Archive for August 11th, 2013

Milwaukee Bucks begin rebuilding project

OJ Mayo

If anyone had predicted a few months ago that guard O.J. Mayo would be the Milwaukee Bucks’ highest-paid player next season, the remark likely would have generated a few laughs.

Strange but true.

The 25-year-old guard signed a three-year, $24 million free-agent deal with Milwaukee last month and his $8 million salary is tops on the team for the 2013-’14 season, just above the $7.9 million owed to power forward Ersan Ilyasova.

The Bucks tried to sign point guard Jeff Teague to a four-year, $32 million deal but had the offer matched by the Atlanta Hawks.

Instead they made a trade with Detroit that landed 21-year-old point guard Brandon Knight, who is still on his rookie-scale contract and will make $2.9 million next season.

Bucks general manager John Hammond worked tirelessly during July to reshape the roster and start a rebuilding process that he hopes will pay dividends in the future.

The approach was to acquire young talent to build around 24-year-old Larry Sanders and 22-year-old John Henson; and also to sign veterans (Zaza Pachulia, Luke Ridnour and Carlos Delfino) to contribute and provide leadership in the locker room.

Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Kyrie Irving

Irving’s future in Cleveland has been a topic of conversation since a New York radio host insisted on Twitter that Irving wouldn’t remain in Cleveland for long. Irving dismissed the report during a Team USA minicamp last month in Las Vegas, saying he was excited about the moves the organization made this summer and that “I’m a Cavalier right now. I’m happy to be a Cavalier.” Irving was asked Saturday why he qualified that with “right now.”

“Right now I’m a Cavalier. This is where I am. All that future stuff, I’m not really worried about,” Irving said. “I’m living in the moment right now and I’m just trying to get better with the teammates I have now and make the playoffs for Cleveland. That’s the only thing I can do right now is give it my all as it stands right now and that future stuff, I’m not really worried about it.”

The Cavs control Irving’s rights for three more seasons, and it’s worth noting no player has ever turned down a max contract coming off his rookie deal.

Reported by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal

Shaq and Lamar Odom have scored a huge victory over the snake oil salesmen at Power Balance — the company that duped athletes into believing its hologram bracelets could provide super-strength — because it just agreed to fork over $287,000 to get the NBA stars off its back.

TMZ broke the story … Shaq and Odom filed legal docs in PB’s bankruptcy case, claiming they were owed money for their involvement in the company. Lamar was an investor. Shaq was a paid spokesperson.

Shaq originally demanded $308,961 and Lamar $133,870 — but according to new court docs, they both agreed to take a little less after settlement negotiations … Shaq got $200,310 and Lamar $87,015.

Reported by TMZ.com

lebron james

The night was already memorable for the students at St. Vincent-St.Mary’s High School.

On Saturday, they were the lucky recipients of new athletic uniforms for all sporting teams donated by the school’s most famous alum.

Still, LeBron James wanted to make it even more special.

And that he did.

James surprised the student body by participating in the runaway fashion show that debuted the new threads. Just as they were about to announce the presentation was over, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” began to play over the loud speakers at the football field.

That is when James surfaced through a cloud of smoke wearing the all-black football uniform. He sported a No. 9 jersey, the same he wore in high school before giving up football after his junior season to focus on basketball. Students realized it was James when he made it to the end of the runaway, mobbing him before he removed his helmet.

Reported by Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

MORE: Here’s a photo of the event.

Bobcats

Zeller, the fourth overall pick in June, found a place to live in Charlotte two weeks ago and is now buying furnishings. He joked on Twitter recently that his mother sent him to IKEA to start living like a grown-up.

The little bit of basketball Zeller has played so far as a Bobcat went exceedingly well. He was named to the all-tournament team at Las Vegas Summer League, after averaging 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in four games.

New Bobcats coach Steve Clifford gave Zeller plenty of freedom to experiment offensively away from the basket. Zeller was pleasantly surprised how much NBA rules (defensive three-seconds and no-handchecking dribblers) opened up the lane for his drives.

“First time in a while it didn’t seem like there were six or seven guys waiting for me in the lane,” Zeller said.

The thing that came across most in Zeller’s Las Vegas performance was his remarkable speed and quickness for a 7-footer.

Reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer

Greg Oden says he has an old body

Greg Oden says he has an old body

Oden, 25, will fly to Miami at 6 a.m. Monday and immediately begin on-court work with the Heat, plus agility drills and more.

“My knee’s good,” he said. “I’m able to walk, jump, run. … It’s been a while. It’s been a long road. … I got an old body. My body is not going to be what it was when I was 18. When I was 18, I was able to run all day and jump over people. I can’t do that now. It’s just not going to happen. But I’m going to play as hard as I can and I’m going to try to jump over people and I’m going to try to run all day. If my body lets me, I’ll do it.”

He added: “My body is going to do what it can. If somehow it says no, then it says no. But I’m not even worried about that. I’m just going to go play and not even think about it…. I’m beyond excited. It’s been such a long road…. I know it’s going to be a long process.”

Reported by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald

Sixers offer coaching job to Brett Brown

The Philadelphia 76ers should be one of the league’s worst teams this upcoming season. The roster lacks talent. It’s packed with bench-level players. The greatest coach in the world could run the team next season and they’d still struggle. As a result, many coaches may hesitate before taking such a job.

Still, somebody’s got to do it.

Barring a snag in negotiations, Brett Brown will become the 76ers’ next head coach. The team has offered the job to the San Antonio Spurs assistant, according to sources. The two sides were working on a contract to bring the 52-year-old to Philadelphia.

If he accepts, Brown will become the team’s eighth head coach since Larry Brown resigned after the 2002-03 season.

The news comes as no surprise. Brett Brown for some time has been the candidate the Sixers coveted to replace Doug Collins, who resigned on April 18.

The New York Daily News reported during the June 27 NBA draft that the Sixers had decided to hire Brown. General manager Sam Hinkie later denied the report. Then on July 31, a league source told The Inquirer that Brown was the preferred candidate for the job.

Brown takes over a team that finished 34-48 this past season and appears to be seriously rebuilding.

Reported by Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Even if the team does struggle as expected, we’ll still be watching rookies Nerlens Noel (when healthy enough to play) and Michael Carter-Williams to see how they develop.

Greg Oden

Lots of people gave up on always-injured center Greg Oden. But after all his struggles, nobody knows what his future will be like. Perhaps he’ll finally stay healthy and have a solid career. It could happen. And if it does, it’ll begin in probably the best place possible, on the roster of the NBA champion Miami Heat.

“My body’s just getting used to playing again,” Oden said. “My knees do feel good. I’m able to walk. I’m running, jumping. I’m doing everything.

“It’s going to maintenance for the rest of my life. I’ve got to warm up to warm up and then play. I understand that now.”

So, why Miami? San Antonio, Cleveland, Dallas, New Orleans, Sacramento and Atlanta all showed interest. That smile reappeared, frustration and disappointment a distant memory, before Oden answered.

“My friends told me, ‘If you take out the possibility of getting hurt again, what other choice is there?’” Oden said. “If I take out the possibility of getting hurt, why would I not play with the champs?

“If LeBron decides to get another ring, I get one too, now.”

Reported by the Associated Press

The Oden story will be something to watch in 2013-14.

David Lee reflects back on the Knicks

David Lee reflects back on the Knicks

Like others, Lee wonders what would have happened had the Knicks valued him as a budding star, had they valued the young members of the 2008-09 cast instead of dismantling a club that got off to the Knicks’ first winning start in ages with a 6-3 start. The club was 6-5 when the axe dropped on Nov. 21 and Crawford, Randolph and Tim Thomas were shipped.

For all their myriad maneuverings since 2008, the Knicks have captured one playoff series. As they enter 2013-14 with a revised 14-man roster, it could be the final season before starting all over again — if Carmelo Anthony bolts. The Knicks are considered in many circles no better than the fifth-best team in the East, which could mean another first-round exit.

“It is interesting to look back, to see if we went another way in the win column if they kept guys together,” Lee said. “I look back at my career here and there’s nothing but positive memories. It was a little bit out of my control, the winning and losing. The first couple of years, I was a backup guy, then when I was captain of the team the last couple of years, we started breaking down the team.

“I don’t want to say I was underappreciated,” Lee added. “The Knicks took a chance, and part of getting Amar’e was to use it as bridge to get a guy like LeBron and Carmelo. They got that done. Amare’s a heckuva player. It’s unfortunate what’s happened with some of his injuries. Hopefully he gets healthy because I know how much he loves the game and loves being in New York.”

Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

Basketball blog