Archive for July 30th, 2013

Lakers

For a brief moment, Magic Johnson didn’t appear in the mood to laugh or smile. That’s because the famed Laker couldn’t help but acknowledge the unsettling reality surrounding the purple and gold, including their championship aspirations and the rehab surrounding Kobe Bryant’s torn left Achilles tendon.

“It’s going to be a tough season especially with Kobe being out,” Johnson said in an interview with this newspaper before a recent brunch at the Skirball Cultural Center for his self-named foundation. “Kobe has to get back healthy. That’s the key. If Kobe is back healthy, are they a legitimate championship team? I don’t think so. Are they a playoff team? I think they can be a playoff team if he’s back healthy. It’s all up to Kobe and his health status.”

Bryant hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his injury, even traveling to Italy in recent weeks while fitting in his rehab work. But contrary to the recent optimism expressed from Lakers executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, Bryant isn’t expected to return during training camp. When Bryant suffered the injury April 12 against Golden State, the Lakers estimated he’d stay out at least for six to nine months. That timetable hasn’t changed. Bryant also has publicly circled November or December as his return, keeping the possibility he could play by or near the season opener.

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

Original Knick Benjamin “Ossie” Schectman, the man credited with scoring the first basket in NBA history died Tuesday, the team announced. Schectman was 94.

Born in Queens May 30, 1919, Schectman played at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn and was an All-American at Long Island University, where he helped the Blackbirds win the NIT championship in 1939 and 1941. He was a first-team All-American in 1941.

Schectman, a 6-foot guard played in the American Basketball League with the Philadelphia Sphas - whose nickname came from the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association - before the Knicks signed him in 1946 to play in the new Basketball Association of America, which later became the NBA.

Reported by Al Iannazzone of New York Newsday

Dallas Mavericks expected to add DeJuan Blair

The Mavericks envision DeJuan Blair as a better-fitting version of Elton Brand.

Like Brand last season, the Mavs will count on the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Blair to provide a healthy dose of toughness as a vertically-challenged, wide-bodied banger who will play the vast majority of his minutes at center. They believe Blair, who averaged 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game during his four seasons in San Antonio, addresses a glaring need for some nastiness on the roster.

They also think the 24-year-old Blair, who is on the verge of signing with Dallas, fits better with the Mavs’ personnel on the offensive end than the 34-year-old Brand did. The reasoning: Blair is a roller; Brand is a popper.

Reported by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas

Milwaukee Bucks sign guard Gary Neal

Milwaukee Bucks sign guard Gary Neal

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed free agent Gary Neal (6-4, 210), General Manager John Hammond announced today. According to USA Today, it is a two-year deal worth nearly $3 million per season.

The 28-year-old guard has played three seasons in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs (2010-13), where he averaged 9.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 21.4 minutes per game over his career. His .865 free throw percentage (64-74) during 2012-13 was a career and team high. In the 2013 NBA Playoffs, Neal and Danny Green became the first two teammates to make at least six 3-pointers in the same Finals game. That 6-for-10 effort from behind the arc on June 11 vs. Miami was a career postseason high for him.

Neal played overseas in Italy, Spain and Turkey for three seasons prior to joining the NBA. Undrafted, he was a member of the Spurs 2010 Summer League team before earning a permanent spot on San Antonio’s roster. The Towson University product made an immediate impact during his first year, becoming just the second undrafted rookie in NBA history to earn All-Rookie First Team honors. He was also selected to play on the Rookie team in the 2011 Rookie Challenge during All-Star Weekend, becoming just the sixth undrafted rookie in NBA history to participate in that event. Additionally, Neal broke San Antonio’s rookie record for 3-point field goal percentage (.419) and 3-point field goals made (129).

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed first round draft pick guard/forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (YAHN-iss ahn-teh-toe-KUHN-poe), General Manager John Hammond announced today.

All players selected in the first round of the NBA draft are guaranteed to receive a contract. So, this signing is standard and was expected.

The 15th overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, Antetokounmpo (6-9, 210), joins the Bucks after spending the 2012-13 season with Filathlitikos (Greece) where he averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 26 games. He posted a season-high 23 points vs. Irakleuo Crete and grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds vs. GS Laviro.

Most recently, Antetokounmpo represented Greece in the Sportland U20 European Championships, averaging 8.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest. Helping Greece to an 8-2 record and fifth place overall finish, he finished the tournament ranked second in defensive rebounds (7.0) and seventh in blocked shots (1.4).

Mike Miller is back on the Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies signed two-time NBA champion Mike Miller, the team announced today.

Although capable of starting for stretches of games, Miller at this advanced point in his career is better-suited as a backup to provide bench depth.

The signing reunites the Grizzlies with the sharpshooter, who still owns eight major franchise records after playing five-plus seasons in Memphis from 2002-08.

“We are extraordinarily pleased to welcome Mike Miller back to Memphis,” Grizzlies Chief Executive Officer Jason Levien said. “Mike is a special figure in our community due to his contributions both on and off the court. Mike is an elite three-point shooter, as Grizzlies fans know first-hand, and we expect his shooting, play-making, hustle and leadership to be a key component in our team competing with the best in the NBA next season.”

Miller (6-8, 218) has spent the last three seasons with the Miami Heat, where he helped the club to three consecutive NBA Finals and win back-to-back NBA championships in 2012 and 2013. Miller scored 23 points and went 7-of-8 from three-point range against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the championship-clinching Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals. He made 9-of-10 from beyond the arc in the first three games against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals, which Miami won in seven games. In 25 career NBA Finals games, Miller has shot 25-of-47 from long range (.532).

Before winning two titles in Miami, Miller starred for five-plus seasons for Memphis, averaging 14.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 three-pointers made on .477 shooting (.415 3FG shooting) in 32.0 minutes in 371 games (277 starts) with the Grizzlies from 2002-08. Traded by Orlando to Memphis on Feb. 19, 2003, Miller teamed with current Grizzlies center Marc Gasol’s older brother Pau to guide the Grizzlies to their first three playoff appearances (2004, 2005 and 2006). He was honored as the NBA Sixth Man of the Year during the 2005-06 season, his only season with the Grizzlies in which he had more reserve appearances than starts.

Miller holds franchise career records for three-point field goal percentage (.415), three-point field goals made (737) and attempted (1,778). He also holds the single-season franchise record for three-point percentage (.433 in 2004-05) and three-pointers made and attempted (202 and 498 in 2006-07).

In addition, Miller holds the Grizzlies records for points in a game (career-high 45 on Feb. 21, 2007 at Golden State) and three-pointers made in a game (career-best nine on Jan. 3, 2007 vs. Golden State and Feb. 21, 2007 at Golden State).

He also ranks in the top 10 among franchise career leaders for points (5,403, 5th), assists (1,221, 5th), scoring average (8th), games started (8th), games played (9th) and rebounds (1,813, 10th).

Among Miller’s other Grizzlies highlights are a triple-double off the bench (21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) on Jan. 10, 2006 vs. Sacramento, the first triple-double ever by a Memphis player, and a 41-point performance off the bench on March 17, 2006 vs. Denver, setting the club record for points in a game by a reserve. He converted two four-point plays in the same game on Dec. 14, 2007 vs. LA Clippers.

Miller enjoyed the two highest-scoring seasons of his career during the 2006-07 season (career-high 18.5 points) and the 2007-08 campaign (16.4 points). Following the 2007-08 season, Memphis traded Miller with Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins and the draft rights to Kevin Love (5th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the draft rights to O.J. Mayo (3rd overall), Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner on June 26, 2008.

He spent the 2008-09 season in Minnesota and the following year with the Washington Wizards before signing with Miami as a free agent on July 15, 2010.

The 33-year-old, who ranks 20th in NBA history in career three-point field goal percentage (.406) and 22nd in career three-point field goals made (1,424), rejoins a Grizzlies team that made the Western Conference Finals last season but finished last in the league in both three-point makes (382) and attempts (1,107) and placed 24th in three-point percentage (.345).

Miller owns career averages of 12.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 three-pointers made on .461 shooting (.406 3FG shooting) in 831 games (549 starts) in 13 seasons with Orlando, Memphis, Minnesota, Washington and Miami. After leading the University of Florida to the 2000 NCAA Championship Game as a sophomore, Miller was drafted by Orlando in the first round (5th overall) of the 2000 NBA Draft and was named the 2000-01 NBA Rookie of the Year. He won a gold medal with USA Basketball men’s national team at the FIBA Americas Championship 2007 in Las Vegas.

Off the court, the Mitchell, S.D. native is known for his outstanding charitable efforts in the Memphis community, especially to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Miller donated $200,000 to St. Jude on May 28, 2008, the largest-ever donation to St. Jude by a Grizzlies player. In honor of Miller and his wife Jennifer’s donation, St. Jude named its exercise room the Mason and Mavrick Miller Fitness Room after the Millers’ two sons. They also have one daughter, Jaelyn.

Charlotte Bobcats re-sign Gerald Henderson

Charlotte Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins announced today that the team has re-signed guard Gerald Henderson. According to the Charlotte Observer, Henderson agreed to a three-year contract with a total value of $18 million and has the option to terminate that contract after the 2014-15 season.

“We are incredibly pleased that Gerald will remain a part of our team,” Higgins said. “He is a player that we consider an important piece of our core. He has shown significant improvement over the past two seasons and we are confident that he will continue to play a key role for our team.”

Initially selected by the Bobcats with the 12th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Henderson played in 68 games last season and averaged career highs of 15.5 points, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steal, along with 3.7 rebounds, in 31.4 minutes per game. He posted single-season career bests in scoring (1,055), rebounds (250), assists (177), steals (68), blocks (34), field goals (382), three-point field goals (33), three-point percentage (.330), free throws (258), free-throw percentage (.824) and minutes played (2,133).

Henderson concluded the 2012-13 campaign with 24 straight double-figure scoring games, recording the longest streak of his career and the longest by a Bobcats player since the 2010-11 season. Over the final 21 games of the season, he averaged 23.9 points on .475 shooting and .855 free-throw shooting, to go with 4.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He scored 20 points or more in 10 of the last 21 games, with three games of 30 points or more, including a career-high 35 points on two occasions.

In four seasons with the Bobcats, Henderson has played in 234 career games with averages of 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 25.6 minutes, while shooting .448 from the field and .792 from the free-throw line.

The Brooklyn Nets have signed free agent guard/forward Alan Anderson, General Manager Billy King announced today.

“We are pleased to add Alan to our roster,” said King. “He is a versatile player who will add flexibility to our rotation.”

Anderson, a four-year NBA veteran, averaged career-highs in points (10.7 per game), rebounds (2.3) and assists (1.6) in 65 games (two starts) last season for the Toronto Raptors. Undrafted out of Michigan State, Anderson began his career playing the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats, appearing in 53 games (seven starts). The Minneapolis native spent the next four seasons pursuing a successful career abroad with teams in Italy, Russia, Israel, Croatia, China and Spain, highlighted by being named the Croatian Cup MVP in 2009 and the MVP of the Spanish Cup in 2011. The 30-year-old holds career NBA averages of 8.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 135 NBA contests (21 starts).

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