Archive for July 22nd, 2013

Clippers sign center Byron Mullens

Clippers sign center Byron Mullens

The Los Angeles Clippers announced today that they have signed free agent center Byron Mullens.

Mullens, 24, joins the Clippers after spending the last two seasons in Charlotte, where he averaged a career-high 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in 53 games (41 starts) in 2012-13. The Ohio native has appeared in 144 total games in four NBA seasons with Charlotte (2011-2013) and Oklahoma City (2009-2011) and brings career averages of 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 21.1 minutes per game to Los Angeles.

Originally drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the 24th pick in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft, Mullens was acquired by the Thunder on draft night and played in 26 total games for Oklahoma City before being traded to Charlotte on Dec. 19, 2011 in exchange for a 2013 draft pick.

The 7-foot Mullens played one season at Ohio State University, earning a spot on the 2008-09 Big 10 All-Freshman Team as well as winning the 2008-09 Big Ten 6th Man Of The Year Award for averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 20.3 minutes per game.

A star at Canal Winchester High School in Ohio, Mullens was a member of the 2008 McDonald’s All-American Team.

Last season, Mullens set career-highs in 3-pointers made (66), attempted (208) and percentage (.317) despite missing a stretch of 19 games from December 22 – February 4 with a left ankle injury. He also established new career-highs in total rebounds (337) and assists (81) with the Bobcats in 2012-13.

Toronto Raptors sign guard D.J. Augustin

Toronto Raptors sign guard D.J. Augustin

The Toronto Raptors announced Monday they have signed free-agent point guard D.J. Augustin (aug-us-TEEN).

“Adding a young, experienced point guard to our roster was one of our objectives going into this off-season,” said Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri. “D.J. will provide experience and give us depth in the backcourt.”

Augustin, 6-foot, 183 pounds, has appeared in 358 regular-season games (with 147 starts) posting averages of 9.6 points, 4.0 assists and 24.5 minutes. He is shooting .872 at the free throw line, which ranks 13th in the NBA over the last five seasons.

Augustin arrives in Toronto following one season at Indiana where he averaged 4.7 points, 2.2 assists and 16.1 minutes in 76 regular-season games. He also appeared in 19 playoff games for the Pacers, reaching double-digits in points four times, including a 16-point performance May 5 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals versus New York.

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Augustin was drafted ninth overall by Charlotte in the 2008 NBA Draft. He scored a career-high 31 points January 20, 2011 versus Philadelphia and finished the 2010-11 season averaging a career-best 14.4 points. Augustin was named to the All-Rookie Second Team during the 2008-09 season after averaging 11.8 points and 3.5 assists.

Augustin earned consensus first-team All-American honours and first-team All-Big 12 honours during his two-year collegiate career at the University of Texas. He was the recipient of the 2008 Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard and was a finalist for the Naismith and Wooden Awards.

Utah Jazz sign guard John Lucas III

Utah Jazz sign guard John Lucas III

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has agreed to terms with free-agent guard John Lucas III. Lucas joins Utah after spending the 2012-13 season with the Toronto Raptors.

A 5-11, 165-pound guard out of Oklahoma State, Lucas owns career NBA averages of 5.1 points, 1.5 assists and 1.0 rebounds in 11.8 minutes over five seasons with Houston, Chicago and Toronto. The veteran guard averaged 5.3 points and 1.7 assists in 13.1 minutes in a career-high 63 games last season with the Raptors. The season prior, Lucas averaged career-bests of 7.5 points, 2.2 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 14.6 minutes in 49 games (two starts) with Chicago. Lucas, who played his first two NBA seasons in Houston (2005-07), has also played professionally in the NBA Development League, Spain, China and Italy.

The 30-year-old Bellaire, Texas, native finished his collegiate career at Oklahoma State after spending his first two years at Baylor.

An All-Big 12 First Team selection and All-American as a junior and senior for the Cowboys (2003-05), he left the school with career averages of 16.3 points and 4.3 assists in 68 games at Oklahoma State. The Big 12 co-Player of the Year as a junior in 2004, Lucas was named Most Outstanding Player of the East Rutherford Regional of the NCAA Tournament after sinking one of the most stories shots in Oklahoma State history, drilling a three-pointer with 6.9 seconds remaining in the Regional Final against Saint Joseph’s, which advanced the Cowboys to the 2004 Final Four. Lucas is the son of John Lucas, Jr., the former NBA coach and longtime player who was the first overall pick of the 1976 NBA Draft.

George Hill pulls out of Team USA camp for his own basketball camp

Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill has pulled out of this week’s Team USA camp in Las Vegas so he could attend the youth camps he hosts.

Hill tweeted: “What up Twittas! Everything is fine just couldn’t give up on the kids and cancel my kids camp to make it to USA Trials! Wouldn’t felt right!”

Hill is holding his G3 Camps in Texas today, Wednesday and Friday; the USA Basketball minicamp begins today and runs through Thursday in preparation for the 2014 World Cup in Madrid. The Americans have already qualified for the tournament and the camp is an opportunity to get acquainted with coach Mike Krzyzewski and the staff.

Reported by the Indianapolis Star

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have traded the draft rights to guard Nick Calathes to Memphis in exchange for a 2016 second round draft pick.

Calathes (6-6, 213) posted 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists on .547 shooting in 14 games for Lokomotiv Kuban of the Russian Professional Basketball League (PBL) and averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists on .555 shooting in 30 games in the VTB United League. Calathes was named the 2012-13 EuroCup MVP after recording 12.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.7 assists on .521 shooting in 17 games during the EuroCup competition.

The 24-year-old played his first three professional seasons in Greece for Panathinaikos Athens, helping guide the club to back-to-back Greek League Championships in 2010 and 2011 as well as a Greek League Finals appearance in 2012.

Drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round (45th overall) of the 2009 NBA Draft, Calathes’ draft rights were traded to Dallas on draft night for a 2010 second round draft pick.

A two-time Florida Mr. Basketball, the Winter Park, Fla. native played two seasons at the University of Florida, where he was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Year in 2008 and selected First Team All-SEC as a sophomore in 2009.

Memphis originally traded a protected 2016 second round draft pick to the Denver Nuggets for Steven Hunter and a 2010 first round draft pick on Aug. 7, 2009. Denver later sent the pick to Dallas as part of a trade for Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez on Dec. 13, 2011.

DeMarcus Cousins enters pivotal week

DeMarcus Cousins enters pivotal week

This is when it starts, this new day for DeMarcus Cousins.

His return visit with the U.S. national team – the chance to enhance his prospects as a future Olympian – is also his latest and perhaps best opportunity to obliterate the past and sketch a more favorable, embraceable image.

The suspensions. The locker room feuds. The verbal tangle with a television analyst. The communication dust-up a year ago with the USA Basketball czar.

With issue-free participation in this week’s minicamp, Cousins redirects his career. He wins over his critics, empowers his advocates and delivers a strong message to his new bosses and his curious fans back in Sacramento.

But he has decisions to make and thoughts to be shared. He has undertaken a strange vow of silence – his feelings about the dramatic developments in Sacramento are unclear – while his new agent (Dan Fegan) privately seeks a five-year maximum contract before the Oct. 31 deadline.

Reported by Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee

memphis grizzlies

A Grizzlies assistant coach for the past six seasons, he was promoted on draft day after his team couldn’t agree with head coach Lionel Hollins on a new contract. Hollins entrusted him with the defense the past two seasons, and the Grizzlies have become one of the league’s best defensive teams while winning a franchise-record 56 games last season under Hollins.

“Lionel is comfortable in his own skin,” Joerger said. “He does a great job being who he is, and that’s something I need to be also. These guys know me as an assistant coach and now I’m going to be a head coach in demeanor and everything, but I still have to be who I am. If I try to be something different, it’s not going to work.”

He is a hard-working career coach who washed jerseys and booked halftime acts when he was assistant coach/general manager in Bismarck and credits part of his success to coaches such as Karl and Saunders, both of whom welcome him to their training camps a decade or more ago.

Joerger spent several days watching Saunders during the Wolves’ 2003 training camp when Saunders taught his intricate offense to newcomers Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell on a team that reached the Western Conference finals that season.

“I love the way Flip coaches offense,” Joerger said.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski arrived in Las Vegas with a group of 28 players ready to participate in a four-day camp that will mark the beginning of preparations for next summer’s World Cup in Madrid.

LeBron James isn’t on the list. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant aren’t here, either. Not one player with significant Olympic experience.

And that is exactly how they planned it.

This camp, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, is geared toward bringing some fresh faces into the mix. As Colangelo, the managing director of USA Basketball, likes to put it, it’s all about keeping the pipeline filled.

“There should be turnover each competition because then the young players can see that happening,” Colangelo said Sunday night. “They can say, ‘If I progress as a player and if I’m part of this program and culture, I’ll have a chance to compete.’”

Players like Indiana’s Paul George, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Portland’s Damian Lillard and Washington’s John Wall will be among those taking part in the camp. New Orleans forward Anthony Davis, who played sparingly for Team USA last summer, is the only player with any Olympic experience on the roster.

Reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press

As far back as Gal Mekel can remember, he was always a basketball junkie.

“Basketball was my first love,” said Mekel, who was born and raised in Israel. “I started [playing] when I was 5 on the court right next to my house, and I started with a serious team when I was 6 of 7.

“When you grow up you have posters of Michael Jordan and everybody on your wall. It’s a dream of everybody.”

And it’s a dream for Mekel, a 25-year-old free-agent point guard who signed a three-year, $2.3 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month.

When the regular season starts, Mekel will join Houston’s Omri Casspi as the only players from Israel to play in the NBA.

Reported by Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Reunions are all the rage across the league these days, with some more surprising than others. Flip Saunders has taken over as president of basketball operations in Minnesota eight years after the Timberwolves fired him as head coach. Larry Bird has returned to Indiana’s front office after a year away, and Kurt Rambis has been talking to the Los Angeles Lakers about returning to the bench as an assistant coach under Mike D’Antoni.

Chauncey Billups signed with the Detroit Pistons, the team that he led to a title in 2004 and then traded him four years later. And Metta World Peace is joining the New York Knicks 14 years after they passed on the local St. John’s star in the 1999 NBA draft.

“He’s really excited to be joining his hometown team,” said his agent Marc Cornstein. “That’s obviously been something that’s been a dream of his since growing up in Queensbridge.”

In many of those cases, the key to the reunion lies in how both sides handled the initial exits. Firings and trades in the NBA often can be about more than simply business. Feelings are hurt. Egos are bruised. Bridges aren’t just burned, they’re vaporized.

Reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press

Stephen Curry finishes fourth in celebrity golf tournament

Warriors guard Stephen Curry hung in as the third-round leader for most of Sunday, but he faded down the stretch and watched Billy Joe Tolliver top Mark Rypien in a playoff for his fourth title at the American Century Championship at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

Tolliver made par on the third playoff hole, the par-5, 501-yard 18th hole to claim the title after  Rypien deposited a short pitch into a pond alongside the green.  Tolliver and Rypien, former NFL quarterbacks, tied at 67 points, and Curry ended up with 64 — good enough for a fourth-place finish.

“I think I showed I’ve got what it takes to win here,” said Curry, the 36-hole leader. “Obviously, it takes a lot to win. A lot has to go right. The more I play, the more comfortable I get. It’s a great environment to play golf.”

Reported by Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle (Blog)

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