Archive for August 14th, 2013

Lakers sign forward Elias Harris

Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed forward Elias Harris to a multi-year contract, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Although the Lakers agreed to terms with Harris in July, the paperwork wasn’t finalized until Wednesday. Harris played in five games for the Lakers’ summer league squad in Las Vegas, averaging 10.2 points on 44.7% shooting. Harris will make $490,180 in the first year of his deal, although only an undisclosed amount is guaranteed. His second year is at $816,482 and that is believed to be non-guaranteed.”

Harris, a two-time All-West Coast Conference Team selection out of Gonzaga University, helped the Bulldogs to a 32-3 record in 2012-13 and the school’s first No. 1 national ranking, averaging 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 27.8 minutes in 34 games.  Harris’ 1,857 career points ranks fourth on the Gonzaga all-time scoring list and his 979 career rebounds are the second most in school history.  In four seasons at Gonzaga, the 6-8 forward averaged 13.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 28.0 minutes in 135 games.

A German native, Harris played for Team Germany in the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey and in the 2009 European Championships held in Poland.

Most recently, Harris started all five games for the Lakers’ 2013 Summer League team in Las Vegas, averaging 10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 27.0 minutes.

76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that they have named Brett Brown as head coach. Brown joins the Sixers after spending the past seven seasons as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich.

“We are proud to announce that Brett Brown will be the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Sam Hinkie. “We went through an exhaustive search to find the right head coach for our organization—one who had a passion for developing talent, a strong work-ethic to help create the kind of culture we hope for, and a desire to continually improve. Brett has all of that. He also has a wealth of experience as a head coach and a championship pedigree, to boot. We are delighted to welcome him as our coach, and I am invigorated for the two of us to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

Brown originally joined the Spurs as a member of their basketball operations department in 1998-99 but left after the season to become the head coach of the Sydney Kings of the Australian National Basketball League (NBL). He re-joined the Spurs in July of 2002 as the team’s assistant coach/director of player development and was moved to the bench as an assistant coach prior to the 2006-07 season. Brown was with the Spurs for all four of their championships (1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007).

“The San Antonio Spurs have been very fortunate to have the services of Brett Brown for over a decade,” said Popovich. “His creativity, teaching ability and work ethic are unmatched. I’m quite confident that the Sixers will benefit greatly from his presence.”

A native of Maine, Brown played at South Portland High School for his father Bob Brown, who is a New England Basketball Hall of Famer. The younger Brown went on to attend Boston University where he played under Rick Pitino. Brown was named team MVP his sophomore year and served as team captain his final two seasons, helping the Terriers reach the NCAA Tournament as a senior in 1983. For his career, Brown posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.19 and left ranked fourth in school history in assists (404).

In addition to his time with the Spurs, Brown has a wealth of coaching experience in Australia, where he met and married his wife, Anna. He started as an assistant coach with the Melbourne Tigers under Lindsay Gaze, a member of both the Australian and FIBA Hall of Fame.

Brown was named head coach of the North Melbourne Giants in 1993 and earned NBL Coach of the Year honors in 1994 after leading the Giants to the National Championship. Including his return to the NBL for three seasons with the Sidney Kings in 1999, Brown amassed 149 career coaching victories, sixth-most in league history.

In March of 2009, Brown was named head coach of the Australian National Team. He had previously served as an assistant for eight years, including both the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games as well as the 1998 World Championships. Brown led Australia to the FIBA Oceania Championship over rival New Zealand in 2011 to secure a bid to the 2012 Olympics.

At the London games in 2012, Brown guided Australia to what many consider one of its best Olympic runs, culminating with a win over eventual bronze medalist Russia before being eliminated by Team USA in the quarterfinals. Overall, Australia compiled a 3-3 mark without the services of injured star Andrew Bogut.

Brown and his wife have two daughters, Julia and Laura, and a son, Sam.

timberwolves re-sign nikola pekovic

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has reached an agreement in principle on a contract with restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic. According to ESPN.com, the deal is “five-year pact worth $60 million and potentially up to an additional $8 million in incentive-related bonuses.”

“Retaining Pek was our No. 1 priority this offseason and we’re very excited that he’s chosen to continue his career in Minnesota,” said Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders. “Thanks to a lot of hard work and determination, Pek has developed into one of the NBA’s premier centers and is entering the prime of his career. We envision Pek and Kevin Love being the ‘Bruise Brothers’ and forming one of the best front courts in the NBA for a long time to come.”

Pekovic, 27, continued his development into one of the top centers in the NBA last season by setting single-season career highs in scoring (16.3 ppg), rebounding (8.8 rpg) and minutes (31.6 mpg). In 62 games, all starts, the 6-11 center finished 20th in the NBA in field goal accuracy at 52.0%, while shooting 74.4% from the free throw line. Pekovic collected a team-high 26 points/rebound double-doubles last season, including 11 games with 20+ points and 10+ rebounds. He became the first Wolves player in over four years to be named Western Conference Player of the Week when he averaged 25.0 points, on 58.9% shooting, and 8.5 rebounds in four contests from April 1-7.

In 174 NBA games, 108 starts, Pekovic owns career averages of 11.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per contest. The Wolves originally selected the Montenegro native with the 31st overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

A press conference with Pekovic and Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders will be announced at a later date.

Popeye Jones

The Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday that Popeye Jones has been hired as an assistant coach to complete the Pacers’ coaching staff.

The 43-year-old Jones comes to the Pacers after spending the last three years with the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, one season in player development, the last two as an assistant coach. Prior to that, he was with Dallas for three years in player development. Jones played collegiately at Murray State and was a 1992 second-round pick of the Houston Rockets, who traded his rights to Dallas. He played one season in Italy before joining the Mavericks in 1993 and ended up playing with Toronto, Boston, Denver, Washington and Golden State before retiring in 2004.

“Popeye brings a wealth of experience, both as a player and coach,” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. “He comes in as a player development coach focusing on the big men, but he has become a complete coach, great with Xs and Os and game strategy. He will be a great asset to our staff.”

Jones joins long-time assistant Dan Burke and associate head coach Nate McMillan, who was hired in July, on the Pacers’ staff.

Washington Wizards sign Al Harrington

Washington Wizards sign Al Harrington

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed forward Al Harrington.

“Al’s all-around game and reputation as a leader make him a solid fit with our team,” said Grunfeld. “He will give us additional depth and experience in the frontcourt, the ability to stretch defenses and another proven veteran in the locker room.”

In 15 seasons with Indiana, Atlanta, Golden State, New York, Denver and Orlando, Harrington has appeared in 947 career regular season games (445 starts) while averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 29.0 minutes per contest. He has shot .445 (4,946-11,111) from the field, .352 (943-2,678) from three-point range and recorded 103 career double-doubles. During the 2011-12 season, Harrington averaged 14.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 64 games with Denver. The former first round pick has played in 48 career postseason games, averaging 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per contest. Harrington’s most productive season came during the 2008-09 campaign where he averaged a career-best 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds in 73 games with Golden State (5) and New York (68). He was originally selected by Indiana with the 25th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft out of St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, N.J.

Harrington was waived by Orlando on August 2, 2013. The Magic originally acquired the veteran forward from Denver on August 10, 2012, as part of a four-team, 12-player deal. He played in 10 games with the Magic last season averaging 5.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 11.9 minutes per contest after missing the first 54 games of the season recovering from a right knee meniscus repair and ensuing staph infection.

76ers

For a while now, the Sixers haven’t had a happy roster, and for a number of good reasons. Doug Collins is a great basketball mind and an extremely talented coach, but he isn’t easy to play for. It takes a special kind of player, one extremely self-confident, motivated and ultra-competitive, to fully appreciate the way Collins does his job. Elton Brand was really the last guy on the team who fit that description. The other guys, including those on last season’s roster, withdrew from the challenge.

They need to hear a different voice and that’s what Brown seems ready to provide. He’s the perfect Sam Hinkie hire because he also brings added value for the price tag. Brown has loads of head coaching experience, in the Australian pro league and for the Aussie national team, but he was on the market as just another NBA assistant, which is where the Sixers were doing their shopping.

There is some risk involved for Brown in taking this job and he was in pretty good position to turn it down if he wanted to, so it’s likely the Sixers didn’t get that all much of a bargain. If the rumor is correct that Brown wouldn’t budge until all four years of his contract were guaranteed, that shows a steely side to a guy everyone describes as very likable. He’ll need that here.

Reported by Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer

The Sacramento City Council has already shown its willingness to open its bank account for the development of a new downtown sports arena. It’s now showing a willingness to go to court for the project as well.

By a 7-2 vote, the Sacramento City Council agreed Tuesday night to join the Sacramento Kings in negotiating with the owner of the Macy’s furniture and men’s clothing store at the Downtown Plaza over the purchase of the soon-to-be vacant property.

That building, situated near the eastern end of the mall at 600 K St., is needed by the Kings and the city to build a proposed $448 million arena at the mall.

The city’s involvement in the talks carries with it a key negotiating tool: the threat of seizing control of the property through eminent domain. While describing that tactic as a last resort, city officials said they could seek to condemn the property if attempts to purchase the store fall apart.

Reported by Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee

Brook Lopez

Being in a walking boot for the past couple of months did not deter Lopez from a busy travel schedule. After going on a cruise with his family around Europe, he headed to Africa this month on a trip organized by the Clinton Foundation. He visited Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Rwanda and spent time with former President Clinton. Lopez, an avid traveler, said he had never been to Africa, but had always hoped to go.

“I had a connection with our agency who previously worked with the White House and with the foundation, so they asked if I wanted to go and I jumped at the chance,” Lopez said. “It was a huge honor to be considered for it.”

Out of everything he experienced on the trip, Lopez said one charitable moment stood out.

“It’s tough to choose, but I think when we were in Zambia, we were outfitting kids with hearing aids, or just people in general with hearing aids,” he said. “And just seeing when the hearing aids finally worked for them, and their eyes lit up when they could hear for the first time, it was really incredible to see.”

Reported by Tim Bontemps of the New York Post

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