

The nine-year NBA veteran owns career averages of 8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.29 steals on .475 shooting in 20.8 minutes in 545 games (249 starts) with the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics.  Allen has helped guide his teams to the postseason in seven of his nine seasons and captured the 2008 NBA Championship as a member of the Celtics.  He was drafted by Boston in the first round (25th overall) of the 2004 NBA Draft after leading the Oklahoma State University to the 2004 NCAA Final Four.

Atlanta Hawks sign Elton Brand

Atlanta Hawks sign Elton Brand

The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward/center Elton Brand, President of Basketball Operations/GM Danny Ferry announced today. According to USA Today, it is a one-year deal for $4 million.

“Elton brings a veteran presence both on and off the court and is a welcomed addition to our locker room,” Ferry said.  “His ability to play center or power forward will give our frontcourt a great deal of versatility and we think he will be an outstanding fit to our program.”

Brand, 34, tallied 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 assists in 21.2 minutes per game (.473 FG%, .710 FT%) in 72 games (18 starting assignments) last season with the Dallas Mavericks.

The 6-foot-9, 254-pound big man has played in 932 career games (848 starts) over his 14-year career with Chicago, L.A. Clippers, Philadelphia and Dallas, putting up 17.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 blocks in 35.2 minutes (.500 FG%, .738 FT%).  He ranks second among active NBA players in offensive rebounds (3,170), fifth in blocks (1,707), seventh in total rebounds (8,516), 14th in field goals made (6,347) and 17th in points (16,242).

A two-time NBA All-Star (2002 and 2006), Brand owns 404 career double-doubles and was named to the All-NBA Second Team in 2005-06.  Additionally, he won the NBA Sportsmanship Award in 2006 and is a two-time divisional winner (2004 and 2007).

Brand has also seen action in 30 career playoff games, averaging 16.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.9 blocks in 35.3 minutes (.528 FG%, .719 FT%).

The No. 1 overall pick by Chicago in the 1999 NBA Draft as an early entry candidate following a decorated two-year career at Duke, Brand shared the Rookie of the Year Award with Steve Francis while being named to the league’s All-Rookie First Team.  He declared for the draft after being the consensus National Player of the Year and leading the Blue Devils to the NCAA Championship Game.

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